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Updated 08/07/2018


Marquess of Stafford
John McAllister

Marquess of Stafford (created 1786) is a subsidiary title of the Duke of Sutherland. Duke of Sutherland is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom which was created by William IV in 1833 for George Leveson-Gower, 2nd Marquess of Stafford. A series of marriages to heiresses by members of the Leveson-Gower family made the Dukes of Sutherland one of the richest landowning families in the United Kingdom. The title remained in the Leveson-Gower family until the death of the 5th Duke of Sutherland in 1963, when it passed to John Egerton, 5th Earl of Ellesmere.

The 1st Duke and Duchess of Sutherland remain controversial for their role in the Highland Clearances, when thousands of tenants were evicted and resettled in coastal villages. This allowed the vacated land to be used for extensive sheep farming, replacing the mixed farming carried out by the previous occupants. This was part of the Scottish Agricultural Revolution. The changes on the Sutherland estate were motivated by two major objectives. The first was to increase the rental income from the estate: sheep farmers could afford much higher rents. The second was to remove the population from the recurrent risks of famine.

The Clearances relied on the insecurity of tenure of most tenants under the Scottish legal system. There was no equivalent of the English system of copyhold, which provided a heritable tenancy for many English counterparts of the Scots who were cleared from their farms. The cumulative effect of the Clearances and the large-scale emigrations over the same period devastated the cultural landscape of Scotland; in the end they destroyed much of Gaelic culture.

The Clearances resulted in significant emigration of Highlanders to the coast, the Scottish Lowlands, and further afield to North America and Australasia.