The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

Myself and others are interested in William Douglass (born 1610 in ?, died 1682 in New London,CT) and confirming his birthplace.  Tradition has it as Scotland but recent work by Betsey Howe suggests that it William's family came from Easton Maudit, Northamptonshire. Much of my information comes from a book put together in 1879 (Douglas, Charles Henry James, A collection of family records, Providence: E.L. Freeman & Co., 1879.)  Other information we have is summarized below:


DEACON WILLIAM DOUGLAS, the immigrant ancestor, was b. 9th August, 1610,doubtless in Scotland ; m. probably about 1636, Ann MATTLE, dau. of Thomas MATTLE of Ringstead, England. In 1640, with his wife Ann and two children, Ann and Robert, William DOUGLAS went to New England. Tradition says that they landed at Cape Ann. They settled first in Gloucester, but removed within [p.1 88] the year to Boston, where he is first mentioned in the Boston records on 31st June, 1640 , when he was made a Freeman. Here moved shortly to Ipswich where he was entitled to a share of the public land, 28th February, 1641. There he remained for about four years,returning to Boston in 1645. He was a cooper by trade and on 1st May,1646, there is record of his purchasing from Walter MERRY and Thomas ANCHOR, a dwelling house, shop and land. Later he went to New London, Connecticut, and obtained considerable property through purchase and grants from the town. One of his farms was inherited by his son William and has remained in the hands of descendants for over two centuries. In 1662-1663 he was appointed one of the Appraisers of Property for the town of New London. The land for a new church was purchased from him and the graveyard still remains on that place. He and Mr. WILLERBY were appointed to deliver provisions to Commissary TRACY at Norwich during King Philip's War. His education for the times was liberal. He held many important offices in the town at different times. He was Deputy to the General Court in 1672 and once or twice later. In May, 1670, his wife, then sixty years old made a journey to Boston to establish her claim as heir to her father's property. She d. in New London in 1685 and William DOUGLAS himself d. there on 26th July, 1682
-per Colonial families of the United States of America
(as quoted in Descendants of Robert Douglas, (Link updated 19 August 2014)


I look forward to compiling information here to sort out what everyone knows and hopefully resolve this roadblock once and for all.

See also this discussion:

Views: 6867

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

would people ever find his birth or not

im joshua rediker descendant of william douglas i also assumed he was from scotland not england.


You want somewhere that evidence can be assembled...

Not sure what you want, but documents/files can be uploaded within this forum.

If you want some sort of editable chart, maybe Google Docs would be a good place?



Just found.  Registers with Motley data.  No m for Anne and William.
Ringstead Parish Registers.   Anne's Motley's eldest brother Robert b 1595, and a son
Issack born to Robert in 1633,  Katherine Motley bp Jan 8 1608 daughter
Thomas etc.  Also here is William and Elizabeth Johnson Meares with their
first son, John (She deposed that she knew Anne from Northants).  James
Colson who acted as attorney for Anne in the matter of her inheritance and
so on.

Have a look at these records.   Lots on the Good/e family.  Connection to Anne's father Thomas.
This is not FreeReg but appears solid.

Found this tidbit @ William's father (?) Robert

It also shows he (Wm.) had a brother also named Robert... It then traces back to the 1st Earls of Douglas & their predecessors...

Have you guys seen this before & your thoughts as to validity?
It references "Douglas, A Collection of Family Records with Biographical Sketches Bearing the Name Douglas" by Charles Henry James Douglas...
plus there's this note:

One source reports him being born in Ringstead

son James DOUGLAS b.1613 SCOTLAND and dau. Elizabeth DOUGLAS b.1618
Source Information:
Batch No. Dates: Source Call No.: Type: Printout Call No.: Type:
C119182 1609 - 1621 0102907, 0990749 Film 6902909 Film Shee
Source is the following;
102907-102940 Old parochial registers, 1612-1854 Church of Scotland (Glasgow)
0990749 Parish register transcripts, 1609-1795 Church of Scotland. High Church (Glasgow) - See more at:


What seemed like logical assumptions in 1879 when CHJD wrote his book (a Scottish name implied a Scottish immigrant) are today not quite so logical.  First, we have DNA evidence that seems to put descendants of 1610 William in a separate group than descendants of Scottish Douglases, and second, transcriptions of registers of several parishes in Northhamptonshire that prove the existence of several Douglas (by various spellings) families in the same general area as Ringstead, the known home of WIlliam's wife, Ann.  

