Earl of Avondale

Earl of Douglas

"Earl Douglas" redirects here; for the American radio personality see Earl Douglas (radio)
This page is concerned with the holders of the extinct title Earl of Douglas and the preceding feudal barons of Douglas, South Lanarkshire. The title was created in the Peerage of Scotland in 1358 for William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas, son of Sir Archibald Douglas, Guardian of Scotland. The Earldom was forfeited by James Douglas, 9th Earl of Douglas in 1455.


The Earls of Douglas and their successors claimed descent from Sholto Douglas, a mythical figure dated by Godscroft to 767 AD. However, it is more likely that they were descendants of Flemish immigrants to Scotland, during the reign of David I. Through the marriage of William the Hardy, grandfather of the 1st Earl, to Eleanor de Lovaine, The Earls of Douglas could trace their ancestry to the Landgraves of Brabant, the Counts of Hainaut, and through them to Charles the Bald, grandson of the emperor Charlemagne. In the story of Sholto Douglas, his son William Douglas is a commander of forces sent by the mythical Scottish king Achaius (Eochaid?), to the court of Charlemagne to aid him in his wars against Desiderius, King of the Lombards. William Douglas is said to have settled in Piacenza where his descendants became powerful local magnates, and eventual leaders of the Guelf faction of that city.

Black and Red Douglases

Following the death of the 2nd Earl at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388 without legitimate issue, the Earldom passed to a bastard son of 'The Good Sir James', the poetically named Archibald the Grim, the Lord of Galloway. This occurred through articles of special entail in the resignation of title by Hugh the Dull, Lord of Douglas. George Douglas, 1st Earl of Angus the bastard son of the 1st Earl by his sister-in law Margaret Stewart, Dowager Countess of Mar & Countess of Angus, inherited his mother's Earldom of Angus. Retrospectively the two branches of Douglas and Angus were described as the Black and Red lines respectively.

The Black Douglases fell from power and were attainted by King James II in 1455. The seventh Earl was created Earl of Avondale and Lord Balveny in 1437, also in the Peerage of Scotland. These titles also became forfeit in 1455.

The title of Douglas was restored in 1633 for the 'Red' Douglas line, when William Douglas, 11th Earl of Angus (1589-1660), was created First Marquess of Douglas by Charles I.

Lords of Douglas

Earls of Douglas (1358)

Lordship of Douglas, and other estates and title devolved upon: George Douglas, 4th Earl of Angus

See also

Red Douglas

This line is represented now by the Dukes of Hamilton, the heirs male of the House of Douglas.

Other lines




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