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THE SUTHERLANDS OF LANGWELL

The estate of Langwell is in the parish of Latheron.
In 2002 it was owned by descendants of the Duke of Portland
Some photos can be seen on www.caithness.org/atoz/countryhouses/langwellhouse

The modern estate of Langwell was formerly known as Berriedale, and was possessed by two families of Sutherlands .Those of the first family, descended from John Begg, son of Nicolas, Earl of Sutherland, were styled "Sutherlands of Berriedale", and the other family, whose immediate progenitors were the Sutherlands of Forse, descended from Kenneth, a younger brother of John Begg, were known as the "Sutherlands of Langwell". Berriedale originally belonged to the Cheynes, and it, together with Duffus (Dove House), in Morayshire, was acquired by the Sutherlands through the marriage of one of the daughters and co-heiresses of Ranald, "Lord Cheyne", to Nicolas Sutherland, brother to William, Earl of Sutherland. From the Sutherlands the lands came, also by marriage, into the family of Oliphant; and they were thereafter acquired by the Caithness family of Sutherlands. In the seventeenth century the estate then known as Langwell was acquired from Lord Breadalbane by William McIan or Sutherland, grandson of Alexander Sutherland of Forse. Mr. Calder has a story of a "William Sutherland of Berriedale, a young man of gigantic stature, "who accompanied John, Earl of Caithness, in his disastrous expedition to Orkney, in 1529, and who, he says, was proprietor of Berriedale, and ancestor of the Brabster family. In 1451 there was a William Sutherland of Berriedale, the son and apparent heir of Alexander Sutherland of Duffus, and whose second son, William, was laird of Quarrelwood. Quarrelwood had also a son, William, who was fifth Baron of Duffus, and his son and heir, William, was killed at Thurso in 1529, that being the same year in which, according to Calder, William Sutherland of Berriedale was slain in Orkney. But even if there really had been a William Sutherland of Berriedale in the Orkney expedition, he was not an ancestor of the Sinclair-Sutherlands of Brabster, for, beyond question, their Sutherland connection is derived from the Forse branch of the Sutherlands of Langwell.

ALEXANDER SUTHERLAND, ninth laird of Forse, who succeeded his father in 1602, had a son, John, in Rangag, a township on the estate of Forse. John Sutherland had at least two sons, William and David, of whom the elder seems to have been William, commonly called "McIan" (son of John), and in 1660 he and his father were joint tacksmen of Langwell. In 1664 William Sutherland obtained a wadset on Langwell from the Earl of Caithness; in 1691 he got further wadset rights, including therein the lands of Risgill, in favour of himself and his son, James, from Lord Breadalbane; and in the same year they acquired an absolute heritable right to these lands. Thus William McIan or Sutherland was the first Sutherland of Langwell.

David, the second son of John Sutherland in Rangag, is designed "of Langwell", and he may have been a wadsetter of these lands. He seems to have had several children, but we find notice only of his" eldest son", John, who was his executor, and who in 1678 granted an assignation in favour of James Sutherland of Ausdale, his cousin-german, of a bond for 600 merks which had been granted by his grand-uncle, James of Forse, to his" good sir", John in Rangag, and by him assigned to his son, David, the father of John Sutherland.

I. WILLIAM SUTHERLAND or McIAN had several children: -

  1. James, his eldest son and successor
  2. Adam, in Langwell, who married Janet, daughter of Donald Henderson, sometime in Sibster, thereafter in Achalibster, and his wife, Elizabeth Sinclair, the grand-daughter of James Sinclair of Borlum and Thura. His eldest son, James, married, in 1703, Beatrice, daughter of James Sinclair of Lybster. His second son was John; and he had a daughter, Esther, who married, in 1716, Benjamin Henderson in Achalibster
  3. David, in Ausdale, the third son of William Sutherland, married twice. By Catharine Polson, his first wife, he had two sons, William, wadsetter of Westerloch, and first of that family, and Angus. These two sons are described as his eldest and second sons by Catharine Polson, in a bond of provision by their father, dated in 1697, by which he assigns to them 2000 merks, part of 4000 merks due to him by his elder brother, James of Langwell. David Sutherland's second wife was Mary Sutherland, of a family of Sutherlands, tacksmen of Latheron. By her he had a daughter, Elizabeth, who married, in 1720, Donald Calder of Strath. One of the witnesses to her contract of marriage was her relative, "Francis Sutherland, fiar of Forse"
  4. George Sutherland, in Ausdale and in Braehiglish, is mentioned as the brother of David in Ausdale
  1. Anne, the only daughter of William Sutherland, in so far as is known, married, first, John Innes of Oust, and, secondly, Alexander Calder of Achingale. She had a son, John Innes, to whom his uncle, James Sutherland of Langwell, was tutor-dative, and a daughter, Marion Innes, who was married in 1703, with consent of her mother and her mother's then second husband, to John Calder, son of Alexander Calder in Winlass. For her tocher she had 2800 merks liferented by her mother, and which was in the hands of James Sutherland of Langwell
II. JAMES SUTHERLAND OF LANGWELLS, alias "Meikle James", had no less than four wives.

