Monday, January 2, 2012

Still red!

James V of Scotland
We may have Royals in our family tree, but I can't claim blue blood (still red)!    The great-grand-daughter of a bastard son of King James V of Scotland is reputed to have married a Cockburn, the brother of one of my direct ancestors.

John Stewart (1531 - 1563), son of James V (1512 - 1542) and Elizabeth Carmichael (1514 - 1550), was the father of Francis Stewart (1562 - 1612), the grandfather of Margaret Elizabeth Cockburn (nee Cranstoun).   One reliable source has Margaret marrying Patrick Cockburn of Clerkington at Crailing, Roxburghshire, Scotland in about 1636.   [Other sources make her husband Thomas Craig, but we won't let that spoil a good story!]

John Stewart's wife and Francis Stewart's mother was Jane Hepburn, sister to James Hepburn, the fourth Earl of Bothwell and the third husband of John's half-sister, Mary Queen of Scots.  The Earl of Bedford wrote of James Hepburn to William Cecil (the chief advisor to Elizabeth I of England), "I assure you Bothwell is as naughty a man as liveth," and accused him of crimes of which "it is a shame even to speak."

With James Hepburn (1536 - 1578) driven insane imprisoned in Denmark, King James VI conferred the title of (fifth) Earl of Bothwell on his cousin Francis Stewart on 29 July 1576.   With the title, came many offices, including that of Lord High Admiral of Scotland.   Francis seems to have been hell-bent on emulating the "naughtiness" of his predecessor, the fourth Earl.

On 1 December 1577, Francis, Earl Bothwell married Margaret (d. 1640), daughter of David Douglas, 7th Earl of Angus, and widow of Sir Walter Scott, of Branxholme & Buccleuch (d. 1574).  Initially, after a brief honeymoon, the new earl was not permitted to come within twenty miles of his new wife 'for reassone of his youngnes'. (the groom Francis Stewart was 15 years old.)  They later had, at least, four sons and four daughters.  Elizabeth Stewart (b. 1590) (eldest daughter) married James, Master of Cranstoun, with their daughter Margaret Elizabeth Cranstoun marrying Patrick Cockburn and/or Thomas Craig.

Meanwhile, Francis undertook his initial study at the University of St Andrews before travelling to the continent in 1578, where he studied in the Universities of Paris and Rouen (and, possibly, also in Italy).

Francis returned to Scotland in 1582, and although only 20 years of age, attended the councils of his cousin James VI.    Bothwell and other nobles felt that the beheading of his aunt Queen Mary, should result in an invasion of England, a course of action the king disagreed with.   Francis was warded for a time in Edinburgh Castle for his activities in trying to advance this course of action.

As Lord High Admiral of Scotland, on August 1 1588, he was ordered "to attend upon his awne charge of admirallitie" in order to resist the Spanish Armada.   He remained active at sea, and on 12 November of the same year Frederick Freis, master of the Swedish ship Unicorn brought an action in the Scottish Privy Council against the Earl Bothwell for the seizure of his ship. The Council ordered Bothwell to restore the ship to Freis within 24 hours.

In 1589, Bothwell was charged with treason for engaging in an armed uprising and plotting to seize the king at Holyroodhouse.   In 1591, he was arrested on witchcraft accusations - of trying to arrange the king's death through sorcery.   On 28 June 1592, between one and two o'clock in the morning, Bothwell, leading 300 others, attempted to capture Falkland Palace and his cousin the king.  On 24 July 1593, the Earl had been smuggled into Holyroodhouse and forced himself into the King's presence, in his bedchamber.   Held at swordpoint, James VI had no choice but to yield (or at least to pay lip-service) to his cousin Bothwell's demands.   Later, with the threat no longer active, James reneged on his agreement and exiled Francis.   Francis travelled first to France, then through Spain and finally to Naples, where he died in abject poverty.  

Described as "one of the most treacherous men of his time," always plotting and counterplotting against his cousin James VI, Francis Stewart, fifth and last Earl of Bothwell, whose story was hardly less eventful and exciting than that of his predecessor the fourth Earl, spent his final years earning a wretched subsistence by the exhibition of feats of arms, fortune-telling and necromancy.   

Francis Stewart, the grandson of the Earl of Bothwell, though so nearly related to the royal family, was a private in the Scottish Horse Guards, in the reign of Charles II.

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