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Mary's Marriage Personal Appearance And Popularity

Mary The Queen Dauphiness The Queen And The Queen Dowager Of France

A Tangle

An Examination Of The Letters Sonnets And Other Writings Adduced In Evidence Against Mary Queen Of Scots

Occurrences Immediately Preceding Darnley's Death

The Little Waif

Paul's Walk



Mary's Birth And Subsequent Residence At The French Court

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Return To Scotland

The Bewitched Whistle

Hunting Down The Deer

My Lady's Remorse

Queen Mary's Presence Chamber

The Love Token

Mary's Reception In England And The Conferences At York And Westminster

Mary's Eighteen Years' Captivity

Before The Commissioners

Ten Years After

Mary's Expedition To The North

The Lord James, now Earl of Mar, had for some time felt, that so long as
he was regarded with suspicion by the Hamiltons, and with ill-concealed
hatred by the Earl of Huntly and the Gordons, his power could not be so
stable, nor his influence so extensive, as he desired. If it is true that
he had already proposed to Mary to set aside the succession of the Earl of
Arran, it is equally true that she had refused his request. Foiled,
therefore, in this, his more ambitious aim, he saw the necessity of
limiting, in the meantime, to more moderate bounds, his views of personal
preferment. With regard to the Hamiltons, he had succeeded in securing
their banishment from court, and in making them objects of suspicion and
dislike to the Queen. There was not indeed sufficient talent in the family
ever to have made it formidable to him, had it not been that it was of the
blood royal. Though not possessing this advantage, the Gordons were always
looked upon by Mar as more dangerous rivals. He had long nursed a secret
desire, at least to weaken, if not to crush altogether, the power of
Huntly. In getting himself created Earl of Mar, he had made one step
towards his object. The lands which went along with this title were part
of the royal demesnes; but had for some time been held in fee by the Earls
of Huntly. Her brother had prevailed upon Mary to recall them in his
favour, and he was thus able to set himself down in the very heart of a
country, which had hitherto acknowledged no master who did not belong to
the house of Gordon. Huntly felt this encroachment bitterly; and it makes
it the more probable, that he had secretly joined with Arran in his plot
upon Mar; at any rate Mar gave him full credit for having done so. Their
mutual animosity being thus exasperated, to the highest pitch, Huntly left
the Court, and the Prime Minister waited anxiously for the first
opportunity that might occur, to humble effectually the great leader of
the Catholics.

In prosecution of his purpose, Mar now obtained a grant under the Privy
Seal of the earldom of Murray. A grant under the Privy Seal constituted
only an inchoate, not a complete title. To ratify the grant and make it
legal, it was necessary to have the Great Seal also affixed to it. The
Great Seal, however, was in the custody of Huntly, as Lord Chancellor; and
as Mar well knew that the grant of this second earldom infringed upon
Huntly's rights even more than the former, he saw the propriety of keeping
it secret for some time. The earldom of Murray, which, with its lands and
appurtenances, was bestowed upon Huntly in 1549, for his services in the
war with England, had been again recalled by the Crown in 1554, when
Huntly fell into the displeasure of the Queen-Regent, in consequence of
having refused to punish with fire and sword some Highland rebels. But in
1559, the title and lands were restored, not as a free grant, but as a
lease during five years, to Huntly, his wife and heirs, on the condition
of a yearly payment of 2500 merks Scots. Till 1564, therefore, Huntly was
entitled to consider himself master of all the lands and revenues of this
earldom. But in 1561, the title and lands were privately conferred upon
the Earl of Mar. It is true, that he might have applied thus early only to
prevent himself from being anticipated, and might not have intended to
encroach on Huntly's rights before the legal period of his enjoying them
had expired. The advantage, however, he so eagerly took of an incident
that occurred in the month of June 1562, proves that Mar had never any
intention to keep his title to the earldom of Murray locked up for three

The father of James, Lord Ogilvy, had married one of the Earl of Huntly's
sisters, who gave her some lands in liferent as her dowry. Upon her
husband's death, considerations induced her to surrender the liferent to
her brother, and the Earl then gave it to his son, Sir John Gordon. But
Lord Ogilvy was displeased with his mother's conduct, and questioned its
legality. The matter, however, was decided against him, though not before
it had occasioned much bad blood between him and Sir John Gordon. These
two noblemen unfortunately met on the streets of Edinburgh; and though Sir
John had married Ogilvy's sister, all ties of relationship were
disregarded, and an affray took place, in which both were assisted by
their respective servants. It does not exactly appear who was the
aggressor in this scuffle, but, from the circumstances which led to it,
the probability is, that it was Ogilvy. Both noblemen were severely
wounded; and the magistrates, enraged at their breach of the peace,
committed them to prison. Mary with her Court was at Stirling, but the
Earl of Mar obtained permission to depart for Edinburgh, to examine into
the whole affair. The son of the Earl of Huntly was now within his power,
and he saw the advantages which might be made to accrue to himself in
consequence. After examination, he ordered the Lord Ogilvy and his
retainers to be set at liberty, but Sir John Gordon he sent to the common
gaol. Sir John, not liking to trust himself in such hands, made his
escape, after remaining in prison for about a month, and proceeded to his
father's house in the North to recite to him his grievances.

