Sir William of Douglas call "the Hardy", was the first Lord of Douglas. He swore fealty to Edward (1291), but commanded Baliol forces at Berwick Castle. Also known as 'Longshanks'.
He surrendered to English (1296): on reward of homage to Edward I. he was restored to possessions in seven Scottish Counties. He then joined Wallace's rising (1297).
From the main stem of the family (the 'Balck Douglases') sprang the many branches among whom were the lines of Angus, Drumlanrig, Morton, and others. Each in turn played its part in the history of Scotland, to such an extent that they were Princes and heirs to the throne but never Kings. Their history is interwoven with that of Scotland, that the two are inseparable. Many have said that the history of the Douglases is the history of Scotland.
Clan Douglas also referred to as The House of Douglas, is an ancient Scottish clan from the Scottish Lowlands taking its name from Douglas. South Lanarkshire, and thence spreading through the Scottish Borderland, Angus, Lothian and beyond. The clan does not currently have a chief, therefore it is considered an armigerous clan.
The Douglases were once the most powerful Douglas family in Scotland. The powerful chiefs held titles of Eral of Douglas (Black Douglases) and later, Eral of Morton.
Many Douglases married into Scottish and other European royal and noble houses, thereby ensuring Douglas power within Scotland, as a result of their accummulated weath.
The family's orgininal seat was Douglas Castle in Lanarkshire but they spread to many properties throughout Scotland.
Origins of the Clan:
According to tradition the Dougales took their name from the Cumbric or Gaelic placename "Dubh glas" meaning "black/green stream". One old tradition is that the first chief of Clan Douglas was Sholto Douglas who helped the King of Scotland win a battle in the year 767. This is unsubstatiated.
The true progenitor of Clan Douglas was almost certainly "Theobaldus Flammatius" (Theobald the Flemming), who recieved in 1147 the lands near Douglas Water in Lanakshire in return for services for the Abbot of Kelso.
Although the Douglases were first recorded in the 1170's the Douglas family names consisted of Arkenbald and Freskin, and were undoubtedly related to the Clan Murray, and to be of Flemish origin. The Clan Murray were descended from a Flemish Knight called Freskin. Though the Flemish orgin of the Douglases is not undisputed, it is often claimed that the Douglases were descended from a Flemish knight who granted lands on the Douglas Water by the Abbot of Kelso, who held the barony and lordship of Holydean. However this is disputed, it has been claimed that the lands which were granted to this knight were not the lands which the Douglas family came from.
In 1179 William Douglas was Lord of Douglas and it seems likely that he was Theobald Flemming's son and the first to take the surname Douglas.
Wars of Scottish Independence:
During the Wars of Scottish Independence, Sir William Douglas the Hardy, Lord of Douglas was governor of Berwick-upon-Tweed when the town and Berwick Castle were besieged by the forces of Edward I of England. Douglas was captured and was released only after he had agreed to accept the claim of the English King to be overlord of Scotland. He subsequently joined William Wallace in fighting for Scottish independence, but was captured and taken to England where he died in 1298, a prisoner in the Tower of London.
He was a Scottish Nobleman and Warlord.