Arbella Stuart

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Lady Arbella Stuart (or "Arabella" and/or "Stewart") (1575 – 27 September 1615) was an English Renaissance noblewoman who was for some time considered a possible successor to Queen Elizabeth I on the English throne.

Arbella Stuart was the only child of Charles Stuart, 1st Earl of Lennox, and Elizabeth Cavendish, she was a grandchild of Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, and Lady Margaret Douglas, who was, in turn, the daughter of Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus and Princess Margaret Tudor and granddaughter of Henry VII of England.

Arbella's paternal grandparents, the 4th Earl of Lennox and Margaret Douglas, had two sons: Arbella's father Charles and his older brother, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, who became the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the father of James I of Great Britain. Arbella's maternal grandparents were Sir William Cavendish and Bess of Hardwick.

In her final days, as a prisoner in the Tower of London, Lady Beauchamp (her married name), refusing to eat, fell ill, and died on 27 September 1615. She was buried in Westminster Abbey on 29 September 1615. She did not aspire to the English throne.[1]



Arbella's father died in 1576 when she was still an infant. She was raised by her mother Elizabeth Cavendish until 1582.[2] The death of her mother left seven-year-old Arbella an orphan, whereupon she became the ward of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley.

During most of her childhood she lived in the protective isolation of Hardwick Hall with her maternal grandmother, the redoubtable Bess of Hardwick, who had been married in 1568 to George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. There were, apparently, periodic visits to the court of Elizabeth I of England and to London, including one that lasted for a few years, from September 1589 to July 1592. Historian David Durant has suggested that, during this period, "In effect Bess was moving the operational centre of her business empire from Derbyshire to London".[3]

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