The Salamander in a Ring of Fire (as in the DOUGLAS Crest)

Collated by Jan Shaw

Some of the queries concerning the salamander have been discussed by members‟ correspondence, thank you for contributing. No doubt many members have looked at what Google has to say about the 500 species of this amphibian „newt‟, so I shall continue with the related Douglas crest information and history.


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The Earls of Angus Part 1

George Douglas b. 1378 was the first Douglas Earl of Angus, but the title goes back well before then, and is indeed one of the oldest titles in Scotland.


From Robert Maxwell’s “The History of the House of Douglas”, ‘ the modern county of Forfar corresponds pretty closely with the ancient Earldoms of Angus. In the 13th century Scotland, there were seven earls who ruled over provinces forming part of the constitution of Scotland.


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The House of Douglas

Douglas is a name well recorded in Scottish history and the bearers of this name be they of the 'Red' or 'Black', branch, were a force to be reckoned with by succeeding monarchs in the course of Scotland's turbulent history. Douglas means 'Black Water', which suggests the wildness of the region inwhich they settled. The first one mentioned in 767 AD in recorded history by David Hume of Godscroft, was Sholto Douglas who, it is generally believed, was descended from the 'House of Murray' - a belief due basically to the three Mullets or Stars, held in CHief on the Douglas Armorial Bearings.

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The Earls of Angus Part 2

(Taken from the writings of Robert Maxwell in A History of the House of Douglas )


What is the origin of ‘Douglas’ ?

What we do know is that the name represents the Gaelic ‘dark water’ and is borne to this day by many streams in Scotland .

We also know that the first mention of a Douglas was between 1174 and 199 when William de Douglas witnessed a charter granted by Jocelyn, the bishop of Glasgow in favour of the monks of Kelso.

At that time in 12th Century Scotland surnames were not yet in use, the baptismal name was used, but to distinguish one William from another a temporary patroymic name or one indicating one’s office, place of residence or type of work was introduced..

And so this William de Douglas acquired this territorial designation and his descendants used Douglas as their regular surname.

(Maxwell suggests that the origin of the Douglases may have been Flemish as Flemish people came across and settled in the area of Douglas and were intermarried)

Although the land and possessions of William de Douglas c1174 – c 1214 are not known, they must have been considerable as a layman’s influence was in proportion to his landed property. Douglas attended the court of William le Lion and his name appears in good company witnessing the charters of that monarch


Thus giving some information of the ‘first Douglas’, let us continue with the Earls of Angus line.But before doing so, I must mention that Scottish History is complicated by the ever changing of loyalties to the King and Clan which finally bring every man (and woman) to look over their shoulders as to whom the enemy may be or become.


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