Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Stewart, James (1531?-1570)
STEWART, Lord JAMES, Earl of Mar, and afterwards Earl of Moray (1531?–1570), regent of Scotland (often called by English historians the ‘Regent Murray’), was natural son of James V of Scotland by Lady Margaret Erskine—younger daughter of John Erskine, fifth earl of Mar of that name, and afterwards married to Sir Robert Douglas of Lochleven [see under James V]. Queen Mary Stuart was his half-sister. He is in the peerages and other books usually stated to have been born in 1533 or 1534, but in a papal dispensation of 1534 he is stated to be in his third year (Hist. MSS. Comm. 6th Rep. p. 670). On 20 Oct. 1534 he was designated heir to his elder natural brother in the lands of Douglas, which were then conferred on his brother by the king (Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1513–46, No. 1425); and on 31 Aug. 1536 he himself received a grant of the lands and famous stronghold of Tantallon, Haddingtonshire (ib. No. 1620). In 1538 he obtained the priory of St. Andrews, and he was also prior of Mâcon in France. In 1541 he entered the university of St. Andrews, and he remained at the university until 1544, but there is no evidence that he graduated. He accompanied the young Princess Mary to France in 1548 (Lindsay of Pitscottie's Chronicle, ed. 1814, p. 506; Lord Herries, Memoirs, p. 23). Chalmers (ii. 277) quotes the terms of his pass, 9 July 1548, which gave him license to go to France ‘to the sculis and to study, and to do other his lawful business.’ He had, however, returned, according to Lord Herries, ‘but newly’ (Memoirs, p. 24) by September 1549, when he collected the levies of Fife, and repelled a strong force of English raiders under Lord Clinton, driving them to their ships, with a loss of six hundred killed and wounded and one hundred prisoners (ib.) In October of the same year he sat as prior of St. Andrews in the provincial council held at Edinburgh (Wilkins, Concilia, iv. 46). On 16 Jan. 1549–50 he was contracted in marriage to Christian, countess of Buchan, infant daughter of the master of Buchan, but the contract was never fulfilled. On 6 Sept. 1550 he had a license to pass to France for ‘dressing some affairs of the queen’ (Chalmers, iii. 279), and on 7 Feb. 1550–1 he obtained from the queen of Scots letters of legitimation (Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 1546–80, No. 565). In 1552 he again visited France, going by way of England (Chalmers, ii. 280), and in the register of the English privy council for 1550 and 1552 are entries of sums of money paid to James Stewart, among other Scots, on four separate occasions. On this account it has been inferred that while in France he acted as a spy in the interests of England; but there is no proof that the James Stewart referred to was Lord James, nor, if there were, is it known that he was paid as a spy. But without doubt Lord James at a comparatively early period was a sympathiser with the reformed doctrines, and therefore inclined to the English alliance. He is included by Knox among the persons of rank who after Knox's return to Scotland in 1555 resorted to his teaching at the house of the laird of Dun (Works, i. 250), and his resorting thither implied previous dissatisfaction with the old doctrines. Knox afterwards returned to Geneva, but in March 1556–7 Lord James, with four others, signed a letter inviting him to return to Scotland (ib. p. 268).
Appointed, with other commissioners, by the parliament of 14 Dec. 1557 to go to France to witness the marriage of Queen Mary to the dauphin, Lord James was equally with the commissioners most careful to guard the independence of Scotland. Like most of the commissioners, he was also attacked on the way home by a sudden illness, and, although in his case life does not seem to have been seriously imperilled, he ever afterwards felt its ill effects (ib. p. 265). According to Bishop Lesley, Lord James while in France intimated to Queen Mary that he had renounced the ecclesiastical life, and craved from her the earldom of Moray, which she declined to grant him, on the ground that he ought to remain in the kind of life to which his father had consecrated him. She, however, expressed her willingness, should he return to the ecclesiastical life, to place him in a bishopric, and to grant him various other preferments in France and Scotland; but, according to Lesley, Lord James was obstinate in his determination not to accede to her desire, and, disappointed in his ambition to obtain the earldom of Moray, resolved strenuously to oppose Mary of Guise, the queen regent (History, Scottish Text Soc. ii. 286). There is just enough of truth in Lesley's accusation to render it efficacious as a calumny. It may be that originally secular ambition did induce Lord James to renounce the ecclesiastical life and embrace protestantism, though the choice was most hazardous; but in any case, from whatever motives, he had already made his choice before he visited France in 1557, and this implied opposition to the queen regent, should she endeavour to hinder the progress of the Reformation. Had she been disposed to favour the reformed doctrines, he would have given her his warm support. We must in fact begin with conceding that Lord James had become as strenuous a Calvinist as Knox himself. His faith seems to have fitted him like a glove. It was conjoined probably with a powerful secular ambition, but this rather strengthened than impaired it. How far this ambition was an inheritance from his royal ancestors, and how far it was imposed on him by circumstances and the instinct of self-preservation, are questions which can be answered, if at all, only after a very careful sifting of facts. Frank and even bluff of speech, he possessed marvellous self-control, and no one was less dominated by impulse. Thus there is no statesman of his time who reveals to us less of his personality. He is ever outwardly calm, passionless, imperturbable. Moreover, with all his bluntness, he is not only peculiarly reticent, he seems to delight in self-effacement. If he contrives it is mainly through others. His favourite rôle is that of the national delegate, responding at the last, and merely at the call of duty, to save his religion or his country from disaster when all other help has failed.
