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 […]

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 […]

James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, 1535-1578

James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell was a ladies’ man, powerfully attractive to women; he had a string of mistresses, and was noted as an able and swash-buckling soldier. He was a person of strong language and sexual appetite, although by repute he was not averse to homosexual relationships and enjoyed anal sex. He was […]

Lord James Stewart, Earl of Moray & Regent of Scotland, 1531-1571

Lord James Stewart, born in 1531, was the son of James V by his mistress Margaret Erskine, daughter of the Earl of Mar. She later claimed to have been secretly married to the King to promote his legitimacy, but this might have proved more plausible if she had not been married to Sir Robert Douglas […]

What happened to “the four Marys” (Beaton, Seton, Fleming, and Livingston) after the death of their lady, Mary, Queen of Scots?

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The four ‘Maries’ accompanied Mary Queen of Scots as a child to France in 1548 and remained her closest lifelong friends. Mary Beaton was the daughter of the head of Mary’s household, who accompanied her, and the others were the daughters of the three noble families closest to the Stewart Court. They had taken a […]