James Douglas, 1st Earl of Morton

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James Douglas, (1426 - 22 October 1493), the 4th Lord of Dalkeith, was created the 1st Earl of Morton in 1458.

He was the son of James Douglas, 2nd Lord of Dalkeith and Elizabeth Gifford, daughter of James Gifford of Sheriffhall. His father resigned all his estates to James in 1456 when James became the 4th Lord of Dalkeith.

James was created Earl of Morton in 1458 upon his marriage to Joanna Stewart (1428-1493), the deaf-mute daughter of James I, King of Scots and Queen Joan Beaufort.

The Earl entered into a marriage contract with Patrick Graham, Bishop of St. Andrews between the Bishop's niece and John Douglas, the Earl's eldest son and heir. In turn the Grahams, the Bishop, his brother and nephew, allied themselves to the Earl and pledged to assist him in recovering the diverted lands of Whittingehame and Morton. It appears, however, that this pledge was intended to draw the Earl of Morton into a conspiracy that included the Bishop, Lord Boyd and his party. Robert Boyd, 1st Lord Boyd who, as one of the Regents during the minority of Robert III of Scotland, took possession of the young king and married his son to the king's elder sister, for which crimes he was later attainted for high treason. The Earl of Morton apparently did not participate since he sat on the jury which convicted the Boyds. Bishop Graham was later excommunicated and deposed.

The lands of Whittinghame and all rights over the barony of Morton, Dumfriesshire were resigned into the Earl's hands in 1473-4 and in that same year he recovered the lordship of Dalkeith increasing the Earls already vast estates. He re-endowed the collegiate church at Dalkeith that his 3rd great-grandfather had founded and he also established St. Martha's Hospital and Nunnery in Aberdour, circa 1474.

The Earl and his wife had children:
•John (2nd Earl of Morton) Douglas b: BEF. 1466 Died: Abt 1512 m. Janet Crichton (dau of Patrick Crichton of Cranstonriddel)
•Johanna Douglas = Patrick (1st Earl of Bothwell) Hepburn
•James Douglas, Born: Abt 1463
•Elizabeth Douglas, Born: Abt 1467,  Died: Aft 1479   
•Janet Douglas, Born: Abt 1469 Died: Aft 1489 Married: Thomas, 2nd Lord Erskine, Bef 1445

The Earl died on 22 October 1493 when his son John succeeded him as the 2nd Earl of Morton. His wife Joanna predeceased him by 4 months dying on 22 June 1493. Their tomb, known as the Morton Monument, is located in the late gothic choir of St. Nicholas Church, Dalkeith

Different sources allocate the children differently. Most state the wife of Bothwell to be Janet, yet the Earl refers to two children as Johanna and Elizabeth in a deed (see Martha's Hospital document).  Some say Janet is not of this generation

See also:
The Earls of Morton

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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024