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James Douglas of Tothorwald







The eldest son of George Douglas of Parkhead, James, having acquired the barony of Carlyle in right of his wife, was, on succeeding to his father, occasionally described as Douglas of Parkheid, but more commonly as Douglas of Torthorwald. Captain Stewart, the unworthy favourite of James VI., who had been so instrumental in bringing the Regent Morton to the scaffold, endeavoured, in 1596, to regain the royal favour, and succeeded in obtaining an interview with the King in Edinburgh, after which he proceeded to pass into Ayrshire by the road through Douglasdale. On reaching Symontoun, he was warned that it might be dangerous for him to pass so near Parkheid, the residence of James Douglas, who had him at feud for the death of his uncle. Stewart replied in a contemptuous manner that he would not alter his journey for any of the name of Douglas.

This being reported to Parkheid, so inflamed his resentment that he pursued Stewart, and overtaking him at the Catslack — a place probably identical with the Cattecleuch at the head of Ponielwater mentioned in the charter of the good Sir James {ante, Vol. II., p. 66) — struck him from his horse and killed him on the spot (Spottiswoode, III., 40). For this crime Sir James Douglas of Torthorwald was arraigned before the Court of Justiciary, but he was powerful enough to defy the powers of the law (Pitcairn Grim. Trials, II., 1; III., 96). In these times, however, private vengeance often stepped in when no redress could be obtained in the courts of justice. It did so in this case, for William, a nephew of Captain James Stewart, meeting Sir James Douglas in the High Street of Edinburgh on the 14th July, 1608, drew his sword and ran him through the body, when he fell down dead without speaking a word. He was buried -in the chapel of Holyrood, where, on the rubbish being lately removed from the pavement, a slab was found with the following inscription : " Heir lyes ane nobel and potent lord, James Douglas, and Cairlell and Thororal, wha marrit Dame Elizabeth Cairlell, air and heretrix yrof, wha was slaine in Edinburgh, y e 14th day of July in y e zeir 1608." As the inscription was considerably mutilated, this copy may not be exactly correct.

He was succeeded by his eldest son, James, who, according to Nisbet, was in 1609 created Lord Torthorwald (II., Ragman Roll, App., 43). He sat in Parliament in 1612 with that style, and was alive in 1633 (Act Pari, IV., 466; V, 135).

See also:
The Lords Carlyle
• Notes on the Douglases of Torthorwald


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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024