King James I Family Tree showing:
Birth and First Year
King James I of England VI of Scotland was born on 19th June 1566, to Mary Queen of Scots and Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley at Edinburgh Castle. He was given the title Duke of Rothesay from birth.
Relations between James’s parents were not good and before he was a year old Mary was determined to divorce Henry Stuart. On 10th February 1567, James’s father was murdered and his house blown up. The murder was believed to have been carried out by James Hepburn, Earl Bothwell. Many believed that Mary Queen of Scots played a part in the deed and that the murder was in revenge for Darnley’s murder of Mary’s favourite, David Rizzio.
On 22nd April, James saw his mother for the last time. Two days later she went to Dunbar Castle with Bothwell and they married on 15th May 1567. Nowadays many historians believe that Mary may have been abducted, raped and forced into the marriage. In 1567 the marriage was taken by many as confirmation that Mary was behind her husband’s murder.
The Lords of Scotland no longer supported Mary and raised an army against her. Mary’s army deserted her and she surrendered. Mary was imprisoned and forced to abdicate in favour of her infant son. She escaped the following year and fled to England where she sought the protection of Queen Elizabeth I.
Young King of Scotland
James was proclaimed King James VI of Scotland on 24th July 1567 and crowned five days later. He was taken to Stirling Castle where he was raised by the Earl of Mar. He was raised in the Protestant faith, the Lords were determined Scotland would not return to the Catholic faith of his mother. His uncle, James Stewart, Earl of Moray ruled as regent for the infant king.
In 1570, the Earl of Moray was assassinated and James’s grandfather, Matthew Stewart, Earl of Lennox took over the running of the country. However, he died the following year and John Erskine Earl of Morton became Regent.
On 19th October 1579 it was announced that James was of age. However, the regent continued to rule Scotland. At the age of fifteen years, James created his cousin and favourite, Esme Stuart, Earl of Lennox. However, James now found himself under the control of Stuart.
In 1581, the regent, James Douglas was found guilty of conspiring to murder Lord Darnley in 1567 and was executed. The following year James was persuaded to go to Ruthven Castle by the Earls of Angus and Gowrie but when he arrived they imprisoned him. In 1583 James escaped captivity and began to take control of Scotland.
Marriage and Family
On 23rd November 1589, James married Anne of Denmark, daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark at the Bishop’s Palace, Oslo, Norway. They arrived in Scotland on 1st may 1590. They had seven children:
Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales – 1594 – 1612
Elizabeth of Bohemia – 1596 – 1662 –
Margaret – 1598 – 1600
King Charles I – 1600 – 1649
Robert – 1602 – 1602
Mary – 1605 – 1607
Sophia – 1607 – 1607
James and Anne were close and he was very upset when she died in 1619.
Path to the English Throne
After taking control of the government of Scotland, one of James’s first acts was to agree the Treaty of Berwick with England. The treaty allied the two countries. James was aware that Queen Elizabeth I was in her fifties, unmarried and childless and as the great-great grandson of Margaret Tudor, sister of King Henry VIII felt he should succeed Elizabeth.
James’s desire to take the English throne was so strong that he did not protest when Elizabeth executed his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, after the Babington Plot was uncovered.
The Scottish King continued to maintain good relations with England and in 1601, James began to secretly correspond with Robert Cecil regarding his succession to the English throne.
On 24th March 1603, Queen Elizabeth I died and James succeeded as King James I of England. Soon afterwards, James left Scotland and travelled to London.
The Protestant King
From the beginning of his reign as King of England, Protestant James was subject to a number of plots by Catholics to remove him from the throne and restore Catholicism to England. The most notable of these was the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 where a group of Catholic conspirators planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament on the day of the state opening of Parliament by King James.
Under James’s direction around 300 Protestant Scots were sent Ulster in the North of Catholic Ireland. The act is known as the Plantation of Ulster.
In 1607 a party of Protestant colonists settled in Virginia, North America and named their settlement Jamestown after King James.
Although the lowlands of Scotland were Protestant, many Highland clans were Catholics. In 1609, James passed the Statutes of Iona which decreed that all Highland chiefs had to send their heirs to be educated in Lowland Scotland as Protestants.
In 1611, King James I published a new Anglican Bible. The King James Authorised Bible was to be used in all churches. While accepted in England, use of the new Bible was widely resisted in Scotland.
In 1620, James’s daughter Elizabeth and her husband Frederick of Palatine, were deposed and exiled from Bohemia. James called for Parliament to grant him funds to raise an army in support of his daughter and son-in-law. Parliament agreed but only on condition that James’s son and heir Charles, marry a Protestant. In response James dissolved Parliament.
In early March 1625, King James I suffered a stroke. He died on 27th March 1625 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. He was succeeded by his son Charles.
Published Feb 12, 2022 @ 4:02 pm – Updated –
Harvard Reference for King James I Family Tree:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2022). King James I Family Tree (1566-1625). Available: https://www.treesofblue.com/king-james-i-family-tree-1566-1625 Last accessed September 6th, 2023