THE assassination of Rizzio, in the Queen’s presence, whether we consider its origin, its achievement, or its result, must be deemed one of the most atrocious events, in history; as representing the manners of the age, and the baseness of the men. Much more was intended to have been done, on this bloody occasion, if the chiefs had not differed; as we learn, from Randolph’s information to Cecil, though one priest, Friar Black, was slain, in his bed. It is, certainly, very horrid, to hear Bedford cry out: ‘Now, that this enemy of religion is taken away, every thing will go well!’ Elizabeth rejoiced to have been now freed of such guests, who were offensive, and expensive to her.
So many nobles, and their followers, gathered around the Queen, at Dunbar, that she was, soon, too powerful, for the new and the old, conspirators. The Earl of Glencairn, as being one of the old conspirators, had the Queen’s permission to wait upon her, and was pardoned. The Earl of Rothes followed his example, with the same success. Murray, and Argyle, also, made several applications to the Queen, for pardon, which she granted, on condition of their retiring into Argyleshire, during her pleasure; the Queen not thinking it safe, in her condition, to have too many traitors, to contend with, at the same disastrous time. Morton, Ruthven, and Lindsay, fled into England, where they were received, and protected. Secretary Maitland absconded: and even Knox fled into Kyle, where he hid himself, from the notice of law, though not from the consciousness of guilt.
At the end of five days, the Queen returned to Edinburgh, well accompanied, by her subjects. Darnley declared to the Queen, and her Privy Council, that he was innocent of this conspiracy; and never counselled the same. For this tergiversation [equivocation], Darnley was laughed at, by Murray’s faction, and despised by the people: Darnley was made the scape-goat, and never again recovered the confidence of any one. Lennox, who was equally guilty of treason against the Queen, was taken ill, upon seeing the unsuccessful turn of this odious plot; he never spoke to the Queen, but once, when he saw her in the castle, after her return to Edinburgh; and, for ever after, hated the Queen; as he had injured her, though she had done so much for him. There was, on the Queen’s return, a vigorous prosecution of the conspirators against Rizzio; yet, was this conduct more affected than real: Only two mean persons, Scot, and Yair, were convicted of the guilty fact, and executed. Almost all the other conspirators were forgiven by her, before the end of the year. Secretary Maitland was first pardoned, by the influence of Murray, contrary to the opposition of Bothwell; the other officers of state were gradually, readmitted, to perform their several functions, except the chancellor Morton, who lost that office, on the 20th of March, which was given to Huntley.
The Queen, on this occasion, felt, that she was not only a woman, but a pregnant woman, who was very ill qualified, to struggle with unprincipled, and unfeeling ruffians. And, she seems to have very willingly accepted the recommendation of her privy council, to retire into the castle of Edinburgh; and to wait, therein, the time of her delivery. One of the first persons, whom the Queen met, when she entered the castle, was poor Arran, whom she kissed, and treated, with great kindness: he was sensible enough to know, and to feel, the Queen’s kindness to him: yet, was he obliged to retire, from Edinburgh castle; giving great security, that he should remain within Hamilton-castle, or four miles thereof, or enter either the castle of Dunbarton or Dunbar, at the Queen’s pleasure.
The Queen now employed her usual good nature, in reconciling the nobility to each other: and she is said to have sent for Argyle, and Murray, in order to agree them with Huntley, Athol, and Bothwell: she, certainly, is supposed to have given a splendid feast, in the castle, with a view to this reconcilement. But, it was quite in vain, to attempt to reconcile nobles, for any length of time, who were irascible, interested, and ambitious. The Queen, meanwhile, wrote to Elizabeth, and to other princes, not to shelter, or protect Morton, and his late complotters, who had not only disturbed her government, but endangered her life. Her good cousin, in her usual practice, sent Kylligrew, to congratulate Mary on her escape, and complained of her harbouring one Ruxbie, who, upon some hints from Robert Melvill, and a little investigation, was discovered, to be a spy of Secretary Cecil; and had been, clandestinely, sent to Scotland, for discovering the Queen’s intercourse, whatever it might have been, with the English Roman Catholics. Ruxbie was arrested; yet, Cecil was not, from prudential considerations, brought to shame.
This was a moment of intrigue, when the nobles endeavoured to circumvent each other, and the two Queens tried to outwit each other. Mary discovered, at length, that Randolph, who had long been her enemy, had given 3,000 crowns to the Countess of Murray, during the late rebellion; but, had written a scandalous book; reflecting on the Queen’s birth, dignity, and government. And, the Queen sent Robert Melvill, to desire Randolph, to be removed from her court, where he acted, more like an intriguer, than an accredited agent.
