Patrick Sellar (1780-1851)

Patrick Sellar (1780-1851)

Sheep farmer and agent of Highland Clearances

Patrick Sellar was factor to George, 1st duke of Sutherland, and became infamous for the way he treated tenants on his employer's estates. The policy of clearing them off their holdings in order to introduce sheep farming led to his trial on charges including culpable homicide after he and his men burnt down one residence with someone still inside. He was acquitted but therefter ceased to be the duke's factor. He continued to farm in Sutherland.

Birth in 1780

Patrick Sellar was born on 5 December 1780, the son of Thomas Sellar, writer in Elgin and Jean Plenderleath. The entry in the Old Parish Register of births and baptism for Elgin in the county of Moray gives the date of baptism as 17 December and includes the names of four witnesses.

Birth and baptism entry for Patrick Sellar

Birth and baptism entry for Patrick Sellar (58 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 135/4, page 341

1841 and 1851 censuses

In 1841 Patrick Sellar, 60, farmer, was living with his family at Morvich in the parish of Golspie in the county of Sutherland. Ages were rounded down to the nearest five for those over 15 years old. The record also shows that he was born outside the county (N).

1841 census record for Patrick Sellar

1841 census record for Patrick Sellar (84 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1841/51/1, page 1

In 1851 Patrick Sellar, 70, was enumerated at the same place with his wife Anne and two sons. The census record for the parish of Golspie gives his occupation as Deputy Lieutenant of Sutherland and Elginshire, JP (Justice of the Peace) and farmer of 695 acres besides pasture, employing 29 labourers. There are nine servants in the household including three shepherds, a dairy maid and servants' cook, a gardener and groom, and a laundry maid.1851 census record for Patrick Sellar

1851 census record for Patrick Sellar (81 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1851/51/5, page 7

Death in 1851

Patrick Sellar, aged 70 years, died on 20 October 1851 at Park Place in Elgin. The entry in the Old Parish Register of burials for that parish records that he was buried in the Cathedral Churchyard of Elgin on 1 November.

Death and burial entry for Patrick Sellar

Death and burial entry for Patrick Sellar (51 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 135/9, page 218

Testament of Patrick Sellar

National Records of Scotland, SC9/36/4 pp 87-113

Patrick Sellar's will reveals the wealth he acquired through the introduction of sheep farming.

View transcript (112 KB PDF)

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