Sutherlandshire, Scotland


SUTHERLANDSHIRE, a county, in the north of Scotland, bounded on the north by the North Sea; on the east and north-east, by Caithness-shire; on the south, by Ross-shire and the Firth of Dornock; on the south-east, by the Moray and Dornoch Firths; and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. It lies between 57° 53' and 58° 33' (N. Lat.) and 3° 40' and 5° 13' (W. Long.), and is about sixty-two miles in length and forty-nine miles in breadth; comprising an area of 2875 square miles, or 1,840,000 acres, of which about 32,000 acres are inlets of the sea, forming salt-water lochs. There are 5157 houses, of which 4977 are inhabited; and the population amounts to 24,782, of whom 11,384 are males and 13,398 females. This county is supposed to have derived its name from its forming the southern division of the diocese of Caithness, of which it at one time was a part. It appears to have been early visited by the Romans, over whom Corbred I. obtained a signal victory, being assisted by a family of Germans who had been expelled from their native country by the Romans, and to whom, in consideration of their services, Corbred granted all the lands northward of the river Spey. In the reign of Corbred II., another body of the same people, who were called the Cattii, came over from Germany, and settling in these lands, contributed to the victory which that monarch, called by the Roman historian Galgacus, achieved over the Roman invaders previously to their subjugation of the kingdom. The ancestors of the present noble family of Sutherland early became proprietors of the territory; and from the ancient chieftains, first distinguished by the title of thanes, or earls, in the former part of the 13th century, the title has lineally descended to the present Duke of Sutherland, proprietor of nearly the whole shire.

Prior to the abolition of episcopacy, the county formed a part of the see of Caithness, of which the cathedral church was at Dornoch; it has since that time been included in the synod of Sutherland and Caithness, and comprises two presbyteries, and thirteen parishes. For civil purposes, the county, once a portion of the sheriffdom of Caithness, has been separated from that shire, and erected into a distinct sheriffdom, of which Dornoch, as the county town, is the seat of court. Besides the royal burgh of Dornoch, the county contains the villages of Golspie, Brora, and Helmsdale, on the eastern, and some smaller villages on the northern and western coasts. By the act of the 2nd of William IV., it returns one member to the imperial parliament.

Transcribed from Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851
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