Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
The year 1832 saw the final
passing of the Reform Bill, which gave the Parliamentary franchise to the
ten-pound householders in towns, and to lease-holders paying fifty pounds
rent in counties. The bill (which was the third introduced by Earl Greys
Government) had been read a second time in the House of Commons on 18th
December 1831. Parliament reassembled on the 17th of January, and the bill
rapidly passed through the Lower House. The question again was what would
happen in the Lords. Early in April the second reading was carried in the
Upper House, but only by the small majority of 9; and when the House met
on the 7th of May, after the Easter Recess, an amendment as to the order
of procedure was carried against the Government. Nothing remained for Earl
Grey and his colleagues except to resign, or to obtain the consent of the
King to a creation of new peers. The King accepted the resignation of
Ministers. The Duke of Wellington attempted to form an Administration, but
failed; and Earl Grey then returned to office, with authority to create as
many peers as might be necessary to secure the passing of the bill. The
Opposition, however, now recognising the inevitable, allow the measure to
go promptly through the Committee stage, and on the 4th of June 1832, the
bill was read a third time in the House of Lords, 106 peers voting for it,
and only 22 against it. This was the English bill. The Scottish and Irish
bills had afterwards to be carried through, but the main measure having
been passed, the others excited little controversy.
In the second half of 1832, there was a memorable
visitation of cholera along the northern seaboard. Its ravages were
specially fatal in the villages of Easter Ross, and only a degree less
severe in the town of Inverness. Political excitement continued at the
same time, and the first General Election under the Reform Act came of
towards the close of the year.
From the "Inverness
January 4.The dreaded cholera had now appeared at
Haddington, in Scotland. Powers had been granted to Boards of Health by
royal proclamation, and the Inverness Board resolved to apply for a
commission. A fund of £100 had been collected. Returns of poor in the town
reported 500 in destitute circumstances, and a much larger number
requiring occasional aid.
Ibid."A splendid fete was given on Tuesday last at
Tulloch Castle, Ross-shire, by Duncan Davidson, Esq., M.P., to a numerous
party of friends. About sixty ladies and gentlemen were present. Dancing
commenced at ten oclock, an elegant supper was served up about one, and
the festivities were continued for several hours afterwards."
Ibid.The condition of the operative classes in Perth
is reported as deplorable. "The number of the unemployed is daily
increasing; and in Dunning, Auchterarder, and other manufacturing places
in the county, there are, we are assured, not a few weavers in want of
January 11.A public meeting was held under the
auspices of the Inverness Board of Health to consider reports on the
condition of the poor and the state of their dwellings. No less than 840
persons were represented as being in a state of great poverty, of whom 140
resided in the Green of Muirtown. The reports stated that the practice of
keeping offensive manure in the close neighbourhood of dwellings was
almost universal among the poor; that in some districts pigs were as
numerous as dunghills, and a greater nuisance; that slaughter-houses
existed in almost every quarter of the town; that numbers of the poor
people lay on straw, which was too seldom removed; and that in many of the
houses of the poor the windows did not admit of being opened, having
neither sashes nor hinges. It was resolved to raise a public subscription
to provide means for manure stances, for lime-washing and medicine, for
food, clothing, straw for bedding, flannel belts, and a soup kitchen and
also, if necessary, for securing a cholera hospital.
Ibid.It is stated that as a precaution against cholera
every cottage in the county of Sutherland had been visited by district
committees; that the wants of the poor inmates, both in clothing and food,
had been liberally supplied; that the dunghills had been removed at least
thirty yards from each house, and every dwelling inside and out had been
thoroughly cleaned and whitewashed.
Ibid.There is half-a-column of notes on natural
history from Cromarty, evidently written by Hugh Miller. They are marked
by careful observation and power of description.
Ibid.The Excise duty on candles of one penny per pound
ceased on Saturday week.
January 18.A cattle show was held at Dunvegan, Skye,
on the 5th inst., in connection with a farming society in the Macleod
country. The show of cattle numbered about 100.
