The Lost Tudor Princess: The Life of Lady Margaret Douglas by Alison Weir

  His father-in-law, Angus, was fighting on the opposing side. His defection had angered Margaret, and left no question as to where her loyalties lay, but his years in exile had strengthened his character, and he had now proved his loyalty, his ability and his wisdom to his countrymen, which did much to improve the popularity of the Douglases in Scotland. When the Scots, led by Arran, were bloodily defeated at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, near Musselburgh, on September 10, 1547, Angus won fame for his brave command of the van. But the English were now entrenched in southeastern Scotland, and the Scots were obliged to hasten the young Queen away to Inchmahome Priory, which stood on an island in the Lake of Menteith, near Stirling, more than fifty miles northwest of Edinburgh.

  By October 7, Lennox had rejoined Margaret at Wressle Castle, where he raised troops from his local tenants and followers.7 By December he was back at Carlisle,8 and early in 1548 he and Wharton invaded Scotland. Angus’s brother-in-law, Robert, Master of Maxwell, promised to join them at Dumfries with two thousand men, and sent ten hostages to Lord Wharton as sureties for that; but when Lennox appeared before Dumfries, Maxwell’s force was nowhere to be seen. Wharton, meanwhile, had tried to ambush Angus’s forces at Drumlanrig, intent on capturing him and punishing him for his treachery, but Angus defeated him and escaped to Edinburgh. According to a later report by the malevolent Thomas Bishop, Lennox had failed to go to Wharton’s aid because he was sixteen miles away “sleeping in his bed.”9 By January 3, Lennox and Wharton had retreated to Carlisle, where Lennox, enraged at Maxwell’s treachery, convened a court to deal with the hostages. Four were hanged.10

  That January, Lennox was gratified to learn that Arran had abandoned a plan to marry his son, another James Hamilton, to Queen Mary, yet was dismayed to hear that Arran was negotiating for her to be sent to safety in France, where she was to marry the Dauphin Francis. In February 1548 the Scottish Parliament formally approved the match, in return for which the French had promised to send troops to expel the English from Scotland.

  Late in February, after Angus had attempted to entrap him at Drumlanrig Castle, Lennox, having failed to take Dumfries, was forced to flee south into England, and by March 6 he had returned to Margaret at Wressle.11 He had lost any support that had remained to him in Scotland, and Wharton found it “displeasant to see the small estimation he hath with those which are of his own blood in that realm.”12 Somerset, in recognition of his efforts in Scotland, bestowed on Lennox the office of castellan of Wressle Castle, a paltry reward commensurate with his achievements.13

  Lennox took no further active part in the war, which dragged on ineffectively for another year. In the spring he was at Carlisle, poised for instructions, but he had returned to Margaret at Temple Newsam by the middle of June. Thereafter the Lennoxes had leisure to enjoy their great estates, and they resided mainly at Temple Newsam, their chief seat in the late 1540s and 1550s.14

  Living in palatial splendor in Yorkshire, at a safe distance from London, the Lennoxes were able to intrigue in secret, as they were to do for the rest of their lives. Margaret discreetly opened their house—which already had strong associations with the old religion thanks to its connection with the Pilgrimage of Grace—to her fellow Catholics, and made it the most important center for the old religion in the kingdom, much to the irritation of the government, which remained suspicious of the Lennoxes’ activities. Yet the couple never did anything overtly to arouse censure.15

  Lennox corresponded with his brother, Robert, Margaret with her Douglas connections and occasionally with her father, Angus, with whom her relations were marred by bitterness at what she clearly saw as his disloyal support of the French faction in Scotland. It had placed her in an embarrassing position. And there was bad blood between Lennox and Angus because of what had happened at Drumlanrig, which put paid to the appeals that Lennox had made to his father-in-law for aid in securing the restitution of his Scottish estates.16

  Margaret’s cousin, the flame-haired James Douglas, Master of Morton, was the second son of George Douglas, Angus’s brother. Contemporaries remarked on his majestic countenance, yet his character belied that, for he was boorish, illiterate and greedy. Seduced by a pension from Henry II, the new King of France, Morton had abandoned his alliance with Somerset and come out for the French party in Scotland. In June 1548 a French army succeeded in cutting a swathe through the occupied territories and capturing Haddington, but the forces of William, Lord Grey de Wilton, had driven Morton, his kinsmen and his adherents out of Dalkeith Palace; they had been taken hostage and were now being escorted south on their way to the Tower of London. From Edinburgh, on June 20, Angus, who had been obliged to give up his bastard son, George Douglas, as one of the hostages, urged Margaret to aid her relations:

