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

  On June 12, Margaret was feeling ill with a pain in her head and a “rheum,”40 and bade a servant write to Cecil to say that she understood “by his answer that the Queen would not grant the Earl of Lennox any more liberty in the Tower while he used himself as he did, which is strange and grievous to me, considering thereby that such wicked and envious reports are now credited” and he was suffering from ill health. “He will not deny anything laid to his charge which is true.” She could not “perceive any way in which he offends, unless, perhaps, you, Master Secretary, with the rest of the lords of the Council, would have him agree to false matters by him never known, meant, or thought, when you may long keep him as he is to the encouragement of his enemies.”41

  A week later (June 19) she was complaining “of being kept here as a prisoner, and put off with delaying answers, that so long as my lord uses himself as he does and will not confess things manifestly known he shall have no more liberty than he has, nor shall I come to the Queen’s presence.” She said she would “again humbly beseech the Queen to release us out of our miserable trouble, and suffer my lord and me to come together; or at least let him have the liberty of the Tower for his health.”42 We know that she did send such a petition.43

  Elizabeth was in a bad mood when she gave an audience to Quadra sometime between June 6 and 20. He told King Philip that she “could not refrain from telling me that she was going to complain to your Majesty of me for the bad offices I did in always writing ill of her and her affairs. She tried to convince me by citing particular cases, and at last said I could not deny that I had sent Dr. Turner to Flanders to try to get her turned off the throne and substitute others (meaning Lady Margaret).” We can deduce from this that Elizabeth did not suspect Margaret herself of complicity in the plot, and Quadra took care to exonerate her. He insisted that he had sent Turner “to arrange my private affairs,” and took the opportunity of his going to tell him to give an account to the Duchess of Parma44 of a plan mooted by the English Council to secure “the adherence of Lady Margaret to their side” by finding a French bride for Darnley. Then, if the Queen of Scots, who was then in bad health, were to die, Margaret and Darnley would still have a claim to the English succession, but would be prevented from gaining a foothold in Scotland.45 We hear no more of this plan.


  Lennox had been questioned several times by the Council, and on June 20, in the Tower, he made a written statement, saying he had “been oftentimes before them” and “answered to many matters untruly charged against him.” He declared his innocence, and complained of the methods of his accusers. He could not “declare more than he had already done, which he intends to rest upon during his life.” He “hears that there is more matter against him, which may very well be true, so long as he remains in captivity, his enemies in favor and at liberty, and their exploiters, hired men, and other fantastical persons allowed as his accusers,” and he “desires to know what the new matter is.” He wished “that the Queen would consider that he came not hither as a vagabond, or for lack of living, as some of his accusers did, but to serve her father.” As his livelihood had been granted only as part of his marriage settlement, and not as recompense for his lost inheritance in Scotland, he wished that the Queen would take it back and permit him “to depart her realm quietly, as he came into it, and not to receive this wrong and undeserved punishment.”46

  On June 27, Lennox wrote again to the Council from the Tower, saying he “hoped to have received some comfort from the Queen.” The Lieutenant of the Tower had told him that the councilors greatly disliked two points in his letter: “the one, that he should offer to deliver again his living into the Queen’s hands; the other, that he wrote that he sustained wrong in his imprisonment.” Their reply was that “he shall be judged by the laws of the realm. This answer is very grievous to him, which he supposes happened by some negligence in his writing. To the first he meant that rather than remain thus in the Queen’s high displeasure he would willingly yield up all such lands and livings as he has received, so that he trusts to recover her favor and to enjoy the lands quietly. To the second, if anything passed more than was seemly, it came from the pen and not the heart.”47

