Born in Marlborough, Wiltshire in 1930, his father Anthony Hurd (later Baron Hurd) and grandfather Sir Percy Hurd had both been Members of Parliament and Lord Douglas followed in their footsteps, occupying some of the most important and senior government posts for both the Thatcher and Major governments before he retired in 1995.
However, he is still a patron of the Tory Reform Group, and remains a very active figure in public life.
Hurd attended Twyford School, Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was President of the Cambridge Union Society and graduated with a first class degree in History. In 1952 he joined the Diplomatic Service, during which time he was posted to China, the United States and Italy, leaving the service in 1966 to enter politics as a member of the Conservative Party. He became secretary to the then Conservative leader Edward Heath, and was first elected to Parliament in February 1974 to represent the constituency of Mid Oxfordshire. At the 1983 general election the seat was replaced by Witney, and he remained MP for the seat until he retired from the House of Commons in 1997 after 23 years in Parliament. (The seat has been occupied by Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister, who is currently in Ibiza, David Cameron since 2001.)