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Glimpses of Church and Social Life in the Highlands in Olden Times and Other Papers
By Alexander MacPherson, FSA Scot. (1893)


“But lead me, O Malvina! to the sound of my woods; to the roar of my mountain streams. Let the chase be heard on Cona; let me think on the days of other years. And bring me the harp, O maid! that I may touch it, when the light of my soul shall arise. Be thou near, to learn the song; future times shall hear of me! The sons of the feeble hereafter will lift the voice on Cona; and looking up to the rocks, say, ‘Here Ossian dwelt!’ They shall admire the Chiefs of old, the race that are no more! while we ride on our clouds, Malvina! on the wings of the roaring winds. Our voices shall be heard at times in the desert; we shall sing on the breeze of the rock.”-—Ossian.

Dedicated to the Memory of

EWEN MACPHERSON OF CLUNY MACPHERSON, CHIEF OF CLAN CHATTAN, C.B.

“THE GENUINE TYPE OF THE OLD SCOTTISH CHIEF: THE CHIEF WHO LOVED HIS PEOPLE AND SPOKE THE LANGUAGE OF THE PEOPLE, AND LIVED ON HIS PROPERTY, AND DELIGHTED IN OLD TRADITIONS, IN OLD SERVANTS, IN OLD SERVICES, AND OLD KINDLY USAGES OF ALL KINDS.”

PREFATORY NOTE

PORTIONS of the following papers have from time to time within the last few years appeared in various magazines, and are now, with considerable additions, presented to the public in a collected form. The volume makes no claim to learned or original research, and professes, as its title indicates, to be little more than a compilation or omnium gatherum of old folk-lore, and odds and ends gleaned from reliable sources, connected chiefly with the lordship of Badenoch in the central Highlands, that wide and extensive district so appropriately described by the late Principal Shairp of St Andrews as “the grand old country of the Chattan Clan.”

Originally intended solely for natives of Badenoch, the author ventures to express the hope that the book may prove of more than local interest, as illustrating to some extent the Church and social life prevailing north of the Grampians, and the condition and characteristics of the Highland people in olden times. The portraits of famous personages connected with the district in bygone days, and the other illustrations, will, it is hoped, tend to enhance the interest of some of the “Glimpses” given in the volume. The Appendix, embracing as it does so many historical documents relating to the Clan Chattan, Prince Charlie, and the famous Cluny of the “’45” (some of which are now published for the first time), will, it is believed, prove specially interesting to members of the clan and natives of Badenoch generally. In the Cluny charter chest are preserved a large number of original letters of historical importance, addressed to the Cluny chiefs of the time by Viscount Dundee, the Duke of Gordon, the Earls of Dunfermline, Mar, Marischall, Perth, and Rothes, the Master of Stair, Simon Lord Lovat, and others, from 1689 to 1756 in connection with the various Risings in the Highlands in favour of “the hapless Stuart line,” which, it is hoped, may yet be published in some permanent form.

The author desires gratefully to acknowledge his obligations to the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, and to his Grace’s Commissioner, Mr Wedderspoon, for an inspection of the original document at Gordon Castle containing the rental, in 1603, of the lordship of Badenoch, a transcript of which is given in the Appendix; to Cluny Macpherson for access to the Cluny charter-chest and to the Cluny library; to Mr Macpherson of Corrimony, for the use of the MSS. of his grandfather (“Old Biallid”); to the Rev. William Bruce of Glenrinnes, the Clerk of the Synod of Moray, the Rev. James Anderson of Alvie, and the Rev. D. S. Maclennan of Laggan, for access to the old records of the Synod of Moray, the records of the Kirk-session of Alvie, and the records of the Kirk-session of Laggan respectively; and to Mr Brewster Macpherson of Belleville, Professor Blackie, the Rev. Dr Cameron Lees of St Giles, the Rev. Neil Dewar of the Free Church, Kingussie, the Rev. Thomas Sinton of Dores, Mr Fraser-Mackintosh of Drummond, Dr Joseph Anderson of the Society of Antiquaries, Mr David M‘Gibbon, architect, Edinburgh, Mr William Mackay, solicitor, Inverness, Mr Alexander MacBain of Rainings School, Inverness, Mr Hew Morrison of the Public Library, Edinburgh, Mr Roderick Maclennan of the Public School, Kingussie, Mr Donald Campbell, merchant, Kingussie, and his brother, Mr Paul Campbell, for valuable aid and suggestions in the preparation of the work.

