Lords Hailes of Hailes (1452)
1st Lord Hailes, Patrick Hepburn, b.c.1412, a.1452-1453, d.1482
The family of Hepburn is believed to have come originally from Northumberland, with the head of the house being brought to Scotland as hostage by David II and eventually released and given lands in East Lothian held under the auspices of the Earl of March. The first recognised individual is Adam Hepburn, whose son, Sir Patrick Hepburn of Hailes, fought at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388. Sir Patrick’s son, also Patrick, died before him, and so he was succeeded by his grandson Sir Adam Hepburn of Hailes (b.?, d.c.1446). Sir Adam Hepburn married Janet Borthwick, daughter of Sir William Borthwick of Borthwick, and their son Patrick Hepburn was created 1st Lord Hailes in 1452. He served as a Conservator of a Truce with England on several occasions.
2nd Lord Hailes, Patrick Hepburn, b.b.1466, a.c.1483, d.1508
Grandson of the 1st Lord and Ellen Wallace, and son of Adam Hepburn, Master of Hailes (b.c.1435, d.c.1479) and Helen Home, daughter of Sir Alexander Home of that Ilk. He also served as a Conservator of the Truce with England in 1484. He was one of the leaders of those lords who rebelled against the unpopular reign of James III, leading the vanguard at the Battle of Sauchieburn in 1488, and is believed to be one of those responsible for the King’s murder after the battle. On the accession of James IV, Hailes was presented with several titles, including Lord High Admiral, Master of the King’s Household and Keeper of Edinburgh Castle. Later that year he was presented with a crown charter to the lands of Crichton and Bothwell, following the forfeiture of John Ramsay, Lord Bothwell, and was created 1st Earl of Bothwell.
Earls of Bothwell (1488)
1st Earl of Bothwell, Patrick Hepburn, b.b.1466, a.1488, d.1508
In 1492 he exchanged with Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, the lordship of Bothwell for that of Liddesdale, including Hermitage Castle, although keeping the titular earldom. In 1501 he was one of the Ambassadors sent to arrange the marriage of James IV with Princess Margaret Tudor of England and was proxy for the King at the betrothal ceremony.
2nd Earl of Bothwell, Adam Hepburn, b.c.1492, a.1508, d.1513
Son of the 1st Earl and his second wife Lady Margaret Gordon, daughter of George Gordon, 2nd Earl of Huntly. He was made Lord High Admiral of Scotland, but was one of those who fell at Flodden.
3rd Earl of Bothwell, Patrick Hepburn, b.1511-1513, a.1513, d.1556
Son of the 2nd Earl and Lady Agnes Stewart (b.b.1495, d.1557), an illegitimate daughter of James Stewart, 1st Earl of Buchan (she went through a number of husbands, outliving them all, and had a child by James IV). In 1531 he indulged in treasonable intrigue with England and signed a pact with Henry VIII, for which he was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle for several years before being banished in 1540, returning in 1542 after the death of James V. Hoewver, he seems to have played both sides, and divorced his wife in 1543 in the hope of marrying Mary of Guise, the Queen Dowager. However, when this possibility evaporated, he returned to his plotting with England. This being discovered, he was imprisoned again, and not released until after the Battle of Pinkie in 1547. A measure of the man is the fact that while he spent various terms in prison, he also held office as the Lord High Admiral, and some of his actions may be explained by the fact that he was heavily in debt. In 1548 he renounced his loyalty to Scotland and went to live in England, but was pardoned by Mary of Guise in 1554 and returned to the Hermitage shortly before his death.
