5th Earl of Angus (1463-1514)
Born c.1450 Died c.1514
Archibald Douglas, the famous 'Bell the Cat', was born about 1450 and succeeded his father, George the 4th earl, in 1462 or 1463. In 1481 he was made warden of the east marches, but the next year he joined the league against James III and his favourite Robert Cochrane at Lauder, where he earned his nickname by offering to bell the cat, i.e. to deal with the latter, beginning the attack upon him by pulling his gold chain off his neck and causing him with others of the king's favourites to be hanged. Subsequently he joined Alexander Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany, in league with Edward IV of England on the 11th of February 1483, signing the convention at Westminster which acknowledged the overlordship of the English king. In March however they returned, outwardly at least, to their allegiance, and received pardons for their treason.
Later Angus was one of the leaders in the rebellion against James in 1487 and 1488, which ended in the latter's death. He was made one of the guardians of the young king James IV but soon lost influence, being superseded by the Homes and Hepburns, and the wardenship of the marches was given to Alexander Home. Though outwardly on good terms with James, he treacherously made a treaty with Henry VII about 1489 or 1491, by which he undertook to govern his relations with James according to instructions from England, and to hand over Hermitage Castle, commanding the pass through Liddesdale into Scotland, on the condition of receiving English estates in compensation. In October 1491 he fortified his castle of Tantallon against James, but was obliged to submit and exchange his Liddesdale estate and Hermitage Castle for the lordship of Bothwell.
In 1493 he was again in favour, received various grants of lands, and was made chancellor, which office he retained till 1498. In 1501 he was once more in disgrace and confined to Dumbarton Castle. After the disaster at Flodden in 1513, at which he was not present, but at which he lost his two eldest sons, Angus was appointed one of the counsellors of the queen regent. He died at the close of this year, or in 1514. He was married three times, and by his first wife had four sons and several daughters. His third son, Gavin Douglas, bishop of Dunkeld, is separately noticed.
Extracted from the entry for ANGUS, EARLS OF in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.