  Dearest daughter,

  After my most tender commendations and heartly blessing, this is to advertise you that, through mischance and undertrust, as I believe, the house of Dalkeith was destroyed, and taken forth of it our cousin [Archibald Douglas], the Laird of Glenbervie, the Master of Morton, George my son, David Home of Wedderburn [Angus’s brother-in-law], and Alexander his uncle. Praying you, with the advice of your husband, to see if ye can get them, or part of them, put in friends’ hands and gently treated there; and specially the Laird of Glenbervie, that is one sickly, tender man and has nine motherless bairns. Let George lie in pledge for him as your wisdom thinks best. And make my hearty commendation to my lord your husband, and give credence to the bearer, my servitor, David Stewart, as to myself. And God preserve you.

  Your father, Ard, Earl of Angus.17

  Angus’s messenger, David Stewart, arrived at Temple Newsam on June 27 and gave Margaret her father’s letter and one from her uncle, Sir George Douglas. Lennox forwarded both, with one of his own, to Somerset on June 27, telling him that Angus “has desired my wife and me to sue your Grace for our having the custody of the gentlemen named in their letters, and if not all of them, at least of the Master of Morton and the Laird of Glenbervie, which last the Earl esteems more than his own bastard son George, which he did deliver in hostage ere yet all the rest.” Lennox was very clear that Angus and his brother would have done better to have approached others “to have been suitors for them than either my wife or me, for we have received no such benefit at either of their hands, but rather to desire your Grace to keep fast when you have them, as always my poor opinion has been.” This belies the popular assumption that Margaret had put pressure on Lennox to aid her kinsman.

  Lennox did offer to have Morton and Glenbervie in “sure keeping” in his house, but only because he wanted “to prove what fruit might follow on the fair words” of Angus and his brother. Angus had said that when Lennox was next in Carlisle, he would then “well perceive” the goodwill of them both to Edward VI, and also toward Lennox’s advancement and the recovery of the lands he had lost in Scotland. Lennox assured Somerset that whatever the Protector decided in regard to their plea, as in all things, he would “be ready to accomplish [it] to my power: and as I am shortly to repair to Carlisle, I shall be glad to know your pleasure in the premises.” He added: “My wife hath desired me to make her humble recommendations unto your Grace, and saith that she will make answer neither to father nor uncle until she know your Grace’s pleasure therein.”18

  Somerset sanctioned the removal of Morton and Glenbervie to Temple Newsam, but it was only a short stop on the way to the Tower, where Morton was to spend the next two years. Glenbervie recovered his health and lived until 1570.


  On July 7 a treaty was signed at Haddington, providing for the marriage of Queen Mary and the Dauphin and guaranteeing Scotland’s future autonomy. Arran was to remain regent for six more years, during which the Queen Dowager, Marie de Guise, would steadily gain power and prove a formidable opponent, for she was determined to protect her daughter’s interests and preserve her Catholic kingdom intact. But the Church in Scotland was lax and corrupt, and the Protestant reformers had already begun to make an impact. Re
ligious affiliations had become identified with political factions: the Catholics who favored the “Auld Alliance” with France, and a growing body of Protestants who wanted closer ties to Protestant England.

  Still wishing to retain Arran’s support, Marie de Guise persuaded Henry II of France to grant him the French dukedom of Châtelherault (and it is as Châtelherault that he will be referred to subsequently in this narrative). She also secured the appointment of his dissolute bastard brother, John Hamilton, as archbishop of St. Andrews and primate of Scotland, hoping that he would be the savior of the Church in Scotland.

  In July 1548, Lennox again journeyed north to Carlisle to await orders from Somerset, but they never came, and by the middle of the month he had gone south to Wressle Castle,19 having directed Wharton to inform the Protector that he was ready to do any further service in the English cause.20 On August 7, 1548, Mary, Queen of Scots, now five years old, left her kingdom and took ship for France.


