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Arbella (Arabella) Stuart

Lady Arbella Stuart, first cousin to James VI of Scotland and I of England, lies buried in a vault beneath the south aisle of Henry VII's chapel in Westminster Abbey. In the 19th century a small grey stone was put in between the tombs of Mary Queen of Scots and Arbella's grandmother Margaret, Countess of Lennox, recording burials in the vault. This gives her name and year of burial only. She has no other memorial.

She was born in 1575, daughter of Charles, 5th Earl of Lennox (Levenox) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Cavendish. Her father was buried with his mother Margaret in 1576. After her father's death she was brought up by her maternal grandmother Bess, of Hardwick Hall and was taught several languages. For a short time she was lady in waiting to Elizabeth I but was sent home when she became too friendly with the queen's favourite the Earl of Essex. In 1610 she married William Seymour, a grandchild of Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford. When the King heard of the marriage William was sent to the Tower of London and she was put under house arrest. Disguising herself as a man she took a ship to go to France but while waiting for her husband to join her she was captured and taken to the Tower where she died on 25th September 1615.

Further reading

"Arbella Stuart, a rival to the queen" by D.N. Durant, 1978

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

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

"The life and letters of Lady Arabella Stuart" by E. Cooper, 2 vols. 1866

Died

25th September 1615

Location

Lady Chapel

Memorial Type

Vault

Arbella (Arabella) Stuart
Arabella Stuart on vaultstone

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.

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Vanessa, Head of Conservation

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