THE POPE FAMILIES OF SUTHERLAND, ROSS,
BY ALLAN C LANNON
During research into the Melville families of the
Doll in the parish of Clyne in Sutherland I came across a
connection between Melvilles and a Pope family living in that
area through the marriage of John Melville to Roberta Pope. As research
progressed much information was collected locally and through
researchers in this country and abroad and their names are
recorded in the reference section to this work. From the collected
material it became clear that the Pope name had some
importance for the Melvilles making a home in the antipodes,
in addition to those remaining in
The Popes and connected families in the Doll lived at various places but principally at Sputie. Two areas not far distant from one another are designated Sputie on this map from the 1870s. One by the A9 road and the other a little up the Sputie Burn which marked the boundary between the Parishes of Golspie and Clyne.
In addition to the Pope Melvilles of
It became clear that the Pope families of
Sutherland, Ross and Cromarty, and
This work tries to logically and clearly document the known facts about the Pope connected families and briefly put their lives in the context of the periods in which they lived. There may be errors and omissions but hopefully this will not detract from the understanding of the significance of the prominent and important families in this family history research. By setting out what is known it is to be hoped that further information will come to light through others working in the same area of research.
The Different Principal Pope Lines
The Popes lines which are most distinctive and which are researched in the greatest detail here are:
The Popes of East Sutherland
This group includes the families in Clyne and Kildonan Parishes
The Popes of
Pope Melvilles of
The Popes of Durness and Scourie
This group includes the Pope families in
Pope Smiths of
There are other
It quickly became obvious that success in the quest for the origins of the Sutherland and Caithness Popes, and the other associated lines, probably lay in identifying the family of Hector Pope of Loth. Though there were many uncertain areas in this family descent in the East Sutherland branch their connection to Hector seemed proven. However, the Durness group and their ancestry were more problematic and required extensive research.
Pope family members of interest identified in
Circumstantial evidence existed for this supposition before the final proof and this was as follows:
At the birth of James to
Alexander Pope and Ann Mackay in Durness in 1787 Alexander
is described as ‘from Sutherland’. This is a very
significant remark indicating that he was neither a Mackay
country man from Strathnaver in the widest 19th
century terminology covering the north of Sutherland nor a
The above being the case what was his parentage? James Pope a Writer in Dornoch had at least two sons to Isobell Monro – Alexander and Hugh. Alexander was born in 1739 and so would have been about the correct age to be in Durness and marrying in 1787. James being a professional man working in the law would be a good candidate to be Alexander’s father coming from the Popes of East Sutherland who were a high status and generally professional or landed family at that time.
Alexander in Durness names
his first son James in accordance with naming tradition if
James was his own father.
The next son was called Neil after Ann Mackay’s
father and the third son Hugh which may be reference to the
child’s uncle and Alexander’s brother from Dornoch. The girls are a
little more problematic.
But his second child was Alexie and could well have
been named after himself and this often happened in Scottish
families of the time. Neilina
is also possibly referring back to the maternal side and the
child’s grandfather. Fairly
is a name which appears on the north coast of
A John Pope who went to
Two Popes from Scourie were said to go to Brora to live with a cousin Angus Pope. Though they did not live there permanently it is clear that the Scourie resident who made this report knew of Angus Pope and was aware he was a relative of the Scourie Popes.
In a letter to James Dun
Both James Dun Pope and
James Pope of
The records in Dunrobin Castle at the time of the Hector Lithgow Last Will and Testament indicated Helen Pope, Hector’s mother, to be the daughter of Hector Pope of Loth and indicated that all the Sutherland Popes were from the same family.
However, the circumstantial evidence, most of it correctly assumed, becomes almost irrelevant with the appearance of all the evidence from the various claims and litigation surrounding the Hector Lithgow inheritance relating to the will of this Hector who was the son, possibly illegitimate, of Helen Pope of Loth. Sources are quoted later but the principal providers of information were George Sutherland Taylor, a Writer (Solicitor/Lawyer) in Golspie who in the late 1820s and early 1830s was commissioned to draw up a Pope family outline with regard to the claims, Depositions and correspondence from the 1820s through to 1848 provided by Pope Descendant Charles Rigg in Worcestershire and researcher Alistair Gordon in London who has collected much information and particularly that associated with the Gordons and Popes.
