Captain Archibald Douglas


Archibald Douglas (d. 1667), army officer, whose origins are obscure although he was probably Scottish by birth, was commissioned captain on 5 July 1666 in Colonel Lord George Douglas's regiment of foot (the Royal Scots). In 1667 the regiment was brought back from four years' garrison duty in France to confront the Dutch threat during the Second Anglo-Dutch War. As the Dutch fleet under De Ruyter advanced on the Medway estuary, Colonel Douglas's regiment was reinforced and assigned to the defence of Chatham. Captain Douglas, who had previously been stationed at Queensferry to deter the Dutch crossing the Medway, was sent with a detachment of soldiers to defend HMS Royal Oak.

On 12 June the Dutch got their fireships over the chain across the mouth of the Medway and entered the river. They missed the Royal Oak on the first attempt but on the following day John Clapham reported to Pepys that he saw the Royal Oak and other vessels ‘fired and aflame’ (CSP dom., 1667, 185). Douglas defended the vessel with great courage and when advised to retire, refused, allegedly saying, ‘it shall never be told that a Douglas quitted his post without orders’ (Lediard, 589). Douglas perished in the flames on 13 June; it is not known whether his body was recovered for burial but on 18 October of the same year his widow, Anne-Marie Herry, was given the sum of £100 by royal warrant.

Anne-Marie Herry was born in 1639, Audenarde (Eastern-Flanders). She remarried with Corneille de Heze. She was the daughter of Stephen Herry, (26 Dec 1609, Oudenaarde, -25 Aug 1679) and Marie-Jeanne Moreau, who died in Brussels October 21, 1677.

ARCHIBALD DOUGLAS was many years an officer in the First,
or the Royal regiment of foot, with which corps he served in
France and Germany, when that veteran Scots regiment was
in the service of Louis XIV.; but it was withdrawn from the
army of the French monarch in 1678, from which period it
has been on the British establishment.

He was captain of
one of the companies of the Royal regiment sent to the relief
of Tangier, in Africa, when that fortress' was besieged by the
Moors in 1680, and he was wounded in the general engage-
ment on the 27th of September, 1680, when .the Moorish
army was overthrown. He was subsequently promoted to
the lieutenant-colonelcy of his regiment ; and he commanded
the companies of his corps at the battle of Sedgemoor, on the
6th of July, 1685, where he distinguished himself.

James II. placed great confidence in the loyalty of Colonel
Douglas, and when His Majesty's power was menaced by the
armament under the Prince of Orange, the King nominated
this distinguished Scots officer to raise a regiment, now the
SIXTEENTH foot, of which he was appointed colonel. At the
Revolution in 1688, he withdrew from the service, and was
not afterwards employed under the British crown.

In con-
sequence of a mark on his countenance, he was sometimes
called Spot.




1. I have seen a reference to a brother, William, who went to France to serve alongside him, but have been unable to confirm this.

2. There is a theory that his loyalty was a reflection on him being a Roman Catholic.

3. He is the subject of a poem by Andrew marvell, 'Last Instructions to a Painter'.

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This page was last updated on 30 September 2021

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