Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
In the year 1831 the attention of
the nation was absorbed by the Reform Bill. The measure was introduced
into the House of Commons by Lord John Russell on 1st March. It was of a
wider character than Reformers expected, and was yet a solid and
well-balanced scheme. Very small boroughs were to be cut off, large towns
to be enfranchised. The right of voting was given in boroughs to
householders rated for £10 rental; in counties to copyholders paying £10
a-year and leaseholders paying £50. The number of members of the House of
Commons was to be reduced from 658 to 596. The struggle came on the second
reading, which was carried by a majority of only one vote - 302 to 301.
"This victory," says Molesworth, "was in many respects worse than a
defeat. It obliged the Government to go on with the bill with a moral
certainty that it would be so mutilated in Committee as to render its
abandonment necessary. And notice was given of a variety of motions
calculated to interfere with the progress of the measure. One of the most
plausible of these motions, and one that was subsequently conceded, was
made by General Gascoyne, who moved that it was the opinion of the House
that the total number of knights, citizens, and burgesses returned to
Parliament for England and Wales ought not to be diminished, on the
plausible ground that it was desirable not to alter the relative
proportion of members returned by the three Kingdoms. As this was the
first of the series of motions, the Government, notwithstanding its
apparently harmless character, determined to join issue upon it, and were
defeated by a majority of eight. It was manifest that to prolong the
struggle after this defeat would be a waste of time and energy, and would
only serve to help the Opposition in playing their game of delay.
Ministers had already hinted that an adverse decision on this question
would force them to appeal to the nation. It was now resolved that the
appeal should be made at the first moment that the state of public
business would allow. The King was reluctant to agree, but at length
consented, and Parliament was dissolved. The country rang with the cry,
The bill, the whole bill, and nothing but the bill.'"
The second half of 1831 was
stormy. The now Parliament was opened
on June 21st and on June 24th the second Reform Bill was introduced. The
Government was now supported by a strong majority. The division on the
second reading, which took place on 7th July, gave Ministers a majority of
136. Long discussions took place in Committee, and
it was not until the 22nd of September that
the measure got through the House of Commons. The final division "that the
bill do now pass" was taken at five oclock in the morning, with the
following result For the bill, 345; against, 239;majority in
favour, 106. The measure had next to run the gauntlet of the House of
Lords. The division on the second reading occurred on 8th October, and was
adverse to the bill, the majority against being 41. The news created a
fever of excitement in the country, and led to violent scenes, the most
serious of which were the memorable riots at Bristol. After a short
prorogation, Parliament reassembled on 6th December, and on the 12th, Lord
John Russell brought forward the third Reform Bill. The second reading was
carried by a majority of 162, and Parliament adjourned till the 17th of
January. The year came to a close amidst general anxiety and unrest. In
addition to the political troubles, Asiatic cholera was spreading
throughout the land.
From the "Inverness Courier." 1831.
January 5.The editor expresses his
gratification at the increased circulation of the paper. "About
twenty-four years ago," he says, "it was thought a bold undertaking to
establish a newspaper in Inverness. Our Northern countrymen were content
to derive their political information from Edinburgh or Aberdeen, and
could not imagine whence a periodical press in the heart of the Highlands
could possibly draw sustenance and support. The result has triumphantly
answered these doubts. Two papers now issue weekly from the capital of the
Highlands; another has been established in Elgin, a third paper has been
added to Aberdeen, and various additions have lately been made to the
Edinburgh press. We have not, therefore, risen on the ruin of our
contemporaries. Our success has been commensurate with the improvement of
the country in all its social arts and relationsin its agriculture,
fisheries, trade, and commerce - with the diffusion of knowledge and the
increased means of communication throughout all parts of the Kingdom." He
adds that some portion of the recent increase may also be attributed to
the striking events which had lately taken place throughout all parts of
Thursday, the 30th ult., Mr Charles Grant, who had vacated his seat on
accepting the office of President of the Board of Trade, was re-elected
member for the county of Inverness without opposition. At the meeting of
freeholders Mr Macpherson-Grant of Ballindalloch was in the chair. The
motion for the election of Mr Grant was made by Mr Fraser of Lovat and
seconded by Mr Grant of Glenmoriston.
