Breaks in the chain - Castle Douglas, Lochmaben, Worcester and London

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This article is extracted from our community forum

I was asked recently if I knew anything about the ancestors of Archibald Douglas (b: 1726 (Or 1786?) in Lochmaben, Dumfriesshire) and his wife Mary Hake. An initial trawl revealed that I did not.

However, as I often do, I returned to look again, as I had noticed that their son and heir, William Archibald Douglas was an interesting character. He was involved in the slave trade in Africa, but died in mysterious circumstances off Madeira on his way home. There is a story that he was bringing gold home, but this disappeared at the time of his death.

His father may have had some involvement in the slave trade too, as he was reportedly a privateer. In Archibald's will, there is a mention of William and Samuel Douglas, merchants in London. There was, however, no mention of a family relationship.

This prompted me to go back and look at William's and Samuel's business interests, to see if I could find a link.

Sir William Douglas of Castle Douglas (d1809), as he was to become, and his brothers made their fortunes in America. He and Samuel appear to have operated an import export business, where goods arriving in America were sold almost as soon as they entered the warehouse.

Douglas & Shaw, Merchants, of America Square, London are listed in 1794 and 1814. Who was Shaw?

It turns out that young James Shaw, from Ayrshire, left Scotland to join is elder brother, David, in America. David found a place for James with William and Samuel Douglas. He then returned to Britain, and continued with the firm, becoming a partner, and, in due course, Lord Mayor of London.

In 1809, he was received a baronetcy as Sir James Shaw of London (1764-1843), and of Kilmarnock, Co. Ayr, North Britain. On 14 Jan. 1813, he obtained a second patent, with limitation, on failure of issue male of his body, to his nephew (ex sorore) John Shaw, of Whitehall Place, esq. He was now Sir James Shaw of Kilmarnock, co. Ayr, and Polmadie, co. Kirkcudbright. James Shaw had an only sister, Margaret. It was her son, John MacFie, who was to become the 2nd Bart of Polmadie, changing his name to Shaw.

The Polmadie burn is well known to this Douglas family as the place where we enjoy swimming in one of its pools on warm summer days. It is also close to Dalry.

Dalry, about 15 miles from Castle Douglas, is the place where Elizabeth Douglas's grandfather had a farm. Elizabeth, daughter of William Douglas of Worcester, married James Douglas (d 1821), William and Samuel's brother.

Elizabeth's first husband, Captain William Stevenson, had run the Douglas brothers' privateering vessels off the coast of America during the American War of Independence.

A month or so ago, I was plugging some gaps on Wikipedia, when I came across a William Douglas, MP for Plymton Erle. After a bit of digging, I found that he was the son of James and Elizabeth.

William, the MP, tried unsuccessfully to obtain the right to become the successor to the Castle Douglas baronetcy that had belonged to his uncle. One of his supporters was Sir James Shaw, of whom William was described as a nephew.

Can anyone join the links for me?



Any contributions will be gratefully accepted





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Last modified: Saturday, 18 March 2017