School of Divinity

Kate Ruthven

Wife and partner of Grey Colin, Kate Ruthven was not only a well-respected Highland lady in the Gaelic world, but also a frequent attender at the court of Mary, Queen of Scots and served as her family's chief marriage negotiator, among other things.

The Ruthvens

Kate Ruthven came from a prominent Perthshire family who played a key role in national politics.

Kate's marriage to Grey Colin

To her marriage Kate brought an alliance with the family of a member of the Scottish peerage. This alliance gave Grey Colin a new network of contacts in the Lowlands, and better access to the royal court.

Surviving letters between Kate and Grey Colin

Only fragments of two draft letters written by Grey Colin to Kate survive, shedding some light into their partnership.

Kate and Grey Colin as a team

Kate and Grey Colin appear to have had different personalities which added to their effectiveness as a team.

Dealing with business together

The Letters demonstrate how Grey Colin and Kate acted in partnership.

Kate's warmth and the affection she inspired in others

Ample surviving textual evidence illustrates that Kate was an extremely warm and personable figure.

Friendship with William Maitland of Lethington

Kate enjoyed an particularly close relationship with Maitland, Secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots.

Kate's role in marriage making

The Breadalbane Letters show Kate was extremely active in the negotiations over the marriages of her children. This runs counter to the previous assumption that the male head of the house always took the predominant role.

The all-Campbell match

An inter-Campbell alliance was of significance to Clan Campbell as a whole and to its chief, Argyll. Significantly, the matchmakers replied to Kate alone.

The marriage of Black Duncan, the heir

When negotiating the marriage of the house's heir much more was at stake for Grey Colin and Kate. Significantly, all but one of the surviving letters were written to Kate and she was the prime mover in the matter.

Kate's death

Kate survived her husband by about a year, dying sometime between 31 October 1583 and 20 June 1584.