The 13 Siblings of Mary, Queen of Scots

by Heather R. Darsie, J.D.

Mary, Queen of Scots had at least a dozen siblings from both her maternal and paternal sides. Mary’s mother, Marie de Guise, had two children during her marriage with the Duke of Longueville before his untimely passing, then had two more children with James V before Mary was born. Mary’s father, James V of Scotland, had at least nine children out of wedlock before he married. Together Marie and James had three children, including Mary, Queen of Scots.

Marie de Guise, c. 1537, by Corneille de Lyon.

Marie de Guise, known as Mary of Guise in English, was born on 22 November 1515 in Bar-le-Duc, Lorraine. Marie was raised at the Convent of the Poor Clares with her maternal grandmother, Phillippa of Guelders. Philippa had retired there in December 1519. Marie was educated at the Convent, where she lived until she was roughly fifteen. By this time, Marie had reached a height of around 5′ 11″, tall for today’s standards and exceptionally tall for the 16th century.

Marie wed her first husband, Duke Louis II of Longueville, on 4 August 1534. Marie was almost nineteen years old, and her husband roughly twenty-four. The couple were reportedly happy.

Marie’s first child, Francis, was born 30 October 1535. Her second child, a boy named Louis, was born in August 1537. Sadly, the boys’ father had passed away in June of 1537. Perhaps even more sadly, the infant Louis did not make it to Christmas that year.

Marie was back on the marriage market, being considered by both Henry VIII of England and James V of Scotland. James’ first French bride, Madeleine of France, died in July of 1537 after being Queen of Scotland for mere months. Her son Francis remained behind in the Duchy of Lorraine, and was raised by Marie’s mother Antoinette of Bourbon. Francis’ wardship was officially under Marie’s father, Duke Claude de Guise. In roughly 1543, Francis became the Count of Neuchatel after his paternal grandmother Jeanne de Hochberg died. Francis kept in touch with his mother throughout his life. Francis fell ill in either 1550 or 1551. Marie returned to France for a year in 1550, and able to be with Francis during his final illness. He died 22 September 1551, unwed and without children. Francis was sixteen years old.

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James V of Scotland c. 1536, by Corneille de Lyon.

The bulk of James V’s known illegitimate children were born before 1532, when he was about twenty years old. James’ first illegitimate child, Adam Stewart, lived until 1575. Like several of James’ illegitimate sons, Adam entered into a life of religious service. He became a monk at Charterhouse in Perth. Adam called himself “prior”, although it is unclear if he was ever genuinely serving in this capacity. Charterhouse was founded by Carthusian monks. In May 1559, Charterhouse was attacked by Scottish Protestants. Adam Stewart was one of the few who decided to continue operating Charterhouse. It was eventually suppressed ten years later. As mentioned, Adam died in June 1575.

James V’s second illegitimate son, named James, was born after Adam. His life and times remain obscure. James’ mother was reported to be Christine Barclay.

Jean Stewart was James V’s first daughter and third known child. It is not known what year Jean was born. Jean joined the household of Marie de Guise and was raised there. She married twice, first to John Stewart, 4th Lord Innermeath, and then she married Archibald Campbell, 5th Earl of of Argyll, in 1553. During her lifetime, Jean was treated well by Marie de Guise and by her half-sister, Mary, Queen of Scots. Jean eventually divorced her second husband on grounds of desertion. She died in January 1588 in Edinburgh, and was buried next to her father, James V.

A second James Stewart was born between 1531 and 1534. He, much like his eldest brother Adam, was destined for religious life. He was a commendator, or prior, of both Kelso and Melrose during his lifetime. He died circa 1557.

Another son, John Stewart, was born around 1531. He became Prior of Coldingham when he was roughly ten years old. At around 17, in 1548, John was part of his little half-sister Mary, Queen of Scots’ train to France. Apparently in good favor with Mary, Queen of Scots, she appointed him keeper of Dunbar Castle in August 1561, around the time she arrived back in Scotland from France. In January 1562, John married Jean Hepburn, sister of James Hepburn, Mary’s third and final husband. Together the couple had a son, Francis, and daughter, Christine. Francis became Earl of Bothwell in 1568 after his uncle James Hepburn’s capture. John died in November 1563.

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James, Earl of Moray, by Hans Eworth.

A third James Stewart was born around 1531, as well. It is thought he was older than John, mentioned just above. This James had perhaps the most successful career of all the illegitimate children of James V, having held the positions of Prior of St. Andrews, and being regent of his toddler nephew James VI (who later became James I of England as well). James supported the Protestant Reformation in Scotland. He was appointed as one of his sister Mary’s advisers after her return to Scotland in 1561. In return, Mary created James the 1st Earl of Moray and 1st Earl of Mar in 1562, but was alienated from Mar due to his rebellious activities in 1565. James Stewart was assassinated in January 1570. James has the distinction of being the first head of government to be assassinated by firearm.

Robert married Lady Jean Kennedy in December 1561, and the couple had nine children, all of whom survived to adulthood. Robert had an unknown number of illegitimate children. After Mary’s forced abdication, Robert remained in the good graces of the young James VI. In 1581, he was elevated to Earl of Orkney. Robert died in 1593, and his son Patrick became Earl of Orkney.

Another Robert Stewart, younger brother to James Stewart, Earl of Moray, was born between 1531 and 1535. He was less rambunctious than his elder brother, living a religious life. He was not granted any titles. Robert served as Commendator of Whithorn Priory from 1568 to 1581. Robert died in 1581.

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Margaret Tudor by Daniel Mijtens, early 17th century.

Marie de Guise and James V wed in May 1538. Their first child, a boy, was born 22 May 1540. The baby boy, named after his father, was granted a slew of titles, including Duke of Rothesay. Heirs apparent to the Scottish throne receive the title of, ‘Duke of Rothesay’, much like heirs apparent to the English throne receive the title, ‘Prince of Wales’. The Duke of Rothesay’s godparents included his paternal grandmother, Margaret Tudor. Baby James died on 21 April 1541 at St Andrews, where he was born. The couple’s second child, Robert, Duke of Albany, was born 12 April 1541, and died on 21 April 1541. The two baby boys died within hours of each other.

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Mary, Queen of Scots by Francois Clouet.

Lastly, Mary, Queen of Scots was born to Marie and James on 8 December 1542. James died six days later, with the infant Mary as his only legitimate heir.

Love learning about the Early Modern period? Are you interested in Tudor history or Women’s history? Then check out my book, Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s ‘Beloved Sister’, a new biography about Anna of Cleves told from the German perspective!

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  4. Viewing 16th Century Women through a 21st Century Lens, an Opinion**: Margaret Tudor and Mary, Queen of Scots
  5. The Scots Queen Surrenders: An Overview of the Battle of Carberry Hill

Sources & Suggested Reading

  1. Cameron, Jamie (1998), Macdougall, Norman (ed.). James V: The Personal Rule, 1528–1542, The Stewart Dynasty in Scotland. East Linton: Tuckwell Press (1998).
  2. Warnicke, Retha M. Mary Queen of Scots. New York: Routledge (2006).
  3. Stevenson, Joseph, ed. Selections from Unpublished Manuscripts. Maitland Club (1837).
  4. Calendar State Papers Scotland. Vol. 2. London (1900).


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