Earls, marquesses and dukes of Queensberry - Encyclopedia

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EARLS, MARQUESSES AND DUKES OF. QUEENSBERRY The Queensberry title, one of the many with which the Scottish house of Douglas is associated, originated in the creation. of Sir William Douglas (d. 1640) as earl of Queensberry in 1633. He was the eldest son of Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig (d. 1616). His grandson William, the 3rd earl (1637-1695), was created marquess of Queensberry in 1682 and duke of Queensberry in 1684; he was lord justice general and an extraordinary lord of session. He was also lord high treasurer of Scotland, and served James II. as lord high commissioner to the parliament of 1685, but in 1686 he was deprived of his offices. He had assented to the accession of William and Mary and had again enjoyed the royal favour before he died on the 28th of March 1695. His son James Douglas, the 2nd duke (1662-1711), was born at Sanquhar Castle on the 18th of September 1662, and was educated at the university of Glasgow, afterwards spending some time in foreign travel. At the Revolution of 1688 he sided with William of Orange and was made a privy councillor; after he had become duke of Queensberry in 1695 he was appointed an extraordinary lord of session and keeper of the privy seal. He was the royal commissioner to the famous Scottish parliament which met in 1700, and just after the accession of Anne in 1702 he was made one of the secretaries of state for Scotland. In the latter part of 1703 he came under a temporary cloud through his connexion with the Jacobite intriguer, Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, who had utilized Queensberry's jealousy of the duke of Atholl to obtain a commission from him to get evidence in France which would implicate Atholl. The plot was betrayed by Robert Ferguson, and Queensberry was deprived of his offices. However, in 1705 he was restored and in 1706 he was again commissioner to the Scottish parliament; in this capacity he showed great ability in carrying through the treaty for the union of the two crowns, which, chiefly owing to his influence and skill, was completed in 1707. For this he was very unpopular in Scotland, but he received a pension of £3000 a year. In 1708 he was created duke of Dover and marquess of Beverley, and he obtained a special remainder by which his titles were to pass to his second surviving son Charles, and not to his eldest son James, who was an idiot. In February 1709 he was appointed third secretary of state, and he died on the 6th of July 1711.

Charles Douglas, the 3rd duke (1698-1778), who had been created earl of Solway in 1706, was lord justice general from 1763 until his death in October 1778. In 1720 he married Catherine, daughter of Henry Hyde, 4th earl of Clarendon; this lady, a famous beauty, although very eccentric, was the friend of many of the wits and writers of her day, notably of Gay, Swift and Walpole. She died on the 17th of July 1777. Their two sons predeceased the duke, and when he died his British titles, including the dukedom of Dover, became extinct, but the Scottish titles passed to his cousin, William, 3rd earl of March (1724-1810).

This William Douglas, who now became the 4th duke of Queensberry, is best known by his soubriquet of "Old Q." On the turf he was one of the most prominent figures of his time, and his escapades and extravagances were notorious. From 1766 to 1776 he was vice-admiral of Scotland, and in 1760 he was made a lord of the bedchamber by George III.; but later he was an associate of the prince of Wales, being removed from his office in the royal household in 1789. A generous patron of the stage and of art, he was to the end of his life a "noble sportsman" of the dissolute type, and his degeneracy was the theme both of Wordsworth and of Burns. He died unmarried, but not without children, in London on the 23rd of December 1810. The dukedom of Queensberry and some of his other titles, together with his fine seat Drumlanrig Castle, now passed to Henry Scott, 3rd duke of Buccleuch, in whose family they still remain; but the marquessate of Queensberry descended to Sir Charles Douglas (1777-1837), the representative of another branch of the Douglas family, who became the 5th marquess.

John Sholto Douglas, 8th marquess of Queensberry (1844-1900), son of Archibald William, the 7th marquess (1818-1858), became a well-known patron of sport and particularly of pugilism. He helped to found the Amateur Athletic Club in 1860, and the new rules for prize-fighting, drawn up in 1867, were called after him the "Queensberry Rules." He married the daughter of Alfred Montgomery, and was succeeded by his son, Percy Sholto, 9th marquess (b. r868).

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