Angus is one of the ancient mormaerships that later converted to an earldom, based approximately on the Pictish kingdom of Circinn, which takes in the old shires of Forfar and Kincardine. The list of mormaers is sketchy at best. The earliest names extant are that of Indrechtach in the early 10th century, Dubacan, who may have been his son, and then perhaps Cuncar. The daughter of another mormaer, Sinill, is said to have married Lulach, stepson of Macbeth. Circa 1115 we have the first person mentioned as an earl.
Earls of Angus (c.1115)
1st Earl of Angus, Gilchrist, b.?, a.c.1115, d.?
He was recognised as earl of Angus by Malcolm Canmore.
2nd Earl of Angus, Gilbride, b.b.1128, a.c.1115, d.c.1187
Son of the 1st Earl, and also known as Gille Brigte. He fought in the Battle of the Standard when the Scots were defeated I Yorkshire, and became a hostage for King William the Lion. Two of his sons became earls in turn, while his third son, Gilbert (b.c.1172, d.c.1204) was the progenitor of the great Ogilvy clan of Angus (for whom see the earls of Findlater and of Airlie).
3rd Earl of Angus, Adam, b.b.1164, a.c.1187, d.b.1198
Son of the 2nd Earl and a daughter of Cospatrick, 3rd Earl of Dunbar.
4th Earl of Angus, Gilchrist, b.b.1187, a.b.1198, d.1207-1211
Younger brother of the 3rd Earl. He was a great benefactor to Arbroath Abbey. He married several times. By his wife Ingebiorg Ericsdottir, sister of Harald Ericsson and grand-daughter of Ragnvald III of Orkney, he produced a line of Norwegian earls of Orkney starting with Magnus II. By his wife Marjory Haraldsdottir, daughter of Harald Maddadson, Earl of Orkney, he had a daughter Beatrix who would eventually marry Walter Stewart, 3rd High Steward of Scotland, and so become an ancestor of the Stewart Kings.
5th Earl of Angus, Duncan, b.?, a.?, d.1207-1214
Son of the 4th Earl and probably Marjorie of Huntingdon, daughter of Earl Henry of Huntingdon, son of King David I, and Ada de Warenne, daughter of William de Warenne, 2nd Earl of Surrey.
6th Earl of Angus, Malcolm, b.b.1207, a.1207-1214, d.1237-1242
Son of the 5th Earl.
7th Earl (Countess) of Angus, Maud, b.1226, a.1237-1242, d.?
Daughter of the 6th Earl and Mary Berkeley, she is also known as Matilda. She first married John Comyn, who is sometimes counted amongst the list of earls, but he died soon after, and she then married the Scottish-Norman noble Gilbert de Umfraville, by whom she produced her heir, and so he became earl de uxoris. She lastly married an Anglo-Norman Richard de Douvres, and their daughter Isabel (b.a.1245, d.1291-1292) married John of Strathbogie, 9th Earl of Atholl.
8th Earl of Angus, Gilbert de Umfraville, b.c.1244, a.?, d.b.1307
Son of the 7th Countess and Gilbert de Umfraville (b.b.1217, d.1244-1245). Though descended from the original line of earls, he was principally an English Baron, with lands in Prudhoe in Northumberland. As such, he sided with the English during the turmoil after the death of Alexander III, and was created 1st Earl of Angus in the Peerage of England in 1283. He was Governor of the castles at Dundee and Forfar in 1291 when the Regents of Scotland surrendered the kingdom to Edward I, but he refused to hand them over without guarantees, as they had been entrusted to him by the Scottish nation, and Edward acceded to his demands. He was created 1st Lord Umfraville, also in the peerage of England, in 1295.
9th Earl of Angus, Robert de Umfraville, b.b.1277, a.c.1307, d.1325
Son of the 8th Earl and Elizabeth Comyn (b.?, d.1328-1329), daughter of Alexander Comyn, 6th Earl of Buchan. He used his English peerage to secure high position in occupied Scotland as Joint King’s Lieutenant and Joint Guardian of Scotland between Berwick and the Forth, and was used as a Commissioner in negotiations between Scotland and England on a number of occasions. He fought on the English side at Bannockburn and was taken prisoner after having taken refuge in Bothwell Castle, but was released the following year. Denied his lands by Robert the Bruce, he continued to operate on behalf of the English in the Borders.
