Tartan Ribbon

Ancient Douglas Tartan History


As many customers do ask, here's a little potted history with sincere apologies to better historians than me for the bits I've undoubtedly got wrong (!)

The Douglas clan is one of Scotland's oldest clans... the first recorded Douglas was William de Dufglas, who lived between 1174 and 1199. Sir William "le Hardi" Douglas fought alongside Sir William Wallace during Scotland''s wars of independence and his son, known as "the good Sir James" became the first of the "Black Douglases", and famously was a close companion of King Robert the Bruce... dying in Spain in 1330 while fighting the Moors during the crusades and en route to the Holy Land.

His nephew (another Sir William) inherited the estates and became Earl of Home and later, through marriage, Earl of Mar. One grandson led to a line of the family who became Marquises of Queensberry; giving their name to the rules of boxing. Another (illegitimate) grandson called Archibald "The Grim" (sounds a lovely chap!) became the 3rd Earl and married his son to Princess Margaret, daughter of King Robert III. This marriage strengthened the Douglases' position but this, in itself, became a problem and led to political power-struggles and national instability... the 6th Earl (who was married to the widowed Queen Maragret Tudor) was assassinated along with his brother, in 1440. The 9th Earl escaped the same fate but died in 1491 without an heir, bringing the line of the "Black Douglases" to an end.

Then began the line of the "Red Douglases" with George, 11th Earl of Angus and 1st Marquis of Douglas. He married a House of Stewart princess and brought the clan back into ascendance. The Douglas clan gained importance through more strategic marriages and in 1660 the 2nd Marquis became the Duke of Hamilton through marriage. The Duke of Hamilton remains the most senior of all the Scottish nobility - being senior to even the Duke of Argyll. Through this marriage several other titles including the Earl of Angus also passed into the family along with substantial holdings of land throughout the country. To this day the oldest son of the Duke of Hamilton is always known as the Marquis of Douglas and Clydesdale.

The Douglas tartan became even more famous when the Modern Douglas variant was used as the regimental tartan of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)The Cameronians wore the Modern Douglas Tartan and, as a lowland (Lanarkshire) regiment, they wore tartan trews (not kilts!). The regiment was disbanded in 1968; however their proud legacy lives on through Territorial Army and Army Cadet Force associations, as well as through old soldiers living in Lanarkshire and, indeed, all over the world.

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