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Lord Bothwell
History's Lord Bothwell.jpg
Biographical Information
Real Name: James Hepburn
Title: 1st Duke of Orkney

4th Earl of Bothwell
Lord High Admiral of Scotland

Born: 1534
Death: 14 April 1578
Age: 44
Religion: Catholic
House: House of Hepburn
Gender: Male Male.png
Originally From: Edinburgh, Scotland
Parents: Patrick, Earl of Bothwell (Father)

Agnes Sinclair (Mother)

Wife: Lady Jean Gordon

Mary, Queen of Scots
Anna Throndsen

Affiliations: Kingdom of Scotland
Burial: Fårevejle Church, Dragsholm
TV Character Information
First appearance: Unchartered Waters
Portrays: Lord Bothwell
Portrayed by: Adam Croasdell

Lord Bothwell, was a prominent Scottish nobleman, known for his association with, abduction of, and marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots, as her third and final husband.


He was the son of Patrick, Earl of Bothwell, and Agnes Sinclair.

As Lord High Admiral of Scotland, Lord Bothwell sailed around Europe. During a visit to Copenhagen around 1559, he fell in love with Anna Throndsen. She was a Norwegian noblewoman whose father, Kristoffer Trondson, a famous Norwegian admiral, was serving as Danish Royal Consul. After their engagement or more likely marriage under Norwegian law, Anna left with Bothwell. In Flanders, he said he was out of money and asked Anna to sell all her possessions. She complied and visited her family in Denmark to ask for more money. Anna was unhappy and apparently given to complaining about Bothwell. Bothwell's treatment of Anna played a part in his eventual downfall.

In February 1566 Bothwell married Jean Gordon, sister of Sir John Gordon They were divorced on 7 May 1567, citing his adultery with her servant as cause. He married Mary, Queen of Scots, eight days later.

Metting The Queen of France

Lord Bothwell appears to have met Mary, Queen of Scots when he visited the French Court in the autumn of 1560, after he left Anna Rustung in Flanders. He was kindly received by the Queen and her husband, King Francis II, and, as he himself put it: "The Queen recompensed me more liberally and honourably than I had deserved" — receiving 600 Crowns and the post and salary of gentleman of the French King's Chamber. He visited France again in the spring of 1561, and by 5 July was back in Paris for the third time. By August, the widowed Queen was on her way back to Scotland in a French galley, some of the organization having been dealt with by Bothwell in his naval capacity.

Bothwell supported Mary de Guise, queen dowager and regent of Scotland, against the Protestant Lords of the Congregation. Bothwell and 24 followers took 6000 crowns of English money destined to be used against Guise from the Laird of Ormiston on Halloween 1559 at an ambush near Haddington. In retaliation the Protestant leader, the Duke of Châtelherault, sent his son the Earl of Arran and the Master of Maxwell to seize Bothwell's home Crichton Castle and force the Earl, who was at Borthwick, to join them. Bothwell remained true to the Regent, though it was said in January he was "weary of his part". The English agent Thomas Randolph also hinted at this time of a scandal involving his sister Jean Hepburn.


After Protestant Lords gained power following Mary de Guise's death and the return to Scotland of Mary, Queen of Scots, Bothwell appears to have been not much more than a troublesome Nobles at court. His open quarrel with the Earl of Arran and the Hamiltons, who accused him of intriguing against The Crown, caused some degree of anguish to the Queen, and although the Earl of Arran was eventually declared mad, Bothwell was nevertheless imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle without trial in 1562. Later that year, while the Queen was in the Highlands, he escaped and went to Hermitage Castle.

The Queen and Bothwell were by now very close. When Bothwell married Lady Jean Gordon, in February 1566, the Queen attended the wedding, the marriage lasted just over a year. In the following summer, upon hearing that he had been seriously wounded and was likely to die, she rode all the way through the hills and forests of the Borders to be with him at Hermitage Castle only a few weeks after giving birth to her son, Prince James. However, historian Lady Antonia Fraser asserts that Queen Mary was already on her way to visit Bothwell on matters of state before she heard about his illness and therefore this visit is not evidence they were already lovers at the time of his accident. In fact, the records show Mary waited a full six days after learning of his injuries before going to visit Bothwell.

