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James Douglas of Orchardton






James Douglas was the son of John Douglas, a Galloway farmer, and his wife, Mary Heron.  He was a younger brother to Sir William Douglas of Castle Douglas.


James DouglasJames purchased land at Orchardton and Almorness


James Douglas married Elizabeth former wife of Captain William Stevenson(2), a distant cousin of James Douglas. Captain Stevenson had run the Douglas brothers' privateering vessels off the coast of America during the American War of Independence.  Elizabeth was the daughter of William Douglas, of St Helens, Worcestershire.


His daughter, Mary, is the ancestor of the Robinson Douglases, with connections to USA President James Monroe.


His youngest daughter, Matilda, married William Maitland, son of David Maitland (of Barcaple).


Another daughter (probably Sarah) is thought to be the ancestor of the Abercrombys of Forglen, Banffshire.


In the 1760s, James moved from Wigtonshire to Glasgow where he established himself as a merchant and was joined by his brother, William. They extended their business to London and then moved to New York where they were joined by their younger brothers, George and Samuel. All four were to become wealthy men as their trading interests grew.

In August 1785, James returned to Britain, along with his brothers William and Samuel. James made London his centre, and then later he and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of William Douglas of Worcester, divided his time between there and Galloway. He invested some of his fortune in the purchase of the Orchardton and Almorness estates. He also purchased an estate at Gretna. He later acquired Gelston and other properties from his brother, William.

James died on 15 March 1821 at Orchardton House aged 74 years. He was interred in the Douglas Mausoleum, near Kelton Church. His wife Elizabeth and their four children, William, who died shortly after his father, Sarah, Mary and Matilda were also interred in the Mausoleum.


Following his death, Sarah inherited Orchardton, Alrnorness went to Mary, and Gelston to Matilda.


1.  James Douglas's account book for the period 1784-1792, held in William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, contains invoices and accounts related to London-based merchant James Douglas, who shipped fabrics, woven goods, and other items between Great Britain and the United States during the 1780s. The bulk of the records document the amount and cost of goods shipped on behalf of various firms and consignment agents. Later accounts reflect the shipment of tobacco, indigo, rice, and other goods from the United States to Great Britain.

2.  Possibly Captain John Stevenson.  A Captain William Stevenson, involved in the slave trade sailing from Bristol and/or Liverpool, died 3rd September 1784 after 7 voyages as captain.


Elizabeth, the elderJames's wife. Elizabeth, who lived to be 100 years old.




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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024