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The Great Historic Families of Scotland
The Angus Douglases


THE original earldom of Angus was one of the oldest titles in the kingdom. The early rulers of the district termed Angus, or the Mearns, extending along the east coast of Scotland from the Tay to the Dee, which they governed with almost independent authority, bore the title of Mormaor, but little or nothing is known of their history. The inhabitants were a fierce and warlike race, and vigorously resisted the attempts of the Scottish kings to subject the province to their authority. Two of these sovereigns, indeed, lost their lives in battle with the men of the Mearns. Kenneth III., on some pretext or other, caused the son of the Mormaor of the province to be executed at Dunsinnan. In revenge for this deed he was killed—according to the ‘Chronicle of the Picts and Scots ‘—at Fettercairn, by the treachery of Finella, daughter of Cunchar, whose only son he had put to death.

The first of the chieftains of the province of Angus who bore the designation of Earl was GILCHRIST. A singular story regarding him is related by Buchanan, on the authority of an old chronicle. For the great services which this powerful noble performed to the Crown he received the hand of the King’s sister in marriage. She, however, proved unfaithful to her marriage vow, and he caused her to be put to death. This murder so enraged the King—William the Lion—against Gilchrist that he dismantled his castles, confiscated his estates, and banished him the kingdom. The Earl took refuge in England; but in the treaty between William and the English King Henry it was stipulated that neither of the two should shelter the other’s enemies. The exiled noble was in consequence obliged to leave England, and returning to Scotland with his two sons, he shifted from place to place in great want and misery. One day they were seen by the King in the neighbourhood of Perth, in the disguise of farmers. Their mien, however, showed them to be superior to that station, and on the approach of the King they quitted the road to prevent discovery. Their evident desire to avoid him roused William’s curiosity, and he caused the three men to be brought before him. On inquiring who they were, Gilchrist knelt down before the King, and in very moving terms acquainted him with their lamentable condition. William was so much affected by the story that he not only pardoned the Earl, but restored him to his former honours and estates.

Gilchrist was succeeded by his son GILIBREDE, the second ruler who bore the designation of Earl. He was present at the Battle of the Standard, under David I., and was one of the twenty barons given as hostages for the fulfilment of the treaty made between the English King and William the Lion. The earldom passed in 1243 to GILBERT DE UMFRAVILLE, Lord of Redesdale, Prudhoe, and Harbottle in Northumberland, by his marriage to the heiress, daughter of the fifth earl of the original family. His son by the countess, who bore the same name, was governor of the castles of Dundee and Forfar, when the Regent in 1291 agreed to surrender the kingdom and its fortresses to Edward I. The conduct of Gilbert de Umfraville in this hour of trial presented a prudent contrast to the unpatriotic spirit which his brother barons displayed. He declared that, having received his castles in charge from the Scottish nation, he would not surrender them to the King of England without an obligation to indemnify him from Edward and all the claimants for the Crown. To remove his objections a letter of indemnity was signed by Edward, by the competitors, and by the guardians. On receiving this document Gilbert delivered up Dundee and Forfar to the English king. He afterwards, however, deserted the patriotic cause, and treacherously went over to the side of Edward, along with the Earl of Dunbar, immediately before the battle of Falkirk in 1298. The information which these two nobles conveyed to the English King rescued his army from a position of imminent peril. He died in 1307.

ROBERT DE UMFRAVILLE, the son and successor of Earl Gilbert, was appointed Joint Guardian of Scotland by Edward II. in 1308, and was forfeited by King Robert Bruce for his adherence to the English interests.

The earldom was then bestowed upon Sir John Stewart, of Bonkil, who was descended from the second son of Alexander, High Steward of Scotland. On the death of Thomas, third Earl of Angus of the Stewart family, in 1377, without issue, the title devolved on his sister, Lady Margaret. She resigned it in 1389, and King Robert II. then granted the earldom of Angus, with the lordships of Abernethy, in Perthshire, and of Bonkil, in Berwickshire, to George Douglas, her illegitimate son by William, the first Earl of Douglas, her brother-in-law.

GEORGE DOUGLAS, first Earl of Angus of the Douglas family, married the second daughter of Robert IlI., was taken prisoner at the Battle of Homildon, in 1402, and died the same year in England of the plague. There was nothing worthy of special notice in the career of his two immediate successors. On the death of James, the third Earl, without issue, the title and estates devolved upon— GEORGE DOUGLAS, second son of the second Earl, who filled several important offices, and commanded the royal forces in the contest with the Earl of Douglas, whose lands and lordship of Douglas he obtained on the forfeiture of that formidable and turbulent noble. The Earl, who had a high military reputation, held the office of Lieutenant-General of the Kingdom after the death of James II. He died in 1462. He performed a brilliant exploit during the Wars of the Roses, in bringing off the French garrison from Alnwick under the eyes of the Yorkists. His son, ARCHIBALD DOUGLAS, fifth Earl of Angus, became the most powerful nobleman in the kingdom, and was commonly called the Great Earl. He was only fourteen years of age when he succeeded his father. On attaining maturity the young Earl did not prove more loyal than his kinsmen of the elder branch. When the Duke of Albany quarrelled with his brother, King James III., and fled into England, Angus became a party to the treasonable treaty which Albany concluded with the English King for the acknowledgment of his sovereignty, and ceding to him Eskdale, Annandale, and Liddesdale, on condition of being made King of Scotland. The young Earl (in his twenty-eighth year) was the leader of the discontented nobles who were indignant at the preference which the King showed for architects, musicians, and painters, and determined to seize the person of their sovereign and to wreak their vengeance on his favourites. The muster of their feudal array for the purpose of invading England, in retaliation for the ravages which an English army had made in Scotland, afforded them a favourable opportunity for carrying their nefarious schemes into effect. On their march to the Border the army halted for the first night at Lauder, and next morning the principal conspirators held a secret council in the church to arrange for the immediate execution of their designs. They were all agreed as to what should be done, but they hesitated as to the best mode of proceeding. Lord Gray, as Godscroft relates the occurrence, ‘craved audience, and told them the apologue of the mice, who consulting in a public meeting how to be sure from the cat’s surprising them, found out a very good way, which was to hang a bell about her neck, that would ring as she stepped, and so give them warning of her approach, that they might save themselves by flight. But when it came to be questioned who would undertake to tie the bell about the cat’s neck, there was never a mouse durst cheep or undertake it.’ Angus started up when Gray had done speaking, and exclaimed, ‘I will bell the cat‘—a saying which procured for him the cognomen of ‘Archibald Bell-the-Cat,’ by which he was ever afterwards familiarly designated. Cochrane and the other royal favourites were immediately seized, and in the most brutal manner hanged over the bridge at Lauder. After these cruel and foul murders, the conspirators returned to the capital, carrying with them their unfortunate sovereign, and committed him a close prisoner to the Castle of Edinburgh.

A temporary reconciliation followed between the King and his brother, on whom offices and grants were liberally bestowed; but this did not prevent Albany from renewing his treasonable intrigues with the English king. The Earl of Angus and other two of his accomplices, Lord Gray and Sir James Liddal, were despatched to England to negotiate a secret treaty with the Commissioners of Edward IV., in which it was stipulated that on certain specified conditions he should assist Albany in the conquest of the Crown of Scotland ‘to his proper use.’ Angus and his associates promised that in the event of Albany dying without heirs, they would maintain their castles against James, now King of Scots, and ‘live under the sole allegiance of their good and gracious prince the King of England.’

