Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
The year 1837 was notable for the
death of King William IV. and the accession of Queen Victoria. Political
feeling at the time ran high. A bye-election was caused in Ross-shire by
the appointment of Seaforth as Governor of Ceylon, and in the contest
which followed, the Conservative candidate, Mr. Mackenzie of Applecross,
won the seat by a large majority. At the General Election which ensued on
the accession of the new Sovereign, Applecross retained the seat without a
contest, and The Chisholm again defeated Mr Grant of Glenmoriston in the
County of Inverness. In the Burghs, Mr Macleod of Cadboll secured the
representation for the Whigs, but not by a large majority. It is curious
to find that Forres was then the most Conservative burgh of the group.
This year there was great distress in the Western Highlands and Islands,
and subscriptions for their relief were raised throughout the country. In
the Inverness Town Council parties were very closely divided, and the
angry spirit which bad recently been exhibited found fresh illustration.
From the "Inverness Courier." 1837.
January 4.—The death is recorded of
Captain Alexander Clark, for years master of the smack Fame, trading
between London and the Northern ports. Captain Clark had an adventurous
career. He was born at Covesea in Morayshire, in 1760, and at the age of
twelve was pressed into the naval service. He served on board the
Fortitude line-of-battleship under Admiral Parker, and was present at
several engagements (among others with the Dutch in 1781 off the Dogger
Bank), and subsequently in the American war. On returning to Scotland he
became master of a "free trade" lugger, but ultimately gave it up for more
regular service. As master of the smack Fame, he enjoyed great respect and
confidence. An anecdote illustrates his brave character. "While sailing
between London and Inverness, off the coast of Aberdeen, a large French
privateer hove in sight, and immediately gave chase, which he no sooner
observed than he forthwith prepared for action, ordering his men to the
guns, and a party of soldiers, who were fortunately on board, to arms. The
Frenchman, on perceiving that there was every appearance of his receiving
a warm reception, sheered off, to the great mortification both of soldiers
and seamen. The cool and resolute conduct he displayed on this occasion
was taken honourable notice of at Lloyd’s office, where an account of the
matter was posted." Captain Clark died at Cromarty.
Ibid.—"On the 11th November, at
Strone-Nevis, near Fort-William, Evan Macmillan, aged one hundred years.
This veteran, the oldest pensioner in Great Britain, entered the army in
1758, and was severely wounded at the battle of Quebec under General
Wolfe, in consequence of which he became an out-pensioner of Chelsea
Hospital, and continued so for the period of seventy-five years. He
retained all his faculties, except his eyesight, to the last. He used to
give a distinct account of the siege of Fort-William, by the army of
Prince Charles in 1746, and of other events of that interesting period,
which he had witnessed."
Ibid.—Influenza was raging at this
time in the North of Scotland. It is stated that in Aberdeen and Banff
business was almost suspended for a time. In a subsequent issue it is
stated that the epidemic had reached Inverness, and was very severe.
January 18.—An old woman named
Isobel Noble, better known as Ishbel Mhor, or Big Isobel, died at the
Maggot, Inverness, on the 11th Inst. She was born the year after the
battle of Culloden, near the fatal field. She was a bit of a character,
and her portrait was painted by a local artist, Mr Macinnes, Chapel
Street. Isobel was tall, one eyed, and remarkably "plain."
Ibid.—The North Church, Inverness,
was opened on the previous Sabbath, when the Rev. Mr Cook preached. It is
stated that the church had only been commenced about six months
previously, and was now nearly finished, and about three-fourths of the
sittings taken. The Rev. Archibald Cook, then at Reay, was soon afterwards
called as minister.
Ibid.—"Died, at Inverness, en the
11th inst., aged 62, Mr Walter Munro, Baptist minister, long known in the
Highlands and Islands of Scotland as a faithful and laborious preacher of
increased communication between Inverness and the other Northern Counties
is strikingly illustrated by the fact that the Ferry at Kessock, near this
town, which about twenty-five years ago used to be let for £150 per annum,
now draws in a rent of £800 a year."
February 1.—A meeting was held in
Edinburgh to take into consideration the destitute condition of a large
part of the Western Highlands and Islands. The crop of 1835 had been bad,
and the crop of 1836 still worse, causing great distress. It was stated
that one proprietor had provided supplies to the amount of £1500. Reports
of the condition of affairs were given from Skye, Lochbroom, the Long
Island, &c. The meeting resolved to appeal for subscriptions in England as
well as Scotland.
Ibid.—The "Gazette" of January 24th
announced the elevation of Thomas Alexander Fraser of Lovat to the
peerage, "by the name, style, and title of Baron Lovat of Lovat, in the
county of Inverness." On his lordship’s return to the North a few weeks
later, the event was celebrated with great rejoicings. [Thomas
Alexander Fraser of Strichen & Lovat (1802-75) was descended from Thomas
Fraser of Knockie & Strichen (1548-1612), second son of Alexander Fraser
4th Lord Lovat (1527-1557).] - see The Old Lords of Lovat and Beaufort at
Ibid.—On the 26th of January the
Rev. Alexander Fraser, of Cawdor, was inducted as minister of Kirkhill, in
succession to his father, the late Donald Fraser.
