William Maitland of Lethington

Last updated

William Maitland of Lethington Lethington.jpg
William Maitland of Lethington

William Maitland of Lethington (1525 9 June 1573) was a Scottish politician and reformer, and the eldest son of poet Richard Maitland. [1]

Contents

Life

He was educated at the University of St Andrews. [2]

William was the renowned "Secretary Lethington" to Mary, Queen of Scots. As her Secretary of State from 1568, [1] he played a prominent part in the various movements of his time, but did not gain the confidence of any party. He adhered to the party of James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, illegitimate half-brother of the Queen, against the extreme measures of John Knox, and generally held his own against the preachers. His knowledge of foreign, and especially of English, politics and his general ability were assets of the highest value. [1]

The lords sent Maitland to England to ask for assistance from Elizabeth, and his constant aim throughout his political career was to bring about a union between the two crowns. [1] He was the guest of Ralph Sadler at Sutton House. [3] He proved a highly astute ambassador at Elizabeth's court. He was involved in the conspiracy to murder David Rizzio (the private secretary and rumoured lover of Queen Mary) by her King consort Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley and his supporters, and was obliged to leave the court, but he managed to regain the Queen's favour. [1] After Mary was captured by her enemies at the battle of Carberry Hill, on 25 July 1567 Maitland came to see the English ambassador in Edinburgh, Nicholas Throckmorton. As instructed by Elizabeth, Throckmorton asked Maitland if the plan was to restore Mary to the throne. If so, Elizabeth promised to help prosecute Darnley's murder and preserve Prince James. Throckmorton recorded Maitland's personal answer, which outlined that English interference was not welcome at this time and might even be counterproductive, and that Throckmorton would not be allowed to see Mary:

Being in place to knowe more than you can knowe, I saye unto yowe ..., in case you doe on the Quenes majesties behalf your mestris, presse this company to enlarge the Quene my soveraigne, and to suffer you to goe unto her (at Lochleven Castle), or doe use any thretnynge speache in those matters, the rather to compasse them (rather than achieve them), I assure you, you wyll put the Quene my soveraigne in greate jeopardye of her lyffe: and therefore there is none other waye for the present to do her good but to give place and use mildness. [4]

When Mary fled to the Kingdom of England in 1568 Maitland joined with the new government, but acted in her interest and formed a party to restore her to power. He was one of the Scots who met Elizabeth's representatives at York in 1568; here he showed a desire to exculpate Mary and to marry her to the duke of Norfolk, a course of action probably dictated by a desire to avoid all revelations about the Darnley murder. Maitland followed Regent Moray in his march against Mary's supporters and wrote to John Wood from Hoddom on 22 June 1568. [5]

He was arrested in 1569 for his part in the crime. In 1573 Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange, noted for his military talents and the forthright adherent of Mary, Queen of Scots, arranged for Maitland to be moved to Edinburgh Castle, and held the castle for Mary's party, along with his brother, Sir James, as a result of which Maitland's trial was postponed. [1]

The Regent called on the military assistance of Queen Elizabeth I of England, who dispatched Sir William Drury from Berwick-upon-Tweed with a formidable train of artillery to assist in reducing the castle. Kirkcaldy resisted with firmness worthy of his high military reputation, until the walls were breached and shattered, his provisions expended, the wells choked with ruins and inaccessible, and the artillery silenced. He surrendered to Sir William Drury in May 1573 on a general promise of favourable terms; but in this, the English commander had undertaken more than he could make good.

Signatures of Mary Fleming and William Maitland, National Records of Scotland Signatures of William Maitland and Mary Fleming.jpg
Signatures of Mary Fleming and William Maitland, National Records of Scotland

By Elizabeth's orders, Sir William Drury saw himself obliged to surrender his prisoners to Regent Morton, and the gallant Kirkcaldy and his brother were executed at the Market Cross in Edinburgh. Maitland of Lethington, already ill, was moved to a cell in the newly completed Leith Tolbooth, for his own protection, where the following month he either died "in the Roman fashion" by taking his own life, through poison on 9 July 1573, rather than face the humiliation of public execution. His body apparently lay unmoved for a considerable time, and was partally consumed by rats. [6]

Family

Maitland married Mary Fleming, one of the "Four Marys" who accompanied Mary, Queen of Scots, to France in 1548 as her principal attendants. The Great Seal (charter number 1519, confirmed at Holyroodhouse on 8 April 1588), gives James Maitland of Lethington (born 1568) as "son and heir of William Maitland of Lethington, Royal Secretary". William Maitland's daughter, Margaret, married Robert Ker, 1st Earl of Roxburghe.

