William Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie, 4th Lord of Ruthven (c. 1541 – May 1584) was a Scottish peer known for devising the Raid of Ruthven.
Life and career
William Ruthven was born in 1541 in Ruthven Castle,
Perthshire, Scotland, the son of Patrick Ruthven, 3rd Lord Ruthven. On 23 August 1581, he was named  Earl of Gowrie by James VI of Scotland. 
He and his father had both been involved in the murder of
David Rizzio in 1566; and both took an active part on the side of the Kirk in the constant intrigues and factions among the Scottish nobility of the period. William had been the custodian of Mary, Queen of Scots, during her imprisonment in Loch Leven Castle, where, according to the queen, he had pestered her with amorous attentions.
In 1582 Ruthven devised and undertook the
Raid of Ruthven--a plot to seize the fifteen-year-old James VI during the king's visit to his home at Huntingtower Castle. Ruthven remained at the head of the government for several months during the detention. Ruthven continued to plot against the king, and was the last-known custodian of the silver casket that contained the Casket Letters; letters said to have been written by Mary, Queen of Scots, implicating her in the murder of her husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. 
In May 1584 Ruthven was detained, tried, and beheaded at
Stirling Castle because of his leading involvement in the Raid of Ruthven and all of his honors were forfeited. Following his execution, his lands were divided among the king's favourites, but the honours were restored to his son James in 1586. 
His widow, Dorothea Stewart came to the opening of
Parliament on 22 August 1584 and kneeled on the Royal Mile crying to the king for grace for her children. James Stewart, Earl of Arran pushed her away, and she fainted and was left on the street. 
A letter produced in the
posthumous trial of Robert Logan of Restalrig in 1609 referred to William Ruthven as , a character in a popular poem of his time noted for his strength and sinister powers, enthralled to a powerful woman. Greysteil 
Marriage and children
William Ruthven was married to Dorothea Stewart, the oldest daughter of
Henry Stewart, 1st Lord Methven and Janet Stewart, daughter of John Stewart, 2nd Earl of Atholl.
Scots Peerage lists 14 children of William and Janet, ten daughters and four sons:
James Ruthven, 2nd Earl of Gowrie (died 1588)
John Ruthven, 3rd Earl of Gowrie (c. 1577 – 5 August 1600) 
Alexander Ruthven (12 January 1580 – 5 August 1600)  William Ruthven, died in France prior to 1622
   Patrick Ruthven, imprisoned for 19 years in the
Tower of London  Mary Ruthven, married to
John Stewart, 5th Earl of Atholl, and then after his death married John Stewart, 1st Earl of Atholl (1566-1603)  Margaret Ruthven, married to John Graham, 4th Earl of Montrose, mother of
James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose  Sophia Ruthven (died before 1592), first wife of
Ludovic Stewart, 2nd Duke of Lennox  Jean Ruthven, wife of
James Ogilvy, 1st Earl of Airlie  Elizabeth "Isabel" Ruthven, wife of Sir Robert Gordon, mother of
John Gordon, 1st Viscount of Kenmure  Beatrix Ruthven, lady in waiting to Anne of Denmark, wife of John Home of Cowdenknowes
 Lilias, about whom little is know except she pre-deceased her father
 Dorothea, who married John Wemyss of Pittencrieff
 Barbara Ruthven, lady in waiting to Anne of Denmark 
Another source, Paterson's
History of the Counties of Ayr and Wigton lists another daughter named Elizabeth, explicitly called "Elizabeth (Not Isabel)":
Elizabeth Ruthven (died 1617), second wife of Sir Hugh Campbell of Loudon (died 1622). 
John and Alexander were killed on 5 August 1600 as the main characters in
The Gowrie Conspiracy, a failed attempt to kidnap or murder James VI.
^ a b
"William Ruthven (c. 1541 - 1584)". geni.com . Retrieved 2014.
, pp. 236-7, Robert Bowes to Francis Cunningham, 8 November 1582. Bowes Correspondence(Surtees Society, 1842)
David Calderwood, History of the Kirk of Scotland, vol. 4 (Edinburgh, 1843), pp. 197-8
Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. iv, p. 422.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n
Paul, James Balfour (1904). . Edinburgh : D. Douglas. The Scots Peerage
Davies, J.D. (2010). Blood of Kings. England: Ian Allan Publishing. p. 76. ISBN . 9780711035263
Scotland, National Archives of. "NAS Catalogue - catalogue record". catalogue.nrscotland.gov.uk . Retrieved 2018.
James Paterson (1866). History of the counties of Ayr and Wigton: Cunninghame, vol. 3 part 2 . Edinburgh. pp. 548-9.