Papers of John Douglas (1721-1807), Bishop of Salisbury

Scope and Content

The papers consist of correspondence, and include letters to J. Basire, and to some unnamed, 1790, 1794, and letters to Alexander Carlyle, 1771-1801.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Douglas, the Bishop of Salisbury, was born on 14 July 1721. He was the son of a merchant in Pittenweem, Fife, and grandson of an Episcopalian clergyman in Saltoun, East Lothian. He was educated in Dunbar, East Lothian, until 1736 when he entered St. Mary's Hall, Oxford. In 1738 he was at Balliol, and 1740 he graduated with the degree of B.A. After a period abroad learning French, he was awarded the degree of M.A. in 1743. The following year, Douglas was ordained as a deacon and was appointed chaplain to the 3rd Regiment of Foot Guards. In 1745, he was at the Battle of Fontenoy. On his return from the army, he was again at Balliol and in 1747 he was ordained as a priest, and was then curate of Tilehurst near Reading and then at Dunstew, Oxfordshire. A post of tutor to Lord Pulteney, son of the Marquis of Bath, followed, and then livings at Eaton Constantine and at Uppington in Shropshire, before becoming vicar of High Ercall, Shropshire. In 1758, Douglas took the degree of D.D. and he was given the curacy of Kenley in Shropshire, and in 1762 a canonry at Windsor. A living at St. Augustine and St. Faith, Watling Street, London, followed, and a canonry at St. Paul's in 1776. In 1787 Douglas was appointed Bishop of Carlisle, and in 1788 Dean of Windsor. In 1791 he became Bishop of Salisbury. His publications, many of which were political papers, include a pamphlet entitled Milton vindicated from the charge of plagiarism (1751), a book Criterion (1752), Apology for the clergy (1755), A serious defence of some late measures of the administration (1756), and The conduct of the late Commander candidly considered (1759). John Douglas, Bishop of Salisbury, died on 18 May 1807. He was buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor on 25 May.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.5. Craik-Drake. London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1908.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Related Material

The local Indexes show another reference to Douglas related material (check the Indexes for more details): mention several times in letters from J. Logan, 1780-1788, at La.II.419. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: autobiography, correspondence and papers, British Library, Manuscript Collections, Ref. Eg MSS 2177-86, and letters to Earl of Hardwicke, Ref. Add MS 35403; miscellaneous papers, Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office, see Accessions to repositories 1961; 1761-68: letters to Henry Bowdler, Oxford University, Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, Ref. MS Top Salop c 3, and correspondence with Richard Scrope, 1773-1775, Ref. MS Clarendon 151; and, letters to Brudenell and Hayman Rooke (4), 1761-1788, Gloucestershire Record Office, Ref. D1833 NRA 4949 Rooke.