Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
The year 1830 is the dividing line
between two political eras. When the year began, however, the premonitions
of change showed themselves only in general mutterings and discontent. The
Government of the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel had been weakened
by the Act of Catholic Emancipation, which was resented by a large section
of his own party. The Duke had previously parted with an influential
section of the Whigs, and the Opposition was rapidly becoming compact and
powerful, reinforced on occasion by Tory malcontents. The subject of
electoral reform was coming to the front, though more slowly than one
would imagine at this distance of time. The real grievance arose from the
distress of the country. Manufacturers and agriculturists were both
suffering to such an extent that a member of Parliament described the
working classes as approaching starvation. When Parliament met in February
1830 the House of Commons was disappointed by the cold terms in which the
Royal speech spoke of the condition of affairs. This intensified the
feelings of dissatisfaction which had previously existed, and Ministers
had a troubled time. While the political temper was in this unsettled
state, George Fourth died in the month of June.
The second half of 1830 had scarcely
begun when the Revolution broke out in France which drove Charles X. from
the throne, and
set up Louis Philippe. The movement was hailed with
enthusiasm in Britain, where the autocratic policy of Charles and his
Minister Prince de Polignac was regarded with strong aversion. The
upheaval in France excited Belgium, which disliked the connection with
Holland established by the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and a revolt at
Brussels ended before the close of the year, in the establishment of
Belgian independence. Events on the Continent reacted on this country, and
created a strong desire for political Reform.
The new King, William IV., had been
welcomed on his accession to the Throne, but his popularity did not
strengthen the Duke of Wellingtons administration. The new Parliament
which was summoned on the accession of the King speedily showed its
dissatisfaction with the Cabinet. The Houses
assembled on the 26th of October, and got to business early in November.
Earl Grey, referring to the disturbances on the Continent, spoke in the
Lords of the importance of securing the affections of their
fellow-subjects by reforming Parliament. The Duke of Wellington at once
took up a position of hopeless antagonism. He said "he had never heard or
read of any measure up to the present moment which could in any degree
satisfy his mind that the state of the representation could be improved,
or be rendered more satisfactory to the country at Large than at the
present moment." There is a story that the Tory Peers were themselves so
amazed at this declaration that when Wellington sat down, a hum of
criticism arose through the House; and the Duke, on asking a colleague
what it meant, received the reply, "You have announced the fall of your
Government, that is all." The actual defeat, however, came on a motion in
the House of Commons, proposed by Sir Henry Parnell, for a Committee on
the Civil List. This motion was carried on the 15th of November by a
majority of 29, and the Ministry resigned. Earl Grey was sent for to form
an administration, and Brougham became Lord Chancellor. Lord Althorp was
selected as Chancellor of the Exchequer and leader of the House of
Commons, with Lord John Russell as one of his most active colleagues.. It
was understood from the outset that Parliamentary Reform would engage the
attention of the new Ministry.
The year 1830 is famous for the opening of the
Liverpool and Manchester Railway, which proved beyond dispute the value of
the form of locomotion advocated by George Stephenson. The opening
ceremony occurred on 15th September. Unfortunately the occasion was marred
by an accident which proved fatal to William Huskisson, the member for
Liverpool, a man who had done eminent service as a statesman and
financier. Huskisson was knocked down by a passing engine, and died on the
evening of the same day.
From the "Inverness Courier." 1830.
January 6.A few days before there
was launched at Cromarty, from the shipyard of Hugh Allan, a large
handsome schooner, which was christened "The Sutors of Cromarty." The
launch is described by a correspondent evidently Hugh Miller, who makes
the incident the occasion for a column of interesting traditions.
January 13.There is a long account
in this issue of a case that arose in connection with the administration
of Dr Whites charity, Rosskeen. The case is not now of special interest,
but the extract from the will of the testator, Dr White, of Bombay, may be
quoted:"I direct that £2000 sterling be founded or mortified in that
parish [Rosskeen] for the decayed and modest poorthat the interest of the
above sum be annually distributed among the most indigent, in sums from
three to five pounds yearly, caeteris paribus the name of Bethune to be
preferred. The minister for the time being and elders to be managers, with
two of the chief heritors in rotation of twenty years."
January 20.The Magistrates and
bakers of Inverness met to consider the price of bread, and agreed to
reduce it a penny per 4-lb. loaf. The price of this loaf for fine bread
was fixed at ninepence, and second quality sevenpence.
