Drysdale/Douglas Family History
Site Map
Home Page
About Nick Kontzie
Inside My Head
Family Tree

History of the Drysdale Family

John Drysdale + Christina (McDougal)

John Harrower Drysdale + Lillie (???)

Jane Anderson (Drysdale) + Christian Frederick Kontzie

Mary Bell (Drysdale) + John Henry Welter

Lizzie (Drysdale) + James Arthur Brown

Maggie (Drysdale) + John D. O'Brian

Edwin L. Drysdale + Ella (???)

Ada Jesse Drysdale

??? (Welter) + Owen Percy

Mary Edith Percy

Helen Percy

Some Interesting Facts

First came to North America in: ~1850 (John Drysdale)
Lived longest: John Drysdale (81 years)
Average male lifespan: ??.? years
Average female lifespan: ??.? years
Most common first name: John
Ratio of male to female: 2:5

The following tells the story of the creation of the Drysdale family, it was actually part of the Black Douglas clan which remained in Scotland, following their failed attempt against the Scots crown in 1455.

"On the Twentieth Day of May, One Thousand Five Hundred and Three Years

We, Thomas, William, and James Douglass, sons of the departed Thomas Douglass, of Brushwood Haugh, in the parish of Drysdale, and Shire of Dumfries, left our native place for the reason here assigned, viz:- Defending our just and lawful rights against our unjust neighbour, Johnston of Greenstonhill, who, being determined to bring water to his mill through our property, and having obtained leave of his friend, the King, began his operations on Monday, the 16th of May, We prevented him by force.
The next day he brought twenty of his vassels to carry on the work. We with two friends and three servants, (eight in all,) attacked Johnston with his twenty, and, in the contest, fourteen of his men were killed, along with their base leader. A report of these proceedings was carried to the King, and we were obliged to fly, (the tocsin being sounded).
We took shelter under the shadow of the Ochil Hills, in a lonely valley on the river Devon. After having lived there a full two years, we returned home in disguise, but found all our property in the possession of Johnston's friends, and a great reward offered for our lives. We, having purchased a small spot, called the Haugh of Dollar, and changed our names to the name of our Parish, are clearly in mind to spend the residue of our days under the ope of the Ochils, and wish the name of Drysdale to flourish in the lonely valley. The King passed through this with his Court on the 12th of June, 1506, going from Stirling to Falkland - dined on Halliday's green. (an eastern neighbour;) but we were not recognised."

The above story has been preserved among the desendants of Thomas, William, and James Douglass, now known by the name of Drysdale, and copied at several times by different individuals - first, by Simon Drysdale of the Haugh of Dollar, in the year 1620; by Robert Drysdale of Tillicoultry, in 1708; by John Drysdale, Dunfermline, in 1835; by James Drysdale, Dumfermline, in 1838; by John Montrose Drysdale, in 1841; by George Drysdale, Aberdeen, in 1845; by David Drysdale, Glasgow, in 1857; by John Harrower Drysdale, Aylmer, Ontario, Canada, in 1920; and now by Nicholas Edwin Kontzie (great-great-grandson of Jane Drysdale), Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in 2000.

Click on the image to view a copy of the original document:

Story of Drysdales

or you can view a copy which took an alternate path in 1838:

Story of Drysdales

Drysdale is considered a sept of the Douglas clan, but it is quite likely that this was a separate family which existed previous to when the three Douglas brothers adopted the Drysdale name. A sept is a family that can be related to a clan or larger family for various reasons. Usually this came about either through marriage or by a small family seeking protection from a larger and more powerful neighbour.

There were many septs of the Douglas clan; Agnew, Blackett, Blacklock, Blackstock, Blackwood, Blalock, Breckinridge, Brown, Brownlee, Cavan, Cavers, Dickey, Drysdale, Forest, Forrester, Foster, Gilpatric, Glendinning, Glenn, Harkness, Inglis, Kidston, Kilgore, Kilpatrick, Kirkland, Kirkpatrick, Lockerby, Lockery, MacGuffey, MacGuffock, McKitrick, Morton, Sandilands, Sandlin, Soule, Sterrett, Symington, Troup, Young.