William Maitland was the brother of John Maitland, 1st Lord Maitland of Thirlestane, Lord Chancellor of Scotland, [7] and Mary Maitland, considered a scribe of the Maitland Folio and Quarto. [8]

Related Research Articles

James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton Regent of Scotland during the minority of King James VI

James Douglas,4th Earl of Morton was the last of the four regents of Scotland during the minority of King James VI. He was in some ways the most successful of the four, since he won the civil war that had been dragging on with the supporters of the exiled Mary, Queen of Scots. However, he came to an unfortunate end, executed by means of the Maiden, a predecessor of the guillotine.

Sir Richard Maitland of Lethington and Thirlstane was a Senator of the College of Justice, an Ordinary Lord of Session from 1561 until 1584, and notable Scottish poet. He was served heir to his father, Sir William Maitland of Lethington, East Lothian, and Thirlestane, Berwickshire, on 15 October 1515, his father being one of the casualties at the Battle of Flodden. He held the political office of Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland and was also the Keeper of the Privy Seal of Scotland, from 1563 to 1567, and was succeeded in this post by his son Sir John Maitland, 1st Lord Maitland of Thirlestane.

Nicholas Throckmorton 16th-century English diplomat and politician

Sir Nicholas Throckmorton was an English diplomat and politician, who was an ambassador to France and later Scotland, and played a key role in the relationship between Elizabeth I of England and Mary, Queen of Scots.

Casket letters Supposed writings by Mary, Queen of Scots

The Casket letters were eight letters and some sonnets said to have been written by Mary, Queen of Scots, to the Earl of Bothwell, between January and April 1567. They were produced as evidence against Queen Mary by the Scottish lords who opposed her rule. In particular, the text of the letters was taken to imply that Queen Mary colluded with Bothwell in the murder of her husband, Lord Darnley. Mary's contemporary supporters, including Adam Blackwood, dismissed them as complete forgeries or letters written by the Queen's servant Mary Beaton. The authenticity of the letters, now known only by copies, continues to be debated. Some historians argue that they were forgeries concocted in order to discredit Queen Mary and ensure that Queen Elizabeth I supported the kingship of the infant James VI of Scotland, rather than his mother. The historian John Hungerford Pollen, in 1901, by comparing two genuine letters drafted by Mary, presented a subtle argument that the various surviving copies and translations of the casket letters could not be used as evidence of their original authorship by Mary.

William Drury English politician, died 1579

Sir William Drury was an English statesman and soldier.

William Kirkcaldy of Grange 16th-century Scottish politician and soldier

Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange was a Scottish politician and soldier who fought for the Scottish Reformation but ended his career holding Edinburgh castle on behalf of Mary, Queen of Scots and was hanged at the conclusion of a long siege.

Lennoxlove House

Lennoxlove House is a historic house set in woodlands half a mile south of Haddington in East Lothian, Scotland. The house comprises a 15th-century tower, originally known as Lethington Castle, and has been extended several times, principally in the 17th, 19th and 20th centuries. The house is protected as a category A listed building, and is described by Historic Scotland as "one of Scotland's most ancient and notable houses." The wooded estate is included on the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland, the national listing of significant gardens.

Mary Fleming was a Scottish noblewoman and childhood companion and cousin of Mary, Queen of Scots. She and three other ladies-in-waiting were collectively known as "The Four Marys". A granddaughter of James IV of Scotland, she married the queen's renowned secretary, Sir William Maitland of Lethington.

Mary Beaton

Mary Beaton (1543–1598) was a Scottish noblewoman and an attendant of Mary, Queen of Scots. She and three other ladies-in-waiting were collectively known as "The Four Marys".

