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Although Lord-Lieutenants were appointed to a few counties in Scotland from about 1715, it was not until 1794 that permanent lieutenancies were established by Royal Warrant. The warrant ordered the development of volunteer forces for the defence of the country. Forces were based in each County and led by a Lord Lieutenant who was directly appointed by the sovereign. The Lord-Lieutenant in turn appointed deputies. The duties of Lord-Lieutenants included provision for the protection of their counties in the event of invasion, threat or civil uprising. They directed volunteer forces and, after the 1797 Militia Act, were empowered to raise and command county militia units.

After 1802 only a landholder who held, or was heir to, property worth £400 Scots was eligible to serve in the Lieutenancy. The Lord-Lieutenant was ex officio a member of the police committee and the local authority under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Acts. The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889 abolished these functions and the role of Lieutenancies gradually became largely ceremonial.

The traditional links with the military have been preserved in a modern form in the association of the Lord-Lieutenant with the Armed Forces, the Army Reserve and other Reserve and Cadet Forces. In recent years the links between the Lord-Lieutenant and the uniformed organisations have also led to links with a wide spectrum of voluntary organisations.

In 1996 Scottish regions and districts were abolished on further local government reorganisation, and since that date Lord-Lieutenants have been appointed to "Lieutenancy areas", in most places these are equivalent to the historic Scottish counties.  Whilst in their Lieutenancies, Lord-Lieutenants, as representatives of the Sovereign, are among the few individuals in Scotland officially allowed to fly the banner of the Royal Arms of Scotland (the Lion Rampant).

The following have served as Lord-Lieutenants since the Lieutenancy of Sutherland was established in 1794:

2022 to date Major General Patrick Marriott

2005 - 2022 Dr. Monica Main 


1992 - 2005 Major General David Houston


1972 - 1991 Sir Allan Macdonald Gilmour 

1962 - 1972 James Thompson, Lord Migdale 


1950 - 1962 Brigadier George Streynsham Rawstorne 


1945 - 1950 Brigadier General George Camborne Beauclerk Paynter 

1913 - 1944 George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 5th Duke of Sutherland 


1892 - 1913 Cromartie Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 4th Duke of Sutherland 


1861 - 1892 George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 3rd Duke of Sutherland


1830 - 1861 George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 2nd Duke of Sutherland 


1794 - 1830 George Leveson-Gower, 2nd Marquess of Stafford 

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