About William Sutherland
18) William, fifth Earl of Sutherland, B-P died 1370. In 1343 he married, first, Margaret, daughter of King Robert Bruce. She died before 1352. He married, second, Johanna Menteith, Countess of Strathearn and widow of Sir Maurice Moray (No. 250^), Earl of Strathearn. He had three sons:
Burke's Peerage entry
The elder son, (of Kenneth, the 4th Earl of Sutherland)
WILLIAM SUTHERLAND, 5th Earl of Sutherland; fought at Scottish defeat by English of Neville's Cross 17 Oct 1346; married
1st between 3 Aug and 28 Sept 1345 Margaret (died c 1346), sister of DAVID II (who by charter 1345 raised the Earldom of Sutherland to a regality (jurisidiction with quasi-regal powers), though this lapsed on the 5th Earl‘s death), and had:
- 1a John, Master of Sutherland; born c 1346; died in the lifetime of the father of the plague c 8 Sept 1361 while a hostage in England for DAVID II
The 5th Earl married 2nd by 9 Nov 1347 Joanna, widow of (a) Malise, 7th Earl of Strathe(a)rn of thecreated deemed to have been effected by c 1128, (b) John Campbell, 1st and last Earl of Atholl of thec 1320 created (see ARGYLL, D), and (c) Maurice Moray, 1st Earl of Strathearn of the Feb 1343/4 cr, and daughter of Sir John Menteith of Rusky, and by her had:
- 2a ROBERT, 6th Earl
- 3a Kenneth, of Drummoy, ancestor of the SUTHERLANDs OF FORSE
The 5th EARL died by 19 June 1371; his elder surviving son,
William, fifth Earl, married Margaret, daughter of King Robert the Bruce by his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh, and sister of David II. Following this marriage King David raised the Earldom of Sutherland into a regality, and plotted to make the son of this union heir to his crown instead of Robert the Steward, son of the Princess Marjorie, Bruce's daughter by his first wife. In support of this plot, Earl William made grants of land in the shires of Inverness and Aberdeen to various powerful individuals, whose goodwill it was desirable to secure. But the plot came to nothing. The son, John, died at Lincoln of the plague while a hostage for the King's ransom, and the Earl himself, who had been one of the Scottish commissioners for the release of the King, and a hostage for him afterwards, only secured his liberty in 1367, and died at Dunrobin three years later.
William, 5th Earl of Sutherland (son of Kenneth, 4th Earl of Sutherland)
William (Sutherland), Earl of Sutherland [S.], elder s. and h., was probably already of age when he suc. his father, 19 July 1333. He was with his kinsman Sir Andrew Moray, 3rd of Bothwell (then Regent), in company with Duncan, 8th Earl of Fife [S.] and Patrick, 8th Earl of Dunbar and 2nd Earl of March [S.], at the unsuccessful siege of the Castle of Cupar-Fife, which began in Jan. 1335/6. In 1340, while Edward III was engaged in besieging Tournai (23 July to 25 Sep.), he took part with the Earl of Dunbar and March in a particularly devastating raid into Northumberland, during the return from which they were engaged by Sir Thomas Gray of Heton. On 2 June 1341 King David II with his Consort Queen Joan (sister of King Edward III) landed at Inverbervie in Kincardineshire and took Earl William IV into such high favour that on 1 Dec. 1342, at the King's request, Pope Clement VI granted a dispensation for the marriage, although "related to each other in the fourth degree of consanguinity,' of the Earl of Sutherland and the Princess Margaret, the King's sister of the whole blood. On 28 Sep. 1345 the King conferred various thanages and other lands on the Earl and his wife, with remainder to their issue, failing which all the lands were to rever to the Crown. A fortnight later, 10 Oct. 1345, the Earldom of Sutherland was erected into a Regality with a similar limitation; on 4 Nov. the King gave the Earl the barony of Cluny in Aberdeenshire; and on 30 Mar. 1346 the Earl and his wife Margaret received a grant of the King's Crag of Dunnottar, in Kincardineshire, with permission to re-fortify it. According to Froissart Earl William IV was among the first to arrive at Perth in the autumn of 1346 for the invasion of England and was with the King in the 4th line at the Battle of Neville's Cross, where the Scots were defeated, 17 Oct. 1346 Earl William is said, like King David II, to