As soon as this infamous transaction transpired, the great body of the barons, who had hitherto been unfriendly to the King, rallied round the throne, and enabled James to defeat the plots of the conspirators against the independence of the kingdom. Angus was compelled to resign his office of Lord Justiciar on the south side of the Forth, his Stewardry of Kirkcudbright, his Sheriffdom of Lanark, and his command of the strong castle of Thrieve. His principal accomplices were at the same time deprived of their dignities and offices. In no long time, however, the conspiracy against the royal authority was renewed, and the Earl of Angus and Lord Gray were the principal instigators of the new rebellion, which led to the overthrow and death of their unfortunate sovereign. Angus was one of the commanders of the insurgent forces at the battle of Sauchieburn, in which the royal army was defeated, and James was murdered in his flight from the field.

King James IV., at that time a youth of sixteen years of age, had been induced to take part in the rebellion against his father, but as he grew older he felt deep remorse for having allowed himself to be made the tool of a selfish and unprincipled faction, and gradually withdrew his countenance from its leaders. It was probably the coldness with which he was now treated that induced Angus, the old intriguer and traitor to his country, to enter into a plot with Henry VII. of England against his youthful sovereign, and ultimately to withdraw for a season into England. Some knowledge of his treason had probably reached the King, for on the return of the Earl to Scotland he was committed a prisoner to his own castle of Tantallon, and, as the price of his pardon, was compelled to exchange the lordship of Liddesdale and the strong fortress of Hermitage, in the first instance, for the lordship of Kilmarnock; but a few months later, Liddesdale and its stronghold were bestowed in fee and heritage on the Earl of Bothwell, and Bothwell Castle, resigned by that nobleman, was given to Angus in exchange for Kilmarnock. This transference was a considerable diminution of the greatness and power of the Douglas family.

The displeasure of the King was increased by the slaughter of Spens of Kilspindie, a favourite courtier, who about this time was killed in a casual encounter with Angus. The incident, which is thus related by Godscroft, illustrates both the character of the fierce and stalwart noble and of the stormy and violent times :— 

The King on a time was discoursing at table of the personages of men, and by all men’s confession the prerogative was adjudged to the Earl of Angus. 

[Sir Walter Scott thus describes, in ‘Marmion,’ the aspect of the stalwart ‘Bell-the-Cat,’ in his old age:— 

‘His giant form, like ruined tower,
Though fallen its muscles’ brawny vaunt,
High-boned, and tall, and grim, and gaunt
Seem’d o’er the gaudy scene to lower:
His locks and beard in silver grew;
His eyebrows kept their sable hue.’]

A courtier that was by, one Spens of Kilspindie, . . cast in a word of doubting and disparaging: ‘It is true,’ said he, ‘if all be good that is up-come,’ meaning, if his action and valour were answerable to his personage. This spoken openly, and coming to the Earl’s ears, offended him highly. It fell out after this, as the Earl was riding from Douglas to Tantallon, that he sent all his company the nearest way, and he himself with one only of his servants, having each of them a hawk on his fist, in hope of better sport, took the way of Borthwick towards Fala, where lighting at the brook at the west end of the town, they bathed their hawks. In the meantime this Spens happened to come that way, whom the Earl espying said, ‘Is not this such a one, that made question of my manhood? I will go to him and give him a trial of it, that we may know which of us is the better man.’ ‘No, my lord,’ said his servant, ‘it is a disparagement for you to meddle with him.’ . . . ‘I see,’ said the Earl, ‘he hath one with him; it shall be thy part to grapple with him, whilst I deal with his master.’ So fastening their hawks they rode after him. ‘What reason had you,’ said the Earl to him, ‘to speak contemptuously of me at such a time?’ When the other would have excused the matter, he told him that would not serve the turn. ‘Thou art a big fellow and so am I; one of us must pay for it.’ The other answered, ‘If it may be, no matter; there is never an earl in Scotland but I will defend myself from him as well as I can.’ . . . . So, alighting from their horses, they fought a certain space; but at last the Earl of Angus cut Spens’ thighbone asunder, so that he fell to the ground and died soon after.

It was no easy task for a monarch only twenty years of age to maintain the royal authority over such turbulent and lawless nobles, who, if they possessed many of the virtues of the savage state, exhibited also much of its ferocity.

Advancing years seem to have moderated the fiery and fierce temper of Bell-the-Cat, and from this time onward he appears to have acted the part of a dutiful and peaceful subject. James, with whom he now stood in high favour, conferred on him the office of Chancellor in 1493, which he held for five years. He accompanied the King in his unjustifiable and disastrous invasion of England in 1513, and earnestly remonstrated against the rash and imprudent resolution of James to wait the attack of the English at Flodden. The King was so enraged at the remonstrance of the old warrior that he scornfully replied, ‘Angus, if you are afraid you may go home.’ The Earl burst into tears at this insult and hastened to depart, saying mournfully, ‘If my past life does not free me from any suspicion of cowardice, I do not know what can; as long as my body was capable of exertion, I never spared it in defence of my country or my sovereign’s honour. But now, since my age renders my body of no use in battle, and my counsel is despised, I leave my two sons and the vassals of Douglas in the field; may Angus’s forebodings be unfounded.’ The Earl quitted the camp that night; but his two sons, George, Master of Angus, and Sir William Douglas of Glenbervie, with two hundred gentlemen of the name of Douglas, remained, and fell in the battle.

Earl Archibald, broken-hearted by the calamities of his house and his country, retired into the Abbey of St. Mains in Galloway, where he died twelve months after the battle of Flodden, in the sixty-first year of his age. The historian of the family bestows the most glowing eulogiums on the ‘Great Earl,’ as a man every way accomplished both for mind and body. ‘He was of stature tall, and strong made,’ he says; ‘his countenance was full of majesty; wise and eloquent of speech; upright and square in his actions; sober and moderate in his desires; valiant and courageous; a man of action and understanding; liberal also, loving and kind to his friends, which made him to be beloved, reverenced, and respected of all men.’ Master David, however, is obliged to admit that ‘One fault he had, that he was too much given to women; otherwise there was little or nothing amiss.’

GAWAIN DOUGLAS, Bishop of Dunkeld, was the third son of Earl Archibald, and at an early age was presented to the rectory of Hawick. Some time before the year 1509 he was appointed by James IV. Provost of the Collegiate Church of St. Giles, Edinburgh. A few months after the battle of Flodden he was nominated by the Queen-Dowager, Archbishop of St. Andrews, in the room of the King’s son, Alexander Stewart, who fell in that disastrous conflict. He was fiercely opposed, however, by Hepburn, Prior of St. Andrews, who had been elected by the canons, and by Forman, Bishop of Moray, who had obtained a grant of the benefice from the Pope, and Douglas withdrew in disgust from the unseemly contest. In the following year he was appointed by the Queen to the See of Dunkeld, and obtained a papal bull in his favour. But he was imprisoned for more than a year, on the charge of having violated the laws of the realm by procuring bulls from Rome. After his release, a rival candidate, the brother of the Earl of Athole, attempted to keep possession of the episcopal palace and cathedral by force of arms. Douglas in the end obtained possession of the See without the effusion of blood, and discharged the duties of the office with most exemplary diligence and fidelity. He was distinguished also for his acts of charity and munificence, and his efforts to preserve the peace of the country. He made a praiseworthy but unavailing attempt to mediate between the rival factions of the Douglases and Hamiltons before the famous skirmish of ‘Clear the Causey,’ in Edinburgh, 30th April, 1520. At the request of Angus, his nephew, he waited upon Archbishop Beaton, the Chancellor, whose niece Arran, the head of the Hamiltons, had married, and entreated that prelate, both as a churchman and as the official conservator of the laws of the realm, to act as a peacemaker. Beaton, however, had actually prepared for the encounter by putting on a coat of mail under his linen rochet; and in answer to the appeal of Douglas he said, ‘Upon my conscience I know nothing of the matter,’ at the same time striking his hand upon his breast, which caused the armour to return a rattling sound. ‘My lord,’ replied Douglas, with merited sarcasth, ‘your conscience clatters’ (tells tales). After this pointed rebuke he hastened back to his nephew and told him that he must do his best to defend himself with arms. ‘For me,’ he added, ‘I will go to my chamber and pray for you.’ The conflict terminated in the complete defeat of the Hamiltons, who were the aggressors, and Archbishop Beaton, who took refuge in the church of the Blackfriars’ monastery, was assaulted by the victorious party, and would have been slain on the spot but for the prompt interposition of the Bishop of Dunkeld.

