Blog From the North Jan 15

Bunty Gunn
Bunty Gunn

It always strikes me as odd that the moment winter starts, this country always behaves as though it were the deepest surprise imaginable.  Goodness me – snow!  And cold winds!  The roads become impassable, the railways stop, the airplanes ice up and the Power goes off – and we are astonished, nay, amazed that temperatures can drop so far in this green and pleasant land.


In fact winter hit Caithness in a big way just after New Year with the coldest winds, the severest storms and the heaviest and most damaging hail.  Swiney House where Iain and I live was, we know, up and running in 1750 because there is a reference to it in a book about Caithness where a man “comes down the coast to have breakfast with his cousin in his new house at Swiney.”  And we know who the cousin was.  So the old place has seen some weather in its time and stands remarkably firm, give or take a slate or two or a crack in the stone facings here and there.  But when the power goes off, it is a very cold old house.  We discovered that there were two fireplaces in the hall, covered up now, of course, and fireplaces in most of the rooms – long hidden beneath plasterboard, alas.  When we bought the house we were entranced by the previous inhabitant’s artistic skill in depicting flames rising from the electric wall heaters and cut out birds in another place which was immediately named “the Roasting Robins room”.  Thinking back to our childhood, there was, of course,very rarely any central heating in houses and Iain and I recalled darting along glacial corridors to the warmer climes of the sitting rooms.  We remembered the agony of hitting your toe on the stone hot-water-bottle put into the end of your bed to warm it and icy linoleum in the bathroom, if you couldn’t find your bedroom slippers.  There was always, of course, the kitchen range, hungry for coke (a kind of coal), but reliably providing hot water and a surface to cook on.  In this day, I rely on a kettle set on an ancient primus stove for hot water and two mobile gas rings for anything more sophisticated than a boiled egg.


In my childhood, spent in the country in Cumbria, we had a haybox into which went a hot stew or pot of soup to keep up to temperature for the man of the house’s meal.  Years later, when in London we suffered under rationed electricity during the ill-fated Miners’ strike, I made another haybox.  We cooked when we had power and then stored the result deep in a box lined with the guinea pig’s hay.  The guinea pig was elsewhere, I hasten to add.  We also used a trick which had been taught to my mother – a Yorkshire woman – by a lace maker.  You light a candle and set it at the centre of four filled water glasses.  The result of this is to provide four pools of light in which you can work.  The children and I used to play cards this way.  But, oh the joy when the light came back on and hot baths could be had once more.


And it’s now that we should all be thanking our lucky stars for the intrepid men (and women) who go out in atrocious weather  and mend the power lines that are down. We should also be singing the praises of the men with the gritting lorries who keep the roads open for us to creep out and buy the milk.  I’m afraid we take it for granted that these things will happen.


So to those of you who, in your own countries, regularly end up under six to ten feet of snow without the same sort of help and  without even a grumble, spare a thought for your wimpy friends over here.  I don’t think we are programmed to enjoy winter in general.  Somehow ski-ing and sledging are so much more fun in the sun.  So here’s to Spring.  I notice that the bulbs are beginning to come up in the drive – probably a bit too early, but if they can be hopeful, so can we.  Happy New Year to you all.

4 thoughts on “Blog From the North Jan 15”

  1. Central heating was common in France after war, but not in GB. I remember going to bed with a hot water bottle and hiding my head under the blankets… What a relief when the electric blankets came in the house ! But you still had to keep many spare shilling coins to slide in the slot when power went out !
    Bonne année, bonne santé surtout B & I; looking forward to seing you in July !

  2. You probably know most of this, but if it is any use –
    [ if you are wondering why – Caroline Gordon was 4 generations back in her family


    The estate of Risgill or Swinzie is in the parish of Latheron.
    On the death of James Sutherland of Langwell, in 1708, his second daughter, Anne, succeeded to the estate Risgill.
    In 1717 she married Alexander Sinclair of Swinzie, also called Lochend,.
    It was a property which he got from his father, George Sinclair of Barrock, who was the eldest son of George’s second marriage to Elizabeth, dau of David Murray of Clairden.
    After Anne Sutherland’s marriage, the estate of Risgill was called Swinzie, and the family took the name of Sutherland, or Sinclair Sutherland.
    Alexander Sutherland died in 1738, leaving a son, James.

