Douglas, James, second Duke of Queensberry and Duke of Dover 1662-1711, eldest son of William, third earl of Queensberry, and first duke [qv.], by his wife, Lady Isabel Douglas, sixth daughter of William, first marquis of Douglas, was born at Sanquhar Castle 18 Dec. 1662. He was educated at the university of Glasgow, after which he travelled on the continent. His title before succeeding his father was Lord Drumlanrig. On his return to England in 1684 he was sworn a privy councillor, and was made lieutenant-colonel of Dundee's regiment of horse. The adherence of such an hereditary foe of the covenanters to William of Orange shortly after his landing in 1688 caused considerable sensation. He left the king at the same time as Prince George and the Duke of Ormonde, and the three together joined the prince at Sherborne on 30 Nov. (Burnet, Own Time, ed. 1838, p. 501). Lockhart of Carnwath, after alluding to the favours which Drumlanrig and his father had received from King James, says: He was the first Scotsman that deserted over to the Prince of Orange, and from thence acquired the epithet (among honest men) of Proto-rebel, and has ever since been so faithful to the revolution party, and averse to the king and all his advisers, that he laid hold on all occasions to oppress the royal party and interest (Papers, i. 44). By William he was appointed colonel of the sixth or Scottish troop of horse guards, and named a privy councillor and one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber. He served in Scotland against his old general, Dundee. His apostasy was ascribed by Lockhart to his being of lazy, easy temper, and being seduced by falling into bad hands, and Macky characterises him to much the same effect as of fine, natural disposition, but apt to be influenced by those about him. It cannot be affirmed that these estimates of Queensberry by somewhat one-sided judges were altogether borne out by his subsequent career, but they may be accepted as accurate so far as they testify to his personal popularity and his tolerant spirit, which, however, were not incompatible with considerable force of character as well as diplomatic skill. In April 1690 he wrote a letter to Carstares, soliciting the office of extraordinary lord of session, held before the revolution by his father (Carstares, State Papers, p. 292), but the application was unsuccessful, and the office was again bestowed on his father 23 Nov. 1693. The son in 1692 was made a commissioner of the treasury, and in 1693 was authorised to sit and vote in parliament as lord high treasurer. He succeeded to the dukedom on the death of his father, 28 March 1695, and subsequently was appointed extraordinary lord of session in his room, also keeper of the privy seal. When, after the disasters to the Darien expedition in 1699, the king, in deference to an influential petition from Scotland, unwillingly consented in 1700 to a meeting of the Scottish estates, which was fixed for 18 May, Queensberry was appointed the king's commissioner. To allay the discontent and induce them to resign the unlucky enterprise, Queensberry promised them a habeas corpus act, greater freedom of trade, and everything they could demand (Burnet, Own Time, p. 662), but a vote was nevertheless carried declaring the matter to be of national importance, whereupon Queensberry thought fit on 6 Feb. 1701 to adjourn the parliament to 6 May. On reassembling, the discontent, chiefly owing to the skilful management of Queensberry and the Earl of Argyll, gradually subsided, and the session ended in a manner satisfactory to both parties. In reward for such important services, Queensberry on 18 June was made a knight of the Garter, Argyll at the same time being created duke. On the accession of Queen Anne Queensberry retained the confidence of the government, and was continued commissioner to the Scottish parliament, which met 9 June 1702, being also appointed, along with the Earl of Cromartie, one of the secretaries of state for Scotland. After certain Jacobite members, under the leadership of the Duke of Hamilton, had entered their dissent and withdrawn, an act was immediately passed recognising the authority of Queen Anne. An act was then brought forward for an oath of abjuration, to which Queensberry at first expressed very good inclination (Marchmont Papers, iii. 243), but finding afterwards that there was a strong opposition to it, he, after various attempts to compromise matters, adjourned the house on 30 June. It would appear that Queen Anne's government were desirous meanwhile to keep the question to some extent open, as a check on the whigs and the