George S Taylor was commissioned by a Mr Nichol
of Doctor’s Commons, also called
The Society of Genealogy describes the Doctors' Commons as follows:
The Court of the Bishop of
The name "Doctors' Commons" goes back to the 15th century. Advocates (equivalent to modern solicitors) were also doctors of law (having obtained doctors' degrees). They formed an association called the
George S Taylor conducted his enquiries in the late 1820s and early 1830s concluding them around 1834 and submitting his results as of 31 August 1835. The wheels of justice grind slowly and the date of the forwarding of the information to the Lords of the Treasury by the above Mr Nicol is not clear. However, a letter to the Lords of the Treasury of 24 March 1840 from Mr Nichol shows the regard in which both George S Taylor and his endeavours were held.
The letter stated:
“Your Lordships are aware from the various reports which I have had the honour to submit detailing the enquiries made in Sutherland for the purpose of discovering the history and connections of the late Hector Lithgow and of the different members of the family of the late Rev. Hector Pope, formerly Minister of the Parish of Loth in the county of Sutherland, that those enquiries were conducted by George S Taylor of Golspie with the sanction of your Lordships, that gentleman having been recommended as a person having peculiar means of access to the muniments in Dunrobin Castle, from which much of the information desired was ultimately obtained, and of the satisfactory means in which Mr Taylor performed the services required of him.’
Clearly there was satisfaction with George S
Taylor’s work which included research at
However, George S Taylor’s work was not the start
of the story and certainly not the end. The search for the
search for the rightful heirs to Hector Lithgow and the fight
for a share of the vast fortune he left preceded and followed
THE ‘FIRST’ POPES
The Popes, or Papes/Paips, as the name was often spelt at that time, was one of prominent families in East Sutherland in the 1600, 1700 and 1800s. They were teachers, ministers, Tenant Farmers, even if sometimes on small lots of land, and soldiers and influential and notable in the area through their learning and social contacts with a number having studied for university degrees.
in his Surnames of Scotland, identifies a number of Popes, and
the variant spellings of the name, in the North of Scotland
and the Northern Isles. Of
most interest from this source are the
of the earliest references found to Pope families is to be
found in a charter of William Pop, son and heir of William Pop
who was a burgess of
Pope family tradition in the North of Scotland, as reported by George S Taylor, suggested that the first Pope to arrive in the area was a ‘stranger’ of the name of Pope, a churchman, who landed in Cromarty bay about the close of the 15th century. Certainly the present research might also lead to the conclusion that the Pope family originated from an incomer to that area at around that time. This ‘stranger’ would then appear to be the progenitor of William, Charles and Thomas Pope and their other noted but unconfirmed siblings. Cleary he was not their parent but possibly their grand or great grand parent though this is unlikely ever to be proved.
WILLIAM PAPE (POPE, PAIP)
Pape, native of Ross-shire, may be the gentleman first noted
as a Reader at Ardersier, in the
Readers were used by the church after the Reformation in 1560 as there were too few ministers to cover the whole country. Ministers were responsible for an area with more than one church and they travelled around preaching in their various places of worship. The Readers read the service from a service book on the Sundays when the minister could not be present in the church.
William matriculated at St. Andrew’s University in 1583 and was a graduate of St. Andrew’s University in 1587. However, courses of study were not necessarily continuous in those times and he was, in fact, appointed Schoolmaster at Dornoch in 1585. He became the parson there in 1588. In 1599 further honour followed with his appointment, by King James, to the Chantry of the Diocese and he is later stated to have been appointed Chanter of Dornoch in 1602. This was followed in 1606 with his appointment as constant Moderator of the Presbytery. With the consent of the Bishop, Dean and Chapter he received from John, Earl of Sutherland, in 1607, for life and to his heirs for 19 years the tiend sheaves of the Chanter’s Quarter, town and lands in the parish of Dornoch. This land tenancy and the products thereof probably provided William with considerable social status and not a little financial gain. It should be noted that there is no inconsistency with William having been appointed reader and teacher and then attending University and subsequently becoming a minister of religion. This routeway to the ministry was not an uncommon one. Also as noted above the matriculation and graduation might be separated by a shorter or longer period and a graduation date was not always noted. There was an inference of graduation at that time if matriculation took place.
