Charles Douglas, 3rd Duke of Queensberry (1698-1778),


 Chales, 3rd Duke of Queensberry
Charles Douglas
, third duke of Queensberry and second duke of Dover (1698–1778), courtier and politician, the son of James Douglas, second duke of Queensberry and first duke of Dover (1662–1711), and his wife, Mary Boyle (1670/71–1709), daughter of Charles, Lord Clifford, was born at Edinburgh on 24 November 1698. Having been created earl of Solway in the Scottish peerage in 1706 in recognition of the services of his father and grandfather, in 1711 he succeeded his father as third duke of Queensberry (in the Scottish peerage) and second duke of Dover (British).

After returning from the grand tour, in 1719 Queensberry unsuccessfully sought his seat in the House of Lords as duke of Dover, the house applying its 1712 decision that no peer of Scotland at the time of the Union could sit by virtue of a British peerage. On 10 March 1720 he married his second cousin Lady Catherine Hyde (1701–1777), the second daughter of Henry, second earl of Rochester and later fourth earl of Clarendon, and Jane, daughter of Sir William Leveson-Gower.  Catherine was a major figure in her own right as a literary patron and socialite. Queensberry was a successful courtier under George I: lord of the bedchamber (1721), vice-admiral of Scotland (1722), and privy councillor (1726). In 1729 his wife's outrage at the lord chamberlain's refusal to license the performance of John Gay's Polly (which satirized Sir Robert Walpole) led George II to bar her from court and Queensberry to resign his offices. Thereafter they joined the opposition, the duke serving as a gentleman of the bedchamber to Frederick, prince of Wales, from 1733. In 1734 Queensberry took an active part in an unsuccessful attempt to elect a slate of opposition Scottish representative peers, standing as a candidate and voting in a peers' election for the only time in his life.


After the accession of George III, Queensberry regained his place on the privy council and became keeper of the great seal of Scotland (1761–3) and lord justice-general (1763–78). Often solicited by Scots seeking patronage, the duke was not always able to oblige, as James Boswell found.


In 1728 Queensberry took up the cause of John Gay when a licence for his opera Polly was refused.

The Queensberrys lived mostly in England, where they were prominent in the social life of the capital. The duke periodically returned to Scotland and remained involved in affairs there, exercising over his long life the predominant parliamentary interest in Dumfriesshire and Dumfries burghs. An improving landlord, he sought to promote Scottish economic development. He was the chairman of the Firth and Clyde Canal Company and a major backer of the Ayr Bank (whose failure in 1772 put a dent in the duke's considerable fortune). He re-built Durisdeer Church, including a monument to his parents.

Queensberry's political influence was probably less than his contemporaries thought, and was likely limited by his exclusion from parliament. He was regarded as an amiable and benevolent aristocrat, Boswell characterizing him as ‘a man of the greatest humanity and gentleness of manners’ and ‘good plain sense’ (Boswell's London Journal, 63). Many sympathized with the duke and duchess for their fortitude in the face of sorrow when their adult sons, Henry, Lord Drumlanrig, and Charles, died within two years of each other in the mid-1750s. Queensberry died on 22 October 1778 from ‘mortification of the leg after an accident alighting from a carriage’ (GEC, Peerage, 10.699), and was buried at Durisdeer, Dumfriesshire.


He was succeeded in his title and estates (said to be worth £18,000 p.a.) by the earl of March and Ruglen, the son of his first cousin.









Shooting partyFrom a painting in Royal Collection


Friends relaxing during a rough shooting expedition.


John Spencer (1708-46), to the left trying to keep a bird from an eager spaniel, was the favourite grandson of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough (1660-1744), and succeeded her as Ranger of Windsor Great Park a few years later in 1744. Charles Douglas, 3rd Duke of Queensberry (1698-1778), in the centre pointing in the direction of the party’s next foray, was Gentleman of the Bedchamber to the Prince of Wales. Both men wear a jockey cap, an article of plebeian dress fashionable at the time, and wait upon Frederick, Prince of Wales, who sits nonchalantly on a bank, stroking a dog and wearing his own hunting uniform. Two of Frederick’s liveried servants act as loaders behind and the booty shot so far lies at his feet: hare, pheasant, snipe and kingfisher. The nearest visual precedent for this sporting elegance can be found in French scenes of hunters of both sexes resting or eating en plein air, such as Francois Lemoyne’s Déjeuner de Chasse, 1723 (Alte Pinakothek, Munich). In this comparison the landscape in Wootton’s image acquires a very different character from Lemoyne’s: darkening as evening approaches, heavily wooded and suggestive of the wilder recesses of Windsor Great Park. According to Horace Walpole, Wootton turned to landscape late in his career, following the style of Gaspar Dughet (1615-75, then always called Gaspar Poussin), and sometimes, as in the sky here, imitating ‘happily the glow of Claud Lorrain’ (Anecdotes of Painting in England, 1762).





See also:

  • Douglas House, Petersham