MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS Letter Signed ("Marie R" at foot) to [William Keith], the Earl Marischal of Scotland,  Edinburgh, 19 September 1566

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Lot 259
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
Letter Signed ("Marie R" at foot) to [William Keith], the Earl Marischal of Scotland, Edinburgh, 19 September 1566

Sold for £ 27,500 (US$ 33,324) inc. premium

The Scottish Sale

27 Apr 2017, 11:00 BST

Edinburgh

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
Letter Signed ("Marie R" at foot) to [William Keith], the Earl Marischal of Scotland, in Scots, anent his reluctance to attend court: she accepts his "excusation in gude part" but reminds him to come to her as soon as his health will allow as his "advise on mony maters is verre needfull"; promising him furthermore not to take any action with regard to the Earl of Caithness, as requested by Keith in his letter; adding that "We ned not to be Langsun ffor we Luke schortlie for your awn presence" [abbreviations expanded]; integral address overleaf and contemporary docket, with later filing docket, trace of seal and original dispatch-slits; the opening 'M' of Mary's signature lightly inked 1 page, some slight dust-staining but overall in fine condition, folio, Edinburgh, 19 September 1566

Footnotes

  • MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS PLEADS WITH A RELUCTANT EARL MARISCHAL, ten months before her enforced abdication. The recipient, William Keith, was hereditary Earl Marischal of Scotland and – more to the point – father-in-law of Mary's half-brother the Earl of Moray. Having failed to engineer a protestant marriage for Mary, Moray had staged a half-hearted rebellion (the so-called Chaseabout Raid) the year before and fled to England. He returned to Scotland in March 1566, armed with a £1000 subsidy from Elizabeth, the day after the murder of Mary's secretary, Riccio. Moray was to be reconciled with the Queen following the birth of her son, the future James VI and I, that June, and was close to her during the period of physical collapse and near-death suffered by her that October and November.

    Their reconciliation notwithstanding, Moray was to adopt the same tactics as his father-in-law (as evinced by our letter) and avoid the court altogether as Mary's reign moved towards its denouement the following year. Moray used as his excuse not his own ill-health, but that of his beloved wife Annas (Agnes), the Earl Marischal's daughter: 'Moray's sudden wanderlust was the masterstroke of his career. His desire "to see the pairtis of France, Flanderis or ony uther pairtis beyond sey"... was delightfully vague, but the provision in his will which left Mary as the guardian of his daughter was exceptionally astute. To describe Moray's leave of absence during the tempestuous months from April to August as conspicuous would be an understatement' (Mark Loughlin, Dictionary of National Biography). Only after Mary's enforced abdication did Moray return to Scotland: 'On 15 August he interviewed his half-sister, who had abdicated on 24 July, 'like a ghostly father'... in Lochleven, listing the errors of the final two years of her reign. On 22 August Moray was proclaimed regent for James VI, with the support of the confederate lords and the protestants of Edinburgh, and with Mary's endorsement' (Loughlin).
    The Earl of Caithness, concerning whom Mary offers the Earl Marischal her assurances, was a leading catholic and conservative supporter of Mary, and had taken Mary's side in her dispute with the protestant Moray the year before: 'In the crises of the last years of Queen Mary's personal rule he remained an ally of the queen. After the murder of Darnley, Caithness acted as foreman of the jury at the sham trial which acquitted the earl of Bothwell of the crime' (Allan White, ODNB).
Contacts
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS Letter Signed ("Marie R" at foot) to [William Keith], the Earl Marischal of Scotland,  Edinburgh, 19 September 1566
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