Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed. Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

The Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
No. 15


Political affairs were very troubled in 1839. The Canadian question, Irish crime and agitation, the rise of Chartism, the situation in Jamaica, all embarrassed the Whig Government, which had but a small majority, and had incurred the dislike of the Radical wing of the party. The temper of the Jamaica planters had been embittered by the emancipation of the negroes, and the local Assembly entered into conflict with the home Ministry in connection with a Prisons Act. Accordingly a bill was introduced into the House of Commons for the purpose of suspending the Constitution of Jamaica for five years. On the motion for going into Committee the Government had a majority of only five votes, and Lord Melbourne and his colleagues, wearied by the constant strain, tendered their resignation to the Queen. Sir Robert Peel was sent for, and was expected to form a Government, but the Queen insisted on keeping several ladies of her Bedchamber, and this led to a rupture. Lord Melbourne withdrew his resignation and resumed office. Before the crisis occurred, Lord Glenelg had resigned office as Colonial Minister. The Government brought forward a measure for the legislative union of the two Canadas, but it was not carried until the following year. The session, however, had two useful results: "In 1839 the cause of education won its first considerable triumph in England; in 1839 a penny postage was finally adopted." The new postal system came into operation in January 1840.

In 1839 the Scottish Church question, which ended in the Disruption, began to assume an acute form. The members of the Presbytery of Dunkeld were rebuked by the Court of Session for their action in the Lethendy case. The House of Lords gave its decision in the Auchterarder case, declaring the Veto Act illegal. It was at this time that Hugh Miller wrote the famous letter to Lord Brougham, which led to his appointment as editor of the "Witness," the newspaper established in Edinburgh by the Non-Intrusion party.

From the "Inverness Courier."
1839.

January 2.—Mr Alexander Shepperd, Town-Clerk of Inverness, died the previous week. He had long been a solicitor in Inverness, enjoying an extensive practice.

January 9.—There is an account of the death of Mrs Maclean, wife of the Governor at Cape Coast Castle. The lady is known in literature as L. E. L. (Letitia Elizabeth Landon). She died from taking an overdose from a phial, which was supposed to have been imbibed to relieve spasms.

Ibid.—Fresh efforts were made to suppress begging in Inverness. Funds were to be collected and placed under the management of the clergy and Magistrates.

lbid.—An extract from the Gardener’s Magazine describes the gardens at Dalvey, in Morayshire. Mr Macleod of Dalvey was among the first to introduce into Morayshire the modern improvements of gardening, and his collection contained some of the newest and rarest plants in the district.

January 16.—A terrific hurricane raged over a great part of the kingdom the previous week, destroying building and shipping, rooting up trees, and overturning stage coaches and railroad waggons. The gale, however, was not much felt in the neighbourhood of Inverness. The north mail was upset near Helmsdale, but no one sustained serious injury.

Ibid.—The curious fact is mentioned that William Pitt, Prime Minister, was in the habit of purchasing a great part of his port wine in Inverness. "The old firm of Fraser, Wilson and Co., imported their wines direct from Oporto; and whether they went to greater expense or were too honest to adulterate, their wines were considered to be of the richest and choicest quality. Pitt had been introduced to our Inverness port at the table of the Duchess of Gordon."

January 30.—Mr Alexander Mactavish, solicitor, was elected Town-Clerk of Inverness. In the same issue there is an account of a trip through Perthshire. The agitation for the repeal of the Corn Laws had begun, and is noticed in this article. In the next issue it was stated that the agitation might he said to comprise the daily food of the London journals.

February 6.—There is a report of a dinner given at Woodside of Doune to Mr P. B. Ainslie, Commissioner for the Earl of Moray; also a report of a dinner and presentation of plate to Mr A. J. Robertson of Inshes, near Inverness. Mr Robertson had made extensive improvements on his property, "which provided food and comforts to numbers of the industrious poor during times of more than ordinary distress and scarcity."

Ibid.—Elizabeth, Duchess-Countess of Sutherland, died in London on the previous Tuesday, in her seventy-fourth year. Her Grace was Countess of Sutherland in her own right, and married the Marquis of Stafford, who was created Duke of Sutherland in 1833.

Ibid.—"There has not been a day in the memory of the oldest man living equal to that of Wednesday last with drift and snow. The roads north, south, east, and west were completely blocked up, so that no communication could be had from any quarter. On Friday there were two south, two north, and one Aberdeen mail due, and on that day the mail bags were taken on horseback. The principal detention on the Highland road is between Pitmain and Dalwhinnie, and the snow in some places is upwards of fifteen feet deep." Next week it is announced that the roads were clear.

February 13.—"The London journals of Saturday contain the unexpected resignation of the amiable and eloquent Lord Glenelg, Secretary for the Colonies." His lordship stated in his place in the Upper House that he had received a communication from the Cabinet involving alterations in the arrangement of offices. He said that this communication was "utterly unforeseen and unexpected by him," and he felt it his duty to resign. There was much speculation on the subject, but little definite information was supplied. The Canadian question had really brought about the severance. Lord Glenelg never again held office.