[According to Fasti vi, p. 474, Rev. Alexander
Fraser (1804-1883) was ordained at Cawdor 20 Nov 1828 and transferred to
Kirkhill 26 Jan 1837. He died unmarried at Kirkhill 21 June 1883. His
grandfather, Rev. Alexander Fraser (1749-1802), his father, Rev. Donald
Fraser (1783-1836) and he, served as ministers at Kirkhill for 110 years.]
February 15.—In a recent boat
accident in the neighbourhood of Dunvegan, in Skye, thirteen lives were
lost. "A meeting had been called by the minister to receive information on
the destitute state of his poor parishioners, so widely scattered over
that rugged country. After it had concluded a party, consisting of fifteen
persons, left in a boat. In endeavouring to pass
a rock near the shore the boat struck; several
tried to heave it off the rock, but the boat capsized, and thirteen
persons, twelve men and a woman, were drowned. The remaining two escaped,
one by clinging to an oar, and the other, a female, by getting on a rock,
whence she was removed after the storm had
February 22.—There is an account of
the financial returns of the steamer Duchess of Sutherland, plying between
the Moray Firth and London. The first season yielded a profit of only £195
15s 4½d, and this was regarded as rather discouraging. The vessel had been
kept on too long, namely, from March to November, and it was intended to
shorten the season, though beginning this year in March. The export of
live stock had proved profitable to agriculturists, but was not sufficient
in amount to be satisfactory to the company running the steamer. The
freight was accordingly to be advanced.
lbid.—A violent gale from the
south-west visited the district the previous Saturday. "In the County
Buildings here no less than twenty-one panes of glass were blown in, while
it was dangerous to walk the streets, in consequence of the fall of
slates, chimney-tops, &c., from the roofs of the houses. In the county
many thatched cottages were completely unroofed, and fences, haystacks,
and outbuildings thrown down."
Ibid.—Operations had been resumed at
the lead mines of Strontian. From two to three hundred persons were
March 1.—A deplorable account is
given of the state of destitution prevailing among the people of Skye.
"The unfavourable weather destroyed their peats, and they have neither
money nor opportunities to purchase coals or wood. In this extremity the
poor people have lately in some places been driven to consume their turf
huts and cottages for fire. They meet and draw lots whose house is to be
taken down for fuel, and afterwards in the same manner determine which of
their number is to maintain the poor family deprived of their home. Almost
shut up by the stormy elements, crowding round their miserable fire thus
scantily and painfully supplied—and with only, at long intervals, a
handful of oatmeal or potatoes—we know not that the history of the British
people ever presented such pictures of severe unmitigated want and misery
as are exemplified at this movement in the case of the poor Highlanders."
March 8.—The shootings of
Auchnasheen, Cabuie, and Dochsmurckan, with the right of fishing on Loch-Rosque
and Loch-Fannich, are advertised to let on lease. "The moors," it is
stated, "are well stocked with grouse, ptarmigan, and blackcock, and red
deer may be found at all times within the bounds, which extend to upwards
of 16,000 acres, or twenty-five square miles."
Ibid.—The Town Council, by a
majority of 11 to 7 votes, adopted a report on the subject of Dr Andrew
Bell’s endowment for education. They resolved to erect one principal
school for the education of all classes, and several local schools for the
education of the poor. The minority were in favour of some arrangement
with the Academy.
March 21—A public meeting was held
in Inverness, under the auspices of the Town Council, to assist in raising
funds for the relief of distress in the Western Highlands and Islands.
Provost Ferguson was in the chair, and liberal subscriptions were
announced. A committee in Aberdeen had also arranged for a supply of meal
and oats. The movement became general.
April 5.—The appointment is
announced of Mr J. A. Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth to be Governor of
Ceylon. This created a vacancy in the Parliamentary representation of the
county of Ross, and two candidates were already in the field. Mr William
Mackenzie of Muirton came forward in the Whig interest, and Mr Thomas
Mackenzie of Applecross came forward on behalf of the Conservatives.
Ibid.—The new Catholic Chapel in
Bluntly Street was opened on the previous Sunday by Bishop Kyle, assisted
by the Rev. Messrs Rankin, of Badenoch, and Thomas Chisholm, of
Strathglass. Among the congregation on the opening day were the two
Sobieski Stuarts. The architect of the church was Mr Robertson, Elgin.
April 12.—The nomination of
candidates for the representation of the county of Ross took place on the
previous day. Mr Hay Mackenzie of Cromartie nominated Mr Mackenzie of
Applecross, and Mr Horatio Ross of Rossie seconded the motion. The
nomination of Mr Mackenzie of Muirton was made by Seaforth and seconded by
Cadboll. The report of the speeches on the occasion extends to 54
newspaper columns. Mr Gladstone, "an extensive West Indian merchant," was
present, and being appealed to made some remarks in criticism of the
policy of the Whig Government. The Conservative candidate said he looked
on the contest "not as between Conservatives and self-styled Liberals, but
as a fierce struggle between Protestantism and its hydra-headed enemies."
