ELIZABETH I (1533-1603), Queen of England and Ireland. Letter signed with autograph subscription ('Your loving Cousin Elizabeth R') to the Earl of Mar (Regent of Scotland), Woodstock, 7 September 1572, signed by the Queen at the foot, the text of the letter written in an elegant secretary hand, in English on paper, one page, folio, integral address leaf, traces of seal, original sealing slits (some wear in folds, tape repairs on verso, address leaf lightly soiled in creases, part of blank area neatly cut away in opening the letter). Provenance: Sotheby's sale, 17 December 1981, lot 41; the Spiro Family Collection.
PEACE IN SCOTLAND, AND A SECRET PLOT. The announcement of the appointment of Henry Killigrew to treat on the Queen's behalf with the French ambassador in Scotland, for the securing of peace between the different warring factions there, and the confirmation of James VI on the throne.
'Being very desyrous that the trobles of that realm which began to be sumwhat aswaged and to growe to a mutuall amitie, might cum to an end and full pacification, and understandying nevertheless that the abstinence is not kept according to the agreement but in divers respects broken, and yet that both the partyes are content to referr the differences between youe to the Judgement of us and of oure good brother the french king: We have thought good in lieu of Sir William Drury kniyght marshall of oure towne of Barwyke ... to send unto you this bearer oure trusty servant Henry Killigrew esquire, there to do all good offices with Monsieur du Croc oure sayd good brothers Ambassador ... to the quieting of all debates and making of a full and parfect accord amonge your to the confirmation of oure brother and cousin youre yong king and the benefit of the realme.'
Killigrew's mission was the most important and difficult of his diplomatic career. The Catholic supporters of Mary Queen of Scots who were holding Edinburgh Castle appeared likely to provide a base for French interference in Scotland, a danger increased after the massacre of the French Huguenots in August 1572. Elizabeth at this point considered a drastic solution. While the ostensible purpose of Killigrew's visit to Scotland was to join the French ambassador in discussions, its concealed object was to persuade the Earls of Mar and Morton that Mary (imprisoned at Sheffield) should be handed over to the Protestant lords, the most likely consequence being that they would execute her. Killigrew, summoned to a private audience with the Queen at Woodstock, was not to divulge her part in this plan, nor Burghley's and Leicester's. Mar did not respond favourably, and his sudden death pre-empted further discussion.