Margaret Douglas (d 1775)

Margaret Douglas (d 1775)

Noblewoman

Margaret Douglas was the eldest daughter of James Douglas of Mains in Dumbartonshire. She outlived her husband Archibald, duke of Douglas but when the couple failed to produce an heir the scene was set for the great cause celebre of the later eighteenth century. The 'Douglas Cause' saw various claimants to the titles and estates of the late duke. Margaret was adamant that her nephew would inherit but the Court of Session ruled in favour of the duke of Hamilton. This decision was overturned by the House of Lords in 1769. James Boswell was a Douglas supporter. When he was arranging a visit to chilly Bothwell Castle he asked for a warm room. The Duchess replied that the warmest bed was hers and that he was welcome to it! The Scots Peerage informs us that she was 'quite a character' and that 'she was the last of the nobility to be attended by halberdiers when going about the country. When she visited, she left her dress behind as a present' (Scots Peerage, volume IX, p13).

Testament of Margaret, duchess of Douglas

National Records of Scotland, CC8/8/123 pp 309-331

In her will she reveals the importance of carrying on the traditions of her family instructing her successors to be 'carrying always the Surname of Douglas and Arms of Douglas with the addition of a woman trampling a snake under her feet and supporting a child in her arms'. She also demonstrated her religious conviction insisting that her nieces are 'educated in the principles of the reformed protestant Religion as established by Law in Great Britain' and threatening to debar them if they were to embrace Catholicism.

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