Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
The administration of Lord Goderich,
which has been aptly described as "the weakest administration of the
century," came to an end at the close of 1827, and a new Government came
into office at the beginning of 1828, with the Duke of Wellington as Prime
Minister and Sir Robert Peel as Home Secretary. The Whig section, led by
Huskisson, joined the reconstructed Ministry, but there was friction from
the outset, and by-and-bye pronounced differences of opinion appeared. The
session is memorable for the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts,
which removed the disabilities of Dissenters, and was a victory for the
In April 1828 Mr Robert Carruthers
came to Inverness as editor of the "Courier," and three years afterwards
became proprietor. He conducted the paper with unrivalled distinction for
the long period of fifty years. At the splendid banquet to which he was
entertained in 1871, Dr Carruthers gave interesting reminiscences of his
arrival in Inverness and of his early experiences.
very vivid recollection," he said, "of my
first journey in the Highlands, from Perth to Inverness, and of the
interest and anxiety with which I watched from the top of the mail coach
every turn of that wild, sinuous, picturesque road, which
Winds with the vale and wins the
It was in spring of 1828,
forty-three years and a-half since and I had brought with me a letter
received shortly before from our late townsman, Mr Roderick Reach, who was
then, along with another valued friend, Provost Ferguson, a proprietor of
the Courier. The Reform Bill broke up that business connection, as it
did many other connections, and in the year 1831 threw the paper entirely
into my own hands but, it caused no
estrangement or coldness on the part of my
early and affectionate Inverness friends. Mr Reach
afterwards removed to London, and became the prince of
newspaper correspondents, in which capacity I was largely indebted to him.
He was a man of a kind and generous nature, of very striking and varied
Dr Carruthers mentioned the fact
that the first editor of the
paper was Mrs Johnstone, a lady who afterwards attained considerable
reputation as the author of several books and the editor of Taits
Magazine. She had left, however, about three years before Carruthers came,
and in the interval the paper had been somewhat neglected. "To be local
and to be useful" was the chief desire of the new editor, and the change
was at once visible in the news columns. Dr Carruthers points out that a
busy and stormy period as regards public affairs set in with the year
1828. "Indeed," he said, "1828 stands as a sort of isthmus between the old
and the new systems of Government." The Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert
Peel were in office; Lord Eldon still clung to the Great Seal. But
Ministers locked one way and rowed another. They had adopted Lord John
Russells resolution for repealing the Test and Corporation Acts, thus
freeing the Dissenters from the nominal restriction or stigma which
degraded them." It was the new editors first duty to chronicle the second
reading of the bill, and it gave him great satisfaction to congratulate
the country on the conduct of the Premier and the Government. He mentions
in his speech some of the taxes on knowledge which then existed. "The
newspaper of 1828 was a small, meagre sheet, price sevenpence, burdened
with a paper duty of threepence per pound weight, a stamp duty of
fourpence on every sheet, and a duty of three shillings and sixpence on
every advertisement. In 1828 we had just three newspapers north of
Aberdeentwo in Inverness and one in Elgin, then recently established."
The last mentioned was the "Elgin Courier," conducted by Mr James Grant,
afterwards editor of the "Morning Advertiser."
The dissensions in the Duke
of Wellingtons Cabinet came to a head in May. "The Ministry," says Mr
Spencer Walpole, "had not lasted for half-a-year, but it had been rent
during the whole period by internal divisions. The members of it held
radically different views on almost every question which came before them.
They could not agree upon foreign policy; they could not agree upon the
corn-laws; they could not agree about Reform; they only abstained from
quarrelling on the Roman Catholic question because they had agreed from
the first to differ upon it." The first rupture occurred on the Corn Bill,
but it was patched up, although Charles Grant was with difficulty
prevented from resigning. Then came a dispute about the disfranchisement
of the borough of East Retford, which returned two members, and had been
proved to be corrupt. On the question whether the two seats should be
transferred to the adjacent hundred or given to the town of Birmingham,
Peel supported the enfranchisement of the hundred and Huskisson voted
against it. On going home, Huskisson wrote a hasty letter to the Duke of
Wellington, giving him the opportunity of "placing my office in other
hands," and the Duke, wearied with dissensions, treated this as a
resignation, and accepted it. The retirement of Huskisson was followed by
that of Palmerston, Grant, Dudley, and Lamb. Grant, brilliant but
irresolute, had with difficulty been dissuaded from resigning in March.
There was no difficulty in persuading him to resign in May."