In 1521, however, the party of Angus was worsted, and Bishop Douglas, along with his nephew, was obliged to take refuge at the English Court, where he was hospitably entertained, and enjoyed the society of Polydore Virgil and other eminent scholars. The dominant party in Scotland, on the 21st of February, 1522, denounced the Bishop as a traitor, sequestered the revenues of his cathedral, and wrote to the Pope, beseeching his Holiness to beware of nominating the traitor Gawain Douglas to the Archbishopric of St. Andrews, which had again become vacant. The Bishop was in consequence cited to appear at Rome, but before he could obey the summons he suddenly died of the plague at London.

Bishop Douglas left behind him various poems of considerable merit. His chief original work is an elaborate and quaint allegory entitled ‘King Hart,’ intended to represent the progress of human life. It is ingenious, but heavy and full of alliteration. The longest of his original compositions is ‘The Palace of Honour,’ which displays much learning and versatility of fancy, but is marred by incongruous passages, and tedious and confused descriptions. His translation of Virgil’s ‘AEneid,’ which was produced before there was an English version of any of the classical writers, is on the whole felicitously executed. The original pieces styled ‘Prologues,’ which are affixed to each book, are among the poet’s happiest pieces.

ARCHIBALD DOUGLAS, of Kilspindie, fourth and youngest son of Archibald Bell-the-Cat, appears to have been one of the ablest and most energetic of his family. He was appointed Provost of Edinburgh in 1520, and High Treasurer of Scotland in 1526. He was remarkable for his great strength and skill in warlike exercises, and gained the affection of James V. in his boyhood, who called him his ‘Grey Steill,’ after a renowned champion in the romance of ‘Sir Egar and Sir Grime.’ But after the King made his escape from the custody of the Earl of Angus, Kilspindie was, along with the rest of the Douglases, attainted and forfeited by the Parliament, 5th September, 1528, and compelled to take refuge in England. An affecting story is related by Godscroft respecting the treatment which he received from King James, on a visit paid by him to his native land.

‘Archibald being banished into England, could not well comport with the humour of that nation, which he thought to be too proud, and that they had too high a conceit of themselves, joined with a contempt and despising of all others. Wherefore, being wearied of that life, and remembering the King’s favour of old towards him, he determined to try the King’s mercifulness and clemency. So he comes into Scotland, and taking occasion of the King’s hunting in the park at Stirling, he casts himself to be in his way as he was coming home to the castle. So soon as the King saw him afar off, ere he came near, he guessed it was he, and said to one of his courtiers, "Yonder is my Grey Steill, Archibald of Kilspindie, if he be alive." The other answered that it could not be, and that he durst not come into the King’s presence. The King approaching, he fell upon his knees and craved pardon, and promised from thenceforward to abstain from meddling in public affairs, and to lead a quiet and private life. The King went by without giving him any answer, and trotted a good round pace up the hill, Kilspindie following him; and though he wore on him a secret, or shirt of mail, for his particular enemies, was as soon at the castle-gate as the King. There he sat him down upon a stone without, and entreated some of the King’s servants for a cup of drink, being weary and thirsty. But they, fearing the King’s displeasure, durst give him none. When the King was sat at his dinner he asked what he had done, what he had said, and whither he had gone. It was told him that he had desired a cup of drink and had gotten none. The King reproved them very sharply for their discourtesy, and told them that if he had not taken an oath that no Douglas should ever serve him, he would have received him into his service, for he had seen him some time a man of great ability. Then he sent him word to go to Leith, and expect his further pleasure.’ Subsequently the King commanded him to go to France, and there he shortly after died, it is believed of a broken heart. James was greatly and justly blamed for this unforgiving and pitiless treatment of a man who had never personally injured him. It called forth the indignation even of his vindictive uncle Henry VIII., who on hearing of it quoted the familiar proverb— 

‘A king’s face
Should give grace.’

As the two eldest sons of Archibald Bell-the-Cat had fallen at Flodden, he was succeeded in the family honours and estates by his grandson:— 

ARCHIBALD DOUGLAS, sixth Earl of Angus, eldest son of George, Master of Douglas. He was possessed of great personal attractions and showy accomplishments, but according to Lord Dacre, ‘he was childish, young, and attended by no wise counsellors;’ and besides he speedily exhibited the characteristic vices of his family—lawless ambition and lust of power. He married with indiscreet haste, in 1514, Margaret, widow of James IV., but disappointed in obtaining the Regency, which he expected as the result of this alliance, he made it evident that on his side the match was one of interest, not of affection, and showed himself a careless and unfaithful husband. The Duke of Albany was appointed Regent in the room of Margaret on her marriage, and compelled Angus and Margaret to take refuge in England, where she was delivered of a daughter, the Lady Margaret Douglas, afterwards the mother of the unfortunate Darnley. Angus, in a very heartless manner, left his wife before she had completely recovered, and returned to Scotland to pursue his selfish intrigues. His scandalous desertion of his wife in these circumstances began that alienation of feeling in her mind which ultimately led her to obtain a divorce from the Earl in 1525. On the departure of the Duke of Albany for France, in 1516, Angus was appointed a member of the Council of Regency, and soon acquired great ascendancy in the kingdom. In 1520 the Hamiltons and other powerful western families assembled at Edinburgh for the purpose of seizing the Earl, but they were completely defeated, as we have seen, and driven out of the city. In the following year, however, on the return of Albany, Angus was compelled to flee to England, and subsequently passed into France as a voluntary exile. He returned to Scotland in 1524, and became the head of the English party among the nobles there, and by his ambitious and violent proceedings kept the country in a state of disorder and almost anarchy. He obtained possession of the person of the King, then in his fourteenth year, became Lord Chancellor, and filled all the offices of the State either with members or the supporters of his house. He raised the power of the Douglases to such a height as seriously to endanger both the independence of the Crown and the liberties of the people. An old chronicler says, ‘There dared no map strive at law with a Douglas or a Douglas man, for if he did he was sure to get the worst of the lawsuit.’ ‘And,’ he adds, ‘although Angus travelled through the country under pretence of punishing thieves, robbers, and murderers, there were no malefactors so great as those who rode in his own train.’ The young King himself was eager to escape from the thraldom in which he was held, but Angus succeeded in defeating two attempts made, with the King’s knowledge and approbation, to set him at liberty—one by Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch, near Melrose; the other by the Earl of Lennox, at Almond Bridge, near Linlithgow, in which, to the great grief of James, the Earl lost his life. At length, in July, 1528, the King succeeded in making his escape, in disguise, from Falkland Palace, where he had been virtually kept a prisoner, and rode to Stirling Castle, which had been prepared for his reception. Shortly after a meeting of Parliament was held, at which Angus and his brothers were declared rebels and traitors, and their estates forfeited. The King was baffled in his attempts to reduce the castles of Douglas and Tantallon, but Angus and his brothers were driven out of Scotland, and once more took refuge in England. He received a pension of a thousand marks from Henry VIII., and to his great disgrace made several hostile incursions across the Borders against his own countrymen. He remained fifteen years in exile, and was not permitted to return to Scotland until after the death of James, when his diminished power and the altered state of parties rendered his presence less formidable to the public tranquillity. His attainder and that of his brothers was removed by Parliament, and they were restored to their rank and possessions in 1543.

