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The earliest member of this family of whom there is notice is James Oswald of Kirkwall, who was born about 1590, and died about 1660. He got a charter from the Earl of Caithness of tenements in Kirkwall. He had a son, James.

JAMES OSWALD was a Bailie of Wick. He married Barbara, daughter of Coghill of that Ilk, and had two sons: -

  1. James, born in 1654
  2. George, born in 1674
JAMES OSWALD was Episcopal minister of Watten.

He married Mary, daughter of Richard Murray of Pennyland, and had two sons and two daughters: -

  1. Richard of Scotston, a merchant in Glasgow, who died in 1763
  2. Alexander, a merchant in Glasgow, who died in 1766
  1. Margaret, who married Baird of Chesterhall
  2. Isabella, who married James Campbell of Lochend
GEORGE OSWALD, second son of Bailie Oswald, was ordained minister of Dunnet in 1697, and died in 1725. He married Margaret, daughter of Richard Murray of Pennyland, and had two sons and four daughters: -
  1. The Reverend James Oswald, Dunnet
  2. Richard Oswald of Auchenoruive, who married Mary, daughter of Alexander Ramsay, Esq., Jamaica, and died in 1784 without issue
In the original Statistical Account of Caithness it is asserted that Richard Oswald was an unsuccessful candidate for the Parish School of Thurso. This story must, however, be incorrect, for as Mr. Oswald was born in 1704, and as the Session Records show that the competition for the school took place in 1706, the unsuccessful competitor must have been a different person. The name Oswald was not uncommon in Thurso at that time.

In the published papers and correspondence of Lord Shelburne there is an account of his employment of Mr. Richard Oswald to negotiate peace with America, after the first war. Mr. Oswald is described as a well-known Scotch merchant in the city of London, who had originally become known as a contractor during the Seven Years' war, and who, being dissatisfied with the manner in which his business was carried on, went to Germany himself, and acted as Commissary-General of the army of the Duke of Brunswick. In 1759 he purchased the estate of Auchencruive, in Ayrshire. He married Miss Mary Ramsay, through whom he became possessed of extensive estates in America and the West Indies. Owing to his connection with these parts, he had already been frequently consulted by the Government during the war. In 1777 he had visited Paris, and made acquaintance with Vergennes and Franklin. He was known as holding very liberal views on economic and commercial questions, being a disciple of Adam Smith, to whom he owed his introduction to the Secretary of State. He left England with a letter from Lord Shelburne to Franklin in which his Lordship writes: "I have had a longer acquaintance with him than even I have had the pleasure to have with you. I believe him an honest man, and after consulting some of our common friends, I have thought him the fittest for the purpose.. He is a practical man and conversant in those negotiations which are most interesting to mankind. This has made me prefer him to any of our speculative friends, "or to any person of higher rank". The negotiation with America was ably conducted by Mr. Oswald, who received high praise for his remarkable singleness of purpose.

  1. Jean, who married David Manson, merchant in Thurso, and left no issue
  2. Elizabeth, who married William Anderson, merchant in Wick, and had a son, Alexander, a merchant in London
  3. Mary, who married Andrew Robertson, minister of Farr in 1727, and afterwards of Killearn. She died in 1787. They had a son, Harry Oswald, a merchant in Glasgow
  4. A daughter, who married John Sutherland, minister of Golspie in 1731, and of Tain in 1752, son of Arthur Sutherland, minister of Edderton. Mr. Sutherland had a numerous family of sons and daughters. The eldest son was William Sutherland, minister of Wick from 1764 to 1816
From the Presbytery Records it appears that in 1699 the minister of Dunnet "delated" two persons, a man and a woman, "suspect of witchcraft", and requested the advice of the presbytery, who recommended the accused to be confronted with the witnesses, and a report to be made to next meeting; but there is no further account of the matter. This is about the last we hear of proceedings before church courts against witches in Caithness.

DR. JAMES OSWALD, minister of Dunnet, was translated to Methven in Perthshire, and died in 1773. He married Elizabeth, daughter of James Murray of Clairden, and had four sons and three daughters: -

  1. George of Scotston, who married Miss Smith of Methven, and died in 1819. He had four sons and five daughters: Richard, who succeeded his grand-uncle, Richard Oswald of Auchencruive, and died without issue; David, Captain in the Nineteenth Regiment; James, Captain in the Royal Navy; Alexander, an Advocate; Miss Oswald, afterwards of Scotston, who died in 1864, aged ninety-eight; Catharine; who married Mr. Haldane; Margaret, who married General Wilson; Christian, who married Alexander Anderson, merchant in London; and Mary, who married Mr. Dennistoun
  2. Alexander, of Shieldhall, who married Margaret, only daughter of John Dundas of Manor, and died in 1813. They had three sons and three daughters. The sons were-John, who died unmarried in 1800 ; James, a merchant in Glasgow, afterwards of Shieldhall, and M.P. for Glasgow, he succeeded to Auchincruive on the death of his cousin, Richard, and "died unmarried in 1853, aged seventy-four; and Richard, who married his cousin, Miss Anderson, and had two sons and two daughters. Richard's eldest son, Alexander Haldane Oswald, in succession to his uncle, James, of Auchincruive, and M.P. for Ayrshire in 1843, married Lady Louisa, daughter of William, first Earl Craven. His only son died in 1868, and he himself died in September of the same year, leaving two daughters, Louisa Elizabeth, who married Colonel Farquharson of Invercauld, and another, who married the Honourable J. Manners Yorke. The second son of Richard Oswald was George, who succeeded to Auchincruive on the death of his brother, Alexander, and died in March 187l.
    The daughters of Alexander Oswald of Shieldhall were
    1. Agnes, who died unmarried
    2. Lillias, who married Andrew Mitchell, Writer in Glasgow,
    3. Margaret, who married Dr. Macfadzean, Ardrossan
  3. James, third son of Dr. James Oswald
  4. Richard, who died young
  1. Janet
  2. Margaret
  3. Barbara, who married Mr. Laird, and had an only daughter, Miss Margaret Laird

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