Sir Francis Walsingham, English Secretary of State 1532-1590

Sir Francis Walsingham was born into a well-connected family in 1532. When his father died two years later, his mother Joyce Denny, remarried Sir John Carey, brother-in-law of Mary Boleyn, who was Elizabeth I’s aunt. He studied at King’s College, Cambridge. After travelling in Europe, he decided to become a lawyer and, in 1552, enrolled […]

Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury 1521-1608

Bess of Hardwick was one of five surviving children of a family of minor gentry, but was a lady of unfailing personal ambition and undoubted charisma. She had been brought up at Hardwick Hall, although her father died within a year of her birth, and the family were impoverished. In accordance with normal practice for […]

Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk 1536-1572

Thomas Howard was born at Kenninghall, the family home in Norfolk, on 10 March 1536, but his father was executed in 1547, after a paranoiac Henry VIII believed that he was trying to usurp the succession from Edward VI to maintain Catholicism. Thomas was brought up as a Protestant under the care of his aunt […]

William Cecil, Lord Burghley 1520-1598

Note:  This article deals only with Cecil’s involvement with Scotland and Mary Queen of Scots. William Cecil was born on 13 September 1520 and was educated at Stamford School and St John’s College Cambridge. Although he gained a reputation as an academic, he did not sit his degree. On arriving in London, he joined the service […]

Elizabeth I, Queen of England 1533-1603

Note: This biography focusses on Elizabeth’s attitude to Scotland and both Mary Queen of Scots and James VI. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII by Anne Boleyn, born at Greenwich on 7 March 1533. When her mother was executed in 1536, she was declared illegitimate, but was named in the order of succession in Henry VIII’s […]

Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange 1530-1573

Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange was the son of Sir James Kirkcaldy, Lord High Treasurer under James V. His mother was Janet Melville sister of the five Melville brother who played such a prominent part as civil servants and diplomats during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots. He first came to notice in 1546 […]

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley 1545-1567

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley was the eldest son of Matthew Stuart, 4th Earl of Lennox and Lady Margaret Douglas, niece of Henry VIII. He was born on 7 December 1546, and was four years younger than Mary Queen of Scots.  He and his brother Charles, nine years his junior, were the only two of the […]

Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox 1515-1578

On 8 October 1515, Princess Margaret Tudor, Queen Dowager of Scotland and sister of Henry VIII, gave birth to her daughter, Margaret, by her second husband, Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. She had recently been forced to hand over the Scottish Regency to the Duke of Albany, who had arrived from France, and had […]