The political life of James Douglas, second Duke of Queensberry 1662-1711
The political life of James Douglas second Duke of Queensberry 1662-1711 is not covered in any single political biography. The Duke of Queensberry was born into a feudal society, governed by a feudal parliament. His political life began in 1695, following the death of his father. His political career took place in the context of an unsettled parliament. Questions of church trade, and constitution remained unresolved as Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Jacobites fought for control of the parliament, whilst outside, Covenanters sought to promote the radical ideas of government from the 1640-1641 parliament. The union of crowns challenged the ability of the ruling monarch to act fairly in the interest of both Scotland and England. Queensberry came to prominence as High Commissioner of the 1700 session of the parliament in the aftermath of Glencoe, and the refusal of William II to support the Company of Scotland trading to Africa and the Indies. Queensberry was expected to manage parliament to the satisfaction of William II. To do that task he had to build a party that could pass the king's measures in parliament. That management brought the issue of suzerainty to the fore in following sessions of parliament. Queensberry remained High Commissioner until 1703 when he was dismissed following the 'Scotch Plot'. His fall was from favour energised him and his 'party' to show the Court that only he could achieve their wishes for the settlement of the Hanoverian succession. In alliance with the Duke of Argyll he re-established his control of the parliament. Queensberry earned the title of 'union duke' although it was used pejoratively by contemporaries. Labels have been applied to him in the historiography of the period describing him as a venal and grasping aristocrat who was devoid of principle, and acted from the sole motive of self-interest. This thesis sets out to show how he managed the great issues he was confronted with, culminating in the creation of the parliament of Great Britain on 1 May 1707. He achieved that task because he remained firm to the principals that led him to support William of Orange in November 1688. His political career deserves an objective biography.