Betsey Howe has found a Northamptonshire baptismal record for a William that could be our 1610 William.  Betsey and I did a lot of work a few years ago with MBC records to try to sort out if there might have been 2 William Douglases in Boston in the 1640s and 50s.   That work was documented but never published.  Would be happy to send you a copy if you send your email to  All the various "William Douglas" records in Boston, Ipswitch, Harverhill, etc. are not inconsistent with just one William.  But the principal find was that William and a Henry Douglas shared the same plot of land in the north end of Boston in the 1650s, and while William was the purchaser, the lot fell to Henry without any documented land transfer when William and Ann went to New London.  One might conclude that William and Henry were closely related, but we haven't found a Henry Douglas in Northamptonshire records.  There may be a possibility that Henry was a faithful indentured servant to William and adopted his surname, but this is pure speculation. 

With today's evidence, it seems to me to be more logical that our 1610 WIlliam was born to a Douglas family of Northhamptonshire.  Just wish we could find one with a younger brother Henry.

Bill Hough

I have seen the data john-paul presented.. dna has yet to fully prove or disprove this theory at this time. I have not viewed the dna fine print that william has talked bout and have not yet drawn conclusions from it.  michael


I am a real novice at trying to make sense out of DNA results, but I will  try to explain the reasons for my statement that DNA evidence suggests other than a Scottish origin for William b1610.  In the FTDNA Douglas surname project, FTDNA has grouped all the participants that they predict or have tested and proved are in the R1B-U106+.  They call this group "R1b Group Type 1: (R-U106). From an ancestor of William Douglas, 1610, New London."  I presume that is because the majority of Douglas participants in this group claim a paper trail to William.  In any case, the STR results in the spreadsheet for that group are amazingly similar, and suggest to me that they all share a fairly recent common ancestor, either William or an only slightly earlier ancestor of William.

Only 2 members of the group have had an SNP test, and the one at the bottom of the group, kit 156809, evidently tested later than the one at the top of the group, kit 113334, as the "4" at the end of his confirmed haplogroup indicates the discovery of another SNP in the chain of SNPs.  The FTDNA designation, R1b1a2a1a1a4 means that the chain of SNPs from R1 are U106, Z381, Z301, L48.  The common surname and extremely close match of the STR values for everyone in the group indicates to me that if currently tested, they would all be confirmed in this haplogroup. 

The next group in the FTDNA table, which they call "R1b Group Type 2: (R-P312). Ancient Douglas line: William de Duglis, lived 1174, and Earls of Morton"  looks similar, but the P312 SNP is now thought to be at the same level in the R1 tree as Z381.  It is this kind of revision that made the experts abandon the chain system of naming and adopt the terminal SNP system.  I am really talking above my level of understanding here, so would welcome comments or corrections from anyone who has a better understanding. 

There is also a R1b-U106 Y-DNA Haplogroup project at FTDNA.  The number of participants is very large, and cover 4 pages on the FTDNA web site.  Neither of the Douglas U106+ participants has joined this project (they probably should).  But there are lots a participants that are R1b1a2a1a1a4.  The majority of participants in this Haplogroup trace their ancestry to Northern Europe, Germany & the Netherlands, and England.  There are a few Scots and Irish.  My point is that all of these people and the Douglases in the William 1610 group have a more recent common ancestor than any other Douglas in the Douglas project and the William 1610 group.  The size and diversity of this group indicates it has been around a long time.  I couldn't find an estimate of how long (ie. estimate of the time of the L48 SNP mutation.)

Now you say that this does not disprove that the William born in Scotland to Robert and Jean Ross Douglas was the 1640 immigrant to MBC.  You are correct, as we don't have DNA from a known descendant of either that William's father or the father of the William born in Northamptonsire, England.  But if we consider what we do know, that CHJD in 1879 said that our William was "doubtless" born in Scotland, and the only William subsequently found in a Scottish Parish Register apparently is the Robert-Jean Ross son, so he was the best available candidate.  But now we know that 1610's DNA does not match any Scottish Douglas DNA and Betsy has found another William born a few miles from the known home of 1610's wife, isn't it much more logical to adopt that William, at least until another is found with a brother or cousin Henry or records of apprenticeship in the Cooper's trade?

Bill Hough

Subsequent to the above post, I did find an estimate of the time of the L48 SNP mutation, 2900-3100 years ago.  So we can say with some confidence that none of the Douglases in the William 1610 group have a common paternal line ancestor with any other Douglas in the FTDNA Douglas project within the last (approx) 3000 years.  Comments and/or corrections welcome.

Bill Hough

Bill and others,

The SNP result for my cousin, Mark, is 113334 and his test was done before the final "4" in the descriptor had been found.  I considered doing an upgrade but concluded, after some discussion with others more knowledgeable than I, that the results would come back as identical to that of 156809 so have not done an upgrade.

