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:

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i found that his father was robert douglas he was born jun 8, 1588 he married a woman named jean ross
1609 at inversk, midlothian, sc she was born 1590 in hawkhead renfrewshire, sc and immigrated to new london, ct.


May I ask where you found that information?  Do you know of any record that a Jean Ross Douglas was in New London, CT, around 1660-1680?


Bill Hough

the family search and another website not off hand but im sure the archives of new london ct might have something on a woman with that name cause some websites list her as being the mother.



I think it is more likely that William Douglas of Boston, Ipswich and New London was born in England rather than Scotland.  I have never seen or heard of a primary source that proves he was born in Scotland, but there is work going on to find his baptismal record, if it exists, with concentration in Northamptonshire.  I think what you have found on the 2 websites is a common problem in genealogy--erroneous information is copied without bound, particularly now that we have the internet.


Bill Hough

robert douglas was born in ringstead, northamptonshire, england

could william have been baptized in scotland.

Joshua, let's take this discussion off this board.  email me at  William's son Robert was almost certainly born in England, but the Ringstead, Northamptonshire comes from the family home of his mother, which is known because of her later documented claim to part of her father's estate that is in New London or Boston records.  Robert was probably born closer to London.

To Douglas Anderson and others on this list.

I believe that I am descended from William Douglas, b. 1610.  I have about 3,800 Douglas/ses and spouses who descend from William in a Family Tree Maker database.  The beginning of the database was Charles Henry James Douglas's tome on the Connecticut Douglases.  Over the years, with the help of a lot of Douglas/ses and others, I have been able to add many more individuals.  I am happy to share what I have found.


Through DNA testing I have found 15 9th cousins, all descended from William.  Most of these individuals have a paper trail as well as their DNA results to make them fairly confident of their lines of descent.  Two of the cousins have only a paper trail  but they look to me to be good).


One cousin has attempted to trace where in time there have been small genetic mutations in our lines.  These have led him to develop a kind of flow chart for the lines of descent.  One finding seems to lead to a supposition that three of the 15 may have descended from a brother, father or uncle of William BEFORE William came to America.


I have kept in touch with Betsey Howes who has been monitoring the transcription/translation of the church records in Northamptonshire, England.  There are quite a few Douglases there but I cannot report a definite connection to William.


I am reluctant to rely on oft-reported information that William's father was Robert Douglas, b. June 1588 and that his mother was Jean Ross.  I have seen the name of a different mother for William!  The information is reported without sufficient documentation, IMHO.  Robert Greene has three different  possibilities of William's parents, grandparents, and so forth.


There is an interesting published paper by Leslie Mahler that is focused on William's wife, Anne. (The American Genealogist, October 1999, pp 275 - 280)  He suggests that her name was probably Motley.  The paper does not contain information about the date on which William and Anne were married, or where.   Mahler reports two  baptisms at St. Mary Whitechapel, Middlesex (just east of London) of the first two children of William and Anne.  This is an indication that William and Anne lived in Middlesex in the year or so before they sailed to America.  Mahler searched for evidence of William and Anne in Middlesex but found nothing.


I am pleased that there is now a place where the descendants of William can "meet" and share information.  I will alert my cousins and others with whom I know share this interest.


I think it would be useful to pull together everything we know about William's origins, relying on documentation, and indicating where we need to spend our time and money in order to learn more about his origins.  William Douglas, the creator of this web site, might be able to create a space where evidence could be assembled and shared.


Ed Douglass

FTDNA 78870


  Is there a new "Bubble Chart"?  My last is dated 8/2010 and I think we have added "cousins".

