“The escape of Mary from Lochleven 1568. Queen Mary escaped from Lochleven Castle on the evening of Sunday 2d May 1568.

George Douglas, youngest brother of Sir William Douglas, who was favourable to Mary, had been expelled from the Castle for assisting her in the attempted escape of August 20th, 1567. George had, however, kept up a correspondence with his relation in the Castle" Little Willie" as he was called this William Douglas, a youth of 16, "contrived to steal the keys of the Castle, while the family were at supper. He let Mary and her attendant out of the tower when all had gone to rest, locked the gates of the castle to prevent pursuit, placed the Queen and her waiting-woman in a little skiff, and rowed them to the shore, throwing the keys of the castle into the Lake in the course of their passage. Just when they were about to set out on this adventurous voyage, the youthful pilot had made a signal by a light in a particular window visible at the upper end of the Lake, to intimate that all was safe. Lord Seaton and a party of the Hamilton’s were waiting at the landing-place. The Queen instantly mounted and hurried off to Niddry, in West Lothian, from which place she went next day to Hamilton. The news of the escape flew like lightning throughout the country, and spread enthusiasm everywhere," &c. (For after particulars see any History of Scotland).

Mary had thus been a prisoner in the Castle a period of 288 days. "During these long weary days she was most wretched" cooped up in a confined apartment, and ever and anon subjected to the insulting and harsh treatment of "Lady Lochleven." Mary appears to have filled up much of her time in her apartment with embroidery.

"Lochleven is near the town of Kinross. The unfortunate Mary, Queen of Scots, was for some time detained a prisoner in a castle on an island in the middle of it. On the second of May, 1568, about seven o'clock, when the governor was at supper with his family, George Douglas, having got hold of the keys of the Castle, hastened to her apartment and conducted her out of prison and ferried her over in a boat to the mainland, throwing the keys of the Castle into the lake." These keys were accidentally dragged out of the loch not long ago. Mr Hall, when in Kinross, appears not to have heard of the keys being thrown into the loch, as it is in a foot-note that he alludes to "the find." His travels in Scotland were not published until 1807, and it is evident by no ticing the find in a foot-note that it was an after jotting he had made having seen the newspaper paragraphs of the period referring to said keys.”

Sources: "About Kinross-shire and its folk" by Robert S. Young, published at Perth in 1948 "The Annals of Kinross-Shire AD490 - 1676 " Published by Fossoway & District Community Council "The Annals of Kinross-Shire 1667 - 1811 " Published by Fossoway & District Community Council


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