Mary Stewart, Countess of Arran

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For other people named Mary Stewart, see Mary Stewart (disambiguation).
Mary Stewart
Princess of Scotland; Countess of Arran; Lady Hamilton
Spouse Thomas Boyd, 1st Earl of Arran
James Hamilton, 1st Lord Hamilton
Issue Margaret Boyd
James Boyd, 2nd Lord Boyd of Kilmarnock
James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran
Hon. Elizabeth Hamilton, Countess of Lennox
Robert Hamilton, Seigneur d'Aubigny
House House of Stewart
Father King James II of Scotland
Mother Mary of Guelders
Born 13 May 1453
Stirling Castle, Scotland
Died May 1488 (aged 35)

Mary Stewart, Countess of Arran (13 May 1453 – May 1488)[1] was the elder daughter of James II of Scotland and Mary of Guelders. Her brother was James III of Scotland. She married twice; firstly to Thomas Boyd, 1st Earl of Arran; secondly to James Hamilton, 1st Lord Hamilton. It was through her children by her second husband that the Hamilton Earls of Arran and Stewart Lennoxes derived their claim to the Kingdom of Scotland.[2]

King James III of Scotland, Mary's brother


Mary was born at Stirling Castle on 13 May 1453, the eldest daughter of James II of Scotland and Mary of Guelders. She had five siblings, including James III, who ascended the Scottish throne in 1460 upon their father's accidental death by an exploding cannon.[1] Mary's mother died in 1463, leaving her an orphan at the age of ten.

Marriages and issue[edit]

Mary was married to her first husband Thomas Boyd before 26 April 1467 when she was almost fourteen years old. The Isle of Arran was given as her dowry; Thomas Boyd was subsequently created Earl of Arran.[1] Law Castle, in Ayrshire was built for the couple. In 1469, Thomas was sent to escort King James's future consort Princess Margaret from Denmark to Scotland; during his absence the king became alienated from Thomas by the enemies of the Boyd clan who brought false charges of treason against Thomas and his brother, Alexander. Mary, upon hearing that Thomas was to be summoned before the king and Parliament to answer the charges, immediately went to the harbour of Leith to forewarn her husband when his ship docked in July. Mary and Thomas promptly sailed to Denmark.[3] On 22 November 1469 he was attainted, and his title, honours, and estates forfeited to the crown. She later returned to Scotland in an attempt to have her husband cleared of all charges laid against him. Upon her arrival in Scotland, King James detained her in custody in Dean Castle at Kilmarnock until her marriage was annulled. Mary's marriage to Thomas was declared void in 1473.

Thomas and Mary together had two children:

In early 1474, Mary married secondly as his second wife, James Hamilton, 1st Lord Hamilton, who was almost forty years her senior. They received a papal dispensation on 26 April 1476 thus legitimising the two children already born to them. Together James and Mary had three children:

Mary's son by her first husband Thomas, James Boyd, 2nd Lord Boyd of Kilmarnock was killed at the age of fifteen by Lord Montgomerie, which ignited a feud that lasted for over seventy years. Margaret, her daughter by Thomas, lived to the age of forty-eight. Although she was married twice, neither marriage produced children.

Mary died in May 1488 at the age of thirty-five.

Due to their proximity to the throne, Mary's descendants, the Hamiltons of Arran and the Stewart Lennoxes, would obtain considerable power, and play conspicuous roles in 16th century Scottish politics; especially affecting the life and reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, the great-granddaughter of her brother, James III.



  1. ^ a b c Charles Cawley, Cawley, Charles, Medieval Lands, Scotland, Kings, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, retrieved August 2012 ,[better source needed]. Updated 24 May 2011
  2. ^ Antonia Fraser (24 June 2010). Mary Queen Of Scots. Orion. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-0-297-85795-2. Retrieved 2 October 2011. 
  3. ^ P. Hume Brown, A Short History of Scotland, 1908, retrieved on 24 March 2009
  4. ^ Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), p. 234.