Douglas, William (1637-1695) (DNB00)
|←Douglas, William (1635-1694)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 15
Douglas, William (1637-1695)
|Douglas, William (1724-1810)→|
DOUGLAS, WILLIAM, third Earl and first Duke of Queensberry (1637–1695), eldest son of James, second earl of Queensberry [q. v.], and Lady Margaret Stewart, was born in 1637. A fine of seventy-two thousand merks imposed by Cromwell had so seriously impaired the resources of his family that Douglas had not the advantage, so widely enjoyed by the nobility and gentry of the day, of completing his education by foreign travel and study (Douglas, Peerage of Scotland, ed. J. P. Wood, ii. 379). But his ability and discretion soon brought him into notice. He had charters of the office of sheriff and coroner of the county of Dumfries in 1664 and 1667. In the latter year he was sworn into the privy council. On the death of his father in 1671, Douglas became Earl of Queensberry, and by economy and good management soon restored the fortunes of his house. Through the influence of the Chancellor Rothes he was appointed lord justice-general of Scotland on 1 June 1680. On 1 Nov 1681 he was made an extraordinary lord of session. By letters patent of 11 Feb 1682 Douglas was created Marquis of Queensberry, Earl of Drumlanrig and Sanquhar, Viscount of Nith, Torthorald, and Ross, and Lord Douglas of Kinmonth, Middlebie, and Dornock. In the following April a royal warrant directed Sir Alexander Erskine, the Lyon king-at-arms, to confer the treasurership of Scotland on the Marquis of Queensberry and his heirs for ever. Douglas was appointed lord high treasurer of Scotland on 12 May, and constable and governor of Edinburgh Castle on 21 Sept. 1682. On 3 Feb. 1684 he became Duke of Queensberry, and on 27 March 1687 was made one of the lords of privy council of both kingdoms (Luttrell). Upon the accession of James VII the Duke of Queensberry, while expressing his readiness to go any length in supporting the royal power or in persecuting the presbyterians, gave the king to understand that he would be no party to any attack upon the established religion. Having received the king's assurance that no such attack was contemplated, Queensberry retained all his offices, and acted as lord high commissioner in the famous parliament of 1685, which annexed the excise to the crown for ever, conferred the land tax upon James for life, authorised the privy council to impose the test upon all ranks of the people under such penalties as it thought fit, extended the punishment of death to the auditors as well as to the preachers at field-conventicles, and to the preachers at house-conventicles, and made it treasonable to give or take or write in defence of the national covenant. If Queensberry hoped, as Burnet surmises, that his support of these arbitrary measures would make James forget his resolute refusal to betray the established church, he was grievously mistaken. The Earl of Perth, who was then chancellor of Scotland, irritated by Queensberry's imperious temper, accused him of maladministration. The charges were baseless or trivial, but Perth had just become a Roman catholic, and 'his faith,' as Halifax wittily observed, 'made him whole.' The treasury was put into commission in February 1686, and Queensberry, through the influence of Rochester, was made president of the council. But within six months (June 1686) he was stripped of all his appointments and ordered to remain at Edinburgh till the treasury accounts during his administration had been examined and approved. At the revolution Queensberry sincerely supported the royal cause until the king's hasty departure from England and the declaration by the convention of estates that the throne was vacant; after which he acquiesced in the offer of the crown to William and Mary. In November 1693 he was again nominated an extraordinary lord of session. He died on 28 March 1695, and was buried in Durisdeer Church. Queensberry married in 1657 Lady Isabel Douglas, sixth daughter of William, first marquis of Douglas, by whom he had three sons and one daughter—viz. James, second duke of Queensberry [q. v.]; William, first earl of March; Lord George Douglas, who died unmarried in July 1693; and Lady Anne, married in 1697 to David, lord Elcho, afterwards third earl of Wemyss.Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, ed. Wood, ii. 379-80; Macaulay, ii. 112, 116, 124; Lingard's Hist. of England, x. 228-9; Burnet's Hist. of his own Time, vol. iii. passim; Carmichael's Various Tracts concerning the Peerage of Scotland, p. 140; Crawfurd's Lives of Officers of State in Scotland, i. 419-23; Crawfurd's Peerage of Scotland, pp. 417-18; Luttrell's State Affairs the Earl of Balcarres's Account of the Affairs of Scotland relating to the Revolution in 1688, pp. 52, 57.
