Sir James Douglas was also known as the Black Douglas and was a knight of some renown and a trusted ally of Robert the Bruce His father, Sir William Douglas the Hardy, had been a supporter of William Wallace and was the defender of Berwick castle when it was successfully sieged by Edward I in 1296. He ended his days as a prisoner in the Tower of London.James was educated in Paris and returned to Scotland in 1306 to find his lands had been seized by the English King Edward I and awarded to another.
When James went to the English court to try and get his lands back Edward became angry upon realising whose son he was and James had to flee Douglas pledged his services to Robert the Bruce shortly afterwards and the two embarked on an exciting journey, which would take Bruce to the throne and win Douglas back his lost ancestral lands. However their start was less than auspicious as they were routed by a surprise attack at Methven and had to flee from the English.
The following year they went on the offensive attacking the area around Turnberry castle before escaping into the hills.He got the name Black Douglas from the English who feared him greatly because of a number of violent episodes. He was knighted by Bruce on the morning of the Battle of Bannockburn and took charge of the third schiltrom on the left flank fighting on foot.
Once the victory had been won he was sent to pursue the fleeing English king and he chased him for fifty miles before Edward escaped. In the years following this great victory Douglas made his presence known along the English border with a relentless series of raids.
He helped Bruce to capture Berwick in 1318 and as Edward came north with an English army he was sent south on a diversionary raid into Yorkshire.