Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
The year 1835 was a stormy time in politics. The
dismissal of the Whig Ministry by the King in the Autumn of 1834 was
resented in the country, and the new Parliament, elected in the beginning
of 1835, still gave a majority to the Whip, though not so large as before.
Sir Robert Peel, as Prime Minister and Conservative leader, fought a long
and gallant fight in the House of Commons. He was defeated once and again
before he resigned office on the 8th of April, and it was universally
acknowledged that he went out with a higher reputation than when he
entered. During the struggle, Lord John Russell proved an active and
capable leader of Opposition, and so greatly rose in public estimation.
Lord Melbourne again became head of the Whig Government
as Prime Minister; Lord John Russell became Home Secretary and leader of
the Commons; Lord Palmerston became Foreign Minister; and Charles Grant,
raised to the peerage as Lord Glenelg, became Secretary for the Colonies.
There was one notable change: Lord Brougham was not asked to join the new
Government, and the Great Seal was placed for a time in Commission.
Brougham imagined that the omission would be temporary, but his old
colleagues did not care to have him, and he was never asked to take office
again. The session was notable for discussions on Irish Church affairs and
for much oratory from Daniel OConnell. It was made a reproach to the Whig
Government that he gave it his support. The bill for the reform of the
English Municipal Corporations was violently opposed in the Lords, and
nearly led to a quarrel between the Houses. It was passed at last as the
result of a compromise.
Events in Parliament are reflected in our local annals.
On the dissolution of Parliament Charles Grant had a stubborn fight for
the representation of the County of Inverness, and only held the seat by
seven votes against Macleod of Macleod. Soon after the contest Macleod
died. When the new Whig Ministry was formed it was not considered
desirable that Grant should again contest the seat. Accordingly he became
Lord Glenelg. For the vacancy in Inverness-shire, there was a contest
between The Chisholm, in the Conservative
interest, and Mr J. M. Grant of Glenmoriston, in the Liberal. ChishoIm
proved successful by a substantial majority.
From the "Inverness Courier." 1835.
January 7.The proclamation for
dissolving Parliament was signed
on the 29th December, and the writs for the new Parliament were made
returnable on 10th February. For the next fortnight there was unusual
agitation and excitement, in which the Highland constituencies
January 14.There is a long report
of the nomination of candidates for the Inverness District of Burghs. The
hustings were set up on the Exchange. Mr Mackintosh of Geddes proposed the
re-election of Major Cumming-Bruce of Dunphail, which was seconded by Mr
Gilzean of Bunachton. Captain Mackay of Hedgefield proposed Mr Edward
Ellice, junior, the motion being seconded by Provost Fraser. Both
candidates having spoken, a show of hands was taken, when Sheriff Edwards
declared that there was a majority for Mr Ellice. A poll was demanded on
behalf of Major Cumming-Bruce.
lbid.The season had been
exceptionally mild until the close of the first week in January, when
there was a fall of snow, accompanied by sharp, crisp frost. The weather
was not unacceptable to the farmer, and, indeed, the editor thought that
no class had reason to complain, except those who figured at the hustings.
"It is no easy task at any time for provincial orators and patriots to
keep a crowd of people fast chained in silence, and it must be peculiarly
difficult at a time when the head, feet, and hands throb with cold, and
every ray of eloquence is in danger of being intercepted and absorbed by a
fall of snow." On the day of the Inverness nominations, however, the frost
had disappeared, and the weather was comparatively mild.
Ibid."We understand that after the
usual examination Mr Charles Stewart, of this town, was on Thursday last
admitted a solicitor before the Sheriff and other Courts in this county,
and that he intends to practise in Inverness."
January 21.On the 17th inst.
candidates were nominated for the county of Inverness. The re-election of
the Right Hon. Charles Grant was proposed by Mr Macpherson-Grant of
Ballindalloch, and seconded by Mr Fraser of Lovat. The second candidate,
Macleod of Macleod, was prevented by severe indisposition from attending,
but a body of his friends marched to the hustings. Macleod was nominated
by Chisholm of Chisholm, and seconded by Cluny Macpherson. On previous
occasions The Chisholm had supported Mr Grant, and the latter expressed
regret at his change of sentiments. This Mr Grant seems to have felt more
keenly, as he had been one of Chisholms guardians. Mr Grant delivered a
long and eloquent speech, in course of which he emphasized the idea that
"the true conservative principle is wise and seasonable improvement." (See
Northern Highlands, volume L, page 273.)
Ibid.The contest in the Inverness
Burghs resulted in the return of Major Cumming-Bruce by the narrow
majority of four votes. The numbers wereCumming-Bruce, 344; Ellice, 340.
Forres was the stronghold of Major Cumming-Bruce. In all the other burghs
he was in a minority, though in Inverness only a minority of one. The
contest was fought with extraordinary keenness, and charges of bribery and
intimidation were freely exchanged between the supporters of the two
Ibid.In the Elgin Burghs there was
a contest between Colonel Leith Hay, Liberal, and Brodie of Brodie,
Conservative. Colonel Leith Hay was returned by a majority of 120. Mr
Macleod, yr. of Cadboll, was returned unopposed for the county of
Sutherland; Mr James Loch for the Northern Burghs; and the Hon. Colonel
Grant of Grant for the united counties of Elgin and Nairn. For the county
of Ross two candidates were nominated, Mr Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth,
Liberal, and Mr Mackenzie of Applecross, Conservative.
