Thomas Douglas (Bailie of Edinburgh)

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Inscription in Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh

Baillie THOMAS DOUGLAS his Monument. Thomas Duglassius, antiquae & nobilis, Duglassiorum de Cavers, familiae filius, civis & mercator, Edinburgensis; tam familiam qua satus, quam civitatem cui insitus est, haud parum honestavit; vita & moribus, utraque dignus: tempore turbido & difficili, inter varios factionum aestus, nulli implicitus, nec ulli invisus; nec otio torpescens, nec nimis negotiosus; re tamen opima quaesita, honores & munera, in civitate, fugit magis quam ambiit, nec minus meruit: et adeptus, summa justitiae & integritatis Laude, bis consul urbanus, bis etiam suburbanus praetor. Demum vitae longioris, lustra bis septem emensus, omnibus viri pii, & boni civis, officiis, in familiam & necessarios, civitatem & pauperes, perfunctus, placide obiit, nono Augusti, anno sal. hum. MDCLXXXVJ,
Memoriae defuncti, hoc monumentum, debite gratitudinis tesseram, moerentes posuerunt Ricardus Duglassius, Robertus Bennetus, advocati & defuncto consanguinei; & Robertus Blackwood, senior, mercator, haeredes ipsius testamentarii.

Thomas Douglas, a son of the ancient and noble family of Douglas of Cavers, citizen and merchant in Edinburgh, not a little honoured both the family from which he descended, and the city into which he was engrafted; by his life and carriage, well worthy of both. In troublesome and difficult times, amidst the various heats of factions, he was entangled by none, nor ill-looked upon by any. He was neither slothful, through ease, nor too busie; yet, having acquired an opnlent fortune, he rather shun'd offices and honours in the city than desired them, whereby he merited them the more: and, having embraced them, he was twice city baillie, and twice suburban-baillie, with the greatest applause of justice and integrity. At last, having arrived at a considerable age of 70 years, and having performed and discharged all the duties of a godly man and good citizen, towards his linage and relations, towards the city, and towards the poor, he departed in peace, the 9th day of August, the year of man's salvation, 1686, and of his age the 70th.

To the memory of this defunct, his mournful cusings, Mr. Richard Douglas and Mr. Robert Bennet, advocats, and Robert Blackwood (4), elder, merchant in Edinburgh, his heirs testamentar, erected this monument, as a pledge of their due gratitude.


1.  It is normally thought that the Baillie was born in 1612, the year of the death of his presumed father, Sir James Douglas, 8th of Cavers. Here, it appears that he was born c1616.

2.  The second matter is that there is no reference to a family - no wife and children mentioned. Yet is thought to be the ancestor of the Douglas family of Yarm.

3.  I have not been able to trace his cousin, Richard Douglas, one of his heirs testamentar, which in turn begs the question of why he needed such.
It appears that in about 1780/81, Thomas Douglas, brother to dame Catharine Rigg, Lady Cavers's deceased husband, Sir William DOUGLAS, 11th of Cavers, who died in 1676 “nominated and appointed tutors” Sir William Eliot of Stobes, Mr. Archibald Douglas, minister at “Seatoune,” [?Salton], and Mr. Richard Douglas, advocate, to William, her eldest son, who succeeded his father, and to Archibald and John, his brothers. Could this be the same Richard Douglas?

4. Sir Robert Blackwood of Pitreavie, as he became, was Dean of guild and later Lord Provost of Edinburgh. He was a promoter of the disastrous Darien scheme, in which the Douglas of Cavers family invested.

5. The arms of Thomas Douglas are recorded in the Lyon Office for 1680-87, and are shown in G. Harvey Johnston’s Heraldry of the Douglases (1907), p.94. There, the Douglas of Edinburgh arms are described as: Argent, a man’s heart proper, on a chief azure three mullets of the first, within a bordure of the second charged with [5] crescents of the field. The associated crest comprises: A dexter hand holding a broken spear endways proper. The motto: Do or die. armorial

See also:
•  Douglas of Cavers
•  Thomas Douglas memorial stone

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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024