Ibid.There is a long report of what
was known as the Belladrum cause. Mr John Stewart, M.P., purchased the
estate of Belladrum in 1826 for £80,000. The question at issue, which was
tried before the Lord President and a special jury, was whether the
pursuer, Mr Stewart, was induced by misrepresentation to enter into the
said agreement. A note of particulars had been furnished to the pursuer,
and these, it was said, were incorrect. The jury found for Mr Stewart, but
he appears to have retained the estate.
January 12.There is a long report
of the second trial of the Dundonnell cause, which came off before the
Lord President and a jury in the Court of Session. The deceased proprietor
had left the estate away from his brother, the natural heir. The question
was whether the testator was mentally capable of making a will; and
further, whether his brother-in-law, Roy, to whom he left the estate, had
interfered unduly in the transaction. By the verdict of the jury the will
was reduced, and the brother declared the heir. It appears, however, that
the brother was financially ruined by the litigation in the case, and the
property had to be sold in 1835.
Ibid.Meetings were held at Nairn
and at Tain in favour of Parliamentary Reform.
Ibid.A communication from Hugh
Miller, which forms part of his Traditions of Cromarty, appears in this
issue. Other chapters followed in subsequent issues.
January 26.A Reform meeting was
held at Wick, Captain Macdonald of Shebser in the chair. "The Chairman
read an official letter from the Sheriff-Substitute of the county,
intimating to the movers and promoters of the meeting that they were
taking upon themselves a high responsibility in calling into action a
power which they had no means of controlling; and that as such meetings
could be legally and constitutionally called by Magistrates alone, which
had not been done in this instance, they would be held responsible for the
consequences. The Chairman expressed his astonishment at such a letter
having been written." Resolutions in favour of Reform were agreed to.
February 2.Four threatening letters
signed "Swing" were received by prominent persons in Inverness, written,
it was said, in consequence of the scarcity of meal, caused by extensive
exportation from the North. A placard beaded "Meal Mob" was also affixed
to the wall of the Parish Church, calling on the people to turn out on
Tuesday night. The Magistrates took precautionary measures, and no
movement occurred. A reward of twenty guineas was offered for the
discovery of the authors of the letters and placard.
lbid.Died, at Kitarlity, Mr Donald
Fraser, parochial schoolmaster, aged 89. He had held office for nearly
seventy years. At the age of 18 Mr Fraser married a girl of 15, and his
wife survived him. They had numerous descendants.
February 9.At an Inverness county
meeting, resolutions were adopted in favour of the erection of a new
Court-house and gaol. A committee was appointed to confer with the
Magistrates of the burgh, and to correspond with conveners of other
counties. At the same meeting Sheriff Tytler proposed resolutions in
favour of the abolition of the tax on candles, which was oppressive to the
poor, and produced only about £400,000 to the national revenue.
Ibid.The winter was severe. There
was a heavy snow-storm. One day no less than five London and three
Edinburgh mails were due.
February 23.A meeting of the
proprietors of kelp estates in the Hebrides and West Coast of Scotland had
been held at Edinburgh for the purpose of memorialising the Board of Trade
on a recent order in Council which reduced the duty on barilla from £5 to
£2 per ton, a reduction which they apprehended would lead to the entire
extinction of kelp manufacture in Scotland. It was stated that the
inhabitants of North Uist, South Uist, and Benbecula numbered about 12,500
persons, and that 7000 or 8000 had no other means of support than the
gathering of kelp.
March 2.There was at this time a
Coursing Club in Sutherland. Its doings are reported in this issue.
Ibid."A Sunday School was lately
established in Grantown by the Rev. Peter Grant, Baptist minister, which
is attended by nearly all the youth of the town, and is conducted in a
very superior manner." The Rev. Peter Grant was the author of some fine
March 9.The Reform Bill was
introduced by Lord John Russell into the House of Commons on 1st March.
Nine columns of the paper are appropriated to a report of the debate.
March 17.The first reading of the
Reform Bill was acquiesced in without a division. "Meetings in favour of
the large and liberal measure of Government," it is stated, "are spreading
in all parts of the countrynorth as well as south. Nairn, Dingwall, and
Tain have already met to congratulate Ministers and the country on the
subject, while Inverness comes forward on Saturday. The freeholders of
Ross-shire assemble on the 24th inst. We never recollect a public measure
on which there was so much unanimity of sentiment."