Ibid."Died, at Forres House, on the 1st inst., Lady
Gordon-Cumming, widow of the late Sir A. P. Gordon-Cumming, Bart.On the
21st ult., at Inverness, Mrs Young, mother of Murdo Young, Esq., editor of
the Sun London newspaper." A tribute to the memory of Lady
Gordon-Cumming appears on the 25th inst.
lbid.The commission for the trial of the Bristol
rioters had terminated. "Five have been condemned to death, and a great
number sentenced to transportation. The riots originated, perhaps, in
political animosity; but it is proved beyond all doubt that they were
protracted solely from a desire for plunder.
January 25.Parliament resumed its deliberations on
Tuesday, the 17th inst. Mr Croker is described as the most active leader
of the Opposition in the House of Commons. Great interest was taken in the
question whether the King would create peers to pass the Reform Bill in
the House of Lords.
February 8.Cholera was spreading in the Southern
Counties of Scotland, and creating much alarm. A special meeting of
Commissioners of Supply appointed a Board of Health for the county of
Inverness, placing at its disposal a sum of £300, or an assessment of 1d
per pound Scots on the valued rent. The proposed bill for erecting a gaol
and Court-house was discussed, and it was resolved to send up the draft of
the bill to a London lawyer. The bill proposed to assess land in the
county in two-thirds of the expense, and property in the burgh in
one-third. This caused dissatisfaction in the burgh. The estimated cost of
the buildings was £22,000.
February 15.A public meeting was called in Inverness
to consider the Gaol Bill, but a letter was read from Mr Fraser-Tytler
stating that the financial proposals had been postponed for the purpose of
adjusting them in conference with the Magistrates and community of
Inverness. A committee of burgh heritors was accordingly appointed to meet
a county committee.
Ibid.At the meeting of the Northern Institution, there
was presented from the Rev. George Gordon, Elgin, a specimen of a plant
then new to British flora, discovered by him near Rosehaugh. It was the
Pinguicula Alpina" of Linnteus. The Secretary also presented specimens of
bitumen found in the neighbourhood of Dingwall.
Ibid.The Government, by Royal Proclamation, appointed
Thursday, 22nd March, as a General Fast in Scotland on account of the
threatened spread of cholera.
February 22.The cholera plague had broken out in
London. Throughout the Northern Counties Boards of Health were now
established in the towns and many of the parishes. An unusual number of
vagrants and beggars appeared to be in the Highlands, giving rise to
uneasiness lest they should carry infection. The Magistrates and Sheriff
of Inverness issued a proclamation "by tuck of drum" and advertisement,
prohibiting any of the inhabitants from harbouring vagrants, and
instructing constables to prevent them from entering the town.
March 7.The foundation-stone of the Suspension Bridge
over the Findhorn was laid on the previous Thursday with Masonic
ceremonial. The brethren of three Mason Lodges took part, those of St
Lawrence and St Johns from Forres, and those of St Johns from Dyke. The
school children formed part of the procession. The foundation-stone was
laid by Brodie of Brodie, Provincial Grand Master. From four to five
thousand persons witnessed the ceremony.
March 28.The Reform Bill had now passed the Commons.
Mr Macaulay distinguished himself in all the debates on the bill, and
spoke with his accustomed brilliancy on the third reading. "Mr Croker," we
are told, "who follows Macaulay as his shade, attacked the bill in a
clever and bitter speech." The bill was now before the Lords for the
Ibid."Died, at Antigonish, Mrs Ann Chisholm, aged 98
years, a native of Strathglass, North Britain, leaving 112 grand and
great-grandchildren, of whom 103 are of the name of Chisholm all living."
Ibid.The following paragraph is quoted from the "Elgin
Courier" :"The mania for emigration rages just now in this country to an
unheard of extent. We believe more people have quitted, or intend
quitting, Elginshire for America this spring than during the last ten
years. From the small village of Rothes alone, no fewer than sixteen intend
sailing, very soon, in the same vessel for the western hemisphere."