Angus and his astute brother, Sir George Douglas, did all in their power to promote the scheme of the English king for the marriage of his son, Prince Edward, to the infant Queen Mary, and gave him judicious advice as to the best mode of carrying it gradually into effect. But Henry’s arbitrary disposition and violent temper would brook no delay, and his invasions of Scotland for the purpose of compelling the people to submit to his demands alienated his best friends. In his anger against the Scots, and his confident belief that he could conquer their country, an English force, under Sir Ralph Evers and Sir Brian Latoun, was despatched to lay waste the Borders with fire and sword; and Henry is said to have bestowed upon Evers a grant of all the lands he could conquer in the Merse, Teviotdale, and Lauderdale, the greater part of which belonged to the Douglases. Angus swore, that ‘if Ralph Evers dared to act upon the grant, he would write his sasine (or instrument of possession) on his skin with sharp pens and bloody ink.’ He had not long to wait for an opportunity of carrying his threat into effect. Evers, stimulated by the prize which his sovereign had promised him, made a second inroad into Scotland at the head of five thousand men, and ravaged the Borders with unexampled ferocity. The English had previously destroyed the abbey of Melrose, and they now wantonly defaced the tombs of the Douglases who were buried in its aisles.

Angus collected his retainers and vassals to revenge these outrages on the ruthless invaders, and having been joined by Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch at the head of his clan, and by Norman Lesley with a body of men from Fife, he encountered them on a moor near the village of Ancrum, in Roxburghshire. The English were completely defeated with the loss of eight hundred men, among whom were Sir Ralph Evers and Sir Brian Latoun, and a thousand were taken prisoners. King Henry, on receiving news of this defeat, was furious at Angus, and vowed that he would inflict signal vengeance on him for his ingratitude and perfidy. The Earl replied to the threats of the irate monarch in characteristic terms. ‘Is our brother-in-law,’ he said, ‘offended that I, as a good Scotsman, have avenged my ravaged country and the defaced tombs of my ancestors upon Ralph Evers? They were better men than he, and I was bound to do no less. And will he take my life for that? Little knows King Henry the skirts of Kirnetable. [Kirnetable, or Cairntable, is a mountainous tract of country at the head of Douglasdale. An Afghan chief replied in similar terms to a threat of Sir Henry Lawrence that he would march an army into his territory, and punish his people for the murder of a British traveller. ‘The roads in my country,’ he said, ‘are bad for armies.’] I can keep myself there against all his English host.’

Angus’s policy continued to the end selfish, short-sighted, and unprincipled. He was privy to the nefarious project, devised by a number of the nobles with the approval of Henry VIII., to assassinate Cardinal Beaton; and his brother, Sir George Douglas, informed Sadler in distinct terms that ‘if the King would have the Cardinal dead’ his wish would be gratified ‘if his grace would promise a good reward for the doing thereof.’ The Earl commanded the van of the Scottish army at the disastrous battle of Pinkie. He inflicted a sanguinary defeat upon the English Warden, Lord Wharton, who invaded the Western Marches in February, 1548. During the regency of Mary of Guise, as under the rule of Albany and of Arran, Angus’s main object was the maintenance of the power of his family and the privileges of his order. The Regent at one time attempted to obtain possession of some of the strong fortresses of the kingdom, in order to garrison them with French troops, and she cast a longing eye on Tantallon, a stronghold of the Douglases. ‘They tell us,’ says Godscroft, ‘also how at another time she desired of him to have his castle of Tantallon to keep warders in, or upon I know not what pretext or for what use. To this he gave no direct answer for a long time, but having a gose-hawk on his fist which he was feeding, spake of her saying she was a greedy gled. [The Scottish name for a hawk.] "The devil is in this greedy gled; will she never be full?" But when the Queen insisted, not understanding or not willing to understand his meaning, he told her, "Yes, madam; why not? All is yours, ye shall have it, it is at your service; but, madam, I must be captain and keeper of it. I shall keep it for you as well as any man you shall put into it."’

‘They tell, also, how the Queen-Regent had intention to make the Earl of Huntly a duke; whereof, when she was discoursing with Angus, she told him how Huntly had done her very good service, for which she intended to advance him and make him a duke. To which he answered, "Why not, madam? We are happy that have such a Princess that can know and will acknowledge men’s service, and is willing to recompense it; but, by the might of God" (this was his oath when he was serious and in anger; at other times it was, by Saint Bride of Douglas), "if he be a duke I will be a drake ;" alluding to the word duke, which in Scotland signifies a duck as well as that title and dignity, which, being the female and the drake the male, his meaning was he would be above and before him. . . . So she desisted from further prosecuting of that purpose.’

The Earl died at the castle of Tantallon in 1556. His only son, James, pre-deceased him, and he was succeeded by his nephew, DAVID DOUGLAS, who held the family honours and estates only two years, and died in 1558.

SIR GEORGE DOUGLAS, of Pittendriech, was an abler man than his brother, the sixth Earl, and had great influence over him. He was thoroughly unprincipled and perfidious, and took a prominent part in the treasonable intrigues of a section of the nobles with the English king. He was master of the royal household and had charge of the young King when the Earl, his brother, hastened to assist Arran in the conflict with Lennox at Almond Bridge. Enraged at the evident reluctance of James to proceed, the brutal baron exclaimed, ‘Bide where you are, for if they get hold of you, be it by one of your arms, we will seize a leg and pull you in two pieces rather than part from you;’ a threat which the King never forgave. Sir George died before the Earl, leaving two sons: David, who became seventh Earl of Angus on the death of his uncle, and James, Earl of Morton, the celebrated Regent of Scotland.

ARCHIBALD DOUGLAS, eighth Earl of Angus, only son of Earl David, was only two years of age when he succeeded to the titles and estates of the family. His character differed greatly from that of most of his predecessors, for he was styled the ‘Good Earl’ on account of his virtuous and amiable disposition. He held the office of Warden of the Marches for several years, and discharged its duties with great diligence and fidelity. During the regency of his uncle, the Earl of Morton, who was his guardian, he took part with him in the siege of Hamilton Castle and in the overthrow of the Hamilton family. After the execution of Morton in 1581, Angus retired to England, the usual refuge of Scottish exiles. He was honourably received and hospitably entertained by Queen Elizabeth, and during his residence in London contracted a close fellowship with the illustrious Sir Philip Sydney. In 1582, after the Raid of Ruthven, he was permitted to return home, and joined the nobles connected with that enterprise. When the worthless favourite, Stewart, Earl of Arran, regained his ascendancy over the King, Angus retired for safety beyond the Spey. He was privy to the plot of the Earl of Gowrie to seize the person of James in 1584, but its sudden collapse in consequence of the capture of the Earl and the approach of James at the head of a powerful force, caused Angus and his associates a second time to throw themselves on the protection of Elizabeth. At the meeting of Parliament, August 22nd, of that same year, Angus was attainted and his estates forfeited. Though in exile he still continued to exercise great influence in Scottish affairs, and was particularly obnoxious to James and his advisers on account of his opposition to the efforts made by the King to subvert the Presbyterian form of Church government, and a plot was concocted by Arran and Montrose for his assassination. But the apprehension of the person hired to perpetrate this foul deed, who was seen lurking about the neighbourhood of Newcastle, where Angus was living, brought the whole plot to light and prevented its execution. He returned to Scotland in 1585, along with the other banished lords, who expelled Arran from the Court, and obtained a revocation of their forfeiture and the pardon of their offences. Angus, towards the close of his life, was offered, but declined, the office of Chancellor of Scotland. He died in 1588, and leaving no male issue, he was succeeded by— 