Lord Darnley's Murder

In February 1567, Bothwell was one of those accused of having murdered the Queen's husband, Lord Darnley. Darnley's father, Lord Lennox, and other relatives agitated for vengeance and upon his petition, the Privy Council began proceedings against Bothwell on 12 April 1567. Sir William Drury reported to Sir William Cecil, Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth I of England, that the Queen was in continuous ill-health. On the appointed day Bothwell rode magnificently down the Canongate. The trial lasted from noon till seven in the evening. Bothwell was acquitted and it was widely rumored that he would marry Mary, Queen of Scots.

Abduction and marriage to Queen Mary

The next Wednesday, Mary, Queen of Scots rode to the Estates of Parliament, with Lord Bothwell carrying the Sceptre, where the proceedings of Bothwell's trial were officially declared to be just according to the law of the land. On Saturday 19 April, eight bishops, nine earls, and seven Lords of Parliament put their signatures to what became known as the Ainslie Tavern Bond, a manifesto declaring that Mary should marry a native-born subject, and handed it to Bothwell.

On Wednesday 24 April, while Mary was on the road from Linlithgow Palace to Edinburgh, Bothwell suddenly appeared with 800 men. He assured her that danger awaited her in Edinburgh, and told her that he proposed to take her to his castle at Dunbar, out of harm's way. She agreed to accompany him and arrived at Dunbar at midnight. There Mary was taken prisoner by Bothwell and allegedly raped by him to secure marriage to her and the crown (though whether she was his accomplice or his unwilling victim remains a controversial issue). On 12 May the Queen created him Duke of Orkney and Marquess of Fife, and on 15 May they were married in the Great Hall at Holyrood, according to Protestant rites officiated by Adam Bothwell. Mary gave her new husband a fur lined night-gown. Within three days, Sir William Drury wrote to London, England that although the manner of things appeared to be forcible, it was known to be otherwise.

The marriage divided the country into two camps, and on 16 June, the Lords opposed to Mary and Lord Bothwell signed a Bond denouncing them. A showdown between the two opposing sides followed at Carberry Hill on 15 June 1567, from which Bothwell fled, after one final embrace, never to be seen again by Mary. In December that year, Bothwell's titles and estates were forfeited by Act of Parliament.


After fleeing Scotland at Carberry Hill, Lord Bothwell was arrested in Norway. Hw may have hoped to reach Denmark and raise an army with the support of Frederick II of Denmark to put Mary, Queen of Scots back on the throne. He was caught off the coast of Norway without proper papers, and was escorted to the port of Bergen. Anna Throndsen raised a complaint against Bothwell, which was enforced by her powerful family; her cousin Erik Rosenkrantz, remanded Bothwell to the Bergenhus Fortress while Anna sued him for abandonment and return of her dowry. Anna may have had a soft spot for Bothwell, as he persuaded her to take custody of his ship, as compensation. Bothwell would have been released, but King Frederick had heard that the English Crown was seeking Bothwell for the alleged murder of Lord Darnley, and decided to take him into custody in Denmark.

Lord Bothwell was sent to Copenhagen, where the Danish monarch, King Frederik II, deliberated on his fate. Bothwell was sent to prison Malmøhus Castle. But as news from both England and Scotland arrived, the King eventually understood that Mary never again would become Queen of the Scots. And without Mary, the King considered him insignificant.

Now Lord Bothwell was sent to his final residence, Dragsholm Castle. He was held in what were said to be appalling conditions. He died in April 1578.

A pillar to which he was chained for the last ten years of his life can still be seen, with a circular groove in the floor around the pillar. His (alleged) mummified body could be seen in Fårevejle, until a few decades ago. In later decades his descendants have tried to get his body sent back to Scotland, but their request has not been granted. The identity of the body has never been conclusively proven; an 1858 investigation concluded that the remains were Bothwell's.