National Records of Scotland

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Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587)

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Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587)

Mary I (reigned 14 December 1542 to 24 July 1567)

Mary Stewart (Marie Stuart) was born in Linlithgow Palace, the daughter of James V, king of Scots and Mary of Guise. From 1548 she lived in France and was married to the dauphin. Following his death she returned to Scotland in 1561, a year after the Scottish Reformation. She married Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, in 1565 and their son, the future James VI of Scotland and James I of England, was born at Edinburgh Castle on 19 June 1566. Darnley died in February of the following year following an explosion at the Kirk O'Field. She then married James Hepburn, 4th earl of Bothwell, who was generally believed to be Darnley's murderer. Following an uprising against the couple, Mary was imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle and forced to abdicate in favour of her one-year-old son.  After an unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne, she fled to England seeking protection from Queen Elizabeth I but was arrested and held in captivity until her execution for treason at Fotheringhay Castle on 8 February 1587. She is buried at Westminster Abbey.

Learn more in our open book blogs Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587) published on 25 July 2017 to highlight documents from the exhibition 'Famous Scots from the Past' and From the NRS Archives: Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587) published on 18 January 2019..

Mary Queen of Scots is one of the famous Scots commemorated in our Archivists' Garden. The entry on Scotch thistle refers to her incorporation of an image of this plant into the Great Seal of Scotland.

Marriage in 1565

The marriage of Henry, duke of Albany, earl of Ross and Marie, by the grace of God Queen sovereign of this nation, is one of the earliest events recorded in the Old Parish Registers (OPRs). The entry in the Old Parish Register for Canongate shows the couple had been proclaimed three times and were married in the chapel. Excerpts from this OPR volume (the 'buik of the kirk') have been transcribed and inserted at a later date. The transcription for this marriage entry is copied below.

Marriage entry for Mary Queen of Scots

Transcription of marriage entry for Mary Queen of Scots

A few pages further in the same volume another entry for King Henry and Marie, King and Queen of Scots, etc is dated 29 July 1565. It too has been transcribed.

Second marriage entry for Mary Queen of Scots

Transcription of second marriage entry for Mary Queen of Scots

Marriage entries for Mary Queen of Scots with transcriptions (18 to 44 KB jpegs)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-3/1

More images

The Image Gallery page on Mary Queen of Scots provides images of letters and other contemporary records.