Sir William (le Hardi) Douglas


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William "le Hardi", Lord of Douglas


William "le Hardi", third from his namesake William de Duglas, was a prominent baron at the time of William Wallace. He is most notable for being the first Lord to join Wallace in his revolt against English rule. Ronald McNair Scott, in his book "Robert the Bruce: King of Scots", writes about William "le Hardi's" eager alliance with Wallace,

"The gesture of Sir William (Douglas) was typical of the man. Crusader, warrior, egoist, he had gone his own throughout life with very little regard for anyone else. He had flouted the guardians of the interregnum and insulted the authority of King Edward by abducting and forcibly marrying Eleanor de Ferrers, an English widow, while she was staying with relatives in Scotland."


He was captured by the English and executed. He had three sons; Sir James "The Good", Hugh "The Dull", and Archibald, who became the first Regent of Scotland.



2nd version:

WILLIAM 0~’ DOUGLAS (d. 1298), called “le hardi,”


Archibald’s grandson, was the first formally to assume the title of lord of Douglas. After the death of his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander the Steward, he abducted from the manor of the La Zouches at Tranent an heiress, Eleanor of Lovain, widow of William de Ferrers, lord of Groby in Leicestershire, who in 1291 appeared by proxy in the court of the English king, Edward I., to answer for the offence of marrying without his permission. He gave a grudging allegiance to John de Baliol, and swore fealty to Edward I. in 1291; but when the Scottish barons induced Baliol to break his bond with Edward I. he cornmanded at Berwick Castle, which he surrendered after the sack of the town by the English in 1296. After a short imprisonment Douglas was restored to his Scottish estates on renewing his homage to Edward I., but his English possessions, including Woodham Ferrers, were forfeited. He joined Wallace’s rising in 1297, and died in 1298, a prisoner in the Tower of London.



3rd version

Sir William "le Hardi" of Douglas was born c1240, but where the name "le Hardi", meaning "the bold", came from is unknown.

While governor of Berwick he was captured when the town was besieged by the English and spent time in an English prison. He was released later only after agreeing to accept English King Edward I as overlord of Scotland. However he was later a strong supporter of and fought alongside William Wallace. For this he was placed back in prison until his death.


He first married Elizabeth Stewart, and later married Eleanor de Louvaine. I have one child by each, and one unsure:
child by Elizabeth Stewart


  1. Sir James Douglas "the Good" (Lord of Douglas, c1286-25Aug1333) A lifelong friend and supporter of Robert the Bruce, King of Scots. After the Bruce’s death, Sir James was the Black Douglas charged to take the Heart of Robert the Bruce into battle. Sir James died in battle in Spain during the crusade against the Moors. Had known (illegitimate) son:
    1. Archibald Douglas "the Grim" fought in the defence of Edinburgh castle against English King Henry IV in 1400, and achieved the rank of Lieutenant General of Scotland. Was killed in action along with his son while fighting the English in France.

child by Eleanor de Louvaine

  1. Sir Archibald of Douglas

child probably by Elanor de Louvaine

  1. Hugh Douglas (Lord of Douglas)

William "le Hardi" died in either 1298 or 1302 in a London prison.




Captured at Berwick, his distant cousin, Robert, stood hostage for him.


He was present at The Capitulations of Irvine.


Sir William "Le Hardy" Douglas (d 1298) turned to Thomas Dickson for help in recovering Sanquhar Castle in 1295. Thomas, the hero of the hour, made an unopposed entry in a wood cart with which he blocked open castle gates. He killed the porter with his dirk and he slew three gate wardens with an axe. The castle was retaken before the English defenders could rise from their beds. When 3,000 English later appeared to lay siege to the castle, Thomas slipped out through a secret passage to warn William Wallace. Wallace rescued the castle, with the English losing 500 men in the process.


William le Hardi Douglas signed the Ragman Roll twice in 1296: the first time was in Edinburgh on 10 June; the second was on 28 August in Berwick on Tweed.


In May/June 1297, he took part in the raid on Scone.


Seal of William 'Le Hardi' Douglas


SignatureThe first part of Sir William's signature, carved into the wall of his cell in the Tower of London (bottom left in image)


This page was last updated on 03 October 2020

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