William Moray, later 1st Earl of Sutherland

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William Moray, 1st Earl of Sutherland

Birthdate: (48)
Birthplace: Duffus, Moray, Scotland
Death: 1248 (44-52)
Dunrobin Castle, Golspie, Sutherland, Scotland
Place of Burial: St Gilberts Cath, Dornoch
Immediate Family:

Son of Hugh (Freskin) de Moravia, of Duffus and Strabrock and Joan Jónsdóttir, of Orkney
Husband of Lady Sutherland (1st)
Father of William Moray, 2nd Earl of Sutherland
Brother of Freskyn Munro; Walter de Moravia, 2nd Lord of Duffus and Andrew de Moravia

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About William Moray, later 1st Earl of Sutherland

http://www26.us.archive.org/stream/heraldryofmurray00john#page/4/mode/2up Page 5 (No. 14)

(14) William, Lord of Sutherland, who died 1248, was created Earl of Sutherland about 1235, and left a son:


William (Moray, afterwards Sutherland), 1st s. and h. of Hugh Freskin or Moray,[1] lord of Duffus and Strabrock, who had acquired by grant, or otherwise, a large tract of land in Sutherland before 1211 and d. inter1214 and 1222, when William, as "Lord of Sutherland and s. and h. of the late Hugh Freskin,"[2] confirmed his father's grant of lands circa 1211 to Gilbert Moray, Archdeacon of Moray.[3] He attests in 1226 as William de Moravia, in 1229 as William de Moravia, Knight, and in Sep. 1232 as William of Sutherland.[4] It is suggested that he was cr. EARL OF SUTHERLAND in 1235, "though as to the true date of creation there is no evidence whatever, but that he was Earl is proved by a later writ."[5] The name and parentage of his wife are not recorded. He is said to have d. in 1248 and to have been bur. in the Cathedral of Dornoch.[6]

William, son of Hugh, describes himself after his father's death as Lord of Sutherland, son and heir of the late Hugh Freskin. He was therefore the eldest son, and took the largest share of his father's possessions. He confirmed his father's charter of Skelbo and the other lands to Archdeacon Gilbert, at some date between 1211 and 1222.[1] It is apparently he who is a witness in 1226 and 1229 as William de Moravia and William de Moravia, Knight.[2] In September 1232 he appears as William of Sutherland.[3] This would agree with the suggestion that he was not created EARL OF SUTHERLAND until 1235, though as to the true date of creation there is no evidence whatever, but that he was Earl is proved by a later writ. Sir Robert Gordon, in his history of the family, states that this Earl William, of whom there is almost no notice in public record, was a great help to Gilbert, Bishop of Caithness, in the building of the cathedral of Dornoch and in the erection of canonries by appointing them lands and tithes to the Earl's 'great cost and charges.'[4] This is corroborated by Bishop Gilbert's arrangement of the diocese, still preserved at Dunrobin Castle. It is not dated, but was drawn up probably not long after 1222. The Bishop states that hitherto, owing to the poverty of the place, and because of frequent hostile commotion, only a single priest had ministered in the church of Dornoch. He now proposed to build a cathedral there at his own expense, and he appointed ten canons, and for their maintenance and his own he set apart twenty parish churches, with their emoluments. It is quite clear he would have been unable to do this without encouragement and aid from the Earl. He and the Bishop, however, before the latter's death in 1245, had a dispute as to some lands. The merits of the quarrel are unknown, but it was not finally settled for many years afterwards. Sir Robert Gordon describes this Earl as taking part in an encounter with a marauding band of Norsemen, who were defeated at Embo, and driven bak to their ships, the Earl's kinsman Richard Moray being killed in the fray. But the story is doubtful, as Sir Richard Moray survived the Earl, and the tradition seems rather to refer to an incident of the year 1263. The first Earl is said to have died in 1248, and was buried in the south aisle of the cathedral of Dornoch.[5] He was succeeded by his son, William.

  • [1] Sutherland Book, iii. 2, 3.
  • [2] Reg. Moraviense, 81, 26.
  • [3] ibid., 89. This seems to show that this branch of the Moravias was beginning to adopt their surname from their new territory.
  • [4] Genealogy of the Earls of Sutherland, 33.
  • [5] Genealogy of the Earls of Sutherland, 32, 33.

Sources: Balfour Paul, J. (1911) The Scots Peerage, vol. 8. Edinburgh: David Douglas.


William (Moray, afterwards Sutherland)was eldest son of Hugh Freskin or Moray. Died 1248 and buried in Dornoch Cathedral

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William Moray, later 1st Earl of Sutherland's Timeline

Moray, Scotland
Age 31
Age 48
Sutherland, Scotland
St Gilberts Cath, Dornoch