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William Maitland

Maitland, William (Maitland of Lethington), 1528?–1573, Scottish statesman. In 1559 he deserted the regent Mary of Guise and joined the revolt of the Protestant nobles. When Mary Queen of Scots returned to Scotland two years later, he became her secretary and close adviser. A skilled diplomat, Maitland refused to be swayed by religious passions, which led to suspicion from both Catholics and Protestants. His chief desire was to effect a union of Scotland and England based on Mary's right of succession to the English throne after the death of Elizabeth I. After Mary's marriage to Bothwell, Maitland joined the opposition, but he later worked for her restoration. In the civil war following the murder (1570) of the earl of Murray, Maitland led the queen's party and held out in Edinburgh Castle from 1571 to 1573, but died soon after. He is the probable forger of portions of the so-called Casket Letters.

See E. Russell, Maitland of Lethington, the Minister of Mary Stuart (1912).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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