His opponent replied that "he was opposed to Popery because he thought it
an enemy to civil liberty; but he wished to see it overcome by mild
means—by the spread of education—and he thought, with Dr Chalmers, that
Protestantism was best supported not by coercion but by spiritual
Ibid.—" We understand the extensive
and beautiful Highland estate of Glenelg has just passed into the hands of
a new proprietor. Lord Glenelg has disposed of it to James Evan Baillie,
Esq., formerly one of the representatives for Bristol, and at present a
banker and merchant in that city. Mr Baillie purchased another Highland
property in Badenoch from the late Duke of Gordon. The estate of Glenelg
is said to have been sold for £77,000."
April 19.—The contest in Ross-shire
resulted in favour of the Conservative candidate. The poll stood—For Mr
Mackenzie of Applecross, 307; for Mr Mackenzie of Muirton, 196; majority
for Applecross, 111. At the previous election Seaforth, as the Whig
candidate, had a majority of 40. In the same issue there is a report of a
public dinner given to Seaforth at Dingwall on his appointment as Governor
Ibid.—A number of subscribers had
made arrangements with the Magistrates and Town Council to form a
reading-room on the ground floor of the Town Hall. Certain improvements
were to be made on the building, and until these were completed the
subscribers were allowed the use of the Northern Meeting Rooms.
April 26.—Echoes of the Ross-shire
election appear in this number. The chief factor in winning the seat
appears to have been the Protestant feeling aroused by the clergy.
Ibid.—There is a summary of the
annual report of the Parliamentary Commissioners for Highland Roads and
Bridges. One of the subjects was the recent establishment of the mail
coach on the Highland road. "The adoption of this arrangement, by which
twenty hours in the course of the Northern post are saved, has been
principally owing to the recent improvements at the Pass of Slochmuich,
which has heretofore presented the most serious obstacle on the line. The
obstruction experienced by the mail from snow in the past winter has been
immaterial, compared with that sustained in the far more populous Southern
and Westen districts of Great Britain, and was, in fact, little beyond
what, it may be anticipated, will be removed by the experience of two or
three seasons. The Commissioners appear to feel encouraged by this result,
as productive of a most important benefit to the country, and confirmatory
of the correctness of the views with which a survey of the highland line
and the adjacent district was directed." This survey was carried out by Mr
Joseph Mitchell. In course of the year a stone bridge of three arches over
the river Oich at Aberchalder had been completed.
Ibid.—A steeplechase, sweepstakes
five sovereigns each, was organised by officers at Fort-George. The course
was a circuit of three miles in the neighbourhood of Inverness, the horses
starting and finishing in the same field. "It included upwards of twenty
leaps, five roads, three brooks, eight fallow fields, and a beautiful
run-in over grass laid for the last quarter of a mile." The race was won
in little more than ten minutes. The winner was Captain Towne’s Tramp,
which "was jockeyed in splendid style by Captain Duberly, and did not make
a single mistake throughout the race." During the season there had been a
good deal of coursing.
May 3.—It is stated that the Duchess-Countess of
Sutherland is providing relief and assistance for 3000 persons on her
Ibid.—Mr John Edwards, Sheriff-Substitute, had recently
been appointed Receiver-General of Jamaica. Before his departure a
handsome silver epergne was presented to him as a mark of respect. It bore
the following inscription:—"Presented by landowners and inhabitants of the
county and royal burgh of Inverness, to John Edwards, Esquire, Principal
Sheriff-Substitute of Inverness-shire, in testimony of their approbation
of his conduct and character as a Judge, their respect for his talents,
their esteem for his private virtues—29th April 1837." The plate was
accompanied by an address, and the presentation was made by Mackintosh of
Mackintosh. At the April county meeting a resolution was also passed
bearing testimony to the "zeal, ability, integrity, and great legal
knowledge," which Mr Edwards had displayed in his administration of the
civil and criminal business of the county.
Ibid.—A small clay image was discovered on the margin
of a stream near Inverness. "In the forehead is placed a needle, run far
into the head; and several pins and needles garnish the lower parts of the
figure. The body and arms are fastened to the head by means of red silk
threads, disposed in equal numbers on each side." This was a vindictive
form of superstition, of which examples have been found at a much more
May 10.—The Synod of Ross and the Synod of Moray both
petitioned against the bill for the abolition of Church rates in England.
Ibid.—There is a notice of a "remarkable pamphlet" by
Mr Rowland Hill, advocating the establishment of a penny post. The facts
and figures are carefully noted and discussed.
May 17.—By the death of a Magistrate, Bailie Stalker, a
vacancy had been created in the Town Council. The membership of the
Council was thus equally divided between Tories and Whigs, ten on each
side. The election of a Councillor ad interim revived a slumbering feud.
The Conservatives put forward as their candidate Mr David Rose, the Whigs
Mr Kenneth Douglas. The Conservatives, however, it was evident, would have
the casting vote of the Provost, and accordingly the ten Reform candidates
absented themselves from the meeting. The other ten, however, met and
declared Mr Rose elected. A lawyer was present and entered a protest.
