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Forse House and the estate of Forse are in the parish of Thurso.
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It should not be confused with Forss

I. The descent of this family from that of WILLIAM, EARL OF SUTHERLAND, who died in 1370, is unquestioned, although there are conflicting statements among genealogists as to the immediate descendants of that Earl. On 10th November 1345 he obtained a charter from King David II., "Willelmo comiti de Sutherland et Margaretre sponsre sure sorori nostree carissimre". According to Douglas, who follows Sir Robert Gordon, he was the great-grandfather of Robert, Earl of Sutherland, and of his brother, Kenneth, ancestor of the Sutherlands of Forse.

In the Sutherland Peerage case, 1771, Captain George Sutherland of Forse, a claimant to the dignity, averred his ancestor, Kenneth, to have been the son of this Earl William, founding on a charter, in 1408, of the three davoch lands of Nottingham, granted by Mariot, daughter and co-heiress of Ranald, Lord Cheyne, with consent of Andrew of Keith, her son, "Kenatho de Sutherlandia filia quondam Willelmi comitis Sutherlandise". It is certain that Kenneth Sutherland was brother of Earl Robert, and that he received from him, in 1400, Drummuy, Backies, and Torish, in Sutherland. .

Nottinghame, Nothingham, or Noddingham, as it is variously written, is mentioned as early as 1272, when there was a Canon of Caithness styled "Henry of Nothingham".

Kenneth Sutherland married the daughter and heiress of Keith of Forse, and the family style then became "Sutherland of Forse". He was succeeded by his son, John.


III. RICHARD SUTHERLAND OF FORSE was served heir to his father, John, in 1441, and was infeft in the lands in Sutherland, granted to his grandfather, as appears by an inquest held in 1471, at the Head Court of John, Earl of Sutherland.

On 24th October 1451, Richard Sutherland granted a bond to the Chaplain of St. Andrew's Chapel in Golspie, in the following terms: -

"Be it made kend to all men be yer present Letters Me Richard of Sutherland of Forse to haft giffen and grantyt and be yer present Letters giffis and grantis fourtie shilling of silver of usuall monie of Scotland zherly of annual rent of the mealis of the Toune of Drommy in Sutherland fra me and myn ayris for evermore to ye perpetuall Chaplane of Saint Andrewis Chapell of Golspy als frely quietly peaceably and honorably as onyannualrent is giffyn to ony Kirk or Chappell within the Kynryk of Scotland for and to pray for me and ~ the soulis of my forbearis and successouris forontyn ony agane callyng or revocatioune of The Sutherme or myn ayris and that attour giff it hapnys me or myn lands of Forse.ayris to cum to the contrar of ye foresaid gyft't as God forbyde we do I charge ye bishop of Cathness as he wyl answer to Almighty God to curse and to enterdyt me and myn ayris till we cum to full satisfaction and amendyng to Saint Andrew and to the Chaplane perpetuale of Golspy. In Wytness of ye quhilk thyngis becaus I had no Sele proper of myn awyn I haft' procuryt with instaens the Sele of an honorable man Wyllam of Sutherland of Berrydale sone and apparand ayr to Alexander of Sutherland of Duffhous to be set and appendyt to thir letters at Dunrobyn the twenty four day of October the zheir of our Lorde a thousande four hundreth fyfftie and one zheiris befor yir witness John Erll of Sutherland Margt Balze his Spous Sir Donald Cormackson, Robert Henryson of Innerboll Thomas Robertson of --- John Park Gillane, Henry of Hillam, John Androwson mare of fier of the Erll of Sutherland and dievress others".

In the "Origines Parochiales" this bond is erroneously stated to have been granted by Robert Sutherland of Forse.

IV. JOHN SUTHERLAND OF FORSE succeeded his father, Richard. In 1505 King James IV (18th May 1471, Inquisition) granted him a charter of the farm and teinds of Backies.

He had a son, Robert, who died before him, leaving three sons, Richard, William, and Alexander.

V. RICHARD SUTHERLAND OF FORSE made up a title to his grandfather, John, and, dying without issue, was succeeded by his brother, William. (P. of C, 10th November 1546).

VI. WILLIAM SUTHERLAND OF FORSE married, in 1558, Janet, daughter of William Sinclair of Olrig, and died without issue in May 1564. In September 1563 Queen Mary granted to him and his wife, Janet Sinclair, a charter of lands in the Glen of Dunrobin.

Of William Sinclair of Olrig no other notice is found. The Sinclairs of Olrig, who flourished in the seventeenth century, were of the Mey family, the first of the name having been George, fifth son of Sir James of Canisbay. In 1540 (Legitimation, 1540) and down to 1564, we find William Sinclair, Chaplain, Rector of Olrig, and latterly Vicar of Latheron, a son of Henry Lord Sinclare. There was also, in 1542 (Legitimation, 1542) a William Sinclair, son of William, second Earl of Caithness, but concerning him there are no particulars.