have been taken prisoner; but if so he was, like Malcolm (Fleming), 1st Earl of Wigtown, another prisoner, able to escape to Scotland. In June 1351 he had a safe-conduct to go to Newcastle to negotiate about the ransome of King David II, and when that monarch was allowed to visit Scotland on parole for a few months, the Earl's infant son John, Master of Sutherland, was one of the hostages for his return, 5 Sep. 1351. On 3 Oct. 1357, in accordance with the Treaty of Berwick, the Earl himself and his eldest son went to England as hostages for the payment of the King's ransom of 100,000 merks, and were lodged by the Chancellor, William Edington, Bishop of Winchester. During the next ten years the Earl was often allowed to return to Scotland and in Dec. 1363 had permission for himself and his wife to go on pilgrimage to Canterbury. During his absence in England the King on 28 Feb. 1358/9 granted him and his eldest son the barony and castle of Urquhart, in Inverness-shire, and later paid him £80 towards his expenses in England in addition to various sums from the Exchequer. The Earl is supposed to have been released soon after 20 Mar. 1366/7, when he and his wife had a safe-conduct to return to England from a visit to Scotland on parole. Although so long away from home he was involved in a feud with his neighbour in Strathnaver, Iye MacDonald Mackay, and when the matters in dispute were brought before a court assembled at Dingwall in 1370, the Earl's brother, Nicholas Sutherland of Torboll, murdered Iye and his elder son Donald. It has been suggested that the death of Earl William IV, who was still alive on 27 Feb. 1369/70, may have been the result of revenge for his murder. He m., 1stly (disp. 1 Dec. 1342), between 3 Aug. and 28 Sep. 1345, Margaret, da. of Robert I, King of Scotland, by his 2nd wife, Elizabeth, da. of Richard (de Burgh), 2nd Earl of Ulster [I.]. She d., it is said in childbirth, after 30 mar. 1346. He m., 2ndly (post-nuptial disp. 9 Nov. 1347), Joan, da. of Sir John Menteith, of Rusky and Knapdale, widow of (i) Malise 7th Earl of Strathearn [S.], (d. ante 1329), (ii) John (Campbell), Earl of Atholl [S.] (killed at Halidon Hill, 19 July 1333), and (iii) Maurice (Moray), Earl of Strathearn [S.] (so cr. 1344, killed at Neville's Cross, 17 Oct. 1346). The Earl d. before 19 June 1371, when King Robert II granted the barony and castle of Urquhart, which had reverted to the Crown on his death, to his own son David, Earl of Strathearn [S.].
-  Sir Robert Gordon asserts (Gen. Hist., pp. 47-48) that the Earl was with Sir Andrew in Nov. 1335, when the latter went to relieve the castsle of Kildrummy in Aberdeenshire where his wife Christian, sister of King Robert I, was being besieged by David (of Strathbogie), 11th Earl of Atholl, who had then recently reverted to his English allegiance, and that he was at the engagement at Kilblene (Kilblain or Culblean) on 30 Nov., when that Earl of Atholl (s. of his presumed half-brother David, 10th Earl of Atholl) was killed. This is not confirmed by any contemporary record, but is not unlikely.
-  This siege was raised by a surprise attack from the sea made by Sir John Stirling, who was holding Edinburgh Castle as Constable for King Edward III (Chron. de Lanercost, Maitland Club, p. 285).
-  In his own Scalacronica (ed. Sir Herbert Maxwell, 1907, p. 112) Sir Thomas refers to the engagement in which the raiders "were discomfited" by him; but does not give the locality or the date.
-  Sutherland Book, vol. i, pp. 30-31.
-  This grant (text in Idem, vol. iii, pp. 12-14) comprised the thanages of Downy, in Angus about 7 m. from Dundee, worth £20-13-4 a year; of Kincardine, Fettercairn and Aberluthnet (now Maykirk) in Kincardineshire, worth respectively £25-9-4, £26-3-4, and £13 also intore and half Formartin in Aberdeenshire. In 1367 the ferm of half of Formartin was £83-3-2, and that of Kintore £48. The value of this grant thus came to rather more than £200 a year. A subsequent grant of the same half of Formartin to Earl William IV and the heirs male of his body in free barony by King David II on 30 July 1366 was revoked by an Act of the Parl. which met at Scone in Sep. 1367 (Acts of Parl. [S.], vol. i, pp. 501, 529; Reg. Mag. Sig. [S.], 1306-1424, no. 253).
