Douglas, Francis (DNB00)

DOUGLAS, FRANCIS (1710?–1790?), miscellaneous writer, was born in or near Aberdeen, and commenced business as a baker in that city. On his marriage with Elizabeth Ochterloney of Pitforthey, he opened a bookseller's shop about 1748, and in 1750, in conjunction with William Murray, druggist, he set up a printing house and published, in the Jacobite interest, a weekly newspaper called ‘The Aberdeen Intelligencer,’ in opposition to the ‘Aberdeen Journal.’ The ‘Intelligencer’ was discontinued after a few years, and Murray having withdrawn from an unprofitable partnership, Douglas carried on the printing and bookselling on his own account till about 1768, when he became tenant of a farm belonging to Mr. Irvine of Drum, Aberdeenshire. When the Douglas peerage case came before the House of Lords, he zealously advocated in the ‘Scots Magazine’ the claim of the successful litigant, Archibald, son of Lady Jane Douglas. A pamphlet by him entitled ‘A Letter to a Noble Lord in regard to the Douglas Cause’ was printed by James Chalmers and published by Dilly, neither of whom was aware that they thereby committed a breach of privilege. The House of Lords ordered them to be sent for by a messenger and carried to London, but Dilly induced Lord Lyttelton and some other peers to interfere, and the printer and publisher were excused on the score of ignorance. When Archibald Douglas gained the cause and succeeded to the estate of his uncle the duke, Francis Douglas was for his services gifted with the life-rent of a farm known as Abbots-Inch, near Paisley. He died at Abbots-Inch about 1790, aged, it is thought, about eighty, and was buried in the churchyard of Paisley Abbey. His surviving children were two daughters, who were married in that neighbourhood.

James Chalmers says Douglas ‘was bred a presbyterian, but went over to the church of England, and, like many new converts, displayed much acrimony against the church he had left. His farming was theoretical, not practical, and so fared of it. He had nearly beggared himself on his farm at Drum.’

His works are: 1. ‘The History of the Rebellion in 1745 and 1746, extracted from the “Scots Magazine;” with an appendix containing an account of the trials of the rebels; the Pretender and his son's declarations, &c.,’ Aberdeen, 1755, 12mo (anon.) 2. ‘A Pastoral Elegy to the memory of Miss Mary Urquhart,’ Aberdeen, 1758, 4to. 3. ‘Rural Love, a tale in the Scottish dialect,’ and in verse, Aberdeen, 1759, 8vo; reprinted with Alexander Ross's ‘Helenore, or the Fortunate Shepherdess,’ Edinburgh, 1804. 4. ‘Life of James Crichton of Clunie, commonly called the Admirable Crichton’ [Aberdeen?, 1760?], 8vo. 5. ‘Reflections on Celibacy and Marriage,’ London, 1771, 8vo. 6. ‘Familiar Letters, on a variety of important and interesting subjects, from Lady Harriet Morley and others,’ London, 1773, 8vo (anon.) 7. ‘The Birth-day; with a few strictures on the times; a poem, in three cantos. With the preface and notes of an edition to be printed in the year 1982. By a Farmer,’ Glasgow, 1782, 4to. 8. ‘A general Description of the East Coast of Scotland from Edinburgh to Cullen. Including a brief account of the Universities of St. Andrews and Aberdeen; of the trade and manufactures in the large towns, and the improvement of the country,’ Paisley, 1782, 12mo.

‘The Earl of Douglas, a dramatic essay,’ London, 1760, 8vo (anon.), has been erroneously ascribed to Douglas. It was really written by John Wilson.

[Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xii. 222, 332, 383; Irving's Eminent Scotsmen, p. 107; Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.; Cat. of Printed Books in the Advocates' Library; Bruce's Eminent Men of Aberdeen, p. 61.]

T. C.