10th Earl of Angus, Gilbert de Umfraville, b.c.1310, a.1325, d.1380-1381
Son of the 9th Earl and Lucy de Kyme, daughter of Sir Philip de Kyme, 1st Baron Kyme. On his father’s death, the earldom was declared forfeit by Robert the Bruce. As one of the Disinherited, he fought for Edward Balliol at the Battle of Dupplin Moor in 1332, but any hope of getting his title back was lost when Balliol fled back to England in the face of permanent hostility to his reign. He was one of the senior commanders of the English army on the Borders for many years and was a Commissioner for the release of King David II of Scotland in 1356. His only son died without issue prior to his own death, and any claim to the title was lost, no other legitimate heir being available. He had built up large estates in the north of England that transferred to his niece Eleanor de Boroughdon as part of his English barony of Kyme.
Earls of Angus (1329)
1st Earl of Angus, John Stewart, b.b.1315, a.1329, d.1331
Son of Sir Alexander Stewart of Bonkyl (b.?, d.1319), a grandson of Alexander Stewart, 4th High Steward of Scotland, and therefore a distant cousin of the future King Robert II. He was invested as a knight in 1331 and was first in a new line of Earls of Angus.
2nd Earl of Angus, Thomas Stewart, b.b.1331, a.1331, d.1361
Son of the 1st Earl and Margaret Abernethy (b.?, d.a.1370). He commanded the force that took Berwick Castle in 1355, and was Great Chamberlain from 1357 to 1358. He also served as an hostage for David II.
3rd Earl (Countess) of Angus, Margaret Stewart, b.b.1360, a.1361, d.1471-1418
Daughter of the 2nd Earl and Margaret Sinclair, daughter of Sir Henry Sinclair of Roslin, ancestor of the earls of Orkney. She married Thomas, 9th Earl of Mar, but was left a widow. She then had children with her brother-in-law William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas, who was married to her husband’s sister. She resigned the earldom in favour of her son, to whom the title was granted anew in 1389.
Earls of Angus (1389)
1st Earl of Angus, George Douglas, b.b.1378, a.1389, d.1402
Son of the Countess of Angus and William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas. Though illegitimate, he was favoured by his mother, who passed the earldom to him in 1389, although he was not officially recognised until he married the Princess Mary in 1397, when he also obtained the territorial lordships of Abernethy and of Bonkyl. The lordship of Abernethy consisted of the lands of the monastery of Abernethy and was hereditary to a branch of the earls of Fife ending with Margaret of Abernethy, who married the 2nd Earl of Angus mentioned above, and thus had been assumed by her daughter the Countess. With the death of Murdoch, 2nd Earl of Fife, in 1425, the privilege of crowning the King of Scots fell to her descendants. Although little involved in public life, being surrounded by stronger personalities, he fought in the Battle of Homildon Hill, where he was captured by the English, and died in captivity. He was the first of the so-called Red Douglases, whose rivalry with the Black Earls of Douglas had lasting effects to the country as a whole, fostered possibly by Bishop Kennedy of St Andrews in an attempt to maintain control over these powerful houses.
2nd Earl of Angus, William Douglas, b.c.1398, a.1402, d.1437
Son of the 1st Earl and Lady Mary Stewart (b.?, d.c.1458), daughter of Robert III of Scotland. He was amongst the negotiators for the release of James I from English captivity and was made Warden of the Middle Marches in 1433.
3rd Earl of Angus, James Douglas, b.1426, a.1437, d.1446
Son of the 2nd Earl and Margaret Hay. His estates were forfeited by James II during the period of upset between the ruling Stewarts and the powerful Douglas clan, although he was a Red Douglas rather than a Black Douglas, and had closer ties to the throne by way of his mother. The attainder was reversed in 1445. He died without heirs.
