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An Historic 9 Bore English Flintlock Fowling-piece - Duke of Douglas










Douglas crest




with three-stage barrel fitted with moulded silver fore-sight, chiselled with an inscription over the median, signed 'John Smart Londini' over the breech, engraved with a band of foliage and stamped with the barrelsmith's mark, and London view and proof marks, engraved grooved breech tang (the barrel and tang with light pitting), signed rounded lock, refaced steel with moulded front, figured walnut full stock, carved with a moulding in low relief over the fore-end, about the rear ramrod-pipe and with an apron about the tang (minor bruising), brass mounts comprising side-plate pierced with scrolling foliage terminating in a dragon's head, trigger-guard with moulded bow and acanthus terminals, butt-plate with pronounced heel and attenuated moulded acanthus tang, escutcheon engraved with the owners arms and motto beneath a Ducal coronet, and three moulded ramrod-pipes, and horn-tipped wooden ramrod
106cm; 41 3/4in barrel

Archibald Douglas, third Marquess and first Duke of Douglas (1694-1761)
The crest and motto is that of Douglas. The inscription on the median reads ' Ex Dono Nobilissimi Gulielmi Marchionis De Lothian '
The recipient of this fowling-piece, Archibald Douglas, third Marquess and first Duke of Douglas (1694-1761), was the youngest and only surviving son of James second Marquess of Douglas. He was left under the care of tutors at the young age of six, following his father's death. They obtained for him the title the Duke of Douglas by patent from Queen Anne on the 10th of April 1703, which also conferred on him the titles of Marquess of Angus, Earl of Angus and Aberneathy, Viscount of Jedburgh Forest, and Lord Douglas of Boncle, Preston, and Roberton. His estates were erected into a dukedom and, as they were encumbered, the queen conferred on him two pensions of£400 and£500 per annum. When the Act of Union was passed in 1707, protest was made on his behalf that the treaty should not be to the prejudice of his hereditary privileges, which included giving the first vote in Parliament, carrying the crown on state occasions and leading the van in battle. At the close of the last Scottish Parliament, Douglas bore the crown from the Parliament house to the castle of Edinburgh, where the regalia were deposited. During the rebellion of 1715, he raised a regiment in support of the reigning house. He was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Forfarshire. At the battle of Sherriff Muir he was present on the staff of the Duke of Argyle and charged at the head of the cavalry as a volunteer. He maintained his loyalty also in 1745, though on that occasion his castle was occupied by the highlanders and sustained considerable damage. In 1725 in a fit of jealousy he killed his cousin Captain John Ker while his own guest at Douglas Castle and was obliged to conceal himself in Holland for a time. In addition to this he was considered eccentric by many and for some time his sanity was questioned. He died at Edinburgh on 21st July 1761, one of his dying requests being that he should be buried in the bowling green at Douglas. He was however interred in a vault in the parish church. Upon his death the Douglas titles passed to the Dukes of Hamilton and the chiefship of Douglas remains vacant, as the potential claimants retain compound surnames, which is unacceptable by the rules of clan succession.

The donor of the gun, William Kerr second Marquess of Lothian (1662? -1722) was the oldest son of Robert first Marquess and grandson of the third Earl of Lothian. He was Colonel of the Seventh Regiment of Dragoons on the first of October 1696 and a stout adherent of the border revolution. On his father's death the 15th February 1703 he became Marquess and was created a Knight of the Thistle in 1705. In common with his fellow Scottish peer, Archibald Douglas he was a staunch supporter of the union. He obtained the command of the Third Foot Guards on 25th April 1707 with the rank of Lieutenant General in 1708. He was deprived of his regiment on a change of administration in 1713 but afterwards became Major General on the North British Staff. Macky, the court spy in the time of Queen Anne, described him as follows "He hath abundance of fire, and may prove himself a man of business when he applies himself that way; laughs at all revealed religion yet sets up for a pillar of presbytery, and proves the surest card in their pack, being very zealous though not devout; he is brave in his person loves his country and his bottle, a thorough libertine, very handsome, black, with a fine eye, forty-five years old". He died at London on 28th February 1722. Taken from the Dictionary of National Biography.

The present gun is closely related to one depicted in Richard Waitt's portrait of Kenneth, Lord Duffus, circa 1712, in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Another, by the Scottish maker James Stuart and dated 1703, was formerly in the R. T. Gwyn Collection, sold Christie's King Street 24th April 2001, lot 41, (£32,900 including premium). John Smart was admitted into the Gunmaker's Company in 1705 and presented his proof piece in 1707. He is recorded in Norfolk Street, Strand circa 1715. The present gun, with its distinctive curvature to its stock in keeping with the two cited above and other Scottish long guns of the late 16th to late 17th Centuries, was evidently commissioned from his Scottish client. 


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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024