Archibald Douglas, 1st Earl of Forfar

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Archibald Douglas, first earl of Forfar (1653–1712), nobleman, was born in Lanarkshire on 3 May 1653, the eldest son of the second marriage of Archibald Douglas, earl of Angus (c.1609–1655), to Lady Jean Wemyss (d. 1715), eldest daughter of David Wemyss, second earl of Wemyss. On his father's death, in January 1655, Douglas ought to have succeeded to the title of second earl of Ormond, which his father obtained from Charles II in April 1651 for himself and the heirs-male of his second marriage. However, owing to Charles's defeat at Worcester and the establishment of the Commonwealth, the patent never passed the great seal, and the title of earl of Ormond was never borne by either father or son. Nevertheless, after the Restoration, by patent dated 2 October 1661, the king created Douglas earl of Forfar, Lord Wandell and Hartside, with precedency dating from the original grant of 1651.

Forfar sat in parliament in 1670, but there appears to be little record of the earl's public life until the revolution of 1688. This is probably due to his apparent dissatisfaction with aspects of the Scottish policy of both Charles II and James VII and II. Like his father, he seems to have held covenanting sympathies. In 1685 a complaint was brought before the privy council that Forfar, along with various others, had since August 1679 ‘attended house and field conventicles in the shires of Lanerk … or elsewhere, and heard divers rebels and vagrant preachers, “these trumpets of sedition and rebellion”’, and had ‘proposed to levy money for rebels, prisoners or banished persons’ (Reg. PCS, 10.121).

After the revolution Forfar was sworn of the privy council, and regularly attended parliament and council. He was appointed one of the commissioners for executing the office of keeper of the privy seal, and in March 1689 subscribed both the act declaring the convention to be a lawful meeting of the estates, and the letter of congratulation to King William. Throughout the period from 1689 to 1702 he was actively employed on a number of committees dealing with a variety of subjects, receiving the praise of the duke of Hamilton for having carried himself very well in parliament.

Following the accession of Queen Anne, Forfar remained active in public affairs. He was a member of the privy council, and one of the lords of the Treasury—an office he held until the dissolution of that court, in consequence of the treaty of Union. Queen Anne promised him an equivalent post, and until it was obtained gave him in compensation a yearly pension of £300, although, ultimately, no similar position was forthcoming. During the debates concerning parliamentary Union, Forfar appears to have steadily voted with the government.

Forfar married Robina (1661/2–1749), daughter of Sir William Lockhart of Lee and a close friend of Queen Mary. He possessed the baronies of Bothwell and Wandell in Lanarkshire, but resided chiefly at Bothwell Castle.

He built Bothwell House as his new residence, using stone from the castle.
He died at Bothwell on 23 December 1712 and was buried in Bothwell church, where his countess erected a monument to his memory. He was succeeded as earl by their only son, Archibald Douglas (1692–1715).
Archibald Douglas, Earl of Forfar voted for the Union of Crowns in 1707, having allegedly received £100 in payment from the English.
Baron Alexander Douglas of Eagleshaw also voted for the Union, but received no payment, as did the Earl of Mortoun (sic).
Barons Archibald Douglas of Cavers and William Douglas of Dornock voted against the Union.

Father: Archibald (Earl Angus) Douglas
Mother: Jean Wemyss

Archibald Douglas, 1st Earl of Forfar (b 03.05.1653, d 23.12.1712)
m.Robina Lockhart (d 1741, dau of Sir William Lockhart of Lee)
(1)Archibald Douglas, 2nd Earl of Forfar (b 25.05.1692, d unm after Sheriffmuir 03.12.1715




Sources for this article include:

•  Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.

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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024