MARY STUART, Queen of Scots and H STEWART, Lord DARNLEY, Consort of Mary. Letter signed ("Marie R" and "Henry R"), to William Keith, "Earle Marischal of Scotland," Edinburgh, 26 August 1565. 1/2 page, folio, 300 x 210 (11 x 8 in.), the sheet with untrimmed edges, traces of red wax seal, verso addressed "To our traist [trusty] Cousing [cousin] and counsalor the erll m[ar]scheall." Fine.
A MONTH AFTER THEIR MARRIAGE, MARY AND DARNLEY BEG FOR A LOAN
A letter written only a month after Mary's marriage to Darnley, to whom she granted the title of King, which he here uses. The letter, one of a small number signed by Mary and her second husband, was carried by hand to William Keith, fourth Earl Marischal (d.1581), a member of Mary's privy counsel. It reads: "...We have instantly to do with money, and have thought good to charge such as have the goodwill...to do us pleasure...And therefore we pray you effectually to loan us the sum of 4,000,...[W]e meaning not that you shall be in any ways [affected] by this -- for you shall not fail [lack] good payment, and such sufficient security herefor as you yourself will devise. Farther of our mind we have declared to the bearer [of the present letter], whom we require you to credit in such things as he shall speak to you on our behalf...Assure yourself that unless we had such a good opinion of you that we know you affectionate to your uttermost in...what may gratify or be needful to us, we [would not] thus charge you..."
Mary had been sent to France in 1547, where she married the Dauphin, later Francis II. After his death, Mary returned to Scotland a widow in 1561. Meanwhile Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley (1545-1567), a great grandson of Henry VIII, had visited Scotland with permission from Elizabeth I, who entertained no illusions about the fact that Darnley was regarded in Catholic circles as a legitimate claimant to the English crown in place of Elizabeth. Both Darnley and Mary were strongly motivated by the possibility of gaining joint sovereignity over the two kingdoms, should Elizabeth I fall (or be driven) from power, and Mary actively sought the restoration of Catholicism. In March 1565 Darnley was knighted and created Earl of Ross. In July it was reported that he and Mary had secretly married and an official ceremony was performed under papal dispensation on July 29. The marriage soon proved a turbulent one, although "their common dangers and difficulties tended for the time being to foster cordiality" (DNB). Soon Darnley's weakness, carelessness and lack of judgement became evident and he was effectively excluded from the Queen's counsel, which made him resent the influence of David Riccio, Mary's minister and secretary. He joined a plot which resulted in Riccio's violent murder in 1566, but then betrayed his fellow plotters. Finally, Darnley was found strangled in 1567. The chief suspect in his murder, the Earl of Bothwell, was acquitted and later became Mary's third husband. When the Protestant nobles rose against her, Mary was forced to abdicate; she placed herself under the protection of Elizabeth I, but was implicated in a conspiracy against the Queen, tried for treason and executed in 1586.
VERY RARE. While letters of Mary occasionally appear on the market, the present is the only one bearing the joint signatures of the queen and her unfortunate consort, Darnley, to be offered in some two decades.