Ibid-—A letter is published, written by Alexander Gray,
a drover in Sutherland in 1739, describing an attempt to take cattle from
him near Inverness. He was on his way to Crieff fair with "a great drove."
A body of men at Lochashie endeavoured to secure a share, offering even to
take "half-a-dozen or thereby," and disturb him no more. The attempt was
made in the darkness of the night. Gray and his assistants, however,
refused, and waiting till morning they sent an express to Inverness to
borrow arms from gentlemen of their acquaintance. "Upon our obligation to
return the arms or pay their value, got a fine caise of hulsters, mounted
with brass, a single hulster, likewise mounted with brass, and a side
pisstoll, mounted with silver, which our drovers carried in as privat a
manner as possible, meaning nothing but our own defence from the frequant
attacts of those thieves who (as it appears to us) are the only people
allowed by the military to carry arms. This precaution had the desyred
effect, and we proceeded with our cattle. On our return home our drivers
who carried pisstolls were seized by Colin Campbell, serjeant in Captain
Campbell off Carrigys Company, logeing at Riven in Badenoch, and took away
the pistolls and threatened to putt themselves in prison." This, it will
be observed, was seven years before the battle of Culloden.
June 7.—The two preceding files are absent. It is
announced on this date that a new coach, "The Highlander," was to run from
Invergordon to Tain. A conveyance had also begun to run to Strathpeffer.
Coach travelling, we are told, had lately made rapid strides in the
Highlands. A mail curricle had been running through the Great Glen since
June 14.—The editor begins a series of interesting
"Notes on the Road." The first describes the county from Inverness to
Dingwall, including Brahan Castle. The same issue contains the report of a
dinner given at Stirling to Mr W. H. Colquhoun, who was Sheriff-Substitute
for the Western District of Perthshire, and had just been appointed
principal Sheriff-Substitute of Inverness-shire.
June 21.—An interdict had been obtained from Lord
Cunningham against further proceedings by the Inverness Town Council until
the vacancy recently created by one of the Bailies was filled up and
completed in terms of law. "The labours of our local representatives are
thus put to a stand for the present. We presume the Bill of Suspension and
interdict will be disposed of before the rising of the Court next month;
if not, the business of the Council may have to lie over until the annual
election in November."
Ibid.—The following paragraph is quoted from an
Aberdeen newspaper —"In the year 1787 the estate of Glengarry produced
£800 a year; the present rental is upwards of £7000. In 1799 the estate of
Castlehill, in Inverness-shire, was sold under the authority of the Court
of Session for £8000; in 1804 it produced £80,000. In 1781 Glenelg in
Inverness-shire, produced an income of £600 a year; in 1798 it was sold
for £30,000; in 1811 Lord Glenelg gave £100,000 for it, and his lordship
lately sold it for £77,000. In 1777 Fairburn yielded £700 a year; in 1824
it sold for £80,000. In 1790 Redcastle sold for £25,000; in 1824 it sold
for the large sum of £135,000. The rental of the estate of The Chisholm
was £700 in 1783, and at present exceeds £5000 per annum. In 1791 the
rental of the Orkney Islands was £19,000; now they produce £70,000; and in
1760 the rental of Argyllshire was under £20,000, now £192,000." There is
a mistake in the above paragraph. In our notes for 1824 it is stated that
the Right Hon. Charles Grant (afterwards Lord Glenelg) bought the estate
of Glenelg in that year for £82,000; but it is added that a few years
previously the same estate fetched nearly £100,000.
Ibid.—The ceremony of laying the foundation stone of
the inner basin of the new harbour at Stotfield Point, Lossiemouth, took
place on the 15th inst. The stone was laid by Lieut. Colonel James Brander
of Pitgaveny, the proprietor of the site, with the assistance of the
Trinity Lodge of Freemasons, and in presence of the Chairman and
shareholders of the Harbour Company, and representatives of the burgh of
June 28.—King William IV. died on the 20th inst., and
was succeeded by Queen Victoria. The young Queen’s declaration on assuming
the throne is described as "one of the most affecting and admirable State
documents ever penned." The proclamation of the new Sovereign was made at
the Market Cross of Inverness by Sheriff Colquhoun in presence of the
Magistrates and a large gathering of townspeople. The Duke of Cumberland
became King of Hanover.
Ibid.—"The fine estate of Geanies, in Easter Ross, has
been purchased by Mr Murray, banker, Tain, for the sum of £59,000."
Ibid-—There is a description of the monument on Ben-Bhraggie
to the memory of the first Duke of Sutherland, which was then in course of
erection. It was subscribed for by the tenantry, by whom the Duke was
respected in no ordinary degree. The site is almost fourteen hundred feet
above sea-level. The pedestal, seventy-six feet in height, was built from
a design by Mr Burn. The stone was excavated from a quarry of hard red
sandstone found on the spot. "To crown this magnificent pedestal a statue
of equally gigantic proportions is in progress. A model of the figure was
moulded by Chantrey, which contains an admirable likeness of the late
Duke, in an erect attitude, as if standing to speak, arrayed in the toga
or gown. This statue will be thirty feet in height, making with the
pedestal an elevation of a hundred and six feet, and forming a conspicuous
landmark far and near, by sea and land, on both sides of the Moray Firth.
