Page images
PDF
EPUB

children, answering to the description of Lady Jane's, were stolen from their parents in Paris. One of the twins was strong and healthy, and accompanied Lady Jane and the Captain to Rheims, where he was baptized in August, by the name of Archibald. The other twin, being weak and sickly, was said to have been left at nurse in the neighbourhood of Paris, under the charge of Pierre La Marre, the accoucher, who thought it necessary as soon as he was born to baptize him Sholto, according to a form used in such cases by midwives in France. Both the children were invariably acknowledged by Lady Jane and Captain Stewart as theirs, and presented as such to all their friends. On returning to London in December, 1749, the unfortunate couple became plunged in even deeper poverty than before. The Duke, who had always behaved with great indifference to his sister, now withdrew even the small pension he had hitherto allowed. Mr. Stewart was overwhelmed with debt, prosecuted by his creditors and cast into prison.

He has been described as a reckless, light-hearted “bon vivant,” who had no objections to indulge his own selfish tastes at the expense of the narrow means possible to be scraped together by his self-denying wife. As is shown by a correspondence carried on between them, and which it is impossible to read without compassion, Lady Jane in her shabby lodgings at Chelsea was reduced to such straits as to sell her clothes and any trifling ornaments she possessed in order to buy bread for her children and supply her imprisoned husband with pocket money. Among those who interested themselves in her behalf were General the Earl of Crawford and Lindsay and Lady Shaw, widow of Sir John Shaw, of Greenock. They failed to mollify in any way the feelings of her brother the Duke, but obtained from the Government of the day a small pension. Sholto, the weaker twin, died in May, 1753, the sorely-tried mother herself dying, November following, in Edinburgh. Help for the family soon came from an unexpected quarter. To the surprise of anybody who interested themselves in the affairs of the recluse at Douglas Castle, the Duke in March, 1758, married Miss Margaret Douglas of Mains. Nettled, it was given out, at some slight put upon her by the Duke,

the new Duchess became a warm partizan of the cause of young Archibald Douglas as heir of her childless husband, and, in course of time, materially aided him with means to carry on his expensive contest. The Duchess, indeed, became only too keen in her patronage of the friendless boy. She offended the Duke, and a temporary separation took place. However, they were soon brought together again, and in the year 1759, the Duke devised his whole estate "to his own nearest heirs whatever," without making any exception as to Lady Jane's son. In 1760 the Duke cancelled certain deeds in favour of the Hamilton family, and a short time before his death in July, 1761, he entailed his whole estate in favour of the heirs of the body of his father, and executed at the same time a deed setting forth that as his sister's (Lady Jane) son Archibald would be his heir, he appointed his Duchess, as well as the Duke of Queensberry and several other persons, to be his guardians. In 1759 the youth's reputed father, after years of poverty and misery in jail, succeeded to the family estate of Grandtully, and became Sir John Stewart. He lived about five years after, and married a third wife, a daughter of Lord Elibank. Sir John made a suitable provision for his son by Lady Jane Douglas, and in 1764, on the eve of death, made a solemn declaration that the twins were the children of his lawful wife. Lady Jane's companion, Mrs. Hewitt, made a similar declaration.

Upon the death of the Duke of Douglas in Queensberry House, Edinburgh, July, 1761, the guardians of Archibald Stewart (now Douglas) proceeded without delay to vest him in the feudal right of his uncle's estates by getting him served heir of entail and provision before a jury of competent witnesses. Being a case of exceptional delicacy and importance, proof much fuller than usual was entered upon, and the whole appeared so satisfactory that the jury served Archibald heir to the Duke, or, in other words, found by their verdict, from evidence documentary and oral, that Archibald Douglas was the son of Lady Jane. Mr. Douglas soon after completed his title by a charter from the Crown, and thereupon entered formally into possession of the immense Douglas estates

in Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, and other counties. Unsatisfied with the verdict of the jury, the guardians of the Duke of Hamilton resolved to investigate the matter thoroughly in his interest, as also in that of his brother, Lord Douglas Hamilton, as heirs-male of the Duke of Douglas through their great-greatgrandfather, Lord Selkirk. An active guardian and a powerful agent was found in the person of Andrew Stewart of Castlemilk and Torrance, the accomplished historian of the Royal House of Stuart. His discoveries appeared to himself and his colleagues to amount to nothing short of a proof that the whole story of the pretended birth, as set forth in the service of Mr. Douglas, was an absolute fraud, and in December, 1762, an action was raised in the Criminal Department of the Parliament of Paris accusing Sir John Stewart and Mrs. Hewitt of the crime of partus suppositio, or procuring false children. (See “Torrance.") This action was taken secretly against Sir John, and the witnesses bound over to give evidence in Scotland; while the charge, being of a criminal nature, precluded him from interfering in favour of his son. The doubtful or weak points connected with this puzzling case are so apparent that it is only necessary to mention briefly the contentions of the pursuers—that Lady Jane was never confined at all, and, in particular, that she was not confined in the house or in the presence of Madame La Brune, inasmuch as no such person existed; and that there was imposture, mystery, and concealment in the movements of all the principal parties in and around Paris during the July of 1748. The discovery of the two stolen children has already been mentioned. In due course the great “Douglas Cause" came before the Court of Session, and on July 15, 1767, a decision was given in favour of the Hamilton plea for “reducing the service” by the casting vote of LordPresident Dundas. The voting stood:-For the Duke of Hamilton-James Erskine, Lord Barjarg; Andrew Pringle, Lord Alemare; James Veitch, Lord Elliock; John Campbell, Lord Stonefield; Robert Bruce, Lord Kennet; Sir David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes; and Sir Thomas Miller of Glenlee, Lord Justice-Clerkseven in all. For Mr. Douglas-Alex. Frazer, Lord Strichen; Henry Home, Lord Kames; Alexander Boswell, Lord Auchinleck (father of Dr. Johnson's

