the fifth baronet, in 1764, having previously during the same year issued, in 1 vol. fol., ‘The Peerage of Scotland, containing an Historical and Genealogical Account of the Nobility of that Kingdom from their origin to the present generation; collected from the public records and ancient chartularies of this nation, the charters and other writings, and the works of our best historians. Illustrated with copper-plates. By Robert Douglas, Esq.,’ with a dedication to the Earl of Morton and a list of subscribers prefixed. In his preface Douglas speaks of the volume as the fruit of ‘the most assiduous application for many years,’ and says that he had sent for corrections and additions a manuscript copy of each account of a peerage to the contemporary holder of it. There are careful references in the margin to the manuscript and other authorities. No Scottish peerage of any pretension had appeared since George Crawfurd's in 1716, and if Douglas was occasionally less cautious in his statements than Crawfurd, his work was much the ampler of the two.
In the preface to the peerage Douglas spoke of issuing a second part containing a baronage of Scotland, using the word baronage in the limited sense of the Scottish gentry or lesser barons, for a work of which kind Sir George Mackenzie [q. v.] seems to have left some materials in manuscript. In September 1767 he announced in the newspapers that the baronage was in the press and that he intended to issue an abridgment of his peerage corrected and continued to date (Maidment, 2nd ser. p. 32, &c.). The abridgment never made its appearance, and before the publication of any part of the baronage Douglas died at Edinburgh 20 April 1770 (Scots Mag. xxxii. 230). In 1798 appeared vol. i. of his ‘Baronage of Scotland, containing an Historical and Genealogical Account of the Gentry of that Kingdom,’ &c., some of the concluding pages of which are by the editors, whose promise in their preface to issue a second volume was not fulfilled. The volume includes the baronets of Scotland, and, like the peerage, displays original research and a copious citation of authorities. In 1813 was issued the latest and standard edition of Douglas's chief work, ‘The Peerage of Scotland, Second Edition, Revised and Corrected by John Philip Wood, Esq., with Engravings of the Arms of the Peers.’ This is a valuable work, and prefixed to it is a long list of Scottish noblemen and gentlemen who furnished the editor with documentary and other information. Wood incorporated in it a number of corrections of the first edition made by Lord Hailes, of whose unpublished critical comments on statements in that edition specimens are given by Maidment (1st ser. p. 160, &c.). Riddell (see especially p. 948, n. i.) refers with his usual asperity to errors committed both by Douglas and by Wood. In 1795, Douglas's ‘Genealogies of the Family of Lind and the Montgomeries of Smithton’ was privately printed at Windsor. His eldest surviving son, Sir Alexander, ‘physician to the troops in Scotland,’ is separately noticed.
[Douglas's Peerage and Baronage; Sir W. Fraser's Douglas Book, 1885; Maidment's Analecta Scotica, 1834–7; J. Riddell's Enquiry into the Law and Practice of Scottish Peerages, &c., 1842; Cat. Brit. Mus. Libr.]
DOUGLAS, SYLVESTER, Baron Glenbervie (1743–1823), only surviving son of John Douglas of Fechil, Aberdeenshire, by his wife, Margaret, daughter and coheiress of James Gordon, was born on 24 May 1743. He was educated at the university of Aberdeen, where he distinguished himself both as a scientific as well as a classical scholar. He then passed some years on the continent, and graduated at Leyden University on 26 Feb. 1766. At first he took up the study of medicine, but relinquishing it for the law, he was admitted a student of Lincoln's Inn on 25 April 1771. He was called to the bar in Easter term 1776, and occupied some of his time in reporting in the king's bench. He subsequently obtained a considerable practice, and on 7 Feb. 1793 was appointed a king's counsel, but soon afterwards gave up his legal career and entered political life. In 1794 he succeeded Lord Hobart (afterwards fourth Earl of Buckinghamshire) as chief secretary to John, tenth earl of Westmorland, lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and was returned as a member of the Irish parliament for the borough of St. Canice, or Irishtown, Kilkenny. Having been previously admitted to the Irish privy council, he was sworn a member of the English privy council on 4 May 1794. In January 1795 Douglas was succeeded in the post of chief secretary by Viscount Milton, and in the following February was elected to the English parliament for the borough of Fowey, Cornwall. On 30 June he was appointed one of the commissioners of the board of control, a post which he held until the formation of the ministry of ‘All the Talents.’ At the general election in May 1796 he was returned for Midhurst, Sussex, and on 28 Jan. 1797 received the further appointment of lord of the treasury. He resigned the latter office in December 1800, and was appointed governor of the Cape of Good Hope. But though he gave up his seat in the house in consequence of this appointment,