Mary Stuart (1605–1607)

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Mary Stuart
Princess Mary (1605-1607).jpg
Mary accompanies her siblings in an 1814 mezzo-tint by Willem van de Passe
Born8 April 1605
Greenwich Palace, Greenwich
Died16 September 1607(1607-09-16) (aged 2)
Stanwell Park, Stanwell
Burial23 September 1607
FatherJames VI and I
MotherAnne of Denmark

Mary Stuart (8 April 1605 – 16 September 1607) was the third daughter and sixth child of James VI and I by Anne of Denmark. Her birth was much anticipated. She developed pneumonia at 17 months and died the following year.


The first child to be born to Anne and James after James succeeded Elizabeth I of England, her birth was thus awaited with much excitement among both the Scottish and the English. Disputes among nobility as to the distribution of places in the establishment for the unborn child were very common.[1] In January 1605 Sir Richard Leveson talked to one of the royal physicians, and had courtiers praise Anne Newdigate to the queen in an unsuccessful attempt to get her made nurse.[2] Samuel Calvert said there would be 40 or more nurses and women to rock the cradle and other positions.[3] The cost of rich fabrics ordered by the king for the christening went up to £300, currently worth around £790,000.[4] Linen provided by Audrey Walsingham to be used by the queen in childbed and by the baby in the first year cost £600.[5]

Even a few days before the birth, Anne had not decided who would be the midwife and kept three women near her, without making a choice.[6] Finally, Alice Dennis was chosen and received a reward of £100.[7]


Greenwich Palace, Mary's birthplace.

Finally, on 8 April 1605, at Greenwich Palace, Anne of Denmark delivered a girl. Although the peoples of King James were slightly disappointed, the birth of the first princess of the two united realms was a cause for celebration. Throughout the realms, bonfires were lit and church bells rung all day long; the celebrations were encouraged by the fact that 68 years had elapsed since the birth of a child to an English sovereign, the last being Edward VI. The next day, King James drank health to his wife and new daughter.[4] In letters announcing Mary's birth to his relatives, James described her as "a most beautiful infant" and punned on her not-yet-revealed name, saying that "if I would not pray to the Virgin Mary, I would pray for the Virgin Mary."[4]

Preparations for a royal christening started immediately after the birth. The location decided upon was the chapel at Greenwich Palace and the date, 5 May. Mary was carried by Elizabeth de Vere, Countess of Derby, who was supported by the Dukes of Holstein and Lennox.[8] The infant's clothing, a train of purple velvet, embroidered with gold and furred with ermines, was supported by two countesses, being so long that it fell to the ground.[9] The archbishop of Canterbury, Richard Bancroft, christened the child with the name Mary, as her godparents, Ulrik of Denmark, brother to the queen, Lady Arbella Stuart, first cousin to the king, and Dorothy Percy, Countess of Northumberland, had decided to name her.[10] Immediately after the ceremony was complete, the noblemen put on their coats and the trumpets sounded. As a way to further celebrate this joyful occasion, the king presented Queen Anne with new jewelry and created several new peerages.[11]

On the 19 May 1605, Anne of Denmark, who had no role at the christening, was "churched". This ceremony took place at Greenwich Palace. The king and the lords heard a sermon in the King's Closet. He then went into the Chapel. The Queen came from her private lodging, where she had had her "laying in", to her Closet with a train of ladies. Some of the lords came to bring her into the Chapel, and she came to the altar supported by the Dukes of Holstein and Lennox., then went to her seat in a canopy called a "traverse" opposite the king. After prayers and music the king and queen came to the altar together and embraced, then walked to the door of the King's Presence Chamber.[12]

Mary was given into the care of Sir Thomas Knyvet, afterwards Lord Knyvet, who helped arrest Guy Fawkes and stop the Gunpowder Plot. On 1 June 1605, Mary was sent to Stanwell, Middlesex, to Knyvet's residence. He built new lodgings for the women of Mary's household.[13] He was given £20 per week for the infant princess's diet and that of her suite, consisting of six rockers and several inferior attendants; but the King himself paid their wages, the expenses of moving young Mary from house to house, of her coach and horses and other such costs. Elizabeth Hayward, Knyvet's wife, took great care of her "royal charge" during her short life.[11]

Alice Wright, the wife of William Redshaw, a gentlewoman who had hoped to be a nurse to Mary, and was lodged in the Strand, was suspected of involvement in the Gunpowder Plot by Sir Edward Hoby and Thomas Posthumous Hoby. She was a sister of John and Christopher Wright, and an acquaintance of Thomas Percy.[14]

Death and burial[edit]

A later depiction of Mary's tomb.