January 28.The contest in the
county of Inverness terminated in favour of Mr Charles Grant, but only by
a majority of seven. The figures wereGrant, 260; Macleod, 253. The
polling extended over two days, and there was a snow-storm at the time.
The contest in Ross-shire resulted in the return of Seaforth by a majority
of 40 (234 votes against 194).
February 4.This issue contains the
reports of two political dinners in Inverness. One was given on 26th
January in the Northern Meeting Rooms to the Right Hon. Charles Grant. Mr
J. M. Grant of Glenmoriston was in the chair. The second was given in the
same place on 30th January to Major Cumming-Bruce. Mr Robertson of
Aultnaskiach was in the chair. The following week Major Cumming-Bruce was
entertained at Forres.
February 11."The Highland Society
have awarded their gold medal to George Dempster, Esq. of Skibo, for a
report founded on experiments of plantations made by him within the last
five years on his estates in Sutherland. The extent of these within this
time is above 1100 acres, and the number of trees planted about three
millions. These plantations are numerous and of very unequal size, but the
most important one is a tract of above 800 acres, and comprehending the
greater part of that rocky ridge between Bonar-Bridge and the River Shin,
which must be familiar to all acquainted with that country."
February 25.Parliament met, and
parties had their first trial of strength on the question of the election
of the Speaker. The Liberals, who were in Opposition, succeeded in
electing Mr Abercromby, by 316 votes against the Ministerial candidate,
Sir Charles Manners Sutton, who received 306 votes.
March 4.The Editor of the
"Quarterly Journal of Agriculture" was at this time strongly urging the
introduction of "public mechanical carriages," to be driven by steam on
the highways, which he wished to have altered for the purpose. His idea
was premature. The day of the motor car was a long way off.
Ibid.Ministers were beaten on the
Address by a majority of seven, but Sir Robert Peel still declined to
March 18.There was a combined
meeting of the members of the Northern Institution and the Directors of
the Royal Academy. The Museum had by this time been transferred to the
Academy directors. Among the contributions made at this meeting was "a
beautiful and extensive collection of rocks, minerals, and fossils from
the neighbourhood of Cromarty," presented by Mr Hugh Miller. The General
Secretary, Mr Anderson, explained the geological structure of the Moray
Firth., with special reference to the lias deposits. Along with the
recognised specimens was a collection of fossil fishes, which Mr Miller
had recently discovered in one of the upper beds of the Old Red Sandstone,
close to the town of Cromarty. The Secretary read an extract from Millers
Traditions of Cromarty, then in the press, descriptive of the geology of
March 25.Dr Gray, who bequeathed
£20,000 to build and endow a hospital at Elgin, left another considerable
sum to his wife. This lady, who had died recently, bequeathed £4000 for
the purpose of building a new church in Elgin.
April 1.Macleod of Macleod, who
contested the county of Inverness with the Right Hon. Charles Grant, died
at Altyre House, near Forres., on the 25th ult., in his 47th year. "The
honourable gentleman had been for some months indisposed; and though
unable to appear on the hustings as a candidate at the last election, he
exerted himself very much in the canvass, during the most stormy and
inclement weather. This laid the seeds of an illness under which, after
various partial recoveries and relapses, he has prematurely sunk." Macleod
had promoted a petition to set aside the return of Mr Grant, but it was
understood that it would now be dropped. For a time Macleod sat in the
House of Commons as representative for the burgh of Sudbury, in Suffolk.
"His strong desire, however, was to represent his native county in
Parliament, and to this object he had directed all his energies for
upwards of ten years, devoting to it no small share of his life and
fortune. In 1818 he concurred with the late Glengarry in the election of
Mr C. Grant (whom he afterwards so often and so strenuously opposed), when
the right hon. gentleman was first returned member for this county; but
even at this time Macleod confused that it was an object of his early
ambition to enjoy the station, as representative for Inverness-Shire,
which so many of his immediate ancestors had filled for a length of time.
Mr Grant on all occasions expressed his high regard for his opponent, and
admitted that his personal virtues, his name and long line of ancestry,
rendered the representation of his native county to him a fair object of
honourable ambition." The remains of the chief were conveyed to Dunvegan,
April 15.The resignation of Sir
Robert Peels Government is announced. It is acknowledged that the spirit
and ability with which Sir Robert had carried on the fight had "extorted
the praises of his most bitter opponents."
