Hover the mouse over the coloured text for more information, click to go to the Pages. Hover over paintings for larger versions. Click on the Arms to go to the Heraldry pages. Click on Home in the Menu above to go to today's On This Day in History page.

The Letter Books of Amias Paulet Keeper of Mary queen of Scots Published 1874 Marys Execution

Execution of Mary Queen of Scots

The Letter Books of Amias Paulet Keeper of Mary queen of Scots Published 1874 Marys Execution. Execution of Mary Queen of Scots.The inventory of the property of the Mary "Queen of Scots" Stewart I Queen Scotland 1542-1587 (44), alluded to in the foregoing letter, is printed in Prince Labanoff's collection, in which it occupies more than twenty pages. Amias Poulett Courtier 1533-1588 (54) compiled it by summoning Mary's servants before him, and requesting each of them to give him a written note of all that the Mary "Queen of Scots" Stewart I Queen Scotland 1542-1587 (44) had given them. A comparison of this inventory, made after Mary's death, with a former one, dated 13 Jun 1586, which Prince Labanoff found amongst M. de Chateauneuf's papers enables us to see that Mr. Froude has been led into a curious error respecting Mary Stuart's dress at the scaffold by the anonymous writer whose account he follows in preference to the narratives drawn up by responsible witnesses. It may seem to be of little importance, but as Mr. Froude has chosen to represent the last moments of Mary's life as "brilliant acting throughout," he should at least have been accurate in his details. He even goes so far as to say that she was deprived of the assistance of her chaplain for "fear of some religious melodrame." As to her dress, he says, "Mary "Queen of Scots" Stewart I Queen Scotland 1542-1587 (44) stood on the black scaffold with the black figures all around her, blood-red from head to foot. Her reasons for adopting so extraordinary a costume must be left to conjecture. It is only certain that it must have been carefully studied, and that the pictorial effect must have been appalling." And he quotes from the Vray Rapport the words, "Ainsy fut executee toute en rouge. [Translation: So was executed all in red.]"
The rouge was not " blood-red," but a dark red brown. Blackwood says that she wore, with a pourpoint or bodice of black satin, "une Juppe de vellours cramoisi brun," and the narrative called La Mort de la Royne d'Escosse says the same. There it is in the June inventory, "Une juppe de velloux cramoisy brun, bandee de passement noir, doublee de taffetas de couleur brune." In the inventory taken after her death it is wanting. As it happens, if she had wished to be "blood-red," she might have been so, for in the wardrobe there was "satin figure incarnat," " escarlate," and " satin incarnate." These figure both in the June and February inventories. When she was dressed "le plus proprement qu'elle put et mieux que de coutume," she said to her maids of honour, "Mes amies, je vous eusse laisse plustost cet accoustrement que celui d'hier, sinon qu'il faut que j'aille a la mort un peu honnorablement, et que j'aye quelque chose plus que le commun." "La tragedie finie," continues Blackwood, " les pauvres damoiselles, soigneuses de rhonneur de leur maistresse s'adresserent a Paulet son gardien, et le prierent que le bourreau ne touchast plus au corps de sa Majeste, et qu'il leur fust permis de la despouiller, apres que le monde seroit retire, afin qu'aucune indignite ne fust faitte au corps, promettant de luy rendre la despouille, et tout ce qu'il pourroit demander. Mais ce maudict et espou- ventable Cerbere les renvoya fort lourdement, leur commandant de sortir de la salle. Cependant le bourreau la dechausse, et la manie a sa discretion. Apres qu'il eust fait tout ce qu'il voulust, le corps fut porte en une chambre joignante celle de ces serviteurs, bien fermee de peur qu'ils n'y entrassent pour luy rendre leurs debvoirs. Ce qui augmenta grandement leur ennuy, ils la voyoient par le trou de la serrure demy couverte d'un morceau de drop de bure qu'on avoit arrache de la table du billard, dont nous avous parle cy dessus, et prioyent Dieu a la porte, dont Amias Poulett Courtier 1533-1588 (54) s'appercevant fist boucher le trou."
