MARY, Queen of Scots (1542-1587). Letter to her son James VI, in the hand of Robert Beale. Sheffield, 16 April 1582. One page, on paper, folio, 12 x 8 inches, guard on left edge, blue cloth portfolio.
Shrewsbury was asked by Sir Walsingham to persuade Mary Stuart to write to her son James VI King of Scotland, begging him to explain and apologize for the refusal to allow Captain Herrington, one of Elizabeth’s messengers sent to Berwick, to pass into Scotland. She readily assented to this and wrote a letter so that it might be read at Court in London before being forwarded to its destination. The letter shows Mary’s duplicity, because in spite of these protestations she had written ten days early to the Spanish ambassador to ask for help to invade England with help of Spain and the Pope, in order to regain the throne. The original letter was sent to Beale, to be sent onward to James VI. That letter is now lost but this copy is made by Beale. There are copies in the Record Office and in the British Museum; as those are apparently not in Beale’s hand, the present probably preserves the most authentic text.
Mary Stuart arrived at Sheffield Castle in 1570, it would always be her main prison as it was the most secure. She was 40 when this letter was written. The copyist was Robert Beale (1541– 1601) English diplomat, administrator, and antiquary in the reign of Elizabeth I. He was the secretary of Sir Walsingham in Paris in 1570, and witness to the massacre of St. Bartholomew two years later (24th August 1572). Beale would almost certainly have seen the scroll that was dedicated to Catherine de Medici and it could well be that it was in his possession once.
Between 1581 and 1584 he was employed in negotiating with Mary, Queen of Scots, at Sheffield. Beale had told Elizabeth, that Mary desired to be on good terms with the Queen of England and that if her requests were granted, would have “no dealings with Papists, rebels, fugitives, Jesuits or others, which might go about to trouble the estate of the policy and religion now established, or to seek the alteration of the same." George Talbot Shrewsbury who had been selected as the keeper of Mary, Queen of Scots upon her imprisonment in 1568 was requested to procure from the Queen of Scots an acknowledgment of the correctness of this report of her intentions.