Ibid.At a meeting of the Directors
of Tain Academy, Mr John Noble was elected Rector.
March 23.On the previous Saturday a
public meeting was held in the Court-House at Inverness to express
approval of the Reform Bill. Mr John Mackenzie, banker, was in the chair,
and the speakers were mostly the same as at the previous Reform meeting.
"In order to defray the necessary expenses, a shilling each was charged
for admittance at the door, and hence perhaps the attendance was more
respectable than numerous. A considerable proportion, however, of our
townsmen was present, and the utmost loyalty and unanimity pervaded the
meeting." The text of the Reform Bill is printed as a supplement to the
Ibid.A new coach, the Defiance, is
announced as about to start between Inverness and Aberdeen. The running
was to commence on 4th April. "The guards and coachmen, who drive
throughout, will be distinguished by crimson coats."
March 30.The second reading of the
Reform Bill was carried in the House of Commons, but only by a single
vote. The figures wereFor the bill, 302; against, 301.A meeting of
county gentlemen at Tain petitioned against the bill. A meeting of Easter
Ross farmers held at New Tarbat, passed resolutions, in favour of the
measure. Similar resolutions were passed at a meeting in Stornoway.
April 6.Inverness was brilliantly
illuminated on Monday night in commemoration of the second reading of the
Reform Bill. The measure continued to excite local discussion. At a county
meeting in Inverness, Sheriff Tytler presided, and various views were
expressed on details. A resolution was adopted by a majority questioning
the propriety of giving votes to tenants in counties. At a county meeting
in Dingwall, Mr Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth moved resolutions approving
of the Ministerial plan of Reform. Mr Mackenzie of Ord moved a resolution
declaring the bill too sweeping and partial. The amendment was carried by
18 to 14.
April 20.Sir Francis A. Mackenzie,
Bart. of Gairloch, sent £100 worth of potatoes to his tenantry on the West
Coast. The previous years crop had been destroyed by wet.
April 27.Parliament was dissolved
on the 23rd. An editorial note says"The votes of the Scots
representatives on the Reform Bill were as follows :For the bill, 16;
against it, 25; majority against, 9. Four members were absent, namely, the
members for Banffshire, Ross-shire, Dumfries Burghs, and Inverness Burghs.
The Government were defeated on a motion by General Gascone, that the
total number of members in the House of Commons ought not to be
diminished. The vote stood For the motion, 299; against it 291; majority,
May 4.At an Inverness-shire county
meeting, it was reported that the Duke of Gordon had agreed to sell the
Castlehill for the erection of a new jail and Court-House, the price to be
thirty years purchase at £11 per annum. The meeting agreed to the terms,
and thanked the Duke.
Ibid.Colonel Baillie of Leys
intended to contest the county of Inverness as an anti-reformer, but
finding the majority of the freeholders in favour of the measure, he
withdrew. Colonel Baillie sat in the previous Parliament for the Inverness
Burghs, but Major Cumming Bruce had secured the votes of Nairn and Forres,
and Nairn was on this occasion the returning burgh.Mr J. E. Baillie was
returned as one of the members for Bristol. Sir Hugh Innes of Lochalsh, a
supporter of the bill, succeeded Lord Francis Gower in Sutherlandshire.
May 18.Mr George Sinclair, yr. of
Ulbster, was elected for the county of Caithness. He was in favour of the
May 25.On the previous Monday Major
Cumming Bruce was elected member for the Inverness District of Burghs.
Captain Rose, Commissioner for Nairn, proposed the Major, and the other
Commissioners, Provost Gordon for Forres, Provost Macfarquhar for Fortrose,
and Provost Robertson for Inverness, concurred.. Sir William
Gordon-Gumming of Altyre was chosen member for the Elgin District of
Burghs. Mr James Loch was re-elected for the Northern Burghs.
lbid.There was a sharp contest for
the county of Cromarty between the Reform candidate, Mr Macleod, yr. of
Cadboll, and Mr Davidson of Tulloch, who stood as an anti-Reformer. The
votes stood 8 to 7, the majority of one being in favour of Tulloch.
Friday, 27th ult., Mr Charles Grant was elected, without opposition, as
member for the county of Inverness. Mr Fraser of Lovat was in the chair.
