Francis Douglas, Viscount Drumlanrig

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Francis Archibald Douglas, Viscount Drumlanrig (3 February 1867 – 18 October 1894)[1], also 1st Baron Kelhead in his own right, was a Scottish nobleman and Liberal politician.

Background and education[edit]

Born at 8 Chesterfield Street, Mayfair, London,[1] Drumlanrig was the eldest son of John Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry, by his first wife Sibyl, daughter of Alfred Montgomery; as the heir apparent of the Marquess, he used the courtesy title Viscount Drumlanrig.[2] He was educated at Harrow and at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst and served as Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion of the Coldstream Guards from 1887 to 1893.[3]

Political career[edit]

Lord Drumlanrig later served as private secretary to the Liberal politician Lord Rosebery. Owing to Rosebery's patronage, on 22 June 1893 he was created Baron Kelhead, of Kelhead in the County of Dumfries, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.[4] This gave him his own seat in the House of Lords, unlike his father, whose titles were all in the Peerage of Scotland. In July 1893 he was appointed a Lord-in-waiting by Rosebery.

Lord Queensberry had served in Parliament from 1872 to 1880 as a representative peer, but in 1880 he refused, as an atheist, to take the religious oath of allegiance to the Queen, he was not allowed to take his seat and was never again chosen as a representative peer by the Scottish nobles. Drumlanrig's accession to Parliament as the 1st Baron Kelhead precipitated a bitter dispute between him and Queensberry, and also between Queensberry and Rosebery, who became Prime Minister in 1894.

Personal life[edit]

On 18 October 1894,[1] sixteen months after his ennoblement, Drumlanrig died at Quantock Lodge, Somerset, from injuries received during a shooting party; the inquest returned a verdict of "accidental death",[1] but his death was also rumoured to be suicide or murder. He was buried in the family burial ground at Kinmount, Dumfriesshire,[1] he was unmarried and his younger brother Lord Percy Douglas became heir to his father's titles. It was speculated at the time, and evidence suggests,[5] that Drumlanrig may have had a homosexual relationship with Rosebery, it has been further suggested that Queensberry had threatened to expose the Prime Minister's supposed proclivities if his government did not vigorously prosecute Oscar Wilde for Wilde's relationship with Drumlanrig's younger brother, Lord Alfred Douglas. Rosebery was, by most accounts, happily married until the death of his wife in 1890, though gossip that Rosebery was homosexual or bisexual was widespread. Queensberry believed, as he put it in a letter, that "Snob Queers like Rosebery" had corrupted his sons, and he held Rosebery indirectly responsible for Drumlanrig's death.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e The Complete Peerage, Volume X. St Catherine's Press. 1945. p. 707.
  2. ^ Francis Archibald Douglas, Viscount Drumlanrig
  3. ^ Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, Volume 2, (106th Edition). Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd. 1999. p. 2230. ISBN 2-940085-02-1.
  4. ^ "No. 26415". The London Gazette. 23 June 1893. p. 3570.
  5. ^ McKenna, Neil: "The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde" (2003)
  6. ^ ^ Lord Queensberry to Alfred Montgomery, 1 November 1894. Quoted in Murray, Douglas (2000). Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 978-0-340-76770-2.

Cultural references[edit]

The conjecture that Drumlanrig may have had a relationship with Rosebery is dramatised in Richard Woulfe "His Most Obedient Servant"

Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Kelhead