April 11.There were now three steamers in the Glasgow
trade plying on the Caledonian Canal. The "Highland Chieftain" passed
through the Canal to Cromarty and Invergordon. Some amusement was caused
by the fact that the carrier between Inverness and Tain took advantage of
the steamer on her first trip. "Man, horse, cart, and goods, were shipped
at Muir-town Lock, and the Tain carrier was duly steamed to Invergordon."
April 18.The second reading of the Reform Bill was
carried in the House of Lords by a majority of nine. The result was waited
throughout the country with great interest and anxiety. The news was first
brought to Inverness by the guard of the Defiance Coach from Aberdeen,
which arrived about an hour before the mail. When the latter came,
confirming the intelligence, "cheers both loud and long were raised."
Ibid.A school competition was held at Kingussie for
prizes given by the Celtic Society for promoting education in Badenoch.
There were 72 competitors drawn from six schools in the parishes of
Kingussie, Inch, and Alvie. These schools were attended during the winter
by 450 pupils. The competing contingents marched with piper at their head,
two of the schoolmasters and a considerable number of the competitors
appearing in the Highland dress. The attendance of the public was so large
that the proceedings had to be adjourned to the church. Mr Macpherson of
Belleville was in the chair. The examination was conducted by the
clergy-men of the three parishes, but the prizes, 32 in number, were
awarded by the votes of the gentlemen present. Previous to the
examination, the meeting determined an honorary prize,
to be given to the Highlander who had been in the habit most
constantly of wearing the Highland dress of home-made tartan. The prize
went to Robert Shaw, in the parish of Inch. aged 87 years.
April 25.The editor makes some fun of the managers of
the "Sun" and the "True Sun" newspapers, who had made superhuman efforts
to carry, as far as Edinburgh. the news of the second reading of the
Reform Bill in the House of Lords. "The henchmen of old, careering among
our Highland vassals, with their gathering symbol, the Fiery Cross, were
nothing to these ambassadors of the press, driving four-in-hand, with
ribands flying and rosettes in their hats, to the tune of fifteen miles an
hour. What a contrast to the slow spread of intelligence in the days of
our fathers!... Now every large town has its newspaper and every village
its newspaper club; and such is the rapidity of our mails, and the
excellence and universality of our roads, that the London journals of
Monday eveningexclusive of all expressesare read on the following Friday
among the wilds of the Hebrides and at the Ultima Thule of John o Groats."
Ibid.An immense school of whales appeared off the
coast of Lewis, near Stornoway. They were driven ashore by a troop of
boats which put out from the harbour. Ninety-eight whales, some of them
very large, were killed and sold by public roup.
May 2.At a meeting of Inverness-shire Commissioners of
Supply, Mr Patrick Grant was appointed County Clerk. The unsuccessful
candidate was Mr Alexander Shepperd, and the vote stood 22 to 17.
May 9.This number contains a sketch of the boundaries
of the burghs in the Northern Counties as fixed by the Scots Reform Bill.
It also states that two cases of cholera had occurred in the garrison at
Ibid.The Rev. D. Mackintosh Mackay, late of Laggan,
was inducted as minister of Dunoon on Thursday, 19tlh ult.
Ibid.The Inverness Gaol Bill had now assumed a new
complexion. A formal separation took place between the burgh and county.
"It is now agreed that the county shall erect a Court House and public
offices at their own expensethe Magistrates of the burgh having no
connection with them, and the question of erecting a new gaol or retaining
the present one remaining entirely with the burgh. The county buildings
will be constructed on an approved principle, after the design of Mr Burn,
architect, and will, it is calculated, cost about £8000." Several of the
county heritors protested against the scheme, but the bill was approved by
a majority, and transmitted to the London solicitors.
May 16.The news that Earl Greys Ministry had resigned
created consternation in the country. On an amendment to the Reform Bill
in the House of Lords, they had been beaten by a majority of 35. A
creation of peers or the resignation of Ministers then became inevitable.
The King refused to create peers, and Ministers resigned. The Duke of
Wellington was summoned to form a new administration.