At 17 months old, Mary contracted a violent cold that developed into pneumonia. She was constantly feverish and Queen Anne was called to Stanwell and frequently visited her young child. An eyewitness account later preached at her funeral stated that "such was the manner of her death, as bred a kind of admiration in us all that were present to behold it. For, whereas the new-tuned organs of her speech, by reason of her wearisome and tedious sickness, had been so greatly weakened, that for the space of twelve or fourteen hours at the least, there was no sound of any word heard breaking from her lips; yet when it sensibly appeared that she would soon make a peaceful end of a troublesome life, she sighed out these words, 'I go, I go!' and when, not long after, there was something to be ministered unto her by those that attended her in the time of her sickness, fastening her eye upon them with a constant look, again she repeated 'Away, I go!' And yet, a third time, almost immediately before she offered up herself, a sweet virgin sacrifice, unto Him that made her, faintly cried 'I go, I go!' The more strange did this appear to us that heard it, in that it was almost incredible that so much vigor should still remain in so weak a body; and whereas she had used many other words in the time of her extremity, yet now at last, as if directed by supernatural inspiration, she did so aptly utter these, and none but these."[11][15]

Mary died at Stanwell on 16 September 1607. According to Rowland Whyte, she had suffered a "burning fever for 24 days, and a continual rheum fell to her lungs and putrified there, which she had not strength to void".[16]

As soon as Mary died, the Earl of Worcester, the Earl of Leicester and the Earl of Totnes went to Hampton Court Palace, to inform the queen of her daughter's death. Seeing the three men before her, Queen Anne realized what had happened and spared the men the task of telling her.[15] After showing the normal maternal signs of sorrow, she demanded that the king be told of Mary's death, an autopsy performed and a funeral prepared. Thus, a private ceremony took place at Westminster Abbey's Henry VII Lady Chapel on 23 September and Mary's embalmed body was buried opposite of her sister Sophia's tomb.[15]

Her effigy, created by Maximilian Colt, represented a young girl, clad in a mature dress, with the traditional ruff, carved in ivory. It reads (or read in the nineteenth century) "I, Mary, daughter of James, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland and of Queen Anne, received into heaven in early infancy, found joy for myself, but left longings for my parents, on the 16th of September, 1607. Ye congratulators, condole: she lived only 1 year [sic, according to Everett Green] 5 months and 88 days."[17]




  1. ^ Everett Green 1857, p. 90.
  2. ^ Anne Newdigate-Newdigate, Gossip from a Muniment Room: Being passages in the lives of Anne and Mary Fitton (London, 1897), pp. 68-72.
  3. ^ Memorials of Affairs of State, vol. 2 (London, 1725), p. 54.
  4. ^ a b c Everett Green 1857, p. 91.
  5. ^ Frederick Madden, Issues of the Exchequer (London, 1836), pp. 34-5.
  6. ^ Memorials of Affairs of State, vol. 2 (London, 1725), p. 56.
  7. ^ Frederick Madden, Issues of the Exchequer: James I (London, 1836), p. 23.
  8. ^ John Nichols, The Progresses, Processions, and Magnificent Festivities, of King James the First, vol. 1 (London, 1828), pp. 512-3.
  9. ^ Everett Green 1857, p. 92.
  10. ^ Everett Green 1857, p. 93.
  11. ^ a b c Everett Green 1857, p. 94.
  12. ^ John Nichols, The Progresses, Processions, and Magnificent Festivities of King James the First, vol. 1 (London, 1828), p. 514.
  13. ^ Mary Anne Everett Green, Calendar State Papers Domestic, Addenda 1580-1625 (London, 1872), p. 469.
  14. ^ HMC Salisbury Hatfield, vol. 17 (London, 1938), pp. 514-5.
  15. ^ a b c Everett Green 1857, p. 95.
  16. ^ Michael Brennan, Noel Kinnamon, Margaret Hannay, Letters of Rowland Whyte to Sir Robert Sidney (Philadelphia, 2013), p. 570.
  17. ^ Everett Green 1857, p. 96.
  18. ^ Louda, Jiří; Maclagan, Michael (1999) [1981], Lines of Succession: Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe (2nd ed.), London: Little, Brown, p. 27, ISBN 978-0-316-84820-6
  19. ^ Mecklenburg Ancestral Table


External links[edit]

  • Hutchinson, John (1892). "Mary, Princess" . Men of Kent and Kentishmen (Subscription ed.). Canterbury: Cross & Jackman. p. 96.