SIR WILLIAM DOUGLAS, of Glenbervie, as ninth Earl. He was the son of Sir Archibald Douglas, of Glenbervie, grandson of Archibald Bell-the-Cat, the fifth earl. James VI. made an attempt to seize the earldom, and brought a suit to reduce the charters granting and confirming the title, but a decision was given in favour of Sir William. He held the earldom only three years and was succeeded by his eldest son— 

WILLIAM DOUGLAS, tenth Earl, who became a Roman Catholic, and, in conjunction with the Earls of Errol and Huntly, disturbed the peace of the country and perilled its safety by their treasonable intrigues with the King of Spain. They were implicated in the conspiracy of the ‘Spanish Blanks,’ as it was called in consequence of certain blank sheets of paper, having at the bottom the seals and signatures of the Popish lords, being found in the possession of George Kerr, a brother of the Abbot of Newbattle, who was about to proceed on a secret mission to Spain. Kerr, on being put to the torture, confessed the whole affair. It appears that the King of Spain was to land an army of thirty thousand men on the west coast of Scotland, where they were to be joined by the Popish lords with all the forces they could muster. Fifteen thousand of the Spanish troops were to march across the Border and assist in raising an insurrection in England, while the remainder, with the assistance of the Romish faction, were to overthrow the Protestant Church in Scotland. This nefarious plot against the independence of the country and the national religion was repeatedly renewed by the three Popish lords; but James, who was unwilling to proceed to extremities against them, contrived to delay the infliction of the punishment which their crime deserved. The lenity shown by the King seemed only to embolden them to open resistance against the royal authority. They were at length declared guilty of high treason, and excommunicated as obstinate Papists, their estates and honours were forfeited, and a commission was given to the young Earl of Argyll to pursue them with fire and sword. Huntly and Errol collected their retainers, and, after a stubborn conflict, defeated the royal forces at a place called Glenlivet, 3rd October, 1594. (See THE CAMPBELLS OF ARGYLL.) The King, indignant and alarmed at this disaster, marched at the head of a powerful army to the north, and laid waste the estates of the insurgents and destroyed their strongholds. Angus was not present at the battle of Glenlivet, but he shared the fate of his associates, and implored the King’s permission to leave the kingdom, which was granted on condition that he would not return without the royal sanction, nor during his exile make any attempt to injure the Protestant religion or the peace and liberties of his native country. He returned secretly in 1595 and was suffered to remain in Scotland on giving assurance that he would henceforth conduct himself like a loyal and peaceful subject. In the following year he was formally ‘released’ from the bond, and in 1597, along with Huntly and Errol, was publicly absolved from his excommunication and reconciled to the Kirk at Aberdeen, in the presence of a great assembly of persons of all ranks. He subsequently retired to the Continent, and died at Paris, 3rd March, 1611, in the fifty-seventh year of his age.

From this period downward the influence of this ‘great old house’ steadily declined. Its extensive estates, indeed, remained unimpaired amid all the vicissitudes of the Great Civil War and the Jacobite rebellions; but the heads of the house were no longer, as in the olden times, celebrated for their ‘singular manhood, noble prowess, and mightie puissance.’ They were, however, kindhearted, amiable men, noted for their princely hospitality and cultivated tastes, though without the ambition or the abilities requisite either to occupy a place in the Cabinet or to command ‘the applause of listening senates.’

WILLIAM DOUGLAS, eleventh Earl of Angus, was a Roman Catholic like his father, the tenth Earl, and a zealous supporter of the royal cause during the Great Civil War. He was raised by Charles I., in 1633, to the rank of Marquis of Douglas, and was nominated Lieutenant of the Borders. When matters were coming to a crisis between the King and the Covenanters, the latter succeeded in capturing Tantallon and Douglas, the two strongholds of the Marquis. He does not appear to have taken up arms in behalf of Charles until the march of Montrose to the Borders in 1645. But ‘old times were changed, old manners gone.’ The representative of a family whose early chiefs could bring into the field 30,000 men joined the royal standard followed only by his personal attendants. He made his escape from the rout of Philiphaugh along with Montrose himself and Lord Napier. He fell, however, into the hands of the Estates, and was imprisoned in Dumbarton Castle. He was fined £1,000 sterling by Cromwell’s ‘Act of Grace and Pardon.’

Long before the final overthrow of the royal cause in Scotland, the Marquis and his wife, who was a daughter of the Marquis of Huntly, had been subjected to a species of ecclesiastical persecution at the hands of the Lanark Presbytery. The reverend court sent deputations every now and then to Douglas Castle threatening them with excommunication if they refused to abjure the Roman Catholic religion. After numerous conferences the Presbytery prevailed on the Marchioness with great difficulty to attend the parish church, and to allow her children to be instructed in the principles of the Presbyterian faith, a concession which seems to have obtained for her a temporary relief from the ill-judged importunities of the clerical court. It took six years’ ‘dealing’ with the Marquis to persuade him to abjure Popery and sign the Covenant. This ceremony was performed in the parish church of Douglas amid great rejoicing on the part of the Presbytery and the Congregation. Lady Douglas, however, obstinately adhered to her hereditary creed, and the reverend court in consequence demanded that she and her husband should consent to be separated from their children in order that security might be taken that they should be brought up in the Protestant religion. It is probable that this outrageous demand may have had some effect in inducing the Marquis, who had hitherto lived quietly in his castle at Douglas, to break through all his engagements to the Presbytery and to join Montrose.

During the imprisonment of the head of the family in Dumbarton Castle the reverend court renewed their dealing with the Marchioness, who was compelled to appear before them in order to be examined touching her ‘malignancy and obstinate continuance in the profession of popery.’ She appears to have given them smooth words, and to have made such apparent concessions as induced them to leave her unmolested for a little while. But their ‘manifold expressions of lenity and long-suffering’ toward her failed to make the lady give up her ‘disobedience,’ and the Presbyters proceeded to take steps for her excommunication and separation from her children. For some unknown reason they paused in carrying out this formidable process, which in those days was followed by forfeiture of property and imprisonment. At length the Marquis found it necessary to make his peace with the ruling powers, who had imposed upon him a fine of 50,000 merks; and at the commencement of the year 1647 he appeared before the Lanark Presbytery, expressed his deep penitence for his violation of the Covenant, and promised faithful adherence to it in time to come. One-half of his fine was then remitted by the Estates, and he was released from his long imprisonment. Still the Presbytery were not satisfied, and he was constrained to agree that his children should be boarded with the minister of the parish and be instructed by a tutor approved of by the court. The reluctance with which his lordship submitted to these restrictions was speedily made apparent to his tormentors by their learning that he was arranging to send his youngest son to be brought up in France. They renewed their deputations and their demands, and the recusant peer and his wife were equally persistent in their adherence to their own faith, though professing their willingness to comply with the terms pressed on their acceptance by the Presbytery. At last the patience of the sincere and zealous but intolerant brethren was exhausted, and in October, 1648, when the Covenanters were dominant in Scotland and all opposition crushed, they peremptorily ordered that, failing immediate satisfaction, his lordship be summoned and the lady ‘excommunicat.’ The Marquis appeared before them to answer ‘for not keeping his son at the school with a sufficient pedagogue approven by the Presbytery; for not delivering his daughter to some Protestant friend by sight [under the approval] of the Presbytery; for not having a sufficient chaplain approven as said is for family exercise in his house; for not calling home his son who is in France; and, finally, for his grievous oppression of his tenants.’ On all these points he was fain to make explanations and concessions. Shortly after he supplicated the Presbytery to be allowed to bring his son from the school of Glasgow to that of Lanark, expressing his willingness, should his request be granted, that ‘he should not come home to his parents except the Presbytery permit.’

