George J. Douglas

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•  George Douglas, Master-gunner of Fort William, in Scotland: Account of goods smuggled by his company: 1755. (Held in British Library)


•  Douglas, George, fl 1755, of Fort William, master-gunner and smuggler

• George J. Douglas, Master Gunner to Lieutenant-General Humphrey Bland, Fort William, 23 December 1747


 •  George Douglas was Sheriff Substitute of Inverness, 1752, at the time of the murder of Colin Campbell of Glenure on 14 May (the ‘Appin murder’)  This George Douglas was the first secretary of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge.


Starting with the above records, I found the following (unedited) references.


•  In 1 April 1755, Lord Deskford, Commissioner of the Customs, and the main opponent of Argyll, broadened his campaign to ensure that George Douglas was maintained as Sheriff -Substitute of Inverness-shire. General Humphrey Bland backed him up, yet on 4 October 1755, Argyll bluntly and successfully told Newcastle he wanted Douglas removed from his post.

•  In April 1755, Mungo Campbell, factor on the forfeited estates of Callert and Locheil, informed Lord Milton that George Douglas, Sheriff .Substitute in Fort William had received orders to press suitable men into the garrison regiment. Fort William was chosen because military officers were already present to receive the men. On 9 March 1756, a conscription act was passed in parliament. It was revised in late 1756, and implemented comprehensively across Scotland for three successive years. It involved co-operation with civilian commissioners chosen from local gentry, who, after due legal process, passed men to military officers for conscription into designated battalions.

•  Throughout the 1750s, Sheriff-Substitute George Douglas in Fort William had used the proximity of garrison battalions to implemented a policy whereby "all those suspected, [or convicted] of theft were once engaged in his Majestys service "- a decision continued by his successor Duncan Macvicar

•  Two other quarrels developed during the spring of 1755- One was over Joseph Tudor's proposal that the board purchase the Duke of Argyll's yacht for use as a customs cutter; 'as good a battle as I have seen at our Board', Colin Campbell declared to Lord Milton. The other concerned George Douglas, Justice of the Peace and Sheriff Substitute at Fort William; and spy for General Bland, Governor of Fort William. This became a test of strength between the General and Argyll; Bland, supported at the board by Deskford, claiming that Douglas was indispensible; Argyll and Colin Campbell, supporting the Collector of Customs as Fort William, who wanted Douglas charged as a smuggler. Bland claimed that the object 'was to make me appear little and insignificant in the country'; and certainly, Argyll did make Douglas's dismissal as Sheriff Substitute one of his conditions for continuing to support Newcastle in October 1795.

For a time, I thought that George Douglas, 7th of Friarshaw was the Sheriff Substitute of Inverness. However, he died in October 1753 and so could not have been active in 1755.  Fort William is in Inverness-shire, and so being Sheriff -Substitute of Inverness-shire would make him Sheriff -Substitute in Fort William, I assume.



Sources for this article include:
  • Military Recruiting in the Scottish Highlands 1739-1815: the Political, Social and Economic Context; Andrew Mackillop; September 1995
  • East India patronage and the political management of Scotland 1720-1774; George Kirk McGilvary; 1990

  • Any contributions will be gratefully accepted


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    Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024