Source 2

Extracts from a letter allegedly from Mary to Earl Bothwell (SP 53/2)


… I go to my tedious talk.  You make me dissemble so much that I am afrayd therof with horrour, and you make me almost playe the parte of a traytor.  Remember that if it weare not for obeyeing you I had rather be dead.  My hart bleedith for yt.  To be shorte, he will not come but with condition that I shall promise to be with him ane heretofoer at bed and bord and that I shall forsake him no more; and upon my word, he will do whatsoever I will, and will com, but he hath prayed me to tarry till after to morrow. …


… Alas, I never deceavid any body; but I remitt myself wholly to your will And send me word what I shall doe, and whatsoever happen to me, I will obey you. …


… To be short, this bearer shall declare unto you the rest; and if I shall learne any thing, I will make every night a memorial thereof.  He shall tell you the cause of my stay, Burne this letter for it is to dangerous, neyther is thar any thing well said in it, for I think upon nothing but upon greefe if you be at Edinburghe. …


… God forgive me and give you my only frend the good luck and prosperitie that your humble and fathyfull Lover doth wisshe unto you, who hopith shortly to be an other thing unto you for the reward of my paynes. …


dissemble : put off

afrayd : afraid

horrour : horror

traytor : traitor

yt : that

ane : even

heretofoer : as before

bord : board

forsake : abandon

remitt : give

greefe : danger


« Return to Murder at Kirk o’ Field

5. This is a letter allegedly from Mary Queen of Scots to Bothwell.

  • If the letter is really from Mary to Bothwell, who is the ‘he’ Mary keeps referring to?
  • What does Mary want Bothwell to do with the letter?
  • What warnings does Mary give Bothwell?
  • Who is his ‘humble and faithful lover’?
  • What could Mary mean when she says ‘who shortly hopes to be another thing unto you’?
  • Does the letter show Mary plotting with Bothwell to kill Darnley? Give reasons to back up your answer.
  • Why do you think Bothwell did not burn the letter as Mary asks?
  • Do you think we can trust this letter as evidence?