Promoting North East pool, with matches, venues and more
Promoting North East pool, with matches, venues and more

Mary Queen of Scots

courtesy of Bill Hunter

Mary, the Queen of Shots ??

Here are some observations on the life (and death) of Mary, Queen of Scots.
You may be surprised to discover that she was a pioneer of cue sports.

Mary, Queen of Scots is one of the best known figures in Scotland’s history.
Her life was nothing if not eventful.
Mary was crowned Queen of Scotland aged just nine months, married three times and suspected of involvement in the murder of her husband Darnley.
She was also implicated in an assassination plot against her cousin Queen Elizabeth of England.
Mary was cruelly imprisoned by the English in castles across their land over a period of 19 years. However, the silver lining to this lengthy incarceration was that it gave her ample leisure time in which to hone her billiard skills, which were said to be formidable.

It was around midday on the 7th of February,1587 that a representative of Queen Elizabeth announced that Mary was to be executed at Fotheringhay Castle, where she was at that time held captive.
Legend has it that she spent the remainder of the day and the early hours of the following morning, prior to her execution, writing goodbye letters to friends and relatives, bidding farewell to her ladies-in-waiting and getting in some serious practise at billiards.
Such was her love for the game.

Upon her demise the executioner held high Mary’s severed head to display her scalp and hair.
Ironically, her head was observed to be as round and white as an ivory billiard ball. Onlookers were horrified by the ghastly apparition and that her lips trembled for a quarter of an hour after her globular head was removed.
It was not old age that had turned what remained of her hair white, for Mary was scarcely forty when she met her death, but the misfortune and sorrow suffered throughout her life.

After her execution, it is documented that Mary’s headless body was wrapped in the blue Strachan tartan cloth which had been callously torn from her beloved billiard table.

Undoubtedly, Queen of Shots (or pots?) is a fully deserved epithet.

This painting of Mary (after Nicholas Hilliard) with one hand resting on a billiard table (cue rack in the background) is an oil on panel. It is inscribed 1578 and can be viewed in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

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