Stuart or Stewart, John, 4th earl of Atholl (ăthˈəl) [key], d. 1579, Scottish nobleman. He succeeded his father to the earldom in 1542. A supporter of Mary of Guise, in 1559 he voted in Parliament against the Protestant confession of faith and expressed his adherence to Catholicism. He became a member of the council of Mary Queen of Scots in 1561 and after her marriage to Lord Darnley was one of her chief counselors. However, after Darnley's murder and the rise of James Hepburn, earl of Bothwell, to power, Atholl joined the Protestant lords against Mary. He became a member of the council of regency for James VI, but his sympathies gradually switched back to the queen, and he joined the opposition to the king's party. He was unsuccessful in preventing the election of James Douglas, 4th earl of Morton, to the regency in 1572. In 1574 proceedings were taken against Atholl as a Roman Catholic, and he probably recanted. With Colin Campbell, 6th earl of Argyll, he succeeded in ousting Morton as regent (1578). The three were uneasily reconciled the following year, shortly before Atholl's death, which was possibly from poisoning by Morton.
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