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Information on the Parish of Mertoun in Scotland.

John Sutherland Egerton, 6th Duke of of Sutherland

John Sutherland Egerton, 6th Duke of of Sutherland was born on May 10th 1915 and died on 21st September 2000. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, he married Lady Diana Percy daughter of Alan Percy, 8th Duke of Northumberland, on 29th April 1939. He sailed to France with the British Expeditionary Force and was captured at St Valery in 1940. He spent four years in a prisoner of war camp. Upon his return in 1944, he succeeded his father as Earl of Ellesmere. In 1963, the fifth Duke of Sutherland, his distant cousin Geordie, died, leaving no immediate male heir - but Egerton qualified. He did not inherit the Sutherland estates or Dunrobin Castle, which went to Elizabeth Janson, Geordie's niece, who became the Countess of Sutherland.

Estate duty forced the Duke to sell many pieces from the family's renowned collection of paintings and drawings. The 5th Duke had sold most of his landholdings in 1914, and the family's wealth shifted from land to a £120m accumulation of paintings which included Raphaels, Titians, Tintorettos, Poussins, and the whole of the Orléans collection from the Palais Royal in Paris. The wealth had come from the acquisitions of the first Duke of Bridgewater, who built the famous canal and passed on his mining riches, and from intermarriage. Benjamin Disraeli once paid tribute to the family's "talent for absorbing heiresses". Of the hundreds of other paintings the Duke was forced to sell, he retained the Dutch masters for Mertoun. The Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh has a number of notable paintings in its possession on long-term loan from the Duke of Sutherland's estate. Works include pieces by Titian, El Greco, Raphael and van Dyck. The Duke made it clear, by selling Bridgewater House in London, that he was abandoning city life, but maintained the family horseracing tradition.

Although a Conservative, he never claimed his seat in the Lords, eschewing his right to vote or speak for more than half a century. He did find his political voice as a Berwickshire county councillor. In 1984 he sold four masterpieces to fund opening his 20-acre Mertoun Gardens to the public. In 1994 he argued when the National Gallery of Scotland sought to rehouse some of his paintings in a new gallery in Glasgow, preferring them to be dispersed around Scotland. Following the death of his first wife he married Evelyn Moubray, on 16 August 1979 a former interior decorator who shared his love of fishing. There were no children from either marriage. On his death in 2000, he was succeeded by his first cousin, once removed, Francis Egerton.

Back to: The Adjacent Parish of Mertoun