The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

William Douglas, b1610 - a call for research funding

The following has been posted on behalf of Ed Douglas

There is a small group of people who have expressed considerable curiosity about the origins and ancestry of William Douglas, commonly thought to have been born in 1610.  Most of you descend from William and have had the relationship confirmed through yDNA testing.  This “core” group consists of Betsey Howes, Marilynn Darling, Bob Green, Bill Hough, William Douglas (of the Douglas Archives), and me.  Besides this “core” group, there are others with varying levels of interest, particularly among the 15 9th Douglas/s cousins who descend from William.  

The people in the “core” group have been searching the publicly available records that can be accessed from a distance via the Internet.  So far, no documents have been discovered that confirm his birth, let alone his parentage or ancestry.  The Internet offers ups claims with regard to him but solid supporting evidence is lacking.  The “core” group feels that the only way to search more effectively is to engage the services of a professional genealogist who is “on the ground,” has done research and is familiar with records and resources in an area where there is reason to believe he may have been born.  We have located such a professional:  Susan Comont in the UK and whose website can be found at:  Her work rate is 10 pounds per hour, about 15 or 16 U.S. dollars an hour.

As to where to look, a reasonable hunch can be made that records may exist in the area where his wife, Ann Motley, was born and grew up:  Ringstead, Northamptonshire, England and nearby villages such as Easton Maudit and Denford.  The FreeReg group of volunteers who have been deciphering, translating and posting the parish records in these and the surrounding villages have turned up quite a few Douglases with dates of birth, marriage, baptism and death that suggest they could be William and William’s relatives. To see their work results, go to

The “core” group is aware of the possibility that William may have been born somewhere in Dumfries and Galloway or Lanarkshire in Scotland and baptized in Glasgow.  His birth in Castle Douglas is widely reported on the Internet but there appears to be no documentation, just circumstantial similarity in names and reasonable dates for the name William and possible parents and children.  Some of this may be fueled by the somewhat romantic notion that if his surname was Douglas, surely he must have been born in Scotland!

The point of this message is to ask if you would be interested in sharing in the cost of engaging Susan Comont for a search in Northamptonshire.  If you have some interest, please read on and look at the document that is attached to this e-mail.Betsey Howes, Marilynn Darling, with the help of Julie Hornung have put together all that we know about William Douglas and his wife, Anne Motley.  Their summary paper is attached.  I, for one, am very impressed with their work.  I hope you are, also.

This paper will serve as a “brief” for Susan, describing what we have discovered so far, what we want her to find out and where we think she could start to look.  We will ask Susan for an estimate of the time it will take her to follow the leads we are providing and to search other records she knows that might be useful.  If her estimate of cost is no greater than the total amount that together we are willing to contribute, we will ask her to go ahead.  If we have insufficient money, we will prioritize her work to stay within our means.

If she discovers sources of information that should be investigated that are beyond what is contained in the brief, we will ask her to make an estimate for the additional research.  If we have sufficient money, we will ask her to proceed.  If we don’t, we may approach you for additional money (after you have seen her first work product).

At this point, I am asking only for the maximum amount you are willing to give to this effort.  So far we have pledges of $50, $50, and $100.  What is the maximum amount you would be willing to pay?

When we have the final bill from Susan, I will divide the bill by the number of people who have pledged and ask that you pay your share of the cost (evenly divided).

Best regards, Ed Douglass


You can respond to Ed at this email address: douglass @ (remove the spaces)

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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.

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'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.

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