Capt. Hon. George Douglas, R.N

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George   


Capt. Hon. George Douglas, R.N. was born Aug. 2, 1788, the sixth son of Archibald first Lord Douglas, and the third and youngest by his second marriage with Lady Frances Scott, second daughter of Francis Earl of Dalkeith, and great-aunt to the (present) Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, K.G. A Post Captain R.N., he was half-brother of the Rt. Hon. Lord Douglas.

He entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman on board the Excellent 74, Capt. the Hon. Robert Stopford, Dec. 17,1801, in which he served in the West Indies.

On returning thence, he joined the Castor frigate, and subsequently the Spencer 74; in which latter ship he completed his time under Capt. Stopford. The Spencer accompanied Lord Nelson in his pursuit of Adm. Villeneuve, in 1805, but was unfortunately absent at Gibraltar at the time of the battle of Trafalgar. She bore a conspicuous share in Sir John T. Duckworth's action, off St. Domingo, Feb. 6, 1806, on which occasion her loss amounted to eighteen killed and fifty wounded. Mr. Douglas was advanced to the rank of Lieutenant, and appointed to the Horatio, a new 38-gun frigate, Aug. 8, 1807. In her, he visited Quebec, and afterwards served on the Halifax and West India stations.

On the 10th Feb. 1809, the Horatio fought a very gallant action off the Virgin Islands, with La Junon frigate, which terminated, after nearly three hours' contest, in the capture of the Frenchman. On this occasion Lieut. Douglas (in the words of the First Lord, Lord Mulgrave) "so nobly supplied the place of his disabled captain "(Capt. G. Scott) that his promotion was determined upon, as soon as he should have completed the time prescribed by his Majesty's Order in Council. His commission as a Commander consequently bore date Aug. 8, 1809.

On the 18th July 1810, Captain Douglas was appointed to the Brune troopship, and he continued to command her until his promotion to post rank, Feb. 28, 1812. His next appointment was, April 28, 1812, to the Leveret 20, which, with her consort the Cyane 20, made a very heroic defence against the Constitution, an American 44, of more than their united strength, off Madeira, on the 20th Feb. 1815. Both the English ships were taken, though the Leveret was soon afterwards retaken at Porto Praya. At a Court-martial held at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Captains Douglas and Falcon were "most honourably acquitted" for the loss of their respective ships, and justly applauded for the gallant defence they had made.

Since the peace Capt. Douglas has been on half-pay.

In 1836, he was listed as a tax commissioner in the Shire of Forfar.

He died unmarried Aug. 30. 1838 at Douglas Castle, Lanarkshire, aged 50.

Footnotes:

On 20th February 1815, the USS Constitution captured the 20-gun ship HMS Levant, (eighteen 32-pound carronades and two nines, Captain and senior officer the honourable George Douglas. Out of her 115 men and sixteen boys, the Levant had six seamen and marines killed, one officer and fourteen seamen and marines wounded. The Levant was recaptured om 11th March. 

It was stated by the British officers, at the court-martial, that the crews of the two ships [Cyane and Levant, which had been captured at the same time] were , for three weeks kept constantly in the Constitution's hold, with both hands and legs in irons, and there allowed but three pints of water during twenty-four hours. This too in a tropical climate! It was further proved that, after the expiration of three weeks, upon the application of Captain Douglas, one third of the men were allowed to be on deck, four hours out of twenty-four, but had not the means of walking, being still in leg irons; that on mustering the crews when they landed at Maranham, five of the Levant's boys were missing; that, upon application and search for them, two were found locked up in the American Captain of marine's cabin...Upon these facts, let the reader employ his own thoughts; if he possesses a British heart, he will need no prompter -
Source: James's Naval Occurrences, p. 465.


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