Ibid.—A report appears on the state of pauperism in the town and parish of Inverness, prepared by a Committee of Heritors, Magistrates, and members of Kirk-Session. Schedules had been returned which set down the number of permanent and occasional poor claiming assistance as 896. Of these 675 were reported as in need of permanent relief, and 111 as in need of occasional assistance, making up 786. The number of persons whose claims were rejected was 110. The amount of funds available for relief was about £600 a year, showing a deficiency of from £1000 to £1500. The Committee was persuaded that the demands of the poor must be met either by a legal assessment, or by voluntary contributions, definitely subscribed, for a term of years in proportion to rental and to means and substance.

Ibid.—The obituary announces the death of Mr James Fraser, at Drummond, in the county of Pictou, Novia Scotia, in the 82nd year of his age. He was one of the heads of families who emigrated in 1804. He called his new home Drummond, "after the loved and cherished residence of his forefathers," on the south bank of Loch-Ness. Another entry records the death of Alexander Fridge, at Baltimore, Maryland, in the 73rd year of his age. He was a native of Elgin, but had spent fifty years of his life in America, and "was a father to every Morayshire man who deserved and desired his assistance in his adopted country."

February 20.—A meeting was held in the Trades Hall, Inverness, which passed resolutions in favour of the repeal of the Corn Law. Mr William Dallas, merchant, was in the chair, and Mr Macandrew, solicitor, was one of the chief speakers.

February 27.—There is a report of the funeral of the late Duchess-Countess of Sutherland. The interment took place in the family vault of the Cathedral of Dornoch. The remains of the Duchess were conveyed by steamer from London to Aberdeen, and thence by land, in a hearse drawn by six horses, to Dunrobin. The coffin lay in state in the Castle for three days.

Ibid.—A meeting was held on the 15th inst. for the formation of an Inverness Farmer Society. Mackintosh of Mackintosh was present, and moved Mr Davidson of Cantray into the chair, as the latter had taken much trouble in originating the movement. Mr Thomas Falconer, solicitor, was appointed the first Secretary.

lbid.—Mr Alexander Gray, who had been appointed manager of the Caledonian Bank, died at Perth while on his way to assume his duties.

March 6.—The Inverness Farmer Society held their first exhibition of grain on the 1st inst. "The exhibition," it is stated, "was highly creditable to our agricultural friends, especially considering the late untoward season; and if the same spirit is evinced hereafter, the formation of the Society will form a new era in the annnals of the farmer in this part of the country." The first prize went to Mrs Fraser of Fingask for potato oats, and the second to Mr Davidson of Cantray for Hopeton oats. At the dinner a suggestion was made for the establishment of a market for milk cows. Sites having been spoken of, one of the members said he had a great aversion to town dues, and he thought ground at Inshes would be suitable. The subject was reserved for further consideration. The same issue records a ploughing match, held at Midcoul, by the Petty and Ardersier Farmer Society. In subsequent issues there are reports of shows or ploughing matches held by the Black Isle Society, the Nairn Society, and other local Associations.

Ibid.—"On Monday last the workmen engaged in the erection of the new inn, High Street, adjoining the British Linen Company’s banking office, found part of a deer’s horn, 36 inches in length, about ten feet below the surface of the street. Part of the horn was covered with sea-shells, the delta of some flood in remote antiquity."

Ibid.—The issue contains an address issued by Bishop Macdonell to the Irish Catholics of Upper Canada. It condemns the recent disaffection in Canada, and commends the loyalty and good conduct of the Bishop’s people.

March 13.—A Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to consider the subject of the improvement and completion of the Caledonian Canal. A. valuable report had been submitted by an engineer, Mr Walker, who was convinced that an extensive plan of repair and improvement was necessary to give the undertaking a fair chance, and carry out the original design of Mr Telford.

lbid.—The Postmaster-General was pleased to direct the establishment of a daily penny post to Cawdor, under the charge of Mr John Macgillivray, baker there. The estate of Barra was exposed to sale at the upset price of £36,000, and knocked down to Mr James Menzies at £42,050. A public meeting at Cromarty condemned the Corn Laws.

March 20.—The heritors and Commissioners of Supply of the county of Inverness met to consider the state of the Corn Laws. Sheriff Tytler moved a resolution in favour of the existing system. Lord Lovat moved an amendment to the effect that the uncertainty caused by the present system was injurious to the welfare of the country, and praying the Legislature to take the subject into their most careful consideration. Sheriff Tytler’s motion was carried by 23 to 4.

March 27.—Mr Villiers submitted a motion in the House of Commons for a Committee to consider the Corn Laws. The question was debated for five nights. In the end the motion was defeated by 342 votes to 195—majority, 147.

April 3.—It was proposed, by a Joint Stock Scheme, to erect a market place in Inverness behind the Episcopal Church (St John’s). The ground was for sale, and immediate entry could be obtained.

