Alexandre-Pierre de Mackenzie-Douglas

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Alexandre-Pierre de Mackensie-Douglas or Mackenzie-Douglas, baron de Kildin(1) (1713-1765), also referred to as Alexandre Pierre Mackenzie, baron de Kildin, chevalier Douglass, was a Jacobite in French service. According to the memoirs of the Chevalier d'Eon, King Louis XV of France sent d'Eon and Mackenzie-Douglas on a secret mission to Russia in order to meet Empress Elizabeth (reigned 1741-1762) and to conspire with the pro-French faction in Russia against the Habsburg monarchy.

The son of Colin MacKenzie of Kildin, a Captain in Fairburn's Regiment at Sheriffmuir in 1715, he, and his elder brother Charles-Joseph Douglas(2), born in 1720, died without posterity in 1788, were 'attached in their youth to the party of Stuarts, followed in 1745 Prince Edward in Scotland and were taken prisoner at the Battle of Culloden'.

He served as the official French chargé d'affaires in St Petersburg from 1755 to 1756 following the re-establishment of Franco-Russian diplomatic relations, which had been broken off in 1748.

Mackensie-Douglas's tombstone was re-discovered in France in 2015. He died 'without posterity'.

As the labyrinthine Franco-Jacobite negotiations were carried on by a number of actors, a dramatis personae in the shape of a short biographical sketch for each Jacobite negotiant is necessary. The most conspicuous feature of the principal agents working for the French and the Jacobites was their relative success, despite their lack of cooperation. Their only common denominator as negotiating parties was their Jacobitism. Of all the agents and self-appointed envoys operating in 1757-59, the Chevalier Alexander-Peter Mackenzie-Douglas deserves the place of primus inter pares. The Mackenzies of Kildin were the only remaining Catholic branch within the clan. His father Colin Mackenzie, a near relation of the Earl of Seaforth, had risen in arms in 1715, and he himself was forced to flee England in February 1747. During the last rising, Mackenzie-Douglas had enjoyed the confi­dence of the Lords Traquair and Elibank, and that of John Murray of Broughton. Andrew Lang claims he was a Jesuit, who had been a spy in the Dutch service. Attaching himself to the retinue of the Prince de Conti, Mackenzie-Douglas soon became embroiled in the Secret du Roi, Louis XV's private policy. In 1755, he was sent on a diplomatic reconnaissance mission to St Petersburg. A second mission, for which he was accorded full accreditation to the Russian court, followed in due course. On this second trip, Mackenzie-Douglas was accompanied by a secretary, the mysterious Chevalier D'Eon dc Beaumont, whose alleged hermaphrodite gender was one of the great curiosities of the eighteenth century. D'Eon was to become one of the most successful secret agents of the French king. In a memorial to James, in which he used the style of Baron, Mackenzie-Douglas claimed to have delivered a mortal blow to Hanoverian influence 'dans tout le Nord'. His diplo­matic activities in 1756 certainly proved conducive to a Russian accession to the alliance between France and Austria, and did not go unnoticed by Sir Charles Hanburv-Williams, the British resident at St Petersburg. In 1757-59, Mackenzie- Douglas' coded correspondence apprised Charles of developments at Versailles. His principal function, however was that of French liaison-agent with the Jacob­ites.
Stuart Mss 378/79. Chevalier Alexander-Peter Mackenzie-Douglas to James, 1 January 1758; BL Add. Ms 35481, ff. 4-7. Sir Charles Hanbury-Williams to Robert Keith, 13 July 1756; Lang,
Pickle the Spy, 302; McLynn, The Jacobites, 136;

In 1756, Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d'Éon de Beaumont joined the secret network of spies called the Secret du Roi, (secret of the king), employed by King Louis XV without the knowledge of the government. It sometimes promoted policies that contradicted official policies and treaties. According to d'Éon's memoirs (although there is no documentary evidence to support that account) the monarch sent d'Éon with the Chevalier Douglas, Alexandre-Pierre de Mackensie-Douglas, baron de Kildin, a Scottish Jacobite in French service, on a secret mission to Russia in order to meet Empress Elizabeth and conspire with the pro-French faction against the Habsburg monarchy. At that time the English and French were at odds, and the English were attempting to deny the French access to the Empress by allowing only women and children to cross the border into Russia. D'Éon had to pass convincingly as a woman or risk being executed by the English upon discovery. In the course of this mission, d'Éon was disguised as the lady Lea de Beaumont, and served as a maid of honour to the Empress. Eventually, Chevalier Douglas became French ambassador to Russia, and d'Éon was secretary to the embassy in Saint Petersburg from 1756 to 1760, serving Douglas and his successor, the marquis de l'Hôpital.  D'Éon's career in Russia is the subject of one of Valentin Pikul's novels, Le chevalier d'Éon et la guerre de Sept ans

There is some similarity of stories relating to Jacobite involvement:
•  Alexander, above
•  Charles-Joseph Douglas, born in 1720, died without posterity in 1788, and Joseph Douglas, born in 1721, ambassador of France in Russia, died without posterity, attached in their youth to the party of Stuarts, followed in 1745 Prince Edward in Scotland and were taken prisoner at the Battle of Culloden.
•  Captain Charles Guillaume Douglas and Captain d'Hortore Douglas, Capitaine dans le regiment de Languedoc and Capitaine dans le regiment de Drummond ou Royal Ecossais (though not necessarily respectively) were prisoners of the '45 at Penrith

1.  In 1543 John Mackenzie acquired Kildins, part of Lochbroom, to himself, and Elizabeth Grant, his wife, holding blench for a penny, and confirmed in the same year by Queen Mary.

Alexander Mackenzie, who married Janet (? Isabella) daughter of Alexander Mackenzie, V. of Gairloch, bought the lands of Ardross during his father's lifetime, in 1644, formerly the property of Ross of Tolly, and sold the lands of Pitglassie and Kildin. He was served. heir in 1662 ; died in 1674, and was succeeded by his eldest son.

George Mackenzie of Kildin (a 1658) was the son of George Mackenzie, 2nd Earl of Seaforth (b c1609, d 08.1651, Secretary of State for Scotland) and (mcrt 22/23.01.1628) Barbara Forbes (b 17.01.1607, a 1666, dau of Arthur Forbes, 10th Lord)

Colin MacKenzie of Kildin was a Captain in Fairburn's Regiment at Sheriffmuir in 1715.  He a near relation of the Earl of Seaforth.

2.  This might be Charles Joseph de Douglas, K.S.L., Capt. Royal Scots, Premier Conseiller du Corps de la Noblesse des Provinces de Bugey et Valromey.  Whilst their stories are similar, family details appear to be different.

See also:
Mackenzie-Douglas of Glenbervie
• For more on the Douglas family in France, see our France portal



Sources for this article include:
  • Chevalier d'Eon, La Vie Militaire, politique, et privée de Mademoiselle d'Éon, 1779
  • K.A. Papmehl; Freedom of Expression in Eighteenth Century Russia

  • Any contributions will be gratefully accepted


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    Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024