William Gordon, Lord Strathnaver

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William Gordon (19 December 1683 – 13 July 1720), known by the courtesy title of Lord Strathnaver from 4 March 1703, was a Member of Parliament (MP) in Great Britain in 1708. In 1719, the family name was changed to Sutherland, when his father was recognised as the Chief of Clan Sutherland.

Lord Strathnaver was the eldest son of John Gordon, 16th Earl of Sutherland. He died before his father so he never inherited the peerage.

He was elected the first MP for Tain Burghs on 26 May 1708.

The election of Lord Strathnaver and a number of other heirs to Scottish peerages were contested. Before the Act of Union 1707, the eldest sons of peers were ineligible to be elected to the Parliament of Scotland. No such restriction existed for the Parliament of England. The question arose whether the eldest sons of Scottish peers could be elected to the Parliament of Great Britain, after the Union.

On 3 December 1708, the House of Commons decided the issue, as at that time the House judged the eligibility of its members itself rather than leaving the issue to be decided by a Judge.

After the House called in counsel, the election petitions and representations in writing were read out and the lawyers put forward arguments for their clients. After counsel had withdrawn a question was formulated and put to a vote.

The proposition the House voted on was "that the eldest sons of the Peers of Scotland were capable by the Laws of Scotland at the time of the Union, to elect or be elected as Commissioners for the Shire or Boroughs [sic, see Burghs] to the Parliament of Scotland; and therefore by the Treaty of Union are capable to elect, or be elected to represent any Shire or Borough [sic] in Scotland, to sit in the House of Commons of Great Britain".

The House rejected the motion and so declared that Lord Strathnaver was ineligible to be elected an MP for Tain Burghs.


Parliament of Great Britain
New constituency
Member of Parliament for Tain Burghs
Succeeded by
Robert Douglas