Searching high. Searching low. I’ve been researching Alexander Sutherland for some time now; I can’t seem to get the man out of my head. I have been scouring the internet for anything to do with the Sutherland surname. Alexander would be my 4th great grandfather who was born June 3,1743 in Sutherland, Caithness, Scotland, and died in the year 1843 in Grayson County, Virginia. I know that he married Margaret Elizabeth Bryan, who was from Culpepper, Virginia sometime in the year of 1784. I’m not sure of the exact date, but I do know it was supposedly during that year. Alexander’s father was Samuel J. Sutherland born 1717 in Scotland and his mother was Jane Barbour born 1719, also in Scotland.

I have heard a few different stories as to how he came to the United States. While in Scotland he served in the British Army. One side of the story tells us that he switched sides and fought for the Revolutionary forces, and another story says that he deserted the British Army, (or even right after the war) to settle in the rugged mountains of Virginia. In my own opinion, I believe he and another man may have deserted and come through the lines of the American Revolutionary soldiers and ended up coming to the mountains of Virginia by way of North Carolina, as the border was very near but were first in Wythe County, Virginia.Wythe County is where he would have met Margaret Elizabeth Bryan, his future wife. Margaret was the sister of a man that Alexander had befriended. Back then the mountains were considered a wilderness, untouched by the people as far as farming and settling this land. Later, Alexander married Margaret, whom the family called “Peggy” (Peggy Bryan). They may not have married in Culpepper, Virginia but in Wythe County. I just have to find proof if there is any.  

I imagine that I will have a pretty difficult time finding any legal documents because at that time during the war, many of the homes and even the courthouse itself, was in fact, burned to the ground. So any records they may have had, were destroyed. 

During the time that Alexander came to America, the Scotland Clearances were in full force; so Alexander inevitably felt that he should join the British Army and come to the states to escape the risk of starvation. The Clearances was the clearing of people from Scottish lands so that sheep could be raised instead. It sounds horrible to let your own people die of starvation in order to raise sheep. The clearances took place in the Highlands, which is where some of the Sutherland family comes from. Some from Caithness; but most others came from the coast to coast band across Scotland.

The Sutherland family actually had their own clan; the Sutherland’s were also intertwined with the Campbell’s, since the Countess of Sutherland married into the Campbell family. 
I recently received an email, name is private, sorry. But in this email, I was told that the Campbell’s are now very close to the Queen of England; and that the original Sutherland Duke was killed by his wife and her family- whose last name was Gordon and the Sutherland Castle is now Dunrobin. But Sinclair Castle, near Edinburgh, is where a lot of Sutherland information is now.

I will definitely be investigating the link between the Sutherland and Campbell families. It seems an interesting story as to how or even why the Sutherland Duke was killed by his own wife and her family. Were they the devious sort, marrying their daughter to a titled man and then killing him off so they could gain his property and the castle itself? Very interesting indeed!

Image Source: Lemons
Photo Credit: Photographer~ James and James

  1. Hello, just randomly researching the mysterious man you seek information on as well. Without a doubt Alexander Sutherland came to the colonies in 1776, probably around Boston (Though a great many soldiers were sent up to Long Island), with the 71st Fraser Highland unit. He was a Captain and as you’ve heard, I’ve heard. He either deserted or switched sides. He was definitely in battles later in the war which makes me believes he elected to stay after the war. In my family (I still hold the Sutherland name) it has always been told that he was given a land grant (I have records of this grant) for a great acreage. In researching myself, it seems that is a common theme in many lines holding his name. Some more common rumors are that his father was a bastard child of one of the Earls of Sutherland and was given money, etc, from him by way of back channels. He was also given land in the colonies, which he requested to be split up among is children. It, apparently, was given by the Duke of York. Some things dictate that him being an officer in the military at that time would deem him not cut of common cloth.

    Not sure if you still follow this blog, or not, but thought I would chime in. Cheers.

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