An American Family History

Colonel John Douglas

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists."
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Alternate spellings of Douglas: Dougals, Doughlass, Douglace, Douglass, Dougless, Douglasse, Dowglas, Dowglass, Duglas, Duglass
Europeans who made the voyage to America faced a difficult journey of several months.
The first European settlements in Maryland were made in 1634 when English settlers created a permanent colony.
It was common for bequests to include wearing apparel.
Estate inventories give us a glance into the home life of Colonial Americans.

Colonel John Douglas was born in 1636 near Glasglow, Scotland. In 1661, he swore in court that he was 25. He became a wealthy tobacco planter in Charles County. His biography said he was

literate with no title upon arival in this country, he obtained wealth in his lifetime owning over 1600 acres of property at his death.

He beame an apprentice to John Hamilton (1634-1684) on June 20, 1649 in Edinburgh to learn the "Art and Science of Merchandising." It took him about five years to complete the apprenticeship.

He immigrated to Maryland before May, 1655 when he first appeared in a document.

In 1659 he, and others, petitioned the court for payment "for trouble & paynes wee tooke in taking Mr Hutts Vessell." He was paid 20 pounds of tobacco a day for five days work.

In 1661 he testified in Knages vs Bowles. He was about 25 years old.

He married Sarah Bonner on August 17, 1663 in Charles County. Their children and life together are described in detail in the section on John and Sarah Douglas.

In March, John was appointed the administrator of Bridget Yowkins Heard's estate.

He entered the military between 1665 and 1678 in Charles County where he rose to the rank of colonel. He was paid 10,520 pounds of tobacco for his part in the expedition against the Susquehannah in 1675.

He was appointed as the Commissioner of Peace from 1672 to 1678 in Charles County.

He was appointed as a "Gentleman of the Quorum" in 1675 in Charles County. He was elected as Burgesses, Lower House, from Charles County on May 30, 1676. Colonel Douglas was one of the seven members representing Charles County. He only attended the first two sessions before his death.

He signed his will on December 14, 1678 in Charles County. He left his wife, Sarah, their Piccowaxen house. He left John part of Cold Spring Manor when he turned 21. Robert received Blythswood when he turned 21. Charles and Joseph each received part of Cold Spring Manor at 21 years.

He died about he time the will was written in Piccowaxen. He was only in his mid-forties. The estate was probated on January 3, 1679 in Charles County.
Piccowaxen Parish, Maryland was on Cobb Neck between the Wicomico and Potomac Rivers. It has been spelled as Pickawaxon, Pickiawaxen, Pickwaten, Pickwixon, Pykawaxen in Douglas family records. Christ Church Wayside was built there in 1692.The parish became William and Mary Parish.

Planter is an archaic term for a settler. Plantation was a method of colonization where settlers were "planted" abroad. A plantation is also the kind of large farm that was the economical basis of many American Colonies and owners of these farms were also called planters.

In Colonial Maryland, the governor appointed justices to the county courts. Some of these justices were "Justices (or Gentlemen) of the Quorum" which meant that court could not be held without at least one of them being present.
Children of Colonel John Douglas and Sarah Bonner:
  • John Douglas
  • Robert Douglas
  • Sarah Douglas Gifford Barnes
  • Elizabeth Douglas Brandt Howard Thompson
  • Joseph Douglas
  • Charles Douglas
  • Fendall's Rebellion
    In March, 1660 Josias Fendall attempted to overthrow the proprietary government of Maryland. It was a bloodless coup.

    Blythswood Manor (Blithwood, Blythwood) was surveyed on May 10, 1667 for John Douglas (b. 1636). It was a 100 acre plantation on the north side of the Potomac River in the Piccowaxon area. Blythswood may have been the name of the family manor house in Scotland. Inherited by his son, Robert Douglas then by Benjamin Douglas (b. 1685) then his son, John Douglas (1709) who sold it in 1769.

    Tobacco is a native American herb that is cultivated for its leaves which are prepared for smoking, chewing or snuff. In parts of colonial America, it was used as money. Tobacco plantations in the colonial south fueled the need for enslaving people.
    Maryland was established with religious freedom for Catholics. The colonial economy was based on tobacco cultivated by Africans who had been enslaved.

    Many young healthy people died in colonial Maryland due to outbreaks of malaria and yellow fever.




    Colonial Maryland used the headright system to encourage settlement. Land was granted to anyone who would pay fthe transportation costs of a laborer.

    Ancestral Records and Portraits, Volume 1 by Colonial Dames of America. Chapter 1 (Baltimore, Maryland.), Grafton Press

    One of the leading military figures of Colonial Maryland, Colonel John Douglas, arrived in the Province 1659, as that year he demanded land for transporting himself into the colony. In his will, he bequeathed Cold Spring Manor, in Charles County, a tract of over a thousand acres; also Blithwood, and other tracts aggregating fully two thousand acres.

