2nd Duke of Somerset, 6th Earl of Angus, Archibald Douglas, Countess of Shrewsbury, Elizabeth Talbot, King of Poland, Kings and Queens of England, kings and queens of Scotland, Lady Arabella Stuart, of King James I-VI of England and Scotland, Ranuccio of Parma, Scotland, Sigismund III Vasa, William Seymour
Before I move on to what made the advisors of Elizabeth I to choose James VI, I want to discuss another possible claimant to the throne, James’s cousin, Lady Arabella Stuart.
Lady’s Arabella’s claim to the English throne stemmed from her descent via Henry VII of England. Henry VII’s daughter, Margaret Tudor married, as her second marriage, Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, and this union produced a daughter, Margaret Douglas, Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, this union produced two son Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley and Charles Stuart, 5th Earl of Lennox. Henry Stuart, lord Darnley married his cousin Mary, Queen of Scots. As you recall Mary, Queen of Scots was a descendent of Henry VII via Margaret Tudor’s first marriage to James IV, King of Scots. Charles Stuart, 5th Earl of Lennox secretly married Elizabeth Cavendish in 1574 and this greatly angered Queen Elizabeth I because it was done without her permission. Elizabeth Cavendish’s mother, Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury (Bess of Hardwick), and her mother-in-law, Margaret Douglas, were both sent to the tower as punishment.
Lady Arabella was born in 1575 and her father died the next year and her mother died in 1582. The young Lady Arabella was placed under the care of Queen Elizabeth’s chief minister, William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley. From time to time Lady Arabella would appear at court and prior to 1592 she was considered the most likely and acceptable candidate to the English throne after the death of Elizabeth. however, he ward, Lord Burghley and his son, Secretary of State Sir Robert Cecil felt that James VI was a more likely candidate. However, during her time when she was considered the likely heir to the throne there were many marriage prospects for her. Among them were: Ranuccio of Parma, eldest son of Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma and Maria of Portugal, Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford and Sigismund III Vasa, King of Poland. James VI wanted Lady Arabella to marry a cousin, Ludovic Stuart, 2nd Duke of Lennox, but nothing came of this match.
In 1610 Lady Arabella eventually married, in secret and against the wishes of King James I-VI of England and Scotland, William Seymour, 2nd Duke of Somerset, himself a descendent from the Tudors via Lady Catherine Grey, sister of the ill-fatted Lady Jane Grey, the 9 day queen. The couple was arrested and separated. They escaped their imprisonment and tried to flee to the European Continent. The Duke of Somerset was succesful in escaping from the clutches of King James I but Lady Arabella was not. The ship she was on was captured and Lady Arabella was imprisoned in the Tower where she died after starving herself to death.
Next week will conclude this part of the series where James VI succeeds Elizabeth I.