Clan Douglas badge CLAN DOUGLAS
NAME ON MAP: DOUGLAS (in the old county of) Dumfries
MEANING: a territorial name, from Lanarkshire - GOIDELIC dubhglhas 'black stream', referring to a place in Lanarkshire, where they first held land. The origin of the family is Pictish.
BATTLE CRY: A Douglas! A Douglas!
MOTTO: Jamais Arriere (Never Behind)

The Douglases were considered to be the most influential and powerful of the Lowland families and who at the height of their powers were possibly the greatest family in Scotland. Since they were Lowlanders, rather than Highlanders, they were technically not a clan, but rather just a very powerful family. The first recorded use of the Douglas surname was by William de Duglas, who signed numerous official charters between 1175 and 1213. William, who died in 1214, was the father to six sons and a daughter. Along with Archibald de Douglas, heir to the Douglas estates, there were Brice, Bishop of Moray; Alexander, Canon of Spynie and Vicar of Elgin; Henry, Canon of Spynie and Clerk of Bishop; Hugh, Archdeacon of Moray; Freskin, Dean of Moray; and Margaret.

Sir Archibald de Douglas was born before 1198 and died in 1240. He married Margaret, daughter of Sir John Crawford and they had two sons. Their first son, William "Longlegs" created the Black Douglas line, while the second son Andrew de Douglas created the Douglases of Morton.

William "Longlegs" was born circa 1200 and died in 1276. He was reported to be "of tall and goodly stature" and so by acquired his pseudonym. William married the sister of the Earl of Carrick, the grandfather of Robert The Bruce. William "Longlegs" was the father of William "le Hardi".

William "le Hardi", Lord of Douglas, is most notable for being the first Lord to join William Wallace in his revolt against English rule. He had insulted the authority of King Edward by abducting and forcibly marrying Eleanor de Ferrers, an English widow, while she was staying with relatives in Scotland. He was captured by the English and executed. He had three sons; Sir James "The Good", Hugh "The Dull", and Archibald, the 1st Regent of Scotland.

Sir James "The Good" or "The Black Douglas", Lord of Douglas, continued his father's fight for Scottish independence as one of Robert Bruce's chief lieutenants. He fought with Bruce at Methven in 1306, then led a raid on Douglas Castle, his Douglasdale Estate, which had been confiscated by the English. Disguised as peasants, Sir James and his men surprised and defeated the English garrison in the battle which has become known as the "Douglas Larder". Once again disguising his men, this time as oxen, he also attacked and captured Roxburgh Castle. Sir James also played a major role in the defeat of the English Army at the Battle of Bannockburn, and was one of the signatories of the Declaration of Scottish Independence, on April 6, 1320. On the death of Bruce in 1329, Sir James was entrusted with the Monarch's heart in order to carry it on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He was killed fighting the Moors in Spain while on this pilgrimage in 1330. Sir James' body and Bruce's heart were returned to Scotland and laid to rest at St. Bride's Church and Melrose Abbey, respectively.

William, Lord of Douglas, the son of Sir James "The Good", succeeded his father as Lord of Douglas in 1330. He fell at Halidon Hill, 1333, leaving no heir, thus ending the hereditary line of Sir James "The Good". The title passed to his uncle, Hugh "The Dull", brother of Sir James "The Good".

Hugh "The Dull", was born in 1294 and died in 1342. Hugh lacked the mental faculties needed to manage the Douglas possessions, thus he renounced his rights. Hugh had no heir, and his younger brother, Archibald, the first Regent of Scotland, had also been killed at Halidon. The honors passed to Archibald's son, William.

