Alexander Sutherland

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About Alexander Sutherland

Alexander Sutherland, 8th of Duffus

Alexander Sutherland, 8th of Duffus (son of William Sutherland, 7th of Duffus)

Alexander Sutherland of Duffus succeeded his father before 29 December 1543, when his ward and marriage were gifted to Sir John Campbell of Calder.[1] He was still a minor in December 1554, when he was infeft, under dispensation from the Earl of Sutherland as overlord, in the lands and castle of Skelbo, and in Invershin and other lands named.[2]

He may, however, have reached majority by 2 May 1555, when he received sasine of the lands of Duffus and others, near Elgin.[3]

On 7 November 1562 the lands of Skelbo, Invershin, with Pronsy, Torboll, and all his other territory in Sutherland, were erected by the Earl of Sutherland into a barony, to be called the barony of Skelbo, to him and his heirs as assignees, to be held for ward and relief and other usual services.[4]

In August 1560 he was a member of the Parliament which ratified the first Confession of Faith.[5] Alexander had also, in June 1563, a grant of the lands of Skelbo direct form the Crown, as the Earl of Sutherland had been declared forfeited, and for this grant the sum of 1000 merks Scots was paid.[6]

His extensive property, not only in Morayshire but in Sutherland, drew upon him the attention of George, Earl of Caithness, who entered into an alliance with the Laird of Duffus on 20 July 1559 for a matrimonial union between their families, it being agreed that Alexander Sutherland, then about five years old, the eldest son of the Laird, or his brothers, in succession, should marry Elizabeth Sinclair, eldest daughter of the Earl, or her sisters, in succession, until a marriage was completed.[7]

The Laird seems to have allied himself to the Earl in political matters also, and was mixed up in his disputes with his neighbours. His brothers, no doubt with his consent, seized the castle of Berriedale on 23 December 1565, and held it for a time against Lord Oliphant, the rightful owner.

He took part with the men of the Earl of Caithness in the attack on the town of Dornoch, which was made in 1567, and also when the town and the cathedral were laid waste in 1570. Sir Robert Gordon, in his account of these transactions, speaks of him as the 'son-in-law' of Caithness, but this seems a mistake, and a confusion between him and his son. Sir Robert states that the Laird of Duffus put to death the sureties surrendered to the Earl of Caithness by the people of Dornoch, and that he was so overcome with remorse that he fell ill, and died soon after.[8]

He was certainly alive on 24 March 1569-70, but did apparently not long survive that date, as no later reference to him has been found, and his lands of Duffus were in non-entry from about the middle of 1571.[9]

He married, in terms of a contract dated 26 January 1552-53, and while still under age, Janet, third daughter of James Grant of Freuchie.[10] The latter undertook to compensate Elizabeth Campbell, daughter of Sir John Campbell of Calder, for the loss of the value of Alexander's marriage, gifted in 1543, as already stated. She survived him, and was married, secondly, to James Dempster of Auchterless (contract dated at Elgin 26 September 1577).[11] She made her will 19 October 1600, and died in that month. She made her son James her only executor, and refers to her 'oy,' Mr. Patrick Dunbar.[12] Alexander and Janet had issue:--

  • 1. Alexander, the eldest son, referred to as younger of Duffus in various writs, but there is no evidence as to whether he ever succeeded to Duffus. he was born in 1554, as in the contract entered into on 9 July 1563 between his father and the Earl of Caithness for his marriage with Elizabeth Sinclair, it is stipulated the marriage should take place at Lammas 1568, when he would be fourteen.[13] The marriage did take place, but whether he survived his father or not is uncertain. He had no issue, and his wife survived him, marrying, as her second husband, Hugh Mackay of Farr.
  • 2. William Sutherland, 9th of Duffus.
  • 3. James, born in 1561. When about three years old, or earlier, he was placed 'in fostering' with Angus Sutherland 'Hectorsone,' to whom, for his benefit, his father made over 'fyve meris with ane stallone,' to which, apparently, his foster-father added 'four meris,' so that hte profit might accrue to his fosterson.[14] In 1590 he appears in the Privy Council Records as cautioner for his mother Janet Grant. He had the lands of Kinstearie in Morayshire, which were given to him in 1593 by his brother William, on his marriage with Violet, daughter of Thomas Fraser of Strichen. He was, as stated above, his mother's only executor. He is named as a witness frequently until 1623. He had a son John, whose son William married Margaret, daughter of William Innes of Kinnermonie, issue two sons, David and Hugh. David succeeded to Kinstearie,[15] and his great-grandson James Sutherland of Kinstearie is, in 1766, described as his father's only son. It is not known if he left issue. Hugh, the second son, had a son John, who acquired by marriage with Christian, daughter and heiress of William Sutherland of Rearquhar, the lands of Rearquhar. By her he had two sons, John and James, and one daughter, Margaret, married to her kinsman James Sutherland of Evelix (see below). John had a son James, of Rearquhar, and a daughter Janet, married to John Clunes of Neilston, who had two daughters, Magdalene, married to her kinsman Hugh Sutherland of Evelix (see below), and Anne, married to Duncan Sutherland at Kinauld, and a son, Hugh Clunes, who with Captain John Sutherland of Invercharron was the only heir in 1819. Hugh Clunes also died without issue.[16]
  • 4. Elizabeth, who was married (contract apparently dated 9 November 1590) to Archibald Douglas of Pittendreich, a natural son of the Regent Morton. She is described as sister of William Sutherland of Duffus. She had issue a daughter, Elizabeth, married to John Innes of Leuchars.[17]
  • [1] Re. Sec. Sig., xviii. f. 17; cf. Exch. Rolls, xviii. 583.
  • [2] Sutherland Book, iii. 114-116.
  • [3] Exch. Rolls, xviii. 583.
  • [4] Sutherland Book, iii. 124-129.
  • [5] Acta Parl. Scot., ii. 526.
  • [6] Origines Parochiales, ii. 633, 634.
  • [7] Reg. of Deeds, iii. 264. [8] Genealogy, etc., 150, 157.
  • [9] Reg. of Deeds, xiii. f. 171; Exch. Rolls, xx. 551, 552.
  • [10] Chiefs of Grant, iii. 107.
  • [11] Reg. Mag. Sig., 10 January 1578-79.
  • [12] Edin. Tests., 21 May 1603.
  • [13] Reg. of Deeds, vi. f. 424.
  • [14] Origines Parochiales, ii. 726.
  • [15] Cf. Services of Heirs, 1720-29, p. 29.
  • [16] Cf. Decennial Indexes, 1810-19; Services of Heirs, 5, 67, and Supp., 9.
  • [17] Douglas Book, ii. 321; Reg. Mag. Sig., 6 Jan. 1596-97.

Sources: Balfour Paul, J. (1906) The Scots Peerage, vol. 3. Edinburgh: David Douglas.

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Alexander Sutherland's Timeline

Duffus, Morayshire, Scotland
Age 35
Age 37
Duffus, Moray, UK
Age 37
Moray, Scotland
Age 42
Duffus, Moray, Scotland
March 24, 1570
Age 51
Duffus, Morayshire, Scotland