Marion Ogilvy

Marion Ogilvy (c. 1495-1575) was the wife or mistress of Cardinal Beaton an advisor of James V of Scotland.

Marion was a younger daughter of Sir James Ogilvy of Lintrathen. Sir James, a diplomat, was created Lord Ogilvy of Airlie by James IV of Scotland in 1491. Her mother was Janet Lyle (d. 1525), who was her father's 4th wife, and possibly a daughter of Robert, 2nd Lord Lyle, of Renfrewshire, another of the King's diplomats. As a child she lived at Airlie Castle and her family's lodging in Arbroath. She had an older full sister, Janet Ogilvy, and a much older half-brother, John Ogilvy, who became the 2nd Lord Ogilvy.

At her father's death the marriages of Janet and Marion were in the hands of Sir Alexander Gordon of Midmar. Marion seem to have remained unmarried and was her mother's executor.[1]

Life with the Cardinal

Marion is recorded in Edinburgh with David Beaton in February 1526, and after she lived at Beaton's Ethie Castle. One of her incomes was the rents of the Kirktoun of St Vigeans. Beaton's relationship with Marion is often cited as one of his faults, as a Catholic clergyman supposed to remain celibate. However, Beaton's clerical status was complicated. He was not a monk, or professed member of the Benedictine Order, though Abbot or Commendator of Arbroath Abbey. Neither was he in full priest's orders at the start of their relationship. At this time clergymen who pursued secular careers as royal administrators and diplomats were able to postpone their ordination by seeking permission from the Pope. Despite these reservations, the historian Margaret Sanderson sees their relationship as example of clerical concunbinage which Beaton himself condemned in others.[2] In her biography Cardinal of Scotland, Sanderson discusses the issue at greater length and points out that all their eight children were born before he was fully ordained, which presumably occurred at the time his consecration as Bishop of Mirepoix in 1538. The Cardinal's relationship with Marion seems not to have become a specific target of his critics or an embarrassment to his apologists until the 19th century.[3]

In 1543, David Beaton bought Melgund Castle from his widowed sister-in-law. The castle became Marion's home. In the new tower they built, a chamber in the tower has their heraldry displayed over the windows.[4] The Cardinal was killed at St Andrews Castle in 1546. According to John Knox, Marion had just left the castle by the privy postern before it was overwhelmed by Beaton's enemies.[5] In 1547, Marion married a William Douglas, but was a widow by 18 September 1547.

Marion died at Melgund in June 1575 and was buried in the Ogilvy aisle at Kinnell parish church.[6]

The Cardinal's children

Some of the children received royal letters of legitimation in March 1531, and the sons were required Papal dispensations to compensate for their 'defect of birth' before starting careers in the church.

  • Margaret Beaton, married David Lindsay, 10th Earl of Crawford.
  • Elizabeth Beaton (d. 1574), married Alexander Lindsay of Vayne
  • George Beaton, died young.
  • David Beaton of Melgund, married Margaret Lindsay, daughter of Lord Lindsay of the Byres.
  • James Beaton (d. 1560)
  • Alexander Beaton
  • John Beaton
  • Agnes Beaton, married firstly, James Ochterlonie of Kellie, secondly George Gordon of Gight, by the latter of whom she was an ancestress of the poet George Gordon Byron.[7]


  1. ^ Sanderson, Margaret H. B., Mary Stewart's People, James Thin (1987), 3-4.
  2. ^ Sanderson, Margaret H. B., Mary Stewart's People, James Thin (1987), 5-6.
  3. ^ Sanderson, Margaret H. B., Cardinal of Scotland: David Beaton, John Donald (1986), 30-39.
  4. ^ Sanderson (1987), 9.
  5. ^ Knox, John, The History of the Reformation in Scotland, vol. 1, Wodrow Society (1846) 174-175.
  6. ^ Sanderson, Margaret H. B., Mary Stewart's People, James Thin (1987), 19.
  7. ^ Gordons of Gight

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