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The revival of interest in Scottish ancestry over the last 50 years has encouraged many clans and families, who had not previously done so, to look for a leader. For many clans this has involved searching for the person most directly descended from the last known chief of the clan.

A large number of clans who had had chiefs in the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries went into decline after 1745. In many cases it has been possible for genealogical research to establish the identity of the last chiefs descendants and thus to find the person with the closest blood link back to the last chief. In other cases this research is either still being conducted or is now being embarked upon.

The last head, or chief, of the Douglas family, or Clan Douglas, was Archibald Douglas, 1st Duke of Douglas (1694–1761) (created Duke of Douglas in 1703). The dukedom became extinct on his death; the earldom and marquessate were inherited by James George Hamilton, 7th Duke of Hamilton.

His Grace Alexander Douglas-Hamilton, the 16th Duke of Hamilton and 13th Duke of Brandon is heir to the chiefdom of the house of Douglas, but he cannot assume the title of chief since the Lord Lyon King of Arms requires him to assume the single name Douglas. The Duke of Hamilton is the Chief of Clan Hamilton. If he, or a son, were to adopt the single name 'Douglas' for his surname, the clan could become again non-Armegirous registered with The Lord Lyon King of Arms.

Should clan members put pressure on the Duke of Hamilton to seek a resolution to the lack of a head of clan? Should the Earl of Morton be appointed?

If you have a view, please let us know what you think.

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I have added a newspaper cutting from 1977 outlining attempts to have the earl of Morton appointed as head of the family.
The role of a clan chief in modern society.

Just published on the Panalba website, is the speech made at the time of the Clan Gathering in Edinburgh on the role of the clan chief in modern times.

Donald MacLaren of MacLaren tells this story:

In his bid to unite Dalriada and Pictland, Kenneth MacAlpine invited all the Pictish princes and nobles with rival claims to the throne to a great meeting and banquet. Disarmed at the door, rather like us, they entered all unsuspecting. But pits had been dug beneath the benches on which they were seated and at a given signal the bolts securing the benches were drawn out. As one of the hapless nobles fell into the pit he looked up and cried out: "What is this treachery? You invited us for a discussion on kinship." Kenneth MacAlpine moved cautiously to the edge and looked down slyly: O a dhaoine bhochda! Feumaidh nach do thuig sibh an cuireadh. "Oh dear, you must have misread the invitation. It clearly said a convention on Kingship." And with that, they were all murdered and he was master of most of Scotland. Sadly, by the end of lunch, unlike in our case, there wasn't much of a group photo.

Things have moved on a little since then, and I commend the article to you. Panalba is a community for anyone who has a love for Scotland. It includes recommendations for travel and accommodation, special events, blogs and articles from acclaimed Scottish writers.
The Wikipedia entry on clan chiefs is a useful reference.

adrian david douglas-close said:
I am the head of the House of Douglas. my stepfather (Frederick Michael Douglas) is or was the rightful holder of the title Lord Douglas, The Earl Douglas of Douglas. he offered me the title and i accepted. nothing further was ever mentioned.
so you see, there is no need to 'seek a resolution' other than to accept the rightful owner of the title as head of the clan.
It is true, Adrian, it can be, but many of the references are to the Maclean of Ardgour court case - which was about my aunt's claim to the chieftainship - and so has a certain authority.

As a contributor to Wikipedia, I like to think much of it is accurate! Actually, if you look at the Discussion page associated with a topic, you can see that there often is debate about accuracy (There is none on this occasion). Have a look at the Armigerous clan page as an example. By the way, I am not the author of these pages!

adrian david douglas-close said:
Wikipedia can be wildly inaccurate as it relies wholly on the general public to maintain the information, without any checking of contributions to ascertain their accuracy.
Adrian, for a while I was involved with another family who are seeking to appoint a clan chief.

The Griersons of Lag have all their stuff on Facebook, and when I find it I will pass on the details so that you can see what is involved.