Ibid.The number contains the first
account of a murder which created great excitement in the district. The
body of a middle-aged woman was found in a ruined hut in a plantation on
the heights of Kilcoy, in the Black Isle. It had been covered up with turf
and stones, but a party of women and children sent to work in the
plantation observed a glove, part of a veil, and the point of a shoe
protruding. The story, as ultimately put together, was a singular one. The
dead body was that of Jane Brechin, a woman from Montrose, about fifty
years of age, and her murderer was a man John Adam or Adams, originally
from the same district, and thirty-one years of age, who was living at the
time of the murder in Dingwall, under the name of John Anderson. Adam and
Jane Brechin had been fellow servants at Montrose about nine years before,
and had been spoken of as sweethearts, in spite of the disparity of their
years. Adam however, disappeared and enlisted, and while his regiment was
stationed in Derbyshire he won the affections of a girl named Elliot, whom
he persuaded to elope with him under promise of marriage. He did not
fulfil his promise, but they travelled northward till they reached
Dingwall, where they lived together as Mr and Mrs Anderson, the man
working as a labourer. They took up their abode there about a year before
the murder. Meantime Jane Brechin had started a small shop in Montrose,
and had some money in bank. There she was found about Martinmas 1834 by
Adam, who had paid a visit to the place. He stated to the woman that he
was a sawyer at Inverness, and that if she married him he would take a
shop for her there. Against the advice of her friends, who thought Adam
too young and "no like her ava," the poor woman consented to the union,
and Adam returned to Montrose in March 1835 and married. She had sold off
her stock and drawn from the bank £113. The couple came to Inverness,
where Adam took lodgings in Chapel Street; but he must have changed his
story by this time, as he told his wife he had to go to Beauly. He
revisited her several times, and having told her and the persons with whom
she stayed that he had taken a house between Tarradale and Redcastle, they
left Inverness one evening and took the boat across Kessock Ferry. The
woman was never again seen alive. Adam did not care to take her to
Dingwall, where he was living as a married man. When he was apprehended a
sum of £75 was found under his pillow. Adam is described as an exceedingly
handsome man, six feet one high. He denied his guilt, and maintained a
cheerful and buoyant demeanour. The cool and unconcerned attitude of the
man was one of the extraordinary features of the case.
Ibid-"The news of the resignation
of the Peel Ministry having reached Elgin on Saturday afternoon, the
church and jail bells rang a merry peal, by the order of the Magistrates
and Town Council: the greatest enthusiasm and joy prevailed among the
inhabitants at the prospect of a Liberal Ministry being restored to
April 22.The formation of the new
Government is announced. Lord Melbourne became Prime Minister, Lord John
Russell, Home Secretary; Lord Palmerston, Foreign Secretary; and Mr
Charles Grant, Secretary for the Colonies. There was no mention of Lord
Brougham, and it was soon discovered that he was not to be a member of the
Government. Preparations were in progress in the county of Inverness on
the understanding that Charles Grant was to be raised to the peerage.
April 29.The news having arrived in
Lochaber that Lady Vere Cameron had given birth to an heir to the family
of Lochiel, great rejoicings took place. The tacksmen and clergy on the
estates, "from Ballachulish Ferry to the marches of Knoydart," met and
dined together on the 16th inst., at the Neptune Inn, Banavie, to
celebrate the occasion. The 23rd was selected for the lighting of
bonfires, which blazed on many a prominent peak. "There could not be fewer
than 2000 persons present at the bonfires, all of whom were plentifully,
though not improperly, supplied with mountain dew, by the munificence of
Lochiel, to drink health and prosperity to the young chief of the Camerons.
Ibid.The contest for the
representation of the county of Inverness had now begun. Mr J. M. Murray
Grant of Glenmoriston was the Liberal candidate, and Chisholm of Chisholm
May 6.Colonel Leith Hay was
re-elected member for the Elgin District of Burghs. He had been appointed
Clerk of the Ordnance.
Ibid."We understand that Lord
Southampton has taken the shootings, hunting and fishings of Lochbroom, on
the property of Duncan Davidson, Esq. of Tulloch. This is a very extensive
range, embracing a considerable portion of hilly country, and supplies
abundance of red deer, grouse, and black game. The River Broom is also an
excellent angling stream."
May 13.The Right Hon. Charles Grant
was gazetted to the peerage under the title of Baron Glenelg of Glenelg,
in the county of Inverness.
Ibid.The nomination of candidates
for the county is reported in full. Mr Macpherson Grant of Ballindalloch
proposed Mr Grant of Glenmoriston, the motion being seconded by Rev. Mr
Beith. Mr Mackintosh of Geddes nominated the Chisholm, and Mr Walker of
Crawfordtown seconded. The polling began on the 11th, and all the returns
had not been received when the paper went to press. It was known, however,
that The Chisholm had been returned. The next issue gave the figures as
follows :For Chisholm, 268; for Glenmoriston, 240; majority for the
Conservative candidate, 28. If Macleod had lived, there was an impression
that he would have been elected without a contest. This, however, seems
hardly credible, when one perceives the heat which the contest between
Chisholrn and Glenmoriston evolved. There was no disorder, but much angry
Ibid.There was a long discussion in
the Synod of Moray on the question of the funds of the Established Church
of Ireland. Rev. Mr Clark, Inverness, moved a series of resolutions
denouncing the proposal to apply any portion of these funds to any other
than religious and Protestant purposes. Mr Matheson, of Kilmuir, seconded.