Steve Douglass

FTDNA 147732


To all descendants of William Douglas b 1609/10,

The question is, where was William born.  I have found a Douglas family in Easton Maudit, Northamptonshire that may be William's but it remains unproven - just a more likely guess than that he was b Scotland.  If the records for Anne Motley/Matlatt's birth in Denford (the next town to Ringstead) are accurate, she was bp Sept 20 1601 (An Motlye, fa Tho bp Holy Trinity, Denford) with an older brother William and a younger brother Thomas also bp in Denford.  If we accept that Anne was 66 years old when she made her deposition before Gov Bellingham in 1670 in Boston, she may have been a second child named Anne born to Thomas about 1604 but until someone transcribes the Ringstead parish records we won't know whether a second "An" was born there.   Denford only shows the three siblings, although there is a 4th, Katherine, is mentioned in Thomas Motley's will dated 1612.   Either way Anne was a few years older than William.  So the William b in Easton Maudit, son of William and Anne/Agnes Jenawaie who was bp July 22 1609 is a possible candidate for our William.

I have corresponded with another researcher who has been able to work with the Old Church Records (OCR), Batch 119182, from  Scotland and I think I can tell where Robert (Rot) Douglas or Dowglas and Jean (or Jane/Jeane) Roose (or Rose/Ross) got coupled with William of New London.  This couple had James Douglas b Sept 24 1610, twins Wm. and Rot. Douglas b Sept 8 1611, James Dowglas (again) b Dec 28 1613, Elizabethe Dowglas b April 5 1618,  all born Lanarkshire and christened at the Glasgow High Church.   According to her, there were no other William's with a father or brother Robert born  within a few years of 1610. Her conclusion was that circumstantial evidence said this was William of New London.   But her assumption was that he was born in Scotland. That's what most sources assume so it is a very valid line of research and a path others have taken before.   My assumption is that Anne Motley married close by Ringstead and so far the only William that is a possible match is the one born Easton Maudit.  I caution that further transcription of the early parish registers may turn up others in the area.  Phillimore in his "Calendar of Wills of Northamptonshire and Rutland"  points out that there are Douglass families in Northants at least  early as the 1550's.  The Easton Maudit family seems to be the largest.

There are avenues of research I can suggest for people interested in William's life before he came to America.  Check the  areas of Middlesex Co E that brought their children to St Mary's Whitechapel for baptism.  Perhaps Anne and William married/lived there.  Find the records of the cooper's guild from the London area, or coopers who William might have apprenticed with in Northants.   He was an accomplished cooper when he arrived in America, he had to have trained somewhere.  The records may exist in England.  Also keep an eye out for nonconformist church records.   Northamptonshire was a hotbed of nonconformist activity and it seems possible that Anne and William were involved.  A book - "Mystical Bedlam, Madness, Anxiety and Healing in 17th Century England"  by Michael McDonald says  Denford and Higham Ferrars were well known for Puritan leanings.

Just some information and suggestions.  If we all work on this, perhaps William's ancestry will emerge.


Betsey H Howes

FTDNA 113334 (through cousin Mark)


A footnote to my comment on "the Calendar of Wills of Northampton and Rutland" by Phillimore.   The earliest date for a Douglas is actually from Book D 1527 - 32.   Agnes Douglas is listed as folio 106 and her husband Thomas is listed as folio 41, both from Chipping Warden.  This is during the reign of Henry VIII, according to Phillimore. 


For researchers looking around England for the possible home of William Douglas of Boston, Ipswich and New London, look also for a slightly younger brother or cousin Henry in the same area.  Some recent research conducted by Betsey and myself, currently before the NEHGR editors for possible publication, shows that William and Henry Douglas had to be closely related as they occupied the same property in the North End of Boston, which was purchased by William but ended up in the hands of the heirs of Henry without any intermediate deed of transference. 

Bill Hough

I have been searching in parish registers for any Henry who might be related to William 1609/10, (see Bill's comment above) without any luck.  It seems to be a fairly unusual name in England or Scotland.  Please watch for a Henry who was born about 1610 - 20 and who m Judith.   Their children were Ann (m Hitt/Hett) d ae 38 in 1678 in Boston, Thomas b abt 1642 m Hannah Paddy, one son named Thomas b 1677, all were dead by 1680 , and  John b 1644 who may be the John who m Shua Colcord Nason, widow in 1687 and had a daughter Mary b abt 1689.  He probably died in1690 in Dover NH. Shua and daughter Mary were alive in 1714 but after that, I don't know. 

If Henry is found, we may be closer to William, and vice versa.



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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