    In 1739 James’ mother transferred the estate to him, and in 1743 James married his cousin, Jean, dau of John Sinclair of Durran.
    She was known as “Lady Swinzie”, and resided during the latter part of her life in Thurso, where she died, a very old woman, in 1819.
    James Sutherland built the present house of Swiney about 1750 – Swiney House, Lybster, Latheron, grid ref 235, 349

    Swiney House –
    Mid-18th century, 2-storey and attic, symmetrical 5-bay house. Harled, painted reveals, ashlar margins and dressings.
    Centre pedimented and keystoned doorpiece with long and short detailing to jambs masked by modern flat roofed glazed porch.
    Centre bay rises into shaped attic pediment, with keystoned round-headed window with blocked imposts and centre apex stack. Outer windows slightly paired (right of
    centre door, ground floor window blind). 2 ground, 1 1st floor window in east gable, 1 ground and 1 1st floor in west; paired attic windows in both gables; 8-pane glazing.
    Chamfered ashlar quoins; moulded eaves cornice; diminutive scroll skewputts to rear; panelled end stacks; slurried Caithness slate roof.
    Rear projecting gabled stairwell rises to ridge height with later flanking single storey wings with cat-slide roofs.
    Interior; scale and plat staircase framed by round-headed keystoned pair arches (right arch leads to rear passage) in entrance hall.

    James Sutherland had a son and three daughters: –
    1.Anne, who married Captain Patrick Sinclair of Durran, R. N.
    3.Elizabeth, who married Benjamin Henderson, tacksman of Clyth.
    The late Dr. James Henderson, Clyth, and several other sons and daughters, were the issue of this marriage.
    Mrs. Henderson and one of her sons perished by shipwreck in Wick Bay

    John Sutherland inherited the estate
    In 1777; he married Margaret, daughter of Donald Williamson of Banniskirk, and died without issue in 1789.

    Patrick Sinclair Sutherland of Swinzie was eldest son of Captain Patrick Sinclair of Durran. He inherited the estate from his uncle John in 1789.
    In the same year Swinzie, Risgill, and Munsary were sold for £5500 to Lieutenant John Gordon, Sutherlandshire.


    See pp 566/567 of

    The Gordons of Swiney.

    At the beginning of the 18th century there were two brothers Adam Gordon, tacksman of Rhenevy, Farr, and Charles Gordon of Pulrossie.
    Charles was descended ” from that branch of the Clan Gordon which originally came to Sutherland along with Adam Lord Aboyne.”
    Charles farmed Clerkhill, in Farr He was also factor on the Reay estate, and an extensive cattle dealer. He was one of the original members of the Highland and Agricultural Society
    Charles Gordon was twice married. By his first wife he had no children.
    His second wife was Catherine Sage (born 1729), sister of Alexander Sage, and aunt of the Rev. Donald Sage, who says ” Charles Gordon took a lively interest in my father’s welfare,
    and being one of the most influential men in the Reay country he had much in his power ”
    To his friendship and influence, Sage’s father was in-debted for every situation which he held in that country.
    His first appointment was that of a parochial schoolmaster at Tongue, a situation which he held until he received license. Charles Gordon procured for Sage the living of Kildonan in 1787

    Charles Gordon, “having acquired considerable means by a long course of industry”, purchased the estate of Pulrossie, in Sutherlandshire.
    He sold this property to Mr. Dempster of Skibo in 1788/89.
    See pp 181/182 and 198 of The Gentleman Usher: The Life & Times of George Dempster 1712-1818

    See – View of the Political State of Scotland in the Last Century: A Confidential Report on the Political Opinions, Family Connections, Or Personal Circumstances of the 2662 County Voters in 1788
    “Captain Charles Gordon of Pulrossie. Independant. Not in good health. About to sell to Mr. Dempster. The three next voters ( John, George, William ) are his sons, and inrolled on votes from him”

    In 1789 Gordon purchased for £5500.the estate of Swinzie or Swiney from Captain Patrick Sinclair of Durran, who administered the estate of his son, Patrick Sinclair Sutherland of Swinzie,

    The conveyance was taken to Charles’ eldest son, Lieutenant John Gordon.
    After Charles died, in 1789 Swinzie, Risgill, and Munsary were passed to Lieutenant John Gordon


    By his second wife, Charles Gordon had three sons and two daughters :—

    1 John Gordon, who succeeded Charles

    2 Captain George Gordon –
    In 1787 he was tried at Inverness Circuit Court for having shot and wounded Kenneth McLeod, town-officer, Dornoch. Shown to be insane, he was handed over to his relatives
    Served on the Coromandel Coast 1788. Lived at the farm of Skelpig on the North bank of the Naver, and at at Spenidle, Sutherland . Went on half pay 1790
    George Gordon had children Charles, George and William
    Charles was advocate in Aberdeen, who in 1787 m Miss Mary Harvey
    George died 1821 at Aberdeen, aged 56 [ = b 1765 ], St. Nicholas Churchyard ( Tombstone ). Widow, Mrs. Fanny Gordon