Rev. Mr Fraser, of Kirkhill, considered that the motion would be
interpreted as political, and that it was inexpedient for the Synod to
range itself on the side of a political party. He moved that the
resolutions be not adopted, and was seconded by Mr Brodie of Lethen. On a
division thirty members of the Synod voted for Mr Clark's motion, and only
three for Mr Frasers.
Ibid.It is incidentally mentioned,
in an article on Lord Brougham, that "he wrote seventeen long letters with
his own hand within four hours after his memorable speech in Inverness,
all which were duly forwarded by that nights post.'"
May 20."The Town Council of Nairn
held lately a special meeting for the purpose of congratulating John
Cunninghame, Esq., advocate, late Sheriff of Nairnshire on his promotion
to the high office of Solicitor-General; on which occasion he was admitted
a freeman burgess and guild brother of the ancient burgh. In the record of
Mr Cunninghames admission, the Council express their high sense of his
honourable and independent conduct as a judge, during his connection with
the burgh and county, and their respect for his private character."
May 20."The Inverness Packet left
Burghead on Thursday, 23rd April, for London, where she arrived on the
27th of that monthdischarged her cargo there, and having unloaded, sailed
on the 7th curt., and arrived at Burghead on the morning of the
12thhaving been, on her passage, up and down, only nine days, exclusive
of the time she was detained in London. The vessel had full cargoes on
May 27.This issue contains a review
of Hugh Millers first important prose work, "Scenes and Legends of the
North of Scotland." The reviewer expressed the opinion that the book
"places the author among the best popular writers of the day."
June 3.In the General Assembly Dr
Chalmers reported on the liberal support given to his scheme of Church
Extension. A majority of Presbyteries transmitted overtures approving of
the Veto Act. Generally there was at this time great activity in
connection with Church affairs. The Irish Church question was hotly
discussed during the recent election for the county of Inverness.
June 10.Two petitions were
presented on the 2nd inst. in the House of Commons against the return of
The Chisholm. One was by Glenmoriston and the other by Sir David Brewster
and Hugh Davidson of Cantray, electors. The same evening Chisholm took his
seat in the House.
Ibid.Disease threatened the potato
crop. There had been a partial failure the previous year.
Ibid.The Provost of Forres, Mr
Gordon, died in Glasgow. His remains were taken home, and the following
issue describes the funeral.
June 24.The death of William
Cobbett is recorded. A column is devoted to a sketch of his career. "His
laborious life, chequered by so many strange vicissitudes, terminated on
Thursday last at the ripe age of seventy-three. His death will cause a
blank in the world of English politicians and periodical writers. Perhaps
no man in Britain was better known, down to the minutest circumstance in
his history, character, habits, and opinions." Now Cobbett is all but
July 8.A new taste seems to have
sprung up for the more valuable and curiously fine patterns of clan tartan
for ladies dresses, &c. Mr Macdougall draper, here, has an immense
variety of the different patterns, some of them exceedingly rich and
beautiful. Lord Brougham and others have rendered them fashionable in
London, and orders to a great amount for them have been executed in
Ibid.The issue contains the first
of a series of sketches by the editor, giving an account of a trip from
Inverness to Oban, lona, and Staffa. In the same number it is stated that
a proposal had been made to appropriate part of the buildings at
Fort-George to the purposes of a central prison for the Northern Counties.
This idea never bore fruit, but prisoners were actually confined in the
Ibid."On the 27th June a gentleman
angling in Loch-Moy caught a salmon with a small trout fly, which weighed
upwards of 10 lbs. This is the first instance of a salmon taken in Loch-Moy,
and the wonder is how it could possibly get there." Loch-Moy drains into
the Findhorn, but the stream is small.
July 15.The petition against the
return of The Chisholm as member for the county of Inverness was rejected
by the Committee of the House of Commons appointed to hear the case. The
point at issue was whether voters from the Grantown district, "which is
totally separated from Inverness-shire, being surrounded by the counties
of Moray and Nairn," were entitled to vote. The number from that district
who had voted for Chisholm was 29, and his majority in the contest was 28.
The petitioners founded on a clause in the Reform Act which provided "that
all properties lying locally within the limits of any county shall, for
the purposes of this Act, be held to be part of the county with which they
are locally included." The Parliamentary Committee, however, held that no
vote could be questioned by a Committee of the House of Commons which had
not been objected to previously at the local Courts of Registration. This
decision disposed of the case for the petitioners.
