The Duke Of Queensberry


  • Richest of the Rich position: 128
  • Birth/Death: 1724-1810
  • Origin of wealth: Land
  • Wealth: £1.502m
  • Net National Income: £300m
  • Net National Income Percent: 0.5%
  • In Today’s Money: £5.549 billion

The subject of a sonnet by Wordsworth beginning ‘Degenerate Douglas’ and a satirical poem by Burns, William Douglas, later the Duke of Queensberry, was universally known as ‘Old Q’. Perhaps the most notorious rake of his generation, it was said that at seventy he was ‘oggling and hobbling down St James’s Street’.

As a young man, Douglas was a keen follower of the turf and built up a top class stud. He was also remarkably astute in his betting and relieved the Duke of Cumberland and others of large sums of money. On the death of his cousin in 1778, he succeeded to the dukedom of Queensberry. He served as a Lord of the Bedchamber to George III, but supported the Prince of Wales’s bid for a regency during George’s madness. When the king recovered in 1789, Queensberry’s ‘ratting’ led to his dismissal.

In later years, he was a generous patron of opera, owing to his eye for the prima donnas and dancers. Though he died in 1810 unmarried, he was the victim of a cruel hoax

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