William  Douglas

William Douglas (1540 - 1606)

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William Douglas aka 6th Earl of Morton
Born in Lochleven Castle, Dumfries-shire, Scotlandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in Castle, Dumfries-shire, , Scotlandmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Lochleven Castle, Dumfries-shire, Scotlandmap
Douglas-947 created 7 Aug 2011 | Last modified
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William Douglas, 6th Earl of Morton[1] was born in 1539/40.[2] He was the son of Sir Robert Douglas of Lochleven and Margaret Erskine.[3]

He married Lady Agnes Leslie, daughter of George Leslie, 4th Earl of Rothes and Margaret Crichton, on 19 August 1554.4

William succeeded to the Lochleven estates at his father's death at the battle of Pinkie in 1547. After Queen Mary's marriage to Darnley, William was commanded on 7 Nov. 1565 to deliver Lochleven Castle to the Queen's officers with all the artillery and munitions, but because William was "extremelie sick, in perrell of his lyffe" he was allowed to keep the castle with the understanding that it may be taken over on 24 hours notice.(7) William's malady must have been short lived as he was involved in Riccio's assassination on 9 March 1566 and was formally charged for murder on 9 March 1566.(8) On 16 June 1567 he received a warrant for the detention of the Queen's person to Lochleven castle:

"Patrik Lord Lindsay of the Byris, William Lord Ruthven and William Douglas of Lochlevin topas and convoy hir Majestie to the said place of Lochlevin and the said lard to ressave hir thairin, and thair thay and every ane of thame to keip hir Majestie suirlie within the said place, and on na wyse to suffer hir pas furth of the same... as thai will ansuer to God and upon thair dewitie to the commounweill of this cuntrie."(9)

Mary was accompanied by Mary Seton, Marie Courcelles and Jane Kennedy. Upon hearing that the Queen had abdicated William signed a document on 28 July 1567 stating that the abdication was concluded without his knowledge, that he had taken no part in compelling her to abdicate and that upon hearing of it he offered to escort the Queen to Stirling so she could declare her own will. The Queen declined the Laird's offer saying that: "for the present sche culd nocht be prepairit to pas thair, bot desirit the said William that sche micht remane in his place and use hir self at hir eas and quietnes as sche has done heir to fore."(10)

Mary did not remain there long as Marie Courcelles had laid all the plans for an escape with the help of George Douglas and Willie Douglas the foundling. On Sunday 2 May 1568 Willie, while waiting on the family at supper, was able to throw a napkin over the castle keys and took them to Marie Courcelles who brought the Queen to the postern gate where a boat was waiting for them with an escort. William avoided suspicion in the affair due to the influence of his powerfull relative Morton. He commanded part of the Regent's army at Lanside on 12 May and was valuable in reinforcing the right wing of the force at a critical moment.(11)

After Mary's escape the Laird was active in the King's party and accompanied Moray, Morton and Lethington to York when they presented their case against Mary, Queen of Scots to the English commissioners in 1568/9. After their return William was appointed to the command of St. Andrews Castle.(12) In Aug. 1570 he was appointed to assemble the nobles to "persew and assege" the castle of Longnewton held by Rutherford of Fernietoun.(13)

William had a charter to Pharington in Roxburgh 23 Oct. 1574 and subscribed a bond of manrent to the Earl of Mar 3 May 1578.(14)

Lochleven castle became a state prison and after his capture the Earl of Northumberland, leader of the Catholic uprising in Northern England was placed there under the keeping of the Laird who had the power to make whatever terms he chose with the English for his release.(15) William encouraged the countess to bid up the Earl's ransom to 10,000 crowns (£2,000) and instead of sending the earl back to his wife he sold him to Sir John Foster for the same amount who took him to York where he was beheaded.(16)

William was a close associate of the Earl of Morton and when he was driven from power in 1578 he sought refuge at Lochleven.

On 20 Sept. 1580 the King granted to William all the lands of his deceased brother Robert Douglas, Earl of Buchan and was appointed sheriff and coroner of Banff in 1584.(17)

After Morton's arrest the Laird was ordered to go beyond Cromarty Firth 30 March 1581 and to stay there under a penalty of £10,000 with James Colville of Easter Wemyss and George Douglas of Rungarvie as sureties.(18) William was not in much disfavor as the King wrote to him the following day:

"Traist freind, We greit yow weill. Giff we had bene present with our counsale quhen your bill wes red We sould have insistit to have had sumqyhat of your desire aggreit unto. Alwyis seing it is thocht gude be the Lordis that ye first enter in your ward conforme to thair formar ordinance quhilk we of our self may not with ressoun alter, ye sall thairfoir satisfie thair desire... We commit Zou to God."(19)

In the management of the Buchan estates William seems to have exceeded the rights of a landlord and the King wrote him the following:

