Esmé Stuart, 1st Duke of Lennox

Esmé Stuart was born in France, the son of John Stuart, younger brother of Matthew Stuart, 4th Earl of Lennox. For several generations the junior branch of the Lennox Stuarts had lived in France, where they fulfilled illustrious careers as mercenaries and were the traditional captains of the Scottish Gens d’Armes. The title of Seigneur […]

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 […]

Lord Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester 1532-1588

Lord Robert Dudley was one of thirteen children of John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, later Duke of Northumberland. In 1550, at the age of eighteen, he married Amy Robsart, although they had no children. In 1553, his father, now acting as Protector for the consumptive Edward VI, attempted to avoid Mary Tudor, as a Catholic, […]

John Erskine, 1st and 22nd Earl of Mar (17th Earl) d. 1572

Note: The numbering of the Earls of Mar causes confusion. There were two titles, the ancient earldom of Mar, which passed through the female line, and a title originally created for Lord James Stewart on his marriage. When Lord James became Earl of Moray, John Erskine received the new Mar Earldom, but it passed only […]

James VI of Scotland & I of England 1566-1625

Note: This article deals with the period of James VI’s life until he also became King of England in 1603. James was born at Edinburgh Castle on 19 June 1566 after a difficult birth for his mother, Mary Queen of Scots. He was soon placed in the care of the Earl of Mar and his wife Annabella […]

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 […]

George Buchanan 1502 – 1582

George Buchanan had an impoverished upbringing after his father, a farmer in Killearn, Stirlingshire, had died young. His mother brought him to Edinburgh, from where his uncle James Heriot sent him, in 1520, to the University of Paris. He quickly gained a reputation as an academic student, but fell ill. Having recovered, he returned to […]

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 […]

David Riccio 1533-1566

David Riccio di Pancaliere in Piedmonte was an Italian courtier, born near Turin, a descendant of the Riccio Counts de San Paolo et Solbrito. As a young man, he went from Turin to Nice to seek a position at the court of the Duke of Savoy. On finding no opportunities for advancement, he was admitted, […]

Mary Queen of Scots 1542-1587

Mary Queen of Scots was born at Linlithgow on 8 December 1542. Her father, James V survived her birth by only six days, dying of acute depression following the defeat of the Scots at the hands of the English at Solway Moss. The English were soon hoping to establish a Scottish alliance to prevent having […]