While researching my
Family Tree I discovered my 3rd Great Grandfather James Farquhar
(born abt 1792) of Garmouth/Elgin had a criminal record. After
finding out that it was for kidnapping I was intrigued and delved
further to find out the facts.
This all started on or around the 10/11 March 1820.
James Farquhar and 3 other accomplices kidnapped Ballie Francis
Taylor because he and his friends supported The Earl of Seafield's
candidate in the up and coming election for members of Parliament
for the Elgin Burghs. It appears the kidnapped Ballie Francis Taylor
was led on an adventure which lasted 3 weeks, long enough to keep
him out of the way till it was too late to call the Election.He was
released in Inverness unhurt, but arrived back in Elgin too late.
Following this kidnapping the Grants of Strathspey were none too
pleased that their candidate didn't get elected and they marched on
Elgin to Grant Lodge, to demonstrate their anger and to cause poor
Lady Grant into hiding. This led to the last uprising in Scotland
and also to a change in the law where-after all elections were held
by closed ballot!
The original handwritten witness accounts of the riot and subsequent
kidnap is apparently quite a historical event as it led to the
'last' Clan uprising in 1820.
Here is an abridged version....
James Farquhar, Carrier or hirer, James Grant, shoemaker, Alexander
Christie, butcher and William Brander, square wright were all
accused of kidnapping Francis Taylor, merchant and Bailie of Elgin
to prevent him from calling a meeting (as Magistrate) of the Council
to fix a date for the election of a 'delegate' to be elected as
Member of Parliament for the Burgh's of Elgin.
They were the 'ringleaders' of a riot, who were against Colonel
Grant of Grant becoming MP and were in favour of Lord Fife. It
seems that at the time, voting rights were only given to 'worthies'
of the city. I am not sure how they were defined, but the Council
was split between the two candidates, so the plan was to kidnap one
or more councillors so they couldn't vote for their man.
Part of a witness account states....'a great ferment excited in the
town of Elgin about the General Election of a Member of Parliament
for the District and Burgh of which Elgin one. That at this time
the council was divided into two factions - one of which declared
for the interest of the Earl of Fife and the other for that of
Colonel Grant of Grant.....'
Lord Fife was in the habit of visiting Elgin and generally throwing
his money about to win votes. There are articles about Colonel
Grant, who seems to have been a bit of a bad type too!
'[4 men of the] trades of Elgin were to carry away by force one or
two of those councillors whom they considered hostile to Lord
Two councillors seemed to have been picked out, Francis Taylor and
one other, who was fortunately able to take sanctuary in Grant Lodge
(latterly Elgin Library).
Poor Francis Taylor
however was 'led away by the arm' by James Farquhar, held in
Bishopmill (or Bishopmiln) in James' parents house, transported to
Hopeman, put in an open topped boat for the night, sailed across to
Sutherlandshire near Brora, travelled via Golspie, and was released
in Inverness. He was well treated, wined and dined at various safe
houses and Inns along the way, relating later that that he was
somewhat surprised that it was at no expense to himself and that his
captors were gentlemanly towards him. When in Inverness he was
approached and asked if he was captive, he said he was and was then
released into the hands of a Tytler. He made his way back via Forres
and eventually back to Elgin.
Part of a witness report warned that care should be taken whilst
investigating the plot as William McKinnie (McKimmie), step father
of James Farquhar is known to be a very violent man; a merchant, old
soldier and innkeeper at New Duffus whose spouse was Elizabeth
Russel (my 4th Great Grandmother and the mother of James Farquhar)
and so care should be taken when questioning her. (His mother had
been married twice.)
After the kidnapping the Grant men having marched on Elgin,
terrorised the city for a number of days, and were generally pretty
upset. Apparently from the accounts, all parties involved ended up
in the pub, got uproariously drunk and the whole matter was settled
with no major injuries barr a few broken windows.
There are many articles in Newspapers from the time and much later
and this became quite an infamous event in the History if Elgin.
There is a booklet called 'The Baillies Great Adventure' written by
a Douglas G.J. Stewart held at Elgin Family History Centre.
I never managed to find out the punishment given to James Farquhar
for his involvement in the kidnapping but I did find out that he
lived to a ripe old age at his home in North College Street, Elgin
and unfortunately died of Typhus fever in 1859 and is buried in