VII. ALEXANDER SUTHERLAND OF FORSE made up a title to his brother, William, and was succeeded by his son, Donald. (P. of C., 24th January 1574).

VIII. DONALD SUTHERLAND OF FORSE had a son and a daughter: -

  1. Alexander, his successor
  1. Margaret, "Lady Dun", wife of David Sinclair of Dun. After his death she married Charles Calder of Lynegar. By her first marriage she had a daughter, Jean Sinclair, who married George Sinclair of Forss
IX. ALEXANDER SUTHERLAND OF FORSE was, in March 1602 (Retour, 1602) served heir-male and of entail to his grand-uncle, William, in the lands of Drummuy, Backies, and Torish, and he seems to have died before 1645 (P. of C., by Earl Marischal, of Forse, 8th November 1594). He had: -
  1. James fiar of Forse, his successor
  2. John, in Rangag, ancestor of the Sutherlands of Langwell
  3. Adam, who is mentioned in a charter to James by his father as "meo filio legitimo"
  1. Janet, who married, in 1621, Francis, second son of James Sinclair, first of Murkle, by whom she had a son, James, who died without issue
  2. Elizabeth, who married, in 1643, William Sinclair of Dun, and had no issue
X. JAMES SUTHERLAND OF FORSE got a charter from his father in 1633, and in the same year he married Janet, eldest daughter of Hugh Gordon of Ballone, in the parish of Dornoch. (Contract of Marriage. ret. 82). Janet Gordon (Died 1529) was the great-grand-daughter of Adam Gordon, Dean of Caithness, son of Alexander, first Earl of Huntly. Her grandfather was John Gordon of Drummuy, which had formerly belonged to the Forse family. (Gordon's History). James Sutherland died before 1655, and in that year his widow, "Lady Nottingham", married William Rorison or Henderson, wadsetter of Wester Nottingham, by whom she had issue - Vide Henderson of Gersay.

James Sutherland had several sons and five daughters: -

  1. George, his successor
  2. Adam, "brother-german of George"
  3. Robert
  4. Hugh. In a sasine, dated 27th September 1661, mention is made of Hugh and Robert, as "brothers" of George of Forse.
  5. Major Alexander, who, according to a MS. pedigree in the possession of General Pope, is mentioned as of Earnside in 1641, as having sold it in 1643, and as having married Jean Campbell. In this pedigree Robert is stated as third son, and Hugh is not named
  1. Jean (Bond of Provision, 23d January 1652)
  2. Margaret
  3. Elspeth or Elizabeth, who married, in 1663, John Sutherland of Ausdale (Contract of Marriage, 28th November 1663) with consent of her brothers, George and Robert. In 1669 she married James Sutherland of Langwell
  4. Katharine
  5. Esther
XI. GEORGE SUTHERLAND OF FORSE made up a title to his grandfather, Alexander, as his father had been infeft on a disposition in his favour, to be holden of his father, Alexander Sutherland. (Pr. of Cl. by Earl of Caithness, 20th February 1660). He married Jean, eldest daughter of Robert Gray of Skibo, the cousin of his grandmother, Janet Gordon. The Grays of Skibo are said to be descended from Andrew, Lord Gray, who died in 1514, and whose great-grandson, George Gray of Skibo and Sordell (who died in 1629), married Janet, daughter of John More Gordon of Embo, and niece of Hugh Gordon of Ballone. Of this marriage there was a son, Robert Gray of Skibo, who was father of Jean Gray. Her provision, in security of which she was infeft in Forse, in 1660 and 1661, was 200 merks and 8 chalders of victual.

George Sutherland of Forse had four sons: -

  1. George, his successor
  2. Robert, his immediate younger brother, who is mentioned as in Wester Nottingham and Achastle. He is afterwards styled of Achinarras [parish of Halkirk], on his marriage, in 1696, (p 168 says 1708) to Esther Sutherland, daughter and co-heiress of Langwell, who, as widow of William Budge of Toftingall, liferented these lands
  3. William, also styled of Wester Nottingham, and of Giese, which he purchased in 1691 from Lord Breadalbane. He appears to have been twice married first, to Katharine Sinclair; and, secondly, about 1684, to Mary, daughter of Sir James Sinclair of Murkle, and widow of George Sinclair of Forss. After his second marriage, his wife being liferented in Forss, he was styled "of Forss". By his first marriage he had two sons and a daughter, viz. William, fiar of Giese, Adam, and Jane or Janet, who, in 1695, married John Sinclair of Forss
  4. Captain Alexander Sutherland, who was styled of Burrigill, and who appears from 1687 to 1693
In 1728-30 there resided at Breckachy, on Dunbeath estate, a Hugh Sutherland, who appears to have been factor for Sinclair of Dunbeath, and who is mentioned in 1721 as "brother-german to the laird of Forse". It is improbable that he can have been the same Hugh who is mentioned in 1661, as brother of George of Forse, and it is concluded that he was a son of this George Sutherland, eleventh of Forse, and the brother of the succeeding George, the laird of Forse in 1721, who succeeded to the lands in 1706. Hugh Sutherland, in Breckachy, had a son, John. There is no further account of this branch of the family.