Ibid.The Reay country had recently
been acquired by the house of Sutherland, and extensive improvements were
contemplated. "A complete survey has been made of the whole, and roads and
bridges are forthwith to be entered upon. The people seem highly gratified
that since it was found necessary to dispose of the estate, it has fallen
into the hands of the present noble proprietor, the Marquis of Stafford,
whose public spirit will undoubtedly supply the natives with means of
employment, and thus materially better their condition. The lands of the
noble Marquis in the North, by this recent extension, stretch over a tract
of country exceeding, in a direct line, one hundred miles."
January 27.Subscriptions for the
improvements of the Ness Islands had reached the amount of £803 8s 6d. It
was hoped that further contributions would be obtained to enable the
committee to complete their original scheme of throwing a bridge over the
western branch of the river, and so connecting the banks on both sides. In
the next issue an additional sum of £50 was announced from Mr David Inglis,
London, making his contribution £100.
Ibid.A letter from Stornoway states
that the Hon. Mrs Stewart Mackenzie had established five Sabbath Schools
in that town, besides a female school where the children of the poor were
taught during the week English, Gaelic, writing, and needlework; also a
Sabbath evening school for the instruction of female servants. The same
lady was endeavouring to establish similar schools in other parishes in
February 3.The price of bread in
Inverness is the subject of discussion. Two points of some interest are
brought out. One is that the loaf sold here for 9d was then 5 ounces 8
drams less in weight than the loaf sold in Edinburgh for 8d. The other has
reference to the legal position of the trade. "We are told," says the
editor, "that the bakers are by law allowed 25 per cent., and that as the
Magistrates cannot interfere with them within this allowance the best way
to reduce prices would be to establish a competition."
Ibid.A meeting was held at Elgin to
consider the question of lighting the town with gas. "It was resolved that
the Magistrates, having agreed to pay annually for five years the sum of
£35, the inhabitants should assess themselves in a rate of 4d per pound
rent for a like period of five years. All houses under £5 rent being
exempted from the assessment." The meeting next resolved to form a joint
stock company, with a capital of £2500, and within half-an-hour £1640
worth of shares were taken.
Ibid.At an Excise Court held in
Grantown, a number of persons were cited for having in their possession
candle-moulds or home-made candles, without having paid duty. The Excise
officers had made a raid in the district, and brought up between forty and
fifty cases. The Justices would not convict where only one candle was
found, or where moulds only were produced, holding "that the mere
possession of a mould did not constitute a breach of the Excise laws." In
cases where more than one candle was found, the Court awarded a
"mitigated" penalty of £25, with a recommendation to the Board of Excise
to exact no more than a nominal fine. This raid led to an angry
correspondence in subsequent numbers. The Excise officers alleged that the
candles were not made for home use but were turned out in considerable
numbers for sale. They had seized as many as 32 stones of candles.
February 10Two serious crimes are
reported in this number. One is the murder of a lonely woman named Helen
Mackenzie, sixty years of age, at her cottage near the mill-dam of
Achnagarren, Easter Ross. The motive was robbery, as she was believed to
possess money. A search through subsequent files shows that the
authorities failed to discover the murderer. The other serious case
was the robbery of a pedlar near Grantown. The poor man was attacked and
left insensible. He was robbed of £23 in money, and of goods to the value
of £30. The perpetrators of this outrage were not discovered, at least at
Ibid.The debates at the opening of
Parliament are reported at considerable length. The Government of the Duke
of Wellington was getting into those difficulties which led to his first
Reform Bill. A clause in the Royal Speech, which represented the distress
in this country as local or partial, was keenly resented.
February 17.The death of General
Stewart of Garth, Governor of the Island of St Lucia, occurred on 18th
December. "The General was known as a gallant soldier, and no less known
as the author of one of the most interesting books in the
languageSketches of the Highlands, &c. We lately saw a letter from the
General, written in high health and spirits, in which he indulged the
anticipation of long and happy days in St Lucia. He had begun a number of
improvements towards the completion of which he was looking eagerly
forward, little dreaming of the melancholy event that was so nigh at
lbid."Early in the morning of
Saturday, the 6th inst., before daylight, as a party of Excise officers
were returning from a survey in the Dingwall district, after destroying a
quantity of malt, they were fired at from amongst some bushes by the
roadside at Crofts of Ardnagrask, near the Muir of Ord. One of the men had
two slug shots fired through his hat, and his head was slightly grazed,
but none of the party were injured. As the Excisemen were ignorant of the
strength of the party, they judged it best to pursue their journey without
attempting to seize their assailants."
