George Leveson-Gower, 1st Duke of Sutherland

George Leveson-Gower, 1st Duke of Sutherland

George Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Duke of Sutherland, KG, PC (9 January 1758 – 19 July 1833) was the son of the 1st Marquess of Stafford. He is estimated to have been the wealthist man of the nineteenth-century, surpassing even that of Nathan Rothschild. The precise value of his estate at death is unknown, as is was simply classed as 'upper value'. He was described by Charles Greville as a "leviathan of wealth" and "...the richest individual who ever died".

He married Elizabeth Sutherland, 19th Countess of Sutherland, daughter of William Sutherland, 18th Earl of Sutherland and the former Mary Maxwell, on 4 September 1785. They had four surviving children:

*George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 2nd Duke of Sutherland,(1786–1861)
*The Lady Charlotte Sophia Leveson-Gower (c. 1788–1870), married Henry Fitzalan-Howard, 13th Duke of Norfolk and had issue.
*The Lady Elizabeth Mary Leveson-Gower (1797–1891), married Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess of Westminster and had issue.
*Francis Leveson-Gower (later Egerton) 1st Earl of Ellesmere, (1800–1857)

He was invested as a Privy Counsellor in 1790, a Knight of the Garter in 1806 and was created Duke of Sutherland on 28 January 1833. He is perhaps most well-known for his role in carrying out the Highland Clearances, where thousands of tenants, including the elderly and infirm, were forced out of their homes, which were often burned down, in order to make way for sheep. [cite web|url=|title=George Granville Leveson-Gower (1st Duke of Sutherland)|work=Gazeteer for Scotland|accessdate=2008-02-01]

The clearances, described by some commentators as a form of ethnic cleansing, [Noble, Ross [ "The Cultural Impact of the Highland Clearances"] BBC History. Retrieved 7 July 2008.] were undertaken between 1811 and 1820. At first they involved relocations from Assynt to coastal villages on the assumption that farmers could take up fishing. Later when the consequences of these actions became clear, the evictions were met with opposition, which was ruthlessly repressed. Resentment mounted when one of his factors was acquitted of murder and then took over one of the massive sheep farms the evictions created. Condemnation was widespread and the Highlanders' grievances were heard in the British House of Commons. However, little was done in practice to prevent the emptying of the glens. [Mackie, J. D. (1970) "A History of Scotland". Middlesex. Penguin. p. 217.]

In 1837 a large monument, known locally as the "Mannie", was erected on Ben Bhraggie near Golspie to commemorate the Duke's life. [ [ " The First Duke of Sutherland"] Retrieved 1 February 2008.] The existence of this statue has been the subject of some controversy—in 1994, Sandy Lindsay, a former Scottish National Party councillor from Inverness proposed its demolition. He later altered his plan, asking permission from the local council to relocate the statue and replace it with plaques telling the story of the Clearances. Lindsay proposed moving the statue to the grounds of Dunrobin Castle, after the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles declined his offer to take it. [cite news|url=|title=New Plan to Remove, Not Demolish, Duke Statue|work=The Herald|date=1995-12-15|last=Ross|first=David|accessdate=2008-02-02] As of July, 2008, however, the statue still stands.


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