Douglas, Caroline Margaret (1821–1904), marchioness of Queensberry , nationalist benefactor, was born in Ireland, younger daughter of Sir William Clayton , former army general and MP for Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England, and Alice Clayton (née O'Donel), an heiress originally from Co. Mayo. Though her mother was catholic, she and her siblings were reared as protestants. The first two years of her life were spent in Bantry, Co. Cork; the family subsequently moved to England, settling in the family seat of Harleyford House, Buckinghamshire. The Clayton household was a regular haunt for politicians and royalty, among them Prince Louis Napoleon, who regularly went boating with Caroline. After her father refused to consent to her marriage to Archibald Douglas, Lord Drumlanrig (later 7th marquess of Queensberry), the couple eloped and were married (28 May 1840) in Gretna Green. They had five sons and two daughters; one son died shortly after birth, and another in attempting to climb the Matterhorn (1864). Though her marriage was not successful, Caroline was a loyal wife, tolerating her husband's gambling and womanising. After his death in a hunting accident (1858), she led a restless life, travelling around fashionable resorts in Britain and the Continent, or staying at Glen Stuart on the Douglas estate in Dumfries, Scotland. She turned to religion for support and in 1861 shocked the Douglas family by converting to catholicism. On hearing that her mother-in-law intended to take her children from her care, she fled with them to France, where she was granted official protection by Louis Napoleon, now emperor. Several of her children also converted to catholicism, and a son and daughter later took holy orders. With her mother-in-law in declining health, she returned to England in 1864.
Having always considered herself Irish, in 1867 she outraged London society by aiding the ‘Manchester martyrs’, William Allen (qv), Michael Larkin (qv), and Michael O'Brien (qv). She wrote to them in prison expressing her sympathy and enclosed a cheque for £100 (incorrectly reported as £300 in The Times) for their dependants. Larkin, whose children were all educated at her expense, was said to have burst into tears on reading her letter. In the years that followed she continued actively to support Irish nationalism, even though this led to her being cold-shouldered by much of English society. She wrote pamphlets on Ireland, among them Let there be light (1897), corresponded in the press on the Irish question, made regular donations to Irish radicals, and was rumoured to finance secretly a Fenian newspaper. She also assisted several catholic charities in Scotland, and helped her son Archibald in his parish duties. She is said to have corresponded with James Connolly (qv) from 1896 to 1903 and subscribed to the Irish Socialist Republican Party's literature. The incorrect assumption that she became a nun may stem from the fact that her letter of 13 March 1878 to John Devoy (qv), encouraging him to form a new nationalist movement, was written from a Franciscan convent in Bayswater. In her later years, some of which were spent in Boulogne, she was almost entirely dependent on the small annuity left to her by her father. She died at Glen Stuart 14 February 1904 .