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The estate of Sandside is in the parish of Reay.
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In 1507 Sandside belonged to the family of Innes of Innes. In 1529 it had passed into possession of the first Sinclairs of Dunbeath, probably through the marriage of Elizabeth Innes to Alexander, son of William, second Earl of Caithness, and in 1610 it was acquired from the great-grandson of Alexander Sinclair by Lord Forbes, who was allied to the Inneses. In 1624 it was purchased by Sir Donald McKay, and about 1625 it was acquired by William Innes, a Morayshire gentleman, said to have been related to the family of Innes of Innes, and who had come into the county as Chamberlain for Lord Forbes. Isauld formed part of the original estate, but in 1703 a charter of adjudication and novodamus was obtained by Mr. Robert Gordon, wherein Isauld was erected into a barony, and in 1723 that property was acquired by the family of Murkle, of whose estate in Caithness it still forms part.

It is uncertain when WILLIAM INNES, FIRST OF SANDSIDE, died. He appears to have had two sons: -

  1. William, supposed to have been the eldest
  2. John, who in 1626 is mentioned as an Officer in the troops raised by Sir Donald McKay for the King of Denmark, and who is said to have obtained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel
II. WILLIAM INNES, SECOND OF SANDSIDE.- In 1638 there is a deed which narrates a bond granted in 1634 by William Innes, "Elder and Younger", in which it is stated that both were "stylled Captains". It is difficult to say who these two Captains were. In 1631 and 1637 charters were granted to William Innes of Sandside, and in 1640 a William Innes was succeeded by his eldest son, James, who had a brother, William of Isauld and Borlum. Unless "younger" in the bond of 1634 necessarily leads to the conclusion that Captain William Innes "younger" was the heir-apparent of Sandside, he may have been the same person as William of Isauld and Borlum. If Captain William "younger" was not that person, then the parties to the bond must have been either William Innes, first of Sandside, and his son and successor; or William Innes, the second of Sandside, and a son, William. On the latter supposition, that son must have been the father of James, Robert, and William Innes, and must himself have succeeded to Sandside, as William, second of Sandside, would not have two sons of the same name, Captain William, and William of Isauld and Borlum.


  1. James
  2. Robert, in Shebster
  3. William of Isauld and Borlum, who died before 1655, (Bond, 1638) and to whom reference is afterwards made
IV. JAMES INNES OF SANDSIDE was served heir in 1640 to his father, William Innes, whichever of the Williams that may have been. In 1637 he had joined his father in a bond, wherein he is described as his eldest lawful son; and from 1640 down to 1693, a period of fifty-three years, there is a James Innes of Sandside, who is supposed to have been the same person.

About the time of James Innes's succession there is mention of an Alexander Innes, as eldest son of William Innes of Sandside, but of him there is no further account.

James Innes married Elizabeth Johnstone, and had three sons and a daughter: -

  1. William, younger of Sandside in 1684
  2. Robert, tutor of Sandside
  3. Arthur, mentioned in 1697
  1. Elizabeth, to whom, in 1673, her father granted a bond of provision, which is witnessed by her uncle, Robert, in Shebster. In 1682 she married William Sinclair, Commissary of Caithness, eldest son of William Sinclair of Hoy (not William, afterwards of Scotscalder), and she had two sons: William, writer in Thurso, and Robert, rector of Bulfan in Essex
It is uncertain at what time James Innes died, and whether his successor, William Innes, was his son or his grandson. In 1684 his son, William, is styled younger of Sandside, but from 1693 down to 1701, when William Innes, then a minor, was laird of Sandside, with his uncle, Robert, as tutor, there is no mention, so far as appears, of the succession of William, the eldest son of James

