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The Douglas Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: JAMAIS ARRIÈRE (never behind)

Let me share with you the historical background of your family name, Douglas. The Douglases were one of Scotland’s most powerful families, and their history is intertwined with yours. The first certain record of the name relates to a William de Douglas between 1175 and 1199. Your ancestor, William Douglas, known as ‘The Hardy,’ held the position of governor of Berwick in 1296. He was taken captive when the town fell to the English and was released only after agreeing to acknowledge Edward I of England as the overlord of Scotland. Later, he joined forces with Sir William Wallace in the fight for Scottish independence, but he was captured again and passed away in England in 1302.

Your family’s legacy continued with William Douglas’s son, ‘Good Sir James.’ He was a patriot and the founder of the Black Douglases. Tragically, he met his end in battle in Spain in 1330 while carrying the heart of his lifelong friend, Robert the Bruce, to the Holy Land.

Through a marriage to a Stewart princess, your family gained wealth and prestige. This was particularly evident in the life of your great nephew, the 2nd Earl of Douglas, who met his demise in the moment of victory at Otterburn in 1388. Archibald ‘The Grim,’ an illegitimate son of Sir James, became the 3rd Earl and solidified your family’s position. However, by the early 15th century, the Douglases had grown so powerful that they were seen as a threat to the stability of the nation. As a result, the Crown took action against them. In 1440, the young sixth Earl and his brother were invited to dine in Edinburgh Castle with the ten-year-old James II. Little did they know that they would be seized and beheaded during the event. The eighth Earl suffered a similar fate at the hands of the King.

Unfortunately, the line of the ninth Earl came to an end with his passing in 1491, as he had no heirs. However, another branch of your family emerged through George, the first Earl of Angus, who was a great-nephew of Sir James. The Red Douglases, as they became known, rose to prominence in a manner equal to their predecessors. A marriage to a Stewart princess once again played a significant role in cementing your family’s position. William, the eleventh Earl of Angus and the first Marquess of Douglas, held strong Catholic beliefs and supported Charles I during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. In 1633, he was granted the marquess title and resided in grandeur at Douglas Castle. William’s brother, who became Duke of Hamilton through marriage in 1660, further expanded the family’s influence. The eldest son and heir of the Hamilton family is always styled Marquess of Douglas and Clydesdale.

Your family tree also includes other branches such as the Earls of Morton and the Marquesses of Queensberry, who lent their name to the famous rules of boxing. Through their accomplishments and contributions, the Douglas name has left an indelible mark on Scottish history.

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The Family Crest

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Family Crest Motto: JAMAIS ARRIÈRE (never behind)

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