    3 Captain William Gordon lived, after his return, from six years in the American war, at Clerkhill in Farr 1804, Fraserburgh 1817-20, d 1834 aged 76, [ = b 1758 ], buried St Nicholas, Aberdeen
    Had sick leave 1781, was due to go back, so travelled to Portsmouth, but there was ‘no suitable vessel ‘. Spent the rest of his army carreer in Scotland.
    He married Ann Grant who d 1834 aged 63, and had children –
    (1) Charles 1790
    (2) Jannet 1791
    (3) Fairly 1792 who visited the Sages at Kildonan in 1813.
    (4) Catharine 1794
    (5) Lauchlina 1796
    (6) Marjory 1798
    (7) Elisabeth 1799
    (8) William Grant Gordon second son, who was born in Farr, June 20 1800. He was educated at Banff and entered the Madras Native Infantry as cadet in 1817.
    He was made Lieutenant in 1818, and served with the 23rd and 2nd regiment. He died in 1824 of cholera at Gooty, and is commemorated by a monument at Madras erected by his brother George
    (9) Johanna 1802
    (10) George Gordon 1804. He became a cadet in the Madras army in 1820 ; and ensign of the 48th N.I.

    4 Fairly Gordon, married (as his second wife) James Anderson who held the farm of Rispond on Loch Erriboll in Durness, where he carried on agricultural, but also commercial speculations and dealt in cod-fishery in which he employed shipping for which he built a pier and founded a village at Rispond.
    A sheep farmer, he was recorded in Brora, Sutherland, in 1773. Afterwards he went to a farm called Kealdale in Lord Reay’s country, close to Rispond, and stayed until 1802.
    He built the house of Rispond and became Lord Reay’s factor. His first wife was Ann Innes
    James Anderson m 1784 Fairly Gordon, the dau of Captain Charles Gordon of Pulrossie, Factor of Reay, and Catherine Sage of Clerkhill, Farr.
    She had five children to him dying on the day the last one was born in 1790
    He gave up Rispond in 1814 to his son James, 2nd of Rispond b.1776 d.1854,
    He then leased the farm of Ausdale/Ousedale in Caithness from Sir John Sinclair, and built a substantial dwelling house, office houses and cultivated the moor,
    Some of his children were born there 1805 – 7.
    He then took a farm in the Orkneys, finally returning with his third wife to Alehouse Hill, Inverugie, near Peterhead, where they both died.
    By his marriage with Fairly Gordon he had
    (1) Captain Charles Anderson of Clerkhill.
    (2) Thomas Anderson, who resided at Stromness.
    (3) Alexa Anderson

    5 Elizabeth Gordon, married an Englishman named Kenneth Todd. who was a businessman in London
    They had at least three daughters –
    (1) Catherine Charlotte Fairley Todd, married Isaac Ketchen,
    (2) Eliza Tod,
    (3) Sarah Ann Tod, all mentioned on a gravestone in Kenal Green Cemetery, London.


    The eldest of Charles’ sons, John Gordon of Swiney was a lieutenant in the army
    He was admitted January 13, 1807, to the Highland Society, to which he sent an article on whin hedges
    Sage says he often spent time with him at his house in Caithness, and afterwards at Fortrose, where he lived for a time to get his children educated.
    He was well informed, and had travelled much on the Continent.
    He is probably the author of a pamphlet, “History of the French National Convention,” ascribed in the British Museum Catalogue to ” I. Gordon of Swiney.”
    The pamphlet is anonymous, dateless, and has no title page, but an MS date “1828 “is inserted in the Museum copy. On page 230 the writer says —
    ” The author travelled in France before and after the Revolution, and conversed with some of the principal men concerned in it, particularly with Dumourier and Tallien.”
    Sage’s remark about Swiney’s culture is borne out by a pamphlet entitled —
    ” A Short History of the Adventures of a London Reviewer,” by John Gordon of Swiney. Second edition. Edinburgh. Published and sold by Alexander Mackay, High Street. 1824.
    The book, which is dedicated to the ” London Reviewers, High and Mighty Lords, &c, &c,” purports to be a series of discussions on the merits of various authors of repute from the days of
    Homer to the time the book was written.
    The persons carrying on the discussions appear under allegorical names, such as Samuel Fairletter, a bookseller ; Edward I’alfleather, a bookseller’s clerk and a punster ;
    the Chieftain Mackbustle-kilt, a Scotch Highlander ; Mactacitus, Livison, and Laboricranium, historians; Stultune Genio, a poet ; Glisverbo, a divine ; and Smitosh, a political writer.
    The reviewer says he was descended from the old Earls of Castle Pillar ! He describes his upbringing under a curate, Meagremeal, who kept a school ;
    his going to Cambridge with two blankets and a cheese ; his descent upon London with the proverbial bundle and stick : his fruitless study of law, &c. ; his turning bookseller and reviewer, &c.
    There are copies of the book in the Advocates’ and Signet Libraries, Edinburgh.