William is next reported in records as present
at the Glasgow Assembly in 1610 along with his brother
Thomas Pape, parson of Rogart and Chancellor of the Diocese,
who attended on
behalf of the Caithness Diocese.
The parish of Dornoch was dedicated to St Finn Barr. Within this parish, indeed in the centre of Dornoch, there also stood St Gilbert’s, the Cathedral Church of Caithness. This church was to become the church of the parish in the later part of the 16th century. The church took its name from the St Gilbert, Bishop of Caithness, who founded the Cathedral. The Bishop was buried in the Cathedral in 1245 and also within the building is a chapel of St James. A convent of the Red Friars was founded at Dornoch in 1271, no doubt, due to the town’s importance as a religious centre. Further indications of the importance given to the early religious influence can be seen the fairs of St Finn Barr and St Gilbert held in the town.
The Cathedral spent many decades, even centuries, in disrepair due to a number of incidents. It was burned down in 1570 and in 1605 greatly ruined by a very violent storm. It was not until 1835 that a full restoration of the building was begun by Elizabeth, Duchess of Sutherland and this work went on for many years.
Drawing by Cordiner from about 1776 of the Dornoch Cathedral nave.
William Pape finished his career in the ministry and his life as Pastor of Nigg in Ross-shire. The date of his removal to Nigg appears to have been about 1613 to 1616. In the Nigg Chrurch records William is listed without firm dates between Finlay Manson who was recorded as ‘continuing’ there in 1607 and George Corbet given as 1615 and ‘continuing in 1615. The next date mentioned is for William Ross from 1644. Following the sequence it would suggest William was only the incumbent for a shirt time from 1613 to 1614 but there is the possibility that he was there after George Corbett in 1615.
William’s church at Nigg was described as a mensal kirk of the Bishop of Ross which indicates a church where the revenues were appropriated to the bishopric. In the parish there were also chapels at Cullins and Shandwick. In the area of William’s ministry there was in addition two holy wells, Tobar Chormaig and Tobar Eoin. The former was dedicated to St Cormac and the latter to St John the Baptist.
William’s influence in the affairs of Sutherland were not insignificant being a Commissioner for the county and through this, between 1593 and 1599, coming into contact and being an associated of Robert Pont (1524 – 1606) and his son, mapmaker and clergyman, Timothy Pont (c1564 – c1614). The influence in religious affairs of William Pape at a time of change was considerable due to his consistent supporter of Episcopacy. In this regard it was for this purpose he atteended the Assembly of Glasgow in 1610 along with his brother Thomas, parson of Rogart and Chancellor of the Diocese.
It is interesting in family history research and writings for family details to be put in the social, religious and political context of the times in which they lived. While not connected to the Pope family under consideration it is worth saying a few words about the Pont family who were undoubtedly known to the Papes of Dornoch.
Pape would have met Robert Pont, an eminent and influential
Scottish clergyman, practicing lawyer and writer, as the
latter became increasingly active in church affairs in the
North of Scotland. Pont
opposed the appointment by James VI of Patrick Adamson as
Bishop of Caithness in 1587 and he was very much involved in
several commissions for ‘stamping out popery’ and for
instigating proceedings against Papists and establishing kirks
from Aberdeen to Caithness.
In the 1590s, as William Pape established himself and
his family in Dornoch, Pont was a senior statesman giving
advice on all matters relating to the church in the
Though much more is known about the life of
Robert Pont than his son, Timothy, it is the name of Timothy
that is often remembered due to his mapping of
The life and times of William Pope is an intriguing and interesting one and equally so is the work and life of the Ponts. It is hardly possible here to give little more than a short description of the work of the Ponts in the Scottish Highlands. There are many sources of information on this family worth consulting but a good start can be made by looking at the Pont website at www.nls.uk/pont. The description of the work in which the Ponts were involved gives a good insight into the structure of society in which William Pape had to live and work.