Ibid.—On Wednesday, 20th March, the shock of an earthquake was distinctly felt in the mountainous tract of country extending from Fort-Augustus to Kingussie and Laggan, in Badenoch. The shock occurred between two and three o’clock in the morning. It does not seem to have extended further east than Fort Augustus, in the Great Glen.

Ibid.—It is stated that in the Northern Infirmary a remarkable case occurred of the power of speech and motion being restored after a period of nine years. Isabella Mackenzie, aged 32, from the parish of Ferintosh, was admitted to the hospital on 27th October 1838. Her mother stated that she was in the habitual enjoyment of robust health until nine years before, when she was seized with a severe attack of scarlet fever, and never recovered from its effects. The power of speech was entirely lost, and during the whole period she was confined to bed. At the Infirmary the utmost attention was paid to improve her general health, and in three months she was able, with assistance, to walk across the ward. Powerful remedies were then applied to bring back her faculty of speech, but for a time without effect. "Electricity was employed for about a week, and during that time several sparks were taken from the tongue, till the patient began to complain by signs of a burning sensation in the throat. This was followed in the course of a few days by an imperfect attempt at speech. Her improvement is now steadily progressing, and she is able to carry on a conversation."

Ibid.—A letter from Skye reports a case of second sight. A man named William Macleod, a gamekeeper from Rassay, had visited Portree, and on his way back had disappeared. "After an interval of eight days, a man from Portree came forward and stated that fourteen years ago, while he was herding cattle in the daylight, he had a vision of a man falling over a certain rock (which he described), dressed in light clothes, and resembling in his general appearance the individual who was missing. It was agreed to visit the spot, and accordingly a boat was procured, and the ‘gifted seer’ proceeded with a party of men in the direction of the rock by the seaside. At the precise spot the body of the unfortunate game-keeper was discovered. It is supposed that after he had left Portree, he had gone on his journey as far as the cairn opposite Raasay, and that, mistaking his way at this point (for the evening was dark and stormy), he had fallen over a rock, and thus met with his death." The editor expresses the hope that the remains of the deceased and the circumstances of his death had been examined by the proper authorities.

April 17.—The Nairnshire Bible Society held its twenty-fifth annual meeting. The funds amounted to about £40, being £10 more than the previous year. Since its commencement in 1840 the Society had been enabled to devote about £1030 to the circulation of the Scriptures at home and abroad.

April 24.—John Galt, author of "Annals of the Parish," &c., died on April 9th at Greenock. The Rev. William Leslie, minister of the united parishes of St Andrews and Lhanbryde, Morayshire, died on the 13th inst. He was in the 92nd year of his age and 66th of his ministry. A tribute is paid to Mr Leslie’s hospitality and kindliness, and it is stated that he retained his cheerfulness, benevolence, and vivacity to the last.

May 1.—The Marnoch Church case was discussed at the Synod of Moray on a complaint against a sentence of the Presbytery of Strathbogie sisting proceedings in the settlement. After considerable discussion, it was resolved, by 24 votes to 9, to refer the case to the General Assembly.

May 8.—The judgment of the House of Lords is given in the Auchterarder case. By this decision the Veto Act passed by the Church of Scotland was finally declared to be illegal. Lord Brougham, who delivered the leading judgment, spoke for three hours.

lbid.—Mr Matthew Adam, rector of the Inverness Royal Academy, resigned office on the directors agreeing to grant him a retiring allowance of £60 per annum. [At this point several numbers are missing from the file, a most unusual occurrence.]

June 12.—The Presbytery of Inverness moderated in a call to the Rev. David Sutherland, preacher of the Gospel, to be minister of the East Church. At the same meeting a discussion arose as to the style of the new church on the west side of the river. The minutes of a previous meeting bore that the Presbytery had appointed this church to be called "the First Church of Inverness." Dr Rose objected, and moved that the words be expunged from the minutes. Rev. Mr Clark considered the motion unconstitutional, and moved its rejection. Mr Fraser, Dores, proposed as a third motion that the matter be delayed, and submitted to the decision of the Kirk-Session, and this motion was carried. Dr Rose dissented, and appealed to the Synod.

June 19.—A monster petition from the Chartists, signed by 1,280,000 persons, was presented to the House of Commons. It required five men to lift it, and in point of form it resembled "a cylinder of parchment about the diameter of a coach-wheel, and was literally roiled into the House." The petition prayed for universal suffrage, vote by ballot, annual Parliaments, the abolition of the property qualification of members, and the payment of members.

Ibid.—There is a report of the proceedings in the Court of Session when the members of the Presbytery of Dunkeld appeared at the bar of the court of Session, and were rebuked for breach of interdict. This is known in Church history as the Lethendy case.

