THE DOUGLAS FAMILY: WAS THE ANCESTOR OF THE DUKE OF
[We have been favoured with the following statement of the claim of Lord Torphichen to be heir general of the House of Douglas.]
" WE have lately had our attention directed to some remarks in connection with the illustrious House of Douglas, but
we believe it is not generally known that the line of that ancient and noble family is represented by the Right Honourable ROBERT SANDILANDS, eighteenth Baron of Calder and eleventh Lord TORPHICHEN.
His ancestor, Sir James de Sandilandis, from whom he is the fifteenth in direct descent, married (1348) Alienora Douglas (relict of Alexander Bruce, Earl of Carrick), daughter of Archibald Douglas, of Douglas, by Dornagilla, daughter of John Comyn, of Badenoch, and only sister of William, first Earl of Douglas, who succeeded to the Douglas estates on the death of his uncle Hugh without issue in 1343.
Earl William married Margaret, daughter and heiress of Donald, Earl of Mar. By this marriage he had one son, James, and one daughter, Lady Isabella. On the death of William, first Earl of Douglas, in 1384, his son James succeeded as second Earl, and married Margaret, daughter of Robert II., King of Scotland. He fell at Otterburn (1388) without surviving issue. On his death his only sister, Lady Isabella Douglas, Countess of Mar and Garioch, succeeded to the unentailed portions of the estate of
Douglas, but not to the Earldom, which was a male fief, and in the
terms of the entail of 1342 (the lawful male issue of Earl William being spent) the Earldom of Douglas fell to Archibald Douglas, Lord of Galloway, natural son of Sir James Douglas, of Douglas, so well known as " The Good Sir James." On the death of Lady Isabella Douglas, Countess of Mar and Garioch in 1419, also without issue (the whole legitimate descendants of William, first Earl of Douglas, being then exhausted), the representation of the family fell to the grandson of Alienora Douglas, Sir James
Sandila.nds, third of Calder, only son of Sir James Sandilands, second of Calder, by his wife the Princess Johanna, daughter of Robert IL, King of Scotland, and from this period his descend- ants have continued to quarter the arms of Douglas with their own as heir general of that noble family.
Earl William, however, had a son, George Douglas, by Mar- garet, Countess of Angus, and for some consideration which does not appear Sir James Sandilands, second of Calder, was induced to convey to this George Douglas, Earl of Angus, his right of succession to the Douglas estates by a charter, which was confirmed by King Robert III. in 1398. This charter was produced from the Douglas charter chest in the celebrated " Douglas cause."
George Douglas, Earl of Angus, to whom these rights were conveyed, was clearly a natural son of William, first Earl of Douglas, by Margaret, Countess of Angus. And this charter by itself (even were there no further evidence) establishes the point, for Sir James Sandilands could have no right to renounce, if George Douglas, Earl of Angus, had been a lawful son of Earl William, the uncle of Sir James Sandilands To enable George Douglas to succeed to or take the Earldom of Angus, a resignation by his mother and a re-conveyance of it in his favour by the Crown was had recourse to, just as if he had been an absolute stranger, and which would have been quite un- necessary had he been legitimate.
While, however, Sir James Sandilands thus resigned his right of succession to the lands in favour of George, Earl of Angus, he could not lesion the title which was in him of representing the Douglas blood, and which, on the death of Isabella, Countess of Mar and Garioch, became permanently vested in his de- scendants.
Thus the House of Douglas is now undoubtedly represented by Lord Torphichen."
The point raised by our correspondent on behalf of Lord Torp- hichen is one rather for the Scotch Law Lords than for the columns of a newspaper, but we will venture to make one or two comments on it. The gist of it is of course that George Douglas, Earl of Angus, the ancestor of the present Duke of Hamilton, was the illegitimate, and not, as has been supposed, the younger legiti- mate awn of William, first Earl of Douglas. No doubt the exclu- sion of George Douglas from the succession to the Earldom of Douglas after the death of his brother James (second Earl) without issue might be a presumption of illegitimacy, if it were not that the fact of a natural son of the" Good Lord James" being preferred to him, shows that there was quite another sort of cause for this preference, namely, the eminent services not only of the Good Lord James, but of his natural son, Archibald Douglas, Lord of Gallo- way, himself, both of which are gratefully recognized in former grants to this Archibald, a man of great power and influence. Next, the supposition in " Douglas' Peerage " seems not an impro- bable one, that there had been an entail of the Earldom, &c., on this Archibald before the second marriage of Earl William and the birth of George Douglas, between whose age and that of his elder half-brother there seems to have been a difference of about thirty years. Supposing this to have been the case, nothing would be more natural than the course pursued, seeing that George would be provided for otherwise as the heir of his mother in the Earldom of Angus. Still the new Angus branch of the Douglases (the Red Douglases, as they were called for distinction) were always looking forward to the possibility of recovering possession of the Douglas property, in which they ultimately succeeded by taking part with the Crown against the Black Douglases. Surely there it nothing remarkable in their strengthening their claims by obtain- ing from Sir James Sandilands in 1398 a transfer of any possible claims of his to the Douglas estates (with the prospect, too, of the Lady Isabella, the inheritor of the unentailed estates, dying childless, as she did in 1419), as there might be a claim on Sandilands' part. on the ground of George Angus having been once passed over. But it is remarkable, and requires to be accounted for, that Sir James Sandilands should surrender any such rights on his part, if he had anything like the superior title now claimed for him. The renun- ciations and transfers of even untenable claims are so frequent among Scotch legal records that the transfer by Sandilands is in itself no argument in favour of superior right, while it is a presumption against it. Could Sandilands transfer his succession to the Douglas estates to a stranger, as George Douglas was on this hypothesis ? Nor does the argument drawn from the " resignation" and re-grant of the Earldom of Angus seem more tenable. There are plenty of such forms of procedure in cases of wives and husbands, mothers and sons. The first Duke of Hamilton of the mixed blood of Hamilton and Douglas, for example, succeeded exactly in this way to the Dukedom of Hamilton, during the life of his mother, who was Duchess in her own right. So that, on the whole, as far as. the present evidence goes, we see no reason to doubt the legitimacy of the Angus branch of the Douglases, and adhere to our state- ment that the heir male of the Douglases is the Duke of Hamilton,, and the heir general the Countess of Home.