However well intended it might have been, by the privy council of Scotland, to advise the Queen, to retire into the castle, for her accouchement; yet, was it converted, by matchless artifice, into a plot, which had for its end, the transfer of the Queen’s sceptre to Murray’s guilty hand. The gray bearded statesman reasoned in this manner: Recollecting the assassination of Rizzio, in the Queen’s presence; and considering the Queen’s period of pregnancy; the probability was, that she would be delivered of a monster; of a still born child, pretty certainly; and knowing how subject child-bed is to accidents, they inferred, with great appearance of reason, that the Queen would, in all probability, never leave her bed alive. Arran, the lunatic, we have seen, turned out of Edinburgh castle. The Duke, the presumptive heir of the crown, with his sons, and adherents, resided, at Dieppe, as expatriated men: And, we must regret, with commiseration, that the affairs of such a man, and such a family, though protected by law, had been so little cared for, themselves, owing to their imprudence. In these circumstances, Murray, with Argyle, his brother in law, went into the castle, when the Queen’s pregnancy advanced, and would allow no one to sleep in the castle, but Darnley, who, as they knew, could be easily expelled, in case of demise. Huntley, the chancellor, and Bothwell, the high admiral, desired to sleep, within the castle; but, were flatly refused, owing to Murray’s influence: And Bothwell was soon after sent to the borders, on pretence of watching the movements of Morton. Cecil knew the whole detail of this plot, and conveyed the whole of it to Elizabeth, who seemed to be delighted, with the probability, that her good cousin would never again rise, from her child-bed: And Randolph was commanded to remain, at Berwick, in order to hasten to Edinburgh, for supporting the bastard’s pretensions to the Scotish crown, in opposition to law, and right.
Yet, this is the epoch, which [William] Robertson fixes, for the commencement of Bothwell’s influence over Mary; with a recollection, perhaps, of Huntley, and Bothwell’s offer, to risque their lives, in extricating the Queen, from Holyrood-house, when in the murderous hands of her own ministers, and Murray’s partizans. But, when Bothwell first tried his influence, he found he had none; as we have seen. When the Queen retired to Alloa, after her accouchement, an altercation ensued, in her presence, between Murray, and Bothwell, in regard to the pardon of Maitland, when Murray prevailed in obtaining Maitland’s restoration to his office, and his power of mischief. We thus see, that Bothwell failed, when he tried his influence a second time.
The Queen kept her Easter, which happened on the 14th of April, in the castle. But, she had little solace, and less hilarity, with Darnley, whose conduct, in Rizzio’s assassination, she was completely acquainted with: And, as he had thus shewn, his own, and his father’s purpose, to have been, to seize her sceptre, it was not easy to remove her jealousy of his future conduct. He soon after rode to Stirling, with a dozen horse; meaning to have treated with Argyle, and Murray: But, the Queen sent Robert Melvill, to warn those nobles, not to deal with him; so that he was disappointed of his purpose, whatever it were. The Queen, soon after, recalled Murray, and Argyle, to court, when she endeavoured, to promote a general reconcilement among the nobles; as we have seen. But, the Queen never could be persuaded, that she was endeavouring to perform impossibilities: she could not be made to believe, even after Murray’s rebellion, and Murray’s conspiracy, with Darnley, Lennox, the whole officers of state, and many able, and vigorous characters, that he was capable of conspiring against her; that he had an overpowering faction; and that his ambition was, constantly, aiming at interests of his own, quite distinct from hers; and that he, invariably, courted Elizabeth, but never his sister: The influence of Murray over Mary, as it was not to be described, so can it only be compared to the singular influence of the rattlesnake over its prey: She could not resist it. The discords, between her, and her husband, created town-talk, at Edinburgh, and at London, during some months, as we learn, from Cecil’s correspondents. They became reconciled, about the middle of June: But, such a reconcilement, between such personages, could not be sincere, or of long endurance.