DOUGLAS, WILLIAM, third Earl of March and fourth Duke of Queensberry (1724–1810), latterly known as ‘Old Q,’ only son of William, second earl of March, and Lady Anne Hamilton, daughter of John, earl of Selkirk and Ruglen, was born in 1724. His father having died 7 March 1731, he succeeded to the earldom of March on coming of age, and on the death of his mother, who was Countess of Ruglen in her own right, he became also Earl of Ruglen. On the death of the Earl of Cassilis in 1759 he laid claim to his title and estates as heir-general, but his claims were disallowed both in the court of session and on appeal to the House of Lords. Even when a schoolboy he is said to have been famed for his escapades in London, and during more than half a century his follies and extravagances rendered him a conspicuous figure in the clubs of London. After he had turned seventy years of age the tastes he affected were those of the young men of the period when he was a young man:—
And there insatiate yet with folly's sport,
That polish'd sin-worn fragment of the court,
The shade of Queensb'ry, should with Clermont meet,
Ogling and hobbling down St. James's Street.
(Imperial Epistle from Kien Long, 1795.)
He was first known on the turf, and began by winning a wager against Count Taaffe that he would travel in a four-wheeled machine the distance of nineteen miles in an hour. He had a spider-carriage for two horses constructed for the purpose of wood and whale-bone, the harness being made of silk. The match came off on the course at Newmarket 29 Aug. 1750. In this year the Jockey Club was instituted, and when the racecourse at Newmarket was purchased by the club in 1753, March took a house overlooking the course, and set himself seriously to develope horse-racing into a science. Besides acquiring by purchase and careful breeding an unsurpassed stud of racehorses, he bestowed special attention on his stablemen and jockeys, whom he dressed in scarlet jackets, velvet cap, and buckskin breeches. In 1756 he won a match in person, dressed in his own colours. He was remarkably fortunate in betting; among the persons from whom he won large sums, the Duke of Cumberland and Mr. Jennings the antiquary have been specially mentioned. The passion of Charles James Fox for racing and betting may be partly accounted for by the fact that ‘Old Q’ was permitted by Lord Holland to be one of young Fox's mentors.
On the accession of George III in 1760 March was nominated a lord of the bedchamber, and in 1761 he was made a knight of the Thistle. In the latter year he was chosen one of the sixteen representative peers for Scotland, and was often re-elected, serving until 1790. It was through the information of March and others that Wilkes was put on his trial for his ‘Essay on Woman’ in 1763. From Aug. 1766 March was vice-admiral of Scotland. On 26 Oct. 1776 he was nominated first lord of the police, this office, however, being abolished in 1782. On the death of his cousin Charles, third duke of Queensberry [q. v.], 22 Aug. 1778, he succeeded as fourth duke, and on 8 Aug. 1786 he was created a British peer by the title of Baron Douglas of Amesbury, Wiltshire, with limitation to the heirs male of his body. On the regency question in 1788 Queensberry was the only one of the lords of the bedchamber who opposed the government. According to Sir N. W. Wraxall he was influenced in doing so by two motives, ‘his great personal intimacy with and devotion to the heir-apparent, joined to his conviction that the sovereign had irrecoverably lost his mind’ (Memoirs, ed. Wheatley, 1884, v. 243). With the discretion learned by his experiences on the turf, he had, previous to deciding to cast in his lot with the prince, taken the precaution to have special inquiries made indirectly of the physicians. During the discussions on the question the prince and his brother Frederick spent a great part of their time at the duke's house in Piccadilly, ‘where plentiful draughts of champagne went round to the success of the approaching regency’ (ib.) On the recovery of the king in 1789 he was at the instance of the queen and Pitt