The cordial acknowledgments of the author are also due to the large and influential number of suscribers whose hearty encouragement led to the publication of the volume. He specially desires to record his warmest obligations in this respect to Mr W. J. McPherson of Rochester, New York, one of the most devoted and patriotic members of the clan now living, through whose unwearied efforts upwards of fifty Macpherson subscribers were secured in America and Canada. So many Macphersons have not, it is believed, been brought together, so to speak, since the clan with their distinguished chief, and the famous green banner at their head, so devotedly followed Prince Charlie in his gallant but ill-fated attempt to regain the crown of his ancestors.

The author may be permitted to add that any profits to be derived from the sale of the work are intended to be devoted to a fund for keeping in good order and repair the venerable churchyard of St Columba in Kingussie, where the mortal remains of so many generations of Macphersons so peacefully rest with their kindred dust.

A. M.
Kingussie, August 1893.

CONTENTS

GLIMPSES OF CHURCH AND SOCIAL LIFE IN THE HIGHLANDS IN OLDEN TIMES.

Chapter I.
Introductory remarks—Reformation era—Prevailing superstition and credulity—State of Highlands prior to Reformation—Extraordinary incident in parish of Farr—“Dying testimony” of Alexander Campbell—Knox’s system of Church discipline—Powers exercised by Church courts—“A cry from Craigellachie,”.

Chapter II.
The old lordship of Badenoch—The Wolf of Badenoch—Deputation from General Assembly in 1597—Derivation of Badenoch—Celtic name for Kingussie—The Spey—The Moray floods of 1829—Whimsical result of flood at Dalraddy— Extent and boundaries of parish of Kingussie—Watch hill or cairn of the Black Watch—Highland marauding of olden times—John Dhu Cameron—Characteristics of old Highland peasantry—Curious old tradition—The famous Witch of Laggan—Kingussie as the capital of Badenoch—Traces of Roman works on the Spey—Old silver-mine—Founding of village of Kingussie—Celebrity of district as a health resort.

Chapter III.
Parish of Kingussie—Earlier records—Old church life in the parish—Black sheep among ministers’ men—Enactment anent “Pennie Weddings”—Effect of establishment of barracks at Ruthven in 1718—Measures adopted by Kingussie Session against vagabonds and dissolute women following the garrison soldiers —Enactments against “grievous scandals” and “breaches of Sabbath”—State of church buildings in the Highlands last century—Fiddling at Leickwakes— Matrimonial contracts on Saturdays—Restrictions as to drinking in taverns on Sabbath—Jealous husband, makes his wife swear upon a knife—Intermittent character of administration of sacraments—A wild Highlander—Prohibition against strangers and vagabonds—Change-keepers prohibited from supplying ale or aquavitie to drunkard—An odious Act of Parliament—Profanation of churchyards—Resolutions regarding proclamations and marriages.

Chapter IV.
Parish of Kingussie—Social life in bygone days—Colonel Thornton’s visit to Badenoch in 1784—Restoration of Cluny estates—Colonel Thornton’s account of the rejoicings on the occasion—Pitmain inn—The old Assembly rooms of Kingussie—Opening of rooms in 1821 by Marquis of Huntly—Condition of parishioners of Kingussie at close of last century—Their moderation in religious opinions—Results of Secession of 1843.

Chapter V.
Parish of Alvie—The church and manse—Loch Alvie—Remains found beneath church in 1880—Derivation of name of parish—Conflict in 729 between Angus, son of Fergus, and Nechtan, King of the Piets—Boundaries and extent of the parish—The Queen’s expedition to Glenfeshie in 1860.

Chapter VI.
Church life in parish of Alvie—Old church records—Elders of the church in 1713, all lairds of good family and substance—Desertion from National Church of Highland and Lowland lairds of later times—Duke of Argyll’s words of warning to Presbyterians of Scotland—High Anglican sectarianism—Dean Stanley on Scottish Episcopacy—Sir David Brewster an elder of Alvie church—Punishment of erring sheep of Alvie flock—Results of Badenoch people joining Rising of 1715—Cases of church discipline—Grievous breaches of the Sabbath— Punishment of parishioner abusing the minister—Educational state of parish in 1732—Cases for “breach of promise” and “slandering and scolding.”

