Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Douglas, Archibald (1694-1761)

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DOUGLAS, ARCHIBALD, third Marquis and first Duke of Douglas (1694–1761), the youngest and only surviving son of James, second marquis of Douglas [q. v.], was born in 1694. When only six years of age he was left by his father's death under the care of tutors, who looked well after his interests. They obtained for him the title of Duke of Douglas by patent from Queen Anne, dated 10 April 1703, which also conferred on him the titles of Marquis of Angus, Earl of Angus and Abernethy, Viscount of Jedburgh Forest, and Lord Douglas of Boncle, Preston, and Roberton. His estates were erected into a dukedom, and as they were encumbered the queen conferred on him two pensions of 400l. and 500l. per annum. When the Act of Union was passed in 1707, protest was made on his behalf that the treaty should not be to the prejudice of his hereditary privileges of giving the first vote in parliament, carrying the crown on state occasions, and leading the van in battle. At the close of the last Scottish parliament Douglas bore the crown from the parliament house to the castle of Edinburgh, where the regalia were deposited.

During the rebellion of 1715 Douglas raised a regiment in support of the reigning house. He was appointed lord-lieutenant of Forfarshire. At the battle of Sheriffmuir he was present on the staff of the Duke of Argyll, and charged at the head of the cavalry as a volunteer. He maintained his loyalty also in 1745, though his castle was on that occasion occupied by the highlanders on their return from England, and sustained considerable damage at their hands. In 1725, in a fit of jealousy, he killed his cousin, Captain John Ker, while his own guest at Douglas Castle, and was obliged to conceal himself in Holland for a time. He showed such eccentricity of manner as to suggest doubts of his sanity. His treatment of his only sister, Lady Jane Douglas, is described in another article [see Douglas, Lady Jane]. He had been much attached to her, and, not wishing to marry himself, had offered to make handsome settlements upon her in the event of her marriage. On hearing of her secret marriage and the alleged birth of twin sons he cut off her allowance, refused to believe in her children, and refused to see her under circumstances of great cruelty. He is said to have been under the influence of dependents acting in the interest of the heir male apparent, the Duke of Hamilton. It is reported that when his sister was waiting at the castle gate a servant, whose advice he weakly asked, locked the duke into a room, and kept him there until Lady Jane had departed.

In March 1758 Douglas married Margaret Douglas, of the family of Mains, and descended from the earls of Morton. She was a beautiful and an accomplished lady. A year after their marriage a separation took place, the duke making one condition of her receiving an alimentary allowance that she should not attempt to see or speak with him save by his invitation. Within a few months, however, they were reconciled, and lived together afterwards until his death. The Duchess of Douglas made it the main business of her remaining lifetime to redress the wrong done to Lady Jane. She prevailed upon the duke to investigate the circumstances of the case for himself, which he did at much expense and pains. In the end he was satisfied, expressed passionate remorse, revoked the existing entail of his estates, and settled them upon his sister's surviving son, whose claims were established by the famous Douglas cause [see Douglas, Archibald James Edward].

Douglas could neither read nor write well, as he confessed to William, second earl of Shelburne, afterwards first marquis of Lansdowne, who paid him a visit at Holyrood House in Edinburgh, and who records a few particulars about his appearance (Lord E. Fitzmaurice, Life of William, Earl of Shelburne, i. 10). During the duke's time Douglas Castle was destroyed by fire, and the present edifice was partially built by him from plans prepared by Robert Adam [q. v.], which have never yet been fully carried out. He died at Edinburgh on 21 July 1761, one of his dying requests being that he should be buried in the bowling-green at Douglas. He was, however, interred in a vault in the parish church. The Duchess of Douglas survived till 24 Oct. 1774. Tradition pictures the duchess as travelling about the country with an escort of halberdiers. She commemorated her own share in securing the Douglas estates to her nephew by bequeathing certain lands to her brother's son, Captain Archibald Douglas, to be called the lands of Douglas-Support, and the possessor of which was to bear the name of Douglas, and as his arms the conjoined coats of Douglas and Mains, with the addition of a woman trampling a snake under her feet, and supporting in her arms a child crowned with laurels.

[Proceedings in the Douglas Cause; Fraser's Douglas Book; Patten's History of the Rebellion.]

H. P.