The member was nominated by Mr Grant of Glenmoriston, seconded by Chisholm
of Chisholm. Mr Grant delivered a long and eloquent speech in favour of
Reform. He spoke of the sympathy of the freeholders of the county with the
cause. "He could not but be struck with the contrast betwixt the
circumstances under which they were then met and those presented a few
months ago. At the latter period he was compelled with lance in rest to
descend to the struggle; now he had not to join in the battle, but to
celebrate the victory." At the close of the meeting, in the Court-House,
the member was met outside by a great gathering of people, who qreeted him
with acclamation. The incorporated trades, wearing their insignia, formed
a procession with flags flying. A subscription had been set agoing by a
zealous friend of the Ministry, for the purpose of providing a handsome
new chair, in which the member was now installed, and carried up the Haugh,
and down Castle Street and Church Street. As Mr Grant was borne along, he
was saluted at every window with cheering and waving of handkerchiefs.
When the procession reached the house of Mr Edwards, Sheriff-Substitute,
where Mr Grant was staying, he was carried under a triumphal arch, and the
chair was set down safely on the steps at the door. There the member
addressed the people, thanking them for the honour, and applauding their
zeal in the cause of reform. "He drew a sort of parallel between the
progress of the Reform Bill and his progress in the chair through the
streets, which excited immense cheering and laughter. Both, he said, had
exhibited occasional deviations and declensions, but still they went
forward, borne along by a generous and united people." In the evening Mr
Grant entertained a company of 150 in the Northern Meeting Rooms.
Ibid.The election for the county of
Ross took place the previous week. There were three candidates, namely, Mr
Mackenzie of Kilcoy, Mr Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth, and Sir Francis
Mackenzie of Gairloch. Sir Francis, however, had been called away by the
death of a near relative, and withdrew from the contest. The vote finally
stood 28 for Seaforth and 21 for Kilcoy, the former being thus elected. An
editorial note says that the result of the Ross-shire election had
occasioned some surprise, as Seaforth had come prepared for defeat. The
friends of Sir Francis Mackenzie, however, threw their votes for Seaforth.
The three candidates were favourable to Reform, so that the contest was
more personal than political. Seaforth, however, was regarded as the
leading Reformer. "But for the unlucky absence of one of Mr Macleod of
Cadbolls voters, which threw the county of Cromarty into the hands of an
anti-Reformer, we should have been able to boast that every county north
of the Highland border was consecrated to Reform." In Scotland 24
supporters of the bill were returned and 21 opponents.
Ibid.At a meeting of the Gaelic
Church, it was resolved to establish a Mechanics Institute in Inverness.
Mr Charles Grant, M.P., was in the chair, and Dr Nicol was the leading
June 8.The Northern Missionary
Society met at Inverness, Rev. Mr Macdonald, Ferrintosh, preaching in
English, and Rev. Mr Kennedy, Redcastle, in Gaelic. Collection at the
gate, £44 6s; and with sums received from other sources, the total was £64
June 22.A contract had been
completed for paving High Street and Church Street, Inverness. The centre
of the streets was to be paved with dressed granite stones, and the
footways with Caithness flags. "Common sewers, with collateral drains, are
also to be constructed in the most efficient manner."
Ibid.Cromarty Bay was, by order in
Council, appointed one of the quarantine stations for cholera, which was
now beginning to excite apprehension.
June 29.The new Parliament had
assembled. and the Reform Bill had been brought in and read a first time.
Ibid.It is stated that Dr A. Bell
had resolved to bestow on Inverness, as upon Edinburgh and Aberdeen,
one-twelfth of a donation of £120,000, three per cent. Bank annunities,
for the purposes of education.
July 6.The condition of the poor in
the western islands was at this time wretched. "A more deep and universal
distress prevails on that coast than was ever before remembered. In fact
the whole of the peasantry, with the exception of those who have got
cattle and can subsist on milk, are in a state of the most lamentable want
and destitution. Their best food consists of shell-fish and a kind of
broth made of seaweed, nettles, and other wild plants, into which is
infused a small sprinkling of oatmeal. The immediate cause of the present
famine is the circumstance of the poor people having, from necessity, sold
their potatoes to the natives of the mainland in Gairlocb, Kintail, and
Lochalsh; and thus deprived of their main support, and having exhausted
their little stock of money, they are left literally destitute."
