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Women in History of Scots Descent
Mary Seton


As a child, she was very tall and stately and was always called by the others by her surname of Seton. "The Setons were among the most illustrious of the great houses of Scotland," says the book, The Great Historic Families of Scotland (an 18th century compedium, "who were conspicuous throughout their whole history for their loyalty and firm attachment to the Stewart dynasty." The founder of the family, Secker de Seye, which later became Seton, was granted lands in East Lothian. Sir Christopher Seton married the sister of Robert the Bruce. He was captured by the English, a person of heroic deeds, and executed at Dumfries. One of his brothers was killed with him but one survived and was a signator to the Declaration of Arbroath. The family continued to gain lands and to marry into other noble families. Mary Seton's grandfather inherited diminished property and estate because of the extravagance of his father who was a Renaissance man who dabbled in medicine, science, music, theology and astronomy. He was an extravagant man, building large buildings, churches and even a
great ship. Mary Seton's grandfather did not have long to enjoy what estates were left to him as he died at Flodden. Mary Livingstone's grandfather and both of Mary Fleming's grandfathers also died at Flodden. Mary Seton's father was married twice.

His second wife was Marie Pieris, a lady-in-waiting to Mary of Guise. Mary Seton's brother, George, played a large part in the Queen's affairs. When Mary Stuart returned to Scotland as queen, Seton was appointed grand master in other household. Seton residences played a significant part in many crucial moments of Mary's reign. Mary Stewart spent her honeymoon with Darnley at Seton's. Darnley was a
cousin of Seton by the way. Ironically, the last night of her marriage to Bothwell was spent at the Seton house. The Queen fled to Seton when Rizzio was murdered and again when Darnley was killed. It was again to Seton she fled after her escape from Lochleven. Seton was taken prisoner and his estates forfeit. He remained a prisoner until 1569, managing to stay in contact with the Queen and pursuing and delivering petitions on her behalf to Elizabeth. He was forced to flee to France where he was so destitute he was forced to drive a wagon for his livelihood. When James VI came to power, he was reinstated as ambassador to France. Mary Seton was the only one of the Maries not to marry.
She remained in service to the queen and shared her captivity in England for 15 years. With failing health, she retired to a convent in France. She remained there until she died in her seventies. The abbess of the convent was a Guise, Mary Stuart's aunt, Renee de Guise.

Thanks to Linda Bruce Caron for this story


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