house of Hanover, and Lord Marchmont and others who had been importunate in supporting an uncompromising policy were consequently deprived of their offices. The devious and uncertain attitude of Queensberry naturally gave great encouragement to the Jacobites at St. Germain. Instructions were sent from the court there to the Duke of Hamilton January 1703 (Macpherson, Original Papers, i. 623-4), and also to Captain Murray (ib. pp. 626-7), advising the use of every possible means to prevent an agreement with England in settling the crown on the house of Hanover, and even mooting the arrangement of a compromise whereby the chevalier might be allowed to return to the throne of his ancestors in Scotland, while Queen Anne until her death might be permitted to remain unchallenged on the throne of England. The result of these secret engagements was that many who had hitherto kept out of parliament and were known to the Jacobites came and qualified themselves by taking the oath (Burnet, p. 736). To gain support for their schemes they meanwhile consented to purchase the aid of the presbyterians by voting for an act for securing the presbyterian form of government, by which not only was the claim of rights confirmed on which the crown had been offered to William, but it was declared high treason to endeavour to alter it. To the act, Queensberry, again commissioner of the queen, felt bound to refuse consent, possibly on private as well as public grounds, for he was a strong supporter of the episcopalians. The consequence was that, in accordance with the aims of the Jacobites, it was resolved that the successor to the crown of Scotland after Queen Anne should not be the same person that was king or queen of England, unless the just rights of the nation and their independence of English interests and counsels were sufficiently guaranteed. Greatly encouraged by the proceedings in parliament, the Jacobites at St. Germain began actively to concert measures for an immediate rising in behalf of the chevalier, employing on this errand the notorious Simon Fraser, afterwards Lord Lovat, and also Captain John Murray (see instructions to John Murray, May 1703, in Macpherson, Original Papers, i. 630, and to Lord Lovat, ib. 630-1). Fraser showed Queensberry a letter purporting to be addressed by the chevalier's wife to Atholl, with whom they both had grounds of quarrel [see under Fraser, Simon, 1667?-1747]. Queensberry was imposed upon and provided Fraser with money and a pass in a feigned name, that he might proceed to France, and there watch in the interests of the government the movements of the Jacobites. There is no doubt that for a time at least he intended to carry out with a certain degree of faithfulness the commission entrusted to him by Queensberry. The further development of Queensberry's purposes was, however, cut short by the interposition in the intrigue of Robert Ferguson [qv.], whom Fraser unwittingly let into a part of his secret, and who revealed to Atholl the conspiracy that was designed against him by Fraser with the countenance of Queensberry. Atholl had never had any connection with a Jacobite plot, or any communication with the court of St. Germain. So far Queensberry had unconsciously been made Fraser's tool. Justly indignant at so impudent a slander, Atholl presented a memorial to the queen, exposing the conspiracy intended against him. (See Memorial to the queen by the Duke of Atholl, giving an account of Captain Simeon Fraser and his accomplices, read to her majesty in the Scotch council mett at St. James 18 Jan. 1704, printed in Caldwell Papers, i. 197-203.) The House of Lords resolved that there had been a dangerous conspiracy in Scotland in favour of the Pretender, an opinion supported by the whigs, while the tories, on the other hand, asserted that Fraser had been sent by Queensberry to France to dress up a sham plot in order to effect the ruin of his enemies. That Queensberry acted throughout in good faith there can be no doubt, nor can the existence of a dangerous conspiracy, accidentally frustrated through Queensberry's relations with Lovat, be denied. The only mistake of Queensberry was in placing implicit faith in Fraser; but by the revelation of his mistake through the memorial of Atholl his conduct was placed in so foolish as well as unpleasant a light that it was impossible for him meanwhile to retain his offices under the government