Ibid."Died at Midclova, parish of
K.ildrummy, on the 26th May last, James Ronald, in the hundredth year of
his age. He was the only person in the district who had a distinct
recollection of the years 1745 and 1746, and often mentioned having seen
Glenbucket marching his regiment in spring 1746 past the school of
Auchindoir, on their route to the fatal battle of Culloden."
July 13.The second reading of the
Reform Bill was carried by a majority of 136, namely, 367 for and 231
Ibid.The population of the town of
Inverness, according to the census taken this year, was 9663; of the
parish outside the town, 4661; total, 14,324. This showed an increase of
2060 on the population for town and parish in 1821.
Ibid.A scheme was advertised for
building a new bridge across the River Findhorn, near Forres, in place of
the bridge destroyed by the great flood of 1829. The plan was to raise a
sum of £4500 by shares or debentures, on the security of pontages. The
trustees were empowered to take this course by Act of Parliament. In the
present issue subscriptions to the amount of £4100 are announced.
July 20.The Inverness Wool Market
was now held in the second week in July. The Market this year showed a
rise of about 4s per head on wedders, and from 80 to 100 per cent. on
wool. Cheviot wedders fetched from 18s to 25s; ewes from 9s to 13s; lambs
from 7s to 8s; cross wedders fetched from 17s to 19s 6d; ewes 7s to 9s;
lambs 4s to 6s 9d; blackfaced wedders fetched from 13s to 17s; hogs 9s;
ewes 5s to 7s; lambs 5s to 6s 6d. Cheviot wool 17s to 20s 6dl; ditto,
unwashed, 16s; cross wool 13s 6d to 14s 6d; ditto, unwashed, 12s to 13s;
blackfaced, per double stone, 15s to 17s. In course of the Market a large
meeting was held to consider the disadvantages created by the shutting up
of the old drove roads and the exaction of tolls. The tolls were a burden,
and the hard turnpike roads caused a disease called "trembling" among
sheep. Mr Sellar, Morvich, proposed that means should be taken to promote
the export of sheep by steam. This met with approbation, but a committee
was appointed to obtain further information and consider the whole
subject. It was mentioned that the Marquis of Stafford had ordered that no
toll should be erected on the Sutherland property.
Ibid.----The following advertisement
may be quoted :"Colonel Grant, having found it necessary to give a
jubilee to the game on the Seafield and Grant estates, requests that no
gentlemen will apply for leave to shoot or course on any part of the
property, either in the Highlands or Lowlands, during the present season,
as it must be refused. All former permissions are hereby withdrawn."
July 27.About £5000 has been
subscribed in shares for the new Findhorn Bridge, "of which sum the ladies
of Forres and its neighbourhood have advanced nearly £1000, or one-fifth."
August 3.The Reform Bill made slow
progress in Committee, as the following sentences show: "The Reform Bill
proceeds at a snail-like pace. It literally drags at each remove a
lengthening chain. Schedule A was bad enough, but appears to have been
fully as hard to digest. By dint of close application and late hours,
however, something has been done beyond the everlasting talk of Sir
Charles Wetherell and his small phalanx."
Ibid.A few days previously, as Mr
James Macpherson, farmer at Calder Bracklich, on Lord Cawdors property,
was digging a new drain, he found a bronze axe about 8 inches long. On the
centre of the weapon was the figure of a heart. The relic came into the
possession of Captain Shaw, Culblair. A fine spear of the same metal was
found some time before on the property of Mr Gollan of Gollanfield.
August 10."An unusual number of
strangers and tourists have, within the last eight or ten days, passed
through Inverness, and are at present exploring the scenery of the
Highlands." One of the visitors was supposed to be the Duchess dAngouleme,
Ibid.An old man named John
Macpherson, living at Grulla, in the Isle of Skye, was said to have
reached the age of 108 years. His faculties were active, his memory
unimpaired. "He remembers Prince Charles Stewart after the battle of
Culloden disguised as a female, and going under the name of Morag, in
company with Flora Macdonald."