    Lieutenant John Gordon b1755 had children before marriage –
    sbecome major-general, inherited Swiney in 1867, and died in 1868 ???, but that one on scotlandspeople gives father as William
    ( I believe, however that 1, in view of inheritance by James, and 2. a description elsewhere of a natural son of John;’s named James, that these Jameses are one and the same. )
    Lieutenant John Edward Hamilton Gordon b Swinzie 1788/1791, m 1814 in Alderney, Rebecca, dau of Jean Sanford. Lieutenant John Gordon d 1822 in Calcuttar. Rebecca died in Alderney in 1843
    They had children
    John 1815 at Alderney ( is this John Mackay Gordon who inherited Swiney in 1867 from Major-general James Gordon , then died in 1868 )
    Sophie Marguerite 1816 at Alderney
    George Montague 1819 at Newry ( who inherited Swiney in 1868, and then sold it in 1877 )
    McKay 1822 at Calcutta
    Margaret Gordon 1793 ( m 1819 John Gunn )
    Katherine Gordon 1795 ( Katharne/Catherine died at Fortrose )
    Henry Mackay Gordon 1797 ( or simply Mackay Gordon who had 2 children before emigrating, he d 6/12/1870 Cordoba, Argentina, ( see separate file )
    ( Eric(k) Gordon b 1826 who appears in Swiney House in 1841 – on scotlandspeople as Erick Mckay Sweney, father Gordon Sweney )
    ( James Gordon baptised aged 2 1/2 in 1828 – on scotlandspeople as James Swiney, parents Gordon Swiney and Christian Nicol )
    ( James becomes a blacksmith at Newtown of Sordale, Latheron, with family inc. in 1861, Christiana Nicol, mother age 60 )
    Fairley Gordon 1799 ( married William Young, town-clerk of Fortrose, where John Gordon took his family to be educated )

    In 1803 in Latheron, John Gordon b 1755 m Emelia/Amelia Robertson b 1770. Possible father John R, but no record, possibly Alexander.

    Children after marriage
    Elizabeth Diana Gordon b 1803 in Latheron, d 1822 in Edinburgh
    George Sinclair Gordon b 1805 in Latheron ( m Catherine Nicol born c 1803 )
    ( Father of Caroline Amelia Gordon b 1825 in Swiney, East Clyth, Latheron )
    Charles Gordon b 1808 in Latheron m Esther Gibson b abt 1809
    Catherine Gordon b in Latheron, d 1846
    Margaret Gordon ( See the grave on )
    ( In memory of John Gunn, Reisgill, Lieutenant RN, died 27th August 1838. )
    ( His wife Margaret Gordon, daughter of John Gordon of Swiney died 21st April 1886. ( scotlandspeople gives 1888 ) she was b 1793 )
    ( And of Emily Gunn their eldest daughter who died 8th November 1890. )
    ( Separately, next grave up, their son )
    ( Sacred to the memory of John Gunn Esq, Surgeon, RN, eldest son late John Gunn of Reisgill, died at Edinburgh 8th Febuary 1864 )
    ( after 3 years intense suffering born with perfect patience, My days are passed away as swift ships Job XIX 26. My redeemer liveth Job XIX 25. )
    William Welling Gordon, son of John Gordon and Emily Robertson, b 17 Jun 1811 Rosemarkie, ( after the Gordons moved to live there )
    ( William Gordon died in 19/8/1840 in Kingston ” Upper Canada ” )

    In 1832/1833 John Gordon successfully contested the role of ‘ curator bonis ‘ obtained locally by John Gunn, complaining in the Court of Session that he was capable of running his own affairs,
    and that Gunn had not allowed sufficient money to cover previous family expenditure, which was less than the income from the estate
    See three files ‘ Gordon v Gunn ‘