Clan Maitland Scottish clan

Clan Maitland is a Lowland Scottish clan.

John Maitland, 1st Lord Maitland of Thirlestane

John Maitland, 1st Lord Maitland of Thirlestane, of Lethington, Knight (1581), was Lord Chancellor of Scotland.

Archibald Douglas, Parson of Douglas, was also Parson of Glasgow, a Senator of the College of Justice, Ambassador to Queen Elizabeth I of England, and a notorious intriguer.

The Battle of Carberry Hill took place on 15 June 1567, near Musselburgh, East Lothian, a few miles east of Edinburgh, Scotland. A number of Scottish lords objected to the rule of Mary, Queen of Scots, after she had married the Earl of Bothwell, who was widely believed to have murdered her previous husband Lord Darnley. The Lords were intent to avenge Darnley's death. However, Bothwell escaped from the stand-off at Carberry while Queen Mary surrendered. Mary abdicated, escaped from prison, and was defeated at the battle of Langside. She went to exile in England while her supporters continued a civil war in Scotland.

Henry Killigrew (diplomat)

Sir Henry Killigrew was a Cornish diplomat and an ambassador for the Kingdom of England in the sixteenth century. He was several times employed by Elizabeth I in Scottish affairs and served as one of the English appointees to the Council of State of the Netherlands in the United Provinces in 1586 and 1587–1589. He served as a Member of Parliament for Newport & Launceston in 1553, for Saltash in 1563, and for Truro in 1571–2.

Alexander Home, 5th Lord Home was a Scottish nobleman and Warden of the Eastern March.

George Seton, 7th Lord Seton

George Seton V, 7th Lord Seton (1531–1586), was a Lord of the Parliament of Scotland, Master of the Household of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Provost of Edinburgh. He was the eldest son of George Seton, 6th Lord Seton, and Elizabeth Hay, a daughter of John Hay, 3rd Lord Hay of Yester. His childhood and schooling were in France.

Marian civil war

The Marian civil war in Scotland (1568–1573) was a period of conflict which followed the abdication of Mary, Queen of Scots, and her escape from Lochleven Castle in May 1568. Those who ruled in the name of her infant son James VI fought against the supporters of the Queen, who was exiled in England. Edinburgh Castle, which was garrisoned in her name, became the focus of the conflict and surrendered only after an English intervention in May 1573. The conflict in 1570 was called an "intestine war in the bowels of this commonwealth", and the period was called soon after an "intestine war driven by questions against authority."

Robert Melville, 1st Lord Melville was a Scottish diplomat, administrator, jurist, and intriguer, and uncle of the poet Elizabeth Melville.

Margaret Beaton, Lady Reres was a Scottish courtier and companion of Mary of Guise and Mary, Queen of Scots. She was blamed by the enemies of Mary, Queen of Scots, for her involvement in alleged immorality at court.

Jewels of Mary, Queen of Scots

The jewels of Mary, Queen of Scots (1542–1587), are mainly known through the evidence of inventories held by the National Records of Scotland. She was bought jewels during her childhood in France, adding to those she inherited. She gave gifts of jewels to her friends and to reward diplomats. When she abdicated and went to England many of the jewels she left behind in Scotland were sold or pledged for loans, first by her enemies and later by her allies. Mary continued to buy new jewels, some from France, and use them to reward her supporters. In Scotland her remaining jewels were worn by her son James VI and his favourites.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Chisholm 1911.
  2. The University of St Andrews: A Short History, by Ronald Gordon Cant
  3. Calendar State Papers Scotland, vol. 1 (Edinburgh, 1898), p. 511.
  4. Calendar State Papers Scotland, vol. 2 (Edinburgh, 1900), p.363
  5. HMC Laing Manuscripts at the University of Edinburgh, vol. 1 (London, 1914), pp. 22–3.
  6. Cassels Old and New Edinburgh vol.6 ch.25
  7. Lee jun, Maurice. "Maitland, John, first Lord Maitland of Thirlestane". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. "Women as Readers, Writers, and Book Owners in Late Sixteenth-Century Scotland: The Maitland Quarto Manuscript". The Bottle Imp. 1 November 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2020.

Sources