William, Earl of Douglas, born in 1340, was created the first proper Earl of Douglas in 1352. William was a participant in a rebellion against King David II in 1363, but still managed to earn an appointment as Justiciar of Scotland under Robert II in 1371. An affair with his first cousin, Margaret Stewart, Countess of Mar and Angus, resulted in a son, George, who became the 1st Earl of Angus, founding the Red Douglas branch of the family. William died in 1384, leaving his titles and possessions to his son James.

James, 2nd Earl of Douglas, was born in 1358 and succeeded his father at a time of much border warfare between Scotland and England. Due to the old age of King Robert II, the Douglases were left in charge of the defense of the kingdom. In 1388 the 2nd Earl led a plundering sweep into England in retaliation for the devastation caused by King Richard's army three years earlier. While on this raid, Douglas met and defeated the renown English knight Henry "Hotspur" Percy in personal combat. Percy pursued and engaged Douglas at the Battle of Otterburn. James, although mortally wounded in the battle, directed his captains to carry his standard, sound his battle cry and rally his troops. James left one illegitimate son, William, 1st Lord of Drumlanrig. As no legitimate heir was left, the earldom passed to the son of Sir James "The Good".

Under the leadership of Archibald "The Grim", 3rd Earl of Douglas, the illegitimate son of Sir James "The Good", the Douglases gained the Lordship of Galloway and, through marriage to Joanna Murray, the family possessions of the Murrays of Bothwell. Archibald's daughter, Mary, married the Duke of Rothsay, Prince of Scotland while his son and heir, also Archibald, wedded Princess Margaret, eldest daughter of Robert III . Archibald was also responsible for the construction of Threave Castle, a long time Black Douglas Stronghold. In 1384, Archibald defeated the English garrison at Lochmaben Castle and in so doing removed the last of the English Army in Annandale. He died at Threave Castle in 1400.

Carrying on the military tradition of his fore fathers, Archibald "The Tyneman", 4th Earl of Douglas, Duke of Touraine fought against King Henry IV of England at Shrewsbury. Archibald, bent on the extermination of the King, hunted the field ruthlessly for the Monarch. King Henry, for his own security, had dressed a number of his noblemen in the royal attire. Three of these impostors met their fates at the blade of Douglas. Douglas was captured and mercifully released by the victor.

Born in 1390, Archibald, 5th Earl of Douglas, 2nd Duke of Touraine and Earl of Wigtown earned distinction as Guardian of the Realm during the childhood of James II, who had become King of Scots in 1437, at the age of six. At the time of his passing the possessions of Douglas were immense. They included the Lordship of Galloway, which included the Earldom of Wigtown and the area which is now the county of Kirkcudbright. He possessed Annandale, Ettrick Forest, Jedburgh, Lauderdale, Eskdale, Teviotdale and estates which covered a vast area and stretched across the border. In France, Archibald displayed great courage in battle against the English and was made Lieutenant-General of the French King's forces by Charles VII, it also earned him the Dukedom of Touraine in 1424. These holdings were enough to make the Earl the greatest magnate in the realm. The victim of an outbreak of the plague, Archibald died in 1439.

William, 6th Earl of Douglas, 3rd Duke of Touraine and Earl of Wigtown, was sixteen when he succeeded his father, Archibald. Because his holdings and power were so great, in November of 1440 Chancellor Sir William Crichton and his allies, who used his position with the ten year old boy King, James II, William and his brother, David were seized and hastily tried for treason, then immediately executed. As there was no heir at the time of the 6th Earl's murder, the Dukedom of Touraine reverted to the King of France, the Lordship of Galloway was inherited by Margaret, the late Earl's sister, while Annandale, as a male fief, reverted to the Crown. The Earldom of Douglas was passed to his Great-uncle.

James "The Gross", 7th Earl of Douglas, 2nd son of Archibald "The Grim", 3rd Earl of Douglas, inherited the Earldom after the murder of his Great-nephew, William, 6th Earl of Douglas. It has long been suspected that James had a hand in the death of his two young nephews in order to further his own line. His failure to act against Chancellor Crichton for an offense that should have created a blood feud seems to confirm this. James "The Gross" died in 1443.