In November 1558 the Scottish crown matrimonial was voted by parliament to the dauphin (Acta Parl. Scot. ii. 506–7). Knox asserts that Lord James favoured the proposal, and that it was through him that the act of parliament was passed (Works, i. 294); but be this as it may, though nominated by the queen to bring over the sword, sceptre, and crown of Scotland to the dauphin, he did not do so; and Lord Herries states that he had determined in no case to proceed to France, and delayed setting out under various pretexts (Memoirs of Mary, p. 38). Other events also occurred to hinder his journey, for the dispute with the queen regent on religious matters was rapidly nearing a crisis. From the time of the meeting of parliament in November it was foreseen that a conflict of some kind was at hand; but Lord James had at first determined to appear rather as a supporter than an opponent of the queen regent. When in May, after the spoiling of the monasteries at Perth and elsewhere, the queen regent gathered a force to prevent further excesses, Lord James joined her, and, undertaking the office of mediator, was sent by her as commissioner to the protestants who had assembled to defend Perth (Knox, i. 337), and on the 28th succeeded in effecting an agreement between the two parties (ib. p. 343), but he secretly left her on discovering that she did not mean to keep the agreement.
Immediately afterwards Lord James stepped to the front as the leader of the lords of the congregation. Not merely his birth, but his abilities and education, ensured him a certain predominance over the unlettered Scottish nobles; and henceforth, until his death, whether acting avowedly as leader or remaining carefully in the background, he was the dominant political personality in Scotland. Along with Argyll, though summoned by the queen regent to return to allegiance, he openly defied her, and proceeded to St. Andrews, whither they invited the gentlemen of Fife and Forfar to meet them to concert measures for defence (ib. p. 347). How far he was directly responsible for the destruction of the cathedral of St. Andrews which followed the preaching of Knox cannot be ascertained; but there is at least no evidence that he interposed to prevent it; and since prompt and stern opposition on his part could scarce have failed to be effectual, it is probable that if he did not incite or countenance the vandalism, he was not averse to it, and realised its sensational value in impressing the popular imagination. When the queen regent resolved to march on St. Andrews to revenge the outrage, he and Argyll with great celerity gathered a powerful force, with which they barred her approach in a strong position on Cupar Muir (ib. i. 351–2). Baulked of her purpose, she agreed to a truce of eight days; but it being discovered that she was now taking advantage of the truce to strengthen her forces, it was resolved to march on Perth and drive the French garrison from the city, which was accomplished on 25 June (ib. p. 359). This was followed by an attack on the palace and church of Scone, which Lord James and Argyll for that day succeeded in saving from the fury of the multitude (ib. p. 360), but being at nightfall compelled to make a forced march, so as to anticipate the French in holding the passes of the Forth at Stirling, they were unable to prevent the multitude from working their will on the morrow.
As to this forced march, not only was it successful in its special object, but the promptitude of Lord James and Argyll so alarmed the queen regent that she hastily evacuated Edinburgh and fled to Dunbar, the reformers, with Lord James at their head, entering Edinburgh in triumph on 29 June. The inevitable result of such a bold and decisive step was to put Lord James forward as the rival of the queen regent. Indeed, as soon as the reformers took up arms the queen regent seems to have taken for granted that the main purpose of Lord James was to seize the crown for himself (Melville, Memoirs, i. 78). On account of his representations Melville was sent by the king of France to sound Lord James as to his real intentions. To his inquiries Lord James replied, with at least perfectly conclusive logic, that, so far from desiring the crown, he was prepared, if toleration to the protestants were guaranteed, to accept for himself perpetual banishment from Scotland, provided only that his rents were sent to him in France. He succeeded in convincing Melville of his disinterestedness; but he could scarcely expect to be taken at his word, and he was not.
If the conduct of the queen regent rendered a change of government necessary, it was as likely as not that Lord James would be chosen regent in her stead. On 27 Jan. 1558–9 Throgmorton wrote to Cecil regarding secret information that a party was being formed to place Lord James in supreme power (Cal. State Papers, For. 1558–9, No. 1080), and there are various contemporary rumours to a like effect. Nevertheless Lord James acted throughout with perfect fairness and prudence, and his position is logically unassailable. Whether it was that he judged that the time had not yet come, or that he cherished no such ambitions as were ascribed to him, he never, so far as is known, gave the slightest encouragement to the notion that personally he was the rival of the queen regent. On the contrary, it was probably at his suggestion that James Hamilton, second earl of Arran and duke of Châtelherault [q. v.], was induced in September 1559 formally to join the protestant party as its recognised head. But again there is no proof that in supporting the duke he was entirely disinterested; the introduction of the duke may or may not have been a device to divert suspicion from himself. The issues were complicated and uncertain, and in any case his accession to the regency was as yet probably not regarded by him as within the range of practical politics. The two urgent essentials were to strengthen the hands of the reformed party in Scotland, and to secure the active support of Elizabeth. Therefore, while replying to the remonstrances of the king of France, Queen Mary, and the queen regent with the same emphatic expression of his desire for ‘the quietness of the realm,’ and with the assurance that if the queen regent would accede to the reasonable demands of the reformers, he would do his utmost to support her authority, Lord James was doing his utmost to obtain the help of Elizabeth to expel the French from Scotland, and thus leave the queen regent without the only support that could maintain her in power. Moreover, as Mary Stuart since 10 July 1559 had been queen of France, the expulsion from Scotland of her own troops was clearly in open defiance of her authority, and practically amounted to a renunciation of her sovereignty.
