Sir William de Douglas, 1st Lord of Douglas

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The origins of William are uncertain, the first of the name of Douglas to appear on historic record. He appears as witness to a charter of Jocelin, Bishop of Glasgow in 1174 in favour of the monks of Kelso Abbey, at which time he was in possession of the Lands of Douglas.

Some believe him to be related to Freskin the Fleming, possibly a brother-in-law, and that both of them came from Flanders, and also possibly of/or connected with the House of Boulogne.

David Hume of Godscroft in his history refers to the progenitor of the House of Douglas, Sholto. Gleaned from the works of Buchanan and Boece, Godscroft's narrative explains that during the reign of a King Solvathius, Sholto Douglas was instrumental in putting down an uprising by a usurper Donald Bain in 767AD, and as reward was granted the lands that would after be called Douglas.

Both Balfour Paul and Maxwell agree that this origin tale is mythic, but do contest that William of Douglas was active at the time of the real rebellion of the Meic Uilleim, under their chief Domnall mac Uilleim. The earlier historians may have confused the mythic Donald Bain with Domnall Ban mac Domnaill, the penultimate Meic Uilleim chief.

This may be corroborated by the facts that the lands of Douglas marched with those of the leader of King William I of Scotland's retaliatory forces, Lochlann, Lord of Galloway. William may well have been a vassal of the Lord of Galloway. Furthermore, all of William's sons with the exception of the eldest were to hold privileged ecclesiastic positions within the former Meic Uilleim territories in Moray.

Archibald I, Lord of Douglas
Brice/Bricius de Douglas, Bishop of Moray
Alexander de Douglas, a canon of Spynie and vicar capitular of Elgin
Henry de Douglas, a canon of Spynie
Hugh de Douglas, a canon of Spynie, Archdeacon of Moray
Freskin de Douglas, Parson of Douglas, later Dean of Moray

Sir William de Douglas had 2 sons who fought at the Battle of Largs against the Norse in 1263. (Note:  This could be a mistake; it might be the wrong generation)


  • Birth: 1174
  • Death: 1213

Father:         SIR JOHN DE DUGLAS,  d c1145
Grandfather:  WILLIAM DE DUGLAS died after 1100. Created Lord De Duglas by King Malcolm Canmore in 1057




Marriage 1 Spouse Unknown
  1. Sir Archibald 2nd of Douglas  (& of Hermiston)  b: 1213
  2. Brice (Bishop of Moray)
  3. Alexander (Canon of Spynie and Vicar of Elgin)
  4. Henry (Canon of Spynie and Clerk of Bishop)
  5. Hugh (Archdeacon of Moray)
  6. Freskin (Dean of Moray)
  7. Margaret


1. Discrepancies come from bringing together differing sources!
2.  If William is the first to adopt Douglas as a surname, his father can hardly have used that name also!



See also:

  • Descendants of William of Douglas
  • Douglas of Spynie

  • Source

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    Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024