School of Divinity

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.

Amassing political clout

On 28 January 1551, the marriage contract was signed and Kate's wedding to the widowed Grey Colin followed shortly afterwards, probably in the first weeks of February.

Colin had recently succeeded as 6th laird of Glenorchy and his bride reflected and augmented his enhanced status. Kate would have helped to make the beautifully embroidered set of valances for her wedding bed displaying the arms of the Ruthven and Campbell of Glenorchy families and biblical scenes from the story of Adam and Eve.

The valances are the first native embroidery to survive in Scotland and are now in the Glasgow museums, Burrell Collection [Nos 29/181-3]. To her marriage Kate brought a tocher, or dowry, of £1,000 Scots and 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. Kate received her terce or third, the jointure lands held in joint fee, in a charter 15 June 1551 [RMS IV 616].

The marriage lasted over 30 years and produced eight surviving children: four sons and four daughters.

Creating a dynasty

Kate's fecundity re-established the lineage of the house of Glenorchy. As a mature adult in his early thirties, Black Duncan, Kate's and Grey Colin's eldest son born c1551-2, succeeded his father in 1583, thus avoiding all the problems of a minority or an inexperienced heir.

By providing such firm family foundations, especially the safeguard of four sons, Kate had fulfilled the dynastic purpose of her marriage and thereby enhanced the honour of both the houses of Ruthven and Glenorchy. Although the dates of the births of her children are not known, nor whether any other children had died in infancy, Kate must have spent much of the first 20 years of her marriage either pregnant or recovering from childbirth.

This is the period covered by the letters, which makes the time and energy Kate devoted to her political and other activities all the more impressive.