Mary, Mary, quite contrary?

I have just finished a chapter for an edited book that examines how monarchs are remembered (for good and ill) after their reigns. My contribution focuses on nineteenth-century interest in Britain’s Stuart dynasty (1603-1714) through the medium of fancy dress costume. I suggest that the tumultuous lives of these rulers – particularly that of Mary Queen of Scots (r. 1542-1567) and her grandson Charles I (r. 1625-1649) – when re-enacted through costume, enabled people (and especially women) to construct new public identities at a time of social instability, chiefly the result of industrialisation. This is not the place to re-write the chapter, but I thought it could be the place where I include images of the various people who dressed as Mary Queen of Scots (MQS), and people associated with her, during the nineteenth century (that I know of!).

Lady Londonderry’s Ball, 1844


Mary Lowther Ferguson as MQS


The Waverley Ball, 6 July 1871


Alexandra, Princess of Wales as MQS


Watercolour of Alexandra as MQS, by Princess Louise (Royal Collection)


Punch, 1885


A satire on the prevalence of MQS costumes at nineteenth-century fancy dress entertainments.


The Earl of Dufferin’s Grand Fancy Dress Ball, Ottawa, 23 February 1896

See: Cynthia Cooper, Magnificent Entertainments: Fancy Dress Balls of Canada’s Governors General 1876-1898 (New Brunswick: Goose Lane Editions, 1997), 44-46.


The Countess of Dufferin as Mary of Guise, MQS’s Mother


The Earl of Dufferin as James V of Scotland, MQS’s father


The children of the Earl & Countess of Dufferin dressed as Mary Queen of Scots and her eventual husband, Lord Darnley.


The Devonshire House Ball, July 1897

LAF 1432.tif

Dowager Duchess of Hamilton, née Lady Mary Forster as Mary of Hamilton, Lady-in-Waiting to Mary Queen of Scots

Duchess of Devonshire’s Jubilee Costume Ball 1897

Lady Katherine Scott as MQS


Lady Lister Kaye as Antoinette de Bourbon, Duchesse de Guise, maternal grandmother of Mary Queen of Scots.


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