Douglas Family History & Genealogy

62,609 biographies and 77 photos with the Douglas last name. Discover the family history, nationality, origin and common names of Douglas family members.

Douglas Last Name History & Origin

Updated Jun 19, 2022


The Douglas family originated in Scotland (but it may actually be of Flemish origin, but there is no hard documentary proof), with the first known Douglas, William Douglas (bef. 1157 - abt. 1214). He would have many descendants, and together they would become one of the most ennobled families in what is now the United Kingdom. The current heir to head of the family of Douglas is His Grace Alexander Douglas-Hamilton, the 16th Duke of Hamilton, but he needs to assume the singular name Douglas before he can do so.

It is important to note that not all people of the name are descendants of the noble line, because many people in Scotland took up the surname of their Lord when swearing allegiance to them in exchange for protection. Sometimes, these people might become knights in the service of their Lord and be called to battle, and they might even become a Lord themselves. Some families might also take the surname Douglas from their wife's maiden name, especially if the wife was part of the noble line.

In the United States, the name Douglas also appears in the Black population. There were some Douglases who ended up becoming slave masters, and some of them assigned their surname to the slaves, not to mention that undoubtedly some were actually the children of the master and a slave. It was also not uncommon for ex-slaves to use the surname of their ex-master by choice. Frederick Douglass also played a part in the relative commonality of the name in Black families, changing his name from Frederick Bailey to Frederick Douglass after a friend recommended it because of the poem Lady of the Lake by Scott. Many Black people were inspired by him and so changed their surname to Douglas as a result.

Name Origin

The surname Douglas is a Scottish locational surname from Lanarkshire which means "Black Water" or "Black Stream".

Spellings & Pronunciations

Dawglas, Dawglass, Dawgless, Dawgliss, Dogles, Douglas, Douglase, Douglass, Dougles, Dougless, Douglis, Dougliss, Douglles, Dowglas, Dubhghlas, Dueglas, Duglas, Duglass, Dugless, Dugliss, Dulglace, Dulglas, Dulglass, Dulgless, Dulgliss, Duueglas

Nationality & Ethnicity


Famous People named Douglas

There are far to many famous people to name.

Early Douglases

These are the earliest records we have of the Douglas family.

Douglas Family Members


Douglas Death Records & Life Expectancy

The average age of a Douglas family member is 68.6 years old according to our database of 37,519 people with the last name Douglas that have a birth and death date listed.


Other Douglas Records


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Christopher Douglas commented on Jan 29, 2019
The National Park Service's Soldiers and Sailors Database of the American Civil War lists 1296 Douglas in the Union Army, and 1280 Douglas in the Confederate Army. This is only an approximation because the site also lists people with the first name Douglas, but it does give a general idea.
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