James Stuart was born at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland on 19 June 1566, the only son of Mary, Queen of Scots and her second husband Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. He was crowned James VI of Scotland in 1567 when he was just over one year old. James succeeded to the English throne as James I on the death of his cousin Elizabeth I.
He arranged for the body of his mother to be transferred from Peterborough Cathedral to the south aisle of the Abbey's Lady Chapel in 1612 and erected a large monument for her. In the opposite aisle he had also erected a monument for Elizabeth I. The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and the publication of the Authorized Version of the Bible in 1611 are two well-known events of his reign. The Spanish ambassador called him 'the wisest fool in Christendom'.
Marriage and children
After various different ceremonies he married Anne, daughter of the King Frederick II of Denmark, on 21 January 1590 at Kronberg. They had five children but only three survived infancy. Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, their eldest son, died suddenly in 1612 and is buried in a vault in the south aisle of Henry VII's Lady Chapel (but has no monument). Their second son became King Charles I.
Two of James's infant daughters, Mary (1605-1607) and Sophia, who died in 1606 aged 3 days, have splendid monuments in the north aisle of the Lady Chapel, Sophia being shown in her cradle under a lace edged coverlet. At the west end is a lozenge of the Royal arms. Her Latin inscription can be translated
"Sophia, a royal rosebud untimely plucked by Fate and from James, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, and Queen Anne her parents, snatched away, to flower again in the rose garden of Christ, lies here. 23rd June, 4th year of the reign of King James 1606".
Mary's tomb shows her reclining on her left arm upon a cushion dressed in a stomacher, Medici collar and French cap with her feet on a lion. At the angles of the base are seated cherubs and on the pilasters are a lion mask, fruit and ribbon decoration together with lozenges of arms. The inscription can be translated:
"Mary, daughter of James King of Great Britain, France and Ireland and of Queen Anne; received into heaven in earliest infancy, I found joy for myself and left grief to my parents. 16th December 1607. Those who wish joy ask sympathy. She lived 2 years 5 months 8 days"
The date of death is apparently an error as it appears she died in September. Both of these monuments are by sculptor Maximilian Colt. They were repaired and repainted in 1957.
Another daughter, Elizabeth (1596-1662), married Frederick V, King of Bohemia and is buried in the vault with Henry Frederick.
His coronation, with Anne, took place on 25 July 1603, uniting the two kingdoms of Scotland and England. He was the first Scottish king to be crowned sitting on the Stone of Scone (contained within the Coronation Chair) for over 300 years.
James died on 27 March 1625 at Theobald's Park in Hertfordshire and his funeral took place at the Abbey on 17 May. The funeral address lasted two hours. His wooden funeral effigy (of which only the body now remains measuring 5 feet 7 inches high) was displayed on a magnificent hearse designed by Inigo Jones. He was laid in the vault beneath Henry VII's monument and lies next to Elizabeth of York. Only a simple modern inscription, at the east end of Henry VII's tomb grille, marks his grave, as no monument was erected for him.
The inscription on his coffin plate, seen in the 19th century when Dean Stanley investigated the vault, is in Latin and can be translated:
"Laid here are the remains of the most noble Prince James I, King of Great Britain, France, & Ireland: he was born in Scotland on the 19th June 1566, and died most devoutly in England on 27th March 1625. He lived 58 years, 9 months, 8 days, having ruled Scotland for 57 years, 7 months, 29 days, & England for 22 years, 3 days".
(In his book Stanley gave the date 1562 for the birth, which must have been a mis-reading).
Anne of Denmark
Anne of Denmark was born at Skanderborg Castle in Jutland on 14 October 1574 and died of dropsy at Hampton Court Palace on 2 March 1619. After lying in state at Somerset House her funeral took place in the Abbey on 13 May (having been postponed due to the King's illness). The head of her wooden funeral effigy still exists in the Abbey collection. This was made by sculptor Maximilian Colt. Her grave in the south eastern area of the Lady Chapel is marked by a modern stone which reads:
ANNE OF DENMARK QUEEN OF KING JAMES 1st 1619
But her coffin plate gives a longer inscription which can be translated "Here lies buried the Most Serene Queen Anne, consort of James, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, daughter of Frederick II, King of Denmark and Norway and of the Vandals and Goths, sister of Christian IV and mother of many Princes. She died at Hampton Court, in the year of salvation 1618, on the 4th March, aged 43 years, 4 months and 18 days".
The plate gives the year in Old Style dating, and the accepted day of her death is now 2 March 1619. A framed "table" of verses in Latin were set up by her grave by her chaplain Dr William Swaddon, archdeacon of Winchester. This, and other tables set up beside other royal graves, disappeared centuries ago.
Photos of Anne's grave, James's coffin, the funeral effigies and tombs of Sophia and Mary can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.
The two funeral effigies will be on display in the new Jubilee Galleries, due to open in mid-2018.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004
The Coronation Order of King James I edited by J.Wickham Legg, 1902
The Theatre of Death…royal funerals...1570-1625 by Jennifer Woodward, 1997
The Funeral Effigies of Westminster Abbey by A. Harvey and R. Mortimer, revised edition 2003
British Royal and State Funerals music and ceremonial since Elizabeth I by M.Range, 2016
The Royal Way of Death by Olivia Bland,1986
Music and ceremonial at British coronations from James I to Elizabeth II by Matthias Range, 2012
Westminster Abbey in the early seventeenth century...by Adam White in Church Monuments vol.IV, 1989
CD of "Music for the reign of King James I" was recorded by the Abbey choir.
Payments for making James and Anne's hearse and effigy are in the National Archives. A drawing of her hearse in colour is at the College of Arms in London.
Click on the images to enlarge