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THE BRUCES OF HAM

The estate of Ham is in the parish of Dunnet.
Some photos of Ham Farm House can be seen on www.caithness.org/atoz/countryhouses/hamfarmhouse

WALTER BRUCE OF HAM, third son of Saul Bruce of Lyth, obtained, in 1636, from James Sinclair of Rattar, a wadset of Ham and Wester: and in 1647 he got a wadset of Brough from William Sinclair of Rattar. In 1663 the Earl of Caithness gave him a charter of these lands, confirming to him and his heirs "an irredeemable bond of alienation".

Walter Bruce married three times; first, Janet, eldest daughter of James Sinclair of Rattar, (Contract of Marriage, 20th December 1642) secondly, Barbara, daughter of William Smithe, minister of Dunnet from 1614 to 1650; (Contract of Marriage, 1657) and, thirdly, Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Sinclair of Latheron, and sister to the first Sinclairs of Brabster and Barrock. The last-named survived her husband and married George Sinclair of Olrig.

By his first marriage Walter Bruce had two sons and a daughter: -

  1. John, his successor
  2. David, afterwards styled of Ham
  1. Janet
By his second marriage he had two sons and a daughter: -
  1. Walter
  2. William
  1. Rose or Rosie, who married Andrew Gunn, and who seems to have been heiress to Walter and William
By his third marriage he had a daughter: -
  1. Elizabeth, who married William Calder of Lynegar
John Bruce of Ham married Anne, daughter of John Cunningham of Brownhill, and had two daughters: -
  1. Janet
  2. Elizabeth
These ladies are both mentioned in 1694 as daughters of the deceased John Bruce of Ham.;

John Bruce appears to have been succeeded by his brother, David, as "heir-male" of him and his father, Walter; while at the same time his daughter, Janet, is designed as Janet Bruce of Ham.

Janet Bruce married Aeneas or Angus Sutherland, merchant in Thurso, and had a son, William.

In 1738 James Murray of Clairden adjudged from William Sutherland, son of Janet Bruce, his rights to Ham, as representing his mother, his grandfather, John, and his great-grandfather, Walter. From James Murray the lands of Ham, etc., came into the possession of Sinclair of Barrock, and they finally reverted to the Rattar family.

David Bruce of Ham, the" heir-maill" of his brother, John, and his father, Walter, is mentioned in 1694 as "now of Ham", but there is no further notice of him, and it would seem as if the possession had remained in the family of John Bruce until the date of Clairden's adjudication in 1738.

John Bruce's widow, Anne Cunningham, was liferented in Ham, and married William Sutherland, who was thereafter styled of Ham. He is not to be confounded with her grandson, William Sutherland, the son of her daughter, Janet.

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