Among the new appointments
was that of Vesey Fitzgerald, the member for Clare, as President of the
Board of Trade. The appointment vacated the seat, and Daniel O Connell
contested it with him, and was triumphantly returned. The question of
Catholic Emancipation was thus brought to a crisis. During the rest of the
year there was violent agitation in Ireland, which by-and-bye spread to
ether parts of the kingdom. Peel and the Duke were forced to considerthe situation afresh, and at the opening of Parliament in 1829 they
accepted the necessity, and announced that they were to bring ina
bill for Catholic Emancipation.
From the "Inverness Courier." 1828.
January 2.The report of a meeting
of the Northern Institution says "A very novel kind of a donation was
presented at this meeting being no other than a live alligator from John
Fraser, Esq., merchant, Charlestown, Carolina, a native of Inverness. The
animal was but young, and his confinement appears to have rendered him
comparatively tame." One would like to know what became of that alligator.
It was an uncanny gift for a Scientific Society.
January 23 and 30.The first date is
absent froom the file. It contained an account of the death of Macdonell
of Glengarry, who was killed on the 14th of January, when he
jumped ashore from the wrecked steamer
"Stirling CastIe" at Corran, near Fort-William. In the issue of
the 30th there are spirited verses which
describe him as "like his own mountain torrent, impetuous and proud," and
"Noble his form was
and lordly his bearing.
Well suited the tartan and heather his wearing,
And neer did the erne his dark plumage bestow,
To nod oer a statelier, manlier brow."
Glengarry was the last Highland
Chief who adhered to the style of living of his ancestors, and went about
with a full retinue of kilted attendants, who went by the name of
"Glengarrys tail." The historians of the Clan Donald admit that he had
grave faults of character which often led him into serious scrapes; but
they also dwell on his noble qualities. "Many of his faults were traceable
to his having been left, like Byron, without a strong guiding hand in
youth, lacking the discipline so greatly needed by a nature so intense and
volcanic as his. On the other hand. his virtues were all his own. He was
kind-hearted and generous, and dispensed a noble hospitality, so that one
of the gentlemen of his own CIan has truly placed on record that Glengarry
had the heart of a prince." His lavish expenditure embarrassed his
estates, and ultimately led to their being sold. Scott is supposed to have
drawn many of the features of Fergus MIvor from the character of
Glengarry, whom he knew well.
January 30."Died at Nessbank,
Inverness, on the 23rd inst., after a short and severe illness, in the
67th year of his age, Captain Robert Sutherland of Nessbank formerly of
the 72nd Regiment of Foot." The paper devotes an article of some length to
Captain Sutherland, who was evidently a man of humour, talent, and
sterling character, as well as of varied experience. "He had spent his
early life in India, and had seen much of the world, its manners and
customs. He had turned these opportunities to good account, he had
observed and read much, but had reflected more. His home had long been on
the tented field and stormy sea, and he inclined occasionally to relate
anecdotes of the times when Cornwallis directed the energies of British
soldiers on the plains of Hindostan and Hughes battled on the wave. To
these anecdotes he could impart that interest which arises from clear
recollection and lucid arrangement of the facts."
Ibid.There is an article on eminent
living persons of the name of Grant. They make a distinguished roll. There
were eight living persons of the name who were then, or had been, members
of the House of Commons.
February 6.The remains of Glengarry
were interred on the 1st inst. There was a large gathering. About 150
gentlemen sat down to dinner at noon in a room in the Square of Glengarry
and the other attendants, numbering about 1500, were plentifully supplied
with bread, cheese, and whisky. "The procession commenced about two
oclock afternoon, and reached Kilfinnan, the place of interment, distant
about five miles from Invergarry between four and five o clock. The body,
enclosed in a double coffin, lead and wood, was borne breast-high by [the
number is indistinct] Highlanders, who were relieved at regular
intervals. The day was uncommonly tempestuous; and the procession had to
pass through a swollen burn, reaching above the knees of the people in the
procession. The whole ceremony was over by five oclock in the afternoon.
The chief mourner was the young Chiefof Glengarry, the only
surviving son of the late Mac Mhic Alister. Young Glengarry was dressed in
the full Highland garb of his ancestors, with an eagles feather in his
bonnet, covered with crepe. He was supported by his maternal uncle, Lord Medwyn, and his paternal uncle, Colonel Macdonell, of the Guards. Some
hundreds of the people were arrayed in the Highland garb; the mournful
pibroch was wailed forth by the pipers; and none of the formalities
usually attendant on the obsequies of a great chief were omitted; at least
none that were fitted to give a character of impressiveness to the
solemnity. By the judicious arrangements made, those scenes of drunkenness
and quarrelling which in former days, and, we are ashamed to add, in more
recent times, have disgraced similar occasions in the Highlands were
prevented. The whole was conducted with the utmost order, decorum, and
solemnity, suited to the mournfulness of the occasion and the better sense
of propriety which begins to prevail in the Highlands." Colonel Macdonell,
mentioned above, the brother of Glengarry, was the hero of Hougomont at
the battle of Waterloo.
