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THE DUNBARS OF HEMPRIGGS

The estate of Hempriggs is in the parish of Wick.
Ackergill Tower (15th century) is still in the possession of the Dunbar descendants, and can be seen on www.ackergill-tower.co.uk

I. This branch of the family of Dunbar is directly descended from Sir Alexander Dunbar of Westfield, Knight, son of James Dunbar, fifth Earl of Moray, and great-grandson of John Dunbar, second Earl. He was born about 1425, and died 10th March 1497 or 1498. He married Isabel, daughter of Alexander Sutherland of Duffus, who died 11th November 1505. He had eight sons and a daughter, and was succeeded by his third son, Alexander.

II. ALEXANDER DUNBAR OF AULDCASH, KILBOYACH, AND KILCALMKILL, third son of Sir Alexander, was killed in 1498 by Alexander Sutherland of Dalred or Dirlot, in Caithness. He married Lady Janet Sutherland, who survived him. Sir Robert Gordon states that he married Margaret Baillie, widow, in 1460, of John, tenth Earl of Sutherland, which is a mistake, he having been only three years of age at the period of this alleged marriage. He was succeeded by his eldest son, James.

III. JAMES DUNBAR OF AULDCASH, CONZIE, KILCALMKILL, AND KILBOYACH, was born about 1480. He was served heir to his father in 1501, and died in 1553 or 1554. According to Douglas he married Helen Innes, and was succeeded by a son, James, who married Isobel Brodie, but it is proved by a deed registered at Edinburgh in 1539-40, that he was twice married at least, his first wife being Helen or Elen Innes, and his second wife being Isabel Brody or Brodie, and he was succeeded by his son, Alexander.

IV. ALEXANDER DUNBAR OF CONZIE AND KILBOYACH married Elizabeth, daughter of John, sixth Lord Forbes (ch. 1564), and had several sons, of whom the fifth was William, his successor.

V. WILLIAM DUNBAR OF STRUTHERS, afterwards of Hempriggs (of one-third of which he got a charter in 1574), is called portioner of Hempriggs in his father's will, which is dated 25th February 1577. He married Catherine, the daughter (and heiress probably) of John Anderson of Struthers and Janet Gibson, his spouse, and he died on 25th November 1624. He had four sons and a daughter: -

  1. John, his heir
  2. James
  3. Ninian
  4. Robert
  1. Isobel, who married Hepburn of Inverlochty
VI. (I) JOHN DUNBAR OF HEMPRIGGS was twice married, and had by his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of George Sinclair of Mey, a son, John.

VII. (II) JOHN DUNBAR OF HEMPRIGGS, and also of LATHERONWHEEL (which he purchased), married Anna, eldest daughter of Andrew Fraser, Commissary of Inverness, and in his contract of marriage, dated 26th September 1624, his father, John Dunbar, made over to him his lands of Hempriggs "as they had been left to him by his father, William". John had two sons and three daughters: -

  1. William, afterwards Sir William
  2. Robert of Northfield, afterwards Sir Robert
  1. Janet, who married Patrick Cumming of Ernside
  2. Catherine, who married William Geddes, Minister of Wick from 1659 to 1675
  3. Anne, who married her cousin, George Sinclair, first of Barrock. Of this marriage is descended the present representative of the family of Sinclair of Barrock
VIII. (III) SIR WILLIAM DUNBAR, who was created a Baronet of Nova Scotia in 1698, was a man of considerable ability and local influence. In 1691 he purchased the lands of Telstane, and changed the name to Hempriggs. He also purchased Old Wick and other lands on the south side of the water of Wick; and in 1699 he acquired the Ackergill estates, which formerly formed a barony held by the Keiths, Earls Marischal. He also acquired the lands of Wick, Papego, South and North Kilmsters, and Miln of Wenless, which before 1591 were held by the Earl of Sutherland off the Bishop of Caithness and then of the Crown, and were in that year resigned by the Earl in favour of the Earl of Caithness. He held a commission from the Earl of Breadalbane as Sheriff and Justiciar of Caithness. He married his second cousin, Margaret, daughter of Alexander Sinclair of Latheron, by whom he had a son and a daughter: -
  1. Benjamin, who married Janet, daughter of Patrick Sinclair of Ulbster, and who died before his father without issue
  1. Elizabeth
On Sir William's death without male issue the baronetcy devolved on his brother, Robert, and the estates, under an entail executed by himself, on his daughter, Elizabeth.