"Forsamekill as We as informit be oure louittis servitouris Archibald Broky in Downe and Thomas Broky his sone in the Baddis that ye, upoun the gift of the waird gevin be ws to you of the Erledome of Buchan have causit warne thame to remove frome thair rowmes and possessionis quhairin thay have remanit kyndlie and native tennentis thir mony and divers yeiris bygane committing na cryme nor offence aganis thair maisteris in tymes past nather yit to you sen your entrie to the erledome of Buchan paying alsua thair dewitie and service according to thair assedationis: Thairfoir seing the sed gift wes nocht gevin to the wrak of the saidis puir tennentis We will you that ye upoun your rycht set thame thair rowmes and possessionis for payment of thair dewitie contenit in thair auld rentall and quhilk thay payit to umquhile Robert Dowglas last Erle of Buchane and that ye remove thame nocht fra thair kyndlie possessionis and rowmes as ye will We did yow kyndnes and plesure in tymes cuming."(20)

William's son Robert took part in the Raid of Ruthven on 22 Aug. 1582 and William signed the bond of the confederates on 30 Aug. for the establishment of the "trew religioune and reform of justice".(21) When King James gave the Earl of Mar the slip in June 1583 and James Stuart, Earl of Arran returned to power William was forfeited.(22) He was imprisoned in Inverness castle until 8 Dec. and after paying the huge amount of £20,000 the forfeiture was repealed on condition that he leave Britain within 30 days.(23) He went to La Rochelle where he and the other confederates plotted the re-establishment of the Protestant regime which occured in Oct. 1585. On 5 Jan. 1586/7 he had a charter of confirmation as heir of his father from Cardinal Beaton in gratitude for the defence of the Church against the Lutheran heresy to the lands of Kinnesswood and others 25 June 1544 and another by Sir Michael Donaldson, Prior of St. Serf's to the lands of Kirkness 9 Oct. 1544.(24)

In 1588 William succeeded to the Earldom of Morton and on 20 June 1589 he had a charter to the Earldom and the Castle of Dalkeith. As leader of the Presbyterians he was high in the favor of the King who appointed him his lieutenant in the south of Scotland in Sept. 1594.(25) On 22 July 1594 he had a lease of the lands of Tulloes and others in Forfar which belonged to the monastery of Arbroath.(26) On 23 Jan. 1606 he had a Royal Charter to the lands of Colquhair and others in Annandale.(27)

Children of William Douglas, 6th Earl of Morton and Lady Agnes Leslie

James Douglas+[4]
Lady Margaret Douglas[4]
Lady Eupheme Douglas[4]
Robert Douglas, Master of Morton+[4] d. Mar 1584/85
Lady Elizabeth Douglas+[5]
Lady Mary Douglas+[6]
Lady Christian Douglas+[4]
Sir Archibald Douglas of Keillor[4] d. 1649
Sir George Douglas[4] d. c 9 Dec 1609
Lady Jean Douglas[4]
Lady Agnes Douglas+[1] b. 1574, d. 3 May 1607


  1. 1.0 1.1 G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I, page 202.
  2. Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume IX, page 293.
  3. Mosley, Charles, editor. Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003. Volume 2, page 2156.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Mosley, Charles, editor. Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003. Volume 2, page 2787.
  5. Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume XI, page 625.
  6. Cokayne, and others, The Complete Peerage, volume IV, page 436.
add 6
  • (7) Reg. Privy Council- I, 390,396
  • (8) P.C. Reg.- I, 436
  • (9 Morton- I, 24
  • (10) Ibid- 27
  • (11) "Memoirs"- Melville, 202
  • (12) Morton- I, 53
  • (13) Ibid- 60
  • (14) P.C. Reg.- II, 691; Reg. Mag. Sig.
  • (15) Morton- I, 75
  • (16) Historical Manuscripts Commission- Hatfield MSS, I part 2, p.7
  • (17) Morton- I, 124; P.C. Reg.- III, 312, 705
  • (18) Morton- I, 127
  • (19) Ibid-
  • (20) Ibid- 129
  • (21) P.C. Reg.- III, 507
  • (22) Morton- I, 141
  • (23) Reg. Privy Council- III, 613, 615, 620, 652
  • (24) Reg. Mag. Sig.-
  • (25) P.C. Reg.- V, 175, 179
  • (26) Reg. Mag. Sig.-
  • (27) Ibid-
  • History of the House of Douglas- Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Maxwell, Freemantle & Co., London, 1902,II, 156-65
  • The Scotts Peerage-Sir James Balfour Paul, Ed., Douglas & Co., Edinburgh, 1904- VI, 370 ff

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On 2 Jan 2015 at 14:48 GMT Sir William (Arbuthnot) Arbuthnot of Kittybrewster Bt wrote:

I have removed a spurious coat of arms. Any problems or questions, please ask me

On 31 Dec 2014 at 21:53 GMT John Atkinson wrote:

Douglas-2295 and Douglas-947 appear to represent the same person because: Both father's of Christian Douglas

On 31 Dec 2014 at 21:49 GMT John Atkinson wrote:

Douglas-3236 and Douglas-947 appear to represent the same person because: Same birth and death dates, same title etc

William is 18 degrees from Kevin Bacon, 20 degrees from Cindy Lesure, 19 degrees from Bonnie Thornton and 13 degrees from Queen Elizabeth II Windsor on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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