    Colonel Douglas has not been identified with the earlier and distinguished family of Virginia, or with any branch of the house of Douglas in Great Britain, but his records, both civil and military, are recorded. John Douglas died in the year 1678, and his wife married twice afterwards.

    His son was John [Douglas], whose daughter Elizabeth, married Charles Brandt.

    John Douglas (1636) bought Cold Spring Manor on May 10, 1677 from Josias Fendall for 22,000 pounds of tobacco. It consisted of a home on 1,050 acres on the west side of the Patuxent River in Mt. Calvert Hundred (now part of Patuxent Hundred) in Prince George's County, Maryland. The manor came with all rights of "Lord of the Manor."

    500 acres was inherited by his John's son John Douglas (1664) who left it to his son, Benjamin Douglas (1685) who sold part in 1705. The residue of Cold Spring was inherited by John's younger sons, Joseph Douglas (1675) and Charles Douglas (1678).


    Compendium of American Genealogy, Volume 1, p. 257

    John (Douglas) Douglass (ca 1632-35-1678), from Scotland, was in Maryland., 1654, col of militia, burgess, 1676, owner of Blythwood Manor and lord of Cold Springs Manor, Pickwixon, md., m. Sarah Bonner.


    Provincial Court Proceedings, 1659.
    Munday 5th of March 1659, as afore.

    Josias ffendall Esqr Goverr. | Mr Thomas Gerard | Coll Nathan: Vtye
    Philip Calvert Esqr Seer. | Mr Robert Clearke | Mr Baker Brooke.

    To the honble the Governor & Councell.

    The humble Petn of the Subscribers Wee yor Petrs desyre tht yor honrs will be pleased to consider our trouble & paynes wee tooke in taking Mr [Daniel] Hutts Vessell [Mayflower], being yett unsatisfyed allowing us satisfaction for our sd paynes & trouble, & yor Pet shall ever pray &c:

    fower dayes
    Richard Morris
    Thomas Jarvise
    John Ward
    Peter Carre
    Robert Willson

    ffive dayes
    John Dowglas
    Willm Craford
    Henry Peere

    Eight dayes
    Hugh Neale
    Daniel Johnson
    Samuel Parker

    Ordered uppon the Petn that the Severall Petn have Twenty
    pownds of Tob a day allowed them out of the profitt or price of the
    sd Vessell.

    Historically an esquire (Esq. or Esqr.) was the title of a man who ranked below a knight in the English gentry. Later it designated a commoner with the status of gentleman and was used by attorneys.


    Charles County Circuit Court, Liber A; Page 241
    6 Sep 1662,
    William Snags demands warrant against John Duglas;
    subpoena Francis Batcheler, Fra. Wine, Herman Solin;
    Duglas subpoenas William Bowles, Thomas Craseman


    Charles County Circuit Court, Liber A; Page 243
    1 Oct 1662,
    John Douglas, Thomas Smoot, Mr. George Goodernick, Samuel Palmer, Mr. John Bowles, Benjamin Marshagay, John Cherman, Clement Theoballs, Mr. Arthur Turner, James Boulin, John Lambert; present the following:

    - Robert Robins and Elisabeth Weekes for having a bastard
    - James Lee for having 2 wives
    - John Grinly and Anne Standfort for Sabbath breakers
    - Some of Capt. Fendall's servants for common Sabbath breakers
    - William Robisson and Thomas Hussey for suspected hog stealer

    To be presented to the court meant to be charged or indited.
    Mister ( Mr.) was derived from master and Mrs. and Miss were derived from mistress. They indicated people of superior social status in colonial America.

    A society's legal system reveals much about it. A broad spectrum of behavior was considered criminal in Colonial Maryland and punishment was harsh.

    Charles County Circuit Court, Liber A; Page 253
    2 Oct 1662,
    William Snaggs, Plt.;
    John Douglas, Def.;

    Snaggs bought a heifer from John Douglas in February for which Douglas will not give bill of sale;
    William Bowles swore he witnessed Douglas give Snaggs a bill of sale;
    Thomas Crakson swore Douglas gave Snaggs a bill of sale at the house of William Bowles which he witnessed;
    Herman Solin swore he heard Snaggs request the bill of sale and Douglas said he would give no more than he already had;
    no cause of action found; plaintiff non-suited and to pay court cost;
    plaintiff put in custody of James Lindsey, high sheriff of Charles County

    A plaintiff (plt, plte, plt) or orator is the person who brings a case against another.
    A defendant (def tf) is a person accused of a crime or someone challenged in a civil case.