The stone of which the statue will be composed is found at Brora; it is of
drab colour, which gradually whitens on exposure. The execution of this
work has been entrusted by Sir Francis Chantrey to the skilful and
practised hand of Mr Theakstone, who also constructed the monument to the
Duke of Sutherland at Trentham, in Staffordshire..... Although the model
of Chantrey is only four feet in height, and the statue will be thirty,
every line and feature can be preserved by the most exact admeasurement,
and by mechanical processes which impose a check on each and secure
certainty to the whole." The same issue contains an account of the
improvements effected on Dornoch Cathedral by the Duchess of Sutherland,
from designs by Chantrey and Burn.
Ibid.—"A person ploughing in a field near Clashmore,
county of Sutherland, on the 12th inst., turned up a wedge or bar of gold,
about a quarter of an inch in thickness, three inches long, and an inch
and a-half in breadth. There is no engraving on the piece, but something
like a stamp appears on one side."
July 5.—Lord Cunningham recalled the interdict granted
in the case of the Inverness Town Council. His opinion on the merits was
in favour of the validity of Mr Rose’s nomination.
Ibid..—Mr Innes of Sandside has laid out considerable
sums in constructing a harbour at his place, under the direction of Mr
July 12.—"The salmon fishing has lately proved very
productive in some of our Northern streams. In the river Beauly above a
thousand salmon and grilse were taken in one night."
July 19.—At the Inverness Wool Market, held the
previous week, the trade in wool was paralysed by a recent revulsion in
the commercial world. Sheep, fortunately, were in more demand than the
fleece. They were disposed of to the value of £50,000 or £60,000 at fair
prices. "The most valuable lot of Cheviot sheep in the North, or perhaps
in Scotland, was sold by Mr Houston, Kintradwell, to Mr Andrew Lamb,
Liverpool, at £1 8s each for wedders, and 18s for ewes. The former is the
highest by 1s obtained at the market; last year the same stock of wedders
were sold for £1 11s 6d." The run of prices was stated as follows
:—Cheviot wedders, 19s to £1 8s; cress wedders, 18s to £1 4s; blackfaced
wedders, 13s to 16s; Cheviot ewes, 14s to 19s; cross ewes, 12s to 16s 6d;
blackfaced ewes, 8s to 12s; Cheviot wedder lambs, 10s to 13s; cross wedder
lambs, 9s to 11s; blackfaced wedder
lambs, 8a to 9s 6d. The attendance of buyers from the South was scarcely
so large as the previous year, but the public ordinaries were crowded.
"The paucity of business was an inducement to prolong the festivities, and
on Friday The Chisholm presented the company [at the Caledonian Hotel]
with five dozen of claret." There was discussion of a question which had
been started the previous year, as to whether there should be an annual
dinner in the Northern Meeting Rooms to accommodate the visitors at the
two chief hotels, the Caledonian and Royal. A deputation came from the
latter to the festive party in the Caledonian to recommend the proposal,
but the gathering there was in no mood to consent. "To put an end to the
confusion—for the room was very crowded and considerable excitement
prevailed—The Chisholm proposed ‘Good Evening,’ and the party broke up. It
was remarked that the deputation was not bowed out, but drunk out!"
Another proposal which had been mooted to draw up a register for the
market was found to be impracticable.
July 26.—Parliament was prorogued on the 17th inst.,
and dissolved the same evening. The Inverness Burghs were greatly excited
over the contest between the Whig candidate, Mr Macleod of Cadboll, and
his Conservative opponent, Mr Mackenzie, yr. of Scatwell. "The Magistrates
have this evening sworn in constables to patrol the streets during the
night, but we trust there will be no occasion for their interference....
There are, unfortunately, several poor electors who, either from
imbecility or intemperance, are unable to take care of themselves at such
a time as the present; and as they generally vote with the party who have
them last in their possession before the poll, they occasion a constant
struggle between the rival partisans. Let our respectable townsmen exert
themselves to preserve order, and secure to all freedom of thought and
action." It is announced that no opposition was to be made to the
re-election of Mr Mackenzie of Applecross for the county of Ross. Sir
Andrew Leith Hay was re-elected without opposition member for the Elgin
July 27.—A second edition of this date reports the
nominations for the Inverness Burghs. Mr Fraser of Abertarff nominated Mr
Macleod of Cadboll, and Colonel John G. Ross of Strathgarve seconded.
Provost Ferguson proposed Mr Mackenzie, yr. of Scatwell, and Dr Munro
seconded. There was warm controversy about the Protestant constitution of
August 2.—The result of the contest in the burghs is
recorded. The totals were—Macleod, 336; Mackenzie, 311; majority for
Cadboll, 19. It may be interesting to give the figures in the various
burghs—Inverness, 221 for Macleod, 192 for Mackenzie. Forres, 55 for
Macleod, 75 for Mackenzie. Nairn, 36 for Macleod, 25 for Mackenzie.
