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 […]

George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury 1528–1590

As a young man George Talbot saw military service under Protector Somerset in the ‘Rough Wooings’ in Scotland and he married Gertrude Manners, daughter of the 1st Earl of Rutland, by whom he had six children, although she died in 1566. In March 1568, he married Bess of Hardwick, the wealthy widow of Sir William […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

William Maitland of Lethington, 1525-1573

William Maitland of Lethington was a man of great wit and learning from a well-connected, but not noble, Scottish family. He had been educated at St. Andrews and the French Court. His loyalties were not based on any strong religious conviction, but Knox converted him to be a Reformer in 1556. Although his brilliance as […]