There are a number of surnames I've found in early Northamptonshire that might be the root  of our current Douglas name.  I thought the mutation to the L48 SNP was around 1000 years ago so I had not seriously investigated alternative surnames that had become, by say 1550, Douglas.  Interestingly enough Mark's results show a close match to  a number of Woodruff men (all sibs or first cousins) but discussions with this group proved to me this was not an indication of a name change from Woodruff to Douglas.  The Woodruff match was not a close as to most of the Douglas men descended from William 1610, but shows up as reasonably close.

Anyway, the estimate of the L48 mutation as happening around 3000 years ago is useful in that it gives a much longer time line for possible spelling changes to happen.  I do not find Douglas or its variants in Medieval Northamptonshire, but perhaps there are similar surnames lurking in the records.   There may be yDNA results from one or more of the surnames (if found) available for comparison.

I'm not suggesting that there was a change from ???? to Douglas, only that it would not hurt to explore the possibility in view of what Bill has written above. 

Betsey Howes

I am very happy to see Bill Hough's analysis of the Douglas SNP evidence.  Like Bill, I would like to have someone more knowledgeable about the significance of SNP test results to comment on Bill's assumptions.

One of the 15 known cousins who descend from William b. abt 1610, found a mutation that is unique to him and one or two of the other cousins which suggests that they may descend from a brother or uncle of William rather than from William.  I will find the specific information.  It is contained in what some of your may recall as "the bubble chart."

It may be that some strategic testing of a couple of cousins would be helpful.

Ed Douglass

FTDNA kit no. 78870

Ed, Betsey, Julie, others

You guys must get tired of emails from FTDNA that say they have found a close match to you.  I spent a couple of hours looking at where the 1610 William Douglas group might best fit in the FTDNA R1b-U106 project.  That web site, if you haven't looked at it already, is:

There are about 1500 participants listed in the 4 pages of that web site.  Half the first page, all of the second, and all of the 4th are participants that have tested positive for the L48 SNP.  There are several  (I am not sure how many as trying to interpret the group headings is beyond me) next level down SNPs (L693, L200, L47, L44, Z9, ...) and some of these, particularly Z9, has many downstream SNPs.  I found it impossible to try to fit the William 1610 mode into the closest STR matches on these pages.  You match all of them pretty well.  But just looking at the names and locations of the most recent known ancestor of all these people should give you an idea of the breadth of our L48 relative group.

Betsey, your cousin and everybody else in the William 1610 Douglas group on the Douglas DNA site can be confident that they have the L48 SNP mutation (the 4 at the end of the FTDNA string).  In my opinion, it would be a waste of money to extend your cousin's test to prove it.  BUT, with all those additional downstream mutations now known, finding out whether you guys have them or not could identify the more recent actual relatives in those 4 pages on the other site.  I don't think FTDNA is the place to do that.  If someone want's to take that leap, I think the National Geographic Geno 2.0 ($200) tests for all SNPs.  You might be able to find them in 23andMe ($99) data as well.  Nan and I did get 23andMe tests, but I have no idea how to find specific mutations.  I think you can get a list of the base at each location on the chromosome, but I don't know how you find the location of each of the SNPs .   I also don't understand that if the number of repeats of base pair sequences varies as indicated by the different numbers of the STR markers, how does everybody's Y-chromosome have the same position for SNP locations.  Would think if there were more repeats, the chromosome would have more base pairs (be longer.)  Like I said, I don't have a great understanding of all this stuff.

What you might do is join the R1b-U106 Haplogroup Project, particularly the two that have had the SNP tests.  That way you could see if FTDNA has any better luck placing you than I did.  There is also a Yahoo group for this project.  They are starting an English Surname Evolution sub-project you might be interested in following.  The info is on the same FTDNA web site (go to the "Background" tab), and the moderator of the Yahoo group is Charles Moore who is also the administrator of the FTDNA project.  He might be able to help you find your SNPs in 23andMe data.   In other words, I do think that this kind of SNP testing of a couple of cousins, like Ed suggests, might indeed be helpful.  I wouldn't do more STR testing--hard to see that it would tell you anything you don't already know.

Let me know if any of this helps.  I am as interested as you guys in trying to utilize DNA to narrow down our Douglas ancestry.  I just don't have any way to get any Y-DNA analysis done.  It has just been several generations since my most recent male Douglass ancestor, and I have no known Douglas cousins any closer than Betsey's cousin.  I will look some more at my own 23andMe Y-chromosome data, and see if I can find my own SNP mutations.

Bill Hough

9 Aug 1610, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland

alt fact northcumbria england? I have seen this floating around on various paid sites etc etc  i think dna might be the only way to sort this out as i don't know can't verfy most of web findings and have learned to be weary of such sites with skechy proof at best source wise


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?

© 2022   Created by William Douglas.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service