February 24.At a meeting of the
Magistrates and bakers of Inverness, held on this date, it was resolved to
return to the old weight of the quartern loaf, 4 lbs. 5 oz. 8 dr., and to
fix the price as follows : Fine quartern loaf, 9d; second do., 7d; and
the small bread in proportion. This change was due to threatened
competition, and the paragraph says that "we think the old monopoly is now
fairly broken down, and will never again be so firmly established."
March 3.A very beautifully executed
series of drawings by a lady, done from the etchings of Mr Petley, of the
carved stones at Nigg and Shandwick in Ross-shire, were laid before the
Northern Institution. They were intended for the Royal Antiquarian Society
of Copenhagen, between whom and the Northern Institution a correspondence
had for some time subsisted. At the same meeting Mr George Anderson, the
secretary, read a paper on vitrified forts.
Ibid.The baptism of a converted
Jew, which took place in the Inverness Gaelic Church, caused some local
excitement. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Mr Clark. The man was a
native of Warsaw, named Ezekiel or Caspar Auerback, and was a hawker of
stationery and other articles.
March 10.There is a description of
a wild boar hunt which took place by the side of the Deveron, in
Banffshire. Some years previously the Earl of Fife had imported a boar and
three sows from Germany, but they and their progeny had dropped off one by
one, except a single fine boar, which haunted the district. During a
snowstorm, however, he became a terror to the people, and the country-side
turned out with dog and gun to despatch him. "His path was easily tracked
in the snow, and on meeting the fierce intruder a spirited scene ensued.
His extraordinary speed, no less than his ferocity, kept the belligerents
at bay for some time, but he was at length destroyed, pierced by a number
March 17.The steamer Maid of Morven,
from Inverness to Glasgow, foundered at Oban quay. She had taken the
ground when the tide receded, and the weight of goods overbalanced her. No
lives were lost.
March 31.The foundation-stone of
Andersons Institution was laid at Elgin on the previous Wednesday with
Masonic honours. The members of two lodges took part in the ceremony,
namely, Kilmolymock Lodge and Trinity Lodge. The foundation-stone was laid
by the Grandmaster, William Brodie of Brodie.
April 7."The fever of emigration is
at present raging in its height in the county of Sutherland, and the wilds
of Upper Canada are this year the chosen scene for this voluntary exile.
Vessels have been freighted to sail about the end of May, and no less than
three hundred males, besides children, have already registered their names
April 14.From the report of the
Commissioners on Highland Roads and Bridges it appeared that £1800 had
been expended in repairing the damage caused by the floods of 1829, and
that other £10,000 would be required.
Ibid.A movement was on foot to
establish an Academy at Nairn, and a list of subscriptions is given.A
Mechanics Institute was also set on foot at Nairn.
April 21 and 28.A jury trial was
held at Inverness, in which the Hon. Mrs Hay Mackenzie was pursuer and Sir
Hugh Munro, Bart. of Fowlis, was defender. The case related to the
possession of a small glen on Ben-Nevis, called Corrienafiole, occupied as
a summer grazing and a shooting ground in the autumn. A great number of
witnesses were examined in Gaelic. The trial lasted for three days, and in
the end the jury found for the pursuer.
Ibid.The first notice appears of
the Assynt murderer, famous in local annals. The body of a pedlar named
Murdo Grant, who is described as a steady respectable young man, was found
in a loch in Assynt. The marks on his body showed that it was too probable
he had met with a violent death. The Sheriff of Sutherland and the
Procurator-Fiscal, who were attending the Circuit Court at Inverness when
the news arrived, set off to investigate the matter.
May 5.There are reports of
discussions at the Synod of Moray and the Presbytery of Inverness relative
to the law of patronage. At both, the Rev. Mr Clark, Inverness, moved an
overture to the General Assembly urging the propriety of enacting that
before a minister could be inducted to a church, a call to him must be
regularly signed by a majority of the male communicants of a parish. Rev.
Mr Fraser, of Kirkhill, seconded. The overture was rejected in the Synod
by 20 votes to 9, and in the Presbytery by 5 votes to 4. One of the
arguments against the overture was that it would bring the Church into
collision with the civil law.
