James Stuart

(1st Earl of Moray; Regent of Scotland)

1531 - 1570

Memorial to James Stuart, Earl of Moray (Murray), Linlithgow
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Memorial to James Stuart, Earl of Moray (Murray), Linlithgow

Regent and Protestant Reformer. Illegitimate son of King James V (1512-42), and thus half brother of Mary Queen of Scots (1542-87). Stuart was an early convert Protestantism and a significant player in the success of the Reformation in Scotland.

He joined the Lords of the Congregation (1559) and was a leader of the opposition to Mary of Guise, who had become Regent of Scotland on the death of her husband, and Stuart's father, King James V. He became advisor to the young Queen Mary, when she returned to Scotland (1561), promoting good relations with England and religious reform. She granted Stuart the Earldom of Moray in 1562. However, he opposed Mary's marriage to Darnley (1565) and, after an abortive rebellion, fled to England. He was a part of the plot to murder Mary's confidant David Rizzio. He returned to Scotland after Rizzio was killed (1566) and was reconciled with Mary, who was not aware Stuart was involved. He became Regent on Mary's abdication (1567). He made every effort to perpetuate Mary's incarceration, and supported the young King James VI (1566 - 1625), who would become a friend of the English, and Protestantism.

Stuart was assassinated by James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh in Linlithgow, one of Mary's supporters, the first recorded assassination by a firearm. He is buried in St. Giles Kirk in Edinburgh and was eulogised by John Knox (c.1513-72) for his part in the Reformation.

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