Throughout the subsequent month, while the Queen amused herself with her work, and her books, without a wheeled carriage, Murray employed himself, during some months, in obtaining special pardons, for his many friends, who had been concerned, in Rizzio’s murder. The Queen, perceiving, at length, about the middle of June, that the time of her delivery approached, invited her principal nobles to Edinburgh, being still afraid of Morton’s approach. She made her will; thrice written; one copy, she had sent to France, the other she kept herself, and the third she left with those, to whom she committed the chief charge, for the time: And, on the day, preceding her delivery, she wrote to her good cousin Elizabeth, a letter, which was to be conveyed, by Sir James Melvill; she also wrote to Drury, the governor of Berwick, desiring him to supply Melvill with passports, and to have post horses in readiness. After all these preparations, the Queen was, safely, delivered of a male child, on the 19th of June, between nine and ten, in the forenoon. This event was received, throughout Scotland, with great joy, and thanksgiving, except by Murray, and his faction. On this occasion, the assembly of the church sent a deputation, to testify their gladness; and withal to desire, that the prince might be baptized, according to the common form of the reformed church. This deputation was graciously received; but without complying with the request, she presented her infant to those deputies, which prevented the mortification of a refusal.
It was the Lady Boyne, who, by the Queen’s order, informed Sir James Melvill of the happy event of the Queen’s safe delivery of a son; and commanded him to repair, as soon as might be, to Elizabeth’s court, with the information. He arrived, the first night, at Berwick, and on the fourth day, thereafter, at London. Randolph, as his presence, at Berwick, much less, at Edinburgh, was not necessary, on so happy an issue, to so many speculations, immediately, followed him. Melvill first saw his brother Robert, the Queen’s envoy, at Elizabeth’s court, who gave notice to Cecil of this unlooked for event, with a request, that he should keep the secret till Sir James’s arrival, at court. Elizabeth was then, at Greenwich; and Melvill arrived there, in the evening; as ill luck would have it, ‘her Majesty was in great mirth, dancing after supper: But, as soon as Secretary Cecil whispered in her ear, the news of the prince’s birth, all her mirth was laid aside, for that night: All present marvelling, whence proceeded such a change; for the Queen did sit down, putting her hand, under her cheek; bursting out to some of her ladies, that the Queen of Scots was mother of a fair son. The next morning,’ continues Melvill, ‘was appointed, for my audience, at what time, my brother, and I, went to Greenwich, and were told how sorrowful her Majesty was, at my news; but, that she had been advised to shew a cheerful countenance; which,’ adds Melvill, ‘she did, in her best apparel; saying that the joyful news of the Queen, her sister’s delivery, of a son, which I had sent her, by Secretary Cecil, had recovered her out of a heavy sickness, which she had layen under, for fifteen days: Therefore, she welcomed me, with a merry volt; and thanked me, for the diligence, that I had used, in hastening to give her that welcome intelligence, but sad disappointment. All this she said, before I had delivered unto her my letters of credence. Then, I requested her majesty to be a gossip to the Queen, to which she gladly condescended. Your Majesty, said I, will now have a fair occasion, to see the Queen, whereof I have often heard your Majesty express so great a desire: Whereat, she smiled; saying that she wished her estate, and affairs, might permit her; in the mean time she promised, to send both honourable lords, and ladies, to supply her room.’ Thus far Sir James Melvill, who, as [Robert] Keith remarks, tells the whole tale; of the happy delivery of the Scotish Queen, after so many perils; of the disappointment of Murray, after such expectations; of the surprise, and dissatisfaction, of the envy, and chagrin, of Elizabeth, after what had been written by Randolph, and inculcated by Cecil.
When we see so many pensions given to worthless wretches, it is some satisfaction to perceive, that the Queen, as soon as she was fit, to think of business, rewarded the poor women, who had served her faithfully, during her confinement. Margaret Houseton, the relict [widow] of one Beveridge, was her midwife, at the birth of the Prince. Margaret Little, the spouse of Alexander Gray, burgess of Edinburgh, was “maistress nureis” [also “maistress nutrix” or wet nurse] to the Prince, and Steuart of Scotland: and for the good service of nursing him, there was granted, in February 1567, to her, and her husband, the half of the lands of King’s barns, in Fife, during their lives. Such, then, were the rewards of those useful characters, who performed essential services to the Queen, who was not aware of the roguery, which surrounded her, arising from the baseness of her good sister, Elizabeth, as well as the villainy of her good brother, Murray.
Of King James, who was thus introduced into life, who was delivered to the Earl of Mar, as his governor, and to Lady Mar, as his governess; was henceforward, owing to the treachery of Mar, even from his boyish days, made an actor, in the guilty scene; the more curious reader may wish to know something more minute, and interesting, than is usually found, in general history.
