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James I signed royal document

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SKU PT1349
  • An official royal letter signed by King James I in 1616
  • Regarding plans for his famous state visit to Scotland in 1617

James VI and I (1566 – 1625) was King of Scotland as James VI from 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from 1603 until his death in 1625.

He was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots and the great-great grandson of Henry VII who ruled all three countries for 22 years, during a period known as the Jacobean Era.

A letter from the court of James I, sent from Whitehall Palace and dated December 31, 1616.

A highly rare royal document signed by James I, concerning plans for his lavish state visit to Scotland in 1617.

Delivered by Royal Herald to George Keith, Earl Marshall of Scotland, informing him of James I's impending state visit to Scotland.

Featuring a large, boldly signed example of James I's signature at the top left.

Letter in good condition, with horizontal and vertical folds, and minor foxing and stains expected in a document of such age.

James ascended the Scottish throne in 1567, just after his 1st birthday, so the 1617 visit marked the 50th anniversary.

However, his state visit in 1617 was the only one he ever made to Scotland after also becoming King of England in 1603.

His visit was a hugely lavish and expensive affair. James requested the repair of several Scottish royal palaces, none of which had been properly maintained for decades.

He also travelled with an enormous staff including hundreds of advisors, servants, courtiers, bishops, bodyguards, physicians and musicians.

To raise the enormous funds required for the visit, he raised taxes in Scotland and took out huge loans from the City of London.

This document is a letter to Keith describing the financial difficulties of the upcoming trip, and asks him to meet with other royal councillors in Edinburgh to propose further ways of raising money to cover the costs.

The letter reads in full:


“Righte trustie and right welbeloved cuson and cunsellor wee greete you well.


“Our earnest desire, the wishes of our good subjects & the necessarie affaires of our estate having invited us to honor that our ancient kingdome with our royall presence this approching sommer, and knowing how far it doth import the credit & honor of our said kingdome that all things necessarie for our contended reception and interteynment be timelie provided & in rediness, and that our houses, which by reason of our long absence are become ruinous & decayed be repared and mez rabled in such decent & semelie order as is requisite; so as the strangers and others who are to accompanie us (of whom there will be great nombers of all ramks and qualities) may neyther perceave anie markes of incivilitiesor appearances of pennurie or want.

“We therefor out of our royal regarde to the honour of our said kingdome have not been sparing of our coffers, but have large bestowed great summes of munie far exceeding the revenues of that kingdom upon these preparations wherein although our tresor there be exhausted and our coffers ar emptied, yet upon examination of particuleres wee find manie things costing unprovided which the rents of that our crown are not able to furnish.

“The consideration whereof hathe moved us to appointe a comentio of the estates of that our realme to be kept at Edinburgh the fyfte of March next to the intent that they may advise & resolve whereupon the best means whereby with haste hurt to our good subjects, all defectes may be supplied and the honour of that our kingdom preserved.

“And having written to diverse of our nobilitie to be present thereat we likewise so require you (knowing your good affection to the honor of that our kingdom and willing disposition to our service) to keep that meeting and be in Edinburgh the fourt of the said morning, that on the morrow you may be readie prepared to meet with the reste which undoubtedlie expecting of you regarde our obedience & service we bid you farewell.

“Given at our palace of Whitehalle the last of December 1616.”


A rare and beautifully preserved document, featuring an exceptional James I signature.


A museum-quality piece of historic British royal memorabilia.


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