Archibald Douglas, 1st Baron Douglas

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Archibald James Edward Douglas, 1st Baron Douglas (10 July 1748 – 26 December 1827), was a Scottish politician.

Birth[edit]

He was born Archibald James Edward Stewart, in Paris, the twin son of Sir John Stewart, 3rd Baronet (1687–1764) and Lady Jane Douglas, daughter of James Douglas, 2nd Marquess of Douglas.[1] The circumstances of the birth were controversial. Lady Jane Douglas was the sister of the wealthy Duke of Douglas. As he was childless, his estate would pass to the next in line, the Duke of Hamilton, unless an heir could be found.[2] Lady Jane was 47 when she married the 60-year-old Colonel Sir John Stewart, a man described by her brother, the Duke of Douglas, as a 'wore-out old rake'. In the summer of 1748, by which time she was 50, Lady Jane gave birth to twin boys - Archibald and Sholto - at the house of Madame Le Brun in Faubourg Saint-Germain, Paris.

The Douglas Cause[edit]

There followed a series of court cases, which became known as the Douglas Cause or Douglas Case. In 1767 Archibald lost a much publicised court case concerning the rights to the Douglas estates. His opponents, the 12-year-old Duke of Hamilton, Hew Dalrymple, and others, claimed that Stewart was not the son of Lady Jane Douglas, and thus was not the rightful heir to the Douglas estates. In February 1769 the House of Lords reversed the decision. Central to the case was whether Lady Jane was still able to have children and at the trials, intimate evidence of her menstrual status was presented by servants. However, witnesses were produced by the Hamiltons who claimed to have noticed nothing about Lady Jane's appearance to indicate that she was pregnant. Hamilton lawyers also found two French couples who both said they had sold babies to a mysterious foreign couple about the time the 'twins' were born. Douglas lawyers countered by providing evidence of a male midwife said to have delivered Lady Jane’s babies. Archibald Douglas, was able to inherit and his descendents, who included British Minister Alec Douglas-Home and has family, have benefited ever since.

Political career[edit]

Douglas was MP for Forfarshire from 1782 to 1790 and Lord Lieutenant of Forfarshire from 1794 to 1827. In parliament he was a loyal follower of Henry Dundas and William Pitt, and hoped to be rewarded with a peerage. Although he would have preferred an earldom, he was created Baron Douglas, of Douglas in the County of Lanark, in 1790.

Lord Douglas was an improving landlord who continued the rebuilding of Douglas Castle begun by his uncle. However the 1772 collapse of the Ayr bank of Douglas, Heron & Company was a blow to his financial position. In 1795, he raised the Angusshire Regiment of Fencible Infantry, who served in Ireland[3] and Dumfries, as well as being involved with founding the Angus Volunteers Company of Fencible Men earlier in the same year. It was the latter Company that were on duty at the funeral of Robert Burns in 1796 according to officials in the Douglas History Archive [1] although some references have inaccurately attributed this to the former group.[4]

Family[edit]

Lord Douglas married first (1771) Lady Lucy Graham (1751–1780), daughter of the 2nd Duke of Montrose, and secondly (1783) Lady Frances Scott (1750–1817), sister of the 3rd Duke of Buccleuch.[5] He had nine children (five sons and four daughters, most of whom reached old age). Douglas died on 26 December 1827 at Bothwell Castle, Lanarkshire. He was buried in Douglas parish church in the same county. He was succeeded by three of his sons in turn: Archibald, 2nd Baron Douglas (1773–1844); Charles 3rd Baron Douglas (1775–1848); and Rev. James, 4th Baron Douglas (1787–1857) on whose death, the Barony of Douglas of Douglas became extinct. His daughter, Hon. Jane Margaret Douglas became his eventual heir. She married Henry, 2nd Baron Montagu of Boughton and had a daughter, Lucy Elizabeth Scott-Montagu-Douglas (later Countess of Home) to whom the Douglas estates descended.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "jamesboswell.info". Retrieved 2011-05-24. 
  2. ^ Hale, Beth. "How a scrawled note may solve the 260-year-old mystery of the 'lady who lied'". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 2011-05-24. 
  3. ^ "napoleon-series.org". Retrieved 2011-05-24. 
  4. ^ "British Towns". Retrieved 2011-05-24. 
  5. ^ "Archive Services Online Catalogue Letter of commission by Archibald Lord Douglas". University of Dundee. Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
http://www.jamesboswell.info/biography/archibald-james-edward-douglas-heir-douglas
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
The Earl Panmure
Member of Parliament for Forfar
1782–1790
Succeeded by
David Scott
Honorary titles
New office Lord-Lieutenant of Forfarshire
1794–1827
Succeeded by
The Earl of Airlie
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Baron Douglas
1790–1827
Succeeded by
Archibald Douglas