- James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell (1536-1578)
One of the most colourful figures in Scottish history, Hepburn succeeded his father as earl of Bothwell (and hereditary lord high admiral of Scotland) at the age of 21. His fiery temper and jealousy of the Earl of Murray involved him in a succession of riots and brawls which led him (on more than one occasion) to imprisonment and exile.
Although he professed adherence to the reformed church, he supported the government of the Catholic regent of Scotland, Mary of Guise> (widow of King James V> and mother of Mary Queen of Scots>). Mary of Guise employed him as an ambassador in France.
In 1565 Mary Queen of Scots, now married to Lord Darnley>, recalled him from France and the following year he married Jean Gordon, sister of the earl of Huntly. Bothwell played no part in the murder of the Queen's musician and favourite, David Rizzio, in the Palace of Holyroodhouse. However, he was a major player in the plot against the Queen's husband, Lord Darnley who was murdered in 1567. But he was acquitted after a trial in which the chief prosecutor, Lennox, dared not attend.
In April 1567, Bothwell seized and carried off the queen to Dunbar and the following month, after divorcing his wife, he married Mary at Holyrood on 15 May 1567. Mary and Bothwell moved to Borthwick Castle> for safety. Many of the Scottish nobles rose up in revolt and the rival forces met at Carberry Hill>. If Mary had disowned Bothwell she could still have survived as sovereign but she refused. The Queen's forces began to weaken and drift away and Mary was forced to surrender.
Bothwell escaped and tried to rally support but he was forced to flee to Scandinavia. He was captured in September 1567 and spent the next ten years in prison in Malmö and Dragsholm. Understandably, he lost his mind before his death on April 14, 1578. Bothwell's family home, Crichton Castle> (pictured above), still stands in Midlothian.
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