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James Douglas, gardener









The contents of a collection of documents relating to the Douglas family of Peterrsham held in the Surrey History Centre archives relate to James Douglas, described as a 'gentleman' of Petersham Lodge in the apprenticeship indenture of 1802 (4072/2), and his family.

James Douglas (circa 1749 - 20 January 1811) was a 'gardener', or estate manager, for Sir William Manners, heir apparent of the Earl of Dysart at Petersham, Surrey.

There were two houses called Petersham Lodge in Petersham in the early nineteenth century, one in River Lane and the other, with which the Douglases were associated, set in fifty-nine acres of grounds and gardens on the edge of Richmond Park. According to the Victoria History of the County of Surrey iii, 529, this Petersham Lodge was the Surrey residence of Sir William Manners, heir apparent of the Earl of Dysart, until his death in 1833. In 1834 it was sold by Manners' executors to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests by whom it was demolished and its grounds incorporated within the park. [Sir William Manners, baronet of Hanby Hall, Lincolnshire, styled Lord Huntingtower 1821 - 1833, was born in 1766. He was the Member of Parliament (Whig) for Ilchester between 1803 and 1804 and 1806 and 1807. He died at Buckminster Park, Leicestershire, on 11 March 1833.]

The court book of the manor of Petersham for the years 1742-1809 (58/4/2/2 pp292-3 and 297) describes James Douglas as Sir William Manners' gardener. Information provided by Douglas in his memorandum book suggests, however, that his duties tended more towards those of an estate manager. The financial accounts show that he paid the wages of some fifteen labourers, including a carter, a mole catcher and two women who did jobs such as weeding in the stable yard. He can also be seen to have purchased seed, grain for doves, large quantities of dung and gravel, and to have paid the costs of turnpikes when the vegetables he had sown and harvested were sent 'to town'. He also recorded the dates when cows were served by the bull and on 30 June 1800 noted that twenty-three acres of grass had been mowed. This evidence is confirmed by the court book, which shows that Douglas represented Sir William Manners in the manorial court.

On 1 November 1804 Sir William Manners was admitted to a parcel of land on the manor and Douglas is recorded as acting in the court on this occasion as 'his Attorney in this behalf'. Douglas also seems to have been employed by Elizabeth, Lady Pembroke, whose gardens at Pembroke Lodge adjoined those of Manners. On 6 June 1800 he received forty pounds 'By cash of Sir Wm [William] Manners bart' and on 1 July 1800 he received fifty pounds from Lady Pembroke. On 17 November 1800 Douglas recorded in his memorandum book that Sir William Manners had arrived in Petersham for the winter and on 1 December he recorded 'My half years wages due this day 36.15s.' On Sunday 15 June 1800 Douglas 'dined at Sir Wm Manners Oxford street.' [Elizabeth, second daughter of Charles, third Duke of Marlborough was born in 1737 and died at Pembroke Lodge in 1831. She married Henry Herbert, Earl of Pembroke and Earl of Montgomery (1734-1794) in 1756. Between 1783 and 1818 she was Lady of the Bedchamber to the Queen Consort]

Personal information is also recorded in the memorandum book, such as the death of Betsy Douglas on 17 April 1800 and the death of a Mrs Douglas on 21 July 1800. The Petersham burial register for 1786-1812 (P48/1/12) records the burial of an Ann Douglas, aged fifty-one, on 25 July 1800 but does not record the burial of Betsy. The reference in the memorandum book to the education of James Douglas' son at an un-named school in Reading in July 1800 and the apprenticeship of James, another son, to James Houlditch of London in 1802 (4072/2) suggest that James Douglas' marriage by the Rev Crundell to Elizabeth Riddick of Kingston at All Saints Kingston on 26 July 1801, which is also recorded in the memorandum book, was not his first marriage.

The Petersham parish registers provide a little further information about the Douglas family. The baptism register for the period 1786-1812 (P48/1/4) records the births and baptisms of four of the children of James and Elizabeth Douglas: Mary Ann, born December 1803, baptised January 1804; Henry, born November 1805, baptised December 1805; John, born September 1807, baptised October 1807 and George, born June 1810 and baptised July 1810. No reference to James Douglas' first marriage or the baptism of his son, James, were found.

The Petersham burial register for 1786-1812 (P48/1/12) records the burial of James Douglas aged sixty-two on 20 January 1811. No reference to his baptism was found in the Petersham baptism register between 1748 and 1751 (P48/1/3) or the Surrey fiche of the International Geneaological Index (IGI). The grant of administration of the goods of James Douglas (4072/3) reveals that his widow married George Laud before her death in 1827. No reference to this marriage was found in the Petersham marriage register 1813-1837 (P48/1/11) or the IGI.

The memorandum book also records some meterological information, as well as national and local events such as a 'General Fast Day' on 12 March 1800 and a race meeting at Epsom on 29 June.

Of the employees named in the memorandum book Benjamin Humphreys served as parish beadle in 1831 and died in 1848. The 'Mr Blizzard' from whom Douglas made regular purchases of dung may have been Allen Blizard, innkeeper of the Plough and Harrow in Petersham. According to the court book of the manor of Petersham (58/4/2/2 pp297-298) Blizard was admitted on 1 November 1804 to a parcel of land between Petersham burial ground and the road, formerly held by Sir William Manners. This parcel adjoined land already occupied by Blizard. It is possible that Blizard was able to supply Douglas with dung from the stables at the inn.


See also:

  • Douglas House, Petersham
  • Reverend James Douglas, 4th Baron Douglas of Douglas

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