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Caithness originally formed part of the shire or sheriffdom of Inverness, but gradually gained independence: in 1455 the Earl of Caithness gained a grant of the justiciary and sherifffdom of the area from the Sheriff of Inverness. In 1503 an act of the Parliament of Scotland confirmed the separate jurisdiction, with Dornoch and Wick named as burghs in which the sheriff of Caithness was to hold courts. The area of the sheriffdom was declared to be identical to that of the Diocese of Caithness. The Sheriff of Inverness still retained power over important legal cases, however until 1641. In that year parliament declared Wick the head burgh of the shire of Caithness and the Earl of Caithness became the heritable sheriff. Following the Act of Union of 1707 the term "county" began to be applied to the shire, a process that was completed with the abolition of heritable jurisdictions in 1747. The county began to be used as a unit of local administration, and in 1890 was given an elected county council under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889. Although officially within the county, the burghs of Wick and Thurso retained their status as autonomous local government areas. Wick, a royal burgh and traditionally the county town, became the administrative centre for the county. County and burgh councils were later abolished, in 1975, under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, and Caithness became one of eight districts, each with its own district council, within the new two-tier Highland region. In 1996, under the Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994, the region became a unitary local government area, and the district councils were abolished. (source Wikipidia)
Queries and Surnames
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