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Sir James Douglas of Spott





Sir James Douglas of Spott, the natural son of James, 4th Earl of Morton was a lay prior of Pluscarden Abbey. He was involved in a conspiracy against King James Vl.  He was one of the Irish Undertakers.


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Sir James Douglas of Spott: Clancarney, 2,000 acres, Fews barony, Armagh. Natural son of fourth earl of Morton, Scottish Regiment 1572 to 1578. From Haddington. Married Anna, only daughter of Sir George Home, fiar of Spott. Received numerous gifts from King. 1610 described as gentleman of the privy chamber. Not in Ireland 1610. (Carew Reort) initially only an agent present, but commissioners had left, fifteen families of workmen and officers brought from Scotland. Aug 1611 Douglas expected on his Irish estate. By 2 May 1611 conveyed proportion to Henry Atcheson (Acheson).


Douglas remained in Ulster. 1612 among planters who complained to the King of robberies by Irish. Had died by end of Jul 1614 (Bodley's Report). Henry Acheson's and Douglas's proportions combined contained forty-seven British families (Pynar's Report).


Douglas's proportion in the hands of Sir Archibald Acheson, Henry's brother. Stone bawn built and strong house begun. Twenty-nine families in town of Clancarney. These, along with the rest of Sir Archibalds tenants, could make 173 men at arms. 1622 report: Sir Archibald's estates contatined 130 British families.

Henry Acheson: Coolemalish, 1,000 acres, Fews barony, Armagh. From Edinburgh, though the family came from Gosford, Hadingtonshier. Applied for Ulster land 1609, By 20 Apr 1610 chosen as undertaker. Ulster patent dated Jul 1610. 1611 purchased the 2,000 acres granted to Sir James Douglas. (Carew report): timber and stones collected; eight or nine settlers established. Livestock present. Had two land disputes; most serious was with the archbishop of Armagh, which was settled after the King's intervention. (Bodley's report): forty-seven British families of Acheson's and Douglas's proportions. By 1619, Douglas land had passed to Archibald Acheson, brother to Henry. (Pynnar's report): Henry Acheson's land - considered progress in building, thirty men present, but no leases granted.


Into this district, - a region then clothed with dense forests, much of it bogland and wild, where wolves lurked and wild Irish kerns, roamed in marauding bands - came the new land owners and their settlers. (Kerns were the native Irish foot-soldier or peasant).

These people laboured and lived through these barbaric times, bringing with them a form of civilisation. They married and brought up families, who were to be the cornerstones of the community. Many of our people today can trace their ancestors back to these settlers who came with the Douglas, Acheson and Hamilton families.




It was not long before James was exposed to dangers from another quarter, fully as formidable as those by which he supposed himself threatened through Satanic agency.

Bothwell, whose fierce temper was exasperated to the highest degree by the proceedings which had been taken against him, and which he imputed chiefly to the influence of the chancellor, now formed the daring design of suddenly entering the palace, and surprising and making prisoners [both him and] the king. Maitland, who aimed at too exclusive a place in the confidence and affection of his master, had become odious to many of the courtiers, all of whom, including the Duke of Lennox, were consequently easily induced to enter into a conspiracy which promised to issue in the overthrow of that minister; and Bothwell, having Collected a small band of his desperate followers, it was resolved that the attempt should be made.

Accordingly, on the 27th of December, about seven o'clock in the evening, Bothwell and his party repaired to the palace, and having without noise obtained entrance by a back passage that led through the stables of the Duke of Lennox, they soon found themselves, unobserved, in the inner court of the palace. At that moment, when neither the king nor the chancellor had the least suspicion of danger, and had taken no precautions for their own protection, it would have been an easy matter to seize and make prisoners of both; but fortunately for them this result was prevented by the incaution and precipitancy of one of the conspirators.

Some of the servants of James Douglas of Spot had, a few days before, been apprehended on suspicion of having been concerned in the murder of George Hume of Spot, the father-in-law of Douglas, and had been confined in the palace, preparatory to being examined by torture. Anxious for their release, and seeing no other means of effecting it, Douglas had been induced to join Bothwell in the conspiracy, and, eager only for the accomplishment of that object, he at once proceeded with a detachment of the conspirators to the chamber where his people were confined, and began to batter down the door with sledge-hammers.

The unusual noise alarmed the whole household. The king, who was then at supper in the queen's apartments, rushed precipitately down a back stair leading to one of the turrets, in which he took refuge; the chancellor, who happened to be then in the palace, shut himself up with a few servants in his own chamber; and the attendants of the queen barred and barricaded the door of her apartments. Bothwell, having first sent a party to secure the chancellor, went with the rest of the conspirators to the queen's apartments, with the intention of seizing the king, whom he expected to find there; but being unable to obtain admission, he became furious with rage, and called loudly for fire to burn the door.

