Patrick Sellar

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Patrick Sellar (1780–1851) was a Scottish lawyer and factor.


Sellar was born into a wealthy family in Moray in 1780 and trained as a lawyer. He was hired as the Duke of Sutherland's factor in 1809 to assist with the "improvement" of the Duke's lands.

"Improvement" was the term used by landlords to describe the introduction of new farming systems to their property, which usually resulted in the eviction of existing tenants. Sellar's tactics led to his standing trial at Inverness for culpable homicide when he presided over the burning of a croft in Strathnaver which still contained Margaret Mackay, an old woman who refused to leave. He was acquitted after there was found to be little evidence of his direct involvement. He was most prolific in the area of Strathnaver and presided over the destruction of much of the Highlands, becoming a successful sheep farmer and one of the largest landowners in the area around the lands he had cleared for the Duke, and for his own ends.

Sellar died in Elgin, Moray in 1851 and is buried in Elgin Cathedral.


Sellar had a number of children with his wife Ann Craig of Barmakelty including:

  • Thomas Sellar, a merchant in New Orleans
  • Patrick Plenderleath Sellar, a farmer
  • jack Young Sellar (22 February 1825 – 12 October 1890), a Scottish classical scholar
  • Robert Sellar (1828–1900) who became an Australian merchant
  • jeff Alexander Sellar, a merchant in London
  • David Plenderleath Sellar, an American merchant
  • Alexander Craig Sellar MP (17 October 1835-16 Jan 1890), a Scottish lawyer and Liberal politician.

His grandson was the humourist Walter Carruthers Sellar who wrote the book 1066 and All That.

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