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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Highland

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Immigration and Emigration
Patrick Sellar
© Mike Roper
The Sutherland Clearances

After the death of the 17th Earl of Sutherland in 1766, the title passed to his infant daughter, Elizabeth, who became the Countess of Sutherland. Her early life was normal for a girl of her position, spending time between Edinburgh and London rather than at her vast estates, before getting married in 1785. Her husband was the English peer, Viscount Trentham, later Earl Gower. Gower became Ambassador to France in 1790, and the couple remained in Paris throughout the turbulent revolutionary period until the execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette before returning to the Countess's ancestral home of Dunrobin Castle.

Despite being some of the largest landholders in the world, the Sutherlands were not unused to financial difficulties (some of which were caused by the stay in France), and when the chance arose they were keen to improve the land they held and so increase their profit. In 1803, Gower inherited the title of Marquis of Stafford, and, along with the title, a handsome injection of funds, which enabled him to engage in improving his wife's estates.

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BBC History - The Highland Clearances
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