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Mar, John Erskine, 1st (or 6th) earl of

John Erskine Mar, 1st (or 6th) earl of, d. 1572, regent of Scotland. As Lord Erskine he was keeper of Edinburgh and Stirling castles, a source of much political strength. In the struggle between the regent Mary of Guise and the Protestant nobles, Erskine intervened to a limited degree on both sides, and on the approach of the English (1559) he received the regent into Edinburgh Castle. When Mary Queen of Scots returned from France in 1561 he was made a member of her privy council, and in 1565 he was created earl of Mar. (There is still dispute as to whether this constituted a restoration of the earldom of Mar, as Erskine claimed, or a new creation; hence the alternative numbering.) In 1567, Mar was given custody of Mary's young son, later James VI. The earl of Bothwell tried to gain control of the prince, but Mar evaded him and joined the revolt of the nobles. He was one of the council to whom Mary signed (1567) over the government. Although Mar was chosen regent after the earl of Lennox's death in 1571, James Douglas, the earl of Morton, held the real power. Mar's death forestalled a proposal by Elizabeth I of England that Mary, a prisoner in England, be turned over to the Scots for execution. His wife continued as a guardian of James.

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