June 26.—The progress of railways in England and Scotland had recently caused a great demand for firewood in the North of Scotland. "The sound of the axe and the sawmill are heard in the loneliest and most remote parts of the Highlands. We have heard of one proprietor selling his firewood for £10,000, and another for £5300. Within the last eight or ten years a vast number of sales of this kind have been effected, ranging from eight or ten thousand to as many hundreds each. A considerable amount of shipping is engaged in this trade; and the vessels that carry out the timber in the shape of railroad-sleepers, pit-props, &c., generally return with cargoes of coal, lime, and other commodities. The number of men employed in felling the trees, sawing them up and exporting them, is also a source of great advantage to the country."

July 3.—There is a long notice of the Memoir of William Forsyth of Cromarty, by Hugh Miller, printed for private circulation. The notice closes as follows :—"Mr Miller, like the subject of his Memoir, seems to have selected Cromarty as the chosen scene of his exertions; it has been well worked up by both; but the author has the advantage of the merchant, as his stores are more readily diffused over the kingdom where, we have no doubt, they will be found after many days, and be long prized as faithful and delightful pictures of Scottish Society and manners."

July 10.—The Chancellor of the Exchequer brought forward his Budget on the previous Friday. Its one important feature was the proposal to establish penny postage. Petitions on the subject had been pouring in to Parliament from all parts of the country. Another piece of news was the report of a serious riot at Birmingham, arising from a conflict between the Chartists and the police.

Ibid.—"This day is published, price threepence, Letter to Lord Brougham, on the opinions expressed by his lordship in the Auchterarder case. By Hugh Miller, banker, Cromarty. John Johnstone, Edinburgh."

July 17.—The annual Sheep and Wool Fair was held the previous week. A scarcity of sheep had arisen in consequence of rot in parts of England and Scotland. Accordingly, Cheviot wedders sold at an advance of from 1s to 2s 6d over the prices of 1838; but there was a drop in the price of ewes owing to the losses sustained by last year’s purchasers, and the exertions made by rearers of stock in the South to increase and improve their flocks. In wool there was a decline of from 10 to 15 per cent., but the rates were still considered fair and remunerative. Figures were quoted as follows :—Cheviot wedders, 23s to 32s; ewes, 14s to 19s; lambs, 10s to 13s. Cross wedders, 20s to 25s; ewes, 12s to 16s; lambs, 9s to 11s 6d. Blackfaced wedders, 15s to 22s; ewes, 10s to 12s; lambs, 7s to 8s 3d. Cheviot wool, laid, washed, 18s to 20s; unwashed, 14s to 16s. Cross, washed, 12s to 13s; unwashed, 10s to 11s. Blackfaced, laid, 8s to 9s; white, 10s 6d to 12s: The market was well attended. Sir Charles Gordon, Secretary of the Highland and Agriculture Society, was present, to make arrangements for a show to be held at Inverness in October. At one of the ordinaries, The Mackintosh proposed the health of Colonel Mackintosh of Farr, who had just returned to his native country from India, after an absence of thirty years. In acknowledging the compliment. Colonel Mackintosh dwelt on the great changes which had taken place in the North during the long period of his absence, the improvements in planting and cultivating the soil, the introduction of steam navigation, the formation of roads, and the general advance made in the arts of civilisation. Another visitor was Mr M’Diarmid, the editor of the "Dumfries Courier," who held a high standing in the provincial press, and who delivered a graphic speech on the happiness of rural life.

Ibid.—An action was brought before the Sheriff-Substitute of the eastern Division of Ross-shire by the Kirk-Session of Edderton against a pensioner there for payment of the penalty of ten pounds Scots, alleged to be due by him for violating the Act of 1664, regarding Church discipline. "The demand was resisted—first, because the Treasurer of the Kirk-Session had no right to pursue for the penalty without the Procurator-Fiscal’s concurrence, particularly as one-half of the amount was ordered to be applied for pious uses, and the other half to be divided into two equal parts, between the informer and constable, for bringing the accused to justice; and secondly, because the various Acts of Parliament, imposing penalties in the shape of Church discipline, were in desuetude, and could not be enforced in any Court of law. The Sheriff-Substitute, after taking time to consider the case, was of opinion that both objections were well founded; indeed, he thought that if the Act of Parliament had been in observance, it was the duty of the Justices of Peace to enforce it, and not the Sheriff, who, he conceived, had no jurisdiction to take cognisance of the offence. It was, however, quite clear that the defendents objections were irresistible, and he therefore assoilzied him from the complaint, and dismissed the action."

Ibid.—Died, at the Manse of Daviot, on the 1st inst, the Rev. James Macphail, at the age of 73. His pastorate extended over thirty-seven years, and he was held in high esteem.

