The Hon William Sholto Douglas

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Hon. William Sholto Douglas was born on 11 June 1886 in Billesdon, Leicestershire. He was the son of Sholto George Douglas, 19th Earl of Morton and Hon. Helen Geraldine Ponsonby who had bought nearby Loddington Hall a few years previously.

He received a gold 'Conspicuous Gallantry' medal dated 6/1/12 on SY Romola, his father's yacht, for reasons unknown.

In 1928, as reported by the People's Journal, he lived in Stronereggan, Ardgour, Argyll, 'a well- appointed and charmingly situated mansion'(1). At this time, his father, the 19th Earl of Morton, lived in Conaglen, Ardgour.  His son, Ian was later to marry a Maclean of Ardgour, the neighbouring estate.


William served as a Lieutenant in the navy during the war, mostly serving on M.L. boats based in Granton,  in the Firth of Forth. He reputedly was responsible for sinking a submarine, perhaps by using a 'Q-boat'(2), though this was not confirmed. 


On 15th November 1918, HMML 65, commanded by William, accompanied by Zedwhale, commanded by his brother, Lt Ronald Douglas, was ordered to collect Admiral Meurer, Commander of the German High Seas Fleet, and take him to Admiral Beatty on HMS Queen Elizabeth to arrange the surrender.


On leaving the navy at the end of the war, William first decided to run a fishing business, but this did not pay, so he ran 5 lighters, or small coasters, which supplied sand and gravel to the Lochaber water power scheme in Fort William, possibly from sand quarrries at Stronreggan, where he 'had an interest'. He also ran a sand and gravel business in Leicestershire.


His first boat, the Betsy Jamieson(3), went on fire. The next was named Electric Light.


In 1905, he acquired the puffer, Otter(5), from Hamish G. Hendry, of Hendry, McCallum & Co. Glasgow, a 67ft steel screw steamer built in 1905 by Scott & Sons, of Bowling. She is listed in the 1935 MNL but has disappeared by 1938. (William had died in 1932).


William was gored by a stag on the family estate at Conaglen and died a few days later from blood poisoning.  He died in Fort William and was interred in the family graveyard at Dalmahoy.


  • Birth: 11 JUN 1886
  • Death: 16 NOV 1932

    Father: Sholto George (19th Earl of Morton) Douglas b: 5 NOV 1844
    Mother: Helen (Hon) Geraldine Ponsonby

    Marriage: Ethel (Hon) Georgina Frances Somerset, daughter of George FitzRoy Henry Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan and Lady Ethel Jemima Ponsonby
    • Married: 26 NOV 1914
    1.  Ian Fitzroy Sholto Douglas b: 22 JAN 1916 d 19 JUL 1998
    2.  Maurice William Sholto Douglas 
    3.  Ronald George Sholto Douglas 1926 - 1996
    4.  Jean Georgiana Ethel Douglas b: 1922. Marr 1949 Major Peter Edward Findlay Heneage


1.  Stronereggan, Stronachraggan or Stronchreggan, is now demolished.
2.  There exists a letter dated 17-1-1917, from Admiral Sir James Startin to William in which he refers to an 'official version of 'the affair'.  Startin entered the Navy in 1869, he made Captain in 1897, Commodore RNR and Admiral, 1915. He saw service in the Zulu War - medal and clasp, MiD - and in Egypt, 1882, when he was landed with the Naval Brigade - medal and clasp, Bronze Star - subsequently in Benin and the Boxer Rebellion. In the Great War he served on patrol vessels and Q Boats.
3.  Betsy Jamieson - 1914 owner Chris Borthwick - Eyemouth - Wood-built 1900 - 45Tons

    - Motor Fishing Vessel: registration number cited as INS 383, and date of loss as 11 September 1938). This vessel caught fire, beached, and was destroyed at [the] mouth of the Stronachraggan River.

     - INS383 Spring 1930 register, INS383 Spring 1931 register

4.  Tilston is a short distance from Loddington Hall. Details of the sand and gravel business are not known.

5.  SS Otter was the name of the vessel used by James Douglas, 'the father of British Columbia', to transport gold.

Gallantry medal Gallantry medal  

  • Conaglen memorial
  • Gravestone
  • Image of signal relating to the surrender and photos of the Zedwhale and HMML65


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    Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024