Pape married Cristine (Christian) Monypenny and a plaque to
their memory with their initials adorned their dwelling in
what is possibly the old Deanery. This plaque can be
seen in the
THOMAS PAPE (POPE)
second of William’s brothers who came to Dornoch from
Ross-shire and settled was Thomas. He is said to have
been encouraged to come by William’s prosperity. Thomas became
Chancellor of the Diocese and Minister at Rogart in 1590 and,
as we have seen, along with brother William, was a member of
the Assembly in
CHARLES PAPE (POPE)
other brother of William Pape who came to Dornoch was Charles,
a Notary Public and Messenger at Arms. The records held by St
Andrew’s University notes that Charles was the brother of
William and was from Meikle Reny. There a number of
places with the name Meikle in Ross & Cromarty and
identifying where Charles moved from to Dornoch was not at
first thought possible with any certainty. However, it became
apparent that the most likely was Meikle Rhynie to the east of
Tain and in the area of Fearn Abbey. Since there was
clearly a strong religious settlement and tradition here
before the reformation and even after 1560 the Abbey continued
to be used as a church it soon became clear that Meikle Rhynie
would most likely have been Charles’s former abode. Black in his
Charles was given the Sheriff Clerkship and was the unfortunate family member killed in the Pope Riot described later. Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae Volume 7 in the same section, on William Pope of Nigg, states that both Charles from Meikle Reny was William Popes brother and also tells of his death in the Pope Riot of Dornoch. This being the case it is most likely that Charles came directly from Meikle Reny to Dornoch. It is said that Charles was an affable individual and a merry conversationalist who was popular in the area.
It was only when I became aware of a book entitled ‘The Calendar of Fearn’ published in 1991 by the Scottish History Society that the sought after place was identified with certainty as Meikle Rhynie. This book confirmed a number of suspicions about the origins of the Pope family and added to the family relationships with some other families in the Fearn area. It recorded the wife of Charles as Margaret Gordon, who elsewhere is noted as the daughter of Alexander Gordon of Siddera, and also identified a daughter Barbara.
‘Calendar of Fearn’ reproduces information collected in a
manuscript from before 1517.
The Scottish History Society edition relied largely on
a version bound in or soon after 1844. It would appear that
there were several contributors to the Calendar and many
additions throughout the 17th century. Later writers knew
of its existence and referred to it and the Calendar was
placed at an unknown date in
It is worth printing part of the details here as they appear in the Calendar of Fearn:
Hugh Ross’s first wife Catherine Ross was dead by 23 October 1609, when her widower made a marriage contract with Margaret Gordon, widow of Charles Pope, portioner of Meikle Rhynie (RS37/7, 75r-v, 8June 1650: for Pope, ‘publict notary and messenger at arms’, killed in Dornoch in 1607, see Gordon, 246-8; Blackie, 45, traces his ancestry to Bishop Henry Cockburn [d. 1476]). Barbara Pope, Margaret Gordon’s daughter, contracted to marry her mother’s stepson Walter Ross, apparent of Kindeace, on 22 July 1622, very shortly before Hugh Ross’s death (RS37/7, 74r-75r, 22 march 1650). When Walter Ross lost Kindeace almost thirty years later his wife and his stepmother had to renounce their rights (RS37/7, 74r-75v, 22 March 1650). Margaret Gordon had remarried and was now the wife of Thomas or Hugh Ross of Resolis (RS37/7, 75r-v gives both names.
To sumarise this it appears that after Charles Pope was killed in the Pope Riot his widow, Margaret Gordon, married Hugh Ross in 1609. Hugh Ross had previously been married to Catherine Ross and their son, Walter Ross, married Barbara Pope thus resulting in the marriage of Barbara Pope to her mother’s stepson.
After the death of Hugh Ross in 1622 Margaret Gordon (Pope and Ross by her previous marriages) married for a third time. This marriage was to Thomas Ross who had previously been married to Helen Ross and another and he too was therefore entering into marriage for the third time. Hugh Ross, the first husband of Margaret Gordon, was the son of a Walter Ross and Margaret Simson. This Walter later married to Agnes Vaus and he was probably the son of another Walter Ross.
CHARLES PAPE (POPE) OF CULLICUDDEN
In 1662 the parish of Cullicudden joined with Kirkmichael and became known as Resolis. Charles Pope of Cullicudden was still in the charge in August 1655 according to the Mackay Presbytery Records of Dingwall but by 1662 the charge was vacant hence the joining of the parishes. Whether Charles disappearance from the scene was through death or retirement is not known. There is no indication that he moved on to another church.
