National Records of Scotland

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Archibald Douglas (1694-1761)

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Archibald Douglas (1694-1761)


Archibald Douglas succeeded his father, the third marquis of Douglas, aged six. When he reached nine years Queen Anne created him duke of Douglas, earl of Angus and Abernethy, viscount of Jedburgh Forest and lord of Boncle, Preston and Roberton. This act restored the lands taken from the Douglas family in the 1450s when James II used bombards such as Mons Meg to destroy their power. Archibald Douglas sided with the Hanoverian government during the Jacobite rebellion of 1715 and was present at the government victory at Sheriffmuir. During the 1745 Rebellion Charles Edward Stuart ('Bonnie Prince Charlie') spent Christmas Eve at Douglas Castle and his army did much damage to the duke’s property. They carried off the 'Black Douglas sword' a gift that was traditionally thought to have been given to 'Good Sir James' Douglas by Robert the Bruce (Memorial, 1746, in Douglas Charter-Chest, cited in Scots Peerage, I, pp.210-11 ). Archibald married Margaret or 'Peggy' Douglas on 1 March 1758. She was renowned for her beauty, intelligence and sharp wit. With these attributions in addition to her social rank she was a 'recognised leader in Scottish society'.(Piozzi's Letters, i, 109, cited in Ibid, p211). That same year the castle burned down. He hired Robert Adam to build a palace grander than Inveraray but died on 21 July 1761 in Edinburgh before the plans were completed.

Birth in 1694

Lord Archibald (here Archbald) was baptised on 14 October 1694, son to the Marquess of Douglas. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Douglas doesn't give the date of birth or his mother’s name. The witnesses were Lord Carmichael and Captain Walter Young.

Baptism entry for Archibald Douglas

Baptism entry for Archibald Douglas (31 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 641/1

Testament of Archibald, duke of Douglas

(National Records of Scotland, CC9/7/64 pp 258-263)

As Margaret and Archibald had no heirs it may well have been her influence that settled the estate on his nephew. Archibald had disowned his sister Lady Jane for her secret marriage, but after an investigation after her death he settled his estates on her son Archibald James Edward Douglas. Also mentioned in the will is James Murray, second duke of Atholl (d.1764). James had been in the government army of the duke of Cumberland in 1746. All his male heirs died in infancy and the dukedom passed to his nephew John. Ironically John's father and James' brother was none other than lord George Murray (d.1760) who had commanded Charles Edward Stuart's army and achieved considerable military victories at Prestonpans and the siege of Carlisle in 1745 and at Falkirk in 1746.

In his will Archibald had requested that his remains and those of his wife should be buried in the bowling green at Douglas. However his wishes do not seem to have been respected, as the Scots Peerage informs us that the couple were buried in a vault under the new church of Douglas.

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