Chapter VII.
Condition and characteristics of old parishioners of Alvie—Kinrara—Jane, Duchess of Gordon—Her early life—Her married life—Her active habits and life at Kinrara—Her death in London and burial at Kinrara—Monument to her memory—Alexander, Duke of Gordon—George, last Duke of Gordon—Glimpses of life of last Duke and Duchess at Gordon Castle—Monuments on Kinrara Hill in memory of last Duke and Highlanders who fell at Waterloo—Prince Leopold of Belgium at Kinrara—The widow of last Mackintosh of Borlum—Sir David Brewster at Belleville—The Bedford family at Doune of Rothiemur-chus—Visit of Lord Brougham and Sir David at the Doune—Loch-an-eilan and its castle.

Chapter VIII.
Parish of Laggan—Old church of St Kenneth—Legends connected with building of church and “Allan of the Spoils”—Sir James the Rose—Cainnech, one of St Columba’s monks—Battle at Garvamore in 1187—Traditions of Loch Laggan and its islands—boundaries and extent of parish of Laggan—Old fortification of Dun-da-lamh or the two-handed—Old military road by Corryarrick.

Chapter IX.
Mrs Grant of Laggan—Her ‘Letters from the Mountains’—Her description of the manse—Her allusion to the spirit of mischief inhabiting Corryarrick—Her description of course of Bronnach—Her love for “the gentle and courteous cottagers” of her “ever dear Laggan”—Her life in Edinburgh after her husband’s death—Glimpses of her life in Badenoch—Touching incident of last century—Gaelic ballad relating thereto, and translation thereof by Principal Shairp—The Queen’s visit to Ardverikie in 1847.

THE OLD CHURCH AND CHURCHYARD OF KINGUSSIE (ST COLUMBA’S)

Chapter I.
The planting of the church—St Columba—His last counsels—His death—Muriach, parson of Kingussie in the twelfth century—The Macphersons derive from him the name they now bear—Charter by William the Lion—Concession of Andrew Bishop of Moray—Agreement between same bishop and Walter Cumyn—Ordination order of same bishop—The Wolf of Badenoch cites Bishop of Moray to appear at Standing Stones of Kingussie—Founding of Priory of Kingussie —Prebendaries of Kingussie—St Columba’s Fair—Reminiscences of ruins of old church.

Chapter II.
The three churchyards of Kingussie—Repair of St Columba’s churchyard—The piscina of the old church—Oldest reference to St Columba’s churchyard—A celebrated hunter and poet—The Forester of the Fairy Corry and his fairy sweetheart.

Chapter III.
Transcripts of inscriptions in St Columba’s churchyard, with descriptive notes—Lieut. M'Pherson of Biallidmore—Lieut.-Colonel Angus Macpherson—The Macphersons of Crubinbeg—The Macphersons of Blaragie—Big George of Dallanach—The Macphersons of Invernahaven—The Macphersons of Knap-pach—The Macphersons of “Culenlean”—Lachlan Macpherson of Ralia—The Ardbrylach Macphersons.

Chapter IV.
Captain John Macpherson, the famous Black officer—The Gaick catastrophe—A noted Macpherson of Phoness.

Chapter V.
Lachlan Macpherson of Nuide, chief of the Clan Chattan—His son Cluny of the “’45”—The Macphersons of Breakachy—The last Mackintoshes of Borlum.

Chapter VI.
The “Kings” of Kingussie—The Clarks of Dalnavert—The maternal ancestors of Sir John A. Macdonald, Prime Minister of Canada—The Macdonalds of Ardnamurchan.

SKETCHES OF THE PROTESTANT MINISTERS OF BADENOCH SINCE THE REFORMATION.

Chapter I.
Introductory remarks—Ministers of the parish of Kingussie and Insh.

Chapter II.
Ministers of the parish of Alvie.

Chapter III.
Ministers of the parish of Laggan.

GLIMPSES OF JAMES MACPHERSON, THE TRANSLATOR OF OSSIAN’S POEMS, AND TESTIMONIES AS TO THEIR AUTHENTICITY.