    John Gordon d 22 Jul 1834 in Swiney House, Latheron, is buried in Latheron Old Cemetery
    ( Three graves in one enclosure, mostly illegible )
    In memory of.Catherine Gordon died May 1846 daughter of John Gordon of Swiney.
    John Gordon of Swiney died 22nd July 1834 aged 79. [ = b 1755 ]
    Wife Emily Robertson died 7th Febuary 1852.
    ( when old Mrs Gordon died she left everything to be shared amongst her son Charles’ children )

    Pigot’s directory 1837 –
    Captain James Gordon R.E., Swiney ( and Lieutenant John Gunn, Swiney )

    Major-General James Gordon, RE.,of Swiney.
    See above for parentage – probably John Gordon’s first son.
    He joined the Royal Engineers as ensign July 11, 1808 ; became lieutenant June 2+ 1809 ; captain September 1, 1813) major January 10, 1837 ; lieutenant – colonel March 31, 1838 ;
    colonel November 11, 1851 ; major-general October 27, 1855, retiring on full pay. He took part in the attack on the Castle of Scyla, June, 1809,
    and the siege and capture of Santa Maura, March, 1810 (Hart’s ” Army List,” 1861).
    In 1861 Rtd.Major-General James Gordon aged 71, born Creich, Sutherland, is an unmarried lodger in Swiney Inn
    He died suddenly at 32 Saxe Coburg Place, Edinburgh, April 5, 1867

    His estate totted up, ran to 16 pages of effects – £11,000 in Scotland, £18000 in England
    Mostly in bank acounts and stocks and shares and rents due
    The first irem was “hearing apparel £5”
    Included in the rentals was £45 by Donald Gunn for Swiney Mains farm
    £5400 came from shares in the Indian Railway

    The witnesses to this were Thomas Inglis a legal official, and one of the executors, William Gunn, surgeon and deputy inspector-general of the Royal Navy
    The other surviving executor was Mrs Margaret Gunn or Gordon
    ( and also, but both deceased, her husband lieutenant John Gunn of the Royal Marines and John Gunn ex surgeon in the Royal Navy on Thunder

    Confirmation of the estate is required in favour of the deponent and Mrs Gordon or Gunn
    I take this to mean the they inherited

    Children of William Gordon, all b Latheron – I don’t know if / how this family is related to the Swiney family, but William is NOT the one who was a son of Charles of Clerkhill
    John 1786
    Esther 1791
    James 1791 – is this the James who inherited from the first John Gordon ?
    William 1793
    Ann 1796
    Margaret 1798


    John Mackay Gordon inherited next. He lived in America, died in 1868.

    See for land owned by John M Gordon – inc the hill occupied by fairies – Bigcus Hill – Cnoc Vigas

    He was suceeded by his brother George Montague Gordon


    1841 Swiney
    GORDON Amelia 70 Independent John’s widow
    GORDON Charles 30 Independent son of John and Amelia
    GORDON Catherine 20 Independent dau of John and Amelia
    GORDON Eric 14 Agricultural Labourer son of Henry Mackay Gordon
    GORDON George 16 Agricultural Labourer don’t know ( but NOT George the son of Robert Gordon and Catharine McPherson, b 1826 Halkirk.)
    GORDON Caroline 15 Female Servant dau of George Sinclair Gordon b 1805 ( and per her death cert, as dau of Catherine, m.s. Nicol )
    b 1825 Swiney, d 1914 Georgemas
    GUNN Peter 15 Peter McDonald Gunn, son of J Gunn, Latheron, 1825
    GUNN Janet 35 Female Servant ? dau of Donald Gunn ?
    Mcinzie Mckay 10 Male Servant Mckay Gordon McKenzie, b 1826, son of Marcus McKenzie ( and twin of Sinclair McKenzie – See below )

    1841 Smerral, Lybster, Latheron
    GORDON George 35 Army Pensioner b Outside Census County
    GORDON Elen 35
    GORDON Jolly 4
    GORDON John 2
    GORDON Margaret 8

    1851 Croft, Latheron
    GORDON George Head 48 Chelsea Pensioner & Farmer 3 Acres b Kildonan, Suherland
    GORDON Helen Wife 47 Pensioner & Farmer’s Wife
    GORDON Jolly Dau 15 Scholar Enumerated as male, changed to female
    GORDON John Son 13 Scholar
    GORDON George Son 8 Pensioner & Farmer’s Son

    1851 Swiney
    GORDON Mrs Head 82 widow ( Amelia – she d 1852 )
    GORDON William Grnson 5 Scholar b Halkirk
    GUNN Janet Servnt 57 House Servant
    GUNN Isabella Servnt 55 Dairymaid
    Sutherland Margaret Servnt 21 House Servant
    Levach Esther Servnt 17 House Servant
    Henderson George Servnt 16 Cowherd
    Mackay William Servnt 17 Student (Orig: Scholar)

