Douglas Family History
The Douglas family owned the estate of Springwood Park in Kelso for six generations.
The family can trace its origins back to James, first Earl of Douglas and Mar, who died in 1384, from whom descended the Douglases of Cavers. A later descendant, William Douglas acquired the lands of Friarshaw in the parishes of Bowden and Lilliesleaf and the family now titled itself ‘of Friarshaw’.
The first Baronet James Douglas, (1704-1787) had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy, after which, he retired as an Admiral. He was created a baronet in 1786 and then a Knight of the Order of the Bath. In 1750, he bought the estate of Bridge End, and renamed it Springwood Park. Sir James went on to serve as the MP for Orkney and Shetland (1754-61 and 1761-68). He married twice: firstly in 1753 to Helen, daughter of Thomas Brisbane of that Ilk, and secondly to Lady Helen Boyle, daughter of John the Second Earl of Glasgow.
The second Baronet was his son George Douglas (1754-1821) who served as a Captain in the 21st Foot. During the threat of invasion by Napoleon, he commanded the Kelso Volunteers. He became MP for Roxburghshire (1784-1790) and married Lady Elizabeth Boyle in 1786, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Glasgow. Their son, John James, the 3rd baronet, succeeded in 1821, served in the 15th Hussars and fought in the Peninsula Wars and at Waterloo. Sir John married Hannah Charlotte, daughter and heiress of Henry Scott of Belford, changing the family name to Scott-Douglas. When he died, his widow went on to marry William Kerr of Sunlaws.
The 4th baronet, Sir George Henry Scott-Douglas (1825-1885) succeeded at the age of 11. His journals record how he spent most of his childhood moving from school to school, with little affection from his mother, who seems to prefer her pet dogs. After attending Harrow, he joined the 34th Regiment of Foot (The Border Regiment). He was also Brigadier-General of the Royal Company of Archers. His Journals describe him being stationed in Ireland during periods of civil unrest; going on leave to visit his family, being posted to Corfu, during which time he bought a boat called the Vampire, in which he sailed round the Greek islands; seeing a slave market in Constantinople and visiting the Holy Land. After being posted to Barbados, he decided to resign his commission and married Mariquita Sanchez de Pina in 1851, daughter of Don Francisco Sanchez de Pina of Gibraltar. They returned to Springwood Park, where Sir George concentrated on improving his estate and public works around Kelso. He served as MP for Roxburghshire (1874-1880). His eldest son, James, was killed on service in Zululand in 1879, leaving his second son, George Brisbane Scott Douglas to inherit in 1885.
The 5th baronet, George Brisbane Douglas (1856-1935) was the last resident of the house. He was educated at home and at Harrow. After graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge, he went on a grand tour. He met the author Thomas Hardy in 1881, and kept up a correspondence with him for many years. Sir George published New Border Tales in 1892, Poems of a Country Gentleman in 1897, Diversions of a Country Gentleman in 1902 and The Border Breed in 1909. He also wrote a biography of Major General Wauchope, a History of Roxburgh, Selkirk & Peebles and a wide range of articles on Scottish poetry, local events and history. He was also Lecturer on Literature at the University of Glasgow in 1911.
When he died in 1935, Sir George was succeeded by his great-nephew James Louis Fitzroy Douglas Scott who was born in 1930. Sir James served in the 15th/19th King’s Royal Hussars and the Lothians and Border Horse. He became a journalist and member of the Press Club and owned homes in Wiltshire and Cheshire.
Sir James never lived at Springwood Park and it is said that he rapidly spent his two large inheritances. The contents of Springwood Park were put up for auction and the house was left to decay until it was eventually demolished.
Sources: Whyte, Donald ‘Douglas of Springwood Park’, Borders Family History Society Magazine (June 1996)
Notes from a talk by Ian Abernethy