altogether incredible; but her pregnancy, if it existed, was rather an excuse than a reason. She was adverse to a divorce even after her escape from Lochleven. Ultimately at Lochleven the choice was given her of a divorce, a trial at which the Casket letters were to be adduced as evidence (Throckmorton, 25 July, ib. entry 1509; Keith, ii. 699), or an abdication; and she finally consented, after the undoubted use of some kind of threats, to the last.
Mary's demission was signed on 24 July (Reg. P. C. Scotl. i. 531–3), and she also at the same time signed an act nominating the Earl of Moray regent (ib. pp. 539–40). An act of parliament was passed on 15 Dec. that the action taken against her was ‘in her own default,’ inasmuch as it was clearly evident, both by her letters and by her marriage to Bothwell, that ‘she was privie art and part of the actual device and deed’ of the ‘murder of the king.’
Mary's deliverance from Lochleven was owing primarily to new marriage intrigues on the part of others, if not of herself. Any marriage proposals entertained by herself were merely intended to aid her escape. That Moray wished to arrange a marriage to Henry Stewart, lord Methven [q. v.] (Drury, 20 March 1568, Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1566–8, entry 2072), is not impossible; but even if she listened to his proposal, she had arranged otherwise. Her ‘over-great familiarity’ with George Douglas, brother to the laird of Lochleven, is mentioned as early as 18 Oct. 1567 (Drury, ib. entry 1792), and she is stated to have told his mother that ‘she had broken with the regent to marry him’ (2 April 1568, ib. entry 2106). He was ‘in a phantasy of love’ with her (ib. entry 2172), and the only question is as to how far his mother—bribed with hopes of the alliance—secretly connived at Mary's escape. It was also with similar hopes that the Hamiltons were taking up her cause, their intention being to secure her hand for the abbot of Arbroath (Foster, 30 April, ib. entry 2151, Drury to Cecil, 12 May; Sir James Melville, p. 200; see Hamilton, John, first Marquis of Hamilton). With the aid of George Douglas, who acted in concert with the Hamiltons, she escaped from Lochleven on the evening of 2 May 1568, and by sunrise arrived at Hamilton Palace (see especially Froude, viii. 307–11). Several powerful nobles having joined her standard, she was soon at the head of six thousand men, but so distrustful was she of the Hamiltons that she would have preferred not to risk a battle, and desired to proceed to Dumbarton Castle. Here she could have awaited in some security the issue of events, and the result of her appeal for aid to England and France. The disaster at Langside on 13 May was primarily caused by the determination of the Hamiltons to frustrate, if possible, her purpose of escape from them, and to snatch a victory which would place her in their power (Sir James Melville, p. 200). In company with John, fifth lord Fleming [q. v.], and Robert, fourth lord Boyd [q. v.], and a son of Lord Herries, she watched the result from an eminence commanding a full view of the engagement, and as soon as she saw that all was lost galloped away, with the intention of making for Dumbarton. Soon discovering, however, that flight in this direction was too hazardous, she, under the guidance of Lord Herries, turned southwards, not drawing bridle until she reached Sanquhar. On the 16th she crossed the Solway in a fishing-boat to Workington in Cumberland [see Lowther, Sir Richard]. While her rapid flight may be partly accounted for by horror of the possibility of a second imprisonment, her resolve to pass into England may perhaps be best explained by her ‘readiness to expose herself to all perils in hope of victory’ (Anderson, iv. 71). Her constitutional recklessness had only been augmented by misfortune. For mere protection she would probably have never sought Elizabeth; she became a suitor solely that she might humiliate her enemies. It must also be remembered that Elizabeth had strongly condemned the lords' proceedings, and had actually intended—though chiefly to prevent French interference—to come to Mary's help.
On receipt of a piteous letter from Mary on 19 May (Labanoff, ii. 73–7) Elizabeth gave orders that the Scottish queen, who on the 18th had been removed to Carlisle, should be treated with all respect, but closely guarded to prevent her escape (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1566–8, entry 2214). It was, however, less her escape that was dreaded than the possibility that she might raise the north in her own behalf. To the letters of condolence sent by Lady Scrope and Knollys, Mary replied that her affairs were urgent, and requested that Elizabeth would vouchsafe her an interview (Labanoff, ii. 79–84). This was refused, until she had cleared herself of the accusations against her in connection with Darnley's murder. On 29 June Elizabeth assured Catherine de Medici ‘of the safety of her life and honour’ whatever might happen; but explained that, from considerations which she would rather have her imagine than ‘suffer her pen to write,’ she ‘could not treat her with such pomp and ceremony as she would otherwise desire’ (Cal. State