  That same day Margaret sent yet another plea to Cecil.48


  A marriage between Queen Mary and King Philip’s unstable heir, Don Carlos, was still under discussion, and Elizabeth remained determined to prevent it, for she had no intention of allowing the Spaniards to gain a foothold north of the border. Her alarm was shared by Catherine de’ Medici, the Queen Mother of France, and this was to Margaret’s advantage as it brought the marriage of Darnley to Mary once more into prospect. Margaret had been able to keep in touch with Quadra, who, on July 4, reported that Queen Catherine “fears the marriage of the Queen of Scotland with our Prince as much as the Queen of England does,” and “they think that jointly they can hinder it.” Catherine thought that a good plan would be to marry Mary to Darnley. Quadra believed that Moray was of the same opinion. “This brother of the Queen is all powerful now and, in consequence of his enmity to the Duke of Châtelherault and his sons, would be glad to hand over the country to the Earl of Lennox, who is the foe of Châtelherault and his rival for the succession.” Quadra was unsure how Elizabeth would feel about Mary marrying Darnley, “as she is displeased with Lady Margaret,” but she was so fearful of her marrying Don Carlos that “she may well consent to it.” Elizabeth believed that Darnley might in time be persuaded to turn Protestant, which Quadra thought “quite possible,” and thereby she would not “lack means to ensure herself against the Queen of Scots and Lady Margaret.”

  Quadra could not help thinking that there was “a closer understanding” between Mary and Margaret on the subject of the Darnley marriage than he had hitherto been informed, judging from the last words of a note he had received from Margaret:

  The whole cause of the Queen’s anger with my lord and with me, and the sole reason of our imprisonment and trouble, is the Queen of Scotland’s business. The basis of all charges against us is that we have tried to promote a marriage between the Queen of Scotland and our son, and are attached to the said Queen, which of itself is considered a great crime here, and that my lord and I have dared to send a simple recommendation to the said Queen, she being, as the members of the Council said, an enemy of her Majesty. They would have it that my lord and I had confessed to the charge about the marriage, but we never put forward such a thing and never confessed it.49

  On July 10, Margaret complained to Cecil:

  I have no answer of my last petition to the Queen’s Majesty, which were that it might please her Highness to be so gracious as to suffer my lord and me to come together, or at the least he to have the liberty of the Tower. My lord’s sickness comes only by close keeping and lack of comfort, so that, if it might please her Majesty to suffer him to come to Sheen and be kept here as I am, we should think ourselves much bound to her Highness, for otherwise I know he can not continue without danger of his life, which to her Majesty should be small pleasure.

  In the meantime she begged that he be allowed freedom to take exercise within the Tower.50

  The Council’s investigations into the Lennoxes’ activities were still ongoing. On July 18, Cecil sent instructions to Henry Manners, Earl of Rutland, to examine Ralph Lacy “as to the cause of his absence [overseas], and his dealings whilst he was abroad. If there shall appear any good matter against him, detain him in ward, or take bond for his appearance.” The Queen also wanted Rutland and Thomas Young, Archbishop of York, to closely question the priest Sir William of Malton about his celebration of Mass.51

  Margaret was becoming desperate. On July 22 she again wrote to Cecil:

  Good Master Secretary,

  This is great grief to me always to have such deferring answers, much like unto the first, as that my lord shall know his offense and shall have no more liberty as yet. For offense, I must say, as I have said, that neither my lord nor I have willingly offended her M
ajesty; but her pleasure is to take our doings not in so good part as other princes hath heretofore, in respect whereof we have received punishment, wherewith her Highness may be satisfied.

  Beseeching the Queen to have some consideration of me, her poor kinswoman, and of my husband (the rather for my sake), who is in close prison without comfort, far unmeet to his nature and, as her Highness knows, not very healthful, having a disease which solitariness is most against, as heretofore, to my comfort, her Majesty hath willed me to cause him always to be in company.

  Beseeching Her Highness, for the honour of God and for nature’s sake, to mollify and appease her indignation against us, who is and shall be, during our lives, her Majesty’s true and faithful subjects; desiring you, Master Secretary, to participate to her Majesty the same, and to be a mean that I may have some more comfortable answer than as yet I have had; in the which doing I shall find myself much bound unto you, and shall not forget the same if it lies in my power. And thus, with my very hearty commendations to you, I bid the same likewise farewell.

