Gower, Sutherland-Leveson- family, Dukes of Sutherland
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The wool merchant James Leveson (d. 1549) acquired the monastic estates of Trentham Priory (Staffordshire) and Lilleshall Abbey (Shropshire) between 1537 and 1543 as well as other property in Staffordshire (such as Wolverhampton, from the Duke of Norfolk, in 1531, and Penn and Rowley Somery c.1540) and Shropshire (including Leegomery, from the Audley family, c.1528, and Sheriff Hales, from the Earl of Oxford, in 1546). Walter Leveson bought a moiety of Newport (Shropshire) in 1579. On the death of Sir Richard Leveson of Trentham in 1605, these estates came to Sir Richard Leveson of Halling (Kent) (d. 1661), a descendant of James Leveson’s brother Nicholas Leveson (d. 1539), who had purchased Halling and acquired an Essex estate (Black Notley) by marriage. Sir Richard Leveson alienated the Kent and Essex estates between 1627 and 1650, and on his death in 1661 his Trentham and Lilleshall estates were inherited by Sir William Leveson-Gower (d. 1691), youngest son of his niece Frances Leveson by Sir Thomas Gower, 2nd Bt, of Stittenham (Yorkshire, North Riding). In 1689, on the death of his nephew the 3rd Bt, Leveson-Gower succeeded to the baronetcy and to Stittenham, which had been owned by the Gower family since the 12th century. His son was created Baron Gower in 1703 and his grandson Earl Gower in 1746.
Through the marriage of the 4th Bt to Lady Jane Granville, aunt and co-heir in her issue of the 3rd Granville Earl of Bath (d. 1711), the 1st Earl Gower inherited a portion of the Granville estates in Devon and Cornwall and a reversionary interest in the estates (including Grindon, Staffordshire) of Elizabeth, 2nd Duchess of Albemarle, who died in 1734 (see Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Dukes of Buccleuch). This inheritance seems, however, to have been largely disposed of by 1760.
George Granville Leveson-Gower (1758-1833) succeeded his father as 2nd Marquess of Stafford (so created 1786) in 1803 and was raised to the dukedom of Sutherland in 1833. He married in 1785 Elizabeth Gordon, in her own right Countess of Sutherland, daughter of the 18th Earl of Sutherland by Mary, daughter and co-heir of William Maxwell of Preston (Kirkcudbrightshire). The Earls of Sutherland were established in Sutherland in the 13th century and by the 16th century owned extensive property in the east of the county, centred on Dunrobin, including Golspie, Dornoch, Brora and Helmsdale. Aboyne (Aberdeenshire) came through the marriage of Elizabeth, sister of the 9th Earl (d. 1514), to Adam Gordon but was exchanged with the Earl of Huntly for Strathnaver (Sutherland). The Sutherland estate was extended by the purchase of Skelbo in 1787, the property of the Gordon family of Carrol (Gordonbush, etc) in 1812, Armadale and Strathy in 1813, and the West Sutherland lands of the Barons Reay (Tongue, etc) in 1829.
On the death of his uncle the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater in 1803, the 1st Duke of Sutherland inherited the Bridgewater estates in Northamptonshire and Lancashire, together with the canal property and Bridgewater House (London), with remainder to his second son Francis Leveson-Gower, who was created Earl of Ellesmere in 1846 (see Egerton, Earls of Ellesmere).
In 1849 an estate in Ross-shire entered the family on the marriage of the 3rd Duke with Anne, in her own right Countess of Cromartie, the daughter of John Hay-Mackenzie of New Hall and Cromartie. At her death in 1888, however, this property and her title passed by special remainder to her second surviving son Francis, 2nd Earl of Cromartie.
The Staffordshire and Shropshire estates were consolidated by piecemeal purchase between the 16th and the 19th century. Borough electoral influence in Staffordshire came with acquisitions at Newcastle-under-Lyme (in the late 17th and early 18th century) and Lichfield (in the mid-18th century), but these interests were disposed of before 1832, the latter to Lord Anson. Between 1912 and 1917 the Yorkshire and Shropshire estates and Stafford House (London, bought 1827) were sold and Trentham House was demolished, though estates in Staffordshire and Scotland were retained and Sutton Place (Surrey) was acquired c.1919 as a residence. On the death of the 5th Duke in 1963 the family estates passed to his niece Elizabeth, who became in her own right Countess of Sutherland, but his cousin the 5th Earl of Ellesmere succeeded as 6th Duke of Sutherland.
Bill Hill (Berkshire) was purchased in 1734 by Mary, Countess of Harold, who married the 1st Earl Gower as his third wife in 1736. On her death in 1785 it was inherited by her son the Hon. John Leveson-Gower, to whose heirs it passed.
Estates in 1883: Salop 17,495 acres, Staffs 12,744 acres, Yorks NR 1,853 acres; Sutherland 1,176,454 acres, Ross-shire 149,999 acres; total 1,358,545 acres worth £141,667 a year.
|Sources of authority:||Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, Guide to Principal Estate and Family Collections L-W, 1999.|
|Name authority reference:||GB/NNAF/F84049 (Former ISAAR ref: GB/NNAF/F10802 )|
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