Alexander Douglas Douglas,



Alexander Douglas-DouglasAlexander Douglas Douglas (7 February 1843– 5 February 1914), inspector of police and explorer, was born at St Helier, Channel Islands, son of Alexander Douglas Douglas, formerly Mackenzie, army officer, and his wife Ann, née Rouse. He was the grandson of Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, a colonel in the 58th Foot, who was created a baronet 30 Sep 1831 and assumed by Royal Licence 31 Oct 1831 the name and arms of Douglas of Glenbervie.

His joined the navy in 1857 as a cadet and served in the Tientsin campaign and the Taiping rebellion. His experiences gave him a taste for wandering and adventure. In 1865 he left the navy and migrated to Rockhampton, Queensland. For a time he satisfied his wanderlust by working as a teamster and drover.

Douglas joined the paramilitary Queensland Native Police in 1872 on the recommendation of Acting Queensland Police Commissioner Thomas Barron, who served in the military with Douglas during the Opium Wars. Douglas was trained as a cadet in this force by the notoriously brutal officer, Frederick Wheeler, and his first posting was at the Marlborough barracks in central coastal Queensland.

Douglas was appointed Acting Sub-Inspector at Marlborough in early 1873 and was immediately expected to give "salutary lessons" to the local Aboriginal people. This he proceeded to do by leading his troopers in massacres of Aboriginals at St Lawrence and at Calliope. Public pressure from media reports forced an enquiry to be held at the Prospect Hotel in Calliope headed by other police officers, but despite clear evidence multiple people were shot dead, Douglas was exonerated of charges of wantonly destroying life. Later in 1873, Douglas' entire detachment of troopers deserted with allegations of floggings and cruel treatment by Douglas being the reason.

He soon won promotion to sub-inspector in charge of the area from Cooktown to the Palmer River goldfield. In 1874 he was ordered to blaze a new trail from the goldfields to Cooktown, a task which suited his taste, but led several extrajudicial "dispersals" of Aboriginals. In late 1874, after the killing of the Stroh family travelling to the Palmer River, Douglas led severe reprisals against Aboriginals in the area. Newspaper articles reported that "the blacks...died the death they so richly deserved and...we may hope that his Sniders will reach a few more of them."

His success on the Cookston trail secured him a second commission to find a practicable route to the new Normanby field, and in 1876 to yet another new goldfield, the Hodgkinson. For these achievements he ranks with the important explorers of the north.

In 1879 Douglas moved to a new station, Jundah, in the west, but next year was sent back to the north, this time to Biboohra on the Atherton Tableland. His services were much in demand and he was brought to Brisbane in 1881 to take charge of white police, but in 1882 he was sent to Herberton in the north. Once again exploratory duties called him: with four troopers, two old gold diggers and five Chinese, he blazed yet another trail, this time from Herberton to Mourilyan. On this trip the party was without rations and in continuous rain for twenty days, living mainly on roots, but the leadership of Douglas brought them through. He established a new native police camp at Mourilyan, and the government allocated to him a small steamship Vigilant to assist his patrols of the coast. At the end of 1884 he was given charge of the Townsville district, but from May to September 1885, during the Russian scare, because of his naval experience he was appointed commander of H.M.S. Otter in the Queensland navy. His next move was to Roma but in 1886 he was sent north to Georgetown in charge of the Gulf district. There he took charge of the largest gold escort, 26,000 oz., ever recorded in Queensland. In 1888 he moved his headquarters to Normanton where he remained until 1891. In 1893 he returned to Roma but in May 1898 became senior inspector of the Northern district, stationed at Townsville. In 1900 he was transferred to Brisbane and on 1 July succeeded John Stuart as chief inspector of the Queensland Police.

in 1900, be became a Justice of the Peace. He acted as commissioner four times and in 1902 went to Roma to investigate the Kenniff case. In 1905 Douglas was superannuated and returned to England. He was awarded the Imperial Long Service medal in 1907. 

On 19 April 1884 at Charters Towers as a widower he had married Lucie, who at 3 had come to Australia in 1858 with her father Abraham Street, of Alva, Stirlingshire. They had no children. She died on 13 May 1905. He married for a third time in 1906 Susan Williams, who was still living in 1921.

On 5 February 1914 he died in a private hospital near Portsmouth. 


• Australian Dictionary of Biography, et al.




This page was last updated on 11 October 2021

Click here to 
Print this page

Biography finder





























Index of first names