  Leaving Margaret at Wressle, Lennox, eager to secure his restitution in Scotland, traveled north in the winter of 1548–49 hoping that Angus would cross the border into England to meet with him and demonstrate the goodwill he had talked of in his letter of the previous summer; Lennox, of course, risked arrest if he entered Scotland. Angus, however, refused to see him, probably because he was unable to offer the help he had promised.

  Margaret Maxwell had borne Angus at least three sons.21 The eldest, James Douglas, Master of Angus, who had displaced Margaret in the succession to the earldom, had died in February 1548, and his younger brothers had recently passed away too. These bereavements may have prompted Angus to seek a reconciliation with his only surviving child.

  He extended an olive branch by sending his falconer, James Lindsay, to inform Lennox “that he had a promising cast of hawks for his mews, if his lordship would send [to] him across the Border for them.” Lennox dispatched his Scottish servant, William Paterson, to Douglas Castle in Dumfries to fetch the hawks, and on February 23, 1549, he informed William Parr, Marquess of Northampton, a Privy Councilor and the brother of Queen Katherine, what had transpired.

  Paterson had met with Angus on the green outside his castle, and Angus “kindly asked how my lord of Lennox, his son, did, and his daughter and their young son, for he would be glad to hear of [their] good welfare.” He asked what Lennox “intended to do. Is there no secret thing th’hath bidden thee show to me?”

  Paterson answered, “His lordship commanded me in no things in special at this time but to bring his hawks, and if I saw your lordship to commend him to his father, the Earl of Angus, and would be glad he were in good health, and more kind to him nor he hath been in times past.”

  “Well,” Angus replied, “seeing he hath sent no thing else to me, I will break a little of my mind to thee, for I trust thee well enough, and hath given the servants of my lands charge to receive thee at all times. Thou shall declare my daughter is [the] thing in the world that I love best, and my lord her husband, and that young boy there [Darnley], for my children are dead. And if they [the Lennox family] be at hom[e and] well then I am in comfort, and yet I am as strange to their doi[ngs] and proceedings, or how they intend to pass over the world as any enemy they have; nor I can not see them, nor they me, which breaks my heart. Trowest [thinkest] thou that I would see any man above, but that man [Lennox], and that boy [Darnley] which is my blood? And he hath been of a noble house and I have seen him like a man. An will he do my counsel, I shall wear these old bones of mine [Angus was then about fifty], but I shall make him a man yet. The world is very strange; I have seen many changes, yet hath it been said in old times that a[n] earl of Lennox and an earl of Angus could have ruled some thing upon this side of [the Firth of] Forth.”

  He asked Paterson to warn Lennox of a plan to bring “a great man” from France to take command of the French party in Scotland, which would pose a threat to the English commander, Lord Grey, then entrenched in the eastern Lowlands and already holding off French troops. “Therefore desire my son to get leave and my daughter to come down to Carlisle that I may see her ere I die, and that I may know his mind. An his way be better nor mine, I will use his counsel, and if mine be better nor his it is natural for him to take it, for I will give him advice in no thing but that which shall be for the weal of both the realms, and shall not be for the hurt of any thing he brooks in that realm. What care I [for] all the rest of the world if they [the Lennoxes] be in honour? Thou may tell him there was bonds between us afore this, but now there is greater bonds of flesh and blood.”22

  Angus, emotional in the wake of his recent losses, had offered everything the Lennoxes could have wished for: declarations of love and loyalty, the hint of the earldom of Angus for Darnley along with his grandfather’s vision of a glorious future, and a willingness to work amicably with Lennox, even to the extent of betraying his own government, proof if any were needed that his loyalty to his daughter and her husband came before all other considerations. It was this new intelligence that prompted Lennox to make his report to Northampton.

