Douglas, John Sholto (DNB01)

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DOUGLAS, Sir JOHN SHOLTO, eighth Marquis of Queensbury (1844–1900), eldest son of Archibald William Douglas (1818–1858), seventh marquis, who married on 2 June 1840 Caroline Margaret, younger daughter of General Sir William Robert Clayton, bart., was born on 20 July 1844, and succeeded his father as eighth marquis in 1858. He served in the navy for five years (1859–64) and held a commission in. the first Dumfriesshire volunteers. From 1872 until 1880 he sat as a representative peer for Scotland, but he was not re-elected in 1880. Except in this capacity his public acts were of a strictly unofficial character. He became somewhat notorious as a supporter of Charles Bradlaugh [q. v. Suppl.] and secularism, and at the Globe Theatre on 14 Nov. 1882 he rose in the stalls and denounced Tennyson's 'imaginary free-thinker' in the 'Promise of May' as an 'abominable caricature.' The marquis became even more notorious in 1895, when he was charged at Marlborough Street police-court with publishing a defamatory libel on Oscar Wilde [q. v. Suppl.], and on taking his trial at the central criminal court was acquitted (5 April) on the grounds that the 'libel' was justifiable and was published 'for the public benefit.'

Queensberry is best remembered as a patron of boxing. When the prizerring fell into final disrepute in England about 1860, the Amateur Athletic Club was founded by John Chambers, whom Queensberry supported, with a view to encourage boxing contests. Handsome challenge cups were offered by Queensberry, and in 1867 a body of special rules was drawn up under his supervision, which have since borne the name of 'Queensberry rules.' In 1881 Queensberry published a meditation in blank verse entitled 'The Spirit of the Matterhorn.' He died in London on 31 Jan. 1900, and his remains after cremation were buried in the family burying place at Kinmount, Dumfriesshire, on 3 Feb. 1900. He married, first, on 26 Feb. 1866, Sibyl (who divorced him on 22 Jan. 1887), younger daughter of Alfred Montgomery, and had issue four sons and one daughter. He married, secondly, on 7 Nov. 1893 Ethel, daughter of Edward Charles Weedon of Exeter (marriage annulled 1894). He was succeeded as ninth marquis by his eldest surviving son, Percy Sholto Douglas.

His elder son, Francis Archibald Douglas, called Viscount Drumlanrig (1867–1894), lord-in-waiting to the queen (1892–4), acted as assistant private secretary to Lord Rosebery when the latter became foreign secretary in Gladstone's 1892 ministry. In order that he might be able to sit in the House of Lords with his chief he was created a peer of the United Kingdom on 22 June 1893, and took his seat in the House of Lords (from which his father, after 1880, was excluded) as Baron Kelhead.

[Times, 1, 5, and 7 Feb. 1900, and April and May 1895, passim; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage; Burke's Peerage; Archer's About the Theatre, 1886, p. 85; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

T. S.