The executioner snatched from her hand the little gold cross that she took from her neck. "Sa Majeste osta hors de son col line croix d'or, qu'elle vouloit bailler a mie de ses filles, disant au maistre d'oeuvres, Mon amy, cecy n'est pas k vostre usage, laissez la a cette damoiselle elle vous baillera en Argent plus qu'elle ne vaut; il luy arracha d'entre les mains fort rudement, disant, C'est mon droit. C'eust este merveille qu'elle eust trouve courtoisie en un bourreau Anglois, qui ne I'avoit jamais sceu trouver entre les plus honestes du pais, sinon tant qu'ils en pouvoient tirer de profit." It was worthy of Amias Poulett Courtier 1533-1588 (54) to insist that, even though everything Mary wore was to be burnt and the headsman was to lose his perquisites lest he should sell them for relics, it was to be by his hands that they should be taken from the person of his victim.
Several narratives of the execution exist. The most complete, attributed to Bourgoin, is printed in Jebb. Sir H. Ellis and Robertson print the official report of the Commissioners. Then there is Chateauneuf's Report to Henry III., February 27, 1587, N.S., in Teulet, and a narrative drawn up for Burghley by R. W. (Richard Wigmore). Blackwood also furnishes an interesting and trustworthy description. The anonymous Vray Rapport will be found in Teulet. Mr. Froude appears to have selected it, partly because it was possible to expand the Realistic description of the dissevered head, and in particular the inevitable contraction of the features, into the gross and pitiless caricature which he permits himself of the poor wreck of humanity; partly too, because the Vray Rapport, in direct contradiction to the other accounts, supports his assertion that Mary was "dreadfully agitated" on receiving the message of death from the two Earls. To convey the impression that the writer was bodily present on that occasion, Mr. Froude introduces him as "evidently an eye-witness, one of the Mary "Queen of Scots" Stewart I Queen Scotland 1542-1587 (44) own attendants, probably her surgeon." But the narrative shows us that the writer, whoever he was, could not have been one of Mary's attendants, nor even acquainted with them, for he designates the two ladies who assisted their mistress at the scaffold as "deux damoiselles, I'une Francoise nommee damoiselle Ramete, et l'autre Escossoise, qui avait nom Ersex." There were no such names in Mary's household. The two ladies were both Scottish, Jane Kennedy and Elspeth Curie, Gilbert Curle's sister. Mr. Froude says, "Barbara Mowbray Lady In Waiting bound her eyes with a handkerchief." It was Jane Kennedy who performed for her this last service.
Amias Poulett Courtier 1533-1588 (54) inventory, amongst other things, contains the following entry : "Memorandum that the Priest claimeth as of the said late Queen's gift, a silver chalice with a cover, two silver cruets, four images, the one of our Lady in red coral, with divers other vestments and necessaries belonging to a Massing Priest." When the scaffold had been taken away, the Priest was allowed to leave his room and join the rest of the household. On the morning after the execution he said Mass for Mary's soul; but on the afternoon of that day Andrew Melville of Garvock Steward and Bourgoin were sent for by Poulet, who gave orders that the altar should be taken down, and demanded an oath that Mass should not be said again. Andrew Melville of Garvock Steward excused himself as he was a Protestant and not concerned; the physician stoutly refused. Amias Poulett Courtier 1533-1588 (54) sent for the Priest, and required the coffer in which the vestments were kept to be brought to him. Du Preau, who was evidently a timid man, took the oath that Amias Poulett Courtier 1533-1588 (54) insisted on, little thinking that he was pledging himself for six months. "II jura sur la bible de ne faire aucune office de religion, craignant d'estre resserre en prison."