His fall had a close connection with the arrival in London of a deputation from the ‘Squadrone’ party to make representations to the queen (see letter of George Baillie to Lady Grisell Baillie in Marchmont Papers, iii. 263-7). To the next parliament the Marquis of Tweeddale was appointed the commissioner of the queen, but Queensberry opposed him so skilfully as both greatly to disarm his former enemies and to demonstrate the importance of the government securing his support. He was therefore in 1705 restored to his office of lord privy seal and made a lord of the treasury. The Duke of Argyll was indeed appointed the commissioner to the Scottish parliament, but he acted throughout in concert with Queensberry, who, as Lockhart remarks, ‘used him as the monkey did the cat in pulling out the hot roasted chestnuts’ (Memoirs, p. 139). In a great degree through the influence of Argyll an act was passed for a treaty of union with England, and Queensberry was in the following year appointed to his old office of commissioner to the estates, which met on 6 Oct., and entrusted with the arduous and delicate duty of bringing about the completion of the treaty. Undoubtedly in consenting to undertake the charge of such a measure he was, like the other Scottish nobles, influenced very much by self-interest, although it was not difficult to find arguments in support of the union from a regard to the welfare of both countries. Queensberry had experienced, perhaps more fully than any other nobleman, the difficulty of governing Scotland without a union, and was probably completely wearied by his conflicts with the different parties whose aims were so obscured by intrigue that they were not always clear even to themselves. In addition to this he undoubtedly recognised that his own position would be rendered much more independent and stable. Of the skill and address which he manifested in overcoming the prejudices such a proposal at first called forth, and especially in winning over the fickle ‘Squadrone’ party, it is impossible to speak too highly. Notwithstanding a strong and desperate opposition in parliament, and violent riots both in Edinburgh and Glasgow, the most important articles were all finally agreed to, and the treaty signed by the commission of the two countries on 22 July 1706. For the general unpopularity which long afterwards attached to Queensberry's name in Scotland, he found substantial compensation in the honours bestowed on him by the government. Besides securing to himself permanent influence as the adviser of the throne on matters relating to Scotland, and obtaining control of the whole Scottish patronage, a pension of 3,000l. a year was conferred on him out of the revenue of the post office. On 26 May 1708 he was created a British peer by the title of Duke of Dover, Marquis of Beverley, and Earl of Ripon, with remainder to his third son, Charles, earl of Solway, who succeeded him as third duke of Queensberry. He was also appointed joint keeper of the privy seal, and on 9 Feb. 1709 third secretary of state. At the general election of Scottish peers, 17 June 1708, his vote was protested against, and on 17 Jan. 1709 the House of Lords resolved that a peer in Scotland choosing to sit in the House of Peers by virtue of a patent under the great seal of Britain had no right to vote in the election of Scottish representative peers. When Ker of Kersland [q.v.] was sounded by Nathaniel Hooke in 1708 in regard to a Jacobite plot, he communicated Hooke's proposals to Queensberry, who, Ker states, advised him as a good patriot to join the plot and give information of its progress. Queensberry died on 6 July 1711. By Mary, fourth daughter of Charles Boyle, lord Clifford, and granddaughter of Richard Boyle [q.v.], earl of Burlington and Cork, he had four sons and three daughters. His wife died on 2 Oct. 1709, aged 39. He was succeeded in the titles and estates by his third son, Charles [q.v.]. His second daughter, Jean, married Francis, earl of Dalkeith, afterwards duke of Buccleuch, and his third daughter, Anne, married the Hon. William Finch, ambassador to the States of Holland, and brother of Daniel, earl of Winchilsea.
Lockhart Papers; Carstares State Papers; Burnet's Own Time; Marchmont Papers; Macpherson's Original Papers; Luttrell's Relation; Caldwell Papers; Jerviswoode Correspondence; Macky's Secret Memoirs; Correspondence of Colonel N. Hooke (Roxburghe Club, 1870-1); An Account of the Scotch Plot, in a Letter from a Gentleman in the City to a Friend in the Country, 1704, printed in Somers Tracts, xii. 433-7; A Brief View of the late Scots Ministry, 1709, reprinted ib. pp. 617-30; Lord Lovat's Memoirs; Histories of Scotland by Laing and Burton; James Ferguson's Robert Ferguson the Plotter (1887); Douglas's Scotch Peerage (Wood), ii. 380-2
Contributor: T. F. H. [Thomas Finlayson Henderson]