May 28."Sir Robert Peel, the
venerable father of Mr Secretary Peel, died on Monday week, and the
consequent absence of the Secretary has caused some interruption to the
business of the House of Commons. Several motions have been postponed, and
the House adjourned on Thursday night to Monday. Mr O'Connell and Lord
John Russell have postponed their motions on the subject of the reform of
the representation of the people, which stood for Thursday, till Friday,
Ibid.It is stated that a young man
named Macleod, had been arrested in Assynt on suspicion of being connected
with the murder of the pedlar, Murdoch Grant. The body of the murdered man
had been dreadfully bruised and mangled by a hatchet or hammer. It was
known that he had left his native parish of Lochbroom with goods in his
pack to the value of at least £50, and money on his person to the amount
of £5. Suspicion alighted on Macleod from his changing a £5 bank note.
May 19.The trial of a will case,
known as the Dundonnell cause, occupies a large part of the paper. The
jury were unable to agree, and were discharged.
Ibid.Among the donations to the
Northern Institution was a set of preserved specimens of the Linnaea
borealis in flower, gathered on the Knock of Alves, near Elgin, by the
Rev. George Gordon of that town. From the same gentleman there was also
laid on the table a complete and valuable assortment of the rocks found in
the lower district of Morayshire, accompanied by a memoir on the geology
of that part of the country. Mr George Anderson, the Secretary, also read
a paper on the great boulder Tom Riach, which stands on the south bank of
the River Nairn, about two miles from Culloden battlefield.
May 26.The Right Hon. Charles
Grant, M.P., presented the Rev. Alexander Beith, minister at Kilbrandon,
to the parish of Glenelg, in the Presbytery of Lochcarron.
June 2.On the 24th ult. a Cromarty
boat, returning from Wick with passengers, struck on a rock in the
neighbourhood of Dunbeath, and all on board, with one exception perished.
Ten lives were lost, including a family named Ross from Tain, consisting
of husband and wife and six children. "It is not a little remarkable,"
says the report, "that since the middle of autumn last a greater number of
the inhabitants of Cromarty have perished at sea than for the thirty years
June 9.The question whether
Catholics were liable for fees to Session Clerks was decided in the
negative by the Sheriff-Substitute at Inverness. The case arose out of a
claim made by the Session-Clerk of Kilmonivaig for registering the births
and marriages of certain of the parishioners who were Roman Catholics. The
entries were made without the knowledge or consent of the parents.
Ibid."We understand that the
important cause betwixt Glengarry and the Caledonian Canal Commissioners,
which has been for some years in the Court of Session, was decided in
favour of the Commissioners on Saturday last. The case related to the
possession of Loch-Oich which is surrounded by lands belonging to
Glengarry, and for the use of which, in the formation of the Canal, he
claimed compensation from the Commissioners, The decision goes to
establish what was urged for the defenders, that an inland loch is the
property of the surrounding proprietors, only while it is of no use to the
public, and that the public have a right to convert such lochs to the
public benefit whenever practicable."
June 23.The Inverness Wool Market
was held the previous week. Prices for wool were a shade higher than the
previous year, but prices for sheep were at least twenty per cent down.
Not one-fourth of the usual business was transacted. A long-argued
question concerning the date of the fair was settled. Hitherto it had been
held in the middle of June. At a meeting, however, held on this occasion,
it was resolved to postpone the time till the second Thursday of July and
to make application to the Magistrates to sanction the change. Complaint
was made of the high tolls charged for sheep. It was also stated that a
disease which shepherds called "trembling" had appeared amongst flocks on
their way South. It was supposed to be due to bad accommodation on the
road, and to the fatigue of travelling on the hard, dry turnpikes.
Ibid.The previous week two brigs
left Cromarty for Quebec, carrying between them about 320 passengers.
About a fortnight before another vessel sailed from the North with
emigrants, and altogether it was believed that 600 persons, chiefly from
Sutherland, had quitted their native country. This emigration seems to
have sprung generally from the favourable representations of friends
already settled in Canada. Many of the emigrants possessed property, and
many were young and eager for adventure.
June 30.This number announces the
death of King George IV. The bulletin issued by the Kings medical
attendants was as follows : Windsor Castle, June 26. It has pleased
Almighty God to take from the world the Kings Most Excellent Majesty. His
Majesty expired at a quarter-past three oclock this morning without
Ibid.On the 21st inst. the
foundation stone of a branch of the National Bank was laid at Portree, in
the Isle of Skye, and also of a commodious Inn. The ceremony took place
with Masonic honours.
