The Tudor Society

19 February 1567 – Lady Margaret Douglas hears news of Darnley’s murder

Woman thought to be Margaret Douglas

On this day in Tudor history, Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox and Elizabeth I's cousin, was informed of the murder of her son, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley.

Margaret had been imprisoned in the Tower of Lonon in 1566 after Elizabeth I had heard news of Darnley's marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots, and was still in the Tower in 1567. News of her son's murdered was carried to her by William Cecil's wife, Mildred, and Lady William Howard. The Spanish ambassador wrote:

"This Queen expresses sorrow at the death of the King, and she thinks that although he married against her wish yet as he was a royal personage and her cousin, the case is a very grave one, and she signifies her intention to punish the offenders. She sent to inform the King's mother of his death by the countess of Withington, the wife of the Lord Chamberlain, and the wife of Cecil. The mother was so grieved that it was necessary for the Queen to send her doctors to her. She has been taken out of the Tower, and placed in Sackville's house, where she arrived yesterday."

And William Cecil recorded that "The Queen's Majesty sent yesterday my Lady Howard and my wife to Lady Lennox in the Tower to open this matter unto her; who could not by any means be kept from such passion of mind as the horribleness of the fact did require."

Rosalind K. Marshall, in her article on Margaret for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, writes that Margaret's visitors mistakenly told her that her husband, Lennox, had been killed too, although this was corrected later. Margaret was in such a state that Dr Huick, Dean of Westminster and one of the queen's physicians, was sent to her.

As the Spanish ambassador states, Margaret was soon released from the Tower.

Here is my video on Lord Darnley's murder in case you missed it:

Notes and Sources

  • 'Simancas: February 1567', in Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1, 1558-1567, ed. Martin A S Hume (London, 1892), pp. 615-621. British History Online The footnote gives William Cecil's report from the Cecil Papers.
  • Marshall, R. (2006, May 25). Douglas, Lady Margaret, countess of Lennox (1515–1578), noblewoman. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Only 1 comment so far Go To Comment

  1. R

    This is terrible. Not only was this grand lady now told of the shocking murder of her son, Henry, Lord Darnley who was a young man, still in his early twenties, but she was a captive in the Tower, for no crime, just because Elizabeth didn’t want this marriage, which had nothing to do with Margaret, when the news was taken to her. Elizabeth, out of guilt sent her doctors to minister to her during her distress. I am pleased she was removed to care but how cruel locking her up in the first place and bringing her the news there. She should have at least been freed first. Poor woman.

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19 February 1567 – Lady Margaret Douglas hears news of Darnley’s murder