John Douglas was born in Aberdeenshire on 14 July 1721 and died at Windsor on 18 May 1807. The second son of an Episcopalian merchant, he completed his schooling in London whither the family moved in 1735. He matriculated at St Mary Hall, Oxford in 1737 and then migrated as an exhibitioner to Balliol College (BA, 1740; MA, 1743; DD, 1758), where he was a contemporary of Adam Smith. Ordained in 1744, he early established a close connection with the Earl of Bath, in 1748–50 travelling on the Continent as tutor to the Earl's son, Lord Pulteney. The Earl found Douglas a succession of Midlands benefices, which he rarely visited. In 1761 he exchanged them for a City parish, and in 1762 became a canon at Windsor, establishing there what became his main permanent home, and gradually became in effect a courtier. He was elected FRS and FSA in 1778. At the age of sixty-six he became Bishop of Carlisle, and in 1791 was translated to Salisbury, having also become Dean of Windsor in 1788. A 99-page biography by his nephew is to be found in the sumptuous quarto edition of his Select Works published by subscription under royal patronage in 1820.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.