  But Lennox did not trust Angus, and would do nothing without the approval of the English government. On March 11 he informed the Council that because “the Earl of Angus, according to his accustomed fashion, hath often sent me fair words without deeds, and having experience of his untruths to the King’s Majesty, and unnaturalness always to me in Scotland as in this realm,” he had passed his new offer of friendship “lightly over.” He forwarded with his letter an importunate “hot message” that Angus had sent him on February 23, “and if it stand with your pleasure that I shall repair to Carlisle, either to allure him to the King’s Majesty’s service or to put him in greater suspicion within that realm of Scotland, or rather the regency thereof, I shall obediently accomplish the same.”23

  Margaret was not yet aware of the deaths of her infant half brothers, or of Angus’s meeting with Paterson. She was still angry with Angus for refusing to see Lennox, and could not forgive his refusal to support the marriage of the Queen of Scots to Edward VI. In one of Wressle Castle’s five towers there was a study called Paradise,24 and it was probably from here that on March 15, Margaret wrote a scathing letter to her father, which reveals a strong sense of self-worth:

  My lord,

  After my humble commendations and desiring of your blessing, this shall be to signify unto you the great unnaturalness which you show me daily, being too long to rehearse in all points; but in some I will declare. Now, last of all, my lord, being near you and so desirous to have spoken with you, yet ye refused it and would not; wherein ye showed yourself not to be so loving as ye ought to be, or else so unstable that any one may turn you. For divers times you have said you would be glad to speak with your son [Lennox]. My lord, remember he hath married your own daughter, and the best child to you that ever ye had, if ye call to remembrance your being here in England; howbeit your deeds showeth the forgetfulness thereof, insomuch as ye are so contrary to the King’s Majesty’s affairs that now is, his father being so good and so liberal a prince to you, which ought never to be forgotten.

  But now, my lord, I hear say that ye have professed never to agree with England, for so much as the most part of your friends are slain. But whom can you blame for that, but only your self-will? For if you would agree to this godly marriage,25 there needed not Christian blood to be shed. For God’s sake remember yourself now in your old age, and seek to have an honourable peace, which cannot be without this marriage. And what a memorial should it be to you for ever, if you could be an instrument for it.

  If I should write so long a letter as I could find matter with the wrong of your part, and the right of mine, it were too tedious for you to read. But, forasmuch as I purpose, God willing, to come to Carlisle shortly after Easter, I will keep it in store to tell you myself, for I am sure ye will not refuse coming to me, although my Uncle George [Douglas] and the Laird of Drumlanrig26 speak against it, whom I know would be glad to see you in your grave, although they fla
tter you to your face. My Uncle George hath said, as divers Scotchmen have told me, that though you had sons, he would be heir and make them all bastards; but, my lord, if God send you no more sons, and I live after you, he shall have least part thereof, or else many a man shall smart for it.

  Thus, leaving to declare further of my mind till I may speak with you myself, I commit you to the keeping of Almighty God, who send you long life with much honour.

  From the King’s Majesty’s castle of Wressle,

  the 15th day of March, by your humble daughter,

  Margaret Lennox.27

  The tone was anything but humble; it was hectoring and angry, with only a nod to the conventional courtesies, and unsurprisingly it scuppered all chances of a reconciliation for the present.


  Somerset now believed Lennox to be a spent force, and he was not recalled to fight the Scots. In 1549 the occupying English forces were finally driven out of Scotland and the pro-French Catholic party emerged victorious. From 1550, Lennox lived the life of a country gentleman with Margaret in Yorkshire, focusing on local concerns, such as trespassers on his land, rather than matters of national importance. On September 8 that year the Council wrote to John, Lord Conyers, “with all convenient speed” about letters from Margaret complaining of people hunting on her husband’s land.28 On September 18 the Council asked the Lord Chancellor to look into the matter,29 and it appears that it was resolved to her satisfaction as we hear no more of it.

  On May 9, 1551, King Edward recorded in his journal that a Scotsman called Robert Stewart, a member of the elite Scots Guard, the personal bodyguard of the King of France, had planned to poison the young Queen of Scots in the hope of winning favor in England.30 In June, Jehan Scheyfve, the Spanish ambassador, reported that Stewart had made an offer to the Council to poison not only Queen Mary but also King Henry II of France. The councilors had cross-examined him as to ways and means and made him set it all down in writing. When he had done that, they arrested him and had him imprisoned in the Tower and Newgate. At Henry II’s insistence, Stewart was deported to Calais and handed over to the French with his written statement, to be punished “according to his deserts.”31 Stewart was immediately executed, but there was speculation in England that Lennox himself was behind the plot to kill Mary so that he could seize the Scottish throne.32 However, no proceedings were taken against him, so it was almost certainly unfounded.

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