XII. GEORGE SUTHERLAND OF FORSE succeeded his father, and had: -

  1. Francis, fiar of Forse, in 1720, who died without issue.(P. of C., 27th July 1706)
  2. John, afterwards of Forse
  1. Katharine, who married William Sinclair of Freswick, with consent of her mother, (Contract of Marriage, 26th October 1724) Elizabeth Sinclair. In a pedigree of the family by Mr. Hughes, George Sutherland's wife is named Jean, of the family of Dun, but in the original contract of marriage of her daughter Katharine, it is certain that her name was Elizabeth. (Barrock Charter-chest)
XIII. JOHN SUTHERLAND OF FORSE married Aemilia, daughter of John Sinclair of Ulbster. (Crown charter, 1740). She survived him, and died in 1789. John Sutherland is described by a contemporary as having been a gentleman of very universal knowledge, who employed himself much in reading and epistolary correspondence, drank a moderate glass of wine with his friends, and seldom exceeded the bounds of discretion in drinking. He was of a sedate rather than a jocular turn of mind. He had two sons and four daughters: -
  1. George, his successor
  2. John Campbell, afterwards of Forse
  1. Harriet, who married Colonel Sutherland of the Scotch Brigade, Dutch Service, and died without issue
  2. Elizabeth, who married George Sinclair, W.S., second son of James Sinclair of Durran, and had a son, Lieutenant-Colonel John Sutherland Sinclair, Royal Artillery, who had issue
  3. Mary, who married Captain William Maclean of the 40th Regiment, and had three sons and four daughters. One of the daughters, Jane, married Captain John Henderson of Aimster and Castlegreen, and had issue one son, Major-General William Henderson of the Royal Artillery, who is unmarried, and four daughters, who all died unmarried
  4. Katharine, who married Professor Williamson of Glasgow University, and had issue
XIV. CAPTAIN GEORGE SUTHERLAND OF FORSE was served heir to his father in 1765, and died unmarried in 1773 (Retour, 5th August). In 1760 he was Lieutenant in the 87th Regiment, and in the same year he was appointed Captain in the Earl of Sutherland's Highlanders, in which he served until 1763.

Captain Sutherland was a claimant for the dignity of Earl of Sutherland, as the nearest collateral heir-male of the ancient Earls of Sutherland, preferably to Sir Robert Gordon, and to Elizabeth (afterwards Duchess Countess of Sutherland), all the collateral branches, who, in 1514, or subsequenly, were nearer to him and his family, being extinct.

XV. JOHN CAMPBELL SUTHERLAND OF FORSE was retoured heir to his brother in 1776. He married Margaret Munro, and died in 1828, leaving three sons: -

  1. John
  2. George
  3. Captain Francis, who is married, and has issue
XVI. JOHN SUTHERLAND OF FORSE died unmarried, on 28th February 1846, in the twenty-sixth year of his age. (Retour, 16th May 1832). He served for some time as Cornet in the 9th Lancers, and afterwards in the 56th Foot as Lieutenant.

XVII. GEORGE SUTHERLAND, NOW OF FORSE, married Miss Sheppard, and has issue. (Retour, 26th January 1848).

In the London Times, in 1871, there appeared a notice of the death, on 13th May, at Bernard Street, Russell Square, of Charlotte Mary, wife of James Robert Judge, daughter of the late Captain Norman Campbell of the 71st Regiment, and "great-grand-daughter of George Sutherland of Forse". On 17th June Mr. Judge, on being written to by General Henderson, replied, " My wife always told me that her father's mother was a daughter of the George Sutherland of Forse who contested the Sutherland peerage, and who was declared by Lord Mansfield, delivering the judgement of the House of Lords, to have proved his pedigree as heir-male; but the peerage being a female fief, went to his niece, the daughter of the then late Earl. Of the truth of this my wife had no doubt, or she would have said so. I received your note last Monday, and should have answered it at once had I not hoped, by waiting a few days, to be in possession of my wife's pedigree, for which I had written to Mrs. Sharpe, my wife's cousin, who is the daughter of Captain Donald Campbell, and of one of the Digby family. Upon receipt of the pedigree, should I obtain further information, I shall do myself the pleasure of communicating it to you". No further communication was received from Mr. Judge. Captain Sutherland had certainly no legitimate issue, nor, in so far as known, had he any family.

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