Thomas Douglas, Earl of Selkirk

 

The following is extracted from 
The Literary History of Galloway, 
by Thomas Murray, A.M. 


 

Second Edition, 1832. Edinburgh.


 

 

 

LIFE OF THOMAS, EARL OF SELKIRK.



Of the family from which THOMAS DOUGLAS, EARL OF SELKIRK, was descended, Lord
Basil Hamilton, sixth son of the Duke of Hamilton, was the first connected with
Galloway. He married Mary, heiress of Sir David Dunbar of Baldoon, by which
union he became possessed of large estates both in Wigtownshire and in the Stewartry
of Kirkcudbright. This amiable and accomplished young man came to an untimely
end at the early age of thirty. His brother the Earl of Selkirk and himself,
with a servant, were crossing the Minnoch, a small stream in the Stewartry of
Kirkcudbright, which at that time was much swollen; when the servant having
become entangled in the river, Lord Basil, who had previously gained the
opposite bank, rushed in to rescue his attendant from his perilous situation.
The unhappy result was that both master and servant were drowned. This took
place in August 1701. In the Advocates Library are preserved three doggerel
poems occasioned by his death; from which, as well as from more authentic
sources, we learn the respectability of his character, and the deep interest he
had taken in the unfortunate Scots settlement at Darien. 



               He laid his projects still to raise our trade,

               In foreign colonies our fame to spread. 

               For Caledonia’s injured settlement

               With just resentment to the court he went, 



               And that with great expense, yet did decline

               To be repaid for either cost or time.

               Thus brave and generous did he live and die,

               And shrunk away in boundless charity.



His widow survived him nearly sixty years,
having died in 1760, at the age of eighty-four. Of their children, four in
number, the oldest dying young, the family was long represented by Basil
Hamilton the second son. On his death in 1742, he was succeeded by his son
Dunbar Hamilton, who, in 1744, became heir to his grand-uncle the Earl of
Selkirk; on which occasion he assumed the name of Douglas. * He was father of
the distinguished nobleman, whose life we now purpose shortly to trace.



           . * The first Earl of Selkirk was a younger son of the first Marquis of Douglas; who,
           having married the heiress of the Dukedom of Hamilton, and having been elevated
           for life to that title, resigned his Earldom into the hands of the king. This
           latter peerage was, in 1688, revived in the person of his third son with the
           precedence of the original creation. (1646.) Dunbar Hamilton of Baldoon, who,
           as stated in the text, succeeded to the title of Selkirk, was great grandson of
           the Duke of Hamilton first referred to.

 

 

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