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of the elder brothers ; and yet the settlement of the Dukedom
of Somerset upon the issue male of the second marriage, to the
prejudice of the male offspring of the first, affords evidence that
cases of this description may be found.
But, in the present instance, all presumptions of improbabi-
lity are excluded by the fact, that such actual disinheritance did
take place ; for it cannot be denied that there existed an elder
brother also of the name of William, whose rights were alto-
gether overlooked. This individual (the ancestor of the origi-
nal stock of the Lords Sinclair) was the only son of the Earl's
first marriage with Lady Elizabeth Douglas. If, consequently,
Earl William, in the destination of his honours, diverted the
ordinary course of succession from his eldest son, it requires no
great stretch of belief to imagine that he would have little
scruple, if such were his pleasure, in gifting his Earldom to
his youngest.
The unequal distribution of Earl William's large succession
also supports the supposition, that Sir Oliver was the elder son of
the second marriage. The second Earl of Caithness does not seem
to have inherited from his father anything beyond the barren
domains belonging to that Earldom ; while Rosslyn, Pentland,
Herbertshire, and the other extensive properties, any one of
which was probably worth the fee-simple of the northern
estates, were made over to his brother. The one was a knight
in the lifetime of his father, and is so designed in various deeds,
whereas the other was not ; — all these circumstances tend great-
ly to strengthen the probability of Father Hay's assertion.

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