-  Sutherland Book, vol. iii, p. 14. The Regality therefore lapsed on the Earl's death failing heirs by his 1st marriage with Princess Margaret. However it was re-erected by King James VI in his charter of 29 Apr. 1601 (Reg. Mag. Sig. [S.], 1593-1608, no. 1170) as a new grant and not as a revival with the original precedence. This may be taken to show that the Crown's advisers in the reign of King James VI were aware that the Princess Margaret's issue had failed with the death of the Master of Sutherland in 1361 and renders more remarkable the action of those who advised the Crown to grant the Royal Tressure as an augmentation to the 16th Earl of Sutherland in 1718 (see p. 560, note "c" below) on the mistaken assumption that he was descended from the 5th Earl's first marriage.
-  Cluny was granted in free barony but with the same restricted limitation as the lands granted in Sep. and Oct. (Sutherland Book, vol. iii, pp. 14-15).
-  Dunnottar, which has been a stronghold since the days of the Picts, who had a fortress there, had been taken from the English and burned by Sir William Wallace in 1297. It was re-occupied by King Edward III, who gave orders for it to be re-fortified and garrisoned during his progress north of Perth between 12 July and 24 Aug. 1336 (Rot. Scotiae, vol. i, pp. 411, 414, 416); but before much could be done it was recaptured by the Regent, Sir Andrew Moray of Bothwell abovenamed, who caused it to be carefully slighted so as to render it useless to the English. According to the grant (text in Sutherland Book, vol. iii, pp. 15-16) the Earl and Countess were to hold the castle in grand serjeantry by the render of a pair of white gloves for the King annually at Whitsun should he claim it.
-  Froissart, ed. Kervyn de Lettenhove, vol. v, p. 119; vol. xvii, p. 228; cf. Sutherland Book, vol. i, p. 33.
-  Froissart, vol. xvii, p. 230. The Scots continued to rely on their schiltroms of spearmen, as at Bannock Burn (cf. ante, vol. xi, Appendix B).
-  Froissart, vol. xvii, pp. 232, 234.
-  In Dec. 1346 Edward III ordered an enquiry in Lancs. concerning those who had released Scottish prisoners for ransom or otherwise, or had allowed them to escape (Foedera, vol. iii, pp. 98, 99); and a warrant was issued for the arrest of Robert Bertram, Sheriff of Northumberland, for having failed to keep the Earl of Wigtown in safe custody (Cal. Docs. [S.], vol. iii, nos. 1482, 1495).
-  Foedera, vol. iii, pp. 225, 231.
-  The Earl was one of the Commrs. [S.] who ratified the treaty, 5 Oct., to which his seal is still attached (Idem, pp. 372-74, 376-77; Sutherland Book, vol. i, p. 34).
-  Idem, p. 35; Foedera, vol. iii, passim.
-  Sutherland Book, vol. iii, p. 17.
-  In all the Earl received £267-6-8 from the Exchequer [S.] in 6 payments between 1360 and 1365 (Exch. Rolls [S.], vol. ii, pp. 79, 82, 113, 130, 144 and 166).
-  Foedera, vol. iii, p. 823.
-  He had received 16 davachs and one "quarter" as the free barony of Torboll from his br., Earl William IV, on 13 Sep. 1360 (Sutherland Book, vol. iii, p. 18), and m. Mary, yr. da. and coh. of Reginald le Cheyne, 4th of Inverugie, whose mother was Mary, Lady of Duffus, da. of Freskin Moray, 3rd of Duffus.
-  A. Mackay, The Book of Mackay, p. 45.
-  On this date the reversion of the thanage of Kincardine and other lands held by Earl William IV was granted by King David II to Sir Walter Leslie (Reg. Mag. Sig. [S.], 1306-1424, no. 339).
-  Mackay, op. cit., pp. 44-47, 52.