March 5.On the 23rd ult. there was
the formality of a county election, on the acceptance by the Right Hon.
Charles Grant of the offices of President of the Board of Trade and
Treasurer of the Navy. Mr Grant was re-elected without opposition. The
motion for his return was made by Colonel Macdonell, of the Guards, and
seconded by Mackintosh of Mackintosh. Mr Charles Grant was not himself
present, but was represented by his brother, William Thomas Grant., who
presided at the usual dinner given by the newlyelected member.
March 12."Our Jail at present
contains no less than twenty offenders against the Excise laws, fined in
penalties from £6 to £20. Four of these poor people are women; one of them
70 years old."
Ibid.The following paragraph is
quoted from a book of tours in Scotland by Robert Chambers:- "Cromarty is
one of the neatest, cleanest, prettiest towns of the size in Scotland. It
is not a Royal burgh, though the chief town in the vagrant,
incomprehensible county to which it gives a name. It lies upon a
promontory jutting into the Firth, and the ground being slightly elevated,
it has the advantage of a dry as well as it pleasant situation. Most of
the houses are whitewashed, owing to the generosity of a candidate for the
representation of the county in Parliament, who, anxious to gather golden
opinions from all sorts of men, offered this to adorn the house of any
person who so desired; the consequence of which has been that Cromarty
came cleaner out of the election business of 1826 than perhaps any other
town in his Majestys dominions."
March 6.A quotation from a paper
which publishes "Parliamentary Portraits" describes the member for the
County of Inverness. The writer speaks of his knowledge not only of the
great interests of the country, but of minor details, and proceeds"Mr
Grants views are altogether liberal and enlarged; and he is fully
impressed with the truth of those theories of Mr Huskisson, of which the
country is beginning to reap the benefit. Independently of this office
knowledge - perhaps the most important for Mr Grants provinceas a
speaker he has very high pretensions. Indeed, with the exception of
Tierney, Brougham, and Mackintosh, perhaps Mr Grant is one of the most
eloquent men in the Lower House. To great enthusiasm of mind he joins much
fervency and impressiveness of manner; and his language is strong,
nervous, sustained, and in a high degree oratorical. Ill-health, however
joined to constitutional indolence or timidity, or perhaps that deep
religious feeling with which he is imbued, have prevented Mr Grant from
taking the active part in debate for which his talents, his station, his
knowledge, arid experience so admirably fit him. This is lamented by his
friends, as well as the country, who are the chief losers by his silence."
March 26.Sir Alan Cameron, K.C.B., Lieut.-General, who
largely by his personal influence raised the 79th or Cameron Highlanders,
died at Fulham, Middlesex, on 9th March. A sketch of his active career is
given in this issue. The closing sentences are pathetic: "A great
sufferer in body from severe infirmities, contracted by continued
exposures and fatigues in service, Sir Alan nevertheless lived to an
advanced age. But he was doomed to see his family drop around himhis
youngest son, when his aide-de-camp, early in the Peninsular campaign from
privations and fatigues; his eldest when gallantly leading on the
immediate advance of the British at Fuentes d Onor, his nephew and his
orphan grandson, both of whom perished from the baneful effects of West
Indian service. His nephew was the officer who, holding only the rank of
lieutenant, bravely led on the Cameron Highlanders at the battle of
Waterloo, when all his superior officers had been either killed or
wounded. Of his own immediate kindred, Sir Alan has left only one son,
Lieut. -Colonel Cameron, who until the close of the war, when the corps
was disbanded, commanded the Second Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders,
and who followed to the grave the worn-out remains of his aged and veteran
April 2.A paragraph on shipbuilding at Inverness says
that it was only within a few years that this branch of industry had been
carried on to any extent at the port. "Of late, however, several fine
vessels have been built here; one of them, the Caledonia, now in the
London and Inverness trade, was much admired for the beauty of her model
and the excellence of her workmanship. She was built by Mr Munro. We learn
that another fine smack, intended for the Inverness and Leith trade, will
be launched from his yard in the course of a few days. He has also a brig
and schooner on the stocks pretty far advanced, so that we shall have the
pleasure of witnessing not less than three launches from his yard within a
very short time of each other."
