Douglas of Longniddry

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This family was a cadet of the Douglases of Dalkeith, Earls of Morton, and was distinguished for steady attachment to the doctrines of the
Douglas, [Longniddry, Scotland] ar. a lion's head erased gu. on a chief of the last, a crescent betw. two stars of the first.
Reformation, which, about the middle of the sixteenth century, were spreading rapidly through this country.(1)

Longniddry is a coastal town in East Lothian, with a sweeping stretch of coastline with dunes known as Longniddry Bents. It is a place closely linked to the Douglas family, who owned Longniddry castle. This castle was destroyed in 1548 by the Scots, because its owner Hugh Douglas of Longniddry had sided with the English during the wars of the 'Rough Wooing' when the English tried to force the marriage of the infant Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1567/87) to the English Prince Edward. The rubble of the Castle was used to build nearby Redhouse Castle.

In the mid-19th century some ruins still remained, and the vaulted lower apartments of the castle could still be seen within the mound, but nothing remains now. Hugh Douglas of Longniddry, a scion of the House of Douglas of Dalkeith, was an early promoter of the Reformed doctrines. In the Duke of Somerset's expedition to Scotland in 1547, it is mentioned “ 7th September, marched that day nine miles, and camped at night by a toun standing upon the Frith called Longniddrie. There was found a gentlewoman, the wife of one Hugh Douglas. She was great with child, whose estate the council understanding, my Lord's Grace, and my Lord Lieutenant took order, that all night, without danger or damage, she was well preserved.” The Douglases had the east part of Longniddry, where the vaulted ground floor of the castle still remains. At that time, the estate belonging to the Douglases comprehended a considerable part of Hairlaw, Redcoll, and Setonhill, which have since been taken away from the estate of Longniddry, and fallen into the possession of different proprietors.

The history of the House of Seton mentions that George Earl of Winton, who died 1650, “ did conquest two considerable feu lands in Longniddrie, hereditarilly; the one from Sir George Douglas in the east, and the other from the laird of Corstorphine (Forrester of Costorphine.") As also “ he bought hereditarilly the teynds of Longniddrie from the then Bothwell, Lord Holyroodhouse.” The estates of the Earl of Winton were forfeited in the rebellion 1715, and sold to the York Buildings Company;—from whom Longniddry was purchased in 1779 by John Glassel, Esq. who was a native of Dumfries, and settled sometime as a merchant in Virginia. At his death, his only child, Joan, succeeded to the property, and married Lord John Douglas Henry Campbell, brother, and presumptive heir of William Duke of Argyle. Her eldest son, John Henry Glassel Campbell, is the [present] proprietor of Longniddry. The farm of Southfield, which formed a part of Longniddry, was sold by Mr Glassel, and is now the property of Lord Wemyss.

In his 'Laws of Entail', in 1585, James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, placed Francis Douglas of Longniddry fourth in line of succession. This was next after William Douglas of Lochleven who succeeded as 6th Earl of Morton.  Francis was the son of Hugh Douglas of Borg (c1538) , who was also called 'of Longniddry'.  Hugh, with his wife Mariot Cockburn had for sons, one of whom was Hugh described as being 'in(4) Longniddry'.

1.  When John Knox was obliged to leave St Andrews, on account of the troubles to which the Protestants were then subjected, he was invited to Longniddry by Mr Douglas. There he was employed in conducting the education of Mr Douglas' two sons, Francis and George, and also Alexander Cockburn, the eldest son of the laird of Ormiston. This Alexander Cockburn was a young man of great promise, but died at the early age of twenty-eight. A brazen tablet was erected to his memory in the aisle of the old church at Ormiston, which is still in existence. While residing at Longniddry, Knox was in the practice of expounding the Scriptures, and preaching the doctrines of the Reformation in a chapel, about half a-mile to the west of which he then lived, close by the present mansion-house of Longniddry, which, from his preaching in it, still goes by the name of Knox's Kirk.

2.  Thomas Marjoribanks of that Ilk and of Ratho, the son of John Marjoribanks of that Ilk and Helen Reid, married Mary Douglas, a daughter of Douglas of Longniddry. Thomas died in 1620.

3.  Margaret Douglas of Longniddry married William Melville, 3rd of Raith who died 1502.

4 If a person is described as being 'in' property, this a means that this person is a tenant to a feudal superior and is not the owner of the property.  Read more about 'in', of' and 'at' a place.

See also:
•  George Douglas of Longniddry
•  Hugh of Longniddry



Sources for this article include:
  • The New Statistical Account of Scotland: Linlithgow, Haddington, Berwick

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    Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024