James Hepburn Bothwell, fourth earl of, the third husband of Mary, queen of Scots, born about 1526, died at Malmo, on the coast of Sweden, in 1576. He occupied an influential position in the parliament of December, 1557. In 1558 he was made a lord of the articles, and shortly after lieutenant of the borders. In 1559 he intercepted Cockburn, master of Orme-ston, near Haddington, as he was carrying £3,000 from England to aid the Scotch reformers. A little later, when the reformers showed signs of yielding before the regent's troops, he declared the earl of Arran, one of their leaders, a traitor to the government. In 1560, however, when Protestantism was made the established religion of the country, Bothwell declared himself of that faith, and was one of the Protestant nobles sent to France to offer their escort and service to Mary, queen of Scots, whose husband, the dauphin, had just died. Mary returned to Scotland in August of this year (1561), and at once formed a government under the leadership of her illegitimate brother, Lord James Stewart, Both-well becoming a member of the privy council.
But his quarrels and excesses made him intolerable in this position, and at the end of the year he was for a short time banished from Edinburgh. He now effected a reconciliation with the earl of Arran, and the two entered into a conspiracy to seize the queen at Falkland, on a journey into the earldom of Murray. Arran, who was already showing symptoms of insanity, changed his mood and confessed the plot. Both conspirators were imprisoned in Edinburgh castle; but Bothwell escaped, and was on his way to France when he was driven back by a storm and arrested at Berwick. Here he was kept three months, and then carried to London and imprisoned in the tower. The English government detained him there, without trial, for nine months; but the queen of Scots requested his release, although her ministers opposed his return to Scotland; and he was finally allowed to pursue his journey to France. In that country he was well received, and made captain of the Scottish guard; and he remained there till 1565, a few months before the marriage of Mary with Darnley at Edinburgh. Lord James Stewart, who had now received the title of earl of Murray, having caused him to be indicted for high treason, he once more fled the country, and a decree of outlawry was passed against him.
After a short period, of which we have no detailed account, he suddenly appeared again in Scotland, gained Mary's favor, and in October, 1565, was a member of the newly organized privy council and a commander in Mary's army against the Scottish nobles who had taken up arms to oppose her marriage with Darnley. In 1566 he married Lady Jane Gordon, daughter of the earl of Huntly, who had been lord chancellor of Scotland. In the matter of the murder of Rizzio, Bothwell was a warm partisan of the queen, and earnestly opposed the plot. After its consummation he aided the flight of Mary and Darnley to Dunbar castle, then under his control. On the return of the royal pair to Edinburgh Mary compelled Bothwell's bitterest enemies, Murray and Argyle, to go through the form of reconciliation with him. Manv mat-ters of moment were intrusted to him. Among these was the task of quelling a disturbance at Liddesdale, where he was severely wounded. Mary, who was at Jedburgh when this occurred, on hearing of his danger rode to Hermitage Castle, where he was lying, making the journey of 20 miles and returning the same day - an exertion which threw her into a violent fever, during which Bothwell in his turn hastened to visit her, though he was obliged to be conveyed to Jedburgh. The nature of the relations between him and the queen from this time forward has been the subject of a violent historical controversy between the assailants and defenders of Mary; but the following summary is confined to facts which are not denied by either party. (See Mary Stuart.) The belief that Bothwell aspired to the hand of Mary now began to gain ground.
He was one of the foremost in urging her to consent to a divorce, and he was certainly a leader in the conspiracy for Darnley's murder. Prosecuted by Darnley's father, the earl of Lennox, he was acquitted after a shamelessly partial trial, and shortly afterward his lands and offices were confirmed to him by a statute alluding to the queen's appreciation of his "gret and manifold gude service " to her and the nation. The day after the closing of parliament a number of leading nobles met at Ainsley, and drew up the paper called " the Ainslie Bond," whereby they expressed their approval of Bothwell's acquittal, proposed his marriage with the queen, and agreed to aid him in attaining this object and to defend it when attained. On April 24, 1567, as Mary was on her return from Stirling, Bothwell with a large body of men met her near Linlithgow, at Almond bridge, and overpowering her party carried her away to his castle of Dunbar, whether with or without the queen's consent is a matter of dispute. Bothwell now succeeded in procuring a full divorce from his wife, and in May he brought the queen to Edinburgh, where the banns of his marriage with her were published.
On May 12 Mary, after she had solemnly declared that she was influenced only by her own will, signed a full pardon of Bothwell and his allies for their abduction of herself. She also created Bothwell duke of Orkney, and on May 15 was married to him at Holyrood. This step aroused the popular indignation to the point of armed resistance. The hostilities which followed in June culminated in the surrender of Mary at Carberry hill, and Bothwell fled to Dunbar, whence, being deserted by his former allies, and ordered to leave the country within twelve days, he took refuge in the Orkney islands. Pursued for acts of piracy committed in expeditions which he undertook, he fled to Denmark, and after a short period of impunity was imprisoned in the castle of Malmo, then belonging to the Danish king. Here he spent the remaining years of his life.