August 24."At Regent Street,
London, on the 10th inst., Sir Hugh Innes of Lochalsh and Coxton, Bart.,
M.P. for the county of Sutherland, in his sixty-eighth year." No memoir of
the Baronet is given.
lbid.The Marchioness of Stafford
undertook a tour through the most northerly part of her possessions,
extending to Cape Wrath. "The whole of this remote district known under
the appellation of Lord Reays country, has been opened up by means of
roads and bridges just completed, and the Marchioness is the first of her
noble family to traverse this new and vast addition to the territorial
dominions of the house of Stafford."
August 31.A correspondent gives an
account of the new road made from Assynt to Durnesa in Sutherland. The
tract is specially rough and rugged, yet by skilful embanking, blasting,
and curvature, there was secured "what in the irregular parish of
Eddrachilis is a strange anomalyone of the most uniformly level roads in
the North of Scotland." The road remains to the present time to testify to
the truth of this description.
lbid.The Rev. Mr Kennedy of Keith
came to Inverness to lecture in favour of temperance societies. He held
two meetings, and at the close a temperance society was formed. The Rev.
Mr Scott of the Secession Church and the Rev. Mr Kennedy of the
Independent Church headed the list of members.
September 7."On digging for the
formation of the new sewers and street pavements of Inverness, there was
found this day in Church Street, almost seven feet below the surface, a
very fine deers horn, in excellent preservation."
September 14."As an appropriate
prelude to the Coronation, the Reform Bill passed the Committee on
Tuesday, the 5th inst. Clause sixty and last was announced amid loud
cheering, Colonel Sibthorp alone standing up to reiterate his opposition
to the measure." The Coronation took place on the 8th. It was celebrated
with illuminations and dinners in the Northern towns. The Marchioness of
Stafford gave a Coronation Ball at Golspie.
September 22.The issue of the
"Courier" was postponed for a day, in order to provide a report of the
show of the Highland Society, which was held at Inverness for the first
time on the 21st. The exhibition of live stock was held in the Academy
Park, the ball of the Institution being used for seeds and plants. A
dinner attended by three hundred persons was held in the Northern Meeting
RoomsSir Francis Mackenzie, Bart. of Gairloch, Convener of Committee, in
the chair. Principal Baird, the chaplain of the Society, was present, and
was one of the speakers.
Ibid.At the election of Magistrates
for the burgh of Inverness, Mr John Ross, banker, was chosen Provost. On
the 14th inst. Mr Macleod, yr. of Cadboll, was elected member for the
county of Sutherland in succession to Sir Hugh Innes, deceased.
Ibid."Three gentlemen, Sir Thomas
Dick Lauder, Mr Charles Ross, advocate, and Mr Gibson Craig, Jun., have
been for the last two or three weeks engaged in fixing the limits of the
several burghs in the North with a view to the recalculation of the
elective franchise under the Reform Bill. The above Commissioners, we
understand, have been as far North as Kirkwall, in Orkney; and have been
accompanied and assisted by Mr Niel Maclean, engineer, Inverness."
Ibid."The Highland costume was worn
by several members of the House of Commons at the Coronation, amongst whom
were Sir William Cumming, Bart.; his brother, Mr Cumming-Bruce; Mr Duncan
Davidson, M.P. for the county of Cromarty; and Mr Campbell, M.P. for
September 28.In this issue Mr
Carruthers intimates that the copyright of the "Courier" and the printing
business attached to it had become his property. In asking for continued
support from the public, he acknowledges with pride and gratification the
encouragement which he had received during the previous three years. In
view of the political changes that were going on, he laid stress on the
old adage that "measures, not men, should be the standard of our
judgment." At the same time he pointed out that the chief merit of a
provincial newspaper must always consist in fidelity and attention to
local interests and occurrences. "For neglect on this head no other
species of literary exertion can atone. Hence we wish to render our Paper
not only a useful weekly miscellany of general intelligence, but a full
and faithful register of the Highlandsadvocating the interests,
supporting the rights, and chronicling the news of the Highland counties."
Ibid.On the same date there is the
report of the trial of Hugh Macleod for the murder of a pedlar, named
Murdoch Grant, in the parish of Assynt on 19th March 1830. The prisoner
was only in his twenty-second year, and had a fair measure of education.
