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Cathcart, Lady Emily Gordon, 1845-1932, landowner

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Cathcart, Lady Emily Gordon, 1845-1932, landowner

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  • Pringle, Emily
  • Gordon, Emily

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Lady Cathcart was born Emily Pringle in 1845. Her first marriage was to John Gordon, the son of Colonel John Gordon of Cluny. In the first half of the 1800s, Colonel Gordon had purchased much of the southern end of the Western Isles, including Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay, Barra and Vatersay. He proceeded to institute a series of brutal land reforms which saw extensive clearance of the islands, large scale emigration to the new world, and severe deprivation for islanders who remained. To say he was one of the most hated men in Scottish history is probably no great exaggeration. On his death, ownership of the islands passed to his son John.

When John Gordon died in 1878, the family estates including the islands passed to Emily. Two years later she married Sir Reginald Cathcart in London, and as Lady Emily Gordon Cathcart she continued to govern her island properties from afar, continuing to implement policies which were not so very far removed from those of her late father in law, and which were increasingly being seen as oppressive and unacceptable elsewhere across the Highlands and Islands.

She died in 1932, the South Uist estate passing to her trustees until its sale in 1944 to Anton Andreae, a London banker.


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