Sir James Douglas, 1st Baronet

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Sir James Douglas
Born 1703
Died 2 November 1787
Allegiance  Kingdom of Great Britain
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Rank Admiral
Commands held HMS Mermaid
HMS Vigilante
Portsmouth Command
Battles/wars Seven Years' War

Admiral Sir James Douglas, 1st Baronet (1703 – 2 November 1787) naval officer and Commodore of Newfoundland.

Naval career[edit]

Douglas became a captain in the Royal Navy in 1744[1] In 1745 commanded the HMS Mermaid at Louisbourg and in 1746 he commanded the HMS Vigilante at Louisbourg.[1] In 1746 was appointed Commodore of Newfoundland by Vice-Admiral Isaac Townsend.[1] He then served as a Member of Parliament for Orkney & Shetland from 1754 to 1768.[2]

In 1757 served as a member of the court martial which tried and convicted Admiral Byng[2] and in 1759 he was knighted for his participation in the capture of Québec.[1] He was commander of the squadron which captured Dominica in 1761.[2] In 1762 he served in the fleet under George Rodney which captured Martinique[2] and then served in the fleet under George Pocock which captured Havana.[2]

He was promoted Vice-Admiral in 1770 and Admiral in 1778. In 1786 he was made a Baronet.[1]


Douglas was the son of George Douglas, 7th laird of Friarshaw, Roxburghshire, and Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Patrick Scott, baronet, of Ancrum, also of Roxburghshire.[3] This Douglas line descended from the Douglas of Cavers branch of the family, and were lawyers and merchants. They took the title Douglas of Friarshaw from the original seat of the family in the parish of Lilliesleaf.

Douglas was twice married: first in 1753 to Helen (d. 1766), daughter of Thomas Brisbane of Brisbane in Ayrshire; the couple had four sons and three daughters. His second wife was Lady Helen Boyle, daughter of John Boyle, 2nd Earl of Glasgow and Helenor, née Morison.

Sir George Douglas, 2nd Baronet, was a captain in the 25th Regiment of Foot and later commanded the Kelso Volunteers. He sold the old estate of Friarshaw in 1788 and became MP for Roxburgh.[4]


See also[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Edwards
Governors of Newfoundland
Succeeded by
Charles Watson
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
John Halyburton
Member of Parliament for Orkney and Shetland
Succeeded by
Thomas Dundas
Military offices
Preceded by
Thomas Pye
Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth
Succeeded by
Thomas Pye
Note: The position of governor of the colony had temporarily lapsed after the departure of Richard Edwards and therefore Douglas was not a governor of the island. Also, no commodore or governor was sent in 1747, the next governor was Charles Watson in 1748.