Fortrose, 24 for Macleod, 25 for Mackenzie. Each side put forth its utmost
efforts. "From an apprehension that attempts would be made, or continued,
to carry off electors, the friends of Mr Macleod had men stationed during
the previous night at the different entrances to the town. - . . It was
understood that several electors were on board the Duchess of Sutherland
steamer, in her passage from London; and as the vessel was expected to
arrive during the afternoon, many an eye was turned towards the Moray
Firth. About three o’clock two gentlemen arrived in a post-chaise, having
left the ‘Duchess’ at Burghead, whence a vehicle was in waiting to convey
them to Inverness; they both polled for Mr Mackenzie. Two supporters of Mr
Macleod, who were on board, had previously gone ashore at Banff, but could
obtain no vehicle to convey them forward." A protest was read against the
return of Cadboll.
Ibid.—The Hon. William Howard was returned without
opposition as member for the county of Sutherland. Mr Horatio Ross of
Rossie was mentioned as a candidate for the city of Aberdeen, but he was
abroad at the time, and his party retired from the contest. Mr Bannerman
was returned unopposed.
August 9.—The contest for the county occupies a large
part of this issue. Mr Fraser of Newton proposed The Chisholm, and Captain
Shaw, Culblair, seconded. Mackintosh of Mackintosh proposed Glenmoriston,
and Mr Macpherson-Grant of Ballindalloch seconded. The result of the poll
was—Chisholm, 303; Glenmoriston, 249; majority for Chisholm, 54. This was
exactly double the majority which Chisholm had obtained at the previous
election. There were recriminations between the two parties as to undue
influence. Chisholm declared that one of his voters had been carried
away—" I do not know where, but he did not come to the poll."
Ibid.—In the united counties of Elgin and Nairn the
Hon. Colonel Grant of Grant was returned unopposed. In Caithness Sir
George Sinclair defeated Mr George Traill. In the Northern Burghs Mr James
Loch was elected without opposition.
August 16.—A committee which had been formed for the
erection of a monument to the late Duke of Gordon had met with liberal
support. The Earl of Moray offered a site on the Ladyhill at Elgin, which
was gratefully accepted.
August 23.—A case under the Veto Act came before the
Presbytery of Tain. A considerable majority of the communicants objected
to the settlement of the Rev. Daniel Macbride, who had been presented to
the pastorate of the parish of Logie-Easter. The Presbytery were now
investigating the case. In the same issue there is an interesting series
of notes by a visitor to the Island of Lews. The writer was probably the
late Mr Joseph Mitchell, C.E. He states that the "cutty stool" still
flourished in some parts of the island in all its primeval glory.
Ibid.—At the anniversary meeting of the Northern
Missionary Society at Dingwall, the collection at the gate amounted to £16
17s 6d, and subscriptions and donations to £33 18s 6d. "The meeting
recorded their cordial concurrence in the expressions of deep interest
minuted by the last meeting at Inverness in the future success of the Rev.
John Macdonald, now about to proceed to British India as a missionary
under the-direction of the General Assembly."
August 30.—There is a report of a public dinner given
at Forres to Mr Macleod, M.P. Mr James Bell, surgeon, was in the chair,
and there were representatives from other burghs. The editor states that
"it was perhaps the most numerously attended public dinner that ever took
place in that neat and spirited little town." Mr Macleod had previously
been entertained to a public dinner at Cromarty.
lbid.—A severe storm occurred the previous week in the
Moray Firth. A herring boat and sloop were wrecked at Lossiemouth, and
nine lives were lost. Two boats were swamped in Findhorn bay, but the
crews were saved except one man.
Ibid.—There was correspondence about a Badenoch voter
who, it was said, had pledged himself to be neutral and afterwards voted.
The man himself writes in this issue asserting that he violated no pledge
"I beg to mention," he says, "that the words used by me when hard pressed
to pledge were, ‘As yet it is my opinionthat I will not vote.’ I
never considered these words as a pledge to stand neutral." The
distinction was a fine one. The same issue gives a quotation from a letter
written about eighty years before by Bayne of Tulloch to Sir Harry Munro
of Fowlis, relating to an electioneering contest. Bayne wrote that he had
sincerely intended to support Sir Harry’s interest, but he was under
serious disadvantages, particularly the want of sight, which prevented his
freedom of action; "for I was led about from place to place, as you must
have heard, and not allowed to go to my own house until the election was
September 6.—Two Parliamentary Commissioners, Messrs
Dick and Stewart, met the ministers of the several religious congregations
in the town and parish of Inverness, in order to ascertain the alleged
deficiency of Church accommodation for the population at large. Clergymen
of all denominations gave evidence. The Commission sat a whole day, from
ten to half-past six o’clock. There is nothing of great importance in the
report, but individuals who care to refer to it may find it interesting.
The North Church had been opened, and the West Church was in course of
erection. The foundation—stone of a new Episcopal Church (St John's) was
laid on 31st August.