-  On which date, as Margareta de Bruis, she granted a charter at Aberdeen "in pura nostra et libera virginitate . . .," by which she made over to Laurence Gilibrand and his wife Margaret of Glencary, her kinswoman, all her rights in the whole lands of Little Morfy which "serenissimus princeps Dominus noster et frater Dominus David Dei gratia Rex Scottorum" had given her (G. F. Browne, Echt-Forbes Family Charters 1345-1727; Records of the Forest of Birse: Notarial Signs 926-1756 , p. 31).
-  See p. 542, notes "a" and "b" above and relevant text.
-  See p. 542, note "e" above and relevant text.
-  Cal. Papal Letters, vol. iii, p. 264.
-  He had given her the lands of Cortachy in Angus about 1323.
-  The Earldom of Strathearn [S.] had been taken in 1332 from Malise, 8th Earl, who was also Earl of Orkney and Caithness [S.]. See Strathearn in this volume.
-  Reg. Mag. Sig. [S.], 1306-1424, no. 537.
Source: White, G. H. (1953) The Complete Peerage, vol. XII. London: The St. Catherine Press.
William, fifth Earl of Sutherland succeeded his father on 19 July 1333, and was probably then of age. There is no evidence of his wardship, and he almost immediately took an active part in public life. Sir Robert Gordon asserts that the young Earl took part in the battle of Kilblene, when David, Earl of Atholl, was slain, but there is no corroboration of this. From an English chronicle, however, it appears that he was a leader of the Scottish force which besieged the castle of Cupar-Fife, then held by the English. The Scots, however, were put to flight by the activity and strategy of Sir John Stirling, Governor of Edinburgh Castle. In 1340 he took part, with the Earl of March, in a foray into England, and though, on their way home, they were intercepted by an English force under Sir Thomas Grey, and worsted, they did much damage, so that four years later a large part of Northumberland was still unprofitable.
In 1343, or between December 1342 and September 1345, the Earl married Margaret, sister of King David Bruce, and that King conferred upon him in rapid succession considerable grants of land. On 28 September 1345 the spouses had a grant in free marriage of the thanage of Downie, co. Forfar, also of the thanage of Kincardine, with castle, etc., the thanage of Fettercairn, and the thanage of Aberluthnot, all in Kincardineshire, and the half of the thanages of Fermartine and Kintore in the sheriffdom of Aberdeen. This was followed, on 10 October 1345, by the erection of the earldom of Sutherlnad into a regality. On 4 November 1345 the King added the whole barony of Cluny in Aberdeenshire, and on 30 March 1346 the Earl and his wife received a grant of the King's rock or crag of Dunottar, co. Kincardine, with licence to build a fortalice thereon. In 1346 the Earl accompanied his royal brother-in-law to England on the expedition which ended so ignominiously at Neville's Cross. Froissart speaks of him under the name of the Earl of Orkney, as being the first to join the King, with 'many men-at-arms.' He is said to have been taken prisoner, but if so, his name does not occur in any list of captives. He seems to have occupied himself in the interval with his private affairs, but his next appearance in public life is in June 1351, when he had a safe-conduct to Newcastle to confer on the subject of King David's ransom. In September of that year his infant son and heir was given as hostage for King David on the latter's return to Scotland for a few months. In 1357 the Earl himself, with his eldest son, was a hostage for the payment of the King's ransom, and remained in England for more than ten years, visiting Scotland at intervals, marked by the granting of various charters to relatives and others. On 28 February 1358-59 King David granted to the Earl and his son John the barony and castle of Urquhart, co. Inverness, which is said to have been in exchange for the thanages in Kincardineshire formerly granted, but the earlier charter was repeated in 1360. On 30 July 1366 the King renewed to the Earl the grant of the half thanage of Fermartine. Between 1360 and 1365 the Earl also received various sums from Exchequer in addition to £80 paid by the King towards his expenses in England. The Earl is said by Sir Robert Gordon to have died in 1370, and this is probably correct. He was alive on 27 February 1369-70, when he still held the frank-tenement of the thanage of Kincardine and others, the reversion of which was then granted to Sir Walter Leslie, afterwards Earl of Ross; but in June 1371, the barony of Urquhart was in the hands of the Crown, and the Earl was probably then dead. It has been stated that he was concerned in the murder of Iye Mackay and his son Donald in 1370, and that his own death was the result of revenge..