The household of the late Mary "Queen of Scots" Stewart I Queen Scotland 1542-1587 (44) were not allowed to depart as soon as Amias Poulett Courtier 1533-1588 (54) expected. They were detained at Fotheringay Castle, from motives of policy, till the 03 Aug 1587, when the funeral of their mistress having been at last performed, they were set free. Some of them were taken to Peterborough Cathedral to accompany the corpse and to be present at the funeral ceremonies on the 01 Aug 1587. Amongst them, in the order of the procession, it is surprising to find Mary's chaplain, "Monsieur du Preau, aumosnier, en long manteau, portant une croix d'Argent en main." The account of the funeral from which this is taken, written by one of the late Mary "Queen of Scots" Stewart I Queen Scotland 1542-1587 (44) household, takes care to mention that when they reached the choir of Peterborough Minster, and the choristers began "a chanter a leur fagon en langage Anglois," they all, with the exception of Andrew Melville of Garvock Steward and Barbara Mowbray Lady In Waiting, left the church and walked in the cloisters till the service was finished. "Si les Anglois," he says, "et principalement le Roy des heraux . . . estoit en extreme cholere, d'autant estoient joieux et contents les Catholiques."
Poulet left for London, and as long as Mary's servants were detained at Fotheringay Castle, he seems to have retained jurisdiction over them. It was to him, therefore, that Melville and Bourgoin applied in March for leave to sell their horses and to write into France respecting the bequests made to them by the Queen of Scots ; and to him that Darrell forwarded in June "the petition of the whole household and servants of the late Queen of Scotland remaining at Fotheringay," begging to be released from their prison and to be allowed to leave the country.
Amias Poulett Courtier 1533-1588 (54), as has already been said, was made Chancellor of the Order of the Garter in April, 1587, but he did not retain this preferment for a whole year. He continued in the Captaincy of Jersey up to his death, but he appears to have resided in and near London. In the British Museum are two letters from him of small importance. One, addressed to the Lord High Admiral, is dated, "From my poor lodging in Fleet Street, the 14 Jan 1587," about "right of tenths in Jersey, belonging to the Government." The other, "From my little lodge at Twickenham, the 24 Apr 1588," "on behalf of Berry," whose divorce was referred by the Justice of the Common Pleas to four Doctors of the Civil Law, of whom Mr. Doctor Caesar, Judge of the Admiralty, to whom the letter was written, was one.
His name also occurs in a letter, from Walsingham to Burghley, dated 23 May 1587, while Elizabeth still kept up the farce of Burghley's disgrace for despatching Mary Stuart's death-warrant. "Touching the Chancellorship of the Duchy, she told Sir Amias Poulet that in respect of her promise made unto me, she would not dispose of it otherwise. But yet hath he no power to deliver the seals unto me, though for that purpose the Attorney is commanded to attend him, who I suppose will be dismissed hence this day with- out any resolution." And on the 4th of January following, together with the other lords of the Council, he signed a letter addressed by the Privy Council to the Lord Admiral and to Lord Buckhurst, the Lieutenants of Sussex, against such Catholics as "most obstinately have refused to come to the church to prayers and divine service," requiring them to " cause the most obstinate and noted persons to be committed to such prisons as are fittest for their safe keeping : the rest that are of value, and not so obstinate, are to be referred to the custody of some -ecclesiastical persons and other gentlemen well affected, to remain at the charges of the recusant, to be restrained in such sort as they may be forthcoming, and kept from intelligence with one another." On the 26 Sep 1588, in the year in which this letter was written, 1588, Sir Amias Poulet died.
Poulet was buried in St Martin's in the Fields, Charing CrossWhen that church was pulled down to be rebuilt, his remains, with the handsome monument erected over them, were Removed to the Church of St George, Hinton St George. After various panegyrics in Latin, French, and English inscribed on his monument, a quatrain, expressive apparently of royal favour, pays the following tribute to the service rendered by him to the State as Keeper of the Queen of Scots: Never shall cease to spread wise Poulet's fame; These will speak, and men shall blush for shame: Without offence to speak what I do know, Great is the debt England to him doth owe.

Around 1559 Fran├žois Clouet Portrait Painter 1510-1572 (49). Portrait of Mary "Queen of Scots" Stewart I Queen Scotland 1542-1587 (16).

Around 1576 Unknown Artist. Portrait of Mary "Queen of Scots" Stewart I Queen Scotland 1542-1587 (33).

In 1746 John Rocque Mapmaker 1704-1762 (42). Map of London Part 2C.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9