May23.After various attempts to form an
administration, the Duke of Wellington was forced to abandon the task, and
Earl Grey and his colleagues were again in office vested with full powers
to carry the Reform Bill. On the 22nd a
great meeting was held in the Academy Park, Inverness, under the auspices
of the Reform Committee. "This was the first open meeting ever held in
Inverness for a political purpose, and will long he remembered by the
inhabitants. A more imposing spectacle was certainly never before
witnessed here. The Incorporated Trades and other public bodies, with
their banners flying, and all arrayed in their best, were in
attendancemost of the shops were shut, the streets and windows were
thronged with spectators, and crowds of people arrived from the country.
The Trades assembled on the Castle Hill, and exactly at 12 oclock the
music struck up, and the whole marched to the Caledonian Hotel, where the
Reform Committee were assembled. The procession then proceeded to the
Academy Park." The gathering was estimated as numbering from 8,000 to
10,000. On the hustings were Mackintosh, yr. of
Mackintosh, Fraser of CuIbokie, Fraser of Abertarff, Fraser of Balnain,
and prominent citizens. Mr John Mackenzie, banker, was called to the
chair. The report of the speeches runs to over four columns.
May 30.It is stated that most of the anti-Reform
peers had absented themselves from the House of Lords, and that the Reform
Bill was making rapid progress in Committee.
June 6."The English Reform Bill is now through the
Committee, and was to be read a third time on Monday last. On Tuesday it
was expected that the few verbal amendments proposed by the Lords would be
adopted by the Commons, and that on Wednesday (this day) the bill would
receive the royal assent." It was calculated that in ten days or a
fortnight the Scots and Irish bills would also have passed through
Ibid.There is an interesting memoir, more than two
columns in length, of Sir James Mackintosh, who died on the 30th May in
the sixty-seventh year of his age. It is stated that in his speeches in
the House of Commons Sir James was of the old school of rhetoricians. "He
appealed to first principles, reasoned high of the eternal laws of truth
and justice and enforced his arguments in elaborate diction, and by
repeated and various quotation. It was our fortune to hear him only
onceduring the stormy period of the trial of Queen Caroline and his
speech struck us as being exactly like a well delivered essay of the
Edinburgh Review. His manner was inelegant, but earnest and imposing, and
his appearance commanded universal respect and attention."
June 13.The English Reform Bill had at length passed
the House of Lords and become law. The Scottish Bill was now passing
through Parliament with but little opposition. "Major Cumming Bruce and a
few others set up a claim for compensation to the proprietors of
superiorities, for the loss they would sustain through the bill, but did
not press the point to a division. We cannot see the slightest foundation
in justice or equity for such a compensation. The proprietors of
superiorities will not be denuded of their franchise, and undoubtedly the
owners of boroughs in Schedule A of the English bill possessed a better
right to be indemnified for their loss than our Scottish proprietors of
paper votes. The inequality in the value of superiorities would also
render compensation no easy task. In some counties the qualification sold
for £100, and in others (as in Inverness) for £1000 or £1200. At what rate
then was compensation to be given? The absurdity as well as cupidity of
this unpatriotic objection prevented the House, as we have stated, from
coming to a division on the subject."
Ibid.Sir William Grant, late Master of the Rolls, died
on Friday, 25th May, at Dawlish, in Devon.
Ibid.The anniversary meeting of the Northern
Missionary Society was held at Dingwall. Subscriptions and donations
amounted to £47. A meeting of the same Society was held at Inverness:
subscriptions and donations, £68 4s.
June 27.There are many rumours as to candidates who
are to come forward at the election to take place after the completion of
the Reform Scheme for the three kingdoms. Major Cumming Bruce had already
announced his intention to seek the suffrages of the new electors in the
Inverness District of Burghs. He declared that though he had opposed the
Government Bill he was not an anti-Reformer, and referred to his speeches
in proof of the statement. Mr Charles Grant had an invitation to stand for
Liverpool, but determined to stick to the county of Inverness, though he
knew he would meet with active opposition. His brother, Mr Robert Grant,
had been asked to stand for several constituencies, including the
Inverness Burghs, but resolved to remain with Norwich.