Ibid.—A movement was set on foot for the establishment of two public markets for the sale of cattle and sheep in September and October, at Spean-Bridge, near Fort-William. The reasons assigned were the grievance of tolls and the damage to stock arising from the long drive from the North of Scotland to Falkirk Market, the exorbitant charges made by farmers in the neighbourhood of the market stance, the heavy customs exacted, and the loss and expense on the stance. It was estimated that from 60,000 to 70,000 sheep were shown at Falkirk at each of the September and October Trysts, and that about 50,000 of these came from the Highlands and Islands, in the proportions of 20,000 to 30,000 by each of the western and eastern roads. The subject had been discussed at the Lochaber Agricultural Society, and the Marquis of Huntly had offered the site at Spean-Bridge. The first name on the committee to promote the scheme was that of John Cameron, Corrychoilie, then one of the largest sheep farmers in the Highlands.

July 24.—A disturbance had occurred in the island of Harris. The proprietor, contemplating certain improvements on an extensive scale, had given notice to a number of the cottars, about fifty families, to remove. He is said to have offered the people a sum of £11 each, and made arrangements for their emigration. To these terms they are also said to have consented, but when the parties went to complete the arrangements the islanders refused to comply, and showed a spirit of determined resistance. The officers employed to carry the ejectments into effect were deforced, and it was found impossible to proceed without additional assistance. In response to an application, a detachment of the 78th Highlanders was sent from Glasgow, proceeding by way of Oban and Portree. They were accompanied to the island by the Sheriff of the county and other officials.

Ibid.—The death is announced of Mr Robert Wilson, tenant of the Caledonian Hotel, Inverness. It is stated that he bad been known for the last fourteen years as the best innkeeper in the North of Scotland. During the summer and autumn mouths his hotel was frequented by tourists and sportsmen from all parts of Scotland.

Ibid.—A curious case in Cromarty is briefly noticed, and forms the subject of communications in subsequent issues. At a public concert in Cromarty, held on the Queen’s birthday, the National Anthem was sung, and all the audience stood up, with the exception of the chief officer of the Coastguard Station. This led to an altercation with one of the Magistrates, and an official inquiry. The officer, it was stated, had merely remained sitting to keep a lady in countenance who had a baby sleeping on her knee! The Magistrate, seeing him, called to him by name, "up or out," hence the commotion. The officer applied for law burrows against the Magistrate, but failed. He was removed to another station.

August 7.—The disturbances in Harris had come to an end. The Sheriff and military went to Borve, where they met with no resistance, and made five arrests. The poverty of Harris is attributed to the hardships that followed from the decay of the kelp trade. That trade had so deteriorated that the proprietor was paying to his poor tenants £2 16s 6d for manufactured kelp, which he could sell with difficulty at £2 10s in Liverpool. Before warning the people off the estate (the number of families is now stated at thirty), the proprietor offered to pass from all the arrears of rent due and to give them a sum of £200. The editor expresses the hope that all such removals will be made slowly and gradually—a few families only each year—unless the Government came forward, with wisely-directed generosity, to supply ample means for emigration.

Ibid.—A Scottish Prisons Bill, which had long been under way, passed through Parliament.

August 14.—Some warm language used at a dinner at Forres showed the strained relations between Church and dissent at this time. Sir William Gordon-Cumming, who was in the chair, expressed the hope that these unhappy differences were passing away. "He trusted the time would come when there would be no such distinctions; when ministers, like members of Parliament, would be elected every seven years; and when Mr Stark (the Secession minister) would have an equal chance of the Parish Church with Mr Grant." These sentiments were cheered, but Mr Grant rose and retorted—"In that case I beg to tell Sir William that his estates will not he worth six months’ purchase." Sir William did not see the connection. He thought the charter to his estate would hold good as long as he fulfilled its conditions. "If the rev. gentleman," he added, "for the love of the kirk, would violate his charter, he must abide by the consequences." This was a hit at the controversy on the Veto. Another member of the company backed up the dissenters, and correspondence followed the dinner.

August 28.—The first rumour appears of a probable marriage between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Chartist agitation continued, and an occasional delegate appeared in the North of Scotland, but met with small encouragement. A number of Chartists had been apprehended in England, chiefly in Lancashire. No less than a hundred rioters were committed for trial. Three Birmingham rioters had been sentenced to death, but were respited, and their sentences commuted to transportation for life.

Ibid.—"Since our last publication Dr Chalmers has addressed crowded audiences in Dornoch, Cromarty, and Dingwall, on the subject of Church extension. On Sunday last the rev. gentleman preached in the Parish Church of Rosskeen. He is now in Inverness and will address our townsmen on the same subject on Thursday and Friday next. His addresses are all of great length, great power, and are marked by extraordinary energy and earnestness." This is an introduction to a fuller report. Dr Chalmers was entertained to a public dinner in Dingwall, and on a subsequent day to a breakfast in Inverness. He was accompanied by the Rev. Mr Buchanan, of Glasgow, and by Mr Maitland Makgill.