    Mrs Emily Gordon died in 1852 aged 80
    1841 Dalnaglatan, Halkirk
    GIBSON Peter 45 Agricultural Labourer b Outside Census County
    GIBSON Mary 40 b Outside Census County
    GIBSON Esther 20 b Outside Census County would marry Charles Gordon
    GIBSON Hellen 15 b Outside Census County
    GIBSON John 13 b Outside Census County
    GIBSON Joseph 11 b Outside Census County
    GIBSON Mary 6 b Caithness
    GIBSON Margt 4 b Caithness
    – N K 2m Name not known b Caithness
    Gunn Catherine 60 b Outside Census County

    [ after the 1841 census date ] Charles GORDON m Esther GIBSON in Halkirk in 1841

    1851 Crescent St., Halkirk
    GORDON Charles Head 42 Agent On Trust Estate b Latheron son of John and Amelia, married Esther Gibson in 1841
    GORDON Esther Wife 30 Wife Of Agent b Tongue
    GORDON Agnes Dau 10 Scholar b Halkirk d 1906 Halkirk
    GORDON John Son 8 Scholar b Halkirk b 1842
    GORDON Peter Son 3 Scholar At Home b Halkirk
    GORDON Alexander Son 1 b Halkirk
    Henderson Janet Servnt 17 House Servant b Thurso

    1861 Church Street, Halkirk as “GARDON”
    Charles GARDON Head 52 b Latheron Farmer Out Of Farm ( Charles b 1810, mother Robertson, died Halkirk 1865 )
    Hester Wife 40 b Tongue ( Esther )
    William W Son 15 Scholar b Latheron
    Peter Son 13 Scholar b Halkirk
    Alexr R Son 11 Scholar b Halkirk
    Charles Son 7 Scholar b Halkirk
    James Son 4 b Halkirk
    Agnes C A Dau 3 b Halkirk d 1862
    Mary E F Dau 1 b Halkirk
    Helen Dau 2m b Halkirk

    1871 Halkirk
    GORDON William W Head 24 Merchant’s Clerk b Latheron
    GORDON Esther Mother 49 Farmer’s W. b Tongue ( Charles’ widow )
    GORDON Charles Brothr 18 Post Messenger b Halkirk
    GORDON James Brothr 16 Scholar b Halkirk
    GORDON Agnes C A Sister 13 Scholar b Halkirk
    GORDON Mary Sister 11 Scholar b Halkirk
    GORDON George S Brothr 7 Scholar b Halkirk

    1881 Halkirk
    GORDON Esther Head 58 Farmer’s Widow b Tongue

    GORDON Charles Son 27 Post Messenger b Halkirk
    GORDON Agnes C A Dau 23 Formerly Teacher b Halkirk
    GORDON George S Son 17 Student (Orig: Scholar) b Halkirk


    1847 Swiney Estate, Latheron. The right Hon. Robert Dunbar/Latheronwheel, Sir John Sinclair/ Dunbeath and Barrock House and Chas. Gordon Esq./ Swiney house
    being trustees of the estate of late John Gordon Esq. Of Swiney. Applied for loan of £1000/ land drainage scheme

    1851/1861 ? no Gordons at Swiney ?
    In 1851, see below, Caroline is married to Donald Nicolson and has family

    From 1855 valuation roll –
    Colonel James Gordon, Proprietor Feachers House And Croft Reesgill and of Part of the Farm of Sinney
    Mrs Margaret Gunn or Gordon, Tenant Occupier Part of the Farm of Sinney and of Farm of Rusgill

    From 1865 valuation roll –
    The whole estate is listed farm by farm etc, owned by Major James / Major-General James Gordon, who also occupies Swiney Mains Farm

    1874 Mrs George Montague Gordon gave birth to a son in Richmond, Georgia, USA

    1875 the list of farms is now owned by George Montague GORDON, who is also shown as occupier of Swiney Inn and Swiney Farm
    The exception is Riesgill which is still owned by Margaret GUNN ( born 1793, the dau of John GORDON )

    1876 – For sale by public auction in the Temperance Hall, furniture of G.M. Gordon esq. Of Swiney ( now abroad ) by Alex Sinclair auctioneer Wick.
    1876 – Swiney and Munsary Estate ( Latheron/Watten ) to be sold in Dowells rooms Edinburgh, approx 9000 acres.