July 4.The cholera was on the increase in England, and
had also a strong hold of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Perth. Several cases had
now appeared on board a Revenue cruiser at Cromarty.
July 4 and 11.Both issues are filled with election
news. Charles Grant and Macleod of Macleod were again in the field for the
representation of the county of Inverness. Three candidates were
canvassing the burghs, namely, Major Cumming Bruce, Mr John Stewart of Belladrum, and Colonel Baillie of Leys. Mr Stewart was the Reform
candidate, and Mr John Mackenzie, banker, was Chairman of the Election
July 18.The Reform Bill for Scotland passed the Home
of Lords on the 13th. At Nairn on the 12th there was a great Reform
festival, consisting of a procession and dinner. The Nairn seamen turned
out to the number of 150, a party of twenty in holiday garb drawing a
yawl, which bore the Reform Bill, crowned by a large broom, spliced at the
masthead. The "broom" was in honour of Lord Brougham. There were
twenty-one flags in the procession, each bearing an appropriate motto.
Ibid.The Sheep and Wool Fair was held the previous
week. In the price of sheep there was an advance of from fifteen to twenty
per cent., which was partly attributed to the advancing prosperity of the
country, and partly to the great mortality among sheep in England, which
had occurred about two years before. The number of sheep in England was
calculated at 25 millions, and no fewer than six millions were carried off
by rot in 1830. There was a fall in the price of wool, but the deficiency
in value was partly supplied by the excellence and abundance of the clip.
The toll dues on sheep and cattle were again a matter of complaint, and
the committee on the subject was reappointed. There was a talk about
promoting a drove road, and more resting places for sheep were said to be
August 1.The following curious announcement appears
"We cannot forward a copy of the Reform Act to our correspondent in Skye
for some weeks, till a carrier leaves Inverness."
Ibid.It is announced that cholera had broken out in
the village of Helmsdale, in Sutherland. The herring-fishing was going on,
and the disease was brought by a boat from Prestonpans, in the Firth of
August 8."Death, which has lately been so busy in high
places, has added another titled victim to its listthe young Duke de
Reichstadt, son of Napoleon, died on the 22nd ult. The direct line of
Napoleon is thus terminated."
Ibid.Cholera was now spreading throughout the Northern
Counties. It had appeared at Golspie, Portmahomack, Hilton of Cadboll,
Dingwall, and Maryburgh. The outbreak at Helmsdale was severe. In
subsequent issues there are reports of its ravages there and in the
villages of Sutherland and Easter Ross.
August 22.On the previous day there was a great
procession of trades in Inverness to celebrate the passing of the Reform
Bill. Flags and banners were numerous, and there were triumphal arches in
High Street and Bridge Street. In the afternoon 350 gentlemen dined in the
Northern Meeting RoomsMr Mackenzie, banker, in the chair.
August 29.The cholera had at last entered Inverness,
and within five days there were 17 deaths. One case was that of Skene
Morrison, the guard of the north mail. "He was seized on his road from
Tain, when within a few miles of Inverness, but kept his seat till the
coach arrived here, a little before nine oclock in the evening, when,
after delivering the mail bags, he staggered home and expired in about
four hours." The Board of Health was sitting, and the medical men of the
Ibid.The passing of the Reform Act was celebrated by a
procession at Forres. Suenos Stone was decorated with evergreens, and a
handsome flag streamed from the top.
