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A Contract of Mutual Friendship in the ’45
Between the Earl of Sutherland and the Lord Reay

THE relations and negotiations of the rebel chiefs of the ’15 and the ’45 have properly received much attention from a number of writers on Scottish History; those of the loyalists are not less interesting and illustrative of the times.

The advent of the year 1745 found quarrels existing between the loyalist lords of the extreme north of Scotland—the Earl of Sutherland and the Lord Reay. The Lord Advocate of the day (Craigie of Glendoick) attributed their dissensions principally to their differences at parliamentary elections. It is possible that other influences were at work. The Dowager Countess of Sutherland declared that Lord Reay was a 'very cuning man,’ and she certainly, and a number of the Earl's real or affected friends were much vexed at the reconciliation between them which followed. But whatever the causes of the dissensions were, the Government was seriously concerned at the discord which existed between two chiefs whose co-operation with each other in the service of King George was so certain to be required, no one knew how soon.

The steps by which the reconciliation was attained were, according to the late Sir William Fraser, initiated by the Earl he says, 'sent Major Hugh Mackay to Tongue on a friendly mission to Lord Reay', The Major reported to the Earl by letter that Lord Reay’s sentiments to him were most friendly, ‘that he had the heartiest disposition to serve the Earl and his family’s real interest on terms on terms equal, honest and honourable on both sides; and that, while regretting they were hindered from doing so for some time past, he was now well pleased that the Earl was disposed to allow them to serve him.’ (Sutherland Book, i. 403, citing Letter 15 July, 1745, Sutherland Charter Chest).

This letter accurately represents Lord Reay’s sentiments. Lord Reay, however, had already taken the initial step by addressing a letter to the Earl in the same strain; and had received from him a friendly reply. Lord Reay’s letter, dated 1 July, 1745, ls printed in vol. ii. of the Sutherland Book, p. 252. He explains that, considering his loyalty and friendship with the Earl’s father and grandfather, he had expected to have shared in their descendant's friendship and confidence as well. The blame of their estrangement he throws on the Earl. He was ready and anxious, however, to bury all differences in oblivion, and had gone so far as to frame certain proposals which, he thought, were equal and honourable to both parties, and which his son George would present whenever the Earl pleased.

For a copy of the Earl’s reply, we are now indebted to Mr. P. W. Campbell, W.S., Principal Clerk of Session.


My Lord,
I have the Honour of your Lordship’s letter of date the first current, setting forth the reasons why I have not for some years past shar’d in your Lordship’s friendship, equallie with my Grandfather and Father, and as I had done myself formerlie; And at the same time desireing an oblivion of past differences and also acquainting me that your Lordship had proposeals readie for my peruseal, as the basis of a reconciliation and lasting friendship, and such as are equallie honourable, and for the interest of both our Families. Your son Mr George who you tell me has these Proposeals, shall be welcome here, and if I find the Terms cquall and honourable for both of us, I shall agree that mutual confidence take place of any Differences that might formerlie have subsisted, and I shall have the pleasure of your Lordship’s friendship, which 1 shall value and endeavour to cultivate by all suiteable returns in my power as my Grandfather and Father did.

I am, My Lord,
Your Lordship’s most humble Servt.,

It was nine days after this that Major Mackay wrote his report of his visit to Tongue, above-mentioned.

The result of these negotiations was a contract of mutual friendship and for mutual action between the Earl and Baron, dated before the expiry of the month. For the terms of the Contract also we are indebted to Mr. Campbell.

