William Douglas, Sr., of Nithsdale

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William Douglas, Sr., of Nithsdale

Also Known As: "Lord Galloway", "William /Pittendale/"
Birthplace: Dumfries, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
Death: circa 1392 (19-36)
Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland
Immediate Family:

Son of Archibald ‘The Grim’ Douglas, 3rd Earl of Douglas and MIstress of Archibald Douglas
Husband of Egidia Stewart, of Lounane, Princess of Scotland
Father of Egidia Douglas, Countess of Orkney and Sir William Douglas of Nithsdale
Half brother of James "The Gross" Douglas, 7th Earl of Douglas; Archibald Douglas, 4th Earl of Douglas; Marjorie Douglas, Countess of Atholl and Catherine Douglas

Occupation: Scotish Knight, Northern Crusader, nobleman.
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About William Douglas, Sr., of Nithsdale


Sir William Douglas of Nithsdale (c. 1370 – c. 1392) was a Scottish Knight and Northern Crusader.

Early life

William Douglas was an illegitimate son of Archibald the Grim, 3rd Earl of Douglas and an unknown mother.

A man of apparently dashing bearing, Douglas was with the Franco-Scots army when it unsuccessfully besieged Carlisle Castle in 1385, the defending Governor being Lord Clifford. He is recorded as there performing feats of valour and killing many Englishmen. According to Andrew of Wyntoun:

"A yhowng joly bachelere

Prysyd gretly wes off were,

For he wes evyr traveland

Qwhille be se and qwhille be land

To skathe his fays rycht besy

Swa that thai dred him grettumly" (Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland ix, c.21)


Douglas certainly had gained his spurs by 1387 when he married the Egidia (or Gelis) Stewart, princess of Scotland, a daughter of King Robert II. According to the Liber Pluscarden, Egidia Stewart's beauty was well renowned. Charles V of France had "sent a certain most subtle painter to do her portrait and portray her charms, intending to take her to wife." But the King of France and all other of Egidia's admirers had lost out to the chivalric charms of Douglas. As part of her marriage portion went the lands of Nithsdale in south-western Scotland, Herbertshire in the county of Stirling and an annuity of £300.


Within his first year of marriage the young Nithsdale led a punitive raid against Irish raiders who had been troubling the tenantry of his father's Fiefdom of Galloway. In early summer 1388, with a party of 500 well prepared veteran men-at-arms he sailed into Carlingford Lough, landed outside the town and summoned their leaders. The chief of the townsfolk offered a sum for a temporary truce, to which Nithsdale agreed. Secretly the townsfolk sent off to Dundalk for reinforcements, with which they were obliged. 800 spearmen from Dundalk surprised the Scots camp by night, and were supported by a sortie from Carlingford town. The Scots, veterans of years of brutal Border warfare, beat the Irishmen off, captured the town and burnt it, seized the Castle and captured 15 ships in the harbour. Nithsdale and his expeditionary force sailed back into Loch Ryan with enough time to participate in the raiding of Northern England that was to culminate in the Battle of Otterburn on the 19th of August, in which he fought with distinction.

Feuding, Crusading and Death

The year after Otterburn a truce was called between Scotland and England. Nithsdale on a knightly quest for glory decided, about 1389, to join the Teutonic Knights, who were fighting the Ottomans and Lithuanians in eastern Europe. Nithsdale had previously quarrelled with Lord Clifford, a former adversary at Carlisle and whose forebear had claimed Douglasdale under Edward I of England's oppression. While both were abroad, it is alleged that Clifford challenged Nithsdale to single combat, and that Douglas even went to France to obtain special armour for the fight. Clifford, however, died on August 18, 1391,[1] but Nithsdale is said to have kept their 'tryst', and whilst walking upon on the bridge leading to the main gate at Danzig was "killed by the English".[2] The burgers of Danzig decided that "upon account of a signal service which the Douglas family did to this city in relieving it in its utmost extremities against the Poles, the Scotch were allowed to be free burghers of the town". Subsequently the stone facia of the Hohe Thor (High Gate) was adorned with the coat of arms of this nobleman and for centuries it was commonly referred to as the Douglas Port or Douglas Gate, described as such as late as 1734.[3]

As Nithsdale had drawn most of his rentals from the burgh of Dumfries in 1392 his death is assumed to have occurred that year or shortly afterwards.[2]

By Princess Egidia, Nithsdale had two children:

Egidia Douglas, known as the "Fair Maid of Nithsdale" married:

1. Henry Sinclair, 2nd Earl of Orkney (d. 1422)

2. Sir Alasdair Stewart (executed 1425) son of Murdoch Stewart, 2nd Duke of Albany

Sir William Douglas, Knt., Lord of Nithsdale (d.c.1419), knighted when very young as he is described as chevalier in a safe-conduct dated January 30, 1406, when he could not have been more than nineteen.[4]



^ Richardson, Douglas, Plantagenet Ancestry, Baltimore, 2004, p216: ISBN 0-8063-1750-7

^ a b Maxwell, Sir Herbert, Bt., A History of the House of Douglas, London, 1902, vol.1, p.127-8

^ Fischer Th. A., The Scots in Eastern and Western Prussia, Edinburgh, 1903, p123-3

^ Maxwell, Sir Herbert, Bt., A History of the House of Douglas, London, 1902, vol.1, p128


Maxwell, Sir Herbert. A History of the House of Douglas, 2 vols, London, 1902. Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Douglas_of_Nithsdale"

Known as very handsome and dashing.

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William Douglas, Sr., of Nithsdale's Timeline

Dumfries, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
Nithsdale, Dumfries-Shire, Scotland (United Kingdom)
Nithsdale, Dumfries-shire, Scotland
Age 28
Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland