James Douglas 1662-1711

From Book Owners Online

James DOUGLAS, 2nd Duke of Queensberry, 1662-1711

The larger of Douglas's bookplates (British Museum Franks Collection *10)

Biographical Note

Born at Sanquhar Castle, Dumfriesshire, on 18 December 1662, the eldest son of William Douglas, third earl and first duke of Queensberry (1637–1695), and Lady Isabel Douglas. Educated at Glasgow University (1676), then travelled in continental Europe, returning in 1684. In 1684 he was named by the privy council as one of the commissioners for the borders and sworn as a member of the new privy council. He was also made a lieutenant-colonel of the regiment of John Graham of Claverhouse.

He was one of the first Scottish leaders to support William of Orange (1688) and was subsequently appointed one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber and colonel of the sixth or Scottish troop of Horse Guards.He sat in the Scottish Parliament in 1692 as lord high treasurer and in 1696 as lord privy seal. Under Queen Anne he was one of the secretaries of state for Scotland and played a significant role in the negotiation of the treaty of union. He was rewarded with a British peerage in 1708 and created duke of Dover, marquess of Beverley and earl of Ripon.


His library was sold at auction over a century after his death, in Edinburgh at 'No.4 Prince's Street' by Mr John Ballantyne, over 35 days from 18 November 1813-29 December 1813. It was sold undifferentiated as a collection with the library of Alexander Gibson Hunter 1770-1812 of Blackness; the extent of their individual libraries is unknown. It comprised 4476 lots of books, and contained many of 'the best editions of the Greek and Latin Classics, Lexicons, Dictionaries, Voyages, Travels and Antiquities', as well as many histories (particularly of England and Scotland), some books on divinity, a lot of French, some Spanish and Italian and some law.

This auction included nearly 20 incunabula (collected at the back, lots 4461-4476, including Der Teutsch Belial, Augsburg, 1487 (copy apparently from Iceland); Chronicon Nurembergense, 1493; Joannis Andreae Episcopi Aleriensis Epistolar ad Paulum II. Pont. Max in recognitionem Epistolarum et Tractatuum Divi Hieronymi, Rome 1470; and Golden Legend and Caxton's polychronicon, William Caxton, 1499 and 1483. Other notable lots included 4405, Douglas' Virgil in Scottish verse (Edinburgh, 1710); 4429, the manuscript catalogue of books presented to the Library of the Faculty of Advocates by William Duke of Queenberry on behalf of his son, Lord George Douglas; 4433, a manuscript and translations of the Edda of Snorro, 'brought to this country from Iceland by Mr Finnur Magnuson'; and 4450-4459, the first four editions of Shakespeare's works.

Characteristic Markings

Used engraved armorial bookplates:

Franks 8891/*10 (Douglas), His Grace The Duke of Queensberry, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

Franks 8892/*13 (Douglas), The Most Noble James, Duke of Queensberry, Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. (A smaller plate.) 1703.


  • Catalogue of a valuable collection of books, including the libraries of James, the second Duke of Queensberry, and the late Alexander Gibson Hunter Esq. of Blackness (Edinburgh, 1813) National Library of Scotland: NE.109.c.12.
  • Gambier Howe, E. R. J. Franks bequest: catalogue of British and American book plates bequeathed to the ... British Museum. London, 1903.
  • Young, John R. "Douglas, James, second duke of Queensberry and first duke of Dover (1662–1711), politician." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Gordon, William M. Miscellany Three. Stair Society 39 (Edinburgh: Stair Society, 1992.) 171.
  • Alston, Robin. "Handlist of Library Catalogues and Lists of Books and Manuscripts in the British Library Department of Manuscripts." Occasional Papers of the Bibliographical Society, No.6. (London: Bibliographical Society, 1991.) p1.