James Douglas-Hamilton, Baron Selkirk of Douglas

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The Lord Selkirk of Douglas

Official portrait of Lord Selkirk of Douglas crop 2.jpg
Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Lothians
In office
6 May 1999 – 2 April 2007
Member of the UK Parliament
for Edinburgh West
In office
10 October 1974 – 8 April 1997
Preceded byJames Anthony Stodart
Succeeded byDonald Gorrie
Personal details
Born (1942-07-31) 31 July 1942 (age 76)
Political partyScottish Conservative Party
Spouse(s)Priscilla Susan Buchan
ParentsDouglas Douglas-Hamilton, 14th Duke of Hamilton
Lady Elizabeth Ivy Percy
Alma materBalliol College, Oxford, University of Edinburgh

James Alexander Douglas-Hamilton, Baron Selkirk of Douglas, PC, QC (born 31 July 1942), briefly The 11th Earl of Selkirk (a title he disclaimed) and previously styled Lord James Douglas-Hamilton as a younger son of the 14th Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, is a Scottish Conservative politician who served as Member of Parliament for Edinburgh West and then as Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Lothians. Since 1997 he has been a member of the House of Lords as a life peer.


He was educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford where he was president of the Oxford Union, and thereafter at the University of Edinburgh.

Political career[edit]

He served as an advocate and an interim Procurator Fiscal Depute from 1968 to 1972. From 1972 to 1974, he was a councillor on Edinburgh District Council, and after unsuccessfully contesting Hamilton in February 1974, from October 1974 to 1997 he was Member of Parliament for Edinburgh West. During this time he served in the Scottish Office.

In the years between 1987 and 1995 he served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, and thereafter as Minister of State between 1995 and 1997. He had previously been a Lord Commissioner of the Treasury between 1979 and 1981. He was appointed a Privy Counsellor and Queen's Counsel in 1996.

It was announced on 12 December 2011[1] that he would serve as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, who is the Sovereign’s personal representative to the Annual General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, in 2012.


In 1994 on the death of George Nigel Douglas-Hamilton, 10th Earl of Selkirk, Selkirk inherited the earldom, although the succession was disputed, as Alasdair Douglas-Hamilton, a nephew of the 10th Earl, claimed it, ultimately without success. Due to the terms of the Peerage Act 1963, Selkirk was considered to be unable to vote in the House of Commons until he had disclaimed the title, even though the succession to it had not been decided. As the Conservative government of the day had a small majority, he felt obliged to disclaim immediately.

In 1997, he was elevated to the House of Lords as a life peer, being created Baron Selkirk of Douglas, of Cramond in the City of Edinburgh.

Scottish Parliament[edit]

From 1999 to 2007 he was a member of the Scottish Parliament and was deputy Convener of its Education Committee. In November 2005, Lord Selkirk of Douglas announced his intention to retire at the end of the 2003-2007 session of the Scottish Parliament. He continues to sit in the House of Lords, taking a particular interest in British legislation as it affects Scotland.[2]


Lord Selkirk of Douglas has written a number of books, including Motive For a Mission: The Story Behind Hess's Flight to Britain about his father's meeting with Rudolf Hess when he landed in Scotland during World War II.

Styles of address[edit]

  • 1942–1974: Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
  • 1974–1996: Lord James Douglas-Hamilton MP
  • 1994: The Rt Hon. The Earl of Selkirk[a]
  • 1994–1996: Lord James Douglas-Hamilton MP[b]
  • 1996–1997: The Rt Hon. Lord James Douglas-Hamilton QC MP
  • 1997: The Rt Hon. Lord James Douglas-Hamilton QC
  • 1997–1999: The Rt Hon. The Lord Selkirk of Douglas PC QC
  • 1999–2007: The Rt Hon. The Lord Selkirk of Douglas PC QC MSP
  • 2007–: The Rt Hon. The Lord Selkirk of Douglas PC QC
  1. ^ After The 10th Earl of Selkirk died, Douglas-Hamilton succeeded to the earldom.
  2. ^ Under the Peerage Act 1963, Douglas-Hamilton disclaimed the peerage to allow him to remain sitting in the House of Commons.


In 1974 he married the Hon. (Priscilla) Susan Buchan, a granddaughter of the politician and novelist John Buchan, and daughter of Johnnie Buchan, the 2nd Baron Tweedsmuir, and his wife, a life peeress in her own right, Lady Tweedsmuir. They have four sons of whom the eldest, John Andrew Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Daer and Master of Selkirk (b 1978) is heir apparent to the disclaimed Earldom of Selkirk. Lord Selkirk of Douglas is also fifth in line to the Dukedom of Hamilton, after the sons and the brother of the present duke.


See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Anthony Stodart
Member of Parliament for Edinburgh West
Oct. 19741997
Succeeded by
Donald Gorrie
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
George Douglas-Hamilton
Earl of Selkirk