Friday, August 12, 2016

Clan Sutherland - George Murray

Despite their name, this Murray family were not part of the Clan Murray in Atholl but were in fact a sept of the Clan Sutherland, whose chiefs were the Earls of Sutherland  ] The Earls of Sutherland were originally a family named "de Moravia", meaning "of Moray" or "of Murray" and shared a common ancestor with the chiefs of the Clan Murray in Atholl. The Murrays of Aberscross or Aberscors seem to have arrived in Sutherland in 1198.

According to Straviaging around Scotland:

Aberscors was the seat of the Murray family, a sept of Clan Sutherland, who seem to have arrived in Sutherland in 1198.

Being closely connected to the Earls of Sutherland, the Murrays of Aberscors (also spelt Moray or Morray) assisted them in various clan issues.

In 1518 Adam Gordon, the husband of Elizabeth, the 10th Countess of Sutherland, sent John Moray of Aberscors and Alexander Leslie of Kinninuvy to besiege Dunrobin Castle which had been occupied by Alexander Sutherland during a dispute over the Earldom of Sutherland.

The same year Gordon offered Janet and Elizabeth Clyne, heiresses of William Clyne of Clyne, to the sons of Moray for marriage, as a reward for Moray's loyalty. However Moray didn't accept, although the reason why is unknown.

In 1561 Hugh Murray of Aberscors killed a member of the Siol Thomas family, one Iver Mackean-Mack-Thomas, which enraged John Gordon, the 11th Earl of Sutherland. Murray fled to Caithness, seeking refuge from George Sinclair, the 4th Earl of Caithness.

The Earl of Sutherland suspected that Hugh's father, Hucheon, might also have been involved, so imprisoned Hucheon in Dunrobin Castle. He was later released and set about reconciling his son with the Earl of Sutherland.

In 1624 John Murray of Aberscors sold some land to James Sutherland of Duffus, but not Aberscors itself it would seem.

Aberscors appears as Abirscors on Robert Gordon's map which may have been published as early as 1636 (see image below) and also in Blaeu's Atlas of 1654 (see image at the top of the page).

Sutherland, Strath Okel and Strath Charron

The castle apparently fell into ruin during the 17th century, although there is a reference from 1671 in estate papers belonging to the Earls of Sutherland detailing an appeal made to Lord Strathnaver by Margaret Payne, married to a Murray, complaining that people were stealing peat and turf from Aberscors.

Aberscors doesn't appear on Herman Moll's map created before 1732, or on Roy's map, created between 1747 and 1755, and nothing now remains of the castle, although it falls within a deserted settlement.

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