The fifth Earl married, first, as already indicated, the Princess Margaret Bruce, youngest daughter of King Robert Bruce by his second wife Elizabeth de Burgh, and sister of King David Bruce. They had a dispensation on 1 December 1342, as they were in the fourth degree of consanguinity, but in a papal indulgence granted to her on 6 November 1343, a year later, she is styled sister of the King of Scots, and not Countess of Sutherland. Indeed, if the evidence of charters be taken, their marriage did not take place till 1345. The Princess is said to have died at the birth of her only son, and this seems probable. She was alive on 30 March 1346, but she was dead, and her husband had married again before November 1347. The Earl married, secondly, Joanna Menteith, widow successively of Malise, seventh Earl of Strathearn, John Campbell, Earl of Atholl, and Maurice Moray, Earl of Strathearn. The Earl and his second wife had a dispensation, of date 9 November 1347, on the following grounds. They petitioned that Joanna had been married to John, Earl of Atholl, and Maurice Moray. That after the death of the latter, Earl William and she, ignorant that any impediment existed between them which should hinder their marriage, contracted matrimony per verba de presenti; but they afterwards learned that they were related doubly in the fourth degree of affinity, because William, John and Maurice were related in the fourth degree of consanguinity, in consequence of which William and Joanna could not, without dispensation, remain in marriage. They therefore petitioned accordingly. This shows that they had been married for some time before November 1347, so that the Princess Margaret had died not long after 30 March 1346. Countess Joanna in writs granted by herself always styles herself as of Strathearn and a widow, but in writs by others, especially safe-conducts to England, she is styled Countess of Sutherland, the latest of these being dated in March 1366-67. It is not known when she died.
By his first wife the Earl had issue one son:--
- 1. John, who as stated, was sent to England as a hostage when he was very young, and he died there of the plague in 1361. Sir Robert Gordon erroneously states that the Earl's son and heir Alexander was the hostage, and died in England, and that John carried on the line of the family. But Fordun, a contemporary, says positively that the Princess Margaret had only one son, John, and Wyntoun repeats the statement. Fordun adds that his mother died immediately after his birth. His death, according to Bower, took place at Lincoln about 8 September 1361.
By his second wife the Earl had
- 2. Robert, who became Earl of Sutherland.
- 3. Kenneth, who received, in 1401, a charter from his brother Earl Robert of the lands of Drummoy, Backies and others, confirmed by the Duke of Albany, Regent, in 1408. Lord Hailes also quotes from teh Forse charters a writ to Kenneth Sutherland, son of the late William, Earl of Sutherland. He was ancestor of the family of Sutherland of Forse, and his descendant in 1766, Mr. George Sutherland of Forse, laid claim to the earldom of Sutherland as heir-male. This will be again referred to on a later page.
A William de Murriff or Moravia is named, in 1367, in a safe-conduct by King Edward III. as a son of William, Earl of Sutherland. He may have been a natural son of this or a previous Earl William.
-  Chron. de Lanercost, 385; Cal. Doc. Scot., iii. 354.
-  Ibid., 262; Scalachronica, by Sir Herbert Maxwell, 112.
-  Sutherland Book, iii. 12-14; the charter also provided that if Margaret's elder sister Matilda survived her she should have right to the other half of Fermartine and Kintore.
-  Ibid., iii. 14.
-  Ibid., 14, 15.
-  Ibid., 15, 16.
-  Froissart, ed. 1842, i. 98.
-  Foedera, Rec. ed., iii. 225.
-  Sutherland Book, i. 35.
-  Sutherland Book, iii. 17.
-  Ibid..
-  Exch. Rolls, ii. per Index.
-  Reg. Mag. Sig., 71, 85. The Earl's seal attached to the ratification of the treaty of 1357 shows on a shield, surrounded with tracery, three stars, two and one, the cognisance of the De Moravia family (Cal. Doc. Scot., iii. No. 1660).
-  The Book of Mackay, by A. Mackay, 44-47, 52.
-  Additional MSS. British Museum, 15, 371, f. 125.
-  Regesta Vaticana, vol. 184, f. 116.
-  Rotuli Scotiæ, i. 911.
-  Fordun, ed. 1871, i. 318; Wyntoun's Cronykil, Laing's ed.
-  Fordun à Goodall, ii. 366.
-  Sutherland Book, iii. 22.
-  Sutherland Book, iii. 36, 37.
