Sir Charles Douglas, baronet, a descendant of the Scottish earls of Morton, was promoted lieutenant in the navy on the 4th of December 1753. Nothing is known of his early life. He became commander on the 24th of February 1759, and attained to post rank in 1761. When the War of American Independence began, he took an active part in the defence of Canada in 1775, and he afterwards commanded the Stirling Castle (64) in the battle of the Ushant, 27th of July 1778.
His reputation is based first on the part he played in the battle of Dominica, 12th of April 1782, and then on the improvements in gunnery which he introduced into the British navy. It appears from the testimony of Sir F. Thesiger (d. 1805), who was present on the quarter-deck of the flagship, that Sir Charles Douglas, who was then captain of the fleet, first pointed out to Rodney the possibility and the advantage of passing through the French line. His advice was taken with reluctance. On the other hand, Lord Hood accuses Douglas of living in such abject fear of his admiral that he did not venture to speak with the freedom which his important post entitled him to take.
His more certain claim to be ranked high among naval officers is founded on the many improvements he introduced into naval gunnery. Some account of these will be found in the writings of his son. He became rear-admiral on the 24th of September 1787, and died suddenly of apoplexy in February 1789. He was made a baronet for his services in the West Indies.
There is a life of Sir Charles Douglas in Charnock, Biogr. Nav. Vi. 427.
Being the entry for DOUGLAS, SIR CHARLES, in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.