Ibid.—In making the alterations and repairs for the
reading-rooms in the Town House, the ancient palladium, Clachnacudain, had
been sunk to the level of the pavement. This roused public sentiment, and
a memorial was presented to the Town Council for its restoration to its
old site. A handbill was also issued, stating that the "Clachnacuddin
boys" would assemble and raise the stone themselves if the local
authorities did not undertake the duty before the 4th inst. Some time
previous, however, the Council had agreed to proceed with the exhumation,
and on the previous Saturday the task was accomplished. A crowd assembled
to celebrate the occasion, and a bottle of wine was broken over the stone.
Ibid.—The Highland Society had lately awarded a silver
medal to Mr John Grigor, nursery and seedsman, Forres, for a report on the
native pine forests of Scotland. The report is made the subject of a
column of notes.
Ibid.—As the attendance at the Northern Meeting had
been falling off for some years, the Secretary, Mr A. Fraser, addressed
the stewards and permanent members, requesting them and their families to
make up parties and induce their friends to attend. The Secretary also
announces that it is proposed to hold games on the Thursday and Friday of
the Meeting to afford outdoor amusement. This appears to have been the
beginning of the present annual games at the Northern Meeting.
September 13.—On the previous Friday, the Conservative
electors of Forres and district entertained the late member, Major Cumming
Bruce, and the unsuccessful candidate, Mr Mackenzie, yr. of Scatwell, to a
public dinner in the St Lawrence Lodge Assembly Rooms. Brodie of Brodie
was in the chair, and the attendance numbered 115. The editor remarks that
"public dinners are at present the rage in the North." The newspaper files
fully bear out this statement. We have already mentioned two dinners given
to Macleod of Cadboll; other two followed, one at Fortrose and another at
Inverness. Each political party apparently strove to get up the biggest
September 20.—Mr Charles Macdougall, advocate, died at
Georgetown, Demerara, on the 27th of July. He was carried off by yellow
fever, which raged with unusual severity in British Guiana. "His was a
hard fate, a very extensive practice opening to him; looking forward by
the next packet for his appointment as Attorney-Generals the salary of
which office bad been increased to £1000 a year." Mr Macdougall was
entertained to a public dinner in Inverness in August 1836. He is
described as a townsman.
Ibid.—"On the 4th inst. some of the party at Flowerdale,
consisting of Lords Loftus, Alford, Jocelyn, Mr Mahar, and Captain
Stephenson, killed two magnificent stags, which, from their uncommon size,
had been the wonder of the neighbourhood for the last two years. The one
(without head and offal) weighed 18 and the other 17 Dutch stones. The fat
near the hind part was 34 inches deep. The distance between the extreme
points of the horns was, 34 inches, of the other 29¼ inches. Two such
animals, we believe, have not been killed in the Highlands for many
Ibid.—At the Circuit Court two persons were convicted
of forgery, and were sentenced to transportation for life. Two persons
convicted of assault, but found to be insane, were ordered to be confined
in jail, one at Dingwall, the other at Elgin. The Lord Justice-Clerk
congratulated the Sheriff on the diminuation of serious crime, but
regretted to find that the crime of assault appeared to be as common as
ever, if not more so. He also spoke of the benefit that would arise to the
country if the Sheriffs were empowered to summon juries and dispose of
September 27.—The editor speaks of the gratifying
progress made in the circulation of the "Courier," and says at the same
time that he believes the number of readers to be twenty times the number
of subscribers. "In the villages several families not infrequently still
club for the paper; it is read by each of these successively, and is
afterwards sold at half-price, when it is introduced to a new circle of
readers, or is sent off to some son or brother in the East or West Indies.
In the towns the same system prevails; and we know of one industrious
individual in Inverness who generally purchases from ten to fifteen copies
of our paper weekly, and turns an honest penny by letting them out at a
small sum for every two hours." This was in the days of high-priced
Ibid.—Messrs John Gibb & Son have obtained the contract
for supplying all the granite which will be required from Aberdeen, for
the river wall to be built in front of the new Houses of Parliament. This
will prove an excellent winter’s job for masons and others employed in the
granite quarries in the vicinity of Aberdeen."
Ibid —The obituary contains the record of the death of
William Murray of Geanies, in the 38th year of his age. The editor
adds—"We cannot permit this obituary notice to appear without adding that,
by the death of Mr Murray, the county of Ross has lost one of its most
useful and estimable public men. He held various situations, and
discharged their duties with zeal and ability; while his frank and cordial
manners and unaffected kindness of disposition endeared him to all with
whom he had intercourse." Another obituary notice is that of the Rev.
William Gordon, Elgin, in the 86th year of his age, and sixty-second of
his ministry. For fifty-three years he was one of the Established clergy
of Elgin. "Mr Gordon was distinguished for his sound and clear judgment,
strict integrity, undeviating rectitude, and sincere unaffected piety."
October 4.—The Northern Meeting is described as the
most gay and spirited that had been witnessed for at least ten years. The
nobility and gentry were anxious to infuse new life into the festival. In
addition to the usual balls and parties, popular games were instituted on
this occasion. They were held on a field belonging to Mr Wilson, of the
Caledonian Hotel, situated near the Longman. "Considering the novelty of
public sports of this description in Inverness, the competitors acquitted
themselves in a highly creditable manner." The games consisted of throwing
the hammer, putting the stone, running, leaping, sack and wheelbarrow
races, wrestling, and rifle shooting. There was no dancing or bagpipe
playing. It is announced that from £50 to £100 had been subscribed for
prizes for the following year.
