Anne Hamilton, Countess of Huntly

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Anne Hamilton
Countess of Huntly
Spouse(s) George Gordon, 5th Earl of Huntly
Lady Jean Gordon
George Gordon, 6th Earl of Huntly
Alexander Gordon
William Gordon
Noble family Hamilton
Father James Hamilton, Duke of Châtellerault, 2nd Earl of Arran
Mother Lady Margaret Douglas
Born c.1535
Died after 17 April 1574
Religion Roman Catholic
Occupation Lady-in-Waiting
Maid of Honour

Anne Hamilton, Countess of Huntly (c.1535 – after 17 April 1574), was a Scottish noblewoman and a member of the powerful Hamilton family which had a strong claim to the Scottish crown. Her father James Hamilton, Duke of Châtellerault, 2nd Earl of Arran was heir presumptive to the throne of Scotland after Mary, Queen of Scots prior to the birth of the latter's son Prince James in 1566. Anne was the wife of George Gordon, 5th Earl of Huntly, Lord Chancellor of Scotland and a chief conspirator during the reign of Queen Mary.

In her teens, Anne entered Marie of Guise's household as a lady-in-waiting and maid-of-honour.


Lady Anne was born in Scotland in about 1535, the eldest daughter of James Hamilton, Duke of Châtellerault, 2nd Earl of Arran and Lady Margaret Douglas. Her paternal grandparents were James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran and Lady Janet Beaton, and her maternal grandparents were James Douglas, 3rd Earl of Morton and Catherine Stewart, illegitimate daughter of King James IV of Scotland by his mistress Marion Boyd. The Hamiltons were, next to the legitimate royal Stewarts, the noblest family in Scotland, and therefore the strongest claimants to the throne due to Anne's great-grandfather James Hamilton, 1st Lord Hamilton having been the husband of Princess Mary Stewart, the sister of King James III.[1] From the time of the death of John Stewart, Duke of Albany in 1536 until the birth of James Stewart, Duke of Rothesay in 1450; from April 1541 when the infant Rothesay died along with his new-born brother, Arthur until the birth of Queen Mary on 8 December 1542; and then following the death of King James V on 14 December 1542 until the birth of Queen Mary's son, Prince James in 1566, Anne's father was the heir presumptive to the Kingdom of Scotland. When Mary abdicated in 1567 in favour of her son James, he once again became next in line to the throne until his own death on 22 January 1575.

Anne had three younger sisters and five brothers, including James Hamilton, 3rd Earl of Arran, John Hamilton, 1st Marquess of Hamilton, and Claud Hamilton, 1st Lord Paisley. James, who was declared legally insane on 9 April 1562, had aspired to marry Queen Mary,[2] and at one point in 1562, there was a rumour spread throughout the realm that he had planned to abduct her. Although the rumour proved false, the eccentric James would, throughout his life, nurse a neurotic obsession for his royal cousin.[3]

Early life[edit]

On the infant Queen Mary's ascension to the throne, Anne's father, James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, became Regent of Scotland until 1554, when he surrendered the post to Mary's mother Mary of Guise. Mary of Guise visited France in 1551. On her return in December, Anne was bought magnificent clothes to join Guise's household as a lady-in-waiting and maid of honour. The clothes included; a grey velvet gown; a crimson velvet gown with gold passmenterie; four hoods and sets of sleeves; red stockings; with a sponge, a rubbing brush and a pair of knives. Her father had already bought her several fine gowns, all paid for from the royal exchequer.[4] Anne became ill through March and April 1552; however, she recovered, perhaps with the help of drugs bought from Guise's apothecary and surgeon costing £20. At this time her servants were Effame Hamilton, Gilbert Ruthven and William Forrester. Effame, who was called Anne's keeper, sewed her clothes and kept the fire in Anne's chamber.[5] Anne's older sister Barbara married Alexander Gordon, Lord Gordon. Lady Gordon and Lady Anne travelled with Mary of Guise to the west of Scotland in March 1553. Soon after, their father resigned the regency to Mary of Guise, and thereafter the Crown records no longer documented Anne's expenses.[6]

Marriage and issue[edit]

On 12 March 1558,[7] Lady Anne married George Gordon, 5th Earl of Huntly, son of George Gordon, 4th Earl of Huntly and Elizabeth Keith. He would become one of the chief conspirators in the realm during the reign of Queen Mary.

Anne was described as having '"shown a mettle which outstripped that of her husband".[8] The marriage produced four children:

Anne's husband was warded at Dunbar Castle following his father's rebellion in August 1562. The Huntly's titles and estates were forfeited and George's brother John was executed for treason. George who as Sheriff of Inverness Castle had refused the queen entry to the fortress which was in point of fact, a royal property. He was pardoned by the queen and put into free ward at Dunbar. His estates and title of Earl of Huntly were restored to him nominally in 1565, following Queen Mary's marriage to Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. His father had died of apoplexy following the Battle of Corrichie when his forces were defeated by those of Queen Mary's led by her half-brother James Stewart, Earl of Moray. George obtained his full freedom in 1565, and his dignitaries were formally restored in 1567. He was appointed Lord Chancellor of Scotland that same year.

Anne was well regarded by the queen; in point of fact, she was the only Hamilton mentioned in the latter's will which she had made in June 1566 before the birth of Prince James.[9] The following year 1567, Anne's husband was part of the confederation of nobles which conspired in the murder of Lord Darnley at Kirk o'Field.[10] The ring-leader of the conspiracy was allegedly James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, George's ally and the husband of his sister, Jean. George, shortly after Darnley's murder, persuaded Jean to divorce her husband thus enabling Bothwell to marry the widowed Queen Mary. He witnessed the marriage contract between the queen and Bothwell, and he was part of the retinue that accompanied the couple on their return to Edinburgh just before their wedding.

Anne's brother Claud Hamilton led the vanguard of Queen Mary's troops at the Battle of Langside but the royalists were defeated by the Regent Earl of Moray's forces. Many of Anne's relatives were slain or taken prisoner in the battle.[11]

Anne Hamilton died sometime after 17 April 1574.



  1. ^ Antonia Fraser, Mary, Queen of Scots, pp.17-18
  2. ^ Fraser, pp.28, 128-129
  3. ^ Fraser, p.196
  4. ^ Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, vol. 10, (1913), xvii, 19, 28, 37-39.
  5. ^ Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, vol. 10 (1913), 42, 65-74.
  6. ^ Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, vol. 10, (1913), xvii, 206.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Fraser, p.168
  9. ^ Fraser, p. 306
  10. ^ Fraser, pp.341-342, 409
  11. ^ Fraser, pp.420-421
  12. ^
  1. Antonia Fraser, Mary, Queen of Scots, Dell Publishing Co., Inc., New York, March 1971, originally published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1969