Contract of Mutual Friendship in the ’45


At Tongue and Dunrobin the Eighteenth and Twenty Sixth days of July Seventeen hundred and fotty five years, It is mutually agreed and condescended upon berwixt rhe Parties following, vizt., The Right Honourable William Earl of Sutherland on the one Part, and the Right honourable George Lord Reay, on the other Part, As follows, That is to say, Forasmuchas some differences and disputes have arisen between us to our mutual lesion and prejudice, on occasion of the late Election of Members to serve in Parliament for the Shire of Sutherland, and for the District of Northern Burrows; And now seeing We are on both parts very sensible that the honour and interest of both our families will be better promoted and secured by our acting in concert and mutual agreement, than by our pursuing opposite or separate political courses, And considering especially how highly necessary it is that there should be a firm union and confidence between our families in the event of any public disturbance by an Invasion or Rebellion, either or both of which calamities there are but too just grounds to apprehend from the restless malice of foreign and domestic enemies in the present critical conjucture of the affairs of Europe, Therefore and to secure our acting with mutual harmony and uniting the whole strength of both our families and adherents, so as to be able in any public danger to render the more considerable and effectual service to his present Majesty King George the Second, for supporting the succession in the Protestant Line of his most illustrious house, and for securing the present happy Establishment in Church and State, and for defeating the designs of his Majesty’s enemies both open and secret, We do for these and many other weighty-considerations Mutually agree and by the sacred tie and pledge of our word and honour on both sides Bind and Oblige ourselves and our families and friends and followers to each other in manner and to the effect aftermentioned To Wit Primo, That from henceforth we shall bury in everlasting oblivion all differences and misunderstandings that may have unhappily taken place between us before the date of these presents and we promise from and after this date to cultivate a firm and inviolable friendship for the mutual support of the honour and interest of both our families for the future in conjunction with the defence of the present Government in Church and State, And in order to perpetuate such mutual friendship we do agree and promise to each other That in the event of any jealousies or differences arising for the future betwixt us or our successors and families from whatever cause or occasion, and on whatever points of honour or interest, that in such case neither party shall act upon surmise and suspicion to the prejudice of the other, but on the contrary that the party thinking himself aggrieved shall communicate the whole matter of his jealousy to the other, and that both parties sincerely endeavour to have all suspicions of one another and all differences removed in the way of friendly communing and correspondence, and if any difference shall happen to subsist and that method of removing it is attempted in vain, that then it shall be submitted to the arbitration of friends hinc inde. Secundo Whereas by an Act of Parliament Anno Primo Regis Georgii primi Entitulcd an Act for the more Effectual Securing the peace in the Highlands of Scotland, We the said George Lord Reay are freed from all services commonly called personal attendance, hosting, watching, warding, etc., that were formerly due and prestable by us to the Family of Sutherland by virtue of our Charters from them, Yet considering That in the event of any public disturbance the said Noble Earl and We with our vassals and tenants and adherents would be in condition to render more considerable service to his present Majesty, as well as better promote and secure the mutual interest of both our families, by acting in concert and agreement with one another than by taking separate measures in the prosecution of those ends as is above observed, Therefore We, the said George Lord Reay do by these presents bind and oblige ourselves and successors, that in the events above mentioned, we shall raise all our vassals and tenants and others capable to hear arms on our estate, and employ them in conjunction with the said Noble Earl, and his successors and their other vassals and friends and tenants and adherents for the defence of His Majesty, King George the Second and his successors and the present Establishment in Church and State and for the mutual defence and support of both the families of Sutherland and Reay, and our several properties and legal interests, Tertio, It is mutually agreed upon by us the said William Earl of Sutherland and George Lord Reay, and we solemnly promise one to another for ourselves and for our successors and our friends and adherents, that we shall employ' our influence and use our best endeavours in all future elections of Representatives in Parliament in the way of mutual concert and agreement among ourselves so as best to answer the foresaid ends of promoting and securing the mutual interest of both our families in conjunction with our duty to His Majesty and successors and our subserviency to the present Establishment in Church and State In Testimony whereof both parties have subscribed these presents at the places and tunes after written Before these witnesses rexive vizt., To the subscription of us the said George Lord Reay at Tongue the said Eighteenth day of July and year foresaid Major Hugh Mackay of General Ogilthorp’s Regiment, Master George Mackay our second lawful son and Mr James Gilchrist Minister of Thurso, writer hereof, witnesses also to the subscription to the marginal note on page third: And to the subscription of us the said Earl of Sutherland at Dunrobin the said Twenty sixth day of July and year forcsaid the said Major Hugh Mackay and Mr James Gilchrist, witnesses also to his Lordship’s subscribing the marginal note on the preceding page.

Before the Contract was concluded, the Earl had a letter from the Lord Advocate—‘I received with much pleasure the account you send me of the thorow reconciliation between your Lordship and the Lord Rae ... at the same time I hope you’l forgive me to observe that I do not think it was quite proper that your aggreement touching the elections shou’d have been reduced into writeing especially in the way of contract.’ (22 Aug., 1745, Sutherland Book, ii. 253). It was possibly this same provision which offended some of the Earl’s friends.

Lord Reay on 24 August writes again to him — I reckon the many letters your lordship is pleased to acquaint me you get against your joining in friendship with me a double tye on me to exert myself all in my power on every occasion to make you as easy as I can, to convince you of my sincerity and readyness to support your honour and interest, and thereby to shew others how far they are mistaken, for your lordship will still find me your fast friend ' (Sutherland Book, ii. 254).

J. H. Stevenson.

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