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Murder of James Douglas






Andrew Rutherford, executed for the Murder of James Douglass, Brother to Sir William Douglass of Cavers, on 25th of November, 1674


Andrew Rutherford was accused of having conceived deadly malice against James Douglass; that having dined together in a farmer's house on the 9th of July preceding, in company with several gentlemen, he, urged by this malevolent passion, on their way home from dinner, within half-a-mile of the town of Jedburgh, did murder Douglass, by giving him a mortal wound with a small sword through the arm, and through the body under the right pap, of which wounds he died within four hours; that he immediately fled to England, and would have embarked at South Shields, for Holland, had he not been apprehended. The prisoner pleaded self-defence.


Robert Scott of Horslehill deposed that, about ten at night on the 9th of July, he, with Charles Ker of Abbotrule, William Ker of Newtown, and their servants, the prisoner, and the deceased, after dining at Swanside, called in the evening at the house of John Ker at Berchope, in their way to Jedburgh. Douglass was riding a little way before him, and Rutherford, who was at a distance behind, galloped up beyond him to Douglass. They rode a little way together, then alighted and drew their swords. On galloping up, he saw them pushing at each other, and called to them to desist; but before he could alight they were in each other's arms. He asked if there was any hurt done; to which Rutherford answered, none that he knew of; but at the same time Douglass held out his right hand, and said that he had got blood. He demanded their swords, which they immediately delivered to him. Instantly thereafter Douglass sunk down, and Rutherford fled. A surgeon was sent for from Jedburgh, they being but a quarter of a mile from the town. By his order Douglass was put on a horse —- a man sitting behind, and one walking on each side. When they arrived at Jedburgh, Douglass was laid on a bed, but he died within two hours after receiving the wounds. Both in the field and when laid in bed he exclaimed: "Fie! fie! that I should be affronted by such a base man!" The witness did not hear him say he was wounded before he drew; as little did he hear him urge anything before his death in vindication of the prisoner.


The jury returned their verdict on the 12th of November, unanimously finding the prisoner guilty; and on the 16th the Court passed sentence of death upon him, ordaining him to be beheaded on the 25th, at the Cross of Edinburgh.


See also:

  • Douglas of Cavers

    Note: James was possibly the son of Sir Archibald Douglas, 10th of Cavers


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    Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024