Elizabeth Douglas, Countess of Erroll

Elizabeth Douglas, Countess of Erroll (d. 1631) was a Scottish aristocrat.

Elizabeth was the youngest daughter of William Douglas, 6th Earl of Morton and Agnes Leslie, Countess of Morton. Morton had seven daughters, alleged to have been called the "pearls of Lochleven".

She married Francis Hay, 9th Earl of Erroll in July 1590. This displeased James VI of Scotland who had asked Erroll not to marry her. The marriage was arranged at the initiative of the Master of Glamis, to form a political faction. On 21 April 1590 the Earl of Montrose and others at Megginch Castle had tried to persuade Erroll not to marry her, but Erroll argued he could change his wife's friends' alliances.[1]

In February 1593 King James came north to punish and subdue the earls of Huntly, Angus, and Erroll for plotting on behalf of the Catholic faith but they went into hiding. Henrietta, Countess of Huntly and the Countess of Erroll came to him at Aberdeen and he allowed them to keep their houses and estates.[2] In 1594 the Earl of Erroll led a rebellion which was put down by James VI. Their castle of Slains was destroyed with gunpowder and cannon. Next year, the Countess of Errol hired masons to repair the building.[3] The English diplomat George Nicolson heard that Anne of Denmark had offered the jewel called the "Great H of Scotland" to her friend the Countess of Erroll as recompense for the demolition of Slains.[4]

She had a child in September 1595 and John Bothwell, Abbot of Holyroodhouse was sent as the king's representative to the christening.[5]

At the ceremony of the Riding of the Parliament in Edinburgh in January 1598, she and Anna of Denmark and the Countess of Huntly rode to Mercat Cross and watched the symbolic restoration of the forfeited earls of Angus, Erroll and Huntly, by the Lyon King of Arms to the sound of trumpets. It was said that the queen had so much favour to Elizabeth Douglas and the Countess of Huntly that sometimes she shared a bed with one or the other, and was often seen kissing Elizabeth.[6]

It has been suggested that she was the "E. D." who composed two sonnets addressed to the poet and secretary of Anne of Denmark, William Fowler.[7] However, Fowler wrote an epitaph in 1594 for another Elizabeth Douglas, the wife of an East Lothian laird and diplomat, Samuel Cockburn of Templehall, and she may have been the author "E.D".[8]


Elizabeth Douglas and Francis Hay had five sons and eight daughters:

  1. William Hay, 10th Earl of Erroll, who married in 1618 Anne Lyon, daughter of Patrick Lyon, 1st Earl of Kinghorne and Anne Murray.
  2. George
  3. Francis
  4. Thomas
  5. Lewis
  6. Anne Hay, who married George Seton, 3rd Earl of Winton
  7. Jean Hay, who married John Erskine, Earl of Mar
  8. Mary Hay, who married Walter Scott, 1st Earl of Buccleuch
  9. Elizabeth Hay, who married; (1) Hugh Sempill, 5th Lord Sempill; (2) James Douglas, 1st Lord Mordington
  10. Sophia Hay, who married John Gordon, Viscount Melgum, son of George Gordon, 1st Marquess of Huntly
  11. Margaret Hay, who married Sir John Seton of Barns, son of Sir John Seton of Barns and Anne Forbes.
  12. Isabel Hay, died unmarried
  13. Helen Hay (died 1625, aged 10)


  1. ^ Calendar State Papers Scotland, vol. 10 (Edinburgh, 1936), pp. 281, 285, 347: Register of the Privy Council, vol. 5 (Edinburgh, 1881), pp. 506-7.
  2. ^ Historie and Life of King James the Sext (Edinburgh, 1830), p. 268.
  3. ^ Calendar State Papers Scotland, vol. 12 (Edinburgh, 1952), p. 10 no. 8.
  4. ^ Joseph Bain, Border Papers, vol. 2 (Edinburgh, 1894), p. 504.
  5. ^ M. S. Giuseppi, Calendar State Papers Scotland: 1595-1597, vol. 12 (Edinburgh, 1952), p. 13.
  6. ^ Calendar State Papers Scotland: 1597-1603, vol. 3 (Edinburgh, 1969), pp. 161-2.
  7. ^ Sarah Dunnigan, 'Douglas, Elizabeth, Countess of Erroll', New Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women (Edinburgh, 2018), p. 118.
  8. ^ Sebastiaan Verweij, The Literary Culture of Early Modern Scotland (Oxford, 2017), pp. 84-87.