Murray or Moray, James Stuart, 1st earl of (both: mûrˈē) [key], 1531?–1570, Scottish nobleman. An illegitimate son of James V by a daughter of the earl of Mar, he was, therefore, half-brother of Mary Queen of Scots. Early a Protestant sympathizer, he joined the lords of the congregation in 1559 and was a leader of the opposition to the regent, Mary of Guise. After the return to Scotland of the young queen Mary (1561), he was her adviser, always favoring friendship with England and advocating religious reform. He opposed Mary's marriage (1565) to Lord Darnley and, after an abortive rebellion, fled to England. He returned (1566) immediately after the murder of David Rizzio and was reconciled with Mary, who did not know that he had been involved in the murder conspiracy. When Mary was forced to abdicate in 1567, Murray was the only feasible candidate for regent. He made every effort to perpetuate Mary's incarceration and worked in the interests of the young king James VI, the English, and Protestantism. He was assassinated by a member of the Hamilton family. With John Knox, who wrote a panegyric on him, Murray was largely responsible for the success of the Scottish Reformation.
See biography by M. Lee (1953, repr. 1971).