Basil William Douglas, Lord Daer
Basil William Douglas, Lord Daer (1763–1794) was born on 16 March 1763, the second but eldest surviving son of Dunbar Douglas, fourth earl of Selkirk (1722–1799), and Helen (1737/8–1802), daughter of John Hamilton of Blackadder, Berwickshire. A younger brother, Thomas Douglas, fifth earl of Selkirk, achieved prominence as an advocate of colonization in North America.
Daer was educated first at Anna and Rochemont Barbauld's school at Palgrave, Suffolk, and later at Edinburgh University under the moral philosopher Dugald Stewart. In 1789 he travelled to Paris, from where he returned with an enthusiasm for the French Revolution, becoming an active protagonist in the British reform movement.
He was one of the earliest London Corresponding Society activists and held concurrent membership of the Society for Constitutional Information and the Scottish Association of the Friends of the People. This provided the London Corresponding Society with an important early link to other reform societies. Though a strong critic of the union (1707), Daer called for English and Scottish radical societies to work together ‘to have mutually beneficial results: providing Scots with greater say in government while relieving you of that vermin from this country who infect your court, parliament and every establishment’ (Daer to Charles Grey, 18 Jan 1793, quoted in Bewley, 54–5).
Daer's radical career, however, was cut short when he died,
unmarried, from tuberculosis on 5 November 1794 at Ivybridge, Devon;
he was buried in Exeter Cathedral.
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Last modified: Thursday, 16 July 2015