Day in History – January 23: James Stewart is Murderd in the First Recorded Assassination by a Firearm

James Stewart, Earl of Moray

James Stewart, Earl of Moray

On January 23, 1570 the first recorded assassination by a firearm took place. The victim was James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray – the Regent for the infant James VI of Scotland.

James Moray was born in 1531 as the illegitimate son of James V of Scotland and his favourite mistress, Lady Margaret Erskine. Acknowledging out-of-wedlock children and granting them peerage titles was pretty common in the Scottish court of the time; indeed, one of James V’s half-brothers (the illegitimate son of James IV and Janet Kennedy) had held the title Earl of Moray in its 1st creation until his death in 1544. It wasn’t James V who granted his son titles though; Moray was created Earl of Moray and Earl of Mar in 1562 by his half-sister Mary, Queen of Scots.

Moray’s relationship with Mary was a complicated one. At first, they were reasonably close; James was fond of his sister and held a prominent place in the court. He also attended Mary’s first wedding to the Dauphin of France in 1559. However, James was a keen supporter of the Scottish Reformation while Mary was a devoted Catholic. At first, they managed to overcome those difficulties and Moray even became Mary’s chief advisor after her return from France in 1561. (more…)

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