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Re: "Wicked Earl George"

Hi Cousins,
    There is great doubt that the story of the Master of Sinclair dying in a
Girnigoe Dungeon. It was written by Gordon who had an axe to grind with the
Sinclairs as his Chief was Sutherland and at that time Sinclair and
Sutherland were not getting along.  There is much spurious history
attributed to the North because of Gordon.  There is ample evidence to show
the Master of Sinclair (oldest son) lived his last years in Knockinnon
Castle, staying out of the way of his father.  He was a gentle soul and his
father was not.  The Master is buried in the Sinclair Aisle in th Wick
Churchyard.  One must be careful to note who is writing the History.
            Yours Aye, David
-----Original Message-----
From: rhuseth <rhuseth@ibm.net>
To: sinclair@jump.net <sinclair@jump.net>
Date: Tuesday, June 29, 1999 12:47 PM
Subject: "Wicked Earl George"

>Sinclair's recent note about "A Sinclair defeat at Altgawn" involving
>Sinclair, the 5th Earl of Caithness, and recent discussions about the
>Sinclair heritage, remind me that some of the Sinclairs were less than
>honorable people, including George the 4th Earl and his grandson George the
>Earl.  James T. Calder, in his book "Sketch of the Civil and Traditional
>History of Caithness from the 10th Century" writes:
>"The late George, Earl of Caithness, was succeeded by his grandson, George,
>of the Master of Caithness, who died in prison at Girnigoe.  This George
>inherited much of the talents of his grandfather, with, if possible,
>cruelty of disposition.  In the traditional history of the county, he is
>by way of distinction the 'Wicked Earl George;' and his conduct in many
>respects shows that the appellation was no misnomer.
>He signalized his accession to the earldom by deliberately killing, in
>day, David and Ingram Sinclair, the two principal keepers of his late
>David lived at Keiss, and Ingram at Wester.  Ingram's daughter was to be
>married, and a large party, including his lordship, was invited to the
>wedding.  On the afternoon of the day fixed for the marriage, as the Earl
>taking an airing on horseback, he met David on the Links of Keiss, on his
>to Wester, and ran him through with his sword.  Immediately on doing so, he
>galloped over to Wester, and calling Ingram aside--who was at the time
>himself with some friends at foot-ball--he drew out a pistol and shot him
>on the spot.  He then coolly turned his horse's head towards Girnigoe, and
>off with as little concern as if he had merely killed a brace of moor-fowl.
>There was, strictly speaking, no law in the county at the time; and being a
>great nobleman, and possessed of ample power of 'pit and gallows,' he
>with impunity.  The crime seems to have been winked at; and, doubtless,
>dread of a similar fate, never made the subject of complaint by the
>of the murdered parties.
>Sir Robert Gordon's version of the story differs a good deal from the
>account, which is derived from the Caithness tradition.  He says that 'the
>Earl, after dinner, without any other preamble,' slew the two brothers
>they were amusing themselves at foot-ball, having previously secreted their
>weapons, so that they might have nothing wherewith to defend themselves.
>the reason,' he adds, 'that moved Earl George to kill them, was because
>favored the Earl of Sutherland.'   This is not at all likely.  The true
>beyond a doubt, was revenge for their having been instrumental in the
murder of
>his father, the late Master of Caithness.  This, in his opinion, justified
>deed; and it certainly must be allowed to plead as an extenuating
>in the commission of a crime otherwise the most atrocious and cold-blooded
>can be conceived.
>Tradition adds that during the alarm and confusion caused by this shocking
>affair, the company dispersed, and the wedding ring was lost.  Not many
>since, a finger ring of a curious construction--supposed to be the
>wedding ring--was found at Wester.  It was of pre gold, twisted so as to
>represent a serpent coiled, with his tail in his mouth, an emblem of
>Calder continues with other "adventures" of  Wicked Earl George, but
>on a softer note:
>"George, Earl of Caithness, distinguished by the not very flattering title
>the 'Wicked Earl George,' died in the month of February this year, aged 79.
>His son, William, Lord Berriedale, died a few years before him.  Earl
>by his tyrannical conduct, had procured himself many enemies, and it is
>possible that his faults may have been thereby much exaggerated.  Some of
>crimes at least with which he was charged were never fully proved against
>and it is clear, from the whole course of his history, that he had a very
>bitter enemy in Sir Robert Gordon. 'The quietness and moderation,' says
>'with which he appears to have conducted himself during the last twenty
>of his life plead strongly in his favor.'"
>Richard Huseth
>Austin, Texas
>See my Scotland, Alaska Hwy, and Alaska photography
>at http://rhuseth.home.texas.net
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