John Erskine, 17th Earl of Mar
John was Commendator of Dryburgh Abbey from 1547, and succeeded his father as 6th Lord Erskine in 1552. He joined the religious reformers, but was never very ardent in the cause. He did subscribe to the letter asking the Calvinist reformer John Knox to return to Scotland in 1557. The custody of Edinburgh Castle was in his hands during the struggle between the regent, Mary of Guise, and the Lords of the Congregation he appears to have acted consistently in the interests of peace
When Mary, Queen of Scots, returned to Scotland in 1561 Lord Erskine was a member of her council and was in favor of her marriage with Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. His wife was Annabella Murray, daughter of William Murray of Tullibardine. She was a frequent companion of Queen Mary, John Knox called her a "verray Jesabell", . In 1565 Erskine was granted the earldom of Mar. As guardian of James, afterwards King James VI at Stirling Castle he prevented the young prince from falling into the hands of James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, and when the Scottish nobles rose against Mary and Bothwell, Mar was one of their leaders; he took part in the government of Scotland during Marys imprisonment at Lochleven Castle, and also after her subsequent abdication.
Regent of Scotland
In September 1571 he was chosen Regent of Scotland, but he was overshadowed and perhaps slighted by James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton. He died at Stirling on 29 October 1572 after a short illness, widely agreed to have been natural causes. However, some sources indicate that he may have been poisoned at the will of the Earl of Morton. Mar's illness, wrote James Melville, followed a banquet at Dalkeith Palace given by Morton.
John began building the house at Stirling called 'Mar's Wark', now a ruin the care of Historic Scotland, the other seat of the family was Alloa Tower. James VI continued to regard Annabella Murray with affection and wrote to her as "Minnie", she was the governess of his son Prince Henry at Stirling.
- Scottish Correspondence of Mary of Lorraine, SHS (1927), 220 note.
- Melville, James, Thomson, Thomas, ed. (1827). Memoirs of his own life. Bannatyne Club, (1827), pp 248–249.
Alan Stewart Cradle King
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
The Earl of Lennox
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The Earl of Morton
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