(IV) Elizabeth Dunbar married, first, Sir Robert Gordon of Gordonstoun, great-grandson of Alexander, fifteenth Earl of Sutherland, and had by him three sons and four daughters. From her third daughter, Lucy, who married David Scott of Scotstoun, is descended, maternally, the present Duke of Portland. Sir Robert having died in 1701, his widow married, secondly, James Sutherland, second son of Lord Duffus, who was created a baronet in 1706, under the title of Sir James Dunbar of Hempriggs. Of this second marriage there were two sons and four daughters: -

  1. William, born in 1708
  2. James, an officer in the army, who died in Jamaica in 1742 unmarried
  1. Janet, who married, first, John Sinclair of Barrock, by whom she had a son, (John Sinclair of Sibster), and a daughter; and, secondly, Harry Innes of Borlum and Sandside
  2. Charlotte, born in 1712, who married Sir William Sinclair of Keiss, and had two sons, Captain Alexander, and Kennedy Muir
  3. Elizabeth, who married Eric Sutherland, eldest son of Kenneth, third Lord Duffus (attainted in 1715). They had two daughters: - (1) Elizabeth, who married, first, her cousin, Captain Alexander Sinclair, son of Sir William of Keiss; and, secondly, Charles Sinclair of Olrig, by whom she had an only daughter, Fenella; and, thirdly, the Reverend Mr. Rudd, Yorkshire, by whom she had a son and two daughters. (2) Charlotte, who married Sir John Sinclair of Mey, and had issue, James, afterwards Earl of Caithness
  4. Rachel, who married James Sutherland of Langwell, and had a son, Robert, and a daughter, Elizabeth. Robert Sutherland married Ann Sinclair, heiress of Brabster
IX. (V) SIR WILLIAM DUNBAR OF HEMPRIGGS married, first, Elizabeth, only daughter of Alexander Dunbar of Westfield. Elizabeth Dunbar was the undoubted heir of line of the old family of Dunbars, hereditary Sheriffs of Moray, descended from James, fifth Earl of Moray, of the Dunbar line. By this first marriage Sir William had a daughter, Janet, who married Captain Thomas Dunbar, styled, after his marriage, "of Westfield", and descended of the same stock as his wife. They had three sons and two daughters: - Patrick; Alexander, who died in 1782 ; William-Henry; Elizabeth, who married James Moodie of Melsetter, had issue, and died in 1798; Mary Maxwell, who married the Reverend Peter Nicolson of Shebster, Minister of Thurso, and had issue, and died in 1806.

Sir William married, secondly, Jean, daughter of David Sinclair of Southdun, by whom he had no issue.

He married, thirdly, Henrietta, daughter of Hugh Rose of Kilravock, and had by her two sons and three daughters: -

  1. Benjamin, his successor
  2. Robert
  1. Elizabeth
  2. Alexandrina
  3. Williamina
X. (VI) SIR BENJAMIN DUNBAR OF HEMPRIGGS married Janet, daughter of George McKay of Bighouse, and had two sons and three daughters: -
  1. George, his successor
  2. Captain Robert of Latheronwheel, who died unmarried, 11th August 1857
  1. Louisa, who married Garden Duff of Hatton
  2. Elizabeth, who died unmarried
  3. Henrietta, who married William Sinclair Wemyss of Southdun
On the death of James Sutherland, last Lord Duffus, the title was assumed by Sir Benjamin, as heir-male through his grandfather, Sir James Dunbar or Sutherland, but since his decease, in 1843, it has been in abeyance.

XI. (VII) SIR GEORGE DUNBAR OF HEMPRIGGS devoted himself to country pursuits for many years, and carried on extensive improvements on the family estates, thereby largely enhancing their value. He added to their extent by the purchase of part of Myrelandhorn and of the estate of Sibster, and by the acquisition of the lands of Tannoch in exchange for portions of his Strathmore property. He set aside the entail executed by his great-great-grandfather, Sir William, and died 28th August 1875, unmarried.

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