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A collection of historical and genalogical records

Breaks in the chain - Castle Douglas, Lochmaben, Worcester and London.

I was asked recently if I knew anything about the ancestors of Archibald Douglas (b: 1726 (Or 1786?) in Lochmaben, Dumfriesshire) and his wife Mary Hake. An initial trawl revealed that I did not.

However, as I often do, I returned to look again, as I had noticed that their son and heir, William Archibald Douglas was an interesting character. He was involved in the slave trade in Africa, but died in mysterious circumstances off Madeira on his way home.  There is a story that he was bringing gold home, but this disappeared at the time of his death.

His father may have had some involvement in the slave trade too, as he was reportedly a privateer. In Archibald's will, there is a mention of William and Samuel Douglas, merchants in London.  There was, however, no mention of a family relationship.

This prompted me to go back and look at William's and Samuel's business interests, to see if I could find a link.

Sir William Douglas of Castle Douglas (d1809), as he was to become, and his brothers made their fortunes in America. He and Samuel appear to have operated an import export business, where goods arriving in America were sold almost as soon as they entered the warehouse.

Douglas & Shaw, Merchants, of America Square, London are listed in 1794 and 1814. Who was Shaw?

It turns out that young James Shaw, from Ayrshire, left Scotland to join is elder brother, David, in America. David found a place for James with William and Samuel Douglas. He then returned to Britain, and continued with the firm, becoming a partner, and, in due course, Lord Mayor of London.

In 1809, he was received a baronetcy as Sir James Shaw of London (1764-1843), and of Kilmarnock, Co. Ayr, North Britain. On 14 Jan. 1813, he obtained a second patent, with limitation, on failure of issue male of his body, to his nephew (ex sorore) John Shaw, of Whitehall Place, esq. He was now Sir James Shaw of Kilmarnock, co. Ayr, and Polmadie, co. Kirkcudbright. James Shaw had an only sister, Margaret. It was her son, John MacFie, who was to become the 2nd Bart of Polmadie, changing his name to Shaw.

The Polmadie burn is well known to this Douglas family as the place where we enjoy swimming in one of its pools on warm summer days. It is also close to Dalry.

Dalry, about 15 miles from Castle Douglas, is the place where Elizabeth Douglas's grandfather had a farm. Elizabeth, daughter of William Douglas of Worcester, married James Douglas (d 1821), William and Samuel's brother.  

Elizabeth's first husband, Captain William Stevenson, had run the Douglas brothers' privateering vessels off the coast of America during the American War of Independence.

A month or so ago, I was plugging some gaps on Wikipedia, when I came across a William Douglas, MP for Plymton Erle. After a bit of digging, I found that he was the son of James and Elizabeth.

William, the MP, tried unsuccessfully to obtain the right to become the successor to the Castle Douglas baronetcy that had belonged to his uncle. One of his supporters was Sir James Shaw, of whom William was described as a nephew.  

Can anyone join the links for me?

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Can't assist much at the moment re. William Archibald Douglas but are you able to view 'East Galloway Sketches' by Alexander Trotter, where he gives a spiel on the Douglas and Shaw families?

Sadly, East Galloway Sketches' by Alexander Trotter, is not in my brother's collection of Galloway books (which annoys my wife by lying in a box under our stairs).

I will try to track it down. Thank you for the lead.


In a blog  Justin Kirby refers to the Galton Papers.  Here is one extract:

Papers of Archibald Douglas  MS3101/B/5  1769-1789:
The majority of these papers relate to Archibald Douglas’s business interests in a privateer ship called the ‘Fox’, which he part-owned, commanded by James Verco. These largely comprise bills and accounts, but also include material relating to James Verco’s actions in taking prizes from French and Dutch ships, and to the administration of Verco’s estate by Douglas after his death.

Archibald's daughter Charlotte married a Francis Fox!

Can't assist much here, William, other than James Heron of Penningame's second wife, Marion Shaw, was a descendant of the Shaw's of Craigend.

My understanding of their connection to the Douglas's occurred when three of their children married into the Penninghame Douglas family, i.e. Mary and Nathaniel married John and Elizabeth Douglas, son and daughter of William Douglas and Grissel McKeand [William being the son of Gilbert Douglas and Margaret McIlroy (Milroy)] and Margaret married Nathaniel Douglas, son of Peter Douglas and Margaret Ferguson [Peter being the brother of William and also son of Gilbert].  A third daughter, Martha, married a John Douglas, who died Virginia, 1761. Unfortunately, I have no information on this John's parents and would be glad if you can shed any light on him for me.


Making conections

The more information you can give about the people you mention, the more chance there is of someone else connecting with your family.

Dates and places of births, deaths and marriages all help to place families.

Professions also help.

'My great-grandmother mother was a Douglas from Montrose' does not give many clues to follow up! But a bit of flesh on the bones makes further research possible. But if we are told who she married, what his profession was and where the children were baptised, then we can get to work.

Maybe it is time to update the information in your profile?

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