April 16.Macleod of Macleod was elected M.P. for the
Burgh of Sudbury, in Suffolk. His opponent, the unsuccessful candidate,
was John Abel Smith. of the banking firm of Smith, Payne, & Smith.
April 23.This issue bears the imprint,"Printed by B.
Carruthers for the Proprietors."
Ibid.An article appears on the state of the poor in
Inverness, the facts being derived from a report drawn up by a Committee
of the Society for the Suppression of Begging. The annual produce of the
Kirk-Session funds (including £100 from collections at church doors)
amounted to £367. The Society just mentioned seems to have been
disappointed in its work. The Sub-Committee agreed in condemning all
public and systematic support of the poor, excepting that of
Kirk-Sessions, and recommending the ancient gratuitous system, whose
ostensible resources are the Kirk-Session funds and occasional
collections. They had taken this idea from the success of Dr Chalmerss
work in Glasgow, but the Editor pointed out that this success was due to
the personal influence of the great preacher and organizer.
April 30.At a meeting of the Northern Institution
there was read a memoir of the late Duke of Gordon, the first President of
the Society, prepared by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder. "His Graces attainments
and practical acquaintance with almost every branch of science, and
especially mechanical philosophy, and the encouragement he bestowed on
every institution designed for the improvement of this country, are
generally known and appreciated, and were done ample justice to in this
memoir." It is stated that not the least interesting part of the memoir
was a sketch of his Graces secretary and librarian, Mr James Hoy, who was
an inmate of Gordon Castle for 46 years. He was a native of Selkirkshire.
Mr Hoy was a devoted student of astronomy, entomology, and botany. He was
quite indifferent either to fame or riches. "When his kind and indulgent
patron voluntarily offered him an addition to his sixty pound salary, he
replied - "Keep it to yoursel', my Lord Duke, I'm no needin mair; ye has
as muckle need ot as I hae." Hoy was a Seceder, and every Sunday, wet or
dry, rode into Elgin to attend the Seceder Chapel. He left orders in his
will that his remains should be interred in the Church-yard of the
Cathedral, "near his auld frien Mr Duncan, the Seceder minister," to whom
he had listened for so many years.
Ibid.There are long and interesting extracts from the
report of the Commissioners on Roads and Bridges, prepared apparently by
Mr Joseph Mitchell, C.E. It is stated that during the summer no fewer than
seven different stage coaches passed daily to and from Inverness. Three of
these, including the mail, ran between Inverness and Aberdeen; one between
Inverness and Perth along the Highland Road; two between Inverness and
Dingwall, Invergordon, Cromarty, and Tain; and the mail coach along the
Northern coast road from Inverness to Wick and Thurso. Previous to 1800
there was no public coach in the Highlands. In that year an attempt was
made to establish coaches between Inverness and Perth and Inverness and
Aberdeen, but at that time they had to be discontinued. As to steam
communication, the report says that the previous year "three steamboats
plied regularly for the conveyance of passengers along the Caledonian
Canal, and five others from Glasgow along the West Coast, and to the
different islands of Skye, Mull, Islay, &c., as well as one occasionally
from Leith along the East Coast to Inverness."
May 7."The Test and Corporation Acts are at length
repealed. On Monday seenight the bill was read a third time and passed
without a division. The conduct of the Duke of Wellington on this occasion
reflects upon him the highest honour, and will, we doubt not, be properly
appreciated by the nation."
Ibid.At a public meeting in Inverness it was resolved
that the ministers and elders should have the entire management of the
poor, "including the Kirk-Session fund and the Soup Kitchen Society."
lbid.At a meeting of Commissioners of Supply at Tain,
Mr Mackenzie of Kilcoy was appointed Convener of the County.
May 14."There are no less than six natives and
proprietors of Inverness-shire members of the House of Commons at the
present time, viz., the Right Hon. C. Grant, returned for the County of
Inverness; the Hon. Colonel Grant, for the county of Moray; Colonel
Baillie of Leys, for Hedon; John Stewart, Esq. of Belladrum, for Beverley;
Macleod of Macleod, for Sudbury; Sir James Mackintosh, for Knaresborough;
and Robert Grant, Esq. of Dromore, for the Inverness Burghs."
May 21.Mr Thomas Gilsean of Bunaghton had resigned the
office of Sheriff~Substitute of the County of Inverness, and Mr John
Edwards, solicitor in Inverness, was appointed his successor. "Mr Gilzean
was, we believe, the oldest Sheriff-Substitute in Scotland; he was
appointed in the year 1785, and during the long period of 43 year he has
been the Chief Magistrate resident in this quarter. . . Mr Gilzean was an
active, able, and upright judge, devoting his whole time and mind to the
discharge of the important duties with which he was entrusted. Business
was to him both a duty and a recreation."