Ibid.The Sheep and Wool Market held
the previous week had proved a very stiff one, though in the end an
average amount of business was done. "last year prices were too high for
the purchasers both of wool and sheep, and this year there has been a
reduction of about 4s per stone on Cheviot wool, 6s on the double stone of
blackfaced, and 3s on Cheviot wedders per head.. Ewes were greatly in
demand, and the unfavourable spring having operated very injuriously in
some of the districts, lambs were scarce and fetched good prices." Cheviot
wedders fetched from 22s to 27s 6d; blackfaced from 15s to 18s 9d; Cheviot
ewes from 18s to 20s 6d; blackfaced from 10s to 13s; Cheviot lambs from 8s
blackfaced from 7s to 8s. Cheviot washed wool per stone fetched from 19s
to 20s 6d; unwashed 15s to 16s; blackfaced per double stone 19s to 20s 6d;
cross, unwashed, 12s to 14s; do. washed, 14s to 15s. "In order to improve
their flocks, twelve of our principal sheep farmers last year agreed to
have a show of tups at this market, after which they were to make
arrangements for exchanging them. The exhibition took place on Thursday,
when Mr Shirreff, Barnyards; Mr Laidlaw, Knockfin; Mr Sellar, Morvich; Mr
Gentle, Dell; and Mr Mactavish, Garthbeg, produced some fine specimens of
one and two-year-old tups. It would be highly to the advantage of the
different flocks in the North if this exhibition were continued."
Ibid."The estate of Glentromie, in
Badenoch, was purchased on Wednesday last by Mr Baillie of Bristol
(formerly M.P. for that city) for the sum of £7350. This was £2050 above
the upset price, and is said to be an instance of the highest price ever
given for land in the Highlands."
Ibid.In connection with the
announcement of the appointment of James Loch, M.P., as Deputy-Governor of
the British Fishery Society, in place of William Smith, deceased, the
opportunity is taken of commemorating Mr Smiths interest in the
Highlands. He was long and honourably known as M. P. for Norwich and was
associated with the labours of Romilly, Wilberforce, and Sir James
Mackintosh. But in addition to this, we are told that few men were so
zealous as Mr Smith in forwarding every object connected with the
improvement of the North of Scotland. "This was exemplified in the
establishment of Pulteneytown, Wick, and the harbour there, and the active
part he took in the promotion of the Highland roads and bridges and the
Caledonian Canal. The time he devoted to these objects, in attending
meetings, and in consulting and corresponding with individuals and public
bodies, was immense, and would have formed almost sufficient employment,
without reference to other duties, for many a public man less benevolent,
persevering, and enthusiastic."
July 22.An appeal is made for funds
for the Nairn Academy. In 1832 one class-room had been fitted up and
opened. A second classroom had been erected at the same time, and it was
now proposed to fit it up and make further educational provision.
July 29.This issue contains a
memorial sketch of Mr Evan Baillie of Dochfour, who had recently passed
away at the age of 95. "He had witnessed the battle of Culloden, when a
boy, from the heights above Dochfour; he had served in the army in the
reign of George the Second; he was three times returned as representative
in Parliament for the ancient city of Bristol; he was one of the very few
men in our day who has met at one interview with Burke, Johnson, and
Reynolds; and after a long, active, and successful public life, he had the
rare felicity to return to his native country, blessed with health and
affluence, to spend the evening of his days in quiet retirement among the
scenes of his birth." Going into details, the writer states that Mr
Baillie entered the army as ensign at the age of fifteen, and was employed
on active service abroad, especially in the West Indies. He was at the
siege of Havannah in 1762. On the restoration of peace, seeing no prospect
of promotion, he retired from the army, and embarked in the West Indian
trade, finally settling at Bristol, which he afterwards represented in
Parliament. By the death of his elder brother in 1799, Mr Baillie
succeeded to the family property of Dochfour, and resided there during the
last twenty years of his life. "Mr Baillie was a perfect model of the
gentleman of the old school; tall and handsome in his person, of polished
manners and of the most punctilious honour and correctness in all his
transactions and intercourse with society."
Ibid.A report prepared by Mr
Maclean, Mr Mitchell, and Mr May, was submitted to the Town Council for
the improvement of the banks of the river. It provided a handsome walk
between the Stone Bridge and the Islands on each side, "and an ample
carriageway along the bank between the two bridges." Also, we are told,
"it provides for the uniformity, strength, and beauty of the banks, and
suggests a general improvement calculated altogether to combine utility
and ornament, and to promote the safety and comfort of the inhabitants."
The expense was estimated at £1200, and the question of ways and means was
a matter of serious consideration.
Ibid.The Presbytery of Inverness
met to consider the constitution of the proposed new church for Inverness
(the West Church). The town ministers, through Rev. Mr Clark, had
submitted a plan to the Assembly, which had given it a qualified
approbation, and remitted the subject to the Presbytery. The question was
whether the church should be subject to a general Session, comprising all
the ministers of the town, or should have a separate constitution. The
town ministers were in favour of a general Session, and their motion was
carried by a majority of one.
August 5.The Northern Missionary
Society held its annual meeting at Dingwall. The collection amounted to
£17 12s 7 1/2d; subscriptions and donations, £35 9s 6d; total, £53 2s 11
Ibid.A Prussian vessel foundered
recently off the island of St Kilda, and the crew of eleven got safe to
land. They remained a fortnight before finding an opportunity of crossing
to Skye. "The expenses of these eleven men for fourteen days, including
board, lodging, and all conveniences, amounted to just five shillings."
