History

Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox

Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, was buried, at the expense of Elizabeth I, in the south aisle of Henry VII's chapel in Westminster Abbey, in the same grave as her son Charles.

She was born on 8 October 1515 at Harbottle Castle in Northumberland. Her mother was Margaret Tudor (1489-1541), daughter of Henry VII and widow of James IV of Scotland, who had married Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus in 1514 (they divorced in 1527). The young Margaret, who was very beautiful, lived for a time with her aunt Princess Mary and then became a lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn and led an eventful life, being imprisoned in the Tower of London on several occasions. On 6 July 1544 at St James' Palace in London she married Matthew Stewart, 13th Earl of Lennox, who was a descendant of James I of Scotland. Their second son Henry, Lord Darnley married Mary, Queen of Scots and was murdered in 1567. Matthew died after being shot in the back in a skirmish at Stirling Castle in 1571. None of her eight children survived her and she died, in poverty, on 9 March 1578 (New Style dating). 

Monument

Her grandson James VI of Scotland (who later became James I of England) is said to have erected the fine monument, which was in place by 1600 (the monument to Mary Queen of Scots was later erected to the east of Margaret's). Her recumbent effigy, made of alabaster, wears a French cap and ruff with a red fur-lined cloak, over a dress of blue and gold. On either side of the tomb chest are weepers (small kneeling statues) of her four sons (Charles and Henry and two who died young) and four daughters (all died young). The inscription panels read:

 "HEER LYETH THE NOBLE LADY MARGARET, COUNTESSE OF LEVENOX, DAUGHTER AND SOLE HEIRE OF ARCHIBALD EARLE OF ANGUISE [Angus], BY MARGARET Q.OF SCOTTES HIS WIFE THAT WAS ELDEST DAUGHTER TO KING HENRY THE 7, WHOE BARE UNTO MATHEW EARLE OF LEVENOX HER HUSBAND 4 SONNES AND 4 DAUGHTERS. THIS LADY HAD TO HER GREAT GRANDFATHER K.EDWARD THE 4, TO HER GRANDFATHER K.HENRY THE 7, TO HER UNCLE K.HENRY THE 8, TO HER COUSIN GERMANE K.EDWARD THE 6, TO HER BROTHER K.JAMES OF SCOTLAND THE V, TO HER SONNE KING HENRY THE FIRST [ie.Lord Darnley], TO HER GRANDCHILD K.JAMES THE 6. HAVINGE TO HER GREATE GRANDMOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER 2 QUEENES BOTH NAMED ELIZABETH, TO HER MOTHER MARGARET Q.OF SCOTTS, TO HER AUNT MARYE THE FRENCHE Q, TO HER COUSYNS GERMANES MARY AND ELIZABETH QUEENES OF ENGLAND, TO HER NEECE AND DAUGHTER IN LAW MARY Q.OF SCOTTS. HENRY SECOND SONNE TO THIS LADY WAS K.OF SCOTTS AND FATHER TO JAMES THE 6 NOW KING. THIS HENRY WAS MURTHERED AT THE AGE OF 21 YEARES. CHARLES HER YOUNGEST SONNE WAS EARLE OF LEVENOX FATHER TO THE LADIE ARBELL. HE DYED AT THE AGE OF 21 YEARES AND IS HERE INTOMBED".

On the ledge at the east end was a Latin inscription, translated as:

 "This work was completed at the charge of Thomas Fowler, the executor of this lady, 24 Oct 1578"

The inscription at the west end is also in Latin and can be translated:

"Sacred to the memory of MARGARET DOUGLAS, wife of Matthew Stuart, Earl of Lennox, granddaughter to Henry VII, King of England, by his daughter (Margaret Tudor): joined by the closest ties of kinship to most puissant kings, grandmother to James VI of Scotland, a lady of most pious character, invincible spirit, and matchless steadfastness. She died the tenth of March, year of Our Lord 1577. Margaret, mighty in virtue, mightier yet in lineage: ennobled by kings and by her forebears; descended from Scottish and English princes, she was also a progenitor of princes. Those things that belong unto death, she released to death most joyfully, and sought God, for she belonged to God before".

The monument was restored in the 1960s. At her feet is a crowned lion. Sculpted and painted coats of arms adorn the tomb chest: Darnley impaling Scotland at the east end; a lozenge of Angus and Douglas at the west end and at the sides Lennox impaling Angus and Douglas.

Margaret's son Charles, who died of tuberculosis in 1576, married Elizabeth Cavendish. Their daughter was Lady Arabella Stuart (1575-1615) who died in the Tower of London and also lies in a vault in this aisle.

Photographs of the tomb can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004.

The oil painting entitled "The Memorial of Lord Darnley" showing a family group, and a portrait of Margaret are in the Royal Collection.

"Life of the Lady Arabella Stuart" by E.T.Bradley, 2 vols, (1889)

 

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Margaret's sons shown on her monument
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