A contest of the most momentous nature thus seemed imminent, and that the sovereignty of the young queen was not overthrown was mainly due to unforeseen accidents. The queen regent resolved to proceed with the fortification of Leith, and when, on 12 Oct., the reformers entered Edinburgh with a force of twelve thousand men, she retired within her fortifications. On the 28th she was formally suspended from the regency. Lord James, a bold and skilful soldier, took an active part in the skirmishes which broke the monotony of the siege, but without much success. On 21 Oct. he and Argyll vainly endeavoured with a party of horse to capture the Earl of Bothwell, who had seized from the laird of Ormiston the money sent by Elizabeth to the help of the reformers (Knox, i. 456). On 5 Nov. a force under Lord James and James Hamilton, third earl of Arran [q. v.], was severely defeated by the French near Restalrig, and the misfortune so dismayed the reformers that ‘men did so steal away that the wit of man could not stay them’ (ib. p. 464). It was therefore determined that a special appeal should be made to Elizabeth for assistance, and that meanwhile, Edinburgh being evacuated, the forces of the congregation should divide into two parties, one proceeding to the west and the other, under Arran and Lord James, occupying Fife. Learning that the French were moving eastwards from Stirling, Arran and Lord James assembled their forces at Cupar Muir, whence they proceeded to defend the towns on the south coast of Fife. Here, though much inferior in numbers to the enemy, they maintained not unequally a desperate struggle, until the appearance of English ships in the Firth of Forth caused the French to retreat hastily again towards Stirling (ib. ii. 9–13; Sadler, State Papers, i. 684). In February 1559–60 he was, with several other leaders, delegated to negotiate at Berwick a treaty with the English commissioners by which Elizabeth agreed to assist the Scots in expelling the French from Scotland, the Scots undertaking, in accordance with Elizabeth's jealous regard for sovereign rights, to remain loyal to the queen of Scotland and her husband, so far as was consistent with the ancient laws and liberties of the kingdom (treaty in Knox, ii. 46–52). The English army entered Scotland on 2 April 1560, and was joined by Moray and other lords, with their followers, at Prestonpans, whence the combined force proceeded towards Edinburgh (ib. p. 58). In subsequent negotiations with the queen regent Lord James took a prominent part, insisting specially on French evacuation, which the queen regent would probably have agreed to, had not her death, on 10 June, taken place before the negotiations could be completed.
The death of the queen regent was a happy deliverance, probably for her, and certainly for Lord James and the protestants. It left the catholics without a recognised head, and thus rendered possible the very one-sided treaty of Edinburgh on 8 July 1560. The cardinal provision of the treaty was that against the employment of foreign troops in Scotland; for although the sovereignty of Mary Stuart was also formally recognised, this formal recognition was virtually little more than a mockery—a circumstance made clear by the fact that, without taking counsel with their sovereign, the estates sent commissioners to Elizabeth to propose a marriage between Elizabeth and Arran. The intention to supersede Mary by a joint sovereignty of Arran and Elizabeth is self-evident. To this proposal Lord James was by his silence a party; but he could scarce have desired its success, even had he regarded his own sovereignty as impossible or improbable; for Arran's promotion would mean his own political extinction. Still, even had he been disposed so far to favour his sister's rights, he probably knew that any objection on his part would be attributed to jealousy of Arran, and would therefore do more harm than good. As Lord James perhaps anticipated, Elizabeth rejected the proposal; and hardly had she done so when news reached Scotland of the death of Mary's husband, Francis II, on 5 Dec. 1560. No event could have been more unwelcome to Elizabeth; nor could it have been welcome to the reformers and Lord James. It brought matters to a sudden crisis, a crisis full of difficulty and peril. Either Mary's rights to the Scottish throne had to be recognised by her recall to Scotland or formal deposition would be necessary.
But here again Lord James was equal to the occasion, though Elizabeth was not. He was equal to it in spite of, and almost in direct opposition to, Elizabeth. If selfishness was his main motive, it was selfishness under thorough discipline, and the selfishness of a consummate statesman or at least politician. It was a great opportunity for himself, and he probably made the most of it; but it must be placed to his credit that the path he decided to tread was also seemingly—that is, so far as acts are a key to motives—one of the strictest integrity and honour. Compelled by almost inevitable destiny to assume overwhelming responsibilities, he acquitted himself to admiration. Fully recognising the personal danger to himself in Mary's return, he was yet persuaded that her return ought not to be prevented, and, except at the risk of greater evils, could not. From the beginning, therefore, he sought to win her confidence; but he did not attempt to do so by disguising his opinions or aims. On 15 Jan. 1560–1 he was by the Scottish parliament appointed deputy to her, the main object of his visit being to ‘grope her mind.’ While he was in France every attempt was made to win him to catholicism; but not for an instant did he even pretend to waver. On the contrary, he aimed to impress on her the impossibility of reimposing catholicism on Scotland; and on 10 June 1560, after his return to Scotland, he, with perfect candour, advised her, ‘for the love of God,’ not to ‘press matters of religion, not for any man's advice on earth;’ and stated that he gave her this advice not merely in her own interest, but for the affection he bore the religion which he himself confessed (Letter in Addit. MS. Brit. Mus. 32091, fol. 189, printed in full in Philippson, Marie Stuart, iii. 434–43). To Throgmorton, the English ambassador in Paris, Lord James revealed the whole tenor of his interview with his sister, concealing absolutely nothing. For doing so he has been denounced as a traitor of the blackest kind, influenced mainly by a desire to prejudice his sister in the eyes of Elizabeth. But only the most superficial acquaintance with facts could originate such a theory. It is not a question of his disinterestedness. It was absolutely necessary for his own sake that he should retain Elizabeth's confidence, and he could only succeed in doing so by perfect frankness. That he did succeed is evident from the letters of Throgmorton, who on 1 May wrote to the queen that Lord James deserved to ‘be well entertained and made of by the Queen of England’ (Cal. State Papers, For. 