July 7.-On the previous Friday, at
noon, the ceremony of proclaiming King William IV. was performed at the
Cross of Inverness by the Sheriff-Depute of the County, in presence of the
Magistrates of Inverness. the Sheriff-Substitute, and a large gathering.
After the proclamation, the Militia Staff fired three volleys. The
Sheriff-Depute and Magistrates then retired to the Town Hall, where the
oaths of allegiance were administered to the public officers, Justices of
the Peace, and Procurators, before the Sheriff Court. The proclamation was
also made at Tain and Nairn by the Sheriff or Sheriff-Substitute.
Ibid."Post riders have now been
established to start twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, from Golspie,
for Tongue, Assynt, Lairg, and Lochinver. When the new road, which is now
in progress, is completed letters will also be transmitted by riders to
Durness and Scourie."
July 14.Parliament was dissolved on
the demise of King George IV., and in the county of Inverness a contest
was at once begun. The Right Hon. Charles Grant was opposed by Macleod of
Macleod. The latter grounded his claims on his adherence to the
administration of the Duke of Wellington, from which Mr Grant had
withdrawn. At the same time the Magistrates and Town Council of Inverness
resolved to support Colonel Baillie of Leys as their candidate for the
Inverness Burghs. "Nairn and Forres, we understand, have agreed to do the
same, and as Inverness is the returning burgh, it seems almost certain
that the present able member, Mr Robert Grant, will lose his seat." The
opposition to Charles Grant was mainly political, but there is a tradition
that a personal element entered into the opposition to Robert Grant. He
had failed, it is said, to secure the office of Collector of Customs at
Inverness for a near relative of his chief supporter, and accordingly
received notice to quit. However this may be, the Wellington Ministry was
evidently very anxious to oust the two Grants.
Ibid."A daring attempt was lately
made to escape from the gaol of Dornoch by Hugh Macleod, the young man
suspected of being the perpetrator of the atrocious murder at Assynt, and
a convict of the name of Macdonald. The parties had, we understand,
arranged to seize the gaolers, take the keys, and thus effect their
escape. Information was however, conveyed to the authorities by another
prisoner, who had overheard the scheme, and steps were taken which
prevented its completion. The prisoners were accordingly lodged in
separate cells, and strictly guarded."
July 21.Feeling began to run high
in the contest for the representation of the county. It is explicitly
stated that his Majestys Ministers were using their influence against
Charles Grant. Circulars issued by his opponent had been franked by the
Home Secretary. The "Courier," however, declared that Mr Grant was assured
of a majority.
Ibid."Last week a veteran of the
name of William Cameron died in the parish of Croy county of Nairn, at the
advanced age of 97. When only a lad he was pressed by the troops in the
service of George II, and obliged to assist in conveying their baggage a
short time previous to the memorable and decisive battle of Culloden, and
at that conflict he fought in support of the House of Hanover against his
father, who supported the claims of the last of the Stuarts. He went
afterwards to the East Indies in the 73rd Regiment., and was ultimately
discharged with a pension of a shilling a day, which he enjoyed for fifty
years. Two of his grandsons, one of them a drill sergeant, are at present
serving in the gallant 42nd Regiment. On one occasion his son, grandson,
and son-in-law, and himself drew their pensions together at Fort-George."
The "veteran" at the time of the battle of Culloden could not have been
more than thirteen years of age.
July 28.The number contains an
account of improvements by the Marquis of Stafford in the county of
Sutherland, especially in the making of roads. Previous to 1829 a road had
been made along the north coast of Sutherland to the river Naver. At
Whitsunday 1829 the Marquis acquired the Reay country, and directed the
road to be continued to the Kyle of Tongue, and across the Mom to Loch-Eriboll.
August 14.This number records the
Revolution in France which caused the flight of Charles X. It is the
number which Hugh Miller received at Cromarty when he was hewing in the
neighbourhood of the harbour, surrounded by a group of French fishermen.
Their boat bore the name of Charles X., and as soon as they heard of the
Kings flight, one of them took a piece of chalk, and effaced the royal
name. Miller relates the incident in the next number of the "Courier," and
has described it in his "Schools and Schoolmasters."
Ibid.Mr Robert Grant was elected
one of the members for the city of Norwich, having, in conjunction with Mr
Gurney, ousted Colonel Jonathan Peel, a brother of the Home Secretary,
over whom Mr Grant obtained a majority of 351. "The number of voters who
came forward to support Mr Grant was 2277. Under all the circumstances a
higher honour has seldom been conferred on a public man.
