DOUGLAS, WILLIAM [SSNE 8351]

Surname
DOUGLAS
First name
WILLIAM
Title/rank
MAJOR
Nationality
SCOT

Text source

Major William Douglas was a Scottish officer who brought, or attempted to bring, some military innovation to the Swedish theatre in the form of a firing system applicable to both artillery and muskets. In 1626 Douglas, while in the Scots-Dutch Brigade, applied for a patent for a gun with which it was claimed ‘one trooper will shoot as many times as six do now’. Douglas was granted a licence to both demonstrate it and produce it in the Dutch Republic, but in early 1630 rather cheekily he tried to sell his invention to Axel Oxenstierna.[2] Such innovations were numerous during this war, and indications are that his inventions were tested by a Swedish authority in the industry due to his financial claims made in the 1630s.


Notes and sources: The Dutch authorities granted a patent protecting the invention for 20 years and on 22 January 1628, ordered their first consignment. Douglas also developed a type of cannon which could fire between three and five times to one shot from a conventional cannon. The Dutch Council of State encouraged its production and ordered its demonstration in a test action by a private naval force commanded by Douglas and his two brothers. See Ferguson (ed.), Scots Brigade, vol. 1, pp. 358-68. This edition is word searchable:https://archive.org/stream/papersillustrat00scotgoog#page/n6/mode/2up

Douglas's detailed description of his invention as offered to the Swedes can be found in Riksarkivet, Stockholm, Oxenstiernska samlingen, E588. Two letters of (Major) William Douglas to Axel Oxenstierna, undated, but the promotion indicates it was after his Dutch service as captain. In the second letter Douglas claims the Swedes owed him around 10,000 rixdaler (£2,500 sterling).

 

Service record

THE DUTCH REPUBLIC, THE SCOTS BRIGADE
Arrived 1626-01-01, as CAPTAIN
Departed 0000-00-00, as CAPTAIN
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY
SWEDEN,
Arrived 1630-01-01, as MAJOR
Departed 0000-01-01
Capacity OFFICER, purpose MILITARY