Mariotta Haliburton


Mariotta Haliburton, Lady Home, was a 16th-century Scottish noblewoman. She varied the spelling of her forename between MariottaMarion, and Mary. She is remembered for her defence and negotiation of the surrender of the Castle of Hume after the Battle of Pinkie.

Mariotta was the daughter of Patrick Haliburton of Dirleton Castle and Christine Wawane. She and her sisters Janet and Margaret were Patrick's heirs when he died in 1515. She married George, Lord Home before 7 April 1529.

On 22 June 1535, James V of Scotland confirmed Mariotta and George's ownership of lands forfeited by Alexander Home, 3rd Lord Home in return for their good service against the English enemy.

As the war of the Rough Wooing escalated, Regent Arran sent soldiers and guns to help defend their Castle at Hume. The English defeated the Scottish army at Pinkie near Musselburgh on Saturday 10 September 1547. Alexander Home was taken prisoner, and George was injured, and while he lay sick in Edinburgh, the English army arrived at Hume on 20 September. Mariotta herself negotiated the surrender of Hume Castle with the Earl of Somerset. Her instructions were brought to the castle by Somerset Herald and her sons Andrew and John agreed to surrender. The 78 Scottish soldiers within were allowed to leave, and Andrew handed the keys to the new English captain, Sir Edward Dudley.

George and her eldest son, Alexander, were taken to England and the Tower of London. Mariotta continued to write to the Earl of Somerset seeking a better deal for her own family and the border people. She complained that people in Scotland said she had given up Hume Castle for money, and marvelled that they thought she could the keep the sober barmkin of Hume against the whole English army, while the whole Scottish nobility could not keep the field. Mariotta told the Earl that she dared not show her husband his letter and the pledges her people had made to England, and asked him to make new agreements that risked only their possessions, not their loyalty to Scotland.

Eventually Alexander was allowed back to Scotland, and soon on Boxing Day 1548, Hume was taken from the English by a night raid. On 28 December Mariotta sent the news from Edinburgh to Mary of Guise, who had left Holyroodhouse for New Year at Stirling Castle. By March 1549, Mariotta was back at Hume with a garrison of French and Spanish troops. Now she wrote to Mary of Guise that the troops were disturbing the villagers because they would not pay for their groceries; Mariotta insisted Guise pay the soldiers so they would not trouble the poor folk of Hume. In another letter she advised Guise to maintain discipline amongst the soldiers at this crucial time for the Auld Alliance.

Mariotta's original letters to Somerset and Guise are kept in the National Library of Scotland and the Public Record Office at Kew. 

To make your own nomination download the nomination form here