Scottish ruler
Catholic martyr
Talented golfer

Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587), Reigned 1542-67

Mary, Queen of Scots is known for her turbulent life and eventual execution for treason in 1587. However, she also had another claim to fame as the first woman to regularly play golf. She learned the game at an early age and played during her childhood in France. As a member of the French royal family, military cadets would have carried her golf clubs. It  is possible that Mary brought this practice back with her to Scotland, where the term evolved into the word ‘caddy’. Her love of golf also contributed to her downfall. In 1567 her husband, Lord Darnley, was murdered and only months later she married the leading suspect, the Earl of Bothwell. There was much speculation at the time that she was involved in the assassination plot and this was compounded by rumours that she was seen playing golf within days of the murder.

On display in Room 2 at the
National Portrait Gallery

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Mary, Queen of Scots, after Nicholas Hilliard, late sixteenth century or early seventeenth century (1578?) - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Mary, Queen of Scots
after Nicholas Hilliard
late sixteenth century or early seventeenth century (1578?)
NPG 429