Sources: Balfour Paul, J. (1911) The Scots Peerage, vol. 8. Edinburgh: David Douglas.
Among all the members of the house of Sutherland, Sir Robert Gordon ranks the fifth earl as very famous. His loyalty to his sovereign King David Bruce, who was his brother-in-law, was conspicuous.
William, fifth Earl of Sutherland, succeeded to his father, Earl Kenneth, in 1333, and must then have been of age or nearly so, as he took an active part in the endeavours of the patriotic party in Scotland to drive the English out of the country. Sir Robert Gordon states that the young earl joined Sir Andrew Moray, the Earl of Dunbar, and other leaders, in their march to raise the siege of Kildrummy in Mar, and took part in the battle of Kilblene on 30th November 1335, where David Comyn, Earl of Athole, was slain. This statement does not rest on any other evidence, but in the following year, according to an English chronicle, the earl, with the Earls of Fife and Dunbar or March, laid siege to the castle of Cupar-Fife, then held by William Bullok, a warlike ecclesiastic, in the English interest. The siege, however, failed, owing to the activity of Sir John Stirling, Constable of Edinburgh Castle, who, assembling a flotilla of 32 boats, secretly crossed the Forth with 120 men, nearly his whole garrison. He arrived at Cupar in the early morning, set fire to some houses close to the castle, and with his force rushed suddenly upon the besiegers. These, bewildered with the smoke and the sudden onset both from within and without the castle, fled precipitately, leaving behind them their military engines, arms and provisions, which Sir John Stirling, after pursuing the Scots for some distance, seized and appropriated, burning the engines used in the siege. The chronicler attributes the panic of the Scots to their belief that a large army, then on the march from England, had come upon them by surprise. The chronicler is corroborated by Sir John Stirling's account, rendered to the English Exchequer, where he refers to his visit to Cupar, which only occupied four days.
The Earl of Sutherland, whose exploits on behalf of his country even reached the ears of Froissart, again distinguished himself in the year 1340 by a foray into England along with the Earl of March. They were repulsed by Sir Thomas Gray, who himself records the fact in his "Scala Chronica," but his manuscript unfortunately is defective at this point. Sir Robert Gordon states that the expedition did much damage in England, but that when returning home heavily laden with spoil, it was beset by an ambush under Thomas Gray and other English leaders, and the Scots were put to the worse, though not till after a sore fight. Sir Robert Gordon adds some other particulars which are incorrect, but his statement that the earl's force did much damage is corroborated by official documents. In 1344 a complaint was made to King Edward the Third that the sheriff of Northumberland insisted on gathering the usual tax from the men of certain districts, although their whole crops, stock, etc, were completely destroyed, burned, or carried off in the Scottish invasion of 1340. As this complaint was made by the men of Carham, Branxton, Ford, and twenty-one other parishes, it shows the extent of the raid, and the energy with which it was conducted.
King David the Second, who had been nine years in France, returned to his native kingdom in 1341, and appears to have taken the Earl of Sutherland into high favour. If, as Sir Robert Gordon alleges, the earl took part in the successful attack on Roxburgh Castle, which was captured on 30th March 1342, the king's favour might be increased. But no other writer names the earl in connection with Roxburgh, which was surrendered to Sir Alexander Ramsay of Dalhousie, and, moreover, Sir Robert Gordon apparently misdates the event about two years, placing it immediately after the foray of 1340.
The royal favour resulted in the earl's marriage ot the king's sister, the Princess Margaret, for which a papal dispensation was issued in the end of the year 1342. It is in similar terms to documents of the same character at that date, and shows the relationship between the parties. The following is a translation of the document:--
Clement, etc., to a venerable brother; Bishop of Caithness, greeting, etc. -- A petition, shown to us on behalf of a beloved son, a noble man, William, Earl of Sutherland, of the diocese of Caithness, and a beloved daughter in Christ, a noble woman, Margaret, sister-german of our very dear son in Christ, the illustrious David, King of Scots, sets forth that between the said earl and Margaret and their forefathers and friends, by the wicked means of the old enemy, there have arisen wars, disputes, and many offences, on which account murders, burnings, depredations, forays and other evils have frequently happened and cease not to happen continually, and many churches of these parts have suffered no small damages, and greater troubles are expected unless prevented by an immediate remedy. Wherefore, with the consent and will of the king, the said William and Margaret, who are related to each other in the fourth degree of consanguinity, descending from the same stock, wishing to prevent so many and so great dangers, desire to contract each other in marriage, and thus it is believed it may be possible to prevent these periols; and the foresaid king, William, and Margaret have humbly petitioned us that for the good of peace we would deign to provide the said William and Margaret with the benefit of a fitting dispensation. We, therefore, who freely furnish the benefits of peace to the faithful in Christ, desiring to prevent these perils so far as we can in teh Lord, having yielded to their prayers, commit and command by apostolic writs to your fraternity, in which we have full confidence, that if it be so with the said William and Margaret, you may by our authority dispense, notwithstanding the impediment arising from their consanguinity, that they may lawfully contract marriage together, declaring the issue to be born of such marriage to be lawful. Given at Avignon the Kalends of December in the first year of our pontificate [1st December 1342].