August 11.The public are
respectfully informed that the Caledonian Coach now runs daily to and from
Perth, starting from the Caledonian Hotel, Inverness, at a quarter before
5 a.m., and from the George and Star Inn, Perth, at 6 a.m.
Ibid.The first general meeting of
subscribers to the Nairn Academy was held on the previous Friday, when a
draft of the rules was carefully gone over and adjusted.In the same
number there is a review of Sir Thomas Dick Lauders book on the Moray
August 18.Sir James W. Mackenzie of
Scatwell was elected, without opposition, M.P. for the county of Ross.
Lord Francis Leveson-Gower was elected member for the county of Sutherland.
Ibid.It is stated that William
Fraser of Goldston Hall, Berbice, had in his will bequeathed freedom to
upwards of twenty slaves on his estate in the colony. Mr Fraser died at
Tain in the 43rd year of his age.
August 25.Colonel John Baillie of
Leys was elected member for the Inverness District of Burghs. The same
number records that the former member, Mr Robert Grant, had given £100 to
the burgh of Fortrose for the purpose of defraying the expense incurred in
bringing water into the town.The Hon. Captain Campbell, brother of the
Earl of Cawdor, was elected member for the county of Nairn. The new
members entertained the leading inhabitants to dinner. The dinner given by
Colonel Baillie in the Caledonian Hotel at Inverness is described as
superb. "Two turtles, which had been ordered from London by the member,
were served up in a style that would have thrown Meg Dods into ecstasies,
while the various wineschampagne, Madeira, claret, &c.were equally
September 1.The contest for the
representation of the county of Inverness terminated on the previous
Friday in the re-election of Charles Grant. "From the commencement of the
struggle the result was looked forward to with intense anxiety in all
parts of the Kingdom. The periodical press, daily, weekly, monthly, and
quarterly had taken up the subjectlords and commoners had discussed it at
public meetingspoliticians of all parties were on the qui vive,
forecasting future events from the success or defeat of the popular
candidate and by universal consent the last election in Britain was
pronounced to in one of the most important." It is stated that the contest
was conducted with great courtesy on both sides. The battle was fought on
public grounds. On the day of election the trial of strength was made on
the election of Chairman. For Mr Macpherson-Grant of Ballindalloch, who
supported Mr Charles Grant, 34 freeholders voted; and for Colonel Grant of
Grant, the leading man on the other side, 25. This gave the one party a
majority of nine. Macleod of Macleod then withdrew from the contest,
delivering at the same time a speech in which he expressed his political
views. Mr Charles Grant also delivered a brilliant speech. Since his
retirement from the Government he had acted as an independent member, and
intended so to continue. "For the Duke of Wellington, the greatest Captain
of his age, the benefactor of his country, the conqueror of Napoleon, he
retained sentiments of the deepest respect and admiration." He claimed the
right, however, to criticise the Dukes political administration.
"Declining to give any pledge in general, this pledge I will give, that in
just exertion to obtain your approbation and that of the country, I shall
not be wanting. Gentlemen, I thank you for placing not the representation
only, but the independence of the county, in my hands." The "Courier" says
that after the roll of freeholders had been purged and made up, Mr Grant
would have had a majority of 12. Mr Grants dinner was held in the
Caledonian Hotel, the company numbering 134. His brother, Mr Robert Grant,
was present, and his health was proposed by young Lochiel, and drunk with
great applause. Macleod entertained his friends in the Royal Hotel. A few
days afterwards a splendid "election ball" was given in the Northern
September 15.There is a notice of a
treatise on the natural history of the salmon, printed for private
circulation by Mr Alexander Fraser, tacksman at Dochnalurg. "For more than
forty years Mr Fraser had been sedulously engaged in the salmon trade, on
the beautiful banks of the loch and river of Ness, and a series of
attentive observations, continued through so long a period has put him in
possession of much new and valuable information on the subject of his
study and pursuits."
September 22.There were four murder
cases at the Inverness autumn circuit. In one case the culprit was
pronounced insane; the verdict in the second case was not proven; in the
third not guilty. The fourth case was that of the Assynt murder, and the
trial was postponed.
Ibid.There is an account of the
opening of the Liverpool railway, and the death of Mr Huskisson.
September 29.The Northern Meeting
of this year is described as the dullest ever remembered. The weather for
some time had been very unfavourable.Dr Robertson of Aultnaskiach was
elected once more as Provost of Inverness.
