The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

The epitaph below throws up some interesting issues.

It is normally thought that the Baillie was born in 1612, the year of the death of his presumed father, Sir James Douglas, 8th of Cavers. Here, it appears that he was born c1616.

The second matter is that there is no reference to a family - no wife and children mentioned. Yet is thought to be the ancestor of the Douglas family of Yarm.

I have not been able to trace his cousin, Richard Douglas, one of his heirs testamentar, which in turn begs the question of why he needed such. 

Inscription in Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh

Baillie THOMAS DOUGLAS his Monument. Thomas Duglassius, antiquae & nobilis, Duglassiorum de Cavers, familiae filius, civis & mercator, Edinburgensis; tam familiam qua satus, quam civitatem cui insitus est, haud parum honestavit; vita & moribus, utraque dignus: tempore turbido & difficili, inter varios factionum aestus, nulli implicitus, nec ulli invisus; nec otio torpescens, nec nimis negotiosus; re tamen opima quaesita, honores & munera, in civitate, fugit magis quam ambiit, nec minus meruit: et adeptus, summa justitiae & integritatis Laude, bis consul urbanus, bis etiam suburbanus praetor. Demum vitae longioris, lustra bis septem emensus, omnibus viri pii, & boni civis, officiis, in familiam & necessarios, civitatem & pauperes, perfunctus, placide obiit, nono Augusti, anno sal. hum. MDCLXXXVJ,
Memoriae defuncti, hoc monumentum, debite gratitudinis tesseram, moerentes posuerunt Ricardus Duglassius, Robertus Bennetus, advocati & defuncto consanguinei; & Robertus Blackwood, senior, mercator, haeredes ipsius testamentarii.

Thomas Douglas, a son of the ancient and noble family of Douglas of Cavers, citizen and merchant in Edinburgh, not a little honoured both the family from which he descended, and the city into which he was engrafted; by his life and carriage, well worthy of both. In troublesome and difficult times, amidst the various heats of factions, he was entangled by none, nor ill-looked upon by any. He was neither slothful, through ease, nor too busie; yet, having acquired an opnlent fortune, he rather shun'd offices and honours in the city than desired them, whereby he merited them the more: and, having embraced them, he was twice city baillie, and twice suburban-baillie, with the greatest applause of justice and integrity. At last, having arrived at a considerable age of 70 years, and having performed and discharged all the duties of a godly man and good citizen, towards his linage and relations, towards the city, and towards the poor, he departed in peace, the 9th day of August, the year of man's salvation, 1686, and of his age the 70th.

To the memory of this defunct, his mournful cusings, Mr. Richard Douglas and Mr. Robert Bennet, advocats, and Robert Blackwood, elder, merchant in Edinburgh, his heirs testamentar, erected this monument, as a pledge of their due gratitude.

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Comment by Ian Shearer on February 9, 2015 at 21:58

Thank you for picking up the enigma of the ancestry of the Catholic Douglass family of Yarm (early C18th onwards).

The connection from them to Thomas Douglas, Baillie of Edinburgh, is only a speculative one, based upon the apparent use by several branches of the Yarm family of the exact coat of arms belonging to Thomas , which has certain specific features. Here for example is a copy of arms they used:

You too have noticed that Thomas cannot have been the son of Sir James, 8th of Cavers.  It looks, as they say, like a biological impossibility!

In 1992 I had an interesting correspondence with the Lyon Clerk in Edinburgh, enquiring about Thomas and his coat of arms.

She said the arms were recorded for Thomas Douglas of Edinburgh, 'second brother' to Douglas of Cavers, 'circa 1680'.

She later went on to explain that, 'So far as the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings is concerned there are on record in Volume I circa 1672 an entry for Sir William Douglas of Cavers and the entry for Thomas Douglas merely reads "Thomas Douglas, second brother of ... Douglas of Kavers" and we do not therefore know his brother's name. This is most unfortunate as it would have placed him exactly within the family. One might have thought that he was Sir William's brother because of this entry in the Register'.

It seems likely that George Harvey Johnston's book must have been wrong to place Thomas as the son of Sir James, 8th of Cavers. Was he therefore the son of Sir William, 9th, or Sir Archibald, 10th, or of some other member of the Cavers family?

I have tried for an equally long time to try to place Richard Douglas and Robert Bennet (of Chesters), advocates of Edinburgh, correctly into the Cavers tree in such a way as would make them Thomas's cousins, as it said on the gravestone (which must surely have been right).

I should welcome information from anyone who can help solve this puzzle - and indeed any subsequent link to John Douglass of Yarm... (who I now think may have practised as a surgeon and apothecary in Durham, circa 1735-1755).

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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