  From Sheen, this Wednesday, your assured friend to my power, Margaret Lennox and Angus.52

  There has been some speculation as to why Lennox feared being alone to the extent of having, as Margaret described it, “a disease which solitariness is most against.” This mention in her letter is the only reference to it. Strickland53 suggested that the remembrance of his cruel “deed of blood” in hanging child hostages in 1548 had haunted him ever since, and left him with a superstitious fear of being left alone with his conscience. But Strickland heavily embellished the facts, and her account was undermined by Sir William Fraser as far back as 1874.54 Nowadays the fear of solitude is recognized as autophobia, which may arise from a fear of being abandoned or neglected. Like other phobias it can be triggered by a traumatic event, particularly at an early age, so the murder of Lennox’s father, when he was ten, is more likely to have accounted for the condition. If that is true, he had even more cause to hate the Hamiltons. The symptoms can be both physical and psychological, and in an age that did not understand phobias might have appeared alarming, even life-threatening. Possibly Margaret was exaggerating Lennox’s condition in a bid for sympathy, but it is clear from her letter that the Queen knew about it and had suggested a way of dealing with it.

  On July 24, Margaret received a most unsatisfactory response from Cecil, and replied in frustration:

  Good Master Secretary,

  I have received answer from you by my man Fowler that my lord must acknowledge an offence and submit himself to the Queen’s Majesty, wherein ye know for my lord I am not able to say anything on his behalf unless I might speak with him, and so to give my best advice, or else have leave to send to him.

  As for my part, except it were for the schoolmaster’s going into Scotland without the Queen’s Majesty’s leave, I can remember no offence, and for that I do most humbly submit myself to her Majesty, and trust that my lord will so do, if he have not done the like already, being well assured, knowing his good nature as I do, that no man doth more lament the Queen’s Highness’ displeasure than he, or would more willingly submit himself in all things to have her favour, which I pray God to send us shortly, beseeching you, as I did before, to be a mean to her Majesty that my lord may have his liberty, wherein we shall think ourselves most bound during our lives, and shall pray for her Majesty’s most noble estate long to reign over us. And thus, beseeching you of answer with my most hearty commendations, I commit the same to the tuition of Almighty God.

  From Sheen this Friday. Your assured friend to my power, Margaret Lennox and Angus.55

  On August 2 the Earl of Rutland questioned Ralph Lacy. He had received further instructions from Cecil five days earlier by the indefatigable Bishop. Lacy, who had traveled in Europe on many errands for the Lennoxes, confessed that he had carried letters of commendation from Lennox and Darnley to Aubigny and the Countess of Feria. Lennox had funded his trips and Margaret had given him £4 (£680) for a horse. In Paris, Lacy had met the Scottish ambassador and Aubigny. He had sent letters from Paris to Lord and Lady Lennox, Arthur Lallard and Lennox’s servants. He had met Elder in Paris and they had both attended Queen Mary when she supped in her chamber. Lacy had then taken ship for Scarborough, and Rutland suspected that he had made contact with the Lennoxes’ adherents in the area. All that Lacy would admit was that he had visited Settrington twice, and that, over a drink in the hall, three of the tenants had informed him that the master and mistress were in prison in London. None of this was particularly incriminating.

  The next day, August 3, Rutland questioned Lacy again, and asked him if he had heard talk of “my lady’s pretence in succession.” Lacy professed ignorance, but during the course of this and a third interrogation, he did reveal the names of several agents working for the Lennoxes abroad, among whom were Lallard and Fowler. Despite having gotten very little of substance from Lacy, Rutland committed him to prison in York Castle.56

  Margaret’s plea to speak with Lennox before he answered the charges against him prompted a terse response from Elizabeth. Margaret was stung by this, and on August 5 she wrote again to Cecil

  for that he sent word by Fowler that the Queen said that my lord’s submission must come of himself and not by his wife’s teaching. As to that, my lord needs not to learn at my hand how to use himself to the prince [sovereign], wherein he was expert ere he came into England; and since his coming here he has needed no such schoolmistress.