Such being the state of feeling subsisting between the Queen's prime
minister and these great Northern chieftains, it can scarcely be allowed
that Robertson expresses himself correctly when he says, "The Queen
happened to set out on a progress into the northern parts of the
kingdom." Her motions were at this time entirely regulated by the Earl of
Mar, who, seeing the contempt which had been offered to her authority by
the flight of his son, felt satisfied that Mary could not pass through the
extensive territories of Huntly, without either giving or receiving some
additional cause of offence, which would in all probability lead to
consequences favourable to Mar's ambition. Unless this hypothesis be
adopted, no rational cause can be assigned why the Queen should have
chosen this particular season for her visit to the North. From the recent
suspicion which had attached to the Earl of Huntly, as one of Arran's
colleagues in a conspiracy against her favourite minister, and the still
more recent conduct of his son Sir John Gordon, she certainly could have
no intention to pay that family the compliment of honouring them with her
royal presence as a guest. North of Aberdeen, however, nearly the whole
country was subservient to Huntly; and if Mary did not pass through it as
a friend, she must as an enemy. This was the consideration that prompted
the Earl of Mar to fix this year for the expedition. It was owing to
negociations with Elizabeth, concerning a personal interview between the
two Queens, that Mary was unable to set out till towards the middle of

The Queen left Edinburgh on horseback, as usual, attended by a very
considerable train. Among others, four members of her Privy Council went
with her,--the Earls of Argyle, Morton, Marschall, and Mar,--the three
first of whom had no particular liking for Huntly, and were, besides,
entirely under the direction of the last. Randolph also attended the
Queen in this journey, and furnishes some details concerning it. On the
18th of August, 1562, she left Stirling; and, after a disagreeable and
fatiguing journey, arrived at Old Aberdeen on the 27th. Here she remained
for several days, and all the nobility in these parts came to pay their
homage to her. Among the rest were the Earl and Countess of Huntly, who
entreated her to honour them with a visit at Huntly Castle, informing her
that they had endeavoured to make suitable preparations for her
entertainment. Mary, at Mar's instigation of course, (for, as far as her
own feelings were concerned, she must have looked with favour upon the
first Catholic Peer of the realm), received them coldly. This was but a
poor return for Huntly's long tried fidelity to herself and family; for,
whatever quarrels he may have had with the nobility, he had always
preserved inviolate his respect for the royal prerogative. His son, Sir
John Gordon, also came to Aberdeen, and surrendered himself to the Queen,
to be dealt with as her justice might direct. He was neither tried nor
taken into custody; but, with more refined policy, he was ordered by Mar,
and the rest of the Queen's Council, to proceed voluntarily to Stirling
Castle, and there deliver himself, as a prisoner, to the keeper, Lord
Erskine, Mar's uncle. It was, no doubt, foreseen that this order, so
disproportioned in its severity to the offence which occasioned it, would
not be complied with, nor was it wished that it should. Guided by similar
advice, Mary refused to visit the residence of the Earl of Huntly,--a
refusal which was pathetically lamented by Randolph, as it was "within
three miles of her way, and the fairest house in this country." We learn
from the same authority, that there was such a scarcity of accommodation,
in Old Aberdeen, that Randolph, and Maitland the secretary, who had
recently returned from England, were obliged to sleep together in the same
bed. This is, perhaps, rendered the less remarkable, when we are informed
that there were, at the University, only fifteen or sixteen scholars.

On the 1st of September, Mary left Aberdeen for Inverness; but, in the
interval, the Earl of Mar, perceiving that there might be some occasion
for their services, had collected a pretty strong body of men, who marched
forward with the Queen and her train. In journeying northwards, she
travelled by Rothiemay, Grange, Balvenie, and Elgin, passing very near the
Earl of Huntly's castle. No entreaty would induce her to enter it; but she
permitted the Earl of Argyle and Randolph to partake of its hospitality
for two days. "The Earl of Huntly's house," says Randolph, "is the best
furnished that I have seen in this country. His cheer is marvellous great;
his mind then, such, as it appeared to us, as ought to be, in any
subject, to his sovereign." On the 8th of September, Mary went from Elgin
to Tarnaway, the baronial residence of the earldom of Murray, and at that
time in possession of a tenant of the Earl of Huntly. Information being
there received that Sir John Gordon's friends and vassals, exasperated at
the over-degree of rigour with which he was treated, were assembling in
arms; and that Sir John, instead of going to Stirling, had joined the
rebels, a proclamation was issued, charging him to surrender, by way of
forfeit, into the Queen's hands, his house

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