George Douglas, 1st Earl of Dumbarton


George Douglas, 1st Earl of Dumbartonb. 1635, d. 20 March 1691/92

Major-General George Douglas, 1st Earl of Dumbarton was the son of William Douglas, 1st Marquess of Douglas and Mary Gordon

He married Anne Wheatley, daughter of Robert Wheatley

He gained the rank of Colonel in 1665 in the service of the 1st Foot. 

He was created 1st Lord Douglas of Ettrick [Scotland] on 9 March 1674/75. He was created 1st Earl of Dunbarton [Scotland] on 9 March 1674/75.

He was commander of the Scottish army which defeated pro-Monmouth forces under the Earl of Argyll in 1685. (See: Argyll's Rebellion)

He was a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to James II (VII in Scotland).

George Douglas kept a pack of terriers from Scotland that was so tough he called them the “Diehard Pack”. He later went on to name his favorite regiment, The Royal Scots, “Dumbarton’s Diehards” after his dogs. The nickname ‘Diehard’ has stuck with the Scottish Terrier to this day

On February 6, 1685, Charles II died, and the succession to the throne of a Catholic King in James VII/II brought to a head both the discontents at home and the plots of exiles abroad. The militia was called out; a force of regulars was assembled under the Earl of Dumbarton, the new Scottish Commander-in-Chief — that Lord George Douglas who had commanded and given his name to the Royal Scots, and who is commemorated in their regimental march of “Dumbarton’s Drums.”

Douglas—a good soldier who was afterwards (after being appointed Scottish Commander-in-Chief) to win fame in William’s service at Limerick, but a man of a jealous and irascible temper—had already turned his eyes to the rising sun.

Order of the ThistleClick to enlarge

He was invested as a Knight, Order of the Thistle (K.T.) in 1687.

He gained the rank of Major-General in the service of the French Army.

 When King James VII/II fled to France, he was joined in exile by the Earl of Dumbarton.

In 1660, George was injured in a duel with the duc de Normandie.  The future James II of England was made "Duke of Normandy" by King Louis XIV on 31st December 1660, a few months after the restoration of his brother Charles II to the throne of England and Ireland. The latter being already Duke of Normandy, having also been proclaimed king in Jersey in 1649. The fact of granting this same title to James II - in reference to the continental Normandy - undoubtedly constituted a political gesture on the part of the Sun King.

 George Douglas, 1st Earl of Dumbarton died at St Germain-en-Laye, a royal palace being used by James II, and was buried at the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, amongst other members of his family.

     Child of Major-General George Douglas, 1st Earl of Dumbarton and Anne Wheatley:


Historical note:

The execution of the Mauchline martyrs initiated the most violent period of the Killing Times.

Their deaths are first recorded in Alexander Shields’ A Short Memorial (1690):

‘Item, The said [John Graham of] Claverhouse, together with the Earl of Dumbarton, and Liev: Gen: Dowglas, caused Peter Gillis, John Bryce, Thomas Young, (who was taken by the Laird of Lee,) William Fiddison, and John Buiening, to be put to Death upon a Gibbet, without Legal Tryal or Sentence, suffering them neither to have a Bible, nor to preay before they died, at Mauchlin[e], anno 1685.’

The most confusing name listed by Shields is that of General George Douglas, 1st earl of Dumbarton. On 6 May, the traditional date for the executions in Mauchline, Dumbarton was in London. Why is his name attached to the executions? The earl of Dumbarton was the younger brother of William Douglas, duke of Hamilton. Alongside his men, Dumbarton’s Regiment of Foot which was recruited in Scotland, he fought for Louis XIV and rose to become a Marechaux De Camp in the French Army. The song ‘Dumbarton’s Drums’ is based on the Jacobite sympathies of the regiment.

In the 1670s, Dumbarton and the regiment returned to the King’s service and in May 1685 he was sent to Scotland to assume overall command of Scottish forces that would face the earl of Argyll’s rising. As James King Hewison pointed out a century ago, the involvement of the earl of Dumbarton in any trial on 6 May is impossible, as the newly-commissioned earl was expected to arrive from London on 13 May. Hewison’s solution was to move the date of the executions back to 16 May. However, it is more likely that Dumbarton was listed because he was the later commander-in-chief of the forces which were responsible for the Mauchline executions. Dumbarton was a high-profile Jacobite. At the Revolution he joined James VII in France. He died in exile in 1692 and is buried in the Abbey of St Germain des Prés. (Hewison, Covenanters, II, 478.)

GeorgioThought to be George, Earl of Dumbarton.  This 17th century print, a revolutionary seizure now in Museum of Fine Arts in Rennes, France

In May 2018, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, were created Earl and Countess of Dumbarton on the occasion of their marriage.


See also:

•  Dumbarton's Drums


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