The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

I have received this email, and thought that it might be useful to share my response - in the hope that other researchers may be able to add to it.

I am having difficulty knowing where to go to find my ancestor Samuel Douglass. I have traced him to the 1730 immigration from Scotland with his father and son. I can not find where/who in Scotland he descended from. 

Can you direct me to where I go on this site to find him?

When I am searching for someone, I like to have all the information, but you have not provided the names for the father or the son. Nor have you provided the name of the ship they travelled on. These are useful clues that you might want to use when searching the Douglas Archives. 

Who did the son and the father marry? They may be the subject of research by the other families, and throw up information that cross-references with your research. In my view, too many people work on too narrow a search criteria. Who the father's brother married is of little apparent interest, but if someone else is researching a family, and one of their wives's sisters in your brother's sister-in-law, and and they have already done the work and identified an earlier generation, then that is work that you do not need to do. But, I digress.

There are three main sections to the Douglas Archives, and it is worth searching all of them!

Samuel is a popular name, or was in the 17th - 19th centuries, so searching 'Samuel' will throw up many results. And no doubt you have had a good look for him already. but let's try again.

In the History section, www.douglashistory.co.uk/history , if he is listed he could have a biographical entry. Putting Samuel Douglass in the search box at the top of the page returns almost 100 results - but I cannot see the one we want.

What else do we know about him?  Was he in the poorhouse? Was he in the West Indies? Did he own a business? Now search for Samuel+Jamaica (for example, which brings up 10 results) or Samuel+baker (as another example).

There are many 'Lists' in the Douglas Archives. http://www.douglashistory.co.uk/history/Lists/ If you know something about him, his name may appear in the relevant list. You do not say in your email where he immigrated to, but I assume America, so obvious (to me!) lists include those for 'settlers' and 'emigration'.

Of course, his name could be recorded as Samuel Douglas (one s), so we need to search for both spellings.

This is useful when searching in the Genealogy section, www.douglashistory.co.uk/famgen Here we have 55 results, and some are possibilities being born around the right time. Enter Douglas (not Douglass) and Samuel.

But which one is he? We need additional information. As an ancestor with a son, he almost certainly married, so his wife's name is useful. If we know the names of siblings, this too might help as they may be recorded even if our Samuel is not. There is an Advanced Search option, which allows entry of additional information to narrow the search, perhaps a spouses name.

It could be that we have the name of someone marrying an unknown Douglas, so search using the spouses name as well.

Then there is this section of the Douglas Archives - our Community network. Using the search box (top right on this page) will throw up around nine pages of results for 'Samuel'. Is anyone else working on this line? Together, you might make better progress.

Be active in this section - get yourself noticed so that others may respond to your needs as well.

Happy hunting!

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Comment by Ian Douglass on August 26, 2014 at 17:58

I know the pain of this search all too well. This is Samuel Douglass who was born in 1699 in Scotland, although it has never been clarified precisely where in Scotland he emigrated from. Conveniently, the names of his father and son were also both Samuel. His wife's name was Hepzibah Richardson, and the wife of his father was Hepzibah Farrar. His son would go on to become Captain Samuel Douglass for whom the school in Brookline, New Hampshire is now named. 

The senior Samuel Douglass was allegedly born in 1652, although I've never seen the source material behind that. Also, every attempt to link this Samuel Douglass to either a birth location or a set of parents looks poorly sourced. Aberdeenshire, Dreghorn and Colsey (Collessie) have all been listed as potential living locations for this family, and they all seem to be based on the idea that an unattached Samuel Douglas(s) lived in these locations, and since these Samuels have thus far gone unclaimed, they are being claimed with no real evidence.

Apparently, there is a source document that suggests the name of Samuel's (1652) father was Robert, and that has caused genealogists to link Samuel to any of three different Roberts, all of whom are of noble lineage, and despite the fact that there is no record of any of these Roberts having had a son named Samuel. 

Anyway, I'm sorry for the editorialization. It's just frustrating because I am descended from this line through Samuel's (1699) son Phineas (1737), and all of the unsourced conjecture that ends up in published family trees as if it were certified does not aid the process at all. Thankfully, things like the Douglas(s) DNA project that identify the Y-DNA haplogroup have been helpful in identifying lineages that absolutely cannot be true. Sadly, since none of the proposed lines are R1a1 lines, and I am R1a1a, there's really no way any of these lines could be legitimate. 

Okay, rambling concluded. 

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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