4th Earl of Angus, George Douglas, b.b.1429, a.1446, d.1463
Younger brother of the 3rd Earl. Forever at war with the English northern nobles, he was Warden of the Middle Marches from 1449 and acted as an Ambassador to England. In 1452, his kinsman, the 8th Earl of Douglas, was murdered at Stirling Castle by King James II, while under an assurance of safe-conduct. The Black Douglases rose in revolt, and it was expected that the Red would join them. A nobleman of his power could hardly do nothing. He chose, however, to come out in support of his monarch. The Black Douglases were completely defeated, all their lands forfeited by attainder and granted to Angus by royal charter. He was now the most powerful man in Scotland. Aiding the King in relieving Roxburghe Castle from the English, he was standing near him when he was killed by an exploding cannon, and though wounded himself, took part in the successful storming of the walls. He also placed the crown on the head of the young James III at Kelso Abbey shortly afterwards. His desire for even more power led him to conduct negotiations with Henry IV England in the hope of obtaining a dukedom, but he died before this came to anything.
5th Earl of Angus, Archibald Douglas, b.c.1453, a.1462, d.1513-1514
Son of the 4th Earl and Isabel Sibbald (b.?, d.1497), daughter of Sir John Sibbald of Balgony. He received his famous nickname, Bell the Cat, for his stand against the King’s doubtful favourites at court. In league with other nobles concerned about the influence these had on the King, he seized the initiative and had them all hanged from a bridge in Lauder, where the Scots were mustering in preparation for an invasion of England. He threw in his lot with Alexander Stewart, Duke of Albany, the King’s younger brother, who had been plotting with Edward IV of England, and although he received a pardon for this treason, he was one of the leaders of the rebellion in 1488 that led to the King’s death following the Battle of Sauchieburn. He was initially in the favour of James IV, becoming one of his Guardians and made Warden of the East Marches and a Privy Counsellor, but soon lost influence to the Homes and Hepburns, and negotiated with Henry VII of England. In 1491, however, he was forced to submit to the King, and had to exchange Hermitage Castle for estates in Bothwell. Although briefly back in favour, holding the position of Lord High Chancellor between 1493 and 1498, he fell from grace again and was detained at Dumbarton Castle. He accompanied James to Flodden, but advised against open battle and was given permission to return home. Feeling slighted, he left the King’s side, although he encouraged his two eldest sons to remain with their followers, both of whom were killed. After the disaster he was appointed an adviser to the Queen Regent, Margaret Tudor, but died shortly afterwards.
6th Earl of Angus, Archibald Douglas, b.1490, a.1514, d.1556-1557
Grandson of the 5th Earl and Elizabeth Boyd (b.?, d.b.1497), daughter of Robert Boyd, 1st Lord Boyd of Kilmarnock, and son of George Douglas (b.c.1469, d.1513) and Elizabeth Drummond (b.?, d.a.1513), daughter of John Drummond, 1st Lord Drummond (for whom see the earls of Perth). His father having died at Flodden, the new earl was young, handsome and supremely powerful. He was heavily involved in the political intrigue of the day, being a member of the Council of Regency and marrying the queen dowager Margaret Tudor. This immediately put him in the pro-English camp, which was quickly ousted from power by John Stewart, 2nd Duke of Albany, who took possession of the royal children. Angus initially fled to England with the Queen and other senior members of the pro-English faction, including James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran, looking to England for political and military support, but was ignored by Henry VIII, his brother-in-law, and so returned to Scotland, leaving his ill wife behind, where he was reconciled with Albany, who departed to France shortly afterwards. Despite the void created by Albany’s absence, Angus was thwarted in his attempts to seize power by the return of the Queen, who refused to support him, incensed by his adulterous behaviour, and by Arran, who remained on her side. When Albany returned in 1521, Angus was deprived of power and charged with treason, after which he was sent to France before escaping to London. During his time away, the Queen and Arran succeeded in removing Albany from power. Late in 1524 he returned to Scotland, this time given assurances of support from Henry, and installed himself at Tantallon Castle. In 1525 he organised a large party of nobles and they entered Edinburgh and took possession. Calling