Laura Leslie

Research title: John Erskine, First Earl of Mar and Regent of Scotland (d. 1572)

Research Summary

John Erskine, first Earl of Mar, was a prominent player in the politics of the crucial period of Scottish history from 1560, the year of the Reformation, until his death in 1572. First, as keeper of the strategically valuable outpost of Edinburgh Castle during the Reformation Rebellion, the struggle between the regent Mary of Guise and the Lords of the Congregation. Granted the title of Earl of Mar in 1566, Mar and his wife, Annabella Murray, remained close to Mary, Queen of Scots during her personal reign in Scotland. Mar was appointed as guardian of the infant King James VI in 1567, satisfying what had become a hereditary role of the Erskine family. Mar combined his guardianship of the king’s person with the safeguarding of his kingdom through his appointment as the third of James’ four regents in 1571.

Mar is a unique figure who has hitherto received little scholarly attention and it is hoped that a study of his life and political career will add to our understanding of the following themes: the Protestant nobility; guardianship; James’ minority; regency in sixteenth century Scotland; and the Marian Civil War.


  • The Eleanor Dunlop Doctoral Scholarship in Scottish History (2017-present)
  • The Alexander Ogilvie Postgraduate Scholarship in Scottish History (2016)