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Brigadier General Sir William Douglas of Kirkness





William Douglas (bc1690 - d.1747), of Kirkness, Kinross, was Member of Parliament for Kinross-shire 1715 - 1722, and a soldier.

Descended from the earls of Morton, Douglas was returned for his county as a Whig in 1715. No votes of his are recorded, nor did he stand again.

Kinross-shire was controlled by its hereditary sheriff, John Hope, from 1729 Sir John Bruce Hope, who was accused of using his office ‘to engross to himself the whole power of electing as well as returning the representatives of that shire’. When in 1715 William Douglas was returned after a contest, his defeated opponent, in a petition that was withdrawn, claimed that all the freeholders except one had voted for him, but that Hope, as sheriff, had returned Douglas by accepting the votes of ‘several persons who were never admitted into the roll of freeholders nor had the least pretensions to vote’. In 1727 Hope himself was returned unopposed presumably after temporarily divesting himself of his office.

William was the oldest son of Sir Robert Douglas of Kirkness by Jean, daughter of John Balfour, 3rd Lord Balfour of Burleigh, widow of George Oliphant of Gask, Perth. He married 11 June 1737, Lady Anne Howard, daughter of Charles Howard, M.P., 3rd Earl of Carlisle, and widow of Richard Ingram, 5th Viscount Irwin [S], and lady of the bedchamber to the Princess of Wales, s.p. suc. fa. after 1722.

Ensign 26 Foot. 1708, Lieutenant by 1713; Captain Grant’s Foot. 1714; Captain. 9 Dragoons. 1717; Captain and Lt-colonel. 2 Foot. Gyards. 1720, 2nd Major. and brevet Colonel 1740, 1st Major 1743; Brigadier-general. 1745; Colonel of 32 Foot. 1745 til his death in 1747.

During the war of the Austrian succession he served in Flanders, where he died, 5 Aug. 1747. The regiment served briefly in England in 1745/46 in the army of the Duke of Cumberland. The regiment subsequently did 'good service' in Lancashire.  They were employed in Scotland on the dispersal of the clans, remaining there but a short lime, as they could ill be spared from Flanders.  The regiment does not appear to have taken part in the battles of Falkirk Moor or Culloden.


On 11 June 1737, contrary to the wishes of her relatives, Anne, third daughter of Charles (Howard), third Earl of Carlisle was married , secondly, at St. George's, Hanover Square, to Colonel (afterwards Brigadier-General) William Douglas, a descendant of the family of Douglas of Kirkness, cadets of the Earls of Morton.

Ann had been married previously to Rich, fifth Viscount Irvine, who had died in 1721. She was appointed in 1736 a Lady of the Bedchamber to the Princess of Wales (mother of George in.), and for the rest of her life was a prominent figure at Court. She was authoress of several poems, and is noticed in Duncombe's Feminead.

He died in his 57th year, while in command of the British forces in South Beveland (Holland) in 1747, and was buried in the chapel at Kew(1). She died 2 December 1764, and by her will, dated 1 December 1762, with eleven codicils, proved 19 December 1764, she desired to be buried near her second husband at Kew.


Brigadier-General Douglas died at Brabant on 5th August 1747, falling a victim to the unbealthiness ol the climate.  Dying without children, on his death, his sister Isabel was retoured heir to him.



Memorial in Kew

1.  Affixed against the north wall of Kew Parish Church - St Anne's Kew Green,  is a memorial for Brigadier William Douglas, " sprung from the most ancient and noble family of Douglas, immediately descended from William, sixth Earl of Morton," enriched with military trophies. Being sent into South Beveland to command the forces of Great Britain, he died there in 1747.

Arms: Quarterly 1 and 4, Argent a heart Gules ensigned with an imperial crown Proper, on a chief Azure three mullets of the first. 2 and 3, Argent three piles Gules; all within a bordure Sable semy of eight buckles Or. From the monument in Kew Church to Brigadier William Douglas, (d.1747), descended



See also:

  • Douglas of Kirkness

  • Lady Anne Howard


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    Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024