Mary Beaton

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Mary Beaton
16th century portrait by an unknown artist. National galleries of Scotland.
DiedJanuary 1598 (aged 55-56)
Known forLady in waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots
Alexander Ogilvy (m. 1566⁠–⁠1598)
ChildrenJames Oglivy
Parent(s)Robert Beaton, 4th Laird of Creich
Joanna Renwall

Mary Beaton (1543–1598) was a Scottish noblewoman and an attendant of Mary, Queen of Scots. She and three other ladies-in-waiting (Mary Livingston, Mary Fleming and Mary Seton) were collectively known as "The Four Marys".[1]


Mary was born in 1543, the third of five children of Robert Beaton, 4th Laird of Criech and Joanna Renwall. Mary's mother was one of Marie de Guise's ladies-in-waiting. Her aunt, Janet Beaton was a mistress of James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, who would in 1567, become the third husband of Queen Mary.[2]

In 1548, at the age of five, Mary Beaton was chosen by Marie de Guise to accompany her daughter Mary, Queen of Scots, to France. She, along with three other girls who also accompanied the Queen, became known as the "Four Marys."


Mary, described as having been pretty and plump, with fair hair and dark eyes, attracted the attentions of an older man, Thomas Randolph. At the time of the courtship, in 1564, Randolph was 45 and Mary was 21. Randolph was Queen Elizabeth's English Ambassador to the Scottish court, and wanted Mary Beaton to spy on her mistress for him, which she refused to do. Mary Beaton eventually married Alexander Ogilvy of Boyne in April 1566, having one son, James, born in 1568. Little else is known of her life.

After the execution of Queen Mary, it was claimed by the writer Adam Blackwood in 1587 that Mary Beaton's handwriting was similar to the Queen's and so some of her private letters might have formed the basis for the casket letters produced to incriminate Queen Mary.[3]

She died in 1598 at the age of 55.

In popular culture[edit]

In the 2013-17 CW television series Reign, the character, Lady Kenna, played by Caitlin Stasey is loosely based on Mary Beaton.

In the 2018 film Mary, Queen of Scots[4], Mary Beaton is played by Northern Irish actress Eileen O’Higgins.



  1. ^ French, Morvern. "Mary Fleming and Mary Queen of Scots". Scotland and the Flemish People. St Andrews Institute of Scottish Historical Research. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  2. ^ Antonia Fraser, Mary, Queen of Scots, p.303
  3. ^ Blackwood, Adam, History of Mary Queen of Scots, Maitland Club (1834), p.82.
  4. ^