Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland

Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland (son of John, 8th Earl of Sutherland)


Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland, who became such after her brother John's death. Little is recorded of her before that date except her marriage, which, Sir Robert Gordon says, took place in 1500, to Adam Gordon, second son of George, second Earl of Huntly. In July 1509 her half-brother Alexander, by advice of his curators, resigned his right to the earldom in favour of her brother John and herself. Two months earlier it was proposed to infeft Elizabeth as heir of her father,[1] but this plan was abandoned, and her brother John was served heir, as already stated. The steps taken as to Earl John's incapacity have already been indicated, and his death in July 1514 opened the succession to Elizabeth. After some preliminary proceedings she was, on 3 October 1514, served heir to her brother as the last holder of the earldom. Her half-brother Alexander sent a procurator to Inverness to oppose the service, alleging an entail by royal charter of the lands and earldom of Sutherland. But he did not produce it, and the jury duly made the service.[2] The precept for her infeftment in the earldom was, however, not issued till May 1515, and she was finally infeft on 30 June 1515.[3] After this she and her husband were styled Earl and Countess of Sutherland.[4] In September 1516 Dunrobin Castle was in the hands of Alexander Sutherland, and the Earl and Countess entered into an agreement with the Earl of Caithness that he should aid in recovery of the fortress.[5] Another friendly agreement was made on 31 July 1517 with Y Mackay, and renewed in August 1519 with his son John Mackay, whose good offices were also desired against Sutherland. Notwithstanding this, Alexander again seized Dunrobin, and the Earl of Caithness was called on to fulfil his bargain, which he apparently did, though reluctantly. As a result of these troubles the Countess and her husband seem to have resided very little in their earldom, and after 1524 they devolved the cares of administration largely on their eldest son Alexander, Master of Sutherland, who took much part in affairs before they resigned the earldom in his favour in November 1527. Other notices of the Earl and Countess are not of special importance. The Countess died in September 1535, at Aboyne, and the Earl died on 17 March 1537-38, at Ferrar, near Aboyne, and they were both buried there. The Earl and Countess had issue, for which see under Gordon.

[1] Ibid., 40.
[2] Ibid., 56. In August 1517 and February 1517-18 Alexander applied for a writ of error against the jury, but failed to pursue the action; Acta Dom. Conc., xxx. 159, 208.
[3] Sutherland Book, iii. 57-60.
[4] Cf. Ibid., 61.
[5] Ibid., 63-67.

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

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