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Colonel Robert Douglas of Strathendry







Buckingham Str., York Buildings, [London] N.12 Wednesday, 18 July 1787
Dear Sir

When I took the liberty to recommend to you protection, My friend and near relation, Mr Robert Douglas,(1) Lieutenant in the 58th regiment of foot [Rutlandshire Regiment], you was so good as to desire me to write you a letter to put you in mind of the Circumstances of his case. It is in consequence of this conversation that I take the liberty to trouble you at present.

He is the son of Coll: Robert Douglas of Strathendrie, the oldest friend and one of the nearest relations I have now living in the world. His two elder Brothers, Lieutnt Coll: Douglas of the Guards, and John Robert Douglas, of the corps of Engineers, are both officers of merit. His younger Brother, Charles Douglas, got a commission in Lord McLeods regiment, some years after Robert had joined his regiment at Gibraltar. But McLeods being a new raised regiment Charles’s first commission was a Lieutenancy, and he had very soon after an opportunity of purchasing a company in the same regiment. He was reduced to half pay at the peace,(2) but had soon after an opportunity of exchanging into full pay with an officer who wished to retire and is now a Captain in Gibraltar; His elder Brother, Robert, an older officer, and, I believe, an officer of very great merit still remaining a lieutenant. Both Brothers served during the whole siege of Gibraltar, and were both present in the sally commanded by General Ross.(3) During the continuance of the Siege Roberts friends had several opportunities of purchasing a company for him, which they were very well disposed to embrace; but they were told, I think very properly, that he could not be removed from his regiment while in actual service. His service, therefor, has stopt his preferment, instead of promoting it. For his Character as an officer and a Gentleman, I can safely refer you to all those whom he has served either with or under; particularly to Sir George Augustus Elliot,(4) General Boyd(5) and General Ross.

I believe, I told you that one of Adairs(6) places, Chelsea Hospital, is in the Gift of the paymasters; the other, or; rather the recommendation to it in that of the Secretary at War. Chelsea Hospital is the best of the two; but both would be best of all; and nothing is too good for our friend John.(7) In the giving away of these Places, the King, I understand, sometimes interferes.

Believe me to be, with the highest sense of your kindness, Dear Sir Your most obliged and most faithful, humble Servant

Adam Smith

[1 ]Robert Douglas (1760–96), died of wounds received in action at St. Vincent. See Scott Appendix IV, for a family history of this Douglas family. The youngest brother David Douglas, Lord Reston (1769–1819), became Smith’s heir.

[2 ]Of Paris and Versailles, 1782–3, following the American war.

[3 ]On 27 Nov. 1781, Maj. Gen. Charles Ross (1729–97) of Invercharron led a force of about 2,000 men in a sortie from the garrison at Gibraltar and succeeded in destroying the advanced batteries of the Spaniards.

[4 ]Gen. George Augustus Eliott (1717–90) defended Gibraltar against D’Arzon and the Spaniards, 1779–83; cr. Baron Heathfield of Gibraltar 1787.

[5 ]Lt. Gen. Sir Robert Boyd (1710–94), 2nd–in–C. Gibraltar during the siege; General 1793.Adair (c.1711–90), Sergeant–Surgeon to George III; Surgeon–General of the Army 1783; Surgeon of the Royal Military Hospital, Chelsea. Hunter; he was made Surgeon–General in 1790.


[6] Robert Adair, a favourite of King George III; was made, successively, Inspector-General of Military Hospitals, Surgeon-General, King's Sergeant Surgeon, and Surgeon to Chelsea Hospital. Dr. Robert Adair died in 1790, aged 75 years.


[7] John Hunter; he was made Surgeon–General in 1790.


Research note
Maj Gen Robert Douglas served in Gibraltar in 1783 as a Lieutenant.


See also:
1.  Douglas of Strathendry



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