Chapter I.
Macpherson’s early life—His literary and public career—Glimpses of his life in Badenoch.

Chapter II.
Macpherson’s death—Estimates of his character.

Chapter III.
Testimonies as to the authenticity of Ossian’s poems.

THE LAST OF THE OLD JACOBITE CHIEFS.

Chapter I.
“Old Cluny”—Introductory remarks—Sketch of his life—His Jacobite leanings—His golden wedding—His death and burial.

Chapter II.
Descent of “Cluny” from Gillicattan Mor.

SKETCHES OF THE OLD SEATS OF FAMILIES AND OF DISTINGUISHED SOLDIERS, ETC., CONNECTED WITH BADENOCH.

Chapter I.
Introductory remarks—Parish of Kingussie.

Chapter II.
Parish of Alvie.

Chapter III.
Parish of Laggan.

THE OLD CASTLES OF RUTHVEN AND THE LORDS OF BADENOCH.

Chapter I.
The old lordship of Badenoch—The earlier castles—The Earls of Huntly—The siege of the castle in 1594—The battle of Glenlivet.

Chapter II.
The “Water-Poet’s” visit to the castle in 1618—Capture of the castle in 1647—The Macphersons and the wars of Montrose—Men of Badenoch arraigned by Synod of Moray—Capture of the castle in 1649—Castle garrisoned by the English after battle of Worcester—Monck’s despatch to Cromwell from the castle— Monck’s proceedings in the hills.

Chapter III.
The last Marquesses of Huntly—The Dukes of Gordon—Ratification to first Duke of lordship of Badenoch—Castle burnt by Dundee in 1689—Letter by Lieut. Mackay of the garrison of Badenoch to the “ Dutches of Gordone” in 1691— “Vindication” by the Macphersons to the Duke of Gordon in 1699—Shaw’s description of old castle—Queen Mary said to have resorted to castle for pleasures of chase—Account of Queen Mary’s “hunting the deer” in 1563—The Rising of the ’45—Sergeant Money’s defence of castle—Capture of castle by forces of Prince Charlie—Assembling of remnant of the Prince’s followers at Ruthven after Culloden—They set fire to the castle to prevent its falling into hands of Royalists—“The graves of Culloden.”

SELECTIONS FROM THE MSS. OF THE LATE CAPTAIN MACPHERSON (“OLD BIALLID”).

Chapter I.
Introductory remarks—The old deer-forests of Badenoch—Particulars of later measurement and divisions.

Chapter II.
The old cave of Raitts—Sir David Brewster’s description thereof—Rev. Wm. Blair’s description—“ Old Biallid’s” account—The battle of the North Inch of Perth—The battle of Glenfruin.

Chapter III.
The retreats of Cluny of the’45—Colonel John Roy Stewart.

APPENDIX

The Clan Farsons’ bond, 1591—Covenant by members of clan, 1628—Bond beween Laird of Grant and men of Badenoch, 1645—Bond by M'Intosh of Torcastle to Cluny, 1665—Deliverance of “Lords of Privie Counsell” on “debait betwixt the Laird of M'Intosh and Clunie M‘Pherson,” 1672—Letters from Lord Fluntly to the Macphersons, 1674—Extracts from genealogy of the Macphersons in Cluny charter-chest—Declaration by clan regarding chiefship, 1689—Genealogy of the Macphersons from Jeremy Collier’s ‘Genealogical Dictionary,’ 1701 —Bond of friendship between the Frasers, the Camerons, and the Macphersons, 1744—Relative letter, Macpherson of Killihuntly to Simon, Lord Lovat— Account of watch undertaken by Cluny, 1744—Transcripts of MSS. relating to the Clan Chattan and Cluny of the ’45—Letter to Cluny from “Secretary to the Chevalier de St George,” 1758—Letter intimating Cluny’s death at Dunkirk, 1764—“The Clan Chattan” (from Skene's ‘ Highlanders of Scotland’)— Correspondence between Mackintosh and Cluny of the ’45 regarding command of Clan Chattan—Battle of Invernahaven and conflict on North Inch of Perth —Prince Charlie’s retreats in Badenoch—Genealogy of the Macphersons (from Douglas’s ‘Baronage of Scotland’)—Rental of “Lordshipe of Badyenoche.”

Index of Names and Places, List of Subscribers.


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