1561–2, No. 158), and expressed the opinion that Elizabeth could not bestow ‘too much favour and benefits on him’ (ib. p. 159); and on 4 May described him as ‘one of the most virtuous noblemen, and one in whom religion, sincerity, and magnanimity as much reign as ever he knew in any man in any nation’ (ib. p. 167). But, though it was doubtless of the highest importance to him personally to stand well with Elizabeth, this was not the main motive of his frankness, for he was bound in honour to reveal to Elizabeth, who was in close alliance with the Scottish protestants, the tenor of his communications with his sister; he was bent on effecting a reconciliation between the two sovereigns; and he was ready to dare Elizabeth's displeasure by insisting that his sister should return to Scotland. It is, in truth, as clear as noonday that Lord James, so far from endeavouring to prejudice his sister in the eyes of Elizabeth, had an entirely opposite purpose in view. His main aim seems to have been to impress Elizabeth with the necessity of securing the friendship of the Queen of Scots. Thus, when Throgmorton learned that Elizabeth was proposing to intercept Mary on her voyage from France, he wrote on 26 July that he marvelled at Elizabeth's resolution, because Lord James, during his visit to France, had done what he could to persuade his sister to come home (ib. No. 337); and on 6 Aug. Lord James himself opined to Elizabeth that ‘the chief glory of both’ queens stood ‘in a peaceable reign, which is apt to conciliate a mutual love between them,’ and made this very definite proposal: ‘What if your title did remain untouched, as well for yourself as for the issue of your body? Inconvenient were it to provide that the Queen, my sovereign, her own place were reserved in the succession to the crown of England, which your majesty will pardon me if I take to be next by the law of all nations, as she is the next in lawful descent of the right line of Henry VII, and in this meantime this isle to be united in a perpetual friendship’ (ib. p. 384).
Indeed, in nothing does Lord James appear to such advantage as in his conduct to his sister in this dubious crisis; and it is simply inconceivable that his main aim was her ruin. He did his utmost to smooth her difficulties and reconcile the protestants to her rule; defended her, notwithstanding the denunciations of Knox, against the attempt to deprive her of the mass (Knox, Works, ii. 271); and exercised all his skill to promote a close friendship between Elizabeth and her. Granted that he was striving mainly for the retention of his own authority, still it remains that he regarded his interests as compatible with his sister's sovereignty. It was naturally of prime importance to him and Maitland that they should win her confidence, but they endeavoured to win it by means not merely perfectly honourable, but highly praiseworthy: by effecting a reconciliation between the two queens, their hope being that if Elizabeth forgot the past and recognised the Queen of Scots' right of succession to the throne of England, the Queen of Scots might be led to forget even her devotion to catholicism. How far they were wrong in their calculation as regards the Queen of Scots it is difficult and unnecessary to decide; it suffices that in circumstances of great peril and difficulty they chose what was undoubtedly the path of honour, and that they are wholly free from the blame of failure, which must be shared, in whatever proportion, between the two queens. Nevertheless the conduct of Lord James was quite compatible with enlightened selfishness; for though by promoting this alliance he was extinguishing any hopes he himself might have cherished of succeeding to the Scottish throne, the success of his diplomacy would almost certainly assure him a position of exceptional power and splendour. Moreover, besides staving off immediate danger, he was creating an opportunity for rendering himself secure against the future.
No special office was assigned to Lord James beyond that of member in the new privy council chosen on 6 Sept. 1561. He was merely the friend and informal adviser of the queen, but the internal administration of the kingdom was virtually committed to him; Maitland, as secretary, being employed in all important diplomatic business. On 30 Jan. 1561–2 he had a grant under the privy seal of the earldom of Moray, and on 7 Feb. he obtained the earldom of Mar, and publicly assumed that title: apparently because it was deemed inexpedient that he should assume that of Moray, the earldom of Moray being then held informally by Huntly under the crown. On 8 Feb. he was married by Knox, in the church of St. Giles, to Agnes Keith, eldest daughter of William, earl Marischal, when, according to Knox—then much exercised about Lord James—‘the greatness of the banquet and the vanity used thereat offended many godly’ (ii. 314). But Knox's alarms were not justified. Never for a moment does Lord James seem to have contemplated the possibility of turning traitor to protestantism; rather was he bent on obtaining guarantees for his continuance in power, should his devotion to protestantism finally compel him to break with the queen. He was utilising the queen somewhat unscrupulously perhaps, but honestly, according to his lights, for the advantage of protestantism plus himself. For mere self-protection it was essential that he should either cripple his chief rivals among the nobility or attain to a special position of ascendency. His most powerful rivals were Bothwell, Châtelherault, and Huntly. By an expedition against the thieves of Liddesdale in July 1562 (Cal. State Papers, For. 1562, Nos. 290, 320), he prevented Bothwell, a fugitive from justice, from re-establishing himself in the south of Scotland, and compelled him to leave the country. As for Châtelherault, though his place in the succession constituted him a direct rival, his indecisive character rendered him comparatively innocuous, especially since his influence had been discounted by the curious escapade of his son Arran. The most formidable and avowed of Moray's enemies was Huntly; and it was of vital importance even for protestantism that his power in the north of Scotland should be crippled. A convenient and plausible method of doing so was by the transference of the earldom of Moray to Lord James; and Lord James, having obtained a private grant of it from the queen, persuaded her to make an expedition to the north in order that he might, by force if necessary, enter into possession. Apparently anxious to stand well both with her brother and Elizabeth, Mary made no objection. Also, as good luck would have it, Huntly was foolish enough to resist; and thus Lord James, formally created on 18 Sept. Earl of Moray, had the opportunity not merely of deducting from Huntly's possessions that earldom, but of effecting the forfeiture of all Huntly's estates, Huntly himself being also a victim of the battle which resulted in the total defeat of his followers.
