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James Hamilton, Duke of Châtellerault

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James Hamilton, Duke of Châtellerault, 2nd Earl of Arran (c. 1516 – 22 January 1575) was a regent for Mary, Queen of Scots. (Chisholm 1910) (Dunlop 1890)

James Hamilton, Duke of Châtellerault and 2nd Earl of Arran
James Hamilton (Earl of Arran).jpg
Bornc. 1516
Died22 January 1575(1575-01-22) (aged 59)
TitleDuke of Châtellerault
2nd Earl of Arran
Governor and Protector of Scotland
PredecessorJames Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran
SuccessorJames Hamilton, 3rd Earl of Arran
Spouse(s)Lady Margaret Douglas
ChildrenJames Hamilton, 3rd Earl of Arran
Anne Hamilton, Countess of Huntly
Jean Hamilton, Countess of Eglinton
Barbara Hamilton, Lady Fleming
John Hamilton, 1st Marquess of Hamilton
Elizabeth Hamilton
David Hamilton
Claud Hamilton, 1st Lord Paisley
Parent(s)James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran
Janet Bethune
RelativesMary of Scotland, paternal grandmother


James Hamilton was the eldest legitimate son of James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran by his second wife, Janet Bethune. His paternal grandmother, Mary, was the daughter of King James II.

In 1529 he succeeded his father as the 2nd Earl of Arran.[1] On the death of John Stewart, Duke of Albany, in 1536, he became next in line to the throne after the King's descendants.

Regent of ScotlandEdit

The children of the immediate royal family proved to be short-lived, so on the death of James V of Scotland on 14 December 1542 at only 30, the Earl of Arran stood next in line to the Scottish throne after the king's six-day-old newborn baby daughter Mary, Queen of Scots, for whom Arran was appointed Governor and Protector of Scotland.[2] In 1543, supporters of Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, challenged Arran's claim and legitimacy by suggesting that his father's divorce and second marriage were invalid.[3]

Initially he was a Protestant and a member of the pro-English party. In 1543 he helped to negotiate the marriage of the Queen of Scots to the infant Prince of Wales (the future Edward VI of England); in the same year he authorised the translation and reading of the Bible in the vernacular.[4] On 27 January 1543 he arrested Cardinal Beaton, who favoured the Auld Alliance. Beaton was imprisoned at Dalkeith Palace and then Blackness Castle. However, Henry VIII of England doubted Arran's commitment to English policy and wanted him deposed. On 18 March 1543, Sir George Douglas of Pittendreich, brother of the Earl of Angus, told the English ambassador, Ralph Sadler, that;

"if there be any motion now to take the Governor from his state, and to bring the government of this realm to the king of England, I assure you it is impossible to be done at this time. For, there is not so little a boy but that he will hurl stones against it, and the wives will handle their distaffs, and the commons universally will rather die in it, yea, and many noblemen and all the clergy be fully against it."[5]

However, in September 1543 he turned around. He secretly met Cardinal Beaton at Callendar House[6] and reconciled himself with his former enemy. Shortly after he became Catholic and joined the pro-French faction. He signed the Treaty of Haddington, consenting to the marriage of the Queen to the French Dauphin, and earning the Duchy of Châtellerault in the process.[7] This led to the seven-year war with England now called the Rough Wooing which was declared on 20 December 1543, and signed by Châtellerault the following month.[8] The declaration of war was brought by Henry Ray to give to the Parliament of Scotland. Châtellerault replied that the parliament was dissolved, and so he thought it expedient not to answer Henry VIII on the points raised at the time.[9]

In 1544 an attempt was made to transfer the regency from him to Mary of Guise, Queen Mary's mother, but Châtellerault fortified Edinburgh and her forces retired; in March 1545 a truce was arranged by which each had a share in the government.[10]

In September 1547 Châtellerault assembled a large Scottish army to resist an English invasion led by Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset but was defeated at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh.[8] He nevertheless held onto the regency and continued to lead forces against the occupying troops.[citation needed] He reluctantly agreed in July 1548 to the marriage of the dauphin to Mary, and she went to live in the French court.[8] For his work on negotiating her marriage, Hamilton was created Duke of Châtellerault, and made a knight of the Order of Saint Michael. His eldest son James was thenceforth commonly styled Earl of Arran.[8]

The Duke and the reformationEdit

In 1554, Châtellerault surrendered the regency to Mary of Guise, and was appointed her lieutenant in Scotland.[11] He gave up the Regency on the condition that he would be the Queen's heir, if she died childless. But the Scottish succession had been secretly promised to France.

