The Douglas surname
|This page is a stub.
You can help improve it.
A surname or family name is a name added to
a given name. In many cases, a surname is a family name and many
dictionaries define "surname" as a synonym of "family name". In the
Western Hemisphere, it is commonly synonymous with last name because it
is usually placed at the end of a person's given name there.
concept of a "surname" is a relatively recent historical development,
evolving from a medieval naming practice called a "byname". Based on an
individual's occupation or area of residence, a byname would be used in
situations where more than one person had the same name.
surnames are usually one word, in some cases a surname comprises more
than one word.
In the Western tradition of surnames, there are
several types of double surname (also double-barrelled surname). If the
two names are joined with a hyphen, it may also be called a hyphenated
In British tradition, a double surname is heritable, and
mostly taken in order to preserve a family name which would have become
extinct due to the absence of male descendants bearing the name,
connected to the inheritance of a family estate. Examples include
Douglas-Hamilton and Douglas-Bate, or even Douglas--Scott-Montagu,
as used by Baron Montagu of Beaulieu.
Compound surnames in
English and several other European cultures feature two (or occasionally
more) words, often joined by a hyphen or hyphens. However, it is not
unusual for compound surnames to be composed of separate words not
linked by a hyphen, for example Andrew Douglas Miller, whose surname is
"Douglas Miller" and the 10th Duke of Buccleuch is Richard Walter John
"Montagu Douglas Scott".
Douglas as a surname
Douglas was the name of one of the oldest and most powerful of the
Scottish noble families. There is the following tradition in
regard to the origin of the name. In the year 770 Solvathius king of
Scotland, obtained a victory over Donald Bain of the Western Isles, by
the assistance of a man who was unknown to him. After the battle, being
desirous to see one who had done him so signal a service, he was pointed
out to him with these words: "Sholto Dhuglass," behold that swarthy man.
In Argyllshire this surname is used as an Englishing of Maclucas (Maclugash).
The ancient Pictish/Scottish family also existed in Moray, where the
family has a lomg and distinguished history.
William de Duglas,
the first of the family in record, between 1175 and 1199, witnessed a
confirmation charter by Jocelin, bishop of Glasgow to the monks of Kelso
(Kelso, 454), and was a witness to another charter to the canons of
Holyrood by William the Lion about the year 1200 (LSC., p. 44). Between
1204 and 211 William de Duueglas also witnessed a charter by Thomas, son
of Thancard, in favor of the Abbey of Arbroath (RAA., I, 99). His son
and heir, Archibald (Archabaldus, Archembald, Arkembaid, Arkenbald,
Erkembald or Erkenbald) de Duueglas appeurs as a witness to numerous
charters in the chartularies of Melrose, Kelso, Newbattle, and Moray.
Variations of the spelling have been recorded over the
centuries: Dawgleiss 1540, Dogles 1633, Douglace 1504, Douglase 1429,
Dougleische 1583, Dougles 1529, Douglles 1688, Dovglas 1499, Dowglace
1511, Dowglas 1679, Dowglass 1559, Dowglasse 1684, Dufglas 1225,
Dulglace 1454, Dulglass 1433, Duueglas 1220, Dwglas 1688, Dwglass 1399.
The old pronunciation of the name was Doo-glas, the modern Dug-las.
If you have never studied
French, you have more of a problem, but not the one you may think. You
need to know how French is pronounced. Phonetic spelling occurs wherever
the two languages meet. A francophone Notary will usually spell Douglas
with a double ‘ss’, Douglass, because Douglas with one ‘s’ is pronounced
Doog-lah. The Irish Bridget family settled for a while in Lotbinière
County and their name became Bridgette, so neighbours would pronounce
the last ‘t’. If you do speak a bit of French, you will understand how,
and not be surprised that, O’Brien became Aubry, and Sauvé turned into
However, there is a problem with this theory - most
French Douglases use only one s.
• Origins of the
Sources for this article include:
• Bowman, William Dodgson. The Story of Surnames (London, George
Routledge & Sons, Ltd., 1932)
Any contributions will be