    1877 – Swiney and Munsary Estate Purchased by the Duke of Portland from Mr. Gordon for £40000


    ( This is a bit irrevelant, but is the family of Mckay Gordon McKenzie, see above at Swiney in 1841 )

    1841 Beinachieldt, Latheron
    MCKENZIE Marcus 50 Ag, Lab. b 1789, son of George MacKenzie, married Margaret Forbes in 1812, d 1868 aged 80
    MCKENZIE Margt 50
    MCKENZIE Donald 20
    MCKENZIE Janet 15
    MCKENZIE Catherine 8
    MCKENZIE Anne 4

    1851 Laidhevach, Latheron
    MCKENZIE Marcus Head 60 Agricultural Labourer
    MCKENZIE Margaret Wife 58 Gen. Serv.
    MCKENZIE Donald Son 30 Agricultural Labourer
    MCKENZIE Emily Dau 28 General Servant
    MCKENZIE Janet Dau 25 Agricultural Labourer
    MCKENZIE Sinclair Son 23 Student (Orig: Scholar) ( twin of Mckay Mcinzie 10 Male Servant at Swiney in 1841 )
    MCKENZIE Catherine Dau 18 Agricultural Labourer
    MCKENZIE Ann Dau 14 Net Weaver

    1861 Tod Holes, Latheron
    MCKENZIE Marcus Head 69 Rd. Stone Breaker
    MCKENZIE Margaret Wife 68 Rd. Stone Breaker’s Wife
    MCKENZIE Donald Son 48 Cattle Herd C
    MCKENZIE Ann Dau 20 Herring Net Maker
    MCKENZIE Sinclair Son 28 Section Man
    Munro Sinclair Grndau 6

    1871 Benchielt, Latheron
    MCKENZIE Margaret Head 78 Cottager b Swiney
    MCKENZIE Anne Dau 30 General Servant (Domestic)
    Munro Sinclair Grndau 16 Scholar
    Peterkin George S Grnson 4 b Forse
    MCKENZIE Hugh Sonlaw 44 Shepherd b Dunbeath
    MCKENZIE Janet Dau 45 Shepherd’s Wife b Swiney
    MCKENZIE Janet G. Grndau 6 Scholar b Forse
    MCKENZIE Alexanderina Grndau 4 b Forse

    1871 Upper Latheron
    MCKENZIE Sinclair Head 43 Labourer b Swiney
    MCKENZIE Jamesina Wife 33 b Forse
    MCKENZIE Christina E Dau 8 Scholar
    MCKENZIE Margaret Dau 6 Scholar
    MCKENZIE Jessie H Dau 4
    MCKENZIE Sinclair A Son 1



    Re Gunns of Reisgill or Swiney, the property of the Gordons, previously the first laird Lieutenant Gordon, notable for the number of his children –
    Margaret Gordon m in 1819 in Thurso Lieutenant John Gunn, merchant Swiney, who in 1821 became the first president of the Gunn Society

    1841 Lybster
    GUNN Margaret 45 Independent dau of John Gordon and Amelia ( Margaret’s husband John had died 1838 )
    GUNN Amelia 15
    GUNN John 15 Cl = clerk ( appears to have qualified as a surgeon, joined the R.N., and had died before his mother )
    GUNN James 15
    GUNN Catherine 10
    GUNN Dianna 10
    GUNN Charlotte 9
    GUNN Hellen 9
    GUNN Margaret 8
    GUNN Helen C Dau 20
    GUNN Margaret Dau 19
    GUNN Camilla I Dau 15 b Glasgow

    1851 Riesgill, Latheron
    GUNN Margaret Head 55 Occupier of 100 acres employing 3 labourers
    GUNN Catherine Dau 24
    GUNN E D G Dau 23 Unsure of initials – [ will be Emilia ] – she m George Cormack in 1857
    GUNN Georgeina C Dau 20
    GUNN Helen C Dau 20
    GUNN Margaret Dau 19
    GUNN Camilla I Dau 15 b Glasgow
    Sutherland May Servnt 45 Domestic Servant b Halkirk
    Sutherland Betty Servnt 46 Domestic Servant
    Taylor Elisabeth Servnt 26 Domestic Servant

    The Gunns are dispersed, but out of interest there are two Marcus Gunns
    GUNN Marcus Head 36 Farmer Shinvall
    GUNN Marcus Head 77 Farmer Goltclay ( remember the fairy hill )
    And even a Marcusina 29 labourer in Mid Clyth

    Margaret Gunn ( nee Gordon ) died in Edinburgh in 1886. She left her estate for her daughters
    Emelia, Catherine, Elisabeth, Georgina , Helen and Margaret to be trustees. The estate of about £2000 was intended to protect her children and grandchildren,
    but a legacy to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary was also intended in memory of her son John Gordon surgeon in the Royal Navy.