Cathedral of Fortrose held the prebend or stipend of
Cullicudden, and that of Kirkmichael. The former parish
was dedicated to
Charles Pope of Cullicudden, is said in Fasti and by Sage to be most probably the son of the aforementioned Thomas who moved from Rogart to Cullicudden. He succeeded Thomas of Cullicudden there and he took up the charge before 1638 as he is mentioned in Mackay’s Dingwall Presbytery records as Clerk to the Presbytery in November 1638. It is from this Charles Pope of Cullicudden that Alexander Pope of Reay was descended according to Sage who also stated that Alexander was a descendant, through Hector Pope of Loth, of William Pope (Pape). It has also been suggested, though maybe less credibly, that Hector of Loth was son that Gilbert Pape, Burgess of Tain and son of Charles Pape who was killed in the Pope Riot at Dornoch.
Charles Pope, the Minister of Cullicudden and assumed son of Thomas Pope and nephew of Charles Pope of the Pope Riot, therefore appears to have been married but his wife’s name is not known at this time.
The area of Ross in the vicinity of Tain, Fearn and Meikle Rhynie according to Pont’s map of about 1580.
Above Kirkmichael Churchyard and Church in 2010 and similarly below Cullicudden and church remains.
BISHOP HENRY COCKBURN AND THE LAING MANUSCRIPT
upon the ancestry of the Popes appears in the Calendar of
Fearn in a minor reference to Bishop Henry Cockburn. Blackie, in the
transcription of Laing MSS III 666,
The Chanonry of Ross, by C.G.MacDowall (Fortrose, 1963), p.37:
"Further, it was possible for men who were not in holy orders to be appointed prelates and canons. In Ross a notable example of this cynical attitude towards what the modern mind might regard as the neccessity for the preparation and training of the clergy was provided by the example of Henry Cockburn who although not even in minor orders had a promise from the Pope of the Bishopric of Ross whenever it should fall vacant, an event which occurred in 1460. The Pope thereupon granted Cockburn, described as having the tonsure only, a faculty or permission to receive successively
the minor orders and the orders of sub-deacon, deacon and priest and to receive consecration after taking the oath of fealty. Cockburn was thus enabled to bypass the various orders and jump
at one bound from a clerk's desk in
An enquiry to St Andrew’s University Library produced some further information, printed as received below, on Bishop Henry Cockburn and also attributed an illegitimate son to the Bishop.
I can confirm from the Acta Facultatis Artium
and Early Records that Henry Cockburn matriculated in 1448-9
source of the St Andrew’s information was from the book by
Bishop John Dowden called ‘The Bishops of Scotland’ and
published in 1912, just after the author’s death. Dowden states that
Henry Cockburn was provided with the Bishopric in March 1461
and paid his ‘commune servitium’ in April of that year. His election and
confirmation as Bishop took place, he states, on
Why or how this son was legitimized, according to Dowden on 20th September 1507, 31 years after the death of his father, is somewhat puzzling! However, legitimization could happen at any time, but usually when the father wanted to see the illegitimate offspring inherit. The legitimization process was normally a request to the king, and the official document then made it possible for the offspring to inherit some or all of the parent's land (eldest son, usually) or goods. The process could also be used to disinherit a younger, legitimate son, by making an older, illegitimate son a legal heir! Since the father was already some time dead it is probable that the latter reason applied in this case. One other alternative that comes to mind might be that the illegitimate individual wanted to be more acceptable in his profession or to gain more credibility and stature within that profession.
According to the Laing Manuscript Bishop Henry Cockburn had a concubine called Bessy Gordon and they had a daughter Ellen Cockburn. This Ellen was then named as the concubine of Sir John Reid, Vicar of Avah (unclear, might this be Avoch?) and they in turn had a son, John Reid. At this point there is mention of an Agnes Reid, most probably the daughter of this latter John though she could be his sister. This Agnes Reid appears to have been the mother of Charles Pope and several other children. The author of the manuscript lists the others as Father Jerom Pope, Thomas Pope, James Pope, David Pope, Nans Pope, Janet Pope and Bessy Pope. In all instances in the manuscript the name Pope is written as Pape.