The marriage probably took place in the following year. What the papal dispensation refers to when it describes the wars and feuds formerly existing between the parties and their freinds is not clear. But such a statement is not uncommon in similar documents relating to Scotland at that period, and in this case it may refer to the disturbed condition of the country, or, perhaps, of Sutherland. The ancestor from whom the degree of consanguinity is traced has not been ascertained.
After the marriage, King David the Second conferred upon his brother-in-law and sister various charters of lands in rapid succession. In September 1345 they received a grant of the thanage of Downie in the shire of Forfar; the thanages of Kincardine, with Fettercairn, and of Aberluthnot of Marykirk, all in the shire of Kincadine; also half of the thanages of Formartine and Kintore in Aberdeenshire; to be held by the grantees and the heirs of their bodies in fee, heritage, and free barony. The charter contains this condition, that should there be no surviving heir at the death of the grantees, all the lands were to revert to the Crown, saving hte right of Matilda Bruce, the king's older sister, to the other half of the thanages of Formartine nad Kintore, should she happen to survive her sister Margaret. In October of the same year, the earldom of Sutherland was erected into a free regality, and in November the barony of Cluny in Aberdeenshire was added to the earl's possessions.
In March of the following year, 1346, the earl and his countess received a grant of the important stronghold of Dunottar in the Mearns. The charter conveys the whole rock or crag of Dunottar, and gives special licence to build a fortalice upon it in whatever manner the earl may thing most expedient. This permission pointed to the erection of a new or a stone castle on the crag, for there is evidence of a fortification on it long before this date. It is referred to in the reign of King William the Lion. In 1297, according to Blind Harry, it was held by the English, and was attacked by Sir William Wallace, who burned it, and the church which then also stood upon the rock. In 1336 King Edward the Third gave special orders for its repair, and a strong garrison to hold it, but shortly afterwards it was retaken by the Scots, and demoished that it might be useless to the English. A recent writer asserts that it then belonged to the Earl of Sutherland. he may have mistaken the date of the grant to the earl, but on the other hand, the earl may have been in possession of the territory for some time previous, and if so, it was natural he should rebuild it as a stronghold for Scotland. It does not appear whether the Earl of Sutherland fortified the crag, or built any part of the castle, the ruins of which have still a very picturesque appearance on that bold rocky coast. That building is usually assigned to Sir William Keith, Marischal of Scotland, and it is probable that the Earl of Sutherland parted with Dunnottar in the year 1358, as will be noted on a later page.
The earl's name is not connected by historians with the raids into England which King David the Second made before the year 1346. In that year, however, the king, encouraged by the absence of Edward the Third in France, and instigated by letters from the French king, resolved to lead a large army to invade England. He gave orders for a great muster, which took place at Perth, and among other northern magnates the Earl of Sutherland joined the army. Frossart, in an account of the Scottish muster at Perth, which appears to refer to this date, says: "The Earl of Orkney was the first who obeyed the summons; he was a great and powerful baron, and had married King David's sister. There came with him many men-at-arms." The French historian was probably not well versed in Scottish names, and it is no doubt the Earl of Sutherland whom he thus describes. As is well known, the advance of the Scottish army into England was, after much devastation on their part almost to the gates of Durham, brought to a close by the battle of Neville's Cross, in which the Scots were totally defeated, their king and many nonbles being made prisoners.
