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Red Douglas and Black Douglas


     In the Washington Post newspaper in Washington, D.C. on December 1, 2001 
a Letter to the Editor appeared stating that some white Europeans are 
descended from Africans.  In this letter it is stated, "Nor are the Italians 
alone in their intermixture with Africans.  In Scotland, the clan Douglas was 
referred to as Black Douglas and Red Douglas, because of their dark skin."  
       Is it true that the Black Douglas and the Red Douglas are descended 
from Africans?  I found no mention of this on the Clan Douglas website.  I 
read Nigel Tranter's excellent historical novel, Black Douglas, about William 
Douglas, the eighth earl of Douglas.  Nigel Tranter makes no mention of this 
       On December 5 a second letter appeared in the Washington Post about 
this subject.  This is what it states:

                                                  Called by Their Colors

                                    Eric Daughtry's claim that African blood 
is accountable
                                    for Scottish nicknames made me roll my 
eyes [letters,
                                    Dec. 1].  The Black Douglas and the Red 
Douglas were 
                                    not clans but individuals, one with red 
hair and one with
                                    black. Referring to someone thus in terms 
of his hair
                                    color is an old locution in English and 
has nothing to do
                                    with skin color.  Such references 
survived well into more
                                    modern times.
  Mary E. Butler
  Ellicott City, Maryland

       If anyone can tell me why the Black Douglas and the Red Douglas have 
these names, I would appreciate it very much.


Susan M. Grady
Alexandria, Virginia