I was digging around a Scottish root of the family tree and reading about the ill-fated Clan Gunn (great-grandfather Harry Nelson of Stirling, and so a member) when I came across a reference to the Highland Clearances and the evil Countess of Sutherland.
Highland Clearances were one of those suspiciously neutral phrases so disliked by George Orwell. But an “Evil Countess”? Not a lot of wiggle room with that kind of talk. It was irresistible. I had to know more.
The countess in question turns out to be Elizabeth Gordon, only child of the 18th earl of Sutherland and his wife. One of those households so yearned for by young readers of children’s books where the parents exit early and both freedom and responsibilities are put on tiny shoulders. In Ms Gordon’s case, the title came to her just after her first birthday. Already we can see where this story is going. Continue reading