From the main stem of the family (the `Black Douglases') sprang the many branches among whom were the lines of Angus, Drumlanrig, Morton, and others. Each in turn played its part in the history of Scotland, to such an extent that they were Princes and heirs to the throne but never Kings. Their history is so interwoven with that of Scotland, that the two are inseparable. Many have said that the history of the Douglases is the history of Scotland.
Sir William (le Hardi) Douglas, otherwise known as `Longshanks' was Constable of Berwick Castle in 1297, and a witness to the sacking of Berwick by Edward I of England. He was captured, after being a companion to William Wallace, and taken to the `Tower of London' where he died in 1298.
His son, Sir James Douglas (`the good Sir James') ('The Black Douglas') was the foremost captain to King Robert the Bruce during and after the `Wars of Independence!' It was he who was given the task of taking King Robert's heart to the Crusades. He fell in battle against the Moors at Grenada in Spain in 1330.
His son, Sir William, inherited the family estates but fell in battle against the English at Halidon Hill 1333. His heir and uncle, Sir Archibald, only survived him by one hour before he too was killed.
Sir Archibald's son, Sir William, became the first Earl of Douglas and later succeeded to the Earldom of Mar.
The second earl, Sir James Douglas, fell fighting against the Percys at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388.
Sir Archibald (`the Grim') was the natural son of `The Good Sir James.' He is known to have fought against the English at Poitiers in 1356, and is credited with the restoration of many church properties.
The fourth Earl fought against Henry IV of England at the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403, where he was taken prisoner. He became a general in Joan of Arc's army and continued the fight against the English. He was rewarded for his efforts with the Duchy of Touraine.
Sir James Douglas, fourth Earl of Morton, was elected Regent in 1572. It was he who played such an important role in the affairs of Mary, Queen of Scots.
The fifth Earl of Angus, Sir Archibald (`Bell the Cat') was involved in the conspiracy by a clique of nobles to remove the King's favourite Cochrane. When the tale of the mice tying a bell round the cat's neck was related to the nobles, Sir Archibald stepped forward saying: "I will bell the cat!" The nobles then captured the gifted Cochrane and hung him from Lauder Bridge in front of King James III.
The two eldest sons of Bell the Cat fell at the Battle of Flodden Field. His youngest son, Gavin Douglas, was the Bishop of Dunkeld and a noted poet and translator of the Latin Classics. He died of the plague while in exile in London, where he fled after the event known as `Cleanse the Causeway.'
The titles of Morton and Douglas passed to the Earls of Angus who became
heirs to the Dukedom of Hamilton. These titles then passed to the seventh
Duke of Hamilton, while the estates have passed down to Sir Alec
Douglas-Hume, Earl of Hume, the present Douglas of Douglas.
From the Official brochure: Clan Douglas Society of North America, Ltd., with kind permission of Peter Douglass, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, who serves as Canadian Regent for the Clan Douglass Society of North America.