a Parliament, he took on a number of high offices, and was installed as Guardian to the young King James V, all with the support of the Chancellor, Cardinal Beaton. He later persuaded Beaton to hand over the great seal and appointed himself Lord Chancellor. In 1526, Margaret managed to persuade Beaton and John Stewart, 3rd Earl of Lennox, to help her gain her son’s release and Lennox led an army of 10,000 men on Edinburgh. By this time, however, Angus had won over Arran, who led out his own troops. The two armies clashed at the Battle of Linlithgow, Arran having the smaller force but the superior position. Defeated, Lennox surrendered, only to be murdered while in custody by one of the Hamilton retainers. When James finally escaped from Falkland Palace to his mother’s stronghold at Stirling in 1528, a Parliament was called and Angus was immediately attainted and all his lands confiscated. With Arran now supporting the King, Angus had no choice but to flee into exile in England, from where he made several raids into Scotland backed by Henry VIII. On the death of James, fifteen years later, Angus returned with his power and influence much diminished and he was pardoned, with the attainder and forfeiture removed by Parliament. At first he tried to negotiate marriage between Mary Stuart and Edward VI, but the continuing English incursions eroded any goodwill towards Henry and Angus became more and more anti-English. He succeeded in inflicting some heavy defeats on the English, though he also led the van at the disastrous Battle of Pinkie. His actions during his life were always self-serving, his loyalty to his family outweighing any loyalty to King or country. His only surviving legitimate child was Margaret, who was the mother of Lord Darnley.
7th Earl of Angus, David Douglas, b.c.1515, a.1557, d.1557-1558
Nephew of the 6th Earl, the son of that man’s younger brother George Douglas of Pittendreich (b.b.1500, d.1552) and Elizabeth Douglas. He did not long outlast his uncle.
8th Earl of Angus, Archibald Douglas, b.c.1555, a.1558, d.1588
Son of the 7th Earl and Margaret Hamilton, a grand-daughter of James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran. He was a Presbyterian and supporter of his uncle, the Regent James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton. When Morton was overthrown, Angus was declared guilty of treason and sought help from the English, welcomed at court by Queen Elizabeth I. After the Raid of Ruthven, the Protestant earls of Mar and of Gowrie took control of the King with the backing of the Church of Scotland and Angus returned to Scotland in support. The coup collapsed, however, less than a year later when the King escaped, and Angus retreated north to avoid confrontation with James Stewart, 1st Earl of Arran. In 1584 he joined in a revolt led by Mar and Gowrie that failed miserably and he was forced to leave for England again, attainted and forfeited. The following year, he used the backing of Elizabeth I in order to invade Scotland, overthrowing Arran, capturing the King and taking control of government,with the usual reversal of attainder. In 1586 he was granted the earldom of Morton, making him the 5th Earl of that title.
9th Earl of Angus, William Douglas, b.c.1532, a.1588, d.1591
Great-grandson of the 5th Earl, grandson of Sir William Douglas of Glenbervie (b.1470-1475, d.1513) (who died at Flodden) and Elizabeth Auchinleck, and son of Sir Archibald Douglas (b.b.1513, d.1570) and Agnes Keith (b.?, d.c.1548), daughter of William Keith, 3rd Earl Marischal. He succeeded as male-heir in 1588. He had been a supporter of Mary Queen of Scots.
10th Earl of Angus, William Douglas, b.1552, a.1591, d.1611
Son of the 9th Earl and Egidia Graham (b.?, d.a.1606), daughter of Sir Robert Graham of Morphie. He became Roman Catholic and was disinherited. He joined the plot known as the ‘Spanish Blanks’ and was imprisoned in Edinburgh. Escaping, he joined his fellow conspirators, Erroll and Huntly, in the north. They remained at large for several years, continually to causing problems. Eventually they were declared guilty of treason, forfeited and ex-communicated, with the young Archibald Campbell, 7th Earl of Argyll sent to bring them to account. He was sounded defeated at Glenlivet, forcing the King to send a large army to subdue them, destroying their castles and laying waste to their estates, after which they capitulated and were allowed to leave the country. They were finally allowed to return to Scotland in 1595 and in 1597 formally renounced their religion and were restored to their estates. He later recanted and was again ex-communicated in 1608. In 1609, he left for France in exile and died there.
