James IV: His Wife & Four Mistresses

Chapter 5 : Janet Kennedy

This last liaison was with Janet Kennedy, daughter of Lord Kennedy. Janet Kennedy was married young, to Alexander Gordon, a distant relative. Janet and Alexander seem to have separated not long after the marriage and she began a connection with Archibald "Bell-the-Cat" Douglas, Earl of Angus (yes – him again, he pops up everywhere!)

The status of the relationship is unclear, as she is not referred to as his Countess, but he made grants of land to her, for her life, and for the benefit of any children they might have together. Some 30 years later, Janet referred to Bell-the-Cat as her husband when founding a charitable position, for the welfare of his soul. Since Angus was, at the time, married to Elizabeth Boyd, it is all rather confusing.

Whatever Janet's relationship with Angus, she certainly became James IV's mistress sometime in the late 1490s. The relationship lasted for several years, and she lived with him throughout the period of his marriage negotiations. On the arrival of his bride, Janet was granted Darnaway Castle, near Inverness, for her life, provided that she remained "without husband or other man".

James continued to visit Janet at least until 1505, when she married again, although she was divorced by 1508. Janet bore two or three children to James: their son was James Stewart, 1 st Earl of Moray, and they had probably had two daughters, one of whom at least, is presumed to have died young.