The islanders nowadays have a better knowledge of the value of money.
Ibid.The right of shooting and
fishing over the upper district of Strathconon, in Ross-shire, is
advertised to let. It is stated that grouse were most abundant, and there
were ptarmigan on several of the hills. The ground had been let for three
years previously, and its tenants certified that it afforded excellent
sport. One of them wrote that an ordinary shot might with great ease bag
20 brace of grouse a day, and he also said that "he and one companion
killed 13 brace of ptarinigan in about half-an-hour." A shooting ledge was
in course of erection.
Ibid.There is a list of sportsmen
at shooting quarters in the Highlands. The number of names given is about
forty, but the list does not profess to be exhaustive.
August 19."Eighty-eight boxes of
game have during the week passed through the coach office here, and a
considerable number have been sent South by the Caledonian coach along the
Highland road. On the evening of the Twelfth a box was forwarded to his
Majesty from Inverness, believed to be from Lady Saltoun. Several were
sent to the Duke of Wellington, the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, Lady
Blessington, the Bishop of Norwich, and other personages of rank and
Ibid."We understand that Lord
Glenelg, Secretary for the Colonies, has appointed our townsman, John
Anderson, Esq., W.S., Special Justice of the Island of St Vincent. Mr
Anderson has been long and favourably known as the Secretary of the
Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, to whose Transactions he has
contributed various papers. He is also the author of a History of the Clan
Fraser, and other works illustrative of the Highlands."
August 26.The following is quoted
from an Edinburgh paper :"The plan and regulations proposed by the
ministers of Inverness for a new church in that important and influential
quarter of the Highlands of Scotland, were approved unanimously by last
General Assembly; and in terms of a remit from last Assembly the
Commission have just decerned and ordained that the same arrangement shall
be binding on the future as well as on the present ministers of Inverness;
and that the new church shall be in all respects on the same footing as
the two original Parish Churches. No appearance was made on behalf of a
minority of the Presbytery, who, in the Court below, endeavoured to oppose
a scheme which has now received the final sanction of the Church of
Scotland." Subscriptions are intimated for the new building, amounting to
September 2."Dr John MCulloch,
author of the celebrated Tour in the Highlands, and other works, met with
his death last week in a very melancholy manner. He was thrown out of a
gig at Penzance, in Cornwall, and his foot caught in the wheel, by which
his leg was broken in two places, and also some of his ribs. Amputation
was resorted to, but in a short time mortification ensued, and death
terminated his existence. It is scarcely three months since he was
married. Dr MCulloch was an able geologist, and as a general writer
distinguished for learning and acuteness; hut his work on the Highlands is
disfigured by the grossest prejudice and misrepresentation."
Ibid.The Rev. Finlay Cook, late of
Inverness, was on Wednesday, the 19th ult., inducted by the Presbytery of
Caithness into the pastoral charge of the parish of Reay. Owing to the
number of people present, the services of the day were held out of doors.
September 9.The Duke of Sutherland
and his young son, the Marquis of Stafford (aged seven), were presented
with the freedom of the burgh of Tain. The Duke had recently acquired
property in the neighbourhood.
Ibid."About thirty recruits were
enlisted here for the auxiliary forces, under General Evans, in support of
the Queen of Spain. Only ten, however, have actually gone; they sailed to
Greenock via the Caledonian Canal. The remaining twenty were found missing
in the hour of cause, and will probably (to the great regret of the
police) continue in the town." The struggle was then going on between the
Carlists and the forces of Queen Christina. General De Lacy Evans
commanded a British contingent.
September 16.Mr Grant of Corrimony,
"the father of the Scottish bar," died at Lakefield, Glen-Urquhart, on the
previous Sunday. He was in his 93rd year. "Mr Grant was an accomplished
scholar and antiquary, and, what is not often united to these qualities,
he was a first-rate musician, both vocal and instrumental. He was author
of a work on the Origin of the Gael, and he also wrote treatises on the
origin of language and society. He was early distinguished for his liberal
political principles, and associated with Henry Erskine and other eminent
men of that day, and subsequently with Sir James Mackintosh, Mr Homer, &c.
He retained his faculties to the last, and from the extent and variety of
his attainments was a delightful companion."
Ibid.The close of a stormy session
of Parliament is recorded. The bill for the reform of the English
corporations excited great controversy, and was only passed at last by the
Commons accepting certain amendments pressed upon them by the Lords.
Ibid.The same issue contains an
account of a disturbance which took place in the town of Dingwall in 1730.
The story appears to be compiled from the Corporation records.
September 23.There is a long report
of the trial, at the Inverness Circuit Court, of John Adam for the murder
of his wife, Jean Brechin, on the heights of Kilcoy, in the Black Isle.
