Clan Douglas history - Scotland Magazine

Clan Douglas history

Clan Douglas is a Lowland clan that has strong links to Robert the Bruce. Its descendants boast some impressive titles

Clan Douglas is a Lowland clan, taking its name from the Gaelic ‘dubh glas’ meaning ‘black water’. In the early 12th century, ‘Theobald le Fleming’ was granted the Douglas lands in Lanarkshire, by the Abbot of Kelso, and his son was styled Lord of Douglas. He was the first man to assume the name.

The Douglases became one of the most powerful families in Scotland. Sir James Douglas, who died in 1330, was known as the ‘Black Douglas’ and fought beside Robert the Bruce during the Wars of Independence. Shortly before Bruce died in 1329, he asked Sir James to take his heart in a casket to Jerusalem and place it in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. On his way to Jerusalem, Douglas fought against Moors in Spain, supposedly throwing the casket into their throng during battle, shouting “Lead on, Brave Heart!” However, Douglas was killed in the battle. Other stems of the clan are the ‘Red Douglases’ who were the Earls of Angus, the Drumlanrig and Queensbury Douglases, and the Morton sept.

The clan is armigerous, as it has no chief. Though there is no official clan seat, Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries and Galloway has lots of Clan Douglas memorabilia, while Tantallon Castle in East Lothian was built for the 1st Earl of Douglas.

The clan has two main tartans – the Ancient, which is in grey (pictured), and the Modern, which today is worn by the Royal Ghurkha Rifles.
The clan crest is “on a chapeau, a green salamander surrounded by fire”. The clan motto is “Jamais Arrière” (“Never behind”).

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