But it was from the date of this signal triumph that Moray's difficulties really began. Probably his sister had been induced to sanction the expedition against Huntly mainly by a consideration of the favourable impression it would produce on Elizabeth. She may have even calculated that it would remove the last doubts of Elizabeth as to the expediency of formally recognising her right to the English succession. But the news that when Elizabeth in October was at the point of death, only a single voice was raised in behalf of the Queen of Scots as her successor, necessarily awakened both Moray and his sister from their day dreams. Once the Queen of Scots was robbed of the hope of recognition as Elizabeth's successor, Moray's position became one of supreme danger; and it is plain that the hope of the Queen of Scots at this time received a crushing blow. She was almost constrained to look out definitely for a catholic alliance; whereupon she and Moray necessarily became distrustful of each other. Perhaps her one objection to him was, as she said, that he was so ‘precise’ in matters of religion; but he never pretended that he could modify this precision. Indeed about this time Randolph relates a really ludicrous instance of what she must have regarded as his impracticable fanaticism. ‘There is,’ so he wrote from Dunbar on 30 Dec. 1562, ‘thrice in the week an ordinary sermon in the Earl of Moray's lodgings in the queen's house so near to the mass that two so mortal enemies cannot be nearer joined without some deadly blow given either upon the one side or the other’ (Cal. State Papers, For. 1562, No. 1375). But, though uncompromising as regards his own faith, Moray was quite disposed to make allowance for his sister's disappointment. Moreover he was anxious to discover some via media which would enable him to remain in power; and, like all the other Scots, he was disposed to resent the insult to them implied in Elizabeth's refusal to recognise their queen's right to the English succession. How far he was sincere in his approval of the Don Carlos marriage project cannot be determined; but that he did formally approve is beyond doubt. Maitland, who then enjoyed his confidence, was employed in the negotiations; and De Quadra, the Spanish ambassador in London, in his long letter to the King of Spain on 18 March 1563, referred to Lord James as a party to the proposal (Cal. State Papers, Spanish, 1558–1567, pp. 305–12), and on 3 April informed him, on the authority of Mary's French secretary Raulet, that Lord James was extremely desirous of the marriage (ib. p. 318). It has been supposed that Moray—who expected that in Scotland protestantism would, as heretofore, be tolerated—calculated on being appointed regent during his sister's absence in Spain; and had such an arrangement been possible or compatible with the more ambitious purposes of the Queen of Scots, it would have been a not unsatisfactory solution, at least from Moray's point of view, of a most puzzling problem. But the Don Carlos proposal, having come to nothing, was succeeded by Elizabeth's pretended ultimatum, the absurd, and apparently insincere, offer to Mary of the hand of her own favourite, Dudley, earl of Leicester. The intolerable patronage implied in such an offer, especially when coupled with no guarantee of Mary's right to the English succession, was probably as distasteful to Moray as to his sister. His attitude was quite unequivocal: he plainly told the English ambassadors that Elizabeth's offer, unless conjoined with parliamentary recognition of Mary's right to the English succession, was little better than mockery; that if, however, her right were conceded, he would do his best, provided Elizabeth really wished it, to persuade his sister to accept Dudley; but that if after all these years he failed to win for Mary this recognition of her right, he knew perfectly well both that she would feel bound to ally herself with Elizabeth's enemies, and that he himself would cease to share her confidence (Bedford and Randolph to Cecil, 23 Nov. 1564, in Cal. State Papers, For. 1564–5, No. 813). The Dudley proposal having also failed, Mary almost immediately began to indicate a desire to accept the proposals of Darnley. Indeed, she had contemplated such a possibility when she proposed the recall of Lennox, who had arrived in Scotland in September 1564; and Moray was no doubt aware that she did so. Nor probably was he altogether hostile to the arrangement. At any rate, he declined to be a party to prevent Lennox's recall, and informed Cecil not only that he could not labour for the stay of Lennox, but that he thought it could not stand with Elizabeth's honour to be the occasion thereof (Cal. State Papers, For. 1564–5, No. 556). Maitland also further reminded Cecil that Moray and Lennox were both of one name, then regarded in Scotland as one of the strongest bonds of unity (ib. No. 557). It is therefore likely that Moray was originally disposed to favour the Darnley marriage provided he could trust Darnley and his father, and especially if Elizabeth could be induced to sanction the marriage and conjoin with this the recognition of Mary's right to the succession. No other match was in truth more desirable in the abstract as insuring the permanent union of the two kingdoms. But any hopes of salvation by such an alliance were dashed by his knowledge of the dispositions and purposes of Darnley and his father, and by Elizabeth's hostility to the marriage. The very fact that Darnley was next lineal heir to the throne of England after Mary rendered all the more dangerous a marriage unsanctioned by Elizabeth; for it tempted Mary and Darnley to seek to make good their joint rights by force and by catholic aid. His strenuous opposition to the marriage can thus be fully accounted for by his complete comprehension of the political situation: selfish motives probably mingled with patriotic ones, but had the protestants understood the case as he did, they would have given him their unanimous support.