4th Earl of Bothwell, James Hepburn, b.c.1535, a.1556, d.1578
Son of the 3rd Earl and Agnes Sinclair (b.b.1513, d.1572-1575), a distant cousin and daughter of Henry Sinclair, 3rd Lord St. Clair. As Hereditary Lord High Admiral and Sheriff of Edinburgh and Berwick, he was widely-travelled man, and known to be especially attractive to the ladies, and became engaged to a Norwegian noblewoman Anna Trondsson. He first met Mary, future Queen of Scots, while visiting France, and he was involved in her return to Scotland after the death of her husband. IN 1562 he was found guilty of treason and imprisoned at Edinburgh Castle, though he soon escaped to France, where he served with the Scottish Guard. He returned to Scotland in 1565 and from this point on he and Mary became very close, even though they both married to other people, Bothwell to Jean Gordon, daughter of George Gordon, 4th Earl of Huntly, and Mary to Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. After Darnley’s murder in 1567, Bothwell was indicted upon petition by Darnley’s father, Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, but entered Edinburgh triumphantly and was acquitted. Several days later this decision was recognised by Mary in person at Parliament. Bothwell was then presented with the Ainslie Bond, a document signed by a number of leading nobles and prelates indicating that Mary should re-marry a native Scot. On her way back from Edinburgh to Linlithgow, Mary was overtaken by Bothwell with a large body of men and taken to his castle at Dunbar. While they were at Dunbar, Bothwell’s divorce from his first wife came though, and he forced himself on Mary in order to secure her agreement to marry him. The wedding took place back at Holyrood a few days later, with Bothwell being created 1st Duke of Orkney and 1st Marquess of Fife. The marriage split the country, with many lords coming out against the couple, and the opposing sides clashed at Carberry Hill, from where Bothwell was forced to make his escape. His titles were made forfeit by Act of Parliament and he never saw Mary again. He travelled to Norway, where his youthful dalliances came back to haunt him and he was taken into custody for the abandonment of Anna Trondsson. He would probably have been released sooner rather than later, but while he was in prison, Frederick II, King of Denmark, heard about his presence and took him into custody. At first seen as a significant hostage in negotiations with the English, Bothwell was eventually sent to Dragsholm Castle, where he was imprisoned for the rest of his life, reputedly chained to the same pillar.
Earls of Bothwell (1581)
1st Earl of Bothwell, Francis Stewart, b.c.1563, a.1581, d.1613
Son of John Stewart, 1st Lord Darnley (an illegitimate son of King James V) and Lady Jean Hepburn (b.b.1547, d.1599), daughter of Patrick Hepburn, 3rd Earl of Bothwell, and so related to the previous holder. He succeeded to the title of 2nd Lord Darnley in 1563, and was created 1st Earl of Bothwell and 1st Lord Hailes in 1581. In 1586, he was one of three Commissioners sent to negotiate a military alliance with England. He was made Lord High Admiral in 1583, a post that proved eventful, as he was the holder during the period of the Spanish Armada, and spent some considerable time at sea. In 1589, he and several others, including Huntly, were charged with treason and plotting to seize the King. They were found guilty, but sentence was deferred. Bothwell was also charged with witchcraft, though he denied it. He escaped from Edinburgh Castle, but was declared forfeit and outlaw. The next year, Bothwell and others attempted to capture the King from Falkland Palace, but failed. He was then pursued as a fugitive and all his lands taken into the Crown’s possession. In 1593, he was formally attainted by Act of Parliament, but managed to smuggle himself into Holyrood Palace to meet the King, who accepted his petitions, whereupon the attainder was repealed. However, there was still bad feeling between the two men, Bothwell promoting the Protestant cause, and moves were made to have him exiled. This resulted in Bothwell and his supporters taking to arms and clashing with the King’s forces outside Edinburgh. He was now associated with the rebel Catholic lords, Huntly, Errol and the like, and fled north before the King’s army, once again charged with treason. He eventually left for Europe, ending up in Naples, where he lived in poverty until his death. Because of his family connections, he could have been a realistic competitor for the throne, especially during the turbulent times caused by the uneasy relationships between Protestant and Catholic, monarchy and Parliament, but he did not have the strength of character to take his chances when they arose. The title of Earl of Bothwell was never used again.
(Last updated: 15/12/2010)