All the time, notwithstanding the professed submission of the Marquis and his wife to these imperious mandates, the members of the reverend court evidently felt that they were being foiled by the mere semblance of adherence to the Presbyterian form of worship, while the culprits with whom they were dealing remained at heart strongly attached to the Roman Catholic Church. But they were none the less determined to compel them to make a profession of the Protestant faith. On the 9th of March, 1650, two members of the Presbytery were sent with authority to pass upon Lady Douglas a sentence of excommunication unless she should instantly express her adherence to the established system of religion. At the same time, with an almost incomprehensible obliquity of moral vision and wilful blindness to the real character of their mode of dealing with the lady, they pointedly reminded her ‘how fearful a sin it was to swear with equivocation or mental reservation.’ The Marchioness, knowing well the result should she fail to give ‘full obedience and satisfaction to the kirk,’ declared that ‘she had no more doubts,’ and expressed her willingness, at the bidding of one of the ministers, to declare her acceptance of the Covenant before the congregation assembled in the parish church. In the words of the report made to the Presbytery, ‘After he [the minister] had read the Solemn League and Covenant, and desired her to hold up her hand and swear by the great name of God, to observe according to her power every article thereof,’ she did so; and after divine service was ended he desired her to ‘go to the session table and subscribe the Covenant, and before the ministers and elders she went to the table and did subscribe.’

The true value of this enforced and shocking profanation of a solemn ceremony was speedily made manifest to the men who had shut their eyes in wilful blindness to the real state of opinion and feeling on the part of the noble pair whom they were tormenting. On the very day that the two ministers reported to the Presbytery their proceedings with the Marchioness of Douglas, ‘the Court,’ hearing that of late the Marquis of Douglas and his lady had sent away one of their daughters to France, to a Popish lady, to be bred with her in Popery, without the knowledge of the Presbytery, and without any warrant from the Estates, thought the fault intolerable, and so much the more because they had sent away one of their sons before to the Court of France.’ Weighty reasons might have been given why in those times the sons of the nobility should not have been sent to France for their education; but the unreasonable and tyrannical character of the other demands of the Presbytery, and especially their persistent attempts, as detailed in their own records, to compel the Marquis and his wife to make a hypocritical profession of their belief of a religious system which, in their hearts, they disowned, throw great light on the spirit of the times, and show how little the principle of toleration was understood and acted upon by either party in those troublous times.

[See Report of the Presbytery of Lanark. The members of the Lanark Presbytery would no doubt have disclaimed the notion that there is no salvation possible for those who do not belong to their Church, but there can be no doubt that they believed that those who persisted in adhering to the Romish Church would be lost. They would have cordially concurred in the statement made by Thomas Carlyle, to some Irish Romanists who were speaking to him of the intolerance of Scotsmen towards Roman Catholics, ‘Why, how could they do otherwise? If one sees one’s fellow-creature following a damnable error, by continuing in which the devil is sure to get him at last and roast him in eternal fire and brimstone, are you to let him go towards such consummation? or are you not rather to use all means to save him ? ‘—Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle, p. 308.]

In his personal character the Marquis appears to have been one of the best of his race. He usually resided at the castle of Douglas, where he kept up the old Scottish grandeur and hospitality, and maintained a more numerous household than any nobleman in the kingdom.

The Marquis died in February, 1660. He was twice married, first to the only daughter of Claud Hamilton, Lord Paisley, and secondly to the third daughter of the first Marquis of Huntly. His eldest son, by his first wife, styled Earl of Angus, took an active part in public affairs, and officiated as Lord High Chamberlain at the coronation of King Charles H., January 1st, 1651. He was fined one thousand pounds sterling by Cromwell’s ‘Act of Grace and Pardon.’ He died before his father, January 15th, 1655. His eldest son succeeded as second Marquis of Douglas.

William, the second son of the Marquis, was created Earl of Selkirk, and by his marriage with Anne, Duchess of Hamilton, became Duke of Hamilton. George, his third son, was created Earl of Dumbarton in 1675.

JAMES, second Marquis of Douglas, succeeded his grandfather in 1660, and died A.D. 1700, in the fifty-fourth year of his age. The lapse into Popery seems to have been confined to the first Marquis. If the Earl of Angus, eldest son of the second Marquis, had not been a strict Presbyterian he could never have succeeded in raising among the sternest class of Covenanters a body of infantry which is still, after the lapse of well-nigh two centuries, known by the name of the Cameronian Regiment.

[The regiment had a very peculiar character. They stipulated that their officers should exclusively be men such as ‘in conscience’ they could submit to. Alexander Shields, a noted field preacher, was appointed their chaplain, and an elder was nominated for each company, so that the regiment should be under the same religious and moral discipline as a parish. A Bible was a part of the equipment of every private—a regulation which was then, and for a long time afterwards, singular. While the young Earl of Angus was appointed Colonel of this remarkable regiment, the Lieutenant-Colonelcy was conferred upon William Cleland, a man of poetical genius as well as a brave soldier, who had fought for the ‘good old cause’ at Bothwell Brig. He was killed at Dunkeld.]

At Dunkeld, where they were victorious, though attacked by overwhelming numbers, they unfurled, for the first time in the face of an enemy, their colours, which have since been proudly borne in every quarter of the world, and which are now embellished with the Sphinx and the Dragon, emblems of brave actions achieved in Egypt and in China. They fought with desperate valour at the battle of Steinkirk, in August, 1692, where their gallant Colonel, the Earl of Angus, was killed, in the twenty-first year of his age. His half-brother, William, died in infancy, and his youngest brother— 

ARCHIBALD DOUGLAS, became third Marquis of Douglas. He was born in the year 1694, succeeded his grandfather in 1700, and while yet a minor was created, in 1703, Duke of Douglas, in consideration of his noble descent and the illustrious services of his ancestors. His Grace served as a volunteer under the Duke of Argyll in the Jacobite rebellion of 1715, and was present at the battle of Sheriffmuir. He was unfortunately a person of weak intellect, and he seems also to have been liable to sudden outbursts of passion. He took no part in public affairs, such as befitted his rank and fortune, and is said to have passed his time in low amusements, not always in choice society. It is mentioned in the newspapers of the day that he fought a duel on a Sunday evening in 1724, in which both he and his antagonist, the Earl of Dalkeith, were wounded. Amongst his visitors was a young man named Kerr, a natural son of Lord John Kerr, brother of the Marquis of Lothian, and also of the Dowager Countess of Angus, the Duke’s mother. This youth, who was thus the Duke’s cousin, aspired to the hand of his Grace’s only sister, Lady Jane Douglas, and it is also alleged that he ventured to remonstrate with the Duke about his keeping company with a low person belonging to the village of Douglas. Prompted by this fellow, the Duke stole by night into the chamber of Mr. Kerr and shot him dead as he lay asleep. His Grace is said to have been overwhelmed with horror at the deed he had committed. No time was lost in sending him off to Holland, there to remain till he could safely return home.