As early as 3 Feb. Randolph wrote to Cecil that both Moray and Maitland in their hearts disliked Lennox (Cal. State Papers, For. 1564–5, No. 958); on 7 April he reported that Moray had retired in disgust from the court (ib. No. 1085); on 29 April he informed Cecil that when Moray came to the court of the queen at Stirling he had worse countenance than he looked for (ib. No. 1125); and on 8 May he wrote that Moray having declined to give a written promise to support the marriage, the queen had given him ‘many sore words’ (ib. No. 1151). As soon in fact as the queen had resolved to marry Darnley, friendship with her brother became impossible. A significant indication of Moray's impending doom was given in the sudden arrival of his enemy Bothwell from France. But Bothwell was a little premature; on Moray demanding justice on him for his previous conspiracy with Arran, the queen dared not give a positive refusal; and when on 1 May Moray came with six thousand men to Edinburgh to keep the law against him, Bothwell failed to appear (Randolph to Cecil, 3 May, in Cal. State Papers, For. 1564–5, No. 1140).
Moray was perfectly frank with his sister as to his motives for refusing assent to the Darnley marriage: it was because he had little hope that Darnley ‘would be a favourer of Christ's true religion.’ But having once informed her of his decision, and his reasons for it, his frankness ceased; not only did he forbear to intimidate her by threats or warnings, but he carefully masked his preparations to defeat her purpose. At a meeting of the nobles held at Stirling on 15 May he kept silence, and permitted a resolution in favour of the marriage to pass without dissent. As far as the queen could gather, he might have intended to make the best of it. Nevertheless, along with Knox, he was concerting plans to frustrate it. He excused himself from attending a convention at Perth on the ground of concern for his own safety, but about the same date an assembly of the kirk was held at Edinburgh, at which resolutions were passed against popery and the mass. From a letter sent by Arygll and Moray to Randolph on 1 July (Illustrations of the Reign of Mary, p. 118), it seems certain that Moray did form a plan for the capture of the queen and Darnley on the journey from Perth to Callendar. For this he has been severely reprehended; but it must be reckoned rather to his credit than not that, instead of delaying to oppose the queen until the marriage had taken place, he did his utmost to prevent her committing herself to a course of action which he saw would entail either her own ruin or the ruin of protestantism in Scotland. He failed in this particular stratagem, nor was he successful in preventing the marriage by force of arms: partly by reason of Mary's promptitude, partly because of Elizabeth's deception, partly because he was unable to convince the bulk of the nation that the quarrel was more than a personal one. There was no general belief that protestantism was in danger; for the queen maintained that it was not; and she had as yet given no adequate cause for doubting the sincerity of her assurances. Therefore Moray, though backed by Knox, was mainly supported by nobles, such as Châtelherault and Argyll, who had a personal grudge against Lennox, while Morton and other protestant nobles were from motives of kinship ranged on the side of Darnley and the queen.
Having failed to prevent the marriage, Moray's position became much more hazardous; for he found himself committed to a direct attempt to overthrow his sister's sovereignty; and as yet the bulk of those who sympathised with protestantism, even although they realised more and more that protestantism was in danger, were not disposed to support even such a trusted leader in so momentous an enterprise. Only by the substantial aid of Elizabeth could Moray have triumphed, and Elizabeth carefully limited her aid to incitement and small doles of money. Thus the result [for particulars see under Mary Queen of Scots] was that Moray on 18 Oct. crossed into England; and since an urgent request on the 14th for reinforcements to be sent to him at Carlisle met with no response from Elizabeth, he discovered too late how grossly Elizabeth had beguiled him. Not only so, but he found that Elizabeth, after using him as her tool, had resolved, at least ostensibly, to disown him, and treat him in a fashion as a criminal. On learning that Moray was proceeding to the court at London, she ostentatiously despatched a message to forbid his approach. He was therefore stayed at Ware, but some time after he received a private message that Elizabeth would receive him. It is scarce conceivable that he was not secretly informed of the ignominious part he was expected to play in the farce which was in contemplation, else how could Elizabeth be certain that he would agree to play it? Be this as it may, she invited him to come to the court only that she might publicly insult him before the ambassadors of France and Spain; compel him to deny in her presence that in his rebellion he had received aid or countenance from her; and bid him to leave her presence as an unworthy traitor to his sovereign (the queen's speech quoted in Tytler's History, ed. 1868, iii. 219; Melville, Memoirs, p. 212). Still, Elizabeth not only gave this traitor an asylum in England, but continued confidential communications with him with a view to contriving a new method of circumventing the purposes of the Queen of Scots.
