Ludovic, Frances & Esme Stuart

Ludovic Stuart, Duke of Richmond and Lennox, and several members of his family are buried in a vault in the south east apsidal chapel of Henry VII's chapel in Westminster Abbey.

Ludovic Stuart and his wife Frances

He has a very large monument of black marble and bronze by sculptor Hubert Le Sueur which fills the small chapel. Gilt bronze recumbent effigies of the Duke and Duchess hold hands; he is wearing plate armour, coronet, mantle and collar of the Order of the Garter and carries a wand, while wife Frances wears a ruff, stomacher and coronet. At his feet is a bull's head and at hers is a chapeau with a couchant lion. At each corner of the tomb are large bronze life size figures representing Hope, Truth, Charity and Faith, acting as caryatides, supporting the domed open-work bronze canopy, with vases at each corner and a figure of Fame on the top. It was repaired and restored in 1875 by order of Lord Darnley. The Latin inscriptions can be translated:

The most illustrious and most excellent princess Frances Duchess of Richmond and Lennox, daughter of Thomas Lord Howard of Bindon, son to the Duke of Norfolk by Elizabeth daughter of Edward, Duke of Buckingham, wife of Ludovic Stuart, Duke of Richmond and Lennox, who, ever mindful of this her dearest lord, hath to him who so well deserved it, and to herself, erected this monument. She died the 8th of October A.D. 1639.
Here lies the body of the most illustrious and most excellent prince, Ludovic, son of Esme Stuart, Duke of Lennox, grandson of John, nephew to the serene Prince King James I, Duke of Richmond and Lennox, Earl of Newcastle upon Tyne and Darnley, Chamberlain and Hereditary Admiral of Scotland, Lord High Steward of the Household, first Gentleman of the bedchamber and Privy Counsellor to his sacred Majesty King James, Knight of the Garter, Ambassador from Scotland to France; a prince born to every thing that was great and good, but gone to far better. He lived 49 years, 4 months and 17 days.
2.Samuel 3, 38: Know ye not that a prince and a great man is this day dead. 16 February. Designed the first princes of this land.

In the Latin of the Biblical quotation capital letters form a chronogram adding up to the year of his death, ie. 1623 (in Old Style dating - now called 1624).

He was the eldest son of Esme Stuart, 1st Duke of Lennox and his wife Catherine de Balsac and a cousin of James I. He was born on 29th September 1574 and in 1623 was created Earl of Newcastle and Duke of Richmond. His first wife was Lady Sophia Ruthven, his second Jean Campbell and his third was Frances, widow of Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford. Frances had ordered that her body be packed in bran and wrapped in sheets used in her marriage bed.

Esme Stuart, Duke of Richmond and Lennox

Against the east wall of this chapel is an obelisk standing on four small skulls, surmounted by an urn containing the heart of Esme Stuart, son of James. On the plinth is an incised ducal coronet and letters ES RL [Esme Stuart, Richmond Lennox]. He was born on 2nd November 1649 and died in Paris on 10th August 1660 (the inscription gives the wrong date). He was created Lord Aubigny and succeeded his father as Duke of Richmond and Lennox. The Latin inscription can be translated:

Sacred to his memory. In this urn is enclosed the heart, while below rests the body, of the most illustrious Duke, Esme Stuart. Let him who seeks his parentage know that he inherited from his father James, first Duke of Lennox and then of Richmond and Lennox, the same title and rank, while from his mother Mary, only daughter of George, Duke of Buckingham, he derived his life and spirit, which afterwards he breathed out at Paris in the 11th year of his age on 14 day of the month of August, year of man's salvation 166[0].

Other burials in the Richmond vault

Esme Stuart, brother of Ludovic, second son of Esme and Catherine, succeeded him as Duke but died six months later of the spotted fever and was buried on 6th August 1624. His daughter Margaret was buried in 1618 in St Edmund's chapel in the Abbey. His daughter Frances was born in 1617 and married Jerome Weston, later 2nd Earl of Portland and was buried, as the Countess Dowager of Portland, in the vault on 17th March 1694.

James Stuart, Duke of Richmond and Lennox, son of Esme by his wife Catherine (Clifton), was born 6th April 1612 and died 30th March 1655.  The King was his guardian and later on he fought at Naseby. He married in 1637 Mary, daughter of George Villiers and widow of Charles Herbert. After James' death she married Colonel Thomas Howard and was buried on 28th November 1685. 

Charles, Lord Darnley, son of James was buried 13th October 1640.

Charles Stuart, Duke of Richmond and Lennox, was a cousin of Esme (died 1660) and was born in 1639 a son of George Stuart and Katherine (Howard). His first wife was widow Elizabeth Cavendish who was buried on 29th April 1661, his second wife was widow Margaret Lewis who was buried on 6th January 1667 and his third was Frances Teresa. He drowned while in Denmark in December 1672 and was buried in the Abbey 20th September 1673.

His title of duke of Richmond and Lennox became extinct but was later conferred by Charles II on Charles, his illegitimate child by the Duchess of Portsmouth. This Duke was buried in the vault in 1723 but was later removed to Chichester Cathedral.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004 for Ludovic, FrancesEsme, Charles, Duke of Richmond and James Stuart




Lady Chapel; Chapel of St Edmund

Memorial Type

Vault; monument

Material Type


Ludovic, Frances & Esme Stuart
Ludovic Stuart, Duke of Richmond and Lennox memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2022 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Ludovic, Frances & Esme Stuart
Esme Stuart heart shrine

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2022 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Ludovic, Frances & Esme Stuart
Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Lennox effigies

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2022 Dean and Chapter of Westminster