1500's to 1700's

1500's to 1700's Family home and prosperity

1500's - 1700's Family home and prosperity

During this period Traquair made the transition from a defensive tower house into a family home. In the 1500's the lairds of Traquair played important roles in public life with John Stuart, 4th Laird of Traquair becoming the Captain of the Queen's bodyguard to Mary Queen of Scots. He was host to the Queen when she visited Traquair with her husband and baby son James in 1566. The cradle where she rocked here baby, her bed and some other possessions can still be seen in the house.

During the sixteenth century the main building was extended so by 1599 the main body of the house was completed. Then in the early 1600's the seventh Laird added the top storey, realigned the windows and changed the course of the River Tweed so it ran further away from the house.

The seventh Laird also became the most influential member of the family and he held the post of Lord High Treasurer of Scotland (picture above left). He was granted an earldom in 1628 and three years later became Commissioner of Scotland. Unfortunately, his fidelity to the king and his attempt to bring Episcopacy to Scotland were to be his downfall. He lost his post, suffered heavy fines and was rumoured to have been seen begging in the streets of Edinburgh towards the end of his days.

The Catholic tradition which has remained in the house to this day was established by John, second Earl of Traquair. His second wife, Lady Anne Seton was a strong Catholic and despite the dangers of the day was determined to bring her five children up as Catholics. Mass was said in secret in a small chamber on the top floor. A secret escape route for the priest was hidden behind a concealed cupboard and led down the old stairs (picture above). It continued to be used until the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1828.

The building of Traquair was completed in 1695 by the Edinburgh architect James Smith who added the two side wings, erected the wrought iron screen in the the courtyard and at the rear of the house created a double terrace with two ogee roofed pavilions to overlook the formal gardens.

For over three hundred years there has been no additions or alterations to the main house.