Here is the ESTABLISHMENT of his HOUSEHOLD, in March 1567:
Item: imprimis, my Ladie Mar, the governess.
Helen Litill, maistress nutrix;
Nanis Gray, her daughter.
Helen Blyth, her woman servant.
Gilbert Ramsay, her man servant.
The ladie Kippenross.
Christiane Stewart, the daughter to the late lord of Coldingham.
Alysown Sinclair, keeper of the Kingis claythis.
John Lyon, maister cuik.
James Murray, foreman.
William Murray, keeper of the veschell.
Christell Lamb, gallepyn, in the kitching.
Jok Slowan, porter in the kitching.
Jerome Boy, in the wyne sellar.
George Boig, browster, and sellerman.
John Boig, his brother.
Margaret Balcombie, lauander.
Johne Cunnyngame, maister houshald to the Kingis grace, with ane servande.
Andrew Hagie, stewart, with ane servande.
John Dunkesoun, minister.
William Murray, in the Kingis chalmer.
William Brokkes, in the Kingis chalmer.
Johne Acutrie, Franchman, and his vyife [cancelled]
James Marschell, keeper of the laidnar [cancelled]
William Fairbarne, furnisar of coillis.
Ane Pastisar, callit Patrik Rannald.
Mekill Thomas Hudsoun.
William Fowlarton, thair servande.
Item. For my Lady Mar, and hir servandis, and furnist mease daylie takand thairto in bred, vyn, and
kiching, as after followis:
Imprimis daylie xiiij gret bred 1 qt. 1 pt. vyne, 1 galloun ii qts aell, iij leiddes collis wouklie, in
vynter, viz. frome the first of September to the first of Aprill; and in symmer 1½, leid, viz. frome
Aprill till the month of September wouklie; and ane half punde candle in vynter, and in symmer
ane quarter of ane punde.
Item to my Ladie and hir servandis daylie the kiching, on ane flesche day, ij particles beef, ij byilzeit
pulterie, ij caponis rosted, iij quarteris of muttoun, ane kyd, ane syd of sukand weill, vj chikynis
or dowis; with bakyne meit to my Ladie, alanerlie, at the discretioun of the maister houshalde,
with potages, after thair discretioun; and on the fische dayis siclyk refarrit to the stewart, ande
The maisteres nutrix, rokkeris and vtheris gentilmen, in the chalmer.
Item. To the maisteris nutrix daylie vj gret bred, 1 pt. vyn, 1 glliss aell, ij leiddis coillis ouklie in
vynter, and 1 leid in symmer; ane half pund candle in vynter, and ane quarter punde in symmer.
Item. The iiij rokkaris, alysoun Sinklar, Gressell Gray, and my Lord of Coldinghame his douchter,
dailie, viij z gret bred, 1 pt vyne, 1 gll. 1 qt. 1 pt. aell, 1 leid collis ouklie in vynter, and nayn in
symmer; ane half quarter punde of candle.
The kiching for the maisteres nutrix, rokkaris, and vtheris, in the chalmer.
Item. Ane particle of beif daylie, and bilzeit pultrie, ij rosted, caponis iiij quarteris of muttoun, ij
particlis of weill; vj chikkins, or dowis; ane kyde, with potagis refarrit to the maister househald,
Item. To the violaris, and thair servandis, daylie, vij gret bred, 1 gll. 1 pt. ael, ij leidis collis in vynter,
and nane in symmer.
Kiching to the violaris:
Item. ij quarteris of muttoun; ij powterie; with potagis, and fische, to be refarrit to the maister
houshald, his discretioun.
Item. To the lavander iij gret bred, 1 qt. 1 pt. aell, ij leiddis coillis in vynter, and in symmer 1 leide.
Item. In the flesche day ane quarter of mouttoun, and on the fische day for hir livery fische daylie
Item. To the maister houshald, the pantreman, twa sellerman, Johne Lyoun, maister cuik, Johne
Dunkesoun, James Murray, foirman, Williame Murray, Andrew Hagie, Jerome Boy, the pastesar,
John Acutre, franchman, James Merschell, William Fairbarne, and the maister houshald and
Andrew Hageis servandis in bred daylie in bred xvj, in aell ij, gallounis, 1 qt. 1 pt. of vyne
Item. In the Kiching to thame, ane particle beif: ane muttoun: ij particles weille; ij caponis; vj
chikkins, or dowis.
10 thoughts on “From Rizzio’s Murder, till the Queen’s Delivery., pp.127-136.”