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Mary Stuart (8 April 1605 – 16 September 1607) was the third daughter and sixth child of James VI and I, the first king of a unified England, Scotland and Ireland, by Anne of Denmark, daughter of Frederick II of Denmark and sister of Christian IV of Denmark; her birth was much anticipated. She developed pneumonia at 17 months and died the following year.

Princess Mary
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



The first child to be born to Anne and James after James succeeded Elizabeth I of England, Mary was the first princess of Great Britain, although then it was not so named.[1] 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] A note containing the necessaries ordered by the king for his child contains orders of the following: "a carnation velvet cradle, fringed with silver fringe and lined with carnation satin; a double scarlet cloth to lay upon the cradle at night; a cradle cloth of carnation velvet with a train, laid with silver, and lined with taffeta to lay upon the cradle; two small mantles of unshorn velvet, lined with the same velvet; one large bearing cloth of carnation velvet, to be used when the child is brought forth of the chamber, lined with taffeta; one great head sheet of cambric for the cradle, containing two breadths, and three yards long, wrought all over with gold and coloured silks and fringed with gold; six fine handkerchiefs of fine cambric, one to be edged with fair cut work, to lay over the child's face; six veils of lawn, edged with fair bone lace, to pin with the mantles; six gathered bibs of fine lawn with ruffles edged with bone lace; two bibs to wear under them, wrought with gold and coloured silks."[1][2] The total cost of this went up to £300, currently worth around £790,000.[2]


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.[2] 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."[2]

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 Lady Elizabeth de Vere, Countess of Derby, who was supported by two unnamed earls.[3] The infant's clothing, a train of purple velvet, embroidered with gold and furred with ermines, was supported by two other earls, being so long that it fell to the ground.[4] 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, wife of a powerful earl, had decided to name her.[5] 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.[6]

Mary was given into the care of Sir Thomas Knyvet, afterwards Lord Knyvet, whose part in arresting Guy Fawkes and stopping the Gunpowder Plot from happening remained in history. On 1 June 1605, Mary was sent to Stanwell, Middlesex, to Knyvet's residence. 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.[6]

Death and burialEdit

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."[6][7]

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.[7] 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.[7] 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."[8]




  1. ^ a b c Everett Green 1857, p. 90.
  2. ^ a b c d Everett Green 1857, p. 91.
  3. ^ John Nichols, The Progresses, Processions, and Magnificent Festivities, of King James the First, vol. 1 (London, 1828), pp. 512-3.
  4. ^ Everett Green 1857, p. 92.
  5. ^ Everett Green 1857, p. 93.
  6. ^ a b c Everett Green 1857, p. 94.
  7. ^ a b c Everett Green 1857, p. 95.
  8. ^ Everett Green 1857, p. 96.
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ Mecklenburg Ancestral Table