The following letter is one of a collection of letters written by Margaret to Henry in the 1530s. Margaret was desperately unhappy. She had married her third husband, Henry Stewart, 1st Lord Methven, in 1528, and was intent on divorcing him because not only did he have a mistress, he was also spending and wasting Margaret's money. Margaret's own son, James V of Scotland, was siding with Methven and Methven had control of Margaret's lands and money, so Margaret wanted her brother's support and help:
"Rejoices that he has a prince. Hopes he is informed both by her own writings sent with the herald Master Svallo and the information sent to Sir Tomas Qwarton, how she is treated. Trusts Henry will not let her be wronged daily. Would sooner be dead than remain in such trouble as she has been in since Master Sadler's departure. Desires only to "brwk" her lands given her by the King her father and confirmed by the three estates of this realm; of which she is only debarred by lord Meffen. Has her sentence of divorce ready to be pronounced written and concluded with forty "famos prewes" (proofs), but the King her son supports Meffen, as her husband, in possession of her lands. When she passed to her land the forest of Ettrick the King her son accused her of intending to marry "him that was earl of Angus," which Henry knows she had never a mind to do. Her son will only let her "depart bed and bwred," which is unjust, and fears she will pass into England. Trusts Henry will for his own honor refuse redress on the Borders till she has her due. Is now 49 years old and should not travel like a poor gentlewoman, following her son from place to place as she has done for 20 weeks past."
Unfortunately for Margaret, her brother was reluctant to help and, as her biographer Richard Glen Eaves notes, he would not invite her to England "and in her last years practically ignored her."
Margaret died just under four years later, on 18th October 1541 at Methven Castle, after suffering a stroke. It seems a sad end to a former Queen of Scotland.
Notes and Sources
- Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 12 Part 2, 1079.
- Eaves, Richard Glen. “Margaret (1489–1541).” Richard Glen Eaves In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online ed., edited by David Cannadine. Oxford: OUP, 2004.