The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

James Douglas-Hamilton, Baron Selkirk of Douglas, died on 28th November 2023 at the age of 81.

The warmth of the tributes that accompanied the news reached across the political spectrum. All of them are genuine and none uttered out of dutiful respect.

The genuineness of affectionate words can be diluted on days like this; sometimes because those uttering them only knew the deceased fleetingly or out of convention that it is distasteful to speak indifferently of the dead.

The observations on James Douglas-Hamilton are testament to the esteem in which he was held. There was no need to issue warm words out of dutiful respect, these all came from the heart.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton was the second son of the fourteenth Duke of Hamilton. He served as the Member of Parliament for Edinburgh West from 1974 to 1997 and as a list MSP for the Lothians from 1999 to 2005.

His background was conventionally aristocratic. He was a page of honor at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Eton, was followed by Balliol College Oxford, where he was president of the Conservative Association and the Oxford Union. Rather more improbably, given his gentle manner, he was also a boxing blue.

He was elected for Edinburgh West in October 1974. He held the seat comfortably in the Thatcher victory of 1979.

After the 1979 triumph, he served in the Whips office before becoming parliamentary private secretary to Malcolm Rifkind.

The Scottish Conservatives bore the brunt of voter anger as Margaret Thatcher became the Lefts bete noire.

The job of neutralizing the venom fell first to George Younger.

But by the time Rifkind became Scottish secretary in 1986 it was something of a lost cause. Home rule demands intensified as the party struggled to shake off an anti-Scottish image.

James Douglas-Hamilton served as a junior Scottish Office minister from 1987 before being made a Minster of State for Home Affairs and Health in 1995.

He was a slave to good manners and when he was assigned a female driver as a minister, he insisted on opening the car door for her. Among civil servants of the time, he was known simply as The Gent.

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Comment by William Douglas on December 2, 2023 at 13:24

I  have been asked what the relationship is between the present Duke of Hamilton and Lord James.

The Duke is a nephew, with the 14th Duke being the common ancestor.

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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