    Lord Low of the Court of Session found in a favour of a petition ‘by Miss Catherine Gunn of Reisgill, Lybster, Caithness and the other surviving daughters of Lieutenenat Gunn of Reisgill
    and Mrs Margaret Gordon or Gunn his wife …. under life limitation act for Scotland of 1891, that their brother James Gunn who left this country for New York in or about the year 1855 …
    and their brother Peter Macdonald Gunn who went to New South Wales in the year 1870… last heard of in 1875… shall be both presumed to have died.
    And for the petioners to take over their estates


    Under an entail executed by Mr. Gordon, he was succeeded by his natural son, Major-General James Gordon of Munsary, who died unmarried in 1867.

    Upon his death the succession opened up to John Gordon’s ( 1 ) great-grandson, descended from his eldest son, Lieutenant John Gordon ( 2 )
    John McKay Gordon ( 4 ) of Swiney, grandson of Lieutenant John Gordon ( 2 ) by his only son, John Gordon ( 3 ), died soon after his succession unmarried
    “John Mackay Gordon ( 4 ) of Swiney. Residing in America, he was heir to Major-General James Gordon of Swiney in the lands of Monosane, in the parish of Wattin. Caithness, October 26, 1867;
    also in the lands of Reisgill, Achahow, Golticlay, the manse of Swiney and others on the same date ”
    He died in December 4, 1868, and was succeeded by his brother, George Montagu Gordon.

    Possibly only ( I cannot find much info about him. He is not the one I found in U.S. 1850-1878 )
    George Montague Gordon m Mary Jane Williams
    Daughter May Maud Gordon b 1871 Edinburgh
    I doubt that the Gordon money came down towards theNicolsons

    In Dec 1873 Geoge Montague Gordon petioned the Lords of Council and Session to disentail the lands and estate of Swiney
    INTIMATION is hereby given that GEORGE MONTAGUE GORDON of Swiney, in the County of Caithness, sometime residing in the City of Augusta, County of Richmond, in the State of Georgia,
    in the United States of America, and now or lately residing at Swiney, in the Parish of Latheron and County of Caithness, Heir of Entail in possession of the Entailed Lands of REISGILL, and Others,
    in the County of Caithness, has presented a Petition to the Lords of Council andSession (First Division, Junior Lord Ordinary,-— Mr. Adams, Clerk), in terms of the Acts Eleventh and Twelfth Victoria,
    chapter Thirty-six, and Sixteenth and Seventeenth Victoria, chapter Ninety four, and Thirty-one and Thirty-two Victoria, chapter Eighty-four, and relative Acts of Sederunt,
    for authority to Disentail the said Lands and Estate of Reisgill and Others, in the County of Caithness, now sometimes known as Swiney.
    Date of Interlocutor ordering intimation, Nineteenth dayof December One thousand eight hundred and seventy-three years.
    D. CURROR, S.S.C.,
    Agent of the Petitioner.
    India Buildings, Edinburgh,
    I think that this is George preparing to sell Swiney.

    1875 directory – Swiney House : Lybster : George Montague Gordon of Swiney
    George Montagu Gordon of Swiney sold the estate in 1877 to the Duke of Portland.

    1885 directory – Donald Gunn, farmer, Swiney Mains, Lybster, and various Gunns are tenants of most of the estate
    The owner of all is the Duke of Portland

    Swiney was owned by in 1903 by the Duke of Portland K.G., P.C., G.C.V.O.

  3. have taken a copy – adds a bit to what I know (we corresponded). you have omitted the 3 youngest children of Chas Gordon’s son Capt Wm Gordon, viz Granville bapt.1807, Ann bapt.1808, and John bapt.1811. I am currently trying to contact for DNA purposes a family of male-line descendants of this John – about a dozen people from a funeral notice of c.1970 – but they are being incredibly hard to get hold of. best wishes.

  4. not sure how these things work as not experienced in social media!
    I commented to Peter Aikman, a correspondent of mine, but would also like to comment to Bunty Gunn, who gave me a very pleasant lunch at Swiney House many years ago when I was researching Gordon families in Sutherland and Caithness. I believe John Gordon of Swiney was a first cousin of my ancestor Adam Gordon of Griamachary through the latter’s mother. I can well imagine what a cold house it could be in the winter!. Best wishes.

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