John Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry

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John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry GCVO (20 July 1844 – 31 January 1900) was a Scottish nobleman, remembered for lending his name and patronage to the "Marquess of Queensberry rules" that formed the basis of modern boxing, and for his role in the downfall of author and playwright Oscar Wilde.



Douglas was born in Florence, Italy, the eldest son of Archibald, Viscount Drumlanrig, who was the heir of the 7th Marquess of Queensberry. He was briefly styled Viscount Drumlanrig following his father's succession in 1856, and on his father's death in 1858 he inherited the Marquessate of Queensberry. The 9th marquess was educated at the Royal Naval College, becoming a midshipman at the age of twelve and a lieutenant in the navy at fifteen. In 1864 he entered Magdalene College, Cambridge, which he left two years later without taking a degree.[1] He married Sibyl Montgomery in 1866. They had four sons and a daughter, but divorced in 1887. Queensberry married Ethel Weeden in 1893, but the marriage was annulled the following year. He died in London, aged 55, nearly a year before Oscar Wilde's death. Although he wrote a poem starting with the words "When I am dead cremate me," he was buried in Scotland.

His eldest son and heir apparent was Francis, Viscount Drumlanrig, who was rumoured to have been engaged in a relationship with the Liberal Prime Minister, Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery. He died unmarried and without issue.

Douglas' second son, Lord Percy Douglas (1868-1920), succeeded to the peerage instead[2]. Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas, the third son, was the close friend and reputed lover of the famous author and poet Oscar Wilde. Douglas' efforts to end their relationship led to his famous dispute with Wilde and the latter's bankruptcy and exile.

Contributions to sports

Queensberry was a patron of sport and a noted boxing enthusiast. In 1866 he was one of the founders of the Amateur Athletic Club, now the Amateur Athletic Association of England, one of the first groups that did not require amateur athletes to belong to the upper-classes in order to compete. The following year the Club published a set of twelve rules for conducting boxing matches. The rules had been drawn up by John Graham Chambers but appeared under Queensberry's sponsorship and are universally known at the "Marquess of Queensberry rules".[3][4] Queensberry, a keen rider, was also active in fox hunting and owned several successful race horses.

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