Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Douglas, Archibald James Edward

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DOUGLAS (formerly Stewart), ARCHIBALD JAMES EDWARD, first Baron Douglas of Douglas (1748–1827), son of Colonel (afterwards Sir) John Stewart, baronet, of Grandtully, and Lady Jane Douglas [q. v.], was born on 10 July 1748. His mother dying when he was but five years old, and while his father was an inmate of a debtors' prison, he was brought up by Lady Schaw, a friend of his mother, and after her death by the Duke of Queensberry, who bequeathed to him the estate of Amesbury in Wiltshire. But his best friend was his aunt Margaret, duchess of Douglas, wife of his mother's brother [see Douglas, Archibald, first Duke of Douglas].

Douglas was educated at Rugby and Westminster. On the death of the Duke of Douglas (1761), the tutors appointed by his uncle at once had Douglas served heir to the estates. But the services were disputed by the heir male of the family, the Duke of Hamilton, though without success. Failing to obtain reduction of these services, the Duke of Hamilton raised the question of the birth of Douglas, alleging that he was a spurious child [see Douglas, Lady Jane]. The ‘Douglas cause,’ originated in the court of session in 1762, occupied the Scottish law lords for five years, when on 15 July 1767 the court was equally divided in opinion, and the casting vote of the lord president (Dundas) was given against Douglas. The formal decreet of the court embodying the judgment is contained in ten folio manuscript volumes, comprising in all 9,676 pages. The judgment of the court of session was so unpopular that the president's life was threatened. Douglas appealed against it to the House of Lords, and obtained its reversal in February 1769, when he was declared to be the true son of Lady Jane Douglas and the rightful heir to the Douglas estates. This decision was the signal for great rejoicings and tumultuous uproar, especially in Edinburgh, where a mob collected, demanded a general illumination in honour of the event, and, shouting ‘Douglas for ever!’ proceeded to wreak vengeance on the houses of those lords of session who had given an adverse vote in the case. The lord president and lord justice clerk (Miller) were specially singled out; most of their windows were broken, and attempts were made to break into their houses. Similar attentions were paid to the houses of the Duke of Hamilton's friends and of any who refused to illuminate. This was continued for two nights, and the military had to be called out.

When settled in the Douglas estates Douglas did much to improve them, and he continued the building of Douglas Castle, commenced by his uncle, but preferred Dothwell Castle as his residence. He was lord-lieutenant of Forfarshire, and sat in parliament for that county. In 1700 he was created a British peer, with the title of Lord Douglas of Douglas. He married, first, in 1771, Lady Lucy Graham, daughter of William, second duke of Montrose, who died on 13 Feb. 1780; and secondly, on 13 May 1783, Lady Frances Scott, sister of Henry, third duke of Buccleuch, who died in May 1817. By his two wives he had eight sons and four daughters. Four of his sons predeceased him, and of the other four three inherited his title in succession, but of the whole eight none left issue. Of the four daughters, who all married, only one left issue, the Hon. Jane Margaret. She married Henry, lord Montagu, second son of Henry, third duke of Buccleuch. Douglas died on 26 Dec. 1827. Lady Montagu succeeded as heiress to the Douglas estates in 1837. The eldest of her four daughters succeeded on her death, and married Cospatrick Alexander Home, eleventh earl of Home, who in 1875 was created a baron of the United Kingdom by the title of Lord Douglas of Douglas. Their eldest son, Charles Alexander Douglas Home, the present Earl of Home and Lord Douglas, now enjoys possession of the Douglas estates.

[Fraser's Douglas Book; Proceedings in the Douglas Cause; Calendar of Treasury Papers.]

H. P.