Sir James Douglas of Dalkeith


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Sir James succeeded his uncle, Sir William of Liddesdale, and was well known for his learning and accomplishments.


In 1384 Sir James entertained some French knights at the castle and invited them to join him in an excursion for booty and plunder in Northumberland. This typified a period marked by tit for tat raids and forays between Scotland and England, and the occasional major assault. As a consequence of this raid, the English army, in 1385, under King Richard II, marched up the Lowlands, burning Newbattle and attacking Dalkeith and Edinburgh. The Scots replied with an attack that resulted in the defeat of the English at Otterburn in 1388.


Dalkeith Castle had, by the fourteenth century, developed into a typical dwelling of the period, that of a tower house. Every noble family spent a great deal of money on their residences. The tower house functioned as a place of prestige, comfort, and safekeeping. The possessions of James Douglas certainly required safekeeping. In 1376 and 1377, James had an average income from rents of over 900 pounds, and in 1377 and 1378 of 1,000 pounds, well above the average for the time. James’ rental of 1376 and 1378 covered extensive lands in Lothian, Dumfriesshire, Kirkcudbright, Fife, Moffatdale, and Liddesdale.

James was among the first of the 14th century nobles to show some degree of literacy as was reflected in his will. His is the oldest known will in Scotland. His wills of 1390 and 1392 show the immense amount of wealth a leading noble enjoyed. It included; four sets of armour, a large amount of gold jewelery including three clasps and eight rings, silver and gold utensils, gold cloth, silks and furs, and books on romance, grammar, and logic.


Sir James was married in 1372 to Agnes Dunbar, daughter of Sir Patrick Dunbar. They had four children, including a son, before her death in 1378. Sir James' second wife was Egida, half-sister of King Robert II. S


ir James died in 1420.

Father: John (Sir) Douglas
Mother: Agnes Monfode

Marriage 1 Agnes Dunbar 

  1.  James (Sir) (1st Lord Dalkeith) Douglas b: ABT. 1356
  2.  William (of Mordingtoun) Douglas
  3.  Agnes (of Dalkeith) Douglas = 1 John Gordon, = 2 Sir John Livingston
  4.  Margaret (of Dalkeith) Douglas b: ABT. 1358 = Philip, 8th of Arbuthnott
  5.  Janet (Jacoba) (of Dalkeith) Douglas = Sir John Hamilton, 4th of Cadzow


Marriage 2 Egida, half-sister of King Robert II


Extracts of his wills:


Son, James   helmet and armour for jousting; his father's best arming jacket and belt; his second-best horse; an 'owche' (brooch) with a ruby in the middle; a ring de columna Christi (presumably a ring depicting Christ being scourged while tied to a column during the Passion?); relics including a piece of the True Cross and the hair of St Mary Magdalene; a circlet of gold; a silver basin with a cover (valued at 15, 3s. 8d.); his father's best gilt cup (valued at 18, 2s.); his father's best ring, with a sapphire in it, given to the elder James by his mother; silver plate, dishes, chargers and cups; his father's best bed; and books of law and romance.
Son, John of Aberdour   books on logic and grammar; income of 10 annually in the form of a land grant
Brother-in-law George Dunbar, earl of March    a ring with a ruby 
Illegitimate son, James    second-best belt, a pair of plates, and more armour for jousting 
Brother, William   a harness, and  an income of 20 marks per annum
Brother,   Nicholas    a harness, and an income of 10 marks per annum  
Daughter, Jacoba    a gold circlet worth 40 marks. 
Servant, John Livingston   a ring depicting St Christopher 
Sister, Elizabeth    a gold brooch 
Archibald the Grim    a ring decorated with a ruby and inscribed with the message 'Virtue could have no equal' (Vertu ne puz auoir contrepois); a sapphire set on a gold stalk; and James's second-best gilt cup (worth 8). 
Illegitimate son, William   a gold ring with an emerald, with the inscription 'Remembrance'.
Servants    garments 
Nieces, two daughters of Philip Arbuthnot   26, 13s. 4d 
Robert Livingston    An unspecified 'maritage' (i.e. dowry payment).  He was presumably betrothed to James's daughter Jacoba. 
Wife, Edigia   a jewel that she had given him. 
Religious houses and bodies; 'the poor'   numerous items and sums of money


See also:
•  History of Dalkeith House




Sources for this article include:
•  Blog: Knight of the Two Ls; Dr Callum Watson


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