Ibid.—There is a notice of Hugh Miller’s two pamphlets on the Church question, the letter to Lord Brougham, and "The Whiggism of the Old School." The reviewer bestows high praise on the literary quality of the pamphlets. "Mr Miller is a master of English, and of such English as Dryden or Goldsmith would have written had they lived at the present day." The reviewer does not take the same view of the Veto Act as Miller, but he adds— "Men of all shades of opinion may consult Mr Miller’s tracts with pleasure and advantage. We hear that their worthy author is about to remove from Cromarty to conduct a Church newspaper to be established in Edinburgh. He is well qualified for such a task, and his talents—seconded by his high character and integrity—will find a suitable field in the accomplished society of the Scottish metropolis." In the same number there is a notice of a volume of "Sacred Poems" by the late Sir Robert Grant.

September 4.—Parliament was prorogued on the 27th ult. Among the measures which her Majesty mentions with satisfaction is the "reduction of the postage duties." Preliminary steps had still to be taken before the measure could come into effect. The same number gives an account of the great Eglintoun Tournament. Lady Seymour was Queen of Beauty. The festival continued several days, but was greatly marred by heavy rains. Prince Louis Napoleon, afterwards Emperor of the French, was present.

Ibid.—There is a report of Dr Chalmers's address at Inverness, which was delivered to a large audience in the High Church. It is stated that "the subscription here already amounts to £2000—a sum greatly beyond the expectation of any one." Dr Chalmers also visited Forres, and was entertained to a public dinner there. Immediately after the visit of Dr Chalmers, a gentleman from Manchester, Mr A. W. Paulton, visited Inverness, and delivered lectures on the Corn Laws.

Ibid.—The vacancy in the parish of Daviot was beginning to rouse excitement. "As there are only," we are told, "ten or twelve male heads of families, communicants in the parish, a keen canvas and no little speculation have been called forth on the occasion. Lord John Russell has just nominated the Rev. Simon Mackintosh, Inshes, and the Rev. John Fraser, Stratherrick, as candidates for the choice of the qualified parishioners. In making this intimation to the persons concerned, Lord John conveyed an admonition to certain parties who had been instrumental in getting up a petition on behalf of another gentleman. He stated that whilst at all times anxious to consult the wishes of the people in the selection of their clergyman, he could give no encouragement whatever to the canvass of a vacant parish; and having understood that beyond doubt this had been the case in this instance, he had come to the resolution to set aside the petition thus got up, and not to advise her Majesty to appoint the individual on whose behalf it had been forwarded." The text of this communication was afterwards published. The candidate whom Lord John Russell declined to appoint was the Rev. Archibald Cook. Mr Cook then wrote denying indignantly that he had ever canvassed.

September 25.—At the Circuit Court at Inverness a singular case was tried from the parish of Kirkhill. The schoolmaster there was charged with having forced his way to the Communion table without permission, and with having seized the cup and partaken of it against the remonstrances of the ministers and elders. After a long trial the jury found "the panel not guilty of a breach of the peace, and not guilty of profanity; but find him guilty of illegally disturbing the congregation." This was held to be a conviction under a statute of the eleventh Parliament of James Sixth, Chapter 27th, which ordained—"That whatsoever person or persons shall happen hereafter to perturb the order of the kirk, in time of divine service, or to make any tumult, raise any fray, either in kirk or kirkyard, where-through the people then convened shall happen to be disordered, troubled, or dispersed, the same shall be ane point of dittay, and the persons to be convict thereof shall tyne all their movables goods, to be escheit to our Sovereign Lord for their offence; but [without] prejudice of greater punishment, gif there should happen any greater offence, as slaughter, blood, mutilation, shooting of hag-buttes and pistolettes, according to the laws of this realm." The Court accordingly had no discretion, except to declare that the panel’s goods were escheat to the Crown; "and the panel, who seemed satisfied at the result, was allowed to leave the bar."

Ibid.—The editor gives an account of a visit to Moyhall, afterwards published in the Highland Notebook.

October 2.—A Select Committee of the House of Commons issued a report recommending extensive improvements on the Caledonian Canal.

Ibid.—The Northern Meeting in the previous week was favoured with fine weather. Pony races were provided at the Longman by subscription. The Duke of Richmond and Lord Saltoun presided at the dinners, which continued to form a feature of the Meeting. Both had served under the Duke of Wellington, and incidents of their careers were recalled. Presents were sent to the purveyor in prospect of the Meeting and the forthcoming banquet of the Highland Society. The Duke of Sutherland sent two fine stags; Mr Ross of Rossie a stag weighing 22 stone; Lord Lovat two fine hinds; Culduthel, partridges; and Mr Boulderson, Brahan Castle, a supply of choice fruit. It is stated that the host of the Caledonian Hotel had obtained a turtle weighing 130 lbs. for the Highland Society dinner.

Ibid.—The difficulty which was arising in the parish of Daviot leads to a short account and description of the parish. The writer says— "Though one of the largest parishes in Scotland, we are assured there are only ten male communicants of the Church in Daviot, in consequence of a schism which began about twenty years ago, on the introduction of a catechist or lay preacher. These religious divisions, though not so warlike as the old feuds, are kept up with equal tenacity." The article closes with the following sentences, which show the progress of improvements and the hopes that were entertained —"Those only who can contrast the present state of the Highlands with what it was twelve years ago, as to the cultivation of the soil, can appreciate how much has been done in planting and in reclaiming waste land—how strong a spirit of emulation is abroad—and how many parishes have become exporting instead of importing districts. Thorough drainage and bone-dust have revolutionised the surface of the earth; and if the whole kingdom were brought under the improved system of tillage, the corn produce of Britain would far exceed the wants of its population."