    Cattle were vital to a household and an important legacy.
    Unweaned cattle are calves.
    Female cattle are heifers and cows (had a calf).
    Male cattle are steers (castrated) and bulls.
    are trained draft animals and are often castrated adult male cattle.


    Charles County Circuit Court Liber E, p. 86-1/2
    16 Sep 1672; Indenture from Edmond Lyndsy, planter, to John Douglas, Gent.;
    for 11,000# tobacco;
    a parcel of land called St. Edmonds granted to Lyndsy by patent dated 10 Mar 1670; bound by land laid out for William Heard; lying on the east side of the main fresh of Portobacco Creek;
    containing 100 acres now in tenure of John Douglas;
    signed Edmond Lyndsy;
    wit Jonathan Marler, Rich. Edelen

    A land patent is an exclusive land grant made by the government. The certificate that grants the land rights is also called first-title deed and final certificate. In the United States, all land can be traced back to the original land patent.

    An indenture is a legal contract for labor or land. Two copies on the same sheet were separated with a jagged edge so that the two parts could be refitted to confirm authenticity. An indentured servant worked without wages for a specified time to pay a debt and was bound to the employer. In the 17th century, nearly two-thirds of settlers came as indentured servants to pay for their passage.

    Charles County Court and Land Records, p. 473 Liber B
    8 Aug 1665

    Mr. Henry Mees by his atty.
    Mr. Samuell Cressey demands warrant against John Douglas, admn. of William Heard,
    debt value 310# of tobacco;
    subpoena George English; 8 Aug 1665


    Maryland Wills 9, 97, Charles County, Annapolis

    Will of Col. John Douglas
    "Douglas, John, Chas. Co.., 14th Dec., 1678, 27 Jan., 1678
    To wife Sarah, execx., and heirs, 450 acres, dwelling place of testator at Pickiawaxen.

    son John and heirs, 550 acres, part of Cold Spring Manor at 21 years. of age

    son Robert and heirs, Blithwood at 21 years, of age.

    sons Charles and Joseph and heirs, 500 acres, residue of Cold Spring Manor at 21 years,of age

    Testator provides that should said son John die without issue, son Robert aforesaid is to receive ½ of his portion, and said sons Charles and Joseph ½.

    Test: Henry Bonner, Francis Pollard, Jno. Robynson. 9, 97.
    Testis (Test) is latin for witness. Testes is the plural.


    Prince George's Land Records 1710-1717 - Liber F -folio 386;
    Benjamin Douglass of Charles County, planter, states his late grandfather, John Douglass, Gentleman of Charles County owned a parcel of land in Prince George's County in the freshes of the Patuxent called Cold Spring Manor containing 1,050 acres of land;

    by his will dated 14 Dec 1678 he left 500 acres of this land to his sons, Charles Douglass and Joseph Douglass, when they reach 21 years of age;
    Joseph and Charles Douglass sold a 100 acre part of the 600 acres to Francis Collyer of Prince George's County and 370 acres to Guy White, deceased; for 10£ Benjamin Douglass acknowledged these deeds
    Signed: Benja. Douglass (seal)
    Witnessed: Philip Lee, J. Gerard, Da. Dullany
    Payment: Benj. Douglass acknowledges payment of 10£ before same witnesses
    Prince George's County, Maryland was created in 1696 from portions of Charles, and Calvert Counties. It was divided into six districts called hundreds: Mattapany, Patuxant, Collington, Mount Calvert, Piscattoway, and New Scotland. A part the county became Frederick County in 1748.

    The Patuxent River in Maryland drains into the Chesapeake Bay. It marks the boundary between Montgomery, Prince George's, Charles and St. Mary's counties on the west and Howard, Anne Arundel, and Calvert counties on the east.

    Seals were used to authenticate documents and men were expected to have a personal die. Records in deed books are copies and signatures are usually in the clerk’s handwriting. The clerk drew a circle around the word “seal” to indicate that the original document was sealed.


    Elise G. Jourdan, Early Families of Southern Maryland

    Benjamin Douglass, Charles County., planter, stated that his late grandfather John Douglass, Gent., Charles County., owned Cold Spring Manor, 1050 acres, in the freshes of the Patuxent, Prince George County. By his will dated 14 Dec. 1678, the grandfather had left 500 acres to sons Charles & Joseph at age 21. They had sold 100 acres to Francis Collyer [Collier] and 370 acres to Guy White, now deceased.

    Colonial Maryland
    Colonial New England
    Colonial Virginia & West Virginia
    Quakers & Mennonites
    New Jersey Baptists
    German Lutherans
    Watauga Settlement
    Pennsylvania Pioneers
    Midwest Pioneers
    Jewish Immigrants

    ©Roberta Tuller 2023
    An American Family History is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program,
    an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
    As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.