11th Earl of Angus, William Douglas, b.1589, a.1611, d.1660
Son of the 10th Earl and Elizabeth Oliphant, daughter of Laurence Oliphant, 4th Lord Oliphant. He was a Roman Catholic like his father, and remained an adherent to the King during the civil wars. In 1633, he was created 1st Marquess of Douglas, 1st Lord Abernethy and Jedburgh Forest, and obtained a re-granting as 1st Earl of Angus. The powers of the old nobles houses having been torn apart by the religious and civil wars, he joined the Marquess of Montrose late and with only an handful of men, and with him escaped from the rout at Philiphaugh. He was later captured and held prisoner in Edinburgh and was fined £1,000 during Cromwell’s Act of Grace. In later life he lived in grandeur in Douglas Castle, and is considered to have been the very best of the Douglas breed.
Marquesses of Douglas (1633)
1st Marquess of Douglas, William Douglas, as above
Although the marquessate continued via his first wife, Margaret Hamilton, his sons by his second wife Mary Gordon, daughter of George Gordon, 1st Marquess of Huntly, were raised to the peerage as William Douglas-Hamilton, 1st Earl of Selkirk, and George Douglas, 1st Earl of Dumbarton. The former married Anne Hamilton, 3rd Duchess of Hamilton, and it was to this line that the marquessate later passed.
2nd Marquess of Douglas, James Douglas, b.1646, a.1660, d.1699-1700
Grandson of the 1st Marquess and Margaret Hamilton (b.c.1585, d.1623), daughter of Claud Hamilton, 1st Lord Paisley (for whom see the earls of Abercorn), and son of Archibald Douglas (b.c.1609, d.1655) and Lady Anne Stuart (b.1614, d.1646), daughter of Esme Stuart, 3rd Duke of Lennox. This Archibald Douglas later married Jean Wemyss (b.?, d.1715), daughter of David Wemyss, 2nd Earl of Wemyss, and their son, another Archibald Douglas, was created 1st Earl of Forfar. The 2nd Marquess was made a Privy Counsellor and a strict Presbyterian, as was his eldest son James Douglas (b.1671, d.1692), who was responsible for the creation of an infantry regiment drawn from the Covenanters that would become known as the Cameronians. He was killed leading the regiment at the Battle of Steinkirk in 1692.
3rd Marquess of Douglas, Archibald Douglas, b.1694, a.1700, d.1761
Son of the 2nd Marquess and his second wife Mary Kerr (b.1674, d.1735-1736), daughter of Robert Kerr, 1st Marquess of Lothian. In 1703 he was created 1st Duke of Douglas, 1st Marquess of Angus and Abernethy, 1st Viscount of Jedburgh Forest and 1st Lord Douglas of Bonkill, Pretoun and Robertoun.
Dukes of Douglas (1703)
1st Duke of Douglas, Archibald Douglas, as above
He fought at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715 on the Government side. He was Lord-Lieutenant of Forfarshire from 1715 to 1761. In 1725, he killed one John Ker, accidentally or deliberately, and fled to Holland, although he later returned to Scotland. In 1758, Douglas Castle burned down, and he rebuilt it, engaging the services of the famous architect Robert Adam. The dukedom became extinct at his death, and the titles of Marquess of Douglas and Earl of Angus passed to the 7th Duke of Hamilton as heir-male via his grandmother. The Douglas estates, however, were successfully claimed by Archibald James Edward Douglas (b.1748, d.1827), grandson of the 2nd Marquess and son of Lady Jane Douglas (b.1698, d.1753) and her husband Sir John Stewart of Grandtully, 3rd Baronet Stewart of Blair and Balcaskie, Fife. This Archibald Douglas was later created 1st Baron Douglas of Douglas in the Peerage of Great Britain, and the estates passed from him via his daughter Jane Margaret Douglas (b.1779, d.1859) and grand-daughter Lucy Elizabeth Montagu-Scott (b.1805, d.1877) to the earls of Home.
For a continuation of this line, please transfer to the Hamilton page.
(Last updated: 22/11/2010)