One omission from the list is the name of William Pope the Pastor of Dornoch. There is little doubt that he was a brother to Charles and Thomas who are both mentioned. Whether he was not known about or missed out is unclear and it is possible that he was known by another name. Jerom (Jerome) is a possibility and it may have been that when William took his religious vows that this was his chosen name.
Bessy Gordon not only appears to have been an
ancestor of the Pope family but also was a concubine of the
parson of Alness, Father Nicholas Tulloch, the nephew of
Bishop Thomas Tulloch. This
line from Bessy Gordon leads through the Tulloch line into the
Ross family of Shandwick, the family of William Sinclair of
Channonry and the family of Sir John Spens in the Channonry of
Ross. While those
are interesting connections and indicate strong links between
some of the principal families of Ross and the Popes it is not
possible here to do little more than indicate some of the
interesting and intriguing connections.
The above is constructed from information in a
number of sources but mainly the Calendar of Fearn, the Laing
Manuscript and information from the
One of the most notable and infamous events to befall the Pope family while in Dornoch was what is known as the Pope Riot of July 1608. It should noted that an Privy Council enquiry dates the event to this time while Gordon in his history gives the year as 1607. The records of the Gaelic Society of Inverness point out this error on the part of Gordon and give a full account of the riot and the aftermath.
The events leading to the riot are not entirely clear but the consequences certainly were. Some say that the prosperity of the Pope brothers and their consequent pride of position and power was their downfall while others suggest that they were merely carrying out a duty to quell a disturbance in the Churchyard.
would seem that while most of the able-bodied men of the
parish were on duty guarding the Sutherland border against an
For some clarity of the event it is worth reproducing here part of the text of the Gaelic Society of Inverness report on the matter as presented by William Matheson in 1974 in an article in a Society publication.
fullest account of the Pape
Riot is to be found in the pages of Sir Robert Gordon's History of the Earldom
of Sutherland, and it deserves to be quoted at some length. though, as will appear, some details require to be
corrected. The affair has come to be known as the Pape Riot because three brothers
of that name were the victims. The oldest brother, William, was
minister of Dornoch, Thomas
was minister of Rogart, and Charles
Sheriff-clerk of Sutherland. At the time in question the
Earl of Sutherland had gathered his forces to oppose an expected invasion of his
territory by a considerable
army assembled on his borders under the command of the Earl
" Everie man," he writes, " being departed from the toun of Dornogh vnto this convention at
Strathully, the yeir of God
1607, except William Morray,
a boyer, and some few others,
who were also readie to goe away the nixt morning, Mr William and
Thomas Paips, with some
others of the ministrie, had
a meitting at Domogh,
concerning some of the church effairs.
After they had dissolved their meitting, they went to
breakfast to ane inn, or victualling-hous of the toun.
As they were at breakfast, one lohn
Mackphaill entered the house
and asked some drink for his money, which the mistress of
the house refused to give him, therby to be red of his
company, because shee knew him to be a brawling fellow.
John' Mackphaill taking this refusall in evil pairt,
reproved the woman, and spok somewhat stub-bornlie to the
ministers, who began to excuse her; wherevpon Thomas Pape
did threattin him, and he agane did thrust into Thomas his
arme ane arrow, with a broad
forked head, which then he held in his hand. So, being
parted and set asunder that tyme, Mr William and his brother
Thomas came the same evening into the churchyaird, with
their swords about them, which John Mackphaill perceaveing,
and taking it as a provocation, he went with all diligence
and acquented his nepheu Houcheon Mackphaill, and his
brother-in-law William Morray, the boyer, therewith; who,
being glaid to find this occasion whereby to revenge ther
old grudge against these brethren, they hastned furth, and
meitting with them in the churchyaird, they fell a
quarrelling, and from quarrelling to feighting. Charles Pape
hade berie all that day abroad, and at his retume,
vnderstanding in what case his brethren were, he came in a
preposterous hast to the fatall place of his end and rwyne.
