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Robert Douglas






Robert Douglas was the eighteenth and last provost of Lincluden. The Provostship of Lincluden was secured for him by his father, Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig circa 1547. 


The provosts of Lincluden were in general men of considerable eminence; and several held high offices of state. Among them were John Cameron (d. 1446), who became secretary, lord-privy-seal, and chancellor of the kingdom, archbishop of Glasgow, and one of the delegates of the Scottish Church to the council of Basel; John Winchester (d. 1458), afterwards bishop of Moray; John Methven, secretary of state and an ambassador of the court; James Lindsay, keeper of the privy seal, and an ambassador to England; Andrew Stewart (d. 1501), dean of faculty of the University of Glasgow, and afterwards bishop of Moray; George Hepburn, lord-treasurer of Scotland; William Stewart (d. 1545), lord-treasurer of Scotland, and afterwards bishop of Aberdeen.


Robert Douglas, the eighteenth and last provost, a bastard son of Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig, who was appointed in 1547, was allowed to enjoy the benefice for 40 years after the Reformation. So late as Yule tide 1586, Lord Maxwell had mass sung openly in the church on three days running.


Robert Douglas's grand-nephew, William Douglas, the heir of Drumlanrig, obtained a reversion of the provostry, and, after Robert's death, enjoyed its property and revenues during his own life. Succeeding to the family estates of Drumlanrig, and created afterwards Viscount Drumlanrig, and next Earl of Queensberry, he got vested in himself and his heirs the patronage and tithes of the churches of Terregles, Lochrutton, Colvend, Kirkbean, and Caerlaverock, belonging to the college, and also a small part of its lands. Lands in Crossmichael and Troqueer were given to immediate members of his family, including to his half brother, William Douglas of Drumlanrig and to his nephew, Sir James Douglas of Pinzearie (or of Baitford).


In 1584 he was warded a prisoner in Edinburgh Castle. James Stewart, Earl of Arran placed George Drummond of Blair with him as an informer. Drummond said that Douglas was an enemy of Arran and in touch with the exiled lords in England.


David Hume of Godscroft wrote that Lincluden was an advisor of John Maitland of Thirlestane around 1585. At this time he was made Collector-General and Treasurer of the New Augmentations.

He went with James VI of Scotland to Norway to meet Anne of Denmark. James Melville of Halhill mentions that Douglas did not sail in the king's ship, but in one of three other ships, along with Lewis Bellenden, John Carmichael, William Keith of Delny, George Home, James Sandilands and Peter Young.


He and John Maitland, the Earl Marischal, Patrick Vans of Barnbarroch, Lewis Bellenden, James Scrimgeour, Alexander Lindsay, John Carmichael, William Keith of Delny, William Stewart, John Skene, and George Young signed and witnessed the ratification of the king's marriage contract at Oslo on 21 November 1589.

He wrote from Helsingør to Sir Patrick Vans of Barnbarroch on 3 April 1590 about the plans for the king's return, to sail on 14 April, "wind and weather serving." He mentioned a factional struggle among the royal retinue involving William Keith of Delny, who would lose his office as keeper of the royal wardrobe.

He arrived back in Scotland on 30 April 1590.


The major part of the property of the establishment was in 1611 granted, in different shares, to Sir Robert Gordon of Lochinvar and to John Murray. The latter, prior to 1627, conveyed his share, including Lincluden College, to Robert, Earl of Nithsdale, whose lineal descendant, Capt. Alfred Constable of Terregles, is now 91863) the owner.


Till recently (1864) the ruins were neglected, but he has done much to preserve this architectural gem, by erecting a railing round it, and installing a suitable person as custodian. Extensive excavations, too, of the foundations, vaults, etc., have furnished a good deal of additional information as to the dates of different portions of the building. Lincluden House (till recently known as Youngfield), a Tudor mansion, a little SW of the church, was almost totally destroyed by fire in 1875, but was restored in the following year from designs by the late David Bryce, R.S.A., this being his last work. Its owner, Major Thomas Young (b. 1826), holds 1318 acres in the shire, valued at £1212 per annum.


He is the ancestor of the Douglas of Burford


See also:

•  Ratification to John Murray of Lochmaben and [Sir Robert Gordon], laird of Lochinvar  [pdf  2.9mb]


Any contributions will be gratefully accepted




Sources for this article include:

•  David Reid, David Hume of Godscroft's History of the House of Angus, vol. 2
•  David Laing, Works of John Knox, vol. 2
•  Calendar State Papers Scotland: 1589-1593, vol. 10



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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024