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James Douglas, Burgess of Jedburgh











James Douglas c1669 was made a Burgess of Jedburgh likely sometime well before 1734 (Petitions - Royal Burghs of Scotland - the House of Commons - 15 February, 1738) " Jedburgh, the prefiding Burgh of that Diftrift, on Saturday the 18th May, 1734...James Douglas...was duly elected Delegate for the faid Burgh of Jedburgh, not being prefent at the Election of a Burgefs for the faid Diftrift..." Douglas Scott author of the 'Hawick Word Book' advised me on this "There were lots of Burgesses in a town the size of Jedburgh. All tradesmen, merchants etc. - basically the middle class - were usually Burgesses. They ran the town, set rules (so that non-Burgesses have a hard time trading), elected the Council and all the rest. It seems that the 1738 (sic 1734) record is of the Burgh of Jedburgh selecting a *particular* Burgess to serve as a "delegate". And then the delegates from a collection of burghs chose one among their number to be Member of Parliament for this "District of Burghs". It was perhaps a historical peculiarity, but nevertheless a fact that these joint towns elected an M.P., separate from the M.Ps. elected in the counties where each of them was located. Your James Douglas must have been a prominent man in Jedburgh to have been their delegate".

James Douglas was likely made a Burgess of Jedburgh, well prior to 1734, it appears that assessment may need some slight adjustment? For an article in the Glasgow Herald dated Mar 3 1930 just discovered by me (Google newspapers online) states under 'Freedom of Jedburgh for Councillors' - "At the monthly meeting of the Jedburgh Town Council yesterday the practice of enrolling members of the Council as Burgesses, allowed to lapse for the past three years, was resumed...The present roll dates from 1736, when a James Douglas had the honour of the first entry..." There is a good chance that it could have been referring to James Douglas c1669. From this site - Ragman Roll - it shows that there were Burgesses of Jedburgh at least by 1296. So James Douglas may have been a Burgess well prior to 1734 and the commencement of a (signed) roll in 1736 was a new type of record on the Burgesses.

James Douglas also gets a mention in the House of Lords entries in 1737/38 - he was involved in a Petition and Appeal taken to the House of Lords concerning the Council of Jedburgh - An Appeal by 'William, Marquis of Lothian & al V Haswell & al'. The fight was over who was the Provost of Jedburgh and the Councillors and the from the point of view of the Marquis, the opposing forces were 'Interlocutors'. James Douglas, Gardener is mentioned on the side of the Marquis, and along with all others involved his name is preserved on a parchment scroll. I have a digital copy of that scroll, obtained from the House of Lords - Archives in London, England.

In the 1737/38 Appellant's Case those of influence in the affairs of the Town Council included - the Council Dean, the Bailiff, the Deacon of the Guilds, Burgesses (including James Douglass or Douglas c1669) and the Deacons of the Guilds of Merchants, Glovers, Wrights, Taylors (likely my ancestor Gabriel Newton), Fleshers, Shoemakers, Weavers, Masons, Sadlers, Smiths and Hammermen, plus some individuals who acted for themselves such as a Tobacconist and a Writer.

The Appeal case from the Marquis was - "That the said Interlocutors, so far as they are in the Appeal recited, may be reversed, varied, or amended; and that the Appellants may obtain such Relief as this House shall find just. As also upon the joint and several Answer of the said John Haswell and the Persons last named put in to the said Appeal, and due Consideration had of what was offered on either Side in this Cause."

Judgement (by the House of Lords). It is Ordered and Adjudged, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, That the Interlocutor of the Lords of Session, of the 19th of January last, whereby the Elections of the Appellants were reduced at the Suit of the Respondents, be affirmed. And it is Declared, That the Elections of Counsellors and Magistrates for the Borough of Jedburgh, insisted on by the Respondents, were irregular and void. And it is therefore further Ordered and Adjudged. That the same be reduced, and that so much of the other Interlocutors complained of, whereby the Court of Session decerned in the Declarator, at the Instance of the Respondents, and assoilzied from the Reduction at the Instance of the Appellants, with regard to all the Elections thereby quarrelled (excepting those of Robert Winterup and George Scougald), be reversed.


This may be James Douglas , born 1669, gardener, progenitor of the watch and clock making families.


1. There was another James Douglas but he was on the side of the imposters.


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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024