V. WILLIAM INNES OF SANDSIDE, grandson (as is supposed) of James, died without issue in 1747. In 1710, being then Captain Innes, he fought a duel with Alexander Sinclair of Olrig, in which the latter was unfortunately killed, and for some time thereafter he resided abroad. This quarrel, which excited strong feeling in the county, from its fatal result, appears to have arisen under the following circumstances: Captain Innes and a party of gentlemen of the name of Sinclair had met at Thurso, in the lodgings of the laird of Murkle, who was then a youth of seventeen. In the course of the evening Murkle left the room in ill-humour, and went to bed, whereupon it was proposed that the strongest of the party should carry him back, and Innes, following up the joke, carried the young laird from his bed, and placed him, wrapped in blankets, in the chair. This increased his bad humour, and he spat in Innes's face, which called forth the remark that "the best of the Sinclairs dared not do that". Olrig fired at this, and Sandside instantly challenged Innes, who, however, unwilling to carry the dispute further, represented to Olrig that the contest was unequal, he, Olrig, having a large family, while he himself had none. But Olrig insisting on fighting, they met at a place near Loch Ulgrim on Scotscalder, Olrig armed with a broadsword, and Captain Innes with a rapier. The result was that Olrig was run through the body, and died within a few days.

Reverting now to the brothers of James Innes, it appears that William Innes of Isauld and Borlum died before 1655. He was twice married. By his first wife he had a son: -

  1. William Innes of Isauld, who is mentioned in 1660 and 1668. He married Elizabeth, daughter of David Murray of Clairden, by whom he had a son, James. About 1684 James Innes, then of Sandside, and William, his eldest son, granted to David Murray of Clairden a bond of corroboration of debts and diligences affecting the estate, and in 1693 his son, James Murray, granted a deed of restriction of the adjudications in favour of his nephew, James Innes, son of Isauld. Elizabeth Murray, the mother of James, was liferented in Sandside, and was styled "Lady Sandside". How she obtained this liferent is not known, as her husband, William Innes of Isauld, does not appear to have been also of Sandside. He may, however, have been in possession as an adjudging creditor
William Innes of Isauld and Borlum married, secondly, Margaret Cunningham, said by Douglas to have been daughter of William Cunningham of Broomhill, but who was, more probably, the daughter of John Cunningham of Brownhill, who signed a bond of cautionry for her. Of this marriage there were several children, and among these: -
  1. Henry, the eldest son
  2. Jean, who got in 1650 from her half-brother, William of Isauld, a bond for 500 merks
Henry Innes was apparently a minor at the time of his father's death, and was, as stated in a deed by his mother in 1683, "under great burden of debt". She was liferented in Borlum, and in order to assist her son, she assigned to him certain claims on the estate of Sandside, that being all she could do for him, after maintaining herself and family, "as becomes a person of my quality". Henry Innes married Jean, daughter of John Sinclair, first of Brabster, and had three sons and a daughter: Harry, the eldest son; Alexander, who died in the West Indies, where he is said to have held "a considerable employment"; John, who was a young man at school in 1698, as appears from a letter by him to his uncle, Alexander Sinclair of Brabster, written in that year; and Margaret, who married David Murray of Castlehill.

VI. HARRY INNES OF BORLUM succeeded to Sandside on the death of Captain William Innes, in 1747. He married Janet Dunbar, widow of John Sinclair of Barrock, and daughter of Sir James Sutherland or Dunbar of Hempriggs, and had two sons: -

  1. William, his successor
  2. Alexander, whose daughter, Anne, married John Sutherland of Wester, and had by him a son and six daughters
VII. WILLIAM INNES OF SANDSIDE, son of Harry Innes, married in 1764 Mary Craddock, who survived him, and resided for many years in Thurso, where, as "Lady Sandside", she was much esteemed and respected. They had two sons and several daughters: -
  1. William, his successor
  2. Henry, who died without issue
  1. Mrs. Macdonald, who had a son and two daughters.

VIII. MAJOR WILLIAM INNES OF SANDSIDE was served heir to his father, William, in 1787. He married his cousin, Miss Craddock, and died in 1842 without issue, being succeeded by his nephew, Captain Donald Macdonald.

IX. CAPTAIN DONALD MACDONALD OF SANDSIDE, R.E., was served nearest and lawful heir of provision to his uncle in 1843, under settlements executed in 1816 and 1830, and he died 17th October 1872. He married Lady Ramsay Maule, daughter of Lord Panmure, and had five sons and two daughters: -

  1. Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonald, who married Miss Lindsay, and died in India leaving one son, an infant
  2. Henry
  3. John
  4. Arthur
  5. Dudley-Ward
  1. Mary
  2. Patricia, who died young
The estate has been sold to the Duke of Portland, and none of the family of Sandside remain in the county.

This sketch of the family is confessedly imperfect, but the sources of information have been limited.

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