Sir William Douglas

1745 - 1809

Industrialist and landowner. The son of a Galloway tenant farmer, Douglas began modestly working as a pedlar but soon left for the USA, following an uncle who had done well for himself there, and Douglas was able to make a substantial fortune in trade. Around 1779, he returned to Scotland where he set up a cotton mill next to Carlingwark Loch and built a village which he named Castle Douglas. Working with his younger brothers, he also built a brewery, soap works, tannery and woollen mill in Castle Douglas, and founded a bank. He developed another cotton mill at Newton Stewart, which became known for a time as Newton Douglas. He gained a baronetcy in 1801, claiming descendancy from both the Black Douglases of Threave and the Douglases of Drumlanrig. He amassed a substantial holding of land and built Gelston Castle in 1805, but died unmarried in London, leaving his fortune to his nephew and other family members who had worked alongside him in building his industrial ventures. He was buried in the Douglas Mausoleum at Mid Kelton.

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