Ibid.—Badenoch was very gay this season. The Duke and Duchess of Bedford, with their friends, were at their favourite autumn residence, the Doune, and Mr Edward Ellice, M.P., at Invereshie. These two parties made up a purse of fifty guineas, to be given as prizes for athletic sports. The gathering came off at Invereshie. "An immense concourse of persons was present, as the news soon spread over the hills, and the people poured forth to witness the splendid array of Sassenach lords and ladies, and to partake in the amusements of the day. A hogshead of whisky was provided by the generous entertainers, and abundance of bread, beef, and mutton. Tents were erected in the Glen, and as the ladies arrived the pipers announced the events in the liveliest strains of the pibroch. The sports commenced with a foot race up a steep mountain, one of the highest in the Grampians. Seven Highlanders started, the distance back and forward being better than four miles. The winner of the first prize (which was £3) came in to the pole in the short time of 22 minutes 35 seconds; the successful competitors for the second and third prizes arrived very soon afterwards, keeping side by side the whole way, until within a few seconds of their arrival at the starting place." There were other sports, including pony races by some of the party. A supper and ball followed. Fire-works were let off, and a field piece in the lawn awoke the mountain echoes.

October 5.—This was a special edition, issued to report the great meeting and show of the Highland Society, held on Wednesday and Thursday, 3rd and 4th inst. On Wednesday there was a dinner in the Northern Meeting Rooms, where addresses were given on subjects important to agriculturists. The number present was 240. Mr Mackintosh of.Geddes, Convener of the Society’s Committees in the Northern Counties, was in the chair, supported by the Duke of Richmond, Lord Lovat, and other noblemen and gentlemen.. The show was held in the Academy Park. The entries numbered 879, "within about twenty of the great Glasgow Exhibition." The stock consisted of Highland, shorthorned, polled, Ayrshire, and cross cattle; also horses and sheep. There were prizes for the best samples of wool, and for roots and seeds. Some implements were exhibited, and mention is made of one medal in this department. The report speaks highly of the quality of the stock. In sheep, it is said, the show of Cheviots was by far the best that had ever been exhibited under the auspices of the Highland Society. "A gentleman from Northumberland states that at their exhibitions in the North of England no such Cheviot wedders had ever been seen." Horses were apparently the poorest part of the show, though it is acknowledged that there was a fair representation of draught mares and fillies. A great pavilion was erected, designed to accommodate a thousand persons. It was fitted up with gas, and was tastefully decorated. A dinner was held here on Thursday evening, presided over by the Duke of Richmond, and attended by about 780 persons. The report of the meetings and of the show extends to nearly twelve columns, and must have been a great effort for the newspaper resources of the time.

October 23.—A meeting of heritors was held to consider a proposal to disjoin the office of first minister of Inverness from the offices of the other two ministers, by allotting to him the new church (the West Church) and a parish attached quoad sacra, with a distinct session. It had been proposed by the Rev. Mr Clark and his friends that the new church should be designated the First Church. The heritors protested against these proposals. They joined, however, in commending the exertions of Mr Clark, to whose efforts the public were indebted for the erection of the building. It is stated that the sum expended on the church up till the Whitsunday previous was £2915, but that the total would amount to £4012. The funds available, a large proportion consisting of private contributions, amounted to £1864, leaving a deficiency of £2148. The annual feu-duty was £25.

Ibid.—The Duke of Bedford died at the Doune of Rothiemurchus on the 20th inst. He was in the seventy-third year of his age. Death was due to apoplexy. A tribute is paid to the Duke’s manly and kindly character, his popular sympathies, and his munificent charities.

Ibid.—The heritors and communicants of the parish of Daviot met to ascertain whether they would prefer Mr Simon Mackintosh or Mr John Fraser, whose names were submitted by the Home Secretary for the vacant charge. The communicants, with one exception, made choice of Mr Mackintosh, and the heritors, also with one exception, concurred.

Ibid.—The Rev. Simon Somerville, minister of the Second Associate congregation of Elgin, died on the 11th inst., in the 72nd year of his age and the 44th of his ministry. He was ordained to the Associate congregation of Barrhead, in Forfarshire, in 1795, but demitted his charge there in 1803, and came to Elgin in 1805. Mr Somerville is described as an honourable and pious man, naturally cheerful and hospitable, and much esteemed.

October 30.—The London papers of Tuesday, the 22nd inst., announced the death of Lord Brougham as having arisen from the overturning of his carriage near Brougham Hall, in Westmoreland. The report was unfounded. "The melancholy impression lasted only one day." It appears that Lord Brougham was driving in a carriage which was upset, but he was not seriously injured. The incident excited comments of many kinds.