Ibid.At a Justice of Peace Court,
held for the trial of offences against the Excise laws, there were
fourteen cases brought forwarda much smaller number than on former occasions, and
the majority of a comparatively unimportant character. "There was not one
case of illicit distillation, a pretty satisfactory proof that that
baneful traffic has been nearly extinguished in this district of the
October 6.A requisition, signed by
three hundred persons, described as influential merchants and other
inhabitants of Liverpool, was presented to Mr Charles Grant asking him to
allow himself to be nominated as a candidate in room of Mr Huskisson. A
deputation from Liverpool came to Inverness to present the requisition. Mr
Grant was deeply gratified by the invitation, but declined to sever
himself from the county of Inverness.
Ibid.A letter is published from a
young man in Quebec, one of the Sutherland emigrants who sailed from
Cromarty in May. The vessel arrived at Quebec on the 8th of August, after
a tedious passage of ten weeks, caused by contrary winds which prevailed
from the time she left Cromarty. "Nearly the whole of the passengers,
about 220 in number, were attacked by a severe fever owing to bad water.
The water had been put into palm-oil casks, or some other obnoxious stuff
was in them formerly, and we could neither use it for tea, coffee, or
anything else, and of which we got a very small allowance. We lost nine
passengers in all." Most of the passengers went up country on their
arrival, but the writer and some others stayed in Quebec, and obtained
employment there. He mentions that the vessel which sailed from Cromarty
about three weeks after them arrived at Quebec on "the following day,"
presumably the 9th. He also states that about 38,000 emigrants had arrived
that season, most of them Irish.
Ibid.At a County Meeting, Sheriff
Tytler brought forward suggestions for a new gaol and courthouse, and
proposed that a special meeting should be called to consider the situation
on the 14th of December, as it was probable that the Lord Advocates Gaol
Bill would then be before them. This was agreed to. During the next few
weeks the bill was produced, and was discussed at meetings in Inverness
and other burghs.
October 13.There is a memoir of
Colin Mackenzie of Portmore, one of the Principal Clerks of the Court of
Session, quoted from the "Edinburgh Weekly Journal," and said to be
written by Sir Walter Scott. Portmore was a grandson, through his mother,
of Mr Colin Mackenzie of Kilcoy.
Ibid."The Belgians have obtained
what they contended for so vigorously and pertinaceously, the separation
of Belgium from Holland."
Ibid.A correspondent gives an
account of the scenes he had witnessed in 1826 at Loch-mo-Naire, a sheet
of water five miles from the mouth of the river Naver, in Sutherland,
supposed to have virtue in the curing of diseases and of lunacy. The
writer states that hundreds repaired to this loch on the first Monday of
every quarter. On the occasion in question about a hundred assembled on
the Sunday night preceding, and kept themselves warm round a large heap of
burning peats. Men, women, and children were among the gathering. As soon
as the advent of Monday was announced, they gave a simultaneous shout,
stripped without ceremony, and each throwing a piece of money into the
loch, plunged into the water. "They dive thrice, during each of three
rounds, after which they dress and away in procession to the further end
of the loch, where they gather some weed which alone gives effect to the
operation just performed. When a sufficient quantity of the weed had been
collected, we again moved slowly in procession round the enchanted loch
three times." Bathing in this loch continued to be resorted to as a cure
until a much later date than above-mentioned. An account of an incident of
the kind appears in the "Courier" in August 1871.
October 20."A meeting of the
inhabitants of the burgh of Dingwall was held on Saturday last, for the
purpose of considering the subject of Parliamentary Reform. Sir Francis
Mackenzie of Gairloch Bart., was unanimously called to the chair.
Resolutions were passed condemning the present system of representation as
calculated to promote the interests of certain individuals, orders, and
classes, at the expense and to the detriment of the great body of the
people, and calling upon every loyal individual desirous of preserving
peace, property, and social order, to use his best exertions to obtain
such a reform of the House of Commons as would render its members the
real, impartial, and disinterested representatives of the people."
Ibid.There is a notice of the death
of Donald Munro, a catechist in Skye, who seems to have been a remarkable
man. He was quite uneducated, and lost his eyesight at the age of
fourteen. He possessed, however, an extraordinary memory, and acquired
such a knowledge of the Scriptures that it is said he could repeat
verbatim the whole of the New Testament and the greater part of the Old.