Ibid.The Church Courts of Ross-shire had before them
at this time the case of the Pariah of Kiltearn. There were differences of
long standing between the minister and his parishioners. The church, it is
reported, was utterly forsaken by the people, and there were no less than
forty children in the parish who had not been baptised.
May 28."Several gentlemen of Inverness and its
vicinity have long entertained a wish that bridges should be erected over
the River Ness at the western extremity of the town, in order to open up
the island to the public and to connect the walks on the opposite banks of
the river. The island is upwards of four acres in extent, and is
unquestionably the most beautiful spot in the environs of Inverness, it is
now, however, inaccessible to the public, and the individuals with whom
the proposed improvement originated conceive that to form an easy access
to the Island by means of chain tension bridges, and to lay it out in
graceful and varied walks, would at once form a lasting ornament to the
town, a powerful attraction to strangers, and a source of healthful
recreation and enjoyment to the inhabitants." This is the first paragraph
in an advertisement, and a list of subscriptions follows, amounting it
£458. The Duke of Gordon gave £30, and Mr Charles Grant, M.P.; Mr Robert
Grant, M.P.; and Mr David lnglis, Marden Park, London, gave 50 guineas
each. Provost Grant, Mr John Ross of Berbice, and Mr John Ross, agent for
the British Linen Companys Bank, each gave 10 guineas. A paragraph states
that there were well-frequented walks on each side of the river as far as
the island (the spelling is still in the singular number though it
subsequently appears that then, as now, there were two islands) but
hitherto there had been no bridges.
Ibid.There is an interesting article, evidently
written by the new editor, on the Highland peasantry and smuggling. It
states that smuggling had of late years diminished, though in some
parishes it had increased. "Thus in the Black isle, which formerly
literally swarmed with smugglers, there is scarcely one left, whereas in
the district of Strathgass they have increased prodigiously." The writer
calculates that after paying cost of materials, the smuggler made only
from ten to twelve shillings to cover time, labour, fuel, and the wear and
tear of his distilling apparatus. "Yet in spite of repeated seizures,
fines, and imprisonment he clings to the illicit traffic with astonishing
pertinacity. There are now in the Jail of Inverness two men convicted of
smuggling, and imprisoned for non-payment of their fines, whose wives have
since been detected in committing the same offence."
June 4.The political news of the day is the split in
the Government. There was special interest in the matter in the Highlands,
as Charles Grant had resigned the office of President of the Board of
Ibid.At the meeting of the General Assembly there was
a report on the state of education in the Highlands and Islands submitted
by Principal Baird. Within the two previous years 70 schools had been
established, and 5670 children were being educated from the funds of the
Assembly. Dr Baird and Dr Norman Macleod of Campsie had made a tour of
inspection throughout the Highlands, travelling upwards of 1600 miles, and
spending two months on the journey. The great body of heritors deserved
much praise for their liberality in support of the schools. An Association
had also been formed "for the education of the female youth of the
June 11."We learn from good authority that James Dick,
Esq., late a merchant of London, who during his lifetime made various
donations to the poor of Morayshire, his native county, has bequeathed the
sum of £130,000 to form a fund for the purpose of giving an additional
salary of £50 each to every parish schoolmaster in the counties of Moray,
Banff, and Aberdeen. Mr Dick, the testator, was a native of the town of
Forres, of humble parentage. He laid the foundation of his fortune in the
West Indies, and increased it by commercial industry and enterprise in the
English Metropolis, where he died about ten days ago at the advanced age
of eighty-five." A lawsuit on the subject was threatened by the
Ibid.Great interest was excited about this time by a
course of scientific lectures delivered in connection with the Northern
Institution by Mr William Nicol, a lecturer from Edinburgh. The series was
attended by large audiences. The Northern Missionary Society held its
annual meeting at Inverness. The collections amounted to £54 1s 6d, and
the subscriptions and contributions to £23 3s 7d.
June 18.There is an article on the debate in the House
of Lords on the subject of Catholic Emancipation. The motion in favour of
Catholic claims was moved by the Marquis of Lansdowne, but was rejected by
a majority of 45. The "Courier" supported Emancipation.
Ibid.The retired Sheriff-Substitute, Mr Thomas Gilzean,
was entertained by the Inverness solicitors to dinner in the Caledonian
Hotel, and presented with a piece of plate as a memorial of his public
services. There is a long list of toasts. Mr Reach proposed "the memory of
the most distinguished individual Inverness, or perhaps Scotland, ever
produced, Duncan Forbes of Culloden, Lord President of the Court of
Ibid.The Rev. Charles Mackintosh was appointed
assistant and successor to his father, the venerable minister of Tain.
