DOUGLAS, William (?1784-1821), of Almorness, Kirkcudbright.
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Family and Education
b. ?1784, 1st s. of James Douglas of Orchardton, Kirkcudbright by Elizabeth, da. of William Douglas of Worcester. educ. Edinburgh h.s.; Trinity Coll. Camb. 12 Oct. 1804, aged 20; adv. 1806; L. Inn 1806. unm.
In 1806 Douglas’s paternal uncle, Sir William Douglas of Castle Douglas, created a baronet in 1801, was chosen by the 5th Earl of Selkirk as his candidate to run against the Galloway interest in Kirkcudbright, but he proved unacceptable to the county and did not stand at the general election. Six months later Douglas himself came forward under the same aegis, only to withdraw in favour of another candidate of ‘the independent interest’. In 1812 he stood against James Dunlop. Both men claimed ministerial support, but Lord Selkirk wrote Douglas off and asked the 2nd Viscount Melville to scotch his ‘machinations’ for the formation of an unauthorized and undesirable coalition, which went beyond ‘any fair interpretation of the support formerly promised’ to him. He went to the poll but was easily beaten.1
A week before Douglas was returned for Plympton on the Treby interest in December 1812, Sir James Shaw of Polmadie wrote to Melville:
Our friend Douglas who possesses a mind of considerable delicacy is anxious that the baronetcy if possible may be gazetted before his return ... fearing that it may be said by the illiberal that his seat had aided that object ... [As] your lordship has said the extension of the patent of his deceased uncle [Sir William] is conceded to his father who is the next brother and heir at law, I apprehend it will not be considered necessary to wait till another list of creations shall be agreed upon, but that this single creation may with perfect propriety ... appear in Tuesday’s or next Saturday’s Gazette.2
How justified were James Douglas’s expectations of a baronetcy is not clear, but they were never realized.
Douglas was expected to support government, but evidently did not unduly exert himself to do so. His name appears in only 3 of the 14 lists of ministerial voters which have been found for divisions occurring during his membership of the House: against inquiry into the Regent’s expenditure, 31 May 1815, for continuation of the property tax, 18 Mar., and against inquiry into the civil list accounts, 6 May 1816. At the same time, his only known wayward vote was for reduction of the army estimates, 6 Mar. 1816. He voted for Catholic relief, 2 Mar., 13 and 24 May 1813, is not known to have spoken in the House (unless it was he rather than William Robert Keith Douglas who spoke strongly in favour of the Corn Laws, 5 May 1814) and vacated his seat in June 1816. He died 9 July 1821.3