September 5."There are 108 candidates in the field for
the 53 seats in Parliament belonging to Scotland. All the counties are
contested except Banff, Bute, Dumfries, Forfar, Kirkcudbright, Orkney, and
Peebles, and all the burghs except Ayr and Dysart."
the 6th inst. Buchanan Macmillan, a gentleman well known to the mercantile
community of London and to natives of the Highlands, died at the
Inverness-shire residence of Mr Stewart of Belladrum. "Mr Macmillan was in
his 74th year. He was born of humble parents in the glen of Urquhart; and
at an early age removed to the metropolis, where, by active commercial
pursuits, he realised a considerable fortune, which be seemed only to hold
in fee for the benefit of his countrymen, and for enabling him to assist
in works of utility and benevolence. Mr Macmillan was for a considerable
period connected with the Sun newspaper as printer and proprietor; and
he also, we believe, at one time held the lucrative office of Kings
printer. The love and honour of his native country was, with Mr Macmillan,
a strong, active principle. . . He was in
thought, word, and deed a genuine Scotsman. His house, his purse, time and
influence were always, even in his busiest days, at the command of his
countrymen, and of all the Scottish charitable institutions in London he
was the warm and steady supporter. During his latter years he occasionally
visited the North, and delighted to renew his recollection of old scenes
and old friends. Of the strength and vividness of these impressions we
remember a striking instance. He took a gentleman who was in his company
one day at Corrimony to point out to him the site of his fathers hut. A
few stones distinguished the place; there was a well near, a little up the
bras, and the old man dashing aside the fern and heath, filled a bottle
which he had brought with him from his native spring.
I shall take this with me to London, he said, and if I die there
the last draught I shall drink will be from this bottle. It pleased
Providence, however, to lengthen his span of life; he returned to London,
visited the North again this season, and dosed his eyes in peace and
honour within a few miles of his native glen." A notice of Macmillan and
his relatives appears in Mr Mackays History of Urquhart, page 409.
Ibid.The total number of cases of cholera in Inverness
had now reached 273; deaths, 82. Among the victims was the Rev. Mr
Findlater, minister of the Chapel of Ease (East Church), Inverness. "Mr
Findlater was 45 years of age, 22 of which he had spent in the ministry,
viz., eleven at Loch-Tay side, Perthshire, and eleven as pastor of the
Chapel of Ease in Inverness. He was long subject to severe bilious and
nervous attacks, but was in his usual health when seized with the calamity
which hurried him to his grave. The rev. gentleman was warmly esteemed by
his friends and parishioners. His style of preaching was clear,
unaffected, and impressive." At the village of Inver, near Tain, it is
reported that there had been 100 cases of cholera and 53 deaths. In the
rural districts, near Inverness, the greatest alarm and apprehension
prevailed. All intercourse, except of
the most pressing kind was interrupted, and the town markets were scantily
September 26.Cholera was becoming milder in Inverness,
but the ravages of the disease had been very severe. Total cases from the
cornmencement, 409; deaths, 136. "Dr George Forbes, the oldest medical
practitioner in Inverness, was seized with cholera on Thursday evening,
after attending his patients, and though every effort was made to arrest
the progress of the disease, Dr Forbes died at eight oclock on Friday
morning." Dr Forbes was 66 years of age. The local Board of Health had
been liberally supplied with funds by subscription to assist the poor. A
Catholic clergyman from Keith, Rev. Mr Lovie, was successful in the
treatment of cholera patients, first at Wick and afterwards at Inverness.
The Inverness Board requested him to remain in the town for ten days. They
also voted a donation of £10 for his services, but he handed the money
over to the medical men to be distributed among the poor.
IbidThe death of Sir Walter Scott is announced, and
there is a memoir, over a column in length, by the editor.The old burghal
system was still in existence, and the election of Magistrates and Council
took place in the usual way. Mr John Ross was chosen as Provost.
Ibid."Some professional gentlemen from this place
[Inverness] having occasion to visit Cromarty last week, were seized at
the entrance of the town, and told that they must go to be smoked for the
cholera, as they came from Inverness. They were accordingly conveyed to
the seaside till they arrived at a wooden shed, where they were obliged to
take off part of their clothes, wash themselves with a preparation of
chloride of lime, and then enter a place strongly impregnated with sulphur
and other ingredients, where they were locked up and half-suffocated.