In the meantime, the chancellor and his attendants were courageously defending themselves, and beating back their assailants; while Sir James Sandilands, one of the gentlemen of the king's bedchamber, having been informed of his majesty's danger, had run with all speed to the provost, who hastily collected a number of armed citizens, with whom he entered the palace by a private door leading to the chapel, and compelled Bothwell and his followers to take to flight. The greater part, owing to the darkness of the night, succeeded in effecting their escape, but nine of the lower order were captured, and, without the formality of a trial, were hanged next morning at the Cross of Edinburgh. In this daring attempt, sometimes denominated in history the "Raid of the Abbey", only one person was killed,—Shaw, the king's equerry, who was shot by Bothwell while attempting to prevent his escape.



James Douglas, Prior of Pluscardine married (mcrt 18 Feb 1577/8) Anna Home (dau of George Home, fiar of Spott), and had issue, Archibald.


Sir James Douglas, of Spott; Haddington constabulary, 1612.  Commendator of Pluscardine, natural son of James, Earl of Morton, had a charter, 31 Jan 1577/78 of the lands of Easter Spott, Co. Edinburgh from George Home, Fiar of Spott


Ratification in favour of Sir James Douglas of Spott - Parliamentary Register > 23 October 1612
Our sovereign lord and estates of this present parliament ratify, approve and confirm the infeftment granted by his majesty under his highness's great seal, with consent of his highness's treasurer, collector general and treasurer of his majesty's new augmentations, remaining officers of state and lords of his majesty's secret council, to his highness's beloved Sir James Douglas of Spott, knight, and his male heirs and of tailzie and provision therein specified and assignees whatsoever, of all and whole the lands and barony of Spott, comprehending the lands and others underwritten, namely: all and whole the lands of Easter Spott with the parts and pendicles thereof, namely: the 14 husband lands of the town of Spott with the cottages thereof, with the east and west mills of Spott, the lands of Lochhouses, the Mains of Doon and Brownisknow, the lands of Helden and Dunley, the lands of Easter and Wester Broomhouse, together with the four husband lands called Paulis lands, and the two husband lands called Pookis lands lying in the town and territory of Spott, and also the lands of Reidpethnuke, with tenants, tenancies, service of free tenants, mills, woods, thickets, annexes, connexes, parts, pendicles, pertinents and dependents of all the lands and mills above-written whatsoever, lying within the sheriffdom of Edinburgh and constabulary of Haddington, together with the advocation, donation and right of patronage of the prebendary of Spott situated of old within the college kirk of Dunbar, comprehending the parsonage and vicarage of Spott, which are by the said infeftment united and erected in a whole and free barony called the barony of Spott, to be held of our sovereign lord and his successors likewise at more length is contained in the said infeftment of the date at Edinburgh, 9 August 1605, with the precept and infeftment of sasine following thereupon. And also our said sovereign lord and estates foresaid ratify, approve and confirm the letter of chamberlainship and bailiary granted by his majesty under his highness's privy seal, with consent of his majesty's comptroller for the time, to the said Sir James Douglas of Spott, knight, whereby he was made and constituted during his lifetime his highness's chamberlain and bailie of all his majesty's lands and lordship of Dunbar, with parts, pendicles and pertinents thereof whatsoever, for exercising and using of which office his majesty gave and granted to the said Sir James Douglas of Spott, knight, in fee, 20 bolls of wheat and 20 bolls of barley, to be yearly uplifted by him during his lifetime of the readiest ferms of the said lands and lordship of Dunbar, as the said letter of chamberlainship and bailiary granted to the said Sir James Douglas thereupon of the date at Newcastle, 13 April 1603, at more length bears, in all and sundry points, passages, heads, articles, clauses, conditions and circumstances whatsoever contained in the said infeftment and letter of chamberlainship and bailiary respectively above-written, after the forms and tenors thereof with all that has followed or may follow thereupon. Likewise his majesty and estates foresaid statute and ordain that this present ratification is and shall be as valid, effectual and sufficient in all respects as if the foresaid infeftment and letter of chamberlainship and bailiary respectively above-written of the dates respectively above-specified were at length and word by word engrossed in this present act. And also his majesty and estates foresaid will, grant, statute and ordain that the foresaid infeftment and letter of chamberlainship and bailiary respectively above-specified, and this present ratification thereof, are and shall be good, lawful, valid and effectual rights and securities to the said Sir James Douglas, his male heirs and assignees foresaid, for possessing and enjoying of the lands, barony and others above-written with the pertinents contained in the infeftment above-specified, as their heritage in all time coming, and for using and exercising of the said office of chamberlainship and bailiary of the lands and lordship above-written with the pertinents during the space above-specified, and for uplifting of the foresaid yearly duty of 20 bolls of wheat and 20 bolls of barley, to be yearly uplifted of the readiest ferms of the lands and lordship above-written, during the said space of his lifetime, after the forms and tenors of the said infeftment and letter of chamberlainship and bailiary respectively above-mentioned.


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