friend); George Brown, Lord Coalston; James Fergusson, Lord Pitfour; Francis Gardine, Lord Gardenstone; and James Burnett, Lord Monboddo-seven in all. Between July 7 and 14 each Judge spoke in the order of seniority. The interlocutor formally declaring the decision of the Court in favour of reduction was dated 15th July. Among the lawyers engaged at one time or another in the case, besides many elevated to the Bench during its progress, were-Andrew Crosbie, the reputed original of Scott's “Counsellor Pleydell;" Alexander Wedderburn, afterwards first Earl of Rosslyn and Lord Chancellor of England; Robert Macqueen, afterwards Lord Braxfield; and James Boswell, friend of Johnson, a contributor to the prolific literature of the case in the form of what he called “The Essence of the Douglas Cause.” Another busy writer of the time in favour of Archibald Douglas was a distant north-country kinsman, Francis Douglas, farmer and journalist, and afterwards rewarded with a life-rent of the Douglas farm of Abbotsinch, near Paisley. Popular sympathy running strongly in favour of Mr. Douglas, several threatening letters were received by the Lord-President, to which he simply drew the attention of the Court, but rewards for discovering the authors of which were offered by each of the parties concerned in the suit.

On the failure of Mr. Douglas's case before the Court of Session in Scotland there was an immediate appeal to the House of Lords, and two years afterwards (February 27, 1769) a decision was pronounced in favour of Mr. Douglas which secured him the estates as lineal heir of Duke Archibald. The decision was received in Edinburgh with much rejoicing and some tumult. The counsel who spoke before the Lords were, for the appellant (Douglas)—the Lord-Advocate and Sir Fletcher Morton; for the respondents (Yarke)—Wedderburn and Dunning. The Lord-Chancellor (Camden) and Chief-Justice Mansfield spoke with weighty eloquence in favour of Mr. Douglas. A man of quiet, retired habits, and an excellent landlord, he was raised to the peerage as Lord Douglas of Douglas, 1790, and died universally respected, December, 1827. His friend the Duchess died at Bothwell Castle, October, 1774.

Lord Douglas married (1) in 1771 Lady Lucy Graham, sister of the Duke

of Montrose, by whom he had Archibald, who succeeded as second Lord Douglas, and died unmarried January, 1844; and Charles, who also succeeded as third Lord Douglas, and died September, 1848; also Jane-Margaret, Lady Montague; (2) in 1785, Lady Francis, sister of Henry, third Duke of Buccleuch, and had with other sons and daughters, James, who of all the second family alone survived to succeed to the honours of this ancient and distinguished family. The Rev. James, fourth and last Lord Douglas, half-brother of two preceding Lords, and eldest son by second marriage of Archibald, first Lord Douglas. Taking holy orders, he became Rector of Marsh Gibbon, Buckinghamshire, 1819; Rector of Broughton, Northamptonshire, 1825; succeeded his half-brother, Charles, as fourth Lord Douglas, September, 1848; married, 1813, Wilhelmina, daughter of the Hon. General James Murray, and died at Bothwell Castle without issue in April, 1857, aged sixty. This was the last male descendant of the Douglases of Douglasdale, the title becoming extinct, and the wide estates devolving on JaneMargaret, widow of the second Lord Montague, and on her death in 1858, on her daughter, Lucy-Elizabeth, who, in 1832, married Alexander, tenth Earl of Home, descended from the old Northumbrian line of Cospatrick, the parents of Alexander, eleventh Earl, whose sudden death within his grounds of The Hirsel, Coldstream, in the summer of 1881, was lamented by friends and tenants. The deceased Earl was succeeded in the family honours by his eldest son, Charles Alexander Douglas, Lord Dunglas, born in 1834, and educated at Eton and Cambridge.

MONTROSE FAMILY DESCENT AND

POSSESSIONS.

Some misapprehension existing as to the position occupied by the present Duke, or fifth in the line of descent, the marriage of his Grace to a lady of his own name (1876), presents a favourable opportunity for mentioning a

« PreviousContinue »