Douglas of Toftis

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Notes relating to the family: Douglas of Toftis

Toftis: The site of a house or buildings; a homestead, also appar. sometimes with reference to land ? attached to a homestead. Freq. in collocation with croft, ?yard, etc. and with house, bygoings, etc.

The lands of Tofts in the north of the parish (of Kirktoun) appear to have given surname to their possessors so early as the thirteenth century. In 1296 Ingram, William, and Robert of Toftes, in the county of Roxburgh, swore fealty to Edward I. In 1363 William of Toftys was rector of the church of Great Cauerys. It was probably the same land which in 1478 belonged to Alexander Lindesay of Dunrod, and was by him held of Archibald earl of Angus. It seems also to correspond with the Toftis granted to Douglas of Drumlanrig by King James IV. in 1511 as part of the barony of Hawick. In 1615 the lands of Toftis were the property of Douglas of Drumlanrig, but during the remainder of the seventeenth century they frequently changed hands.

1607: David Lumsden of Blenerne and Lumsden sold the lands of Blenerne to Archibald Douglas, Esq. Of Tofts.
20th November 1609: att which time Pentland was wodfet to Archibald Douglas of Toftis in liferent, and to his fone in fie under reverfion
1615, December 2: Letters under Privy Seal of confirmation of a tack of the tiends, parsonage and vicarage of the Kirk of Kirktoun set be Mr George Douglas (?of Cavers) in faviur of Martin Douglas of Toftis and William Douglas his son.
28 November 1615: Archibald Douglas of Toftis was a Commissioner in the case of Margaret Nicolsoun who was accused of witchcraft.
c1616: ...To denounce loot Complaint by James Douglas, brother of Archibald Douglas of Toftis, ...
25th March 1617: Archbald Douglas of Toftis, fometime defigned of Faftcaftle, and William Douglas, his fone
November 1619: Charter to Archibald Douglas of Toftis of the lands of...
17 June 1617: The laird off Blacader and Archibald Douglas of Toftis for Berwick - Commissioneris for the barronis, Parliamentary Register
?161?: Douglas, Archibald, of Toftis Berwick-shire MP? (1)
16 Aug 1621: William Douglas of Toftis, Son? Archibald Douglas of Toftis ?father ..? Over and Nether Toftis... de Eccles
C1622?: William Douglas of Toftis, feuar of Pittilsheugh and Hairtsyd
Jan 26, 1625: William Douglas of Toftis acknowledges the receipt of a loan from Robert Nicolson
Unknown date: ... Berwickshire Archibald Douglas of Pittendreich (Moray), later of Toftis (...
Unknown date: Confirmation to William Dowglas of Toftis, son and heir of Archibald Dowglas of Toftis, a charter of James Maitland of ....
1627:  Esther Inglis dedicated a 'wee beukie' to a Douglas in January 1607 - the 7th Earl of Morton, the bloke that would twenty years later take an army to the Netherlands via the Isle of Wight, and be the dedicatee of 'Encouragments for the vvarres of France '(1627) by Robert Douglas of Tofts, the close friend of the tenebrous Earl of Lothian who took his own life, whereupon Robert Douglas wrote an extraordinary posthumous defence (in verse) of his friend's having chosen to end his life. Robert Douglas himself was killed at the siege of Bois-le-Duc(2) in 1629. He had been promoting ideas for new weaponry to both the Dutch and the English in the late 1620s.
Unknown date: Charter to Archibald Douglas of Tofts of the lands of Hartsyde, Easter, Wester and Middle, with mains thereof alias Wettpeyjead, paying yearly 200 merks and ...
Unknown date: Charter to Archibald Douglas of Tofts of the £5 lands of Pittilisheuche, paying yearly £7 5 s., with triplication.1 (f. 33.)

Other owners/tenanats:
• Johne Rutherfurde in the Toftis
• Alexander Mowat in Toftis
• Sir Alexander Belches, laird of Toftis — Berwickshire 1644-7 (as laird of Toftis) served heir of his father, John Belches, of Tofts, (now Purves Hall), Berwickshire.

Robert Kerr, Second Earl of Lothian, took his own life on 6 March 1624. The elegiac response to it by William Douglas of Tofts is a long, extraordinary poem, the only English elegy from the period in which a death by suicide is commemorated without correction or judgement. In fact, the poem goes further by offering a defence of suicide based largely upon classical arguments and examples. The poem and its context are rendered all the more complex by the mysteries surrounding Lothian's death: there were rumours that murder, not suicide, was the cause of death, and a few years later two Scottish women were convicted of witchcraft in relationship to it. Furthermore, some suggested that William Douglas was not only the close friend of Lothian but also his wife’s lover. That the poem comes down to us in a single manuscript copy that was in fact edited and added to by Sir James Turner decades later adds further complications to an already sensational situation.

Tofts, Rousay

Confirmed by a 1668 sasine, William Douglas of Egilsay disposed of Tofts, now a deserted and ruinous house in Quandale, Rousay, Orkney to his son ‘with the priviledge of the uppa thereof as the samen has been in use in all times bygane past memorie of man.’ The uppa, the first rig in each field or block of rigs distributed among run-rig sharers, was a privilege reserved for the most important house in the community.

1.  This would have been a Commissioner of the Scottish Parliament. I can find no record of a Douglas being a Member of Parliament for Berwickshire, despite him being included in my list of MPs
2.  Also known as the Siege of 's-Hertogenbosch. Robert was possibly in the Earl of Morton's regiment, commanded by Lord Hay of Kinfauns.



Sources for this article include:
•  Various

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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024