The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

Henry Downs and Lady Jane Douglas, married c1715

I have received an interesting inquiry:
I am descended from a man named Henry Downs, of England, whose wife was named Jane Douglas. They were born in the late 1600s. Jane was said to be from Castle Douglas, Scotland. Family lore states that Jane may have been banished from the family for marrying Downs. I am looking for information about this couple, and would greatly appreciate any help you can give.

Elsewhere, it is said that:
Lady Jane Douglas was of the house of Douglas in Scotland and may have eloped with Henry Downs and ran away to America.

Henry Downs has been described as a 'Gentleman', as a 'British sea captain' and as the 'builder', Sir Henry Downs, who was at Douglas Castle (not Castle Douglas) to make repairs when he met and fell in love with Lady Jane Douglas. The match was supposedly opposed, so she eloped. The story continues that when the estate of Richard Douglas, a Charleston merchant, made a loan of £500,000 to the South Carolina forces during the war, the funds were provided by Lady Jane, though whether an eloping girl could take those sorts of funds with her is doubtful.

It is thought that Henry and Jane married in about 1715, an interesting year in the history of Douglas Castle.

Archibald, Duke of Douglas, 1694-1761 became involved in the civil wars that were caused by the dynastic rivalries of the houses of Hanover and Stuart in the eighteenth century. During the Jacobite rebellion of 1715 he sided with the Hanoverian government and mustered 300 of his men at Douglas Castle to join the Duke of Argyll. However lack of provisions meant that they could not depart. 

The succession of the Duke of Douglas was a hotly contested action, giving rise to the 'Douglas cause', discussed elsewhere about another Lady Jane Douglas.

A third Lady Jane Douglas of about that time who surfaces is thought to have married an Andrew Martin, son of Sir Thomas Martin.

The portrait (above) of Lady Jane Douglas is, in the book The DOWNES or DOWNS FAMILY GENEALOGY, associated with Henry Down's wife, but there must be some doubt about that.  Painted by the prominent Scottish portrait-painter, Allan Ramsay (1713-1784) Lady Jane Douglas is depicted as a shepherdess seated in a landscape.  The young woman is probably around 20 years old, and Ramsay would have had to paint that whilst still in nappies (diapers).

I have a note of Henry and Jane's parents, which is incorrect, but repeat it so that others might be aware.

Henry Downs was christened at Diddlebury, Shropshire, England 10 Feb 1707. His parents were Adam Downs and Mrs. Adam Downs.
He married Jane Douglas . Jane Douglas was christened at Douglas, Lanark, Scotland 18 Mar 1698 daughter of James Douglas and Mary Kerr.

James Douglas, 2nd Marquess of Douglas was born in 1646. He was the son of Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus and Lady Anne Stuart. He married by contract, firstly, Lady Barbara Erskine, daughter of John Erskine, 21st/4th Earl of Mar and Jean Mackenzie, on 7 September 1670. He married by contract, secondly, Lady Mary Kerr, daughter of Robert Kerr, 1st Marquess of Lothian and Lady Jean Campbell, on 13 December 1692 at Newbattle Abbey, Newbattle, Scotland. James died on 25 February 1699/0 at Douglas, Scotland and was buried there on 1 March 1699/0.

James and Mary had two sons and a daughter, Lady Jane. This is the Lady Jane of the portrait and Lady Jane Douglas of The Douglas Cause. She was born on 17 March 1698 at Douglas. She married Sir John Stewart of Grandtully, 3rd Bt., son of Sir Thomas Stewart of Balcaskie, 1st Bt. and Lady Jean Mackenzie, on 4 August 1746 in a secret marriage. She died on 22 November 1753 at age 55 at Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland.

So, we are no nearer knowing if Henry Downs's wife was a Lady, nor who her parents were.

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Comment by William Douglas on March 4, 2017 at 21:38

The Jane Douglas Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, in Dallas, Texas is named for Mrs Henry Downs

Comment by William Douglas on November 14, 2015 at 14:18

Note that the painting has been suggested to be Mrs Downs, but is lady Jane Douglas of Glamis Castle - and that is another good story.

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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