The affair was hushed up, and no steps were taken by the public authorities to bring the murderer to justice. It is uncertain at what time the Duke returned to Scotland, and little or nothing is known of his subsequent life until the time of his marriage more than thirty years after this incident. In the year 1758, when his Grace was turned of sixty, he married Margaret, daughter of James Douglas, of Mains, Dumbartonshire, who was celebrated for her wit and beauty, and not less for her freedom of speech and action. Dr. Carlyle of Musselburgh, who met this lady in the year 1745, and made an excursion from Glasgow with her and several other ladies and gentlemen, says, ‘When we came to Hamilton, she prayed us to send a messenger a few miles to bring to us a clergyman of a neighbouring parish, a Mr. Thomas Clelland. He came to us when we were viewing the romantic gardens of Barncluith. Thomas Clelland was a good-looking little man, but his hair was becoming grey, which no sooner Margaret observed than she rallied him pretty roughly (which was her way) on his being an old fusty bachelor, and on his increasing marks of age since she had seen him not more than a year before. After bearing patiently all the efforts of her wit, "Margaret," says he, "you know that I am master of the parish register, where your age is recorded, and that I know when you may be with justice called an old maid, in spite of your juvenile airs." "What care I, Tom?" said she, "for I have for some time renounced your worthless set. I have sworn to be Duchess of Douglas or never to mount a marriage bed." She made her purpose good. When she uttered in jest this prediction she was about thirty. It was fulfilled a few years after.’ Many stories are told of her Grace’s broad humour and freedom of speech. Dr. Johnson, who met her at dinner in Boswell’s house in Edinburgh in 1773, the year before her death, described her as an ‘old lady who talks broad Scotch with a paralytic voice, and is scarcely understood by her own countrymen.’ ‘Had the doctor seen her ten years earlier,’ says Robert Chambers, ‘when she was in possession of all her faculties, he would have found out how much comicality and rough wit could be expressed in broad Scotch under the coif of a duchess.’ She survived her husband twelve years.

The Duke had an only sister, Lady Jane Douglas, whose life was most unhappy, but is chiefly memorable on account of its connection with the celebrated DOUGLAS CASE. She was one of the handsomest and most accomplished women of her age, but her happiness was unfortunately ruined in early life by the rupture of her engagement to the Earl of Dalkeith, afterwards Duke of Buccleuch. From that time onward she persistently rejected all offers of marriage until she had attained the mature age of forty-eight, when, in August, 1746, she secretly married Mr. John Stewart, second son of Sir Thomas Stewart of Grandtully. Mr. Stewart had no fortune or profession, or income from any source, and the whole resources of the pair consisted of £300 a year, paid to Lady Jane by her brother the Duke, with whom she was not on good terms at the time of her imprudent marriage. Immediately after her union Mr. Stewart and Lady Jane went abroad, and resided principally in France from 1746 till the end of 1749. On their return to England they brought with them two male children, of whom they alleged Lady Jane had been delivered at one birth in Paris in the month of July, 1748, when her ladyship was in the fifty-first year of her age. Her brother the Duke of Douglas had stopped her allowance when her marriage was made public in the summer of 1749, and her husband and she were in consequence reduced to the greatest distress. Mr. Stewart was besides deeply involved in debt, and his creditors threw him into gaol. In this deplorable condition some of her old friends obtained for Lady Jane from Government a pension of £300 a year. But this boon failed to relieve the wretched pair from want, and Lady Jane was obliged more than once to sell her clothes to support her husband, who was still living within the rules of the King’s Bench Prison, in Southwark. In 1752 she visited Scotland, and attempted to obtain a reconciliation with her brother; but he refused even to see her. She returned again to London, leaving the two children in Edinburgh, under the care of a woman who had formerly accompanied her and her husband to the Continent as a servant. The younger of the two, who was named Sholto Thomas Stewart, died in May, 1753, and, shortly after, Lady Jane returned to Edinburgh and made another fruitless effort to be reconciled to her brother. Her health was now completely broken down, and in the following November the unfortunate lady died at Edinburgh, destitute even of the common necessaries of life, and was interred in the Chapel Royal at Holyrood.

After the death of Lady Jane, Archibald, the survivor of the two children, was befriended by Lady Schaw, who, pitying his destitute condition, supported and educated him. In the year 1759, when he was eleven years of age, Mr. Stewart succeeded, by the death of his elder brother, Sir George, to the family estate and baronetcy, and executed a bond of provision in Archibald’s favour for £2,500, designating him in the document as his own son by Lady Jane Douglas. The Duke of Douglas, however, continued obstinate in his refusal to acknowledge the boy as his nephew. But the Duchess was most zealous in his behalf, and advocated his cause so warmly as to lead to a quarrel between her and the Duke on that account and a separation, which, however, was not of long duration. In 1754 the Duke executed a settlement of his estate upon the Duke of Hamilton, failing heirs of his own body, and in 1757 he executed a second deed in favour of the same heir, in which he declared it to be his intention that the son of his sister should in no case succeed to his estate. But in the year 1760 the Duke revoked and cancelled these settlements. In the summer of 1761 his Grace was taken with a serious illness, and believing that his end was near, he executed, on the 11th of July, an entail of his whole estate, settling it upon the heirs whatsoever of his father, with remainder to Lord Douglas Hamilton, brother of the Duke of Hamilton. On the same day he executed another deed appointing the Duchess of Douglas, the Duke of Queensbury, and other persons to be tutors to Archibald Douglas, or Stewart, son of his deceased sister, who was to succeed him in his estates.

On the death of the Duke, which took place on the 21st of July, the dukedom of Douglas became extinct; but the other titles of this great old house passed to the Duke of Hamilton. The guardians of young Stewart took the usual steps to put him in possession of the Douglas estates, and he was sworn heir to the late Duke before a jury, according to the form prescribed by the law of Scotland. The guardians of the Duke of Hamilton, however, who was also a minor, were not convinced by the evidence laid before the jury, that Archibald Stewart was really the son of Lady Jane Douglas; and Mr. Andrew Stuart, one of their number, was dispatched to Paris for the purpose of investigating the statements which had been made on that point. The discoveries which Stuart made were, in his opinion, and that of the other guardians, sufficient to warrant the conclusion that the whole story of Lady Jane’s delivery was a pure fiction. Proceedings were, therefore, immediately instituted by them before the Court of Session to set aside Stewart’s claim to the Douglas estates.

In support of his claim there was adduced— 

1st. The depositions of several witnesses that Lady Jane appeared to them to be with child while at Aix-la-Chapelle and other places. 2nd. The testimony of Mrs. Hewit, who accompanied Lady Jane to Paris, that she was delivered of twin boys at Paris upon the 10th of July, 1748. 3rd. The depositions of other witnesses, with regard to the claimant being acknowledged by Lady Jane and her husband to be their child. 4th. A number of letters which had passed between Sir John Stewart, Lady Jane Douglas, Mrs. Hewit and others, respecting the claimant’s birth. 5th. Four letters said to have been written by Pierre la Marre, who, it was alleged, was the accoucheur that officiated at Lady Jane’s delivery. The solemn declaration was also adduced of Sir John Stewart; emitted a few days before his death, in June, 1764, in the presence of two ministers and a justice of the peace, affirming that Archibald Stewart and his twin brother were both born of the body of Lady Jane Douglas, his lawful spouse, in the year 1748. Mrs. Hewit, who was charged with being an accomplice in the fraud, died during the suit, and to the last persisted in declaring that all she had sworn respecting the birth of the children was truth.