William, 8th Earl of Douglas, succeeded his father with the aim of restoring to the family the possessions forfeited after the Death of William, 6th Earl of Douglas. He regained the Lordship of Galloway by marrying the sister and heiress of the two brothers killed by Chancellor Crichton. His holdings were further enhanced by his brothers who became, in turn, Bishop of Aberdeen, Earl of Moray, Earl of Ormond and Lord of Balveny. In 1447 war once again broke out between Scotland and England. The 8th Earl proved to be the hero in the Scot's burning of Alnwick and Warkworth in retaliation for English aggression. His brother, Earl of Ormond, defeated an English invasion at the Battle of Sark. In 1450, while the 8th Earl was in Rome, King James II, growing wary of the Douglas power, took the opportunity to assert his authority by seizing and destroying a number of Douglas strongholds. On his return to Scotland, William made a pact against the King with Alexander Lindsay, Earl of Crawford and John Donald, Lord of the Isles. He also made contact with the Yorkists in England. James II learned of the Earl's maneuvering and summoned him to Stirling Castle with a promise of safe conduct. On February 22, 1452 the Earl dined with the King and then retired with him to a small antechamber. There the King revealed his knowledge of Douglas' dealings and asked him to reaffirm his loyalty by renouncing his band with Crawford and the Lord of the Isles. When Douglas refused the King became enraged and stabbed the Earl in the throat. The King's Captain of the Guard, hearing the scuffle, burst into the room and finished Douglas off. He then threw Douglas' body from the window into the garden below.

James, after the murder of his brother, William, left his duties as Bishop of Aberdeen to become the 9th Earl of Douglas and avenge his brother. He rode, with a column of several hundred, to Stirling and burned the town. King James II gave chase with an army of thirty thousand. The 9th Earl, grossly outnumbered, surrendered to the King. He was forced to formally forgive James II, but in 1455, he again marched on Stirling this time with an army of forty thousand. The King's army, led by George, 4th Earl of Angus, of the Red Douglas, took the field against him with a numerically equal force. On the eve of the battle the Lord Hamilton defected with his troops to the King's cause, tilting the advantage away from Douglas. In the resultant Battle of Arkinholm the power of the Black Douglases was vanquished. The Earl escaped capture and fled to England with one brother, Balveny. His other brothers did not fare as well. Moray fell in the battle, and Ormond was captured and executed. All Douglas holdings were declared forfeit and Douglas strongholds were besieged with heavy gun and ultimately taken. King James II employed his most prized weapon, the famous cannon, Mons Meg, to take the Douglas strongholds at Albecorn and Threave. The 9th Earl made a futile attempt to regain his power, but he was captured and banished to Lindores Abbey where he died in 1488. With the passing of the 9th Earl, the line of the Black Earls of Douglas ended. Douglases, however, continued to be influential in Scottish history in the lines of the Red Douglases, Douglases of Morton, and the Douglases of Queensberry.

As the story of how the Drysdale family began indicates, the Johnstones helped James II in his struggle with the Black Douglases. After their participation in Battle of Arkinholm and the two month siege on Threave Castle the Johnstones were rewarded with a grant of the lands Buittle and Sannoch near Threave Castle, formerly part of the Douglas lands of Galloway.

George, 4th Earl of Angus, chief of the Red Douglases became head of the whole clan. His son, Archibald, "Bell the Cat", led the nobles rebellion against James III which ended in the defeat and death of the King at the Battle of Sauchieburn in 1488. His grandson also Archibald married Margaret Tudor, widow of James IV who had fallen at Flodden in 1513. Their daughter, Lady Margaret married the Earl of Lennox. Their son Lord Darnley married Mary, Queen of Scots and was father to James VI, King of Scots/James I, King of Great Britain, the first to unite England, Wales, and Scotland under one crown in 1603.

Go to top

©2000-2002 Nick Kontzie