There was much excitement at our latest find in the archives – documents relating to Mary Queen of Scots. Found amongst the records received back from the National Records of Scotland we hold a document signed by Mary and King Henry (better known as Lord Darnley). The document is asking the burgesses of Haddington to remain at home from the various raids that were happening at the time but it is the signature of these two and the thought that this was something that Mary actually touched that has excited people the most. This dates from October 1565.
Along with this document we also found a grant of church land to the Burgh of Haddington. While this document was not signed by Mary it is appended with an almost perfect example of her great seal. Although in Latin and therefore unreadable to most (including myself!) it is a visually beautiful item with fine handwriting and of course the wax seal. These are exciting documents connecting a lady who had a rather eventful life with East Lothian.
Interesting in it their own right the documents take on even more significance when placed against Mary’s timeline. In the first document she was a newlywed married to Darnley for just three months and likely just pregnant with James VI. By the time of the second document (March 1566), she has just returned to Edinburgh after fleeing to Dunbar castle and has witnessed the murder of her secretary David Rizzio just two weeks previously.
We’re hoping to put these documents on display as part of an exhibition later this year but in the meantime if you would like to see them then please just drop into the archives upstairs at the John Gray Centre.
I am sure there are plenty more gems like this to be found in our collections – watch this space!