For a time he had officiated as a schoolmaster. The pedlar carried a pack
and money, which is said in the indictment to have amounted to £30 in bank
notes and £6 in silver. He was killed with a blow from a hammer, and his
body thrown into a loch. The body was not found until about six weeks
afterwards. Suspicion fell on Macleod because his conduct had been odd at
the time of the finding of the body, and because he had been spending
money freely, although previously he was known to be poor and in debt. He
was apprehended in May 1830, and from one cause or another lay in prison
until September 1831, when he was finally brought to trial. There were two
judges on the Circuit, Lord Moncrieff and Lord Medwyn. Mr Neaves was
counsel for the prisoner. After a trial, which is reported at considerable
length, Macleod was convicted, and sentenced to be executed on 24th
October. He maintained a bold and callous demeanour until after his
conviction, but next morning he broke down, and confessed the crime in
presence of the Sheriff of Sutherland and Rev. Mr Clark, Inverness. He
declared that no one participated in the murder, or had any knowledge of
it, except himself.
Ibid.In connection with the case
there was a dream which still figures in tradition. It may be given here
as it came out in the mans own evidence. "Kenneth Fraser, the Dreamer,
was in the employ of John Macleod, tailor in Clachtoil, in the spring of
1830. Had some drink with the prisoner on 5th April, and saw with him £1
11s in mony and a red pocket-book; prisoner said he got the money from
Lochbroom, where he was a schoolmaster, but told witness to say nothing
about it. They went about drinking for a day or two, prisoner paying all.
Witness was at the loch searching for the pack this year. It was in April
when a messenger came for him to search for it. It had been said that
witness had seen in a dream where the pack was lying. He said so himself
at Hugh Grahams, in Lynemore, and it was true. I was at home when I had
the dream in the month of February. It was said to me in my sleep, by a
voice like a mans, that the pack was lying in such a place. I got a sight
of the place just as if I had been awake; I never saw the place before.
The voice said in Gaelic, "The pack of the merchant is lying in a cairn of
stones in a hole near their house." The voice did not name the Macleods,
but witness got a sight of the ground, fronting the south, with the sun
shining on it, and a burn running beneath Macleods house. "I took the
officer to the place I had got a sight of. It was on the south-west side
of Loch-tor-na-eigin. We found nothing there. We went to search on the
south side of the burn. I had not seen this place in my dream. It was not
far from the place seen in my dream that the things were found. There were
five silk handkerchiefs lying in a hole." The dream may be accepted as
genuine, but the explanation is probably simple enough. It will be
observed that Macleod and Fraser went about drinking together about a
fortnight after the murder. Macleod in his cups may have spoken and shown
more than he intended. His companion did not take in the meaning at the
time, but months afterwards it sprang to his memory in the form of a
Ibid."The Northern Meeting, held
last week, was well attended, but there was no race, as the patrons of the
turf in the North are at present mostly absent pursuing their
Parliamentary duties. Nearly all the principal families of the North,
however, were present at the ball on Thursday night, and dancing was kept
up with much spirit!"
October 5.Referring to the Scottish
Reform Bill, the editor says :"Our burgh member, Mr Cumming-Bruce, has
given notice of his intention to move in Committee that Inverness shall
have a representative to itself. Mr Bruce has also given notice of his
intention to move for the continuance of the present mode of determining
the election by a majority of the burghs in favour of the candidate, and
not by a majority of the voters on the whole, taken collectively, so that
Fortrose with haIf-a-dozen voters will rank as high as Inverness with
three hundred. Neither of the hon. members propositions appears to have
excited the least interest here; the second, indeed, is repugnant to the
whole spirit of the bill, and both, we conjecture, will fall still-horn
upon the House and the public."
Ibid.On Thursday, the 15th ult.,
the Rev. James Gibson was ordained and admitted minister of the parish of
October 12.After a debate of five
days the House of Lords, on the 8th inst., threw out the Reform Bill on
the second reading by a majority of 41. The vote stoodIn favour of the
bill, 158; against, 199. The vote was received with anger and
consternation. "The peace of the country is obviously bound up with the
continuance of the present Ministry. If they resign and the opponents of
the bill take their place, we shall in twenty-four hours have a national
convulsion." The people were counselled to observe the law, but to send up
addresses to the King.
October 19.A subscription was going
on for erecting a suspension bridge over the River Ness at the upper
island, to connect the walks on both sides of the island.The office of
Sheriff-Clerk of the county, long vacant, was filled up by the appointment
of Patrick Grant.
