The Vikings> called the mainland south of Caithness "Sudrland" or southern land. They occupied all the land as far as a
King David I> granted a Flemish family Freskin land further south in Moray> around 1130. As the power of the Vikings waned the family acquired land further north in Sutherland and by 1235 the first Earl of Sutherland was appointed by King Alexander II. The family split - with those in Moray taking the name Murray and those further north taking the name Sutherland.
Kenneth, the 4th Earl, was killed at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333 fighting the English army led by Edward III>. The 5th Earl was married to the daughter of Robert the Bruce> and at one stage their son was heir to the throne but died of the plague. The 6th Earl built the original Dunrobin Castle>. In 1651 a contingent of the clan fought with King Charles II> when he was defeated at the Battle of Worcester.
There was frequent strife with the Gordon> family to the south and at one stage the Gordons usurped the Sutherland earldom. In the 18th century the dispute over succession was heard in the House of Lords and the Countess of Sutherland was confirmed in the title in her own right. She married the Marquis of Stafford who was created 1st Duke of Sutherland in 1833. The Duke and Duchess were responsible for the "improvements" to the estates which resulted in the notorious Clearances and depopulation.The 2nd Duke of Sutherland transformed the original Scottish-styled Dunrobin Castle into a French chateau.
The Clearances and depopulation in Sutherland resulted in many with that name being dispersed but the name is still the 7th most common in the northern Highlands and 54th in the whole of Scotland.
The Sutherland motto is "Sans peur" - "Without fear".
The Duffus, Federith, Norman and O'May families are septs (sub-branches) of Sutherland.
There are Sutherland family Web sites here> and here>.
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