  And for suing to any other of the Council save to yourself, I know not the pace, neither have I been accustomed to write to a council, but to assign one of them, of which it pleased the Queen’s Majesty, when my lord and I took leave of her Highness to go into Yorkshire when she was first queen, to appoint us yourself in our affairs, which we have hitherto observed. Besides that, I know my imbecility and weakness of brain far unmeet to indite [write] to such councillors, but only that I am traded with you already, praying you not to weary of my troublesome letters, and to have me in remembrance as ye see cause, which I pray God may be shortly, to my comfort, after these my long troubles.57

  On August 11, Rutland informed Cecil that he and the Archbishop of York had had the priest, Sir William, before them, but had allowed him “to depart upon a bond for his appearance when called for.”58

  Lennox had now made a formal submission to the Queen—but in vain. On August 12, Margaret raged to Cecil that she had “received many answers, whereby it seemed that her lord’s liberty rested only upon his submission,” but Lennox had tried to throw himself on Elizabeth’s mercy “and now it pleases the Queen not to accept it, which submission she accounts very slender for such a fault.” Since Margaret was sure he had made it “as largely as the fault required,” she had taken Cecil’s advice and written in protest to the Lord Keeper, Sir Nicholas Bacon, and the Earl of Pembroke, both Privy Councilors.59

  By August 22 the long months of confinement and anxiety had begun to take their toll, and Margaret was becoming deeply distressed about her and Lennox’s financial situation, since prisoners were required to pay for their own upkeep and any comforts they required, and the bills and debts were mounting up. The fact that she felt she could turn yet again to Cecil suggests that he had shown patience, and perhaps some sympathy, toward her. She wrote to him:

  Good Master Secretary,

  I can not cease but trouble you still till I may receive some comfort, praying you to remember my intolerable griefs, which ariseth divers ways, as well by my lord’s imprisonment and mine, being there thereby separated, as also by impoverishment, which daily increaseth, to our utter undoing: as first, being in great debt before the beginning of this trouble, and then coming up [from Yorkshire] upon the sudden, having nought but upon borrowing to sustain my charges of travelling; leaving all goods, though small they be, as well cattle as household stuff and grounds, without order, which now goeth to ruin and decay for lack of looking to; having not any trusty person spare to redress the same, certain of the servan
ts being in prison, and the rest few enough to attend our business here besides.

  Then the great charges we are at in these parts, one way with my lord and his servants’ imprisonment, another way with mine own and children’s, and those attending on me and them.60 That having naught but upon borrowing to suffice the ordinary charges since my coming up from Settrington to London, which shift I have so long made that now it faileth. And for the small portion of living my lord and I have, the revenue thereof is far unable to suffice the half of the ordinary charges we be now at, besides that we were beforehand of divers of our bailiffs, as occasion enforced us unto.

  All which considered, making my moan to you, my trust is that ye will be a mean to shorten the time of my lord’s trouble and mine, beseeching ye, so soon as ye may, to participate the premises to the Queen’s Majesty, having confidence that her Majesty’s good nature is such that she will not see me utterly impoverished now in my old age [she was forty-six], being her Majesty’s poor kinswoman. And thus, leaving to trouble you any further, save with my hearty commendations, I commit you to the tuition of Almighty God.

  From Sheen this Saturday. Your assured friend to my power, Margaret Lennox and Angus.61

  In the Tower, Lennox, shut up with his fears, was furious to learn that another prisoner, Katherine Grey’s husband, the Earl of Hertford, was allowed certain freedoms. On September 20, Sir Edward Warner, the Lieutenant of the Tower, told Cecil how greatly he was “annoyed by the extreme passions of the Earl of Lennox, who has been more unquiet since the Earl of Hertford was allowed his small liberty.”62 It must have made Lennox feel even more desperate.


  At the beginning of October, Cecil informed Margaret that Her Majesty had cherished resentful feelings against her ever since she herself had been imprisoned in the Tower by her late sister, Queen Mary, it having been reported to her by Thomas Bishop at the time that Margaret had advised that measure. On October 2, Margaret vehemently denied this, and complained again of the injustice of all the other accusations that had been laid against her and Lennox. “If my lord and I might find the Queen’s Majesty so good and gracious to us as to hear our accusers and us, face to face, I would be out of doubt to find shortly some part of her Highness’s favor again.”63

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