On the other hand, it was maintained by the guardians of the Duke of Hamilton— 

1st. That Lady Jane Douglas was not delivered upon the 10th of July, 1748, by the evidence of various letters written by her husband and Mrs. Hewit upon the 10th, 11th, and 22nd of that month. 2nd. That Lady Jane was not delivered, as was asserted, in the house of a Madame la Brune, nor in the presence of a Madame Ia Brune and her daughter. And various circumstances were adduced to show that no such persons as the Madame la Brune in question or her daughter ever existed. 3rd. That La4y Jane Douglas could not have been delivered, either upon the 10th of July or in the house of a Madame la Brune, because that upon that date, and upon several days preceding and subsequent to the 10th of July, Lady Jane, with her husband and Mrs. Hewit, resided at the Hotel de Chalons, kept by Mons. Godefroi, where it is acknowledged she was not delivered; and that it was clearly shown that this was the case by the testimony of Mons. and Madame Godefroi, as well as by the ‘book of expenses’ and ‘ledger-book’ kept by them. 4th.. Great stress was laid upon the studied concealment and mystery observed at Paris in July, 1748, when Sir John and Lady Jane, with their confidante, Mrs. Hewit, carried with them from Paris to Rheims one child, and on their repetition of the same concealment and mystery upon their return to Paris, in November, 1749, when the same three persons brought from Paris to Rheims a second child. 5th. Proof was brought that at Paris, in the month of July, 1748, a recently born male child was carried off from his parents of the name of Mignon, and that in the month of November, 1749, another male child, born in the year 1748, was in like manner taken from his parents, of the name of Sanry. It was asserted that both of these children were, under false pretences, carried off from their parents by British residents of Paris, and that the persons who did so were Sir John Stewart, Lady Jane Douglas, and Mrs. Hewit. It was also affirmed that no such person as Pierre Ia Marre, the alleged accoucheur, existed, and that the letters said to have been written by him were proved, and indeed admitted to be, a forgery.

A variety of other circumstances were pleaded in confirmation of these statements. On the 21st of May, 1748, Lady Jane and her husband left Aix-la-Chapelle, where they had resided upwards of a year, giving various contradictory and untrue reasons for doing so. They stopped for some time at Liege and Sedan, and then proceeded to Rheims, travelling all the way in the stage-coach. They remained at Rheims for a month, and then set out for Paris, leaving behind them their two female servants, and accompanied only by Mrs. Hewit. The excuse for leaving their servants at Rheims was that they had no money to carry them to Paris, which was proved to be untrue, and the reason given by Lady Jane for undertaking this long, tedious, and fatiguing journey at a time when she professed to be very far advanced in pregnancy was that she had been told that the medical practitioners in Rheims were unskilful; and yet the accoucheur who was said to have delivered her in Paris, according to Sir John Stewart’s own story, was a person of a very humble class, with whose place of residence he was not acquainted. On the ninth day after her alleged delivery, the husband and wife appeared at the Hotel d’Anjou, without either nurse or child. They went next day to the country and returned with a child and a nurse, the child looking much older than the date assigned for its birth, and almost starved to death for want of milk, and the nurse a poor wretched creature, officially branded as a thief, who had no milk to give the child. It was at this very time that the son of the peasant Mignon disappeared. With regard to the other boy, Sir John affirmed that it was so weak and sickly that the accoucheur baptised him as soon as he was born, that it was left at nurse with a woman of whom Lady Jane and he knew nothing, and under the care of Pierre la Marre, whom they themselves acknowledged they did not know where to find. They admitted also that for a whole month they made no inquiry about the child. Great stress was laid by the judges who were adverse to the claim of young Stewart upon the numerous contradictions in the declarations made both by Lady Jane and her husband, and on the fact that not a few of their statements were proved to be false.

The case excited extraordinary interest not only in Scotland and England, but throughout the Continent, on account of the great importance of the interests at stake, and it is probably the most remarkable case of the kind ever litigated. In Scotland the people were ranged into two hostile parties, who argued the question at issue with as much asperity and zeal as if the fate of the kingdom had been dependent on the issue. Popular opinion ran strong in favour of young Stewart, as the Hamilton family at this time had fallen into disrepute.

The case came on for judgment in the Court of Session on the 7th of July, 1767, and so important was the cause deemed that the fifteen judges took no less than eight days to deliver their opinions. The result was that eight of the judges, including the Lord President and the Lord Justice Clerk, voted in favour of the Duke of Hamilton, and the other seven for Stewart.

This decision, however, was reversed by the House of Lords, it was alleged on political rather than on legal grounds; but the judgment of their Lordships has not been ratified by public opinion in subsequent times. In his own district the general idea was that Mr. Stewart closely resembled a Frenchman in his personal appearance, and it is a significant fact that when Lord Shelburne met him he formed and expressed the same opinion. Be this as it may, no one can doubt that on social and economical grounds it was much better for the country that the Douglas estates should have been awarded to young Stewart, whether he was the son of Lady Jane Douglas or of a French peasant, than that they should have been merged in the vast possessions of the house of Hamilton. The fortunate youth proved himself to be one of nature’s noblemen, most exemplary in all his relations in life, public and private—a model landlord, generous and hospitable to his neighbours and retainers, and especially esteemed and loved for his kindness to the poor. George III. raised him to the peerage by the title of Baron Douglas; but though a supporter of the Tory Government, he does not appear to have taken any prominent part in political affairs. He was twice married. First, to Lucy Graham, daughter of the second Duke of Montrose; and, secondly, to Frances Scott, sister of the third Duke of Buccleuch. They bore to him seven sons and four daughters, all of whom, except two sons, reached maturity. Four of his sons died unmarried, and a fifth left no family. Two of his sons by his first wife, Archibald and Charles, were the second and third Lords Douglas. James, the son of his second wife, was in holy orders, and on his death without issue, in 1857, the title became extinct. Jane Margaret, the eldest daughter of the first Lord Douglas, married Henry James, Lord Montague, brother of the second Duke of Buccleuch, and bore to him four daughters, but no son. Her eldest daughter became the wife of Cospatrick, eleventh Earl of Home, who was created, in 1875, Baron Douglas of Douglas, in the peerage of the United Kingdom, and bore to him six sons and three daughters. On the death of her mother, the Countess inherited the Douglas estates, which are now possessed by her eldest son, CHARLES ALEXANDER, twelfth Earl of Home, and second Baron Douglas of the new creation.

It is interesting to notice that notwithstanding the forfeitures and vicissitudes which the family have undergone, a great part of the estates associated with the history and exploits of the old house of Douglas are still in the possession of the present Lord Douglas. The extensive territory in Galloway which belonged to the Black Douglases, and their lands in Liddesdale, were divided among the Border clans who had contributed to their overthrow; and Lord Hamilton obtained a large share of their Clydesdale property. Hermitage Castle, at one time their chief stronghold, was surrendered by Archibald Bell-the-Cat, and now belongs to the Duke of Buccleuch. Tantallon Castle, which he received in exchange, has passed into the hands of the Dalrymples. But Douglasdale, the cradle of the house, with the remains of its famous old castle, still belongs to the family, along with Bothwell, redolent of the memories of the War of Independence, and of Archibald the Grim, whose daughter was married, in the Collegiate Church there, to the unfortunate Duke of Rothesay; and Linthaugh, near Jedburgh, the gift of King Robert Bruce to his trusty companion in arms, the ‘Good Lord James,’ as the reward of one of his most gallant exploits. The Berwickshire estates, also of the Black Douglases, now yielding £7,000 a year; and the Angus property of the Red Douglases, worth £7,356 per annum, belong to the Earl of Home—altogether, according to the Domesday Book, extending to 90,336 acres, with a rent-roll of £47,721 a year.

In Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Abbot,’ the golden zone of the White Lady, which was diminished to the tenuity of a silken thread when the family of Avenel seemed on the eve of extinction—as was the case with the house of Douglas—was afterwards seen around her bosom as broad as the baldrick of an earl. It is to be hoped that this omen will be fulfilled in the case of the ancient and estimable family—a branch of the great house of Dunbar and March—on whom the estates of the old Douglases have now devolved.


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