H I S T O R Y
As many customers do ask, here's a little "potted history" with sincerest apologies to any "old Cameronians" reading this for the bits I have 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. The name appears to be from the gaelic "dubh" - meaning black or dark, and "glas" meaning grey. Whether this refers to actual colours or to character is uncertain as a similar situation exists with the sgian dhub (the small dagger worn in the sock when wearing a kilt) . . . this was a hidden weapon and in this context "dubh" is taken to mean dark / sinister / hidden as opposed to to simply black in colour.
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. To this day the oldest son of the Duke of Hamilton is always known as the Marquis of Douglas and Clydesdale.
The Modern Douglas tartan became even more famous as the regimental tartan of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). Formed in 1881, the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) was the only rifle regiment in the Scottish regiments of infantry. As a lowland (Lanarkshire) regiment The Cameronians wore tartan trews - not kilts!
The Cameronians' origins lie in the turbulent period of religious and political strife of the 1680's. The original Cameronians were Covenanters - signatories to the National Covenant (1638) and the Solemn League and Covenant (1643), which meant that they would even do battle to defend their freedom to worship as they chose. When their ministers were ejected from their parishes the Covenanters followed them to the hills and worshipped at open air services... "conventicles". As the threat from government forces increased, the Covenanters began to carry weapons to their conventicles and post armed pickets to keep a lookout. The regiment was formed on 14th May 1689, on the banks of the Douglas Water in South Lanarkshire. Their first colonel was the 19 year old Earl of Angus, son of the Marquis of Douglas. The Earl's statue overlooks the spot in Douglas to this day. The regiment took its name from Richard Cameron, 'The Lion of The Covenant'. Cameron was a field preacher but was killed at the battle of Airds Moss in 1680.
From 1750 they, like all of the regiments of the line, were given a number and were thereafter known as the 26th Regiment of Foot, The Cameronians. Towards the end of the 18th century with Britain facing war with France, the government raised new regiments including, in 1794, the 90th (Perthshire Light Infantry) who were eventually brought together with the 26th of Foot in 1881 to form The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). The regiment (before and after this amalgamation) served in the Napoleonic wars, in the Crimea, in India (winning six Victoria Crosses at the relief of Lucknow in 1857), in South Africa duling the Zulu Wars and, of course, in the Great War.
During the second world war, the 1st battalion served in the Far East as part of the famous Chindits while the 2nd battalion were part of the British Expeditionary Force, eventally evacuated at Dunkirk. They fought in the Middle East and then as part of Montgomery's 8th Army in the fight to capture Italy. After the war the regiment was reduced to one battalion, seeing service in Malaysia against the communist terrorists, in Germany (as part of BAOR), in the Middle East (Oman and Jordan), Kenya (Mau Mau uprising), Germany again, and finally, on counter-terrorist operations in Aden in 1966-1967.
With the third major round of cuts in 1967 it was announced that the 1st Battalion The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) was to disband, ending nearly three hundred years of service to the Crown. The disbandment parade, in the form of a Conventicle, took place at Douglas on 14th May 1968. The salute was taken by the then Earl of Angus, the 14th Duke of Hamilton (1903-1973). In his sermon the Reverend Donald MacDonald, a former Chaplain to both regular battalions, said:
" … so put pride in your step Cameronians! As you march out of the Army List, you are marching into history, and from your proud place there, no man can remove your name, and no man can snatch a rose from the chaplet of your honour."