Douglases of Grangemuir

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Grangemuir House was the seat of a junior branch of the Douglas family in Scotland. The house and attached estate was bought by Walter Irvine, a Scot who owned sugar estates in Tobago and Luddington House in Surrey.[1]

It then passed to Irvine's daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Lord William Robert Keith Douglas, the fourth son of Sir William Douglas, 4th Baronet of Kelhead, and younger brother of both Charles Douglas, 6th Marquess of Queensberry and John Douglas, 7th Marquess of Queensberry. Grangemuir House is located just north of Pittenweem in Fife, Scotland and is now sitting within Grangemuir Woodland Chalet Park.[2]

The house was of French design and was constructed as a hunting lodge for the family in the 18th century. The building was clad in the 1970s with pebbledashed concrete as a cheap way of excluding damp. Members of this branch of the Douglas family usually matriculated their arms with the mottos Jamais Arrière or Forward. However, in 1979, the previous head of the family, Walter Francis Edward Douglas (1917–2013), who reportedly converted to Roman Catholicism, was granted permission by the Lord Lyon to matriculate his arms with the motto Tendir and Trewe, as taken from the 15th century poem The Buke of the Howlat, by Sir Richard Holland, chaplain to Archibald Douglas, Earl of Moray:

Lord William Robert Keith Douglas

O Douglas, O Douglas!
Tendir and trewe


Grangemuir House was given to Lord William Robert Keith Douglas (born 1783 – died 1859) along with 2,700 acres (11 km2) of land surrounding it. On 24 November 1824, he married Elizabeth Irvine (died 1864); the couple had three children, William (1824–1868), Walter (1825–1901), and Charles (1837–1918). The children founded the Douglas Cottage Hospital in St Andrews in 1866 as a memorial to their mother, Lady William Douglas of Grangemuir - this memorial is still reflected in the contemporary St Andrews Memorial Hospital, one of whose wards is still called the Douglas Ward.[citation needed]

The heir, Walter Douglas Irvine married Anne Frances Lloyd (died 1917), the daughter of an Anglo-Irish doctor from County Roscommon in 1870. They had six children, a number of whom were profoundly deaf. Some of these were known by the surname "Douglas", rather than "Douglas-Irvine":

  1. William Keith Douglas-Irvine (1876–1957)
  2. Capt. (Walter) Francis Douglas (1878–1950)
  3. Helen Florence Douglas MA (1880–1947), notable translator, historian & fiction writer and one of the first female graduates of St Andrews University
  4. Rev. Henry Archibald Douglas-Irvine BA MA (1883–1962), Parson
  5. Charles Gordon Douglas-Irvine (1885–1946)
  6. Capt. Edward Percy Douglas (1886–?)
  7. Lucy Christina Douglas-Irvine (1874?–19??), artist
  8. Elizabeth Douglas-Irvine (?–?)

Grangemuir reported annual revenues to the Treasury of £5298 in 1880, which was equivalent to about £256,000 in 2010.[citation needed] The heir, Rev. Henry Archibald Douglas-Irvine, a parson, married Beatrice Alice Mabel Gratix (died 1976) in 1913, producing a son and heir, Walter Francis Edward Douglas (born 1917). Henry's mother, Anne, was the last occupant of Grangemuir. The house and its lands were sold in 1931, partially due to the consequences of the Great Depression and the Irish War for Independence. The house continued in use until the 1970s whereupon it fell into ruin and was subsequently converted to a caravan park.[citation needed]

Henry's son, Walter Francis Edward Douglas (born 1917 – died 2013), moved to Lincolnshire where he became an art teacher in Stamford School. He married a Belgian. The oldest surviving member of the family is the eldest child of Walter Francis, Francis Gustave Douglas (born 1946), BSc, MA, PhD. Grad. Cert Ed., Professor Emeritus of University College Cork who has lived in Cork, Ireland since 1980. His own heir apparent is his son Niall Edward Douglas, BSc, MA, MBS, PGCert Ed (born 1978).[3]

The family branch which built Dunino church and primary school still have exclusive right of burial in one half of the church graveyard, located just south of St Andrews and just north of Grangemuir. The family resumed its connection with the area in the 1990s and 2000s when two members attended the nearby St Andrews University. Records relating to the Grangemuir estates, along with a small number of other family papers, can be found in the Special Collections Archive of St Andrews University Library. They were rescued from an Edinburgh law firm in 1994 and subsequently donated to the University.[4]

Family photographs[edit]

The Douglas of Grangemuir family
Lord William Robert Keith Douglas
Lord William Robert Keith Douglas 
Walter Douglas-Irvine of Grangemuir and Dunino
Walter Douglas-Irvine of Grangemuir and Dunino 
Lucy, Elizabeth & Helen, the daughters of the Walter Douglas-Irvine
Lucy, Elizabeth & Helen, the daughters of Walter Douglas-Irvine 
Lady William Douglas
Lady William Douglas 
Francis, Henry & Edward, sons of Walter Douglas-Irvine 
The Rev. Henry Archibald Douglas-Irvine, son of Walter Douglas-Irvine 
Walter Francis Edward Douglas-Irvine, son of Rev. Henry Archibald Douglas-Irvine 
Dunino Church, the site of the Douglas family graveyard 


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