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 […]

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 […]

John Erskine, 2nd and 23rd Earl of Mar (18th Earl) 1558-1634

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, the new Mar Earldom was granted to John Lord Erskine (this John’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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Matthew Stuart, 4th Earl of Lennox, 1516-1571

Matthew, 4th Earl of Lennox spent most of his early years in France. He left Scotland in 1526 at the age of ten after his father had been killed by James Hamilton of Finnart, the illegitimate son of the Earl of Arran. There was rivalry enough between the Hamiltons and the Lennox Stuarts, who competed […]