Douglas was born at Pittenweem, Fife, the son of a shopkeeper, and was educated at Dunbar and at Balliol College, Oxford, where he took his M.A. degree in 1743. As chaplain to the 3rd regiment of Foot Guards, he was at the Battle of Fontenoy, 1745. He then returned to Balliol as a Snell exhibitioner; became vicar of High Ercall, Shropshire, in 1750; canon of Windsor, 1762; Bishop of Carlisle, 1787 (and also dean of Windsor, 1788); and Bishop of Salisbury, 1791. Other honours were the degree of D.D. (1758), and those of Fellow of the Royal Society and Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.
Douglas was not an outstanding churchman. He preferred to stay in London in winter and at fashionable watering places in summer. Under the patronage of the earl of Bath he entered into several literary controversies. He defended John Milton against William Lauder's charge of plagiarism (1750), and attacked David Hume's rationalism in his Letter on the Criterion of Miracles (1754); he went on to criticise the followers of John Hutchinson in his Apology for the Clergy (1755). He also edited Captain Cook's Journals, and Clarendon's Diary and Letters (1763). A volume of Miscellaneous Works; prefaced by a short biography, was published posthumously in 1820.
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.