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Sir John Douglas, 3rd Bt of Kelhead



Sir John Douglas, 3rd Baronet of Kelhead (abt 1708 - 13 November 1778) was Member of Parliament for Dumfriesshire between 1741 and 1747.

A descendant of William Douglas, 1st Earl of Queensberry, he married Christian Cunningham, daughter of Sir William Cunningham of Caprington, 2nd Bt.

Douglas belonged to a junior branch of the Queensberry family, on whose interest he contested Dumfries Burghs unsuccessfully at a by-election in 1735. Returned as a Tory for the county in 1741, he voted against the Government.

He was related to Lord Traquair, the chief intermediary between the English and Scottish Jacobites in the negotiations leading to the Forty-five, in which his brothers were involved. In January 1746, during the siege of the castle of Stirling, he arrived from London to see the Young Pretender, with reports of messages sent to France by the English Jacobite leaders, Lord Barrymore and Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, and with the news that the sum of £10,000 was lying in the city of London for the Prince’s use. This was disclosed by Murray of Broughton, the Young Pretender’s secretary, who turned King’s evidence, with the result that in August 1746 Douglas was sent to the Tower, the House being notified of his arrest for high treason.

At a meeting of the Privy Council, 11 Nov., Sir John Douglas being then asked what he has to say to the facts above mentioned [Murray’s evidence] he saith that he shall make no answer in any shape, that perhaps this may be ill manners, but that being no lawyer he doth not think fit to give any answer.

Attempts to get corroborative evidence having failed, he was released in March 1748 on bail of £4,000.6 Excepted by name from the subsequent Act of Indemnity, 20 Geo. II, c.52, he did not stand again.

‘The further Examination of John Murray of Broughton’ [Tower?], 13 August 1746, in which Murray disclosed the details of his meeting with Sir John Douglas of Killhead MP, during the Jacobite siege of Sterling (sic). Sir John’s mission was to inform Charles of funds raised by the London Jacobites.
The figure referred to in this examination was £10,000. Also see Christie, ‘The Tory Party, Jacobitism and the ’Forty-Five’, 924, where Alderman George Heathcote is given credit for raising these assets.

He died at Drumlanrig on 13 November, 1778, and was succeeded by his son, Sir William Douglas, 4th Baronet of Kelhead, the MP for Dumfries Burghs.



  • Birth: ABT. 1708
  • Death: 13 NOV 1778

    Father: William (Sir) (2nd Bt of Kelhead) Douglas b: ABT. 1675
    Mother: Helen Erskine

    Marriage 1 Christian (of Caprington) Cunningham
    • Married: ABT. 1730
    1.  William (Sir) (4th Bt of Kelhead) Douglas b: ABT. 1730
    2.   James Charles Sholto Douglas m1. Basilia Dawes (dau of James Dawes of Rockspring, Jamaica) m2. Mary Bullock (dau of Rev. Richard Bullock)
    3.    Stair Douglas (d 08.04.1789, Captain RN) m. (24.07.1802) Anne Payne (d 04.06.1865, dau of John Payne)
    4.     John Douglas (d unm 1759)
    5.     Helen Douglas (d unm)
    6.     Janet Douglas m. (13.11.1767) William Irving of Bonshaw
    7.     Christian Douglas (d young)
    8.     Catherine Douglas (dsp) m. (13.11.1767) William Butler of London



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Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024