The circumstances have already been given in these Notes. The prisoner had
issued three declarations. The discrepancies between the first two and the
third were so marked as to form by themselves strong presumptive evidence
against him. Besides this, there was abundant and conclusive evidence. The
jury brought in a unanimous verdict of guilty, and the prisoner was
sentenced to death. At the same circuit there was an important civil case
relating to the will of one Alexander Mackenzie, Fortrose. The will was
September 30.At the Northern
Meeting the Duke of St Albans and Lord Frederick Beauclerk were present
wearing the Highland dress. The Meeting nominally extended over three
days, but the actual days were Thursday and Friday. On Friday forenoon the
company were entertained at Dochfour with a boat race, rifle practice, and
pigeon shooting. "The rifle shooting was at a hundred yards distance, and
though Captain Horatio Ross of Rossie was one of the marksmen, the palm of
victory was carried off by Cluny Macpherson." The example of Mr Baillie is
commended to the attention of neighbouring proprietors. "Since the disuse
of horse-racing, our visitors have had no morning amusement during their
attendance here, and the want of it has been sensibly felt."
Ibid.The Commissioners of the Scots
Burghs had published part of their Local Reports, extending alphabetically
from Arbroath to Fortrose. Several items are extracted in this issue.
Dingwall suffered from a debt, amounting to £2367. Part of it consisted of
a sum of £800 of damages, which the burgh had incurred through alleged
failure in the custody of a prisoner confined for debt. This charge
Seaforth had undertaken to pay. The greater part of the balance consisted
of law expenses in connection with a fishing process. Dingwall had an
average rental from fishing and lands of £273 7s 2d, and an expenditure of
£181 14s 10d. The kirk-officer was stated to have a salary of five
shillings a year! Dornoch rejoiced in the annual income of £3 15s, being
the rent of the burgh links and the amount of the customs and market dues.
It paid £40 3s 4d yearly to the Town-Clerk and officers, the difference
having been made up for many years by the Duke of Sutherland. The burgh of
Forres had the handsome income, for its size, of £619 19s 9d, considerably
more than half of which arose from land rents. The total expenditure,
including improvements, charities, &c., came to £528 18s 10d, and there
were no local taxes. This was surely a happy burgh! On the other hand, the
burgh of Fortrose was entirely in the hands of a person named Roderick
Macfarquhar, who, for twenty-three years had "managed its affairs
exclusively, suffering no one to participate with him in power." This
gentleman was able for some reason to act as a local monarch. "On one
occasion, it is related, a party in the Council voted against Mr
Macfarquhar, and he burned out the whole opposing members, five the first
year and two the next, stating that as they could not agree in politics,
a separation was desirable. He put in a rather heavy pecuniary claim
against the burgh, and this may have been the secret of his ascendancy.
October 7.No fewer than four otters
appeared in the River Ness under the Old Stone Bridge. A crowd gathered
and several shots were fired. One otter was killed, the rest escaping. The
paragraph states that the River Ness was at times much infested with
Ibid.A sheep farmer, Thomas Hall,
was drowned in the River More, in Gildermory, Ross-shire. He was crossing
a ford on horseback on a stormy sight, when a great body of water rushed
down the river, carrying away horse and rider. They were swept into
October 14.A "grand promenade" was
held in the Ness Islands on Saturday, the 10th inst. It was arranged by
the Committee which had been carrying out the improvements of the islands.
Communication with both banks of the river had now been completed by the
erection of suitable bridges; the two islands had also been joined by a
new bridge, and the walks trimmed up.
The promenade came off with success, though the
day was showery. Proceedings began at four oclock. The programme included
the performances of a band and piper, and a display of fireworks prepared
and superintended by Mr Gyngill, of the Royal Gardens, Vauxhall. The
proceeds were applied to the Improvement Fund. Admission wasfor ladies
and gentlemen, 2s; for children and servants, 1s; and there were from 300
to 400 present.
October 21.John Adam was executed
on the previous Friday for the Mullbuy murder. His character was one of
singular hardihood. He slept soundly the night before his death, and in
his waking hours talked with his wanders about his adventures in the army
and other indifferent topics. The execution took place at the Longman.
Owing to the density of the crowd the culprit was conveyed in a carriage.
He was dressed in a long camlet black coat, provided for the occasion. The
spectators numbered over 8000 persons. Adam to the end refused to confess
his crime. Afterwards, however, it turned out that he had acknowledged it
to a fellow-prisoner, to be made known after his death. His execution was
the last to take place at Inverness.
October 28.It is stated that a
striking instance of the increased value of Highland pastoral districts
occurred the previous week in the sale of the Cromartie lands, in
Ross-shire. The Fannich lot, rented at £180 per annum, sold for £6550,
about thirty-seven years purchase. The Lochbroom lot sold for £9200,
being thirty-four years purchase. The sale took place at Edinburgh, and
was pretty sharply contested. The upset price of the two was £13,150; it
rose £2000 higher, when the two lots were knocked down at £15,756, to Mr
Murdoch Mackenzie, late of Ardross, then of Dundonell. The editor says
that a very few years before these prices would have been considered
ruinous. He attributes the rise to the prosperity of sheep-farming and the
improved means of communication. Sport had also by this time come to be a
considerable asset. "Even unconquerable barrenness," we are informed, "is
now turned to good account. At the present moment, we believe, many
Highland proprietors derive a greater revenue from their moors alone, for
grouse shooting, than their whole rental amounted to sixty years since.