Moray, who on 7 Aug. had been put to the horn in Scotland (Reg. P. C. Scotl. i. 349), made an attempt through Cecil to obtain the pardon of his sovereign and permission to return to Scotland; and, according to Sir James Melville (Memoirs, p. 147), he even sought the intercession of Riccio, ‘more humbly than any one would have believed, with the present of a fair diamond enclosed within a letter full of repentance, and fair promises from that time forth to be his friend and protector.’ He probably had some hopes of success when he learned that the queen and Darnley were not on good terms; but discovering that Riccio was a more formidable enemy than Darnley, and being threatened with the forfeiture of his estates at a parliament to be held in Edinburgh in February, he became a party to the plot against Riccio's life. No doubt to effect Riccio's overthrow was to render an important service to protestantism; but this was to be conjoined with Moray's return to power. Nor, even had Moray's aims been wholly unselfish and religious, would they have justified the means. The expedients to which he had recourse to insure his final return to power were even more humiliating than the average Scottish noble would have stooped to. After taking the preliminary resolve to do away with Riccio, he not only without hesitation supported, if he did not suggest, the charge of conjugal infidelity against the queen, but he condescended to enter into a special compact with Darnley, whom but lately he had endeavoured to ruin with such disastrous consequences to himself, and he even signed a solemn obligation to be a ‘loyal servant’ to Darnley as king (Cal. State Papers, For. 1566–1568, No. 165). Moreover, while utilising Darnley, he was all the while intending to deceive him; for his faith in Darnley's character and intentions was as slight as ever, and in truth the intention was that not Darnley but Moray should have the supreme power. Thus on arriving at Holyrood on the morrow after Riccio's assassination, Moray had to pretend to the queen that he knew nothing of and abhorred the plot; and while condoling with her on the outrage, he at once set himself to utilise it so as to deprive her of her sovereignty. Frustrated in this attempt by her flight to Dunbar, he had to disguise as best he could his deep disappointment; and while accepting 3,000l. from Elizabeth (ib. 1566–8, No. 193) as a bribe to do his utmost for the restoration of English influence, he was compelled from mere motives of personal safety to pretend friendship with his sworn enemy Bothwell, and effectively, if obscurely and indirectly, to aid him in his ambition to win the queen's hand. At first merely tolerated by Mary, because for the time being she deemed it inexpedient to punish him, he was formally reconciled to her before her accouchement, and on 11 July he wrote to Cecil that he was restored to his sovereign's favour, and would do all in his power to maintain the unity between her and Elizabeth (ib. No. 567); but ‘the utmost of his power’ amounted to less than nothing. Any influence he possessed over the queen he had lost for ever; he was simply not to be interfered with, and he knew it, so long as his aims coincided with those of Bothwell and the queen: so long, that is, as he could be utilised for furthering the marriage on which the queen and Bothwell were both equally bent. A necessary preliminary was to get rid of Darnley, and they certainly had in some fashion assurance of Moray's consent to this. That the subject of assassination was directly mooted in Moray's presence at the Craigmillar conference is unlikely; and probably he kept quite clear of the special conspiracy against Darnley. But if he did so it was not to save Darnley but himself; for he must have known that murder was afoot. He was plainly determined not to be made a scapegoat or a martyr, and therefore, instead of either encouraging or discouraging the assassins, he contrived to be at St. Andrews when the assassination occurred. But Bothwell and Mary must have understood that the assassination had his sanction. The tacit bargain—for bargain there was, else Morton and other banished lords would not have been recalled—was apparently that Bothwell was to have a free hand [see Douglas, James, fourth Earl of Morton]. But the stipulation for Morton's recall shows that Moray had further purposes in view, and he no doubt wished to give Bothwell and the queen full facilities for accomplishing their own ruin. Even after the assassination not a word escaped his lips against Bothwell, not a syllable of warning or remonstrance to his sister; but he took care—for his life even was at stake—to obtain license to leave the country and go to France before the marriage took place.
Having thus saved himself from direct contamination with the assassination and the marriage, Moray awaited the developments of a situation which, partly by mere passivity, partly by subtle and indirect suggestion, he had done so much to create. Even when protestants and catholics combined against the queen and Bothwell, he gave no sign. It has been supposed that Morton and others were acting by his advice; but no trace of communications with him has been discovered. He remained in his foreign retreat, and conscientiously abstained from any participation in this second and successful rebellion. He was neither consulted as to the terms of the queen's surrender at Carberry Hill, nor did he give his sanction to her imprisonment in Lochleven. It was only after she had been induced to resign the crown, and to sign on 24 July an act nominating him regent (Reg. P. C. Scotl. i. 539–40), that he consented to return to Scotland. Even then he declined to have anything to do with the regency, until during an interview with the queen at Lochleven he so forcibly impressed on her her own folly and danger that she entreated him to accept the regency as a special act of kindness to herself. When also on 22 Aug. he was formally installed, he professed to consent even at the last with the greatest reluctance, and only did so after special pressure of the lord justice clerk in the name of the queen and king, seconded by the intercession of the assembled lords (Throgmorton to Elizabeth, 23 Aug. 1567, in Illustrations of the Reign of Mary, p. 289). One of his main reasons for this show of reluctance was that he wished to appear in the eyes of Elizabeth as merely the protector and guardian of the queen, who had proved herself unfit to be entrusted with the government; and nothing could have been more pleasing to Elizabeth than such an interpretation of the arrangement.
Once he had accepted the government, Moray undoubtedly displayed great firmness and courage, or, as Throgmorton expressed it, he seemed resolved to imitate ‘rather some who led the people of Israel than any captaine of our age’ (Throgmorton writing about 20 Aug. 1567, ib. p. 282). But at the same time he manifested an unscrupulous adroitness worthy of the worst of the Israelitish kings. While he showed no trace of vindictiveness against his sister, he determined that her return to power should be rendered impossible. Therefore without trial she was declared by the parliament of 15 Dec. to have been herself ‘privie art and part of the actual device and deed of the murder of the king,’ and thus virtually incapacitated from ever again occupying the throne. Further, though himself indirectly involved in the Darnley murder, he did not scruple, in order to silence popular clamour and prevent inconvenient revelations, to do his utmost to secure the conviction and death of the mere tools of the conspiracy, while the principals were allowed to go scot free. Sir James Balfour (d. 1583) [q. v.] the closest of Bothwell's associates, not merely remained unaccused, but obtained the gift of the priory of Pittenweem.
