National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

David Riccio (1533-1566)

David Riccio (1533-1566)

Musician and courtier

David Riccio (or David Rizzio) was born in Italy. He travelled to Scotland in 1561 with the duke of Savoy's ambassador. He sang before Mary Queen of Scots who subsequently appointed him a gentleman of the Privy Chamber and later secretary. His closeness to the queen aroused the suspicions of her husband, Lord Darnley, and of the Scottish nobles. One evening David Riccio was in the supper chamber at Holyroodhouse with the queen and her half-sister when lord Ruthven, George Douglas and the earl of Morton's men burst in, dragged him from the room, stabbed him and pushed him down the stairs. He was buried in the royal vault at the Abbey of Holyroodhouse.

Death in 1566

David Riccio died on 9 March 1566. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Canongate is on the same page as that of the death of Lord Darnley and records that Seigneur David was murdered (slane) at Holyroodhouse. It is another of the notable sixteenth century records that has been transcribed at a later date and inserted in the original register volume.

Death entry for David Riccio

Death entry for David Riccio and transcript (22 and 31 KB jpegs)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-3/1

Trial for murder

An image of an extract from the minute book of the High Court of Justiciary showing part of the trial of Thomas Scott and others for their involvement in the murder is included in the Image Gallery page for Mary Queen of Scots.