William Douglas of Whittinghame


He obtained on August 17, 1560, a charter of the ecclesiastical lands of Whittingehame from Claud Hamilton, then Dean of Dunbar. The grant of Whittinghame was confirmed in the Great Seal in January, where we can see the extent of the church lands Douglas has acquired: "the King [sic] and Queen confirm to William Douglas of Whittinghame and Elizabeth Maitland, his spouse, 8 husbandlands (208 acres) and four 'terras' cottages in the 'villa' of Whittinghame". He joined the Lords of the Congregation and seems to have been frequently employed by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in their communications with Mary, Queen of Scots and the Privy Council of Scotland.


It is said that the plot to murder Mary's husband, Lord Darnley, was discussed at length at Whittingehame castle early in 1566, and the Privy Council cited William Douglas of Whittinghame, brother to Master Archibald Douglas, Parson of Douglas and ambassador to Queen Elizabeth 1, amongst others, as one of the conspirators in the murder of David Riccio, for which he was pardoned on the 24 December 1566. In 1567 he joined the Association for the Preservation of James VI. However, later. on the 26 August 1582 William Douglas of Whittinghame was cited in the Privy Council as one of the 'Ruthven Raiders'.


William Douglas married in 1566 Elizabeth (d. after August 6, 1608 when she was described as his 'relict'), daughter of Sir Richard Maitland of Lethington by his spouse Mariotta, daughter of Sir Thomas Cranstoun of Corsbie.

They had six sons and two daughters. Of them:
  • Sir Archibald Douglas of Whittinghame, Senator of the College of Justice, was served his heir, confirmed in a Precept from Chancery dated May 4, 1596. Although he married in 1597, Helen Lumsden, he died between 1630 - 1642 with no issue. He settled Whittingehame upon his niece Isobel's husband, Sir Arthur Douglas, Knt., a grandson of William Douglas, 6th Earl of Morton.
  • Patrick Douglas of Standingstone, Haddingtonshire (witnessed a Sasine to "his brother german" Archibald on May 7, 1596), whose son, Field Marshal Robert Douglas, Count of Skenninge, friherre (baron) of Skalby, Sweden, was a commander in later stages of Thirty Years War. Patrick was maternal grandfather to Sir Robert Lauder of Beilmouth.
  • James Douglas, described in the Great Seal 1st November 1, 1648, as "secretary to James VI".
  • Richard Douglas of Newgrange, Haddingtonshire, and Brockholes, Berwickshire (alive May 7, 1596, when he witnessed a Sasine to "his brother german", Archibald).
  • Sir William Douglas of Stoneypath, near Garvald (d. between 1628 -1642), whose son-in-law Sir Arthur Douglas, Knt., was eventual heir of Whittingehame.



Research note:
June 4 1667:
Mr William Douglas, son of the deceased Laird of Whittingham, was tried for his concern in an unfortunate duel, in which Sir James Home of Eccles was killed. The affair took its origin in a quarrel in a tavern in Edinburgh, ‘after excessive drinking.’
—Lam. We learn from the evidence of a hackney-coachman, that being employed by four gentlemen—namely, the two who have been mentioned, the Master of Ramsay, and Archibald Douglas of Spott—he drove them to a lonely spot on the shore near Leith, where they all came out, and drawing their swords, ‘went through other.’ He saw Sir James fall under the thrust of the accused party. Another person saw the accused standing over Sir James after he fell, and when the unfortunate gentleman was carried into Leith, he beard the accused ask him forgivenness. A third witness observed the Master of Ramsay with his foot on Spott’s neck, and when he (the deponent) removed the Master, Spott got up, ran at the Master, and called him ‘cullion!' It seems to have been a barbarous quarrel barbarously wrought out; and when we see how the men acted after they began fighting, we cannot but wonder that they were able to come to the field in one vehicle. William Douglas was sentenced to have his head stricken off his body three days after at the Cross of Edinburgh.—


This page was last updated on 30 September 2021

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