Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Stuart
1st cousin once removed to Queen Elizabeth I

(Mary, Queen of Scots features briefly in Tony Thistlewood’s novel When the Time is Ripe. In the novel, she is being led to her trial in Fotheringhay Castle when our hero, Caistor Parsons, bumps into her – well, almost – actually, he was pushed!)

Scipione Vannutelli’s 1861 painting shows Mary Stuart being led to the scaffold on 8th February 1587. According to the eyewitness account of Pierre de Bourdeille (abbé de Brantome and third son of Baron de Bourdeille) Mary’s servant, Melville, accompanied her to the scaffold. However, it is unlikely to be Melville in the picture on Mary Stuart's left because he looks far too grand. It might be her jailer, Amyas Paulet, or the Earl of Shrewsbury who was in charge of the execution.

(This article is now included in my ebook 'Kings & Queens' - see below.

Kings & Queens may be purchased (only US$4.99) direct from Amazon

For more details of the contents of Kings & Queens click here...

Snapshot Bio of Mary, Queen of Scots

Date of Birth:

    8th December 1542
Place of Birth:

    Linlithgow Palace, West Lothian, (24 kilometres west of Edinburgh) Scotland.


    Father: King James V of Scotland (nephew of King Henry VIII of England)
    Mother: Mary of Guise (James V’s 2nd wife). Mary was the eldest daughter of Claude Lorraine, Duke of Guise, and Antoinette de Bourbon.
    (i) m.1558; Francis II of France (d.1560)

    (ii) m.1565; Henry Stewart (Stuart), Lord Darnley (d.1567)

      Issue: b. 19th June 1566; James – he ascended the throne as King James VI of Scotland on 24th July 1567, aged 13 months, and became the first Stuart King of England on 24th March 1603.

    (iii) m.1567; James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell (d.1578)
Date of Death:
    Executed 8th February 1587 at Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire, England.
    Mary was initially laid to rest in Peterborough Cathedral. Twenty-five years later, her son, King James VI/I, who had by then been on the English throne for eight years, had her re-interred in Westminster Abbey not thirty feet from the tomb of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.

Places in England where Mary Stuart was held captive:

Carlisle Castle, Cumbria:

After escaping from Loch Leven Castle, Mary arrived in Carlisle expecting that her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, would help her to reclaim her throne. It was not to be. Mary was held in Carlisle Castle from 18th May to 13th July 1568 under the watchful eye of Sir Francis Knollys.

Carlisle Castle is now the headquarters of the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment.

Bolton Castle, Yorkshire:

On 13th July 1568, Mary was moved from Carlisle to the 9th Baron Scrope’s Bolton Castle simply because that castle was further from the Scottish border. And there she stayed for the next six months still guarded by Sir Francis Knollys.

Bolton Castle, which is situated on the northern edge of the Yorkshire Dales, is open to the public during the spring and summer months.

Tutbury Castle, on the borders of Staffordshire and Derbyshire:

Mary was transferred to Tutbury Castle on 3rd February 1569 having stayed briefly with the Earl of Shrewsbury in Sheffield Castle enroute. Tutbury was also owned by Shrewsbury. This damp, dark and gloomy place affected Mary’s health so badly that she spent the next two years being shuttled between various places including Chatsworth House and Wingfield Manor.

Many years late, in 1586, she was implicated in the Babington Plot, thanks to the machinations of Sir Francis Walsingham, and she was returned to Tutbury Castle where the mean-spirited Puritan, Sir Amyas Paulet became her jailer. Mary became so depressed and physically ill at Tutbury that she was eventually moved to Chartley Hall where she stayed until she was taken to Fotheringhay Castle for her trial and subsequent execution.

Fotheringhay Castle, Northhamptonshire:

Unfortunately, only earthworks of this castle remain today.

Click here to learn more about Tony Thistlewood's novel When the Time is Ripe in which Mary Stuart makes a brief appearance.

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