June 25.The Sheep and Wool Market was held on the
previous week. Cheviot wedders fetched from 18s to £1 7s 6d; Cheviot ewes
from 12s to 15s; Cheviot lambs from 7s to 8s 3d; black-faced wedders from
15s to 18s; blackfaced ewes from 8s to 11s; blackfaced lambs from 5s to 7s
6d. Cheviot wool, 8s to 9s 6d per single stone; blackfaced wool from 11s
to 12s per double stone. The price of wool was depressed from several
causes, one of which was a new American tariff. There was a meeting to
discuss a proposal for postponing the date of the market. Considerable
opposition was manifested, and the proposal was for the time departed
July 2."A rare and beautiful relic of the olden time
has just been presented to the Museum of the Northern Institution by
William Mackintosh, Esq. of Millbank, an ancient virginal, the favourite
musical instrument with keys, which was in use among our ancestors prior
to the invention of the spinet and harpsichord. This virginal formerly
belonged to a noble family in this neighbourhood, and is considered to be
almost the only one remaining in Scotland. It is made of oak, inlaid with
cedar, and richly ornamented with gold. The cover and sides are
beautifully painted with figures of birds, flowers, and leaves, the
colours of which are comparatively fresh and undecayed. On one part of the
lid is a grand procession of warriors, whom a bevy of fair dames are
propitiating by presents or offerings of wine and fruits."
Ibid.In Captain Franklins narrative of his second
expedition to the shores of the Polar Sea, frequent mention is made of one
of the crew, Gustavus Aird, who lost his life in attempting to pass a
cataract. The young man was a native of Ross-shire. brother of Mr Walter
Aird, schoolmaster of Balintore, near Tain. The boat, of which he happened
at the moment to be the sole occupant, was carried over Pelican Fall, on
the Stove River, 28th June 1827. The young man was 26 years of age.
July 16.The election of Daniel OConnell for the
County of Clare is recorded. "He may be said to have been borne into
Parliament on the shoulders of the forty shilling freeholders." The final
result of this election was the concession of Catholic Emancipation.
Ibid."In consequence of the want of employment.
arising from a redundancy of population and other causes, hundreds of our
poorer countrymen on the Western Coast are now quitting their native
shores for North America. A brig went off lately from the Isle of Harris
freighted with passengers for Upper Canada, and on the 4th inst. two
vessels sailed from Lochmaddy, in North Uist, with no less than 600 souls
on board. Another is daily expected to sail from Canna." It was added that
fresh exportations were to follow as soon as opportunities occurred. The
increase of population, the low price of wool, and the destruction of the
kelp trade by the introduction of barilla, are given as the causes of
distress in the Western Islands. The blow to the kelp trade had been most
disastrous. "Several Highland proprietors who were formerly possessed of
large revenues are now very much embarrassed, and many thousands of
individuals, male and female, who had ample employment in the
manufacturing of kelp, have been reduced to the greatest indigence. In the
Long Island alone from four to five thousand persons had been employed in
the manufacture of kelp. In Skye the labourers had been principally
employed in the making of roads and bridges; but a proportion had also
been engaged in the manufacture of kelp, both within the island and on the
opposite shore. "Since the roads and bridges have been completed, both the
late Lord Macdonald and the present have, in order to afford employment
for their numerous dependents, chalked out work for them on the estate,
without any reference to future emolument or remuneration. In this way we
believe above £15,000 have been expended in the mere article of labour,
but of course it will be necessary to assign a limit to the exertions of
individual benevolence." The writer expresses sorrow that circumstances of
State policy or national misfortune should ever compel the people to leave
the shores to which they were so strongly attached.
Ibid.At the last general meeting of the Highland
Society of Scotland the Marquis of Stafford proposed that a general show
of live stock should be held at Inverness in 1831. The proposal was
referred to a Committee, whish reported favourably upon it.
lbid.At a meeting of the Inverness Gas and Water
Company a dividend of 24 per cent. was declared. The Company resolved to
proceed with the introduction of a supply of water into the town. The cost
was estimated at £4000.
July 23.The revenue of the Burgh of Inverness for the
previous year is given at £2295. The Common Good is entered at £1118 10s.
There was a surplus of revenue over expenditure amounting to £623 5s.