The Watsons are also seeking a clan chief - who might be a Douglas!
What a funny chap!

adrian david douglas-close said:
I am the head of the House of Douglas. my stepfather (Frederick Michael Douglas) is or was the rightful holder of the title Lord Douglas, The Earl Douglas of Douglas. he offered me the title and i accepted. nothing further was ever mentioned.

if anything was filed, so be it. if nothing was filed, then i claim that as he has no interest and i accepted his offer, then i am the rightful holder of the title.

further, that as the title pertains to the original seat of Douglas itself then it should follow that i am head of the clan.

the name issue is not an issue. i was born a close. when my grandfather died my grandmother tagged me douglas-close (douglas being my grandfathers first name).

however, in law, legally, my surname was changed by deed poll to douglas shortly after the then Lord Douglas married my mother.

and we certainly dispute any claim any douglas-hamilton, morton or anyone else might seek to make.

so you see, there is no need to 'seek a resolution' other than to accept the rightful owner of the title as head of the clan.
Lyon Court Publishes New Guidelines on Family Conventions Formerly Known as an Ad Hoc Derbhfine

Guidance as regards the holding of a Derbhfine or Family Convention
Derbhfine was the name given in Old Irish Law to a four generation agnatic kingroup of importance in determining succession and the ownership of property. More recently the term has been used to describe what might be termed a Family Convention, held when the identity of the Chief or Head of a historic Family or Name is in doubt, the object of which is to recognise a new Chief or Head of the Family or Name; or to indicate a suitable Commander for a term of years.

A Family Convention should be composed of the leading members of the Family or Name in question. It has not proved easy to define who exactly qualify as leading members, but the term certainly includes the heads or representatives of leading branches of the family. In the past the term has been defined in terms of armigers and substantial landowners. Although being an armiger does suggest a certain status and a degree of commitment to the Name, this definition has not proved entirely satisfactory, being on the one hand too exclusive and on the other open to abuse. For example, such a definition might exclude non-armigerous heads of leading branches; also, in theory at least, definition in terms of a given number of armigers may make a Family Convention open to “packing”. There is also the possibility that someone unconnected to the Name in question, might adopt that name as his or her surname and become an armiger. It is not appropriate that someone in this position should then be regarded as a leading member of the family. It does seem appropriate, however, to consult with a well established clan or family association where such exists.
There are a number of circumstances in which it would seem appropriate to hold a Family Convention:
(1) Where a blood link to a past Chief or Head of Name is likely but is not conclusively proven and it is wished to propose a particular person in that situation to be recognised as Chief.
(2) Where the main line of descent from a past Chief has died out and it is wished to recognise the Representer of a cadet line as Chief.
(3) Where neither blood link to a past Chief nor Representer of a cadet line can be identified but it is wished to propose a particular person of the surname as Commander. It is generally desirable that such a Commander should live in Scotland.
It should be noted that the Lord Lyon is unlikely to recognise a person recommended by a Family Convention as Chief or Head of a Family or Name, unless that recommendation is unopposed or, at the very least, has been approved by a substantial majority of the Family Convention.
The Family Convention should take place in Scotland although members outwith the jurisdiction may participate by video link or similar.
It is anticipated that the number of those participating in a Family Convention will be relatively small, of the order of ten to twenty-five people.

The Conduct of a Family Convention
It is desirable that one of HM Officers of Arms, or some other person approved by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, be appointed to supervise the Family Convention. The supervising officer’s role is to act as an impartial Chairman and to make an objective report to Lyon.
In case of dispute, the supervising officer will determine which individuals shall comprise the Family Convention and, in reporting back to Lyon, shall also take into account the views of any well established clan or family association.
At least six month’s notice of the intention to hold a Family Convention should be given to the Lord Lyon to be posted, at a minimum, on the Lyon Court website. The Supervising Officer should give at least two month’s notice of the date of the Family Convention to interested parties, setting out the procedure to be followed.
I have just come across this entry in Debrett's People of Today:

MORTON, 21 Earl of (S 1458);, John Charles Sholto Douglas; also Lord Aberdour (no actual cr, but designation of the eld s & h, incorporated with the Earldom in a charter of 1638, where the Earls of Morton are described as domini Abirdour); head of the male line of the Douglas family worldwide; s of Hon Charles William Sholto Douglas (d 1960, 2 s of 19 Earl of Morton); suc cous, 20 Earl 1976; born 19 March 1927; marr 1949, Mary Sheila, da of late Rev Canon John Stanley Gibbs, MC, of Didmarton House, Badminton, Glos; 2 s, 1 da


I have put this forward in other forums several times, but keep getting knocked back! (eg Wikipedia)

What happened to the Earl of Morton's attempt?

Since the others are heads of other clan like Home and Hamilton, why not Earl of Morton or the Marquess of Queensbury, or any other Douglas who would claim it and be accepted by the clan.

I think it's a great shame that there is no Clan Chief and most certainly should be rectified as soon as possible.

Hello everybody.

I thought the late Alex Douglas-Home, former PM, was head of the family. Presumably his son then followed.

Where does the Duke of Queensberry stand in the family pecking order?


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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