The Douglas Archives

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Letter to Thomas Jefferson from Nathaniel Douglas

To Thomas Jefferson from Nathaniel Douglas, 18 September 1806
Bath Westmoorland Jamaa.
18 September 1806

Sir
I wrote you sometime ago. I am astonishd a person of your prudence respected years of experience and good Education should have pas’d over a consideration that so nearly concerns yourself as well as the multitudes that are and will arise in america in ages of futurity, in so Silent timid & uninterested a manner. you nor none that have seen my writings can say I have equivocated or said behold lo here or lo there or look any where except to myself for as swift as is the lightning that Shineth from East to the West bringeth the loss of the Dark angraphil secretly stricketh and destroyeth the unjust even so swift are the evolutions of demonstration round about me, and you & Britain have despised and seem’d angry but many on the Europian continent have believed (have they prospered the worse) but when you reflect on the events so obvious circumstances of providence so manifest incidents as they arise from futurity so perfect & Clear. Such clouds of witness and times so pregnant evolving such elegant desplays of the truth of what I have wrote you. is not your conduct negligent & your countrymen inexcusable for their deep depravity on every hazard you ought to have acted with candour, minds freed from partiality, Justly, and have investigated the conduct of those who took my property in Charleston, most of whom have since been destroyed, and have restored my property with damages. also my relatives debts that you p[. . .] to pay say £84000 Sterling, had you complied with your promise I could have cultivated my lands, and made them worth more than amount of my claim so that it is founded on Justice, and you know the character I have to mantain t’would be equally dishonorable for me to act unjust to Self as to you. and I will mantain my char. tho I have to Sustain the persecution of a Strong founded Superstructure of Error the dungeon of perdition even the Archion his Image mark number of his Name his adherents the proud lofty the towring minarets of whose ambition, would seem to cleave the circumambient neptelon Subject the powers on high and forever bread down and annihilate everything having the appearance of innocence honesty and Truth under foot, but o que hakel Barak hacanith u hadi tousez Cherib Shelopha u ba mi shephath u Shawnie a Shilo, am io che Gehalom Boera mi pheni u Jara ba eish sabibothi a Sheckirem ba eth kallalim u ba oeb. a Just reward will in due time be given to all my Friends and Enemies. I will Say no more but repeat my claim my lands Houses or my afixed value also the debts and property of my deceas’d Relative you promisd to pay in your printed letter to me Signed by Wm Moore Smith Agent to Board of Comrs under 6th article of your Treatie


Nathaniel Douglas


Direct if you ansr to care of Messrs. Henry West & Co Merchants Kingston Jamaica or Messrs. Douglas & Shaw Merchts London

Who was Nathaniel Douglas?

What is the significance of the apparent foreign language?

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Comment by Bob Henry on November 17, 2015 at 21:24

I wonder if I now may have placed Nathaniel as being a nephew of Samuel Douglas - see previous blog; 'Samuel Douglas, Windsor Castle, Jamaica'.  There is a possibility that this Nathaniel's father, William Douglas (1741-1814), of 'Little Park', Kirkmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire, was a brother of Samuel of Windsor Castle.  William had 3 sons, Nathaniel (1786-1885, at Creetown), Kirkcudbrightshire); William (1799-1833, died at Montreal, Canada); Campbell [Dougald] (1804-believed to have died Charleston on an unknown date).  In the Wigtownshire Free Press of Oct., 21, 1875, Nathaniel's obituary states: "He took a notion to pay them [his brothers] a visit one time , but he did not remain long in America. The law courts of Galloway were more attractive to a mind like his than either Montreal or Charleston".  From the remainder of this article, it is obvious Nathaniel was an 'extreme' Royalist, not only well educated which included time in a lawyer's office, but a bit of a renegade as regards the Authorities and not averse to causing them much trouble which, in instances, saw him imprisoned.  It is stated he even wrote to the Queen and received a reply from her secretary.  He also often corresponded with various Lords - not least the Lord Advocate - Dukes, Earls, etc. and obviously became a real thorn in their side with his extreme and outspoken views. This being so, his letter to Jefferson doesn't seem out of character!                                                      While his uncle, Samuel, of Windsor Castle, Jamaica, died at Charleston, 9 Jan.,1799, it appears Nathaniel may have been referring to the estate of his brother, Campbell, whose date of death, presumably at Charleston, I don't have. From a codicil in his uncle Samuel's will, Nathaniel was excluded from any inheritance and, in fact, died a pauper and was buried in a paupers grave, believe it or not, next to his uncle Samuel's mausoleum in Newton Stewart!                                                      I should add here that Nathaniel's father and uncle Samuel were first cousins to Sir William Douglas of Castle Douglas, who was a partner in the firm of Douglas and Shaw, Merchants in London.            If anyone can assist on finding a Montreal/Charleston passenger list for Nathaniel, together information on Campbell's time in Charleston, this may either blow this possibility out of the water or help in substantiating it.                                                                                                                    Further, if anyone can provide me with an age at death in 1799 of the above Samuel Douglas, this would end a very long standing unknown for me.           

Comment by Bob Henry on November 16, 2015 at 17:07

A puzzle this one, William, and an incredible narrative in the letter - not to mention the 'foreign language'!

Do I take it the letter was written somewhere in Jamaica?  Interesting (possibly) that Douglas and Shaw is mentioned, Douglas being Sir William of Castle Douglas, and Shaw being a relation of that family. Reading between the lines, do you think he has been 'removed' from Charleston following the outcome of the War of Independence?

More questions than answers, eh? 

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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