Among the captives was the Earl of Sutherland. An English historian ranks him among the slain, but this is erroneous, and the Scottish writers unite in placing him among those taken prisoner. He is, however, not named in any official list of the magnates taken at Durham, nor in any other notice of the Scottish captives, and it is probably that he f ell into the hands of some one who speedily put him to ransom, or who allowed him to escape. He makes no appearance in Scottish record for the next few years, and his name does not occur in connection with the negotiations in 1348 and 1319 for King David's ransom. In June 1351, however, he is named in a safe-conduct grated that he might attend a conference on that subject to be held at Newcastle. In September of the same year he received permission, as one of a party, to escort King David into Scotland, there to remain for a few months, whil John, son of the earl, and nephew of the king, and other hostages, were given in the king's stead.
The king remained in Scotland till May 1352, when he returned to captivity, and the hostages were released. In June 1354, the earl was again one of the Scottish commissioners to treat for ransom, but does not appear to have been present at the completion of the treaty signed at Newcastle on 13th July of that year, when the terms of the king's release were arranged, and the earl's eldest son, John Sutherland, was again named as a hostage. Early in the following year, however, the truce between England and Scotland was broken, and the negotiations for the ransom ceased. In 1357 the treaty was renewed, and the Earl of Sutherland was one of the plenipotentiaries specially deputed by the Scottish parliament to complete the negotiations. The treaty, by which the Scots agreed to ransom the king for 100,000 marks sterling, payable in ten yearly instalments, was arranged at Berwick on 3d October 1357, and two days later the Earl of Sutherland and the other plenipotentiaries ratified the document.
One condition of the treaty was that three out of six great lords were to placec themselves by turns in the hands of the English, in addition to the twenty heirs of noble families who were the ordinary hostages for the keeping of the agreement. The Earl of Sutherland was one of the magnates who were exchanged for King David in October 1357, and he and his son John travelled to London together to remain under the care of the Chancellor of England. The earl remained in England for more than ten years, and the notices of him during that time are chiefly safe-conducts at intervals for himself or his servants passing backwards and forwards to Scotland.
In 1358 the earl resigned all his lands which he had received in Kincardine - including probably the castle of Dunnottar - into the hands of the king, who in exchange conferred upon him and his son John Sutherland the barony of Urquhart, with its castle, in the county of Inverness. Later, however, the king confirmed to the earl the former grant of the baronies of Downy, Kincardine, Aberluthnot, and others. In September 1360 the earl granted a charter to his brother Nicholas, the dating of which would imply he was then at Aberdeen, though according to the entries regarding him in the English records he was not then in Scotland. He appears to have been allowed to visit Scotland in the spring of 1359 and in 1362. In 1362 he granted the chapel of St. John the Baptist at Helmsdale to the monks of the abbey of Kinloss in Moray. In December 1363, he and his second countess, Joanna, received permission to visit the shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury. In December 1364 the earl had a safe-conduct into Scotland, which, by extensions, lasted till September 1367. Apparently from the terms of a safe-conduct in March 1367 the earl and his countess were then returning to England. This seems to be the last safe-conduct granted, and it has been supposed that he was finally liberated not long afterwards.
During one of the earl's visits to Scotland, he granted a charter to John of Tarale or Terrell of six davochs of land in Strathfleet, confirmed by King David the Second in 1363. In 1365 the king granted to the Earl of Sutherland and the heirs-male of his body, the half thanage of Formartine in Aberdeenshire, which had already been granted to him for life. Between 1360 and 1365 also, the earl received various sums of money, amounting to £267, 6s. 8d., paid to him by the Exchequer in addition to £80 paid by King David towards his expenses in England.
According to Sir Robert Gordon, William, fifth Earl of Sutherland, died in 1370, and this statement appears to be corroborated by the fact that the castle of Urquhart, which had belonged to him, was in 1371 in the hands of the Crown. But the evidence is not conclusive, and he may have survived longer, though he does not appear on record after 27th February 1369-70. On that date the king granted to Walter Lesly, knight, the reversion of the thanage of Kincardine, and others, of which the frank-tenement then existed in the hands of William, Earl of Sutherland.
He was dead, however, before 1389, when Robert, his son, was Earl of Sutherland.
William, 5th Earl of Sutherland's Timeline
November 10, 1344
February 27, 1370