July 30.The late Mr Grant, minister of Cawdor, whose
death had been recently recorded, was among the survivors of those who had
conversed with Dr Johnson during his tour in 1773. Mr Grant was at that
time minister of Daviot, but he saw Dr Johnson at Cawdor, and afterwards
supped with him at the Inn at Inverness. It was on the latter occasion
that Johnson described "an extraordinary animal called the Kangaroo,"
which had recently been discovered in New South Wales, and imitated the
animal by putting out his hands as feelers, gathering up the skirts of his
huge brown coat, and making two or three vigorous bounds across the room!
August 13.--"On Tuesday, the 5th inst., a woman named
Jean Miller died at Moy, at the advanced age of 100. She had been thirty
years in the family of the late Sir Æneas Mackintosh of Mackintosh and in
the course of her long and faithful services had nursed the family of the
late Sir Ludovick Grant, father of Lady Mackintosh. The old woman retained
the entire use of her faculties almost to the last, and her general health
continued unimpaired till within the last five or six years, when an
accidental fall down stairs dislocated one of her limbs, and tended to
debilitate her frame. She remembered distinctly the Forty-five, and used
to tell of having seen the young Chevalier, and also witnessed one day,
during the progress of the Royal forces, three men hung up on a tree at
Moy for some offence. The latter days of the aged nurse were spent in
peace and comfort. She was supported solely by the bounty of Lady
Mackintosh, who assigned her a room in Moy House, and provided her, as the
old woman herself used to say, "with everything that her heart could
Ibid."Hundreds of Highland peasants, male and female,
are now migrating to the South for employment during the harvest. On
Monday we met about 150 near Moy, journeying in parties according to their
respective districts, and each accompanied by a piper. The greater part
were from Sutherlandshire and the Black Isle, in Ross-shire. The sound of
the bagpipe seemed to give a tone of gaiety to the scene, but there was
after all more of sorrow than of merriment in the strain."
September 3.The Northern Missionary Society met at
Tain. Contributions and donations amounted to £88 1s 1d. A letter was read
regarding the Sutherland settlers in North America, whereupon the Society
voted a grant of £30 to the Glasgow Society for promoting the religious
interests of Scottish settlers in British North America, with a
recommendation that not less than £5 be spent in supplying settlers in
Prince Edwards Island with books in the English or Gaelic language.
September 10.A public dinner was given in the
Caledonian Hotel to the Right Hon. Charles Grant, M.P., as a mark of
respect for his public and private character. Provost Grant was in the
chair, and the croupiers were Sheriff Fraser-Tytler, Convener of the
County, and Mr J. M. Grant of Glenmoriston. The room was filled to
overflowing, many having travelled from thirty to fifty miles to be
present at the dinner. The Chairman proposed the health of their guest,
and Sheriff Fraser-Tytler gave the same toast in another form, "Mr Grant
and Freedom of Trade." Mr Grant, in reply, spoke eloquently of the
soundness of the commercial principles of Mr Huskisson.
September 17.Rev. Dr Andrew Thomson visited Inverness
and addressed a large meeting on the Apocrypha controversy. There is a
sketch of Dr Thomsons appearance and methods. In person he was "stout,
manly, and robust," with a firm, clear voice, The chief characteristic of
his mind was strength, not elegance. "In preaching he is a strict
mathematical reasoner. His conclusions flow as naturally from the premises
as water does from the fountain." The meeting is reported at a length of
several columns. Dr Thomson was strongly opposed to the circulation, in
any circumstances, of the Apocrypha with the Scriptures. The Inverness
Auxiliary concurred in his opinions, but did not wish to break altogether
with the British and Foreign Bible Society. They resolved for the ensuing
year to apply their funds for the benefit of the Highlands exclusively.
September 24.James Grant of Bught re-elected Provost
September 24."On the estate of Dochfour, near
Inverness, there lives an old man named Donald M'Cullocha relic of the
fatal field of Culloden. Donald is now in his 98th year, and is tolerably
hale and healthy, but is miserably poor. In the Forty-five he lived in the
Leys, and on the memorable 16th of April 1746, accompanied by a cousin,
attached to the rebel army, and some other lads went to the field of
battle. He describes the day as one of mist, storm, and extreme cold. His
relation was wounded, and he himself and his companions fled from the moor
to avoid the murderous weapons of the dragoons. The Dunmaglass men were
stationed near him, and truly graphic is his narration of the arrival of
the fugitives at a neighbouring burnsome falling headlong, never to rise
again, and others quenching their thirst in long and heavy draughts."
October 1."A. monument is about to be erected to the
celebrated Gaelic poet, Rob Donn, in the church-yard of his native parish
Durness, among what Sir Walter Scott calls the immeasurable wilds of Reay,
in Sutherlandshire. The scheme has originate! with some of the bards
admirers in that district, and the structure, we understand, will be a
Ibid.The Northern Meeting was held the previous week.