In the first months of the Scottish Reformation Hamilton continued to support Mary of Guise. He faced a Protestant army with the French commander at Cupar Muir in June 1559. He changed his allegiance in August 1559, joining the Protestant Lords of the Congregation to oppose the regency of Mary of Guise, and lost his French dukedom as a result. In order to discredit him with the English government a letter was forged by his enemies, in which Châtellerault declared his allegiance to Francis II of France, but the plot was exposed. On 27 February 1560 he agreed to the Treaty of Berwick with Elizabeth I, which placed Scotland under her protection.[12]

After the death of Guise, Châtellerault persuaded the Parliament of Scotland to back a plan to marry his son James to Elizabeth I,[13] and then after the death of Francis II in 1560 he attempted, without success, to arrange for James to marry the young widowed Queen Mary.[8]

After Mary married Lord Darnley in 1565 Châtellerault withdrew to his estates in France, where he made vain attempts to regain his confiscated duchy. In 1569, he returned to Scotland in support of Mary but was imprisoned. Although he assembled a parliament and was declared a traitor, in 1573 he agreed to recognise Mary's infant James as King of Scotland.[8]

A building from Châtellerault's heyday as Regent survives at Kinneil in West Lothian, his Eastern residence, including carvings and paintings of his heraldry with the collar of Saint Michael.[14]

Arms of the Duke and Margaret Hamilton, Kinneil House (Historic Scotland)

Marriage and issueEdit

In 1532 Châtellerault married Margaret Douglas, daughter of James Douglas, 3rd Earl of Morton, and Catherine Stewart, herself a natural daughter of James IV. His older half-brother James Hamilton of Finnart paid Morton 4,000 marks as part of the marriage settlement.[15] They had the following issue:[16]

  1. James (1532–1609), who would succeed him as the 3rd Earl of Arran;
  2. Anne (c. 1535–bef. April 1574), who would marry George Gordon, 5th Earl of Huntly;
  3. Jean, who would marry Hugh Montgomerie, 3rd Earl of Eglinton;
  4. Barbara, who would marry first Alexander Gordon, Lord Gordon, then James Fleming, 4th Lord Fleming;
  5. John (1535–1604), who would become the 1st Marquess of Hamilton;
  6. Margaret, who would marry Sir Alexander Pethein (Peden);[17]
  7. Gawain, who died in infancy;
  8. Elizabeth, who would marry George Hamilton;
  9. David, who had three children in 1575.[18]
  10. Claud (1546–1621), who would become the 1st Lord Paisley.

The marriage was arranged by Châtellerault's elder half-brother and guardian James Hamilton of Finnart. Margaret Douglas was given the house and lands of Kinneil House for her lifetime if her husband died before her. In 1544 Regent Châtellerault attempted unsuccessfully to get a divorce. Recently Amy Blakeway has argued that this attempted divorce might have been related to Margaret's poor mental health, for which there is later evidence.[19]

Further readingEdit

  • Franklin, David Byrd (1995). The Scottish Regency of the Earl of Arran: A Study in the Failure of Anglo-Scottish Relations. Edwin Mellen Press.


  1. ^ Dunlop 1890, p. 168: "... succeeded to the earldom on the death of his father in 1529."
  2. ^ Chisholm 1910, p. 643, left column, line 43: "... was, in consequence of his position as next successor to the throne after the infant Mary, proclaimed protector of the realm and heir-presumptive of the crown in 1543"
  3. ^ Dickinson, Gladys, ed., Two Missions of de la Brosse, Scottish History Society (1942), 7–8, 19: Calendar State Papers Scotland, vol, 1 (1898), 691–694.
  4. ^ Chisholm 1910, p. 643, left column, line 47: "... authorized the translation and the reading of the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue, ..."
  5. ^ Clifford, Arthur, ed., Sadler State Papers, Edinburgh, vol. 1 (1809), 70, Sadler to Henry VIII, 20 March 1543, (Sadler later attributed a similar speech to Adam Otterburn.)
  6. ^ Bain 1892, p. 15: ""
  7. ^ "The French Marriage". NQ Higher: Scottish History. Education Scotland. Archived from the original on 2 July 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Chisholm 1911.
  9. ^ Bain, Joseph, ed., Hamilton Papers, vol. 2, HM Register House, Edinburgh, (1892), 238–9.
  10. ^ Chisholm 1910, p. 643, left column, line 59: "In March 1545 a truce was arranged by which each had a share in the government."
  11. ^ A. Blakeway, Regency in Sixteenth-Century Scotland (Woodbridge, 2015), 23.
  12. ^ Chisholm 1910, p. 643, right column, line 9: "On the 27th of February 1560 he agreed to the treaty of Berwick with Elizabeth, which placed Scotland under her protection."
  13. ^ Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. ii, (1814), 605–606; HMC Hamilton, (1887), 42, August 1560.
  14. ^ JS Richardson, PSAS, vol. 75, (1940–41), 184–204, "Mural Decorations at Kinneil" (PDF).
  15. ^ Laing, Henry, Descriptive Catalogue of Impressions from Ancient Scottish Seals, Constable (1850), 72.
  16. ^ Paul 1907, p. 368: "by her he had issue:- ..."
  17. ^ Dunlop 1890, p. 170: "Margaret, who married Alexander, lord Gordon, eldest son of George, fourth earl of Huntly;"
  18. ^ Chatellherault's will, NAS ECC8/8/4
  19. ^ Amy Blakeway, 'The attempted divorce of James Hamilton, earl of Arran, Governor of Scotland', The Innes Review, Volume 61 Issue 1 (May 2010), pp.1–23 ISSN 0020-157x [1]

External linksEdit