Ibid.—Shortly after ten o’clock on the evening of Wednesday, 23rd inst., an earthquake shock was felt in the town of Inverness, and over the greater part of Scotland to the East and South. It "was announced by a rumbling noise like that of a carriage, and in two or three seconds a smart shock, like a thunderclap, succeeded." The weather during the day was thick and foggy, with a constant drizzling rain and slight easterly winds. The temperature ranged from 47 deg. to 50 deg. for several days. The barometer rose from 29.870 inches at three o’clock on the afternoon of Wednesday to 29.914, the height at the time of the shock; it continued to rise for the next two days, when it reached 30.578. The earthquake caused no serious consequences. Some persons believed that a slight shock was perceptible on Thursday evening.

Ibid.—The Earl of Moray paid a visit to his Northern property after an absence of seventeen years. The Forres Agricultural Society entertained him to a public dinner. His lordship also entertained his tenantry to dinner in Randolph’s Hall in Darnaway Castle. The scene in this fine old hall is described as peculiarly impressive—"One of the most impressive we have ever witnessed."

Ibid.—The educational arrangements of Inverness, arising from the scheme for the administration of Dr Bell’s bequest, caused much local discussion. There are long memoranda on the subject in this issue.

November 6.—It is announced that the "Courier" is now printed with a patent machine, possessing a locomotive printing cylinder, manufactured by Carr & Smith, Belper, Derbyshire. "It is calculated to throw off from 20 to 30 impressions per minute. This is the first attempt to introduce printing machinery north of Aberdeen, and will, we trust, be considered an earnest of our anxious desire to serve the public as efficiently and faithfully as lies in our power."

November 13.—The Chartists broke out into violence, attempting, under John Frost, to take possession of Newport, in South Wales. The misguided men were driven off by the military. They left twenty-two dead, while a large number were severely wounded.

Ibid.—A landed proprietor had a book printed at the "Courier" Office, which he entitled "Hints for the use of Highland Tenants and Cottagers." The Hints were given in alternate pages of English and Gaelic, and the volume was illustrated by engravings, showing models of houses, barns, and implements. Copies of the book are still occasionally to be found, and it seems to have served a useful purpose.

Ibid.—Letters were received in Inverness announcing the death of Mr John Anderson, W.S., who went out some years previously as a Magistrate to the island of St Vincent. The news excited much regret. The deceased was an accomplished man, author of the "History of the House of Fraser," and of numerous papers on antiquarian subjects. He was a brother of Messrs George and Peter Anderson, authors of the Guide to the Highlands.

Ibid.—Mr Alexander Cumming was elected Provost of Inverness, and Mr John Wilson, builder, Provost of Nairn. There was "an extraordinary reaction in the burgh of Nairn in favour of Conservatism." The new Provost was entertained to a public dinner. Mr William Laing was elected Provost of Forres.

November 20.—The estate of Achany, in Sutherland, was lately purchased by James Matheson, Esq. of Canton, in China, representative of a family who had long occupied Shinness. The residents on the estate celebrated the purchase with bonfires.

November 27.—The intended marriage of the Queen with Prince Albert was the most important incident of domestic news. The Duke of Wellington had suffered from an attack of illness, but was recovering. There were further developments of the Marnoch Church case.

December 11.—The town of Tain was now lighted with gas. Companies had also been formed to supply gas to Dingwall and Wick.

December 18.—The Commission of the Church of Scotland suspended seven clergymen in Strathbogie for disregarding the injunctions of the Assembly in connection with the Marnoch case.

December 25.—Provost Cumming presided at a public meeting at which it was resolved to establish a National Security Savings Bank for the town and county of Inverness.

Ibid.—A report of the Daviot Church case extends to three and a-half columns. The Presbytery of Inverness met in the Pariah Church of Daviot for the purpose of moderating in a call to the Rev. Simon Mackintosh. The church was crowded. The presentee had obtained an interdict from the Supreme Court, prohibiting the communicants from tendering dissents against the settlement under the Veto Act. The communicants approached the Presbytery with a petition, which, after a discussion and a division, was read. It stated that the communicants were ten in number, three of whom supported Mr Mackintosh, while the remaining seven had resolved, before the interdict was served, to dissent from his settlement; that the great majority of the parish were also opposed to him, as appeared from a writing, signed by 111 heads of families, produced with the petition, which would have been signed by many more had time permitted; and that the heritors who supported Mr Mackintosh were mostly non-resident, or of a different religious persuasion. The petitioners did not wish to violate the injunction of the Supreme Court, but they suggested that the meeting of Presbytery should be adjourned. After a long discussion, the Presbytery agreed, without a vote, to refer the case to the Assembly. Mr A. Mactavish, solicitor, appeared for the presentee, and Mr Charles Stewart for the petitioners.


Return to Book index