The attendance was smaller than usual. The races continued to be held.
October 8."A new lighthouse is in course of erection
at Cape Wrath, and will be finished and lighted by December next. It is
about fifty feet high, and is built on the summit of the Cape."
Ibid.There is a long report of the case of a
schoolmaster at Kirkhill, who was charged before the Presbytery with
various offences. The case had dragged on for two years and a-half. The
Presbytery at length decided against the schoolmaster by a majority of one
vote. The case was expected to be carried to the Court of Session. It
created a great deal of keen feeling and newspaper correspondence.
October 15.The death is announced of Sir Ewen Cameron
of Fassifern at the advanced age of ninety. Sir Ewen obtained his
baronetcy in consequence of the gallant conduct of his son, "the valiant
Fassifern," who fell at the head of the 92nd on the field of Quatre Bras.
October 22.The Gaelic Dictionary, prepared under the
direction of the Highland Society of Scotland was now published. It was in
two large quarto volumes.
Ibid.A twelvemonth before, Sir John Riddell,
proprietor of Strontian, in Argyllshire, established a manufactory of
straw hats, as a means of improving the condition of the people on his
estate. The venture was successful, and was extended to the preparation of
ladies bonnets and the substratum of gentlemens silk hats. The male
population of Strontian were engaged in working lead mines in the
October 29.The members of the Forres Trafalgar Club
held their anniversary dinner in the Forres New Assembly Rooms on the 21st
inst. Mr Grant of Kincorth was in the chair, and Mr Macleod of Dalvey
croupier. There was also an outside gathering, at which copious libations
of porter were served round a blazing bonfire.
Ibid.The Magistrates of Inverness met to consider a
petition from the bakers, craving an increase in the price of bread, which
they stated was necessary in consequence of the advance of flour. The
following assize was fixed to commence on Friday following :The quartern
loaf of fine bread weighing 4 lbs. 5½ ounces, 10d; ditto of second flour,
8d. Smaller bread in the same proportion.
November 5.An article is quoted from the "Quarterly
Journal of Agriculture" on the origin and cause of smuggling in the
Highlands written by General Stewart of Garth. It states that previous to
the year 1793 smuggling was not practised except by a few individuals. The
practice, he says, grew up owing to the increased cultivation of the land,
the depopulation of the higher glens, and the production of surplus grain
for which there was no adequate market.
November 12.The remains of Sir Ewen Cameron of
Fassifern were interred in the family burying-ground at Corpach, Kilmallie,
close by the side of his gallant son. The funeral was attended by no less
than 3000 persons. The issue gives the inscription on the monument erected
to the memory of Colonel Cameron.
November 19.A bill had been introduced into Parliament
for the purpose of providing at least one secure gaol in each county, to
be called "The County Gaol." The provisions of the bill were regarded as
burdensome for the burghs.
November 26.The Rev. Alexander Fraser was on Thursday,
the 20th inst., ordained and admitted minister of Cawdor.
December 3.A movement was set on foot for the
establishment of a Mechanics Institute.
December 10.The Inn on the north side of Kessock was
opened. Sir William Fettes, who was then proprietor of Redcastle estate,
had carried out a good many improvements. New and commodious piers had
been built at the Ferry, and a steam ferry-boat placed on the passage.
December 24"On Sunday last the Hon. Mrs Fraser, wife
of T. A. Fraser, Esq. of Lovat, was safely delivered of a son and heir.
This conspicuous event was hailed with acclamation by all the tenantry on
the extensive estate of Lovat, and bonfires were blazing in all directions
from Inchberry along the whole surrounding country." The next issue gives
a fuller account of these rejoicings. The heir thus welcomed was the late
Ibid.The seventh anniversary meeting of the Forres
Bible Society was heldSir Thomas Dick Lauder in the chair. The Apocrypha
controversy was the main subject, and there is a long report of the
proceedings. The Society, which included the parish minister and two
Secession ministers, adhered to the British and Foreign Bible Society. Mr
Robert Grant, M.P., was one of the speakers at the meeting.
December 31.The Burke and Hare murders in Edinburgh
had recently horrified the world. There is a report of the trial of Burke
and his accomplice, Helen Macdougal, in this issue.
Ibid.Mr Morrison, bookseller, Inverness, presented to
the Northern Institution a large bronze spear head, which had been
recently found within the circle of upright stones at Kinchyle, on the
road to Dores. "It is," says the report, "one of the largest we have ever
seen, being upwards of a foot in length, and forms an important addition
to the interesting series of ancient weapons already in the Museum."