The escape of the queen from Lochleven made still greater demands on Moray's courage and address. Though completely taken by surprise, he rejected the offers of reconciliation, and rallied his followers with such rapidity as wholly upset the calculations of her supporters. But with her defeat at Langside and flight to England the situation became still more complicated. He had to protect himself and Scotland against Elizabeth as well as Mary; he had to circumvent the intrigues of Maitland and other secret favourers of the dethroned queen; he had to save his own reputation from the possibilities of damage by searching inquiry into the circumstances of the murder. All this he accomplished with consummate ability and address, but also by means of unscrupulous deception wherever this was deemed necessary. Thus his original consent to the Norfolk marriage scheme was a mere ruse either to throw Maitland off his guard or to prevent a full inquiry; it is not even impossible that he himself revealed the scheme to Elizabeth. Though induced finally to commit himself to a public accusation of the queen of Scots, he made it manifest that he did so on compulsion, and he even succeeded in obtaining the formal sanction of Elizabeth for his continuance in the regency. Also when confronted on his way to Scotland by a plot for his assassination, in revenge for his treachery to Norfolk, he unblushingly asserted that he was as devoted as ever to the Norfolk marriage project, that his accusation of the queen of Scots had been compulsory, and that he would do all that he could to promote the marriage. Yet no sooner had he arrived in Scotland than he procured the formal ratification of all his proceedings against the queen in England. Further, after inducing some of her leading supporters to attend a convention on 10 April 1568 at Edinburgh to consider the terms of a pacification, he ordered the Duke of Châtelherault and Lord Herries, on their refusing to sign an acknowledgment of the king's authority, to be apprehended and thrown into prison. Thus summarily deprived of their most powerful allies, both Argyll and Huntly soon afterwards gave in their submission. All the while Moray, partly it may be with a view to being accurately informed of his sister's intrigues, partly to promote pacification in Scotland, kept up the pretence of favouring the Norfolk marriage. At the convention held at Perth on 28 July he, however, voted against the divorce from Bothwell, and as soon as the intrigues of Norfolk were discovered by Elizabeth he revealed to her all that he knew, excusing himself for giving the project his seeming approval by his desire to escape assassination, and by his uncertainty as to her attitude towards himself and the Queen of Scots. But, either to protect himself against a most dangerous enemy or to save his credit with Elizabeth, he now deemed it advisable to proceed against Maitland of Lethington, and did so by contriving that Maitland should be formally accused by Captain Crawford, a dependent of Lennox, of the murder of Darnley. Maitland, however, was rescued from prison by Kirkcaldy of Grange; and even his trial, fixed for 22 Nov., was indefinitely postponed owing to the concourse of his friends in Edinburgh. Shortly after this, Moray, having secured the special approbation of Elizabeth by the capture of the rebel Earl of Northumberland and his imprisonment in Lochleven, made a proposal for the deliverance of Mary into his hands. ‘There is no more likely means of remedy,’ so runs the bond of Moray and others, ‘and for the quiet of both the realms, than that the said queen's person were again in Scotland, and so be something further from foreign realms and daily practice with the princes thereof.’ She was of course to be detained, but was to be ‘provided for in competent state like unto a queen,’ and no ‘sinister means’ were to be taken ‘to shorten her life’ (Cal. State Papers, For. 1569–71, No. 580). That Elizabeth would have agreed to a bona fide arrangement of this kind is unlikely, but the negotiations were suddenly cut short by the assassination of Moray at Linlithgow by James Hamilton (fl. 1566–1580) [q. v.] of Bothwellhaugh, on 21 Jan. 1569–70. His body was removed to the abbey of Holyrood, and on 14 Feb. was carried thence to St. Giles', where it was buried in the south aisle, Knox, according to Calderwood, making a sermon in which ‘he moved three thousand persons to shed tears for the loss of such a good and godly governor.’ The following Latin epitaph by George Buchanan was engraven in brass and set above his tomb: ‘Jacobo Stewarto, Moraviæ comiti, Scotiæ proregi, viro ætatis suæ longe optimo, ab inimicis, omnis memoriæ deterrimis, ex insidiis extincto, ceu patri communi, patria mœrens posuit.’
Moray by his own party was canonised as the ‘good regent;’ but the epithet ‘good’ can only be allowed of him in its strict puritanic sense; his goodness was essentially that of a cold temperament. His house, says Calderwood, was ‘like a sanctuary;’ his solemnity was indeed too preternatural to be wholesome even if it were wholly sincere. And if strictly good and honourable in his private relations, he allowed himself a very wide latitude in politics; while it is certain that here he was even less generous than he was just. No doubt he professed, and probably believed, that he was influenced by the highest possible motives, but these for the most part harmonised with his own advancement; and to suppose that one of his overmastering temperament was destitute of personal ambition would be absurd. Still his task was one of supreme difficulty, and his opponents were at least as unscrupulous as himself. Judged by the political standards of his time, he cannot be charged with conduct that was exceptionally unprincipled, and his career was suddenly cut short before his abilities and aims as a ruler could be so tested as to enable us to pronounce a full and decisive opinion on his character and motives.
By his wife, Agnes Keith, Moray had two daughters: Elizabeth, married in 1580 to James Stewart or Stuart, afterwards earl of Moray (d. 1592) [q. v.], son of James, first lord Doune; and Margaret, married to Francis, earl of Errol. Moray's widow married, as her second husband, Colin Campbell, sixth earl of Argyll, whom she predeceased in July 1583.[In addition to the authorities quoted in the text, reference may be made to the bibliography appended to Mary Queen of Scots.]