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Sir William Douglas


(Knight of Liddesdale)

1300 - 1353

Disreputable noble. The eldest son of Sir James Douglas of Lothian, of the Morton Douglas line. A loyal and effective military tactician during the early Wars of Independence, Douglas had resisted the claims of the English-backed Edward Balliol (c.1283 - 1364) to the Scottish throne. He was rewarded by the Crown with lands around Aberdour, Dalkeith, Liddesdale and Teviotdale. Douglas acquired Hermitage Castle in 1338 and was appointed Lord of Liddesdale by King David II (1324 - 71). However, in 1342 he murdered Sir Alexander Ramsay, who had been appointed Keeper of Roxburgh Castle and Sheriff of Teviotdale. Douglas had expected the King to appoint him to these offices, and although the young King took the easy option and did exactly that following Ramsay's murder, there is no doubt that Douglas had begun to lose the King's favour. His position became much worse when he was captured by the English at the Battle of Nevill's Cross (1346), along with his King, and only released after he swore allegiance to King Edward III. Subsequently, he allowed the English army through Liddesdale unhindered. He was also accused of having a part in the murder of Sir David Barclay, who had ordered the death of Douglas' younger brother.

This was all to much for some and Douglas was murdered in Ettrick Forest by his kinsman and god-son, another Sir William Douglas (c.1327 - 1384). He is buried at Melrose Abbey and his widow married an Englishman, Lord Dacre, who took up residence at Hermitage Castle.


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