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History Of Caithness
J T Calder

Introduction by Bill Fernie
Since Caithness.org has grown to contain ever more information on all aspects of the county it has seemed more and more likely that there is sufficient interest to deal with Caithness history on a larger scale.  Many topics are covered by articles from Caithness Field Club Bulletins.  However, although there are many books covering aspects of Caithness history both more recent and in the distant past few have the breadth and coverage of Calder's History of Caithness.  Even though the second Edition was published in 1887 and as J T Calder himself says the work is gleaned from a variety of sources available at the time and put into a chronological order and written up it is still one of the most comprehensive works on Caithness.   We also have many photographs of Caithness with which to illustrate many of the places mentioned by Calder as in our Castle Section.  Chapter V is therefore already complete. 

It is worth bearing in mind when reading this history that it is written in a somewhat old fashioned style and may have references or attitudes that prevailed at the time and would not be held now.  Certain prejudices held by the author may be objectionable to modern day readers.  Bear in mind that the writer is in the second part of the nineteenth century and his references to the here and now are long past.

We will begin with page one and add Prefaces and list of contents later to match each chapter as work progresses.  As with the Caithness Castles links will be made to other sources where appropriate and to other information already on Caithness.org 

Please feel free to send in any comments on the text or point out errors.  email bill@caithness.org

9 November 2003
PEDIGREE OF JOHN SINCLAIR, ESQUIRE OF BARROCK

17 April 2003
Appendix 5  - The Earls Of Caithness Of The Sinclair Family

Appendix 5 - Pedigree of the Mey Family

Index to J.T.Calder's "Sketch of the...  
Index to J.T.Calder's "Sketch of the Civil and Traditional History of Caithness from the Tenth Century" 2nd Edition with Historical Notes by Thomas Sinclair M.A Published by William Raw,Wick,1887  by Sara-Jayne Donaldson  - Researcher and Genealogist
You can order it direct from  -
Sara-Jayne Donaldson,  3 The Crescent, Glengolly KW14 7XL.
10 (1-05 2nd and 1-30 1st class)  Overseas email Sara at  SJDancestry@aol.com to check postage.

18 March 2003
More Appendix Pages Added
Valuation of the County in 1760 and 1798
Earls of Caithness of the Sinclair Family after separate Earldom
Armorial Bearings of the Earls of Caithness
Pedigree of the Mey Family

Nearly 100 pages still to come.......................................

17 March 2003
Appendix 3  - Extracts From Old Inventories Of the Titles Of the Estate Of Malcolm Groat Of Warse
the publication of the History has fallen a bit behind schedule.    Not a very exciting part of the history so far but contains some interesting items and shows the detaisl of record keeping in use hundreds of years ago.

9 October 2002
Appendix 2
EXTRACTS FROM OLD INVENTORIES OF THE TITLES OF THE ESTATE OF MALCOLM GROAT OF WARSE.

A fairly mundane listing of titles and who left what to whom.  It has some old language and abbreviations that take a bit of understanding but if you persevere you will mange some of them.  Perhaps someone will one day supply an up to date version for faster reading.

7 September 2002
Appendix 2 - Dwelling houses, Dress, Etc

3 September 2002
Appendix 2  - Superstition In Caithness

A short section mentioning superstition and witches in Caithness.

29 August 2002
Appendix 2 - Memoranda Connected With Public Roads In the County Of Caithness

Ever wondered how the Causewaymire road to Thurso or the Wick Bridge was ever built then here is your answer.

26 August 2002
Appendix Begins
If you have been following this history you will know by now that although the last chapter is now in place there is a long way to go.  The old style of the bookk menas that much valuable information is contained at the end in the appendix, Postscript and Notes to the Second Edition, Miscellaneous and Notes on Caithness in 1887.
So here we go first with Ancient State Of Husbandry

24 August 2002
Chapter 15 Completed

The final part of chapter 15 covers Richard Oswald and the Oswald Family

13 August 2002
Chapter 15 Begins

Chapter 15 deals with some of the famous lay people of Caithness.  We begin with Sir John Sinclair (1754 - 1835) famous for his agricultural improvement schemes,  his  "Code of Agriculture" and "Statistical Account of Scotland".  In 1793 his ideas on the economy shone through when he took instant action to relive the lack of finance  of merchants by speeding up credit facilities in various places thus possible alleviating a collapse generally.

30 July 2002
Chapter Fourteen Begins

A few accounts of ministers and school teachers.  We start with Alexander Pope of Reay.
Also completed is the Table of Contents.  From this you will see that although the chapters are coming to an end there is a huge amount of information in the Appendix, Postscript, notes and Miscellaneous sections.   This reflecting and old fashioned style of setting out a book.  Nowadays most of the information in the final sections would probably have been included in chapters within the main body of the text.  So there is a lot more to come...................

23 July 2002
Chapter Thirteen

Completed.

18 July 2002
Chapter Twelve Completed

13 July 2002
Chapter Twelve Begins

8 July 2002
Chapter Eleven

The whole chapter is completed being one of the shorter ones and concentrating on the famous Battle of Altimarlach.    A poem on the battle can be found in the Appendix (Still to be completed) is already in the poetry section

3 July 2002
Chapter Ten - Completed

Readers who have not see this history before might be interested to know that the appendix listings to this work are quite long, running to almost 100 pages.  They include some very interesting information on many aspects of Caithness in different periods.  The Appendix section will be tackled after Chapter 15 has been completed.

1 July 2002
Chapter Ten - First Half

28 June 2002
Chapter Nine Completed

19 June 2002
Chapter Nine - Middle Section

18 June 2002
Chapter 9 Begins

7 June 2002
Chapter 8 Second Half

5 June 2002
Chapter 8 Begins

26 May 2002
Chapter 7 - Second Half

21 May 2002
Chapter 7  - First half.

26 April 2002
Chapter 6 - second half now completed.

22 April 2002
Chapter 6 - First half

1 April 2002
Chapter Four   Completed

25 March 2002
Chapter Four
begins with war in Caithness.  A battle at the hill of Clairdon two miles east of Thurso, assassination, retribution, fighting the Norwegians slaughter at Murkle Bay. More battles and the Pope and Bishops get involved

5 March 2002
Chapter Three
is now completed.  In this chapter Sweyn the famous Caithness pirate enters and departs the story.  Calder recounts some of the stories of his adventures, murders and general plundering in the north and as far as Cornwall and Ireland.  

24 February 2002
Chapter Two completed.  We have decided to put all of the notes tot he bottom of the page to make the narrative easier to follow.  Chapter One will be revised later once we have completed the rest of the history.  A few smaller notes remain to be added in chapter one.

Chapter One
Index & Introduction
Page One  Page Two  Page Three  Page Four   Page Five  Page Six Page Seven Page Eight

14 February 2002
Chapter Two -  Page One

The Original Inhabitants of the County - Standing Stones in Latheron - Subdued by Sigurd, the Norwegian Earl of Orkney.

9 February 2002
Page Eight - Chapter One Main Text Complete

The final part of chapter eight is now in.  Decided to hurry on with the main text and come back later so many of the references and notes.  This is because we are aware that many people are now waiting on the main text and we want to try to get the main part up as fast as possible.  We will continue to add links to other parts of the web site where we think this would be useful. So far we have mainly linked to the castles section but where any pictures or other material seem relevant we will link over to that also.  Eight pages on the web site is actually 48 pages of text in the book.  We will start chapter two in the next few days.  Target is to complete over 12 months - but we may manage to speed up depending on time available.