A letter featuring the handwriting of Mary Queen of Scots has sold for more than £32,000 at an auction.
The epistle, which was written in Carlisle Castle two months after Mary’s escape from Lochleven Castle on May 2, 1568, was expected to fetch between £14,000 and £18,000 during a live online sale by Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh.
Instead, the document, which is an appeal by the queen to the French ambassador in England to allow the safe passage of Scottish nobleman George Douglas to France, sold for £32,500 – more than double its asking price.
Mary, who had had been imprisoned for nearly a year following a forced abdication in favour of her infant son, James VI, hoped that by helping to ensure a safe journey to France for George Douglas, he would intercede with the French king to help secure her freedom.
The letter, dated 26 June, was sold live and online by fine art auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull, at their headquarters in Edinburgh, on Wednesday.
Cathy Marsden, rare books, manuscripts and maps specialist at Lyon and Turnbull, said: “There was international interest in this letter, the sum achieved at auction reflecting the enduring fascination with one of the best known monarchs in history.
“There are 12 lines written by a secretary, and additional six lines in Mary’s own hand.
“The letter is signed, ‘Votre bien bonne amye, Marie,’ which translates as ‘Your very good friend, Mary.’
“A letter bearing her personal mark is rare and we’re delighted to have been involved in the sale of such an important text.”