The passion entertained by English gentlemen for field-sports has been
fostered by the increased means of communication northwards, and up and
down the country, from the highest hill to the deepest and most distant
glen. The sportsman throws himself into a steamer at London, and in
forty-eight hours or less he is in Edinburgh or Aberdeen. Another day and
he is in the heart of moor and mountain, where he may shoot, saunter, or
angle to his hearts content." The country inns had by this time vastly
Ibid.On the previous Wednesday the
electors of the combined counties of Ross and Cromarty, resident in
Dingwall and neighbourhood, entertained their representative, J. A.
Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth, to a public dinner in the Caledonian Hotel,
Dingwall. There was a crowded attendance, and many speeches were
delivered. The dinner was mostly political. Mr Roderick Macleod, yr. of
Cadboll, M.P. for Sutherland, was in the chair. Major Gilchrist of
Ospisdale and Captain Sutherland of Udoll were croupiers.
Ibid.The Rev. Alexander Duff, who
had just received the degree of D.D. from Marischal College, Aberdeen,
addressed a meeting in the High Church on the subject of India The address
made a powerful impression. A collection at the close amounted to £42 18s.
November 4There is an article on
railways, which were now being promoted at a great rate. It is stated that
no fewer than thirty-two companies had recently been projected. The
formation of lines connecting London with important provincial centres was
in contemplation. The newspapers were apprehensive of the results of this
"fever of speculation?
Ibid.The ferry boat In the MeikIe
Ferry struck on an anchor within fifteen or twenty yards of the shore, on
the Tain side, and filled. There were seventeen persons on board, and
their lives were in great danger. One passenger, Mr J. H. Richardson, a
shipping secretary from North Shields, attempted to swim ashore, but was
carried away and drowned. A ferryman managed to swim to a small boat
moored in the neighbourhood, and so rescued the rest of the passengers.
November 11.Mr John Fraser (father
of the late Dr Donald Fraser) was re-elected Provost of Inverness.
Ibid.It appears from the report of
a county meeting in Ross-shire that eight men, convicted of assault, had
been sentenced to imprisonment at Fort-George. This was because there was
no proper gaol in Dingwall. The meeting, by a majority, agreed to advance
aliment, claiming the right of relief against "the said prisoners, the
burgh of Dingwall, the Board of Excise, and all concerned."
November 18."On Wednesday last
Mackintosh of Mackintosh removed from Daviot House to Moy Hall, the
beautiful residence of his ancestors, which had for several years been
occupied by the late Dowager Lady Mackintosh, who held a life-rent of the
family mansion." The tenantry turned out and gave the chief a hearty
welcome, and in the evening the hills were Iighted up with bonfires. Lady
Mackintosh died on the 17th ult. She was the widow of Sir AEneas
Mackintosh, and daughter of Sir Ludovick Grant of Dalvey.
December 2.The death of James Hogg,
the Ettrick Shepherd, is announced, and the poet is made the subject of an
Ibid.An Auxiliary Missionary
Society had recently been formed in connection with the Presbytery of
Nairn. The first annual meeting was held on the 19th ult., and it was
announced that within the bounds of the Presbytery £66 1s 8d had been
December 16."On Wednesday, the 9th
inst., a party of the Atalanta revenue cutter, consisting of an officer
and four men, whilst discharging their duty in Strathglass, were attacked
by a band of smugglers, about fourteen in number, and driven back with
great violence. One of the men was so severely cut and bruised about the
head that it was found necessary to convey him to Inverness in a cart for
December 23.The death is announced
of Campbell Mackintosh of Dalmigavie, who had been 50 years acting
Town-Clerk of Inverness, 25 years Collector of Taxes for Inverness-shire,
and 51 years in extensive practice as procurator and land steward. He was
in his 78th year. A cordial appreciation is given of his character. In the
same issue it is announced that the Town Council had resolved to appoint
Mr Alexander Shepperd, solicitor, as Town-Clerk in succession to Mr
Mackintosh. Mr George Cameron gave in his resignation as Town Chamberlain,
and Mr Robert Smith was appointed to the office in his stead.
December 30.Towards the close of
the year the Right Hon. Sir John Sinclair, Bart, died at the age of 81. In
the departments of trade, agriculture, and finance, Sir John had performed
services which made him one of the consion as Town Chamberlain,
and Mr Robert Smith was appointed to the office in his stead.
December 30.Towards the close of
the year the Right Hon. Sir John Sinclair, Bart, died at the age of 81. In
the departments of trade, agriculture, and finance, Sir John had performed
services which made him one of the conspicuous men of his time. The work
by which he is now best remembered is the Old Statistical Account of
Scotland. "This work was first commenced in 1790. It was prosecuted
uninterruptedly for seven years, during which a correspondence was carried
on with all the clergy of the Church of Scotland, amounting to nearly
1000; and it was brought successfully to completion by the gradual
publication of twenty-one thick octavo volumes, in which a separate
account is given of every parish in North Britain."