Marmaduke Darell was the Master of the Household at Fotheringhay Castle when Mary was imprisoned there.
This letter was written just a few hours after the execution; it was sent by messenger to his cousin William Darell, Esq. informing him that he had witnessed the execution which had taken place in the Great Hall of Fotheringhay that day.
(Olde English version – National Archives)
The conveniencye of this messenger, y/tb the newes wch this place dothe presentlye yelde occasionethe me to trouble you wtt theis few lynes^ I doubte not but wtt you aswell as in the contries hereaboutes, there hath bene of late sondrye straunge rumors bruted concerninge the Sco: Queene prisoner here; wch all, as they have bene hitherto untrewe, so now yt is most true that she hathe endured that fatall stroke this daie, that will excuse her from beinge accessarye to any like matters that may happen henceforthe. Betwene x and xj of the clocke this presente Thursdaie, she was beheaded in the hall of this castle, there beinge fj?sent at yt as Comission?s, onely the Earle of Shrewsburye and the Earle of Kent; fower other Earles were joyned wtt them in the comission, but came not; The sherive of this shere, Sr Rich. Knightlye, Sr Edwarde Mountague, wtt difs other gentlemen of good accompte were also here at the execucon. Touchinge the manner of yt, all due order was most carefully observed in yt; she her selfe endured yt (as wee must all truely saie that were eye witnesses) w* great courage, and shewe of magnanimitye, albeit in some other respect^ she ended not so well as ys to be wished. The order for her funerall ys not yet determined uppon, but wilbe very shortlye, as also for her people who (wee thinke) shalbe safelye conducted to their native contries. Thus have you brieflie that wch wilbe no doubte very shortlie reported unto you more at large; In the meane tyme I beseche yo° accepte in good pte this small shewe of my duetifull remembraunce of you And so w”‘ my humble comendacons I leave yo” to the mercifull ptection of the Almightie. From Fotheringaie castle this viij”‘ of Februarye 1586.
Yor poore kinsman to comaunde
To the right worship Mr. Willliam Darell Esquire at his house at Littlecott