Ibid.A resolution of the Commons,
expressing confidence in the Government, and pledging the House to support
the Reform Bill, was carried by a majority of 131. The King also stood by
his Ministers, and there was to be no dissolution. The public mind was
accordingly becoming calmer. Numerous public meetings, however, were held
throughout the country to protest against the action of the House of
October 26.On the previous Monday
Hugh Macleod was executed for the Assynt murder. The scaffold was erected
on "that part of beach called the Losigman," near Inverness. The
Magistrates offered to convey him in a cart, but he preferred to walk.
Macleod was led from the prison at half-past one oclock. "He was habited
in a long black cloak or gown, made for the occasion, and had on a white
night-cap, with the halter round his neck, carried behind by the hangman.
He was accompanied, by his own desire, on his right by the Rev. Mr Clark
and Mr E. Davidson, schoolmaster; and on his left by the Rev. Mr Kennedy
and Mr Mackenzie, shoemaker." The Magistrates, constables, and
Inverness-shire Militia, formed part of the procession. The day was wet
and boisterous. Macleod made a full confession, and addressed the
multitude in Gaelic from the scaffold. A gathering of from 7000 to 8000
persons witnessed the execution. In the evening a sermon was preached on
the subject by the Rev. Mr Clark. Macleod is described as a man of about
five feet eleven inches in height, of a thin but active and muscular
frame. There was nothing in his general appearance or deportment to
indicate a criminal disposition.
Ibid."Died, at the Manse of Tain,
on the 3rd inst., the Rev. Dr Angus Mackintosh, minister of Tain, in the
68th year of his age and 30th of his ministry."
November 9.Cholera had appeared in
Sunderland, and orders were received at the Inverness Custom-House to
place all vessels arriving from that port under quarantine. A meeting of
Magistrates, clergy, and medical gentlemen was held, and a local Board of
Health was constituted. The town was divided into ten districts, with a
committee for each. The Magistrates resolved to issue a proclamation
urging the necessity of removing all collections of manure and pigstyes.
Ibid.Mr Wilderspin, who advocated a
system of infant education, had recently visited the town, and a society
was now formed for the establishment of an infant school. The object of
the society was "the training of children from the age of 18 months to
seven years on the plan of Mr Wilderspins infant system."
Ibid.There is a full account of the
riots at Bristol, occasioned by the visit of Sir Charles Wetherell, one of
the strongest opponents of Reform.
November 16.A general meeting of
freeholders, Commissioners of Supply, and heritors of the County of
Inverness, met and voted an address to the King in support of the
Government. They also expressed their abhorrence of recent outrages. Mr
Fraser of Lovat was in the chair.
December 14.Parliament was opened
on the 6th inst. by his Majesty in person. The Royal Speech recommended
careful consideration to measures of Reform, and spoke of the pressing
importance of a speedy and satisfactory settlement of the question.
Ibid.At a meeting of Inverness Town
Council, it was resolved, to contribute the sum of £1500 in aid of the new
gaol and other buildings to be erected on the Castlehill.
December 21.The Reform Bill had
been again introduced into the Commons, and was under discussion on the
second reading when the paper went to press. The majority for Ministers,
as given in the next issue, was 162. The bill was substantially the same
as the former measure.
Ibid."Some transfers of property
have within the last eight or ten days taken place in the North. The Right
Hon. Charles Grant M.P., has sold the estate of Waternish, in Skye, to
Major Allan Macdonald, for about £13,000. The estate of Dochgarroch, in
this neighbourhood, has been purchased by Mr Baillie of Dochfour for
£10,000, and we believe the estate of Corriemony has been transferred to
Colonel Pearce for £13,500. We may add that the whole of these properties
are considered well sold."
December 28.The Northern
Institution opened its winter session on the 23rd inst. Among the gifts
presented to it were the following :.An old Highland broadsword, found
near the site of the hut in Torvuilt of Lochaber, where Prince Charles
Edward was concealed in 1746 by the Clumes family, and supposed to have
belonged to one of the partyfrom Colonel Cameron, Clunes. An original
petition to the House of Lords, of the burgesses, heritors, and trades of
Inverness, for a reform in the burgh, with their signatures annexed; no
date, but about forty years oldfrom Mr D. Mactavish, solicitor,