In 1669 he married his cousin, Elspeth, daughter of James Sutherland of Forse, and widow of John Sutherland of Ausdale, and she having had the liferent of this place, James Sutherland was after his marriage designed "of Ausdale". By this marriage he does not seem to have had any issue.

His second wife was Anne, daughter of Patrick Sinclair of Ulbster, and widow of Francis Sinclair of Stirkoke. By her he had a daughter: -

  1. Esther, afterwards of Langwell
His third wife was Elizabeth, daughter of William Sinclair of Dunbeath, by whom he had no family.

He married, lastly, Anne, daughter of Robert Sinclair of Durran, and had by her two daughters: -

  1. Anne, afterwards of Risgill or Swiney
  2. Janet, who married George Sinclair of Brabster
This marriage was the first connection between the Sinclairs of Brabster and the Sutherlands.

James Sutherland died in 1708, and was succeeded in Langwell by his daughter, Esther; and in Risgill by her sister Anne.

III. ESTHER SUTHERLAND OF LANGWELL was twice married. (Contract of Marriage, 1696). Her first husband was Budge of Toftingall, by whom she had a son, James. She married thereafter, in 1708, (1696 on page 157) Robert Sutherland of Achastle, immediate younger brother of George, twelfth laird of Forse; and he was after his marriage styled "of Achinarras", [parish of Halkirk], in which lands his wife was liferented as the widow of William Budge. She had two sons and two daughters: -

  1. James, her successor
  2. Major George Sutherland, Midgarty, Sutherlandshire, who had two sons and eight daughters; Lieutenant-Colonel George, 15th Regiment of Foot; Robert; Esther, who married Captain William Sutherland, Shibbercross; Janet, who married John Gray of Jamaica; Jane, who married the Reverend Alexander Sage, Kildonan; Elizabeth, who married Joseph Gordon, Navidale ; Charlotte, who married Mr. McFarquhar of Jamaica; Williamina, who married Robert Baigrie, Midgarty; Roberta, who married Robert Pope, Navidale; and by a second marriage, Janet, who married Kenneth McKay, Torball
  1. Margaret, married in 1732 to Alexander McKenzie, younger of Ardloch, whose father, John, second of Ardloch, was cousin-german of John, second Earl of Cromarty
  2. Elizabeth, who married Benjamin Williamson, second of Banniskirk
IV. JAMES SUTHERLAND OF LANGWELL, "a jovial, hearty man, who liked a glass of good claret at home and abroad, and was exceedingly merry over it", married, in 1738, Rachel, daughter of Sir James and Dame Elizabeth Dunbar of Hempriggs, and had a son and a daughter: -
  1. Robert of Langwell
  1. Elizabeth, who married, in 1761, Walter Gray, son of Patrick Gray of Easter Lairg
William Sinclair of Freswick, writing to Budge of Toftingall in 1741, mentions that Lord Duffus, Sir William Dunbar, Durran, and Scotscalder, had gone to Thurso East, and that Lady Janet, believing that they had done so, not so much out of kindness "as to get a sett of drink" and to see how political matters were going, made Langwell - who had also arrived at the castle - landlord at .dinner (Ulbster being from home), "with orders to make an example of them". These he obeyed punctually, so that some of the party had to be "oxterhanded", or supported from the boat by which they crossed the Thurso river to Bowermadden's house in Thurso, where they lodged.

V. ROBERT SUTHERLAND, LAST OF LANGWELL, married, in 1762, his cousin, Anne Sinclair, heiress of Brabster. For the issue of this marriage vide Brabster.

In 1775 Langwell was sold to William Gray, Iter Boreale, Jamaica, Provost-Marshal of that Island.

It is believed that Robert Sutherland had a brother who resided in Brechin, but his name and history are not known.

In the following description of this last laird of Langwell, written in 1769, will be recognised the hand of the late William Sinclair of Freswick: -

"Langwell was in town at our market, or, as he designs himself, Captain Robert Sutherland of Langwell and Brabster, Esq. His inconsistencies you have heard on several occasions long ere now: I shall therefore give you an account of his procession at Freswick's burial. First comes himsell, mounted on a gray nag so and so shaped, low-sized crape hat-band, and a streamer from each cock of the back part, red coat and vest, white breeches, mounted with black, lappels and cuffs to the coat of that color; on the right and left about a yard behind him, and as much to the right and left of the line in which he rode, two gilly-weet-feet, each with a leashed grayhound; then followed three old-looking footmen in abrest of the line in which the first three stood. Captain John Sinclair told me that he saw him at Wick, his machine drawn by four horses of different sizes and colors, each of his postillions in long black cloaks, hats with cockades to 'em, hunters' whips, a sword on one side and a pistol on the other ; furnish me with such an equipage galloping thro' a street. I had forgot to say, in his procession at the burial, in a cold rainy day, he had his horse covered with a net made of white, red, and green silk".

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