October 11.—"The Rev. Mr Barclay, of Auldearn, has
recently shown his good taste in collecting and replacing, at considerable
personal expense and trouble, various ancient monuments which had long
lain scattered about the interesting Church-yard of his parish. He has
also restored the original inscriptions of a tombstone and tablet, the
latter in the ancient choir attached to the church, which were intended to
commemorate the heroes of the Covenant, who fell at the battle of Auldearn,
gained by Montrose." The tombstone was inscribed to Captain Bernard
Mackenzie, and the tablet had been erected by Sir Robert Innes to three
gentlemen named Murray or "Morray." It is stated as rather remarkable that
a large proportion of the inhabitants of the town of Nairn, not of the
fishing class, still continued to have their burial places in Auldearn,
nearly three miles distant. "To these they cling with a romantic feeling,
and the funerals of the poorest are well attended all the way."
Ibid.—A large body of emigrants sailed from Tobermory
on the 27th of September for New South Wales. The vessel was the
Brilliant, and its size and splendid fittings were greatly admired. "the
people to be conveyed by this vessel are decidedly the most valuable that
have ever left the shores of Great Britain; they are all of excellent
moral character, and from their knowledge of agriculture, and management
of sheep and cattle, must prove a most valuable acquisition to a colony
like New South Wales." The Rev. Mr Macpherson, of Tobermory, preached a
farewell sermon before the party sailed. The total number of emigrants was
322, made up as follows:—From Ardnamurchan and Strontian, 105; Coll and
Tiree, 104; Mull and lona, 56; Morven, 25; Dunoon, 28; teachers, 2;
surgeons, 2. A visitor from New South Wales presented as many of the party
as he met with letters of introduction, and expressed himself highly
gratified with the prospect of having so valuable an addition to the
colony. A Government agent superintended the embarkation.
October 18.—On the previous Thursday Mr Macleod of
Cadboll, M.P., was entertained to a public dinner in the Northern Meeting
Rooms, Inverness. Captain Fraser of Balnain was in the chair, and the
company numbered over 300. The dinner speeches are reported at length. A
Conservative dinner was held soon afterwards at Fortrose.
Ibid.—A University Commission was about to sit at
Aberdeen. The "Courier" suggested that instead of maintaining two Colleges
at Aberdeen, the authorities should transfer one to Inverness. The
opportunity, however, was not embraced.
November 1.—The following paragraph appears in the
obituary column:—"In the China seas, on the 17th August 1836, aged 34,
Captain William Mackay, of the brig Fairy, universally respected by the
community in which he lived, and deeply lamented by his relations at home.
He fell a sacrifice to the rapacity of a mutinous crew, who conspired
together to gain possession of the specie with which he was returning to
Canton, and having first murdered the officers, one after another, made
their escape with the treasure after sinking the vessel near the coast of
November 8.—A meeting of the shareholders of the
Duchess of Sutherland steamer is reported. The accounts showed a surplus
of receipts for the season of £1553. There was, however, a large sum due
for interest, and a motion was submitted requiring the manager to call a
special general meeting, in order to consider and dispose of a motion to
sell the vessel and dissolve the Company. This resolution was adopted by
shareholders representing 335 shares, as against shareholders representing
324 shares. The amount of capital advanced, of interest and of debt, came
to £17,920. The original cost of the vessel was £16,832, and allowing for
wear and tear, it was computed that during the three years of the co-partnery
the loss had amounted to £5296.
Ibid.—A new bridge at Arkaig, Lochaber, near the house
and grounds of Lochiel, had just been completed. It consisted of a timber
trussed arch of 70 feet span, with stone abutments. The bridge was
designed by Mr Joseph Mitchell.
Ibid.—At the annual election for the Inverness Town
Council, four Conservatives and three Liberals were returned. This left
the Council in exactly the same position as before, consisting of eleven
Conservatives and ten Liberals. The contest, says the report, was
conducted with order and good humour.
November 15.—"On Wednesday last the venerable minister
of Ardersier, the Rev. Pryse Campbell, baptised his own great-grandson.
Children and grand-children of the rev. gentleman were present at the
ceremony." The same issue records the erection of a church near Erchless
Castle, in Strathglass, by Chisholm of Chisholm, M.P.
November 22—The death is recorded of Mr David
Stalker, solicitor, Inverness. Mr Stalker was for some time editor of the
December 6.—Mr George Cameron, solicitor, Inverness,
was appointed Sheriff-Substitute at Fort William. A meeting of the
shareholders of the Duchess of Sutherland steamer confirmed the resolution
to dispose of the vessel, and wind up the Company.
December 27.—The last publication of the year expresses
sorrow and regret that war had broken out in Canada. The insurgents had
assembled near Montreal, to the number of 3000, and inflicted a defeat on
the Royal troops, who lost two pieces of cannon.