"His talent for exposition was such that a gentleman from another country,
himself no mean judge, said he never heard anyone expound the Scriptures
like him. In private life he was as amiable as in his public capacity he
October 27.Mr Stewart Mackenzie of
Seaforth was elected Provost of Dingwall.In a previous issue it was
stated that Sir William Gordon-Cumming of Altyre was elected Provost of
November 10.The opening of
Parliament led to keen discussions on the state of the country. The Duke
of Wellington announced himself an uncompromising foe of Parliamentary
Ibid.A panic occurred in the Parish
Church of Lochbroom on a Communion Sunday, resulting in injury to many
persons. The commotion was caused by a person subject to epileptic fits.
The church was a large one, and it is said that the congregation numbered
nearly 2000. One man subsequently died from his injuries.
November 24.The Government was
defeated on a motion in the House of Commons for the appointment of a
Select Committee to inquire into the Civil List. The majority against
Ministers was 29. "In one grand point the dissolution of the Dukes
Ministry differs from all previous onesit has been brought about solely
by public opinion." Earl Grey formed a new Administration. Mr Charles
Grant member for the county of Inverness, became President of the Board of
Control. Brougham became Lord Chancellor.
December 1."We are truly glad to
see the feeling of cordiality and confidence with which the new Ministry
is hailed by the nation." This is the beginning of an editorial article.
No disclosure of the intentions of Ministers on the subject of Reform had
yet been made, but petitions in favour began to flow into Parliament.
Ibid.There had just been published
at Inverness the Gaelic songs of William Ross, who has been described as
"one of the sweetest minstrels the Highlands have produced." He was born
in the parish of Strath, Isle of Skye, in 1762, but was partly educated in
Forres, and in early life accompanied his father, a pedlar, in his
wanderings through the Highlands and Lowlands. His mother was a daughter
of Piobare Dall, a celebrated blind piper of Gairloch. According to the
paragraph in this issue, Ross became a schoolmaster in his native parish;
but whether this was so or not, he certainly became schoolmaster in the
parish of Gairloch, Ross-shire. He died prematurely at the age of 28. His
songs floated in the memories of the people until they were collected by
Mr John Mackenzie of Inverewe, and published in this year, 1830.
Ibid.A terrific gale occurred in
November, in which many vessels were wrecked.
December 8.Six criminal cases were
tried at Inverness the previous week before the Sheriff and a jury. The
cases occupied the Court two days.
December 15.A number of gentlemen
favourable to Parliamentary Reform met in the Caledonian HotelMr John
Mackenzie, banker, in the chair. A requisition was drawn up to the Provost
asking him to call a public meeting. The Provost declined to call a
meeting on the ground that the question had better be left in the hands of
the Government. The committee accordingly resolved to call a meeting on
their own account.
December 22.There is a long report
of the meeting held in behalf of Parliamentary Reform. Mr John Mackenzie,
banker, was in the chair. Although a burgh meeting, several county
gentlemen were present, including Mackintosh, yr. of Mackintosh., Mr
Fraser of Abertarff, [He was the only
surviving grandson of Col. Archibald Campbell Fraser of Lovat (1736-1815)
who was left the property of Abertarff by his grandfather. T.A. Fraser of
Strichen spent all his life in court, trying to get that property away
from him; as well as the other Lovat lands he had inherited, by entail...
because Archie died without legitimate surviving issue; TFF having been
born on the wrong side of the blanket...] Captain Fraser of Balnain, Mr Fraser of Torbreck, Mr
Mackintosh, yr. of Geddes Captain Mackay of Hedgefield, and Mr Macdonald
of Ness Castle. Among the speakers were some of the above-mentioned
gentlemen, as also Mr Macandrew, solicitor; Bailie Cumming, Mr Cameron,
solicitor; Mr George Mackay, merchant; Mr Thomson, banker; Mr Adam, rector
of the Academy; and Dr Nicol.
Ibid.The death is recorded of the
Rev. James Smith, minister of Avoch, in the 73rd year of his age and the
44th of his ministry. He is highly spoken of, especially as a pastor.
December 29.Public meetings in
favour of Reform were held at Dingwall and Elgin. At the Dingwall burgh
meeting the Provost, Mr Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth, presided; at the
county meeting, Sir George Mackenzie of Coul. At the Elgin county meeting
Sir Thomas Dick Lauder presided. At the Elgin burgh meeting Mr W.
Robertson of Auchinroath was in the chair, and Mr Isaac Forsyth was the
chief speaker. A. meeting was also held at Forres, at which Mr Alexander
Whyte, merchant, presided. A large number of Ross-shire proprietors took
part in the Dingwall county meeting.