They fought a little whyle: in end, Charles hurt William
Morray in the face, and therevpon
William Morray killed him. Mr William and Thomas were both extremlie wounded by John
Mackphaill and his nepheu Houcheon, and were lying there for
deid persons, without hope of
recoverie; but they recovered
afterward beyond expectation. The offenders escaped becaus their wes none in the toun to apprehend them (except
such as favored them), the inhabitants being all gone to the
assemblie at Strathvilie. John Mackphaill,
and his nephiu Houcheon, have
both since ended their dayes in
The Pape brothers were comparatively recent immigrants from Ross-shire, but in the space of some twenty years they had become men of considerable wealth and position in Sutherland. Their busy acquisition of property in Dornoch was bitterly resented by many of the inhabitants' and, though the immediate cause of the affray was trivial enough, it was in fact the final eruption of hostile feelings that had been smouldering in the community for some time.
Robert Gordon was absent at court in London when the Pape
Riot took placet and it is not surprising that, lacking
personal knowledge of what happened and writing many years
afterwards, his account is inaccurate in some respects. He
assigns the riot to the year 1607; but the records of the
Privy Council show that the actual date was
The matter was further pursued by the Privy Council and the fugitives involved in the case were pursued though at the end of the day there seems to have been little real justice achieved in the case with the perpetrates of what amounted to a murderer effectively going free.
Hector Pope (Pape) (c1650 – 1719)
Golspie’s Story by Margaret Wilson Grant makes no
mention of Melvilles and only one Pope (Pape) but this
reference to the latter is of some importance. It is stated that
Hector Pape, Minister at Loth, met along with others, at a
diocesan synod in 1682 and also in the following year.
According to Fasti Hector graduated MA at
Hector firstly married Christian Leith and then
he later married to Christian Dunbar and not a lot more is
known of this lady at this time.
The only separate reference I have been able to find
for this second wife is in the Sutherland Estate Records. It is record that in
1725 she received support from the estate as the ‘ relict of
Hector Pope of Loth’.
When reading about the family relationships of men of
the cloth in those times it is clear that many were followed
into the ministry by their sons and many of the sons married
the daughters of ministers.
A starting point in the search for a suitable Dunbar
ancestor for Christian uncovered a number of Dunbar
individuals in the ministry in the area of Nairn and Auldearn
to the east of
was the father of the well known Alexander Pope, Minister of
Reay in Caithness, of which more below, and he, it was said
came from, and had, a large family. Two questions
immediately came to mind as research progressed. Was this Hector the
one whose name was perpetuated in the Pope and Melville names
Alexander Sage, in Memorabilia Domestica, indicates that Alexander Pope, Minister of Reay, was the son of Hector and quotes Sir Robert Gordon who said, in his history of the Sutherland family, that Hector had a numerous family of sons and daughters. To date this numerous family amounts to a son and a daughter by his first marriage and four sons and two daughters by Christian Dunbar.
church that stands at Loth today was not the one that Hector
Pope preached in and it may not be on exactly the same spot as
the old church. Marauding
Mackays burned down one early church in the 16th
Century and a new church was built there but the plaque above
the present church door seems to indicate a date of 1822. The present is
building rather too modern to be the one that would have been
the house of God used by Hector.
About 100 metres lower down the hillside at Loth is
situated the old
is known is that the church at Loth was dedicated to St
Curadan and belonged to the Bishop of Caithness. It was not the only
religious building in the area there being at least three
Tridwal’s was at Kintradwell, St Inan’s at Easter Garty and a
chapel at Navidale dedicated to St Naomhan. Fasti states that he
Ancestor of William, Charles
and Thomas – Said to be a ‘stranger’ of the
name of Pope, a churchman, who landed in
of Dornoch, Chanter of
Notary Public and Sheriff Clerk of Sutherland. Married in Sutherland to Margaret Gordon, daughter of Alexander Gordon of Siddera, Dornoch. Died in affray in Dornoch in 1607.
of Rogart and Treasurer of Caithness (Cathedral of Sutherland
Survived father Charles Pope above and was Curate of Kirkmichael, Ross-shire.
Burgess of Tain, served heir to his father in lands of Meikle Reny (various spellings) in Ross-shire 18/12/1869.
Hector Pope of Loth
in one account to be son of Gilbert Pope and in another to be
son of Charles Pope of Cullicudden and son of Charles Pope the