Having undergone this salutary and rational process, the Invernessians
were allowed to dress and depart." This incident is described at some
length, and with quiet humour, in Hugh Millers "Schools and
October 10.There is a striking account of the
introduction of cholera into the North of Scotland, and its ravages in
Easter Ross, written by Hugh Miller. "In the month of July 1832," he says,
"the disease was introduced by some South countrymen, fishermen, into the
town of Wick, and a village of Sutherlandshire; and from the latter place,
on the following August, into the fishing villages of the peninsula of
Easter Ross. It visited Inverness, Nairn, Dingwall, Urquhart, and
Rosemarkie, a few weeks after. In the villages of Ross the disease assumed
a more terrible aspect than it had yet presented in any other part of
Britain. In the little village of Portmahomack one-fifth of the
inhabitants were swept away; in the still smaller village of Inver nearly
one-half. So abject was the poverty of the people that in some instances
there was not a bit of candle in any house in a whole village; and when
the disease seized the inmates in the night-time, they had to grapple in
darkness with its fierce pains and mortal terrors, and their friends, in
the vain attempt to assist them, had to grope round their beds. Before
morning they were in most instances beyond the reach of medicine. The
infection spread with frightful rapidity. In Inver, though the population
did not much exceed a hundred persons, eleven bodies were committed to the
earth without shroud or coffin in one day; in two days after they had
buried nineteen more. Many survivors fled from the village, leaving behind
them the dead and the dying, and took shelter, some in the woods and some
among the hollows of an extensive track of sandhills. But the pest
followed them to their hiding place, and they expired in the open air.
Whole families were found lying dead on their cottage floors. In one
instance an infant, the only survivor, lay grovelling on the body of its
mother, wailing feebly among the dead, the sole mourner in the
charnel-house of the pestilence. Two young persons, a lad and his sister,
were seen digging a grave for their father in the church-yard of Nigg, and
then carrying the corpse to it on a cart, no one venturing to assist
them." Such is a contemporary account of the horrors of this painful time.
October 24.The Rev. S. Macdonald, of Urquhart,
preached in the Chapel of Ease for the benefit of the Society for
improving Church patronage in Scotland. The collection amounted to £8 17s
4d. The annual meeting of the Society was held, and resolutions passed in
favour of delivering the Church from the grievances flowing from
October 31.An article in this number describes the
state of parties in the North, and the preparation made for electioneering
contests. A few years before the prospect of a general election was
regarded in Scotland with scarcely any interest. The question of burgh
reform was generally held to be much more important and in many places led
to violent party collisions and expensive law-suits. When Parliamentary
reform, however, came to the front the subject was eagerly seized upon by
the commercial and middle classes, and on the passing of the Act they
pressed forward to claim the franchise. In view of an early dissolution of
Parliament, electioneering was now very active. "In no part of the Kingdom
has this state of things mere abounded than in this Northern division of
the Empire. The grand source of disunion is undoubtedly the struggle
between the friends and the opponents of the present Ministry. Mr Charles
Grant, a Cabinet Minister, is opposed; on the broad principle of political
hostility, by Macleod of Macleod. Mr Stewart-Mackenzie is opposed in
Ross-shire by Mr Munro of Novar, partly on political grounds and partly
from local motives. Mr Stewart of Belladrum, a decided adherent of the
Government, disputes the Inverness District of Burghs with the present
member, Major Cumming Bruce, the active, uncompromising opponent of the
Reform Bill and the Ministry, and Colonel Baillie of Leys, an East India
Director, contests the palm with both, chiefly because of his personal
influence and his being a native of Inverness. The political bias and
connections of the latter lean to the Tory side." The article goes on to
say that Major Cumming Bruce had strong personal influence, independent of
politics, in his family and in his position as Major of the
Inverness-shire Militia. Colonel Baillie derived similar support from his
friends in the Magistracy of the town and his personal acquaintance with
the inhabitants. Mr Stewart stood wholly unconnected with local influence,
and claimed the seat as an independent country gentleman, friendly to the
principle of reform, which he advocated in a former Parliament as member
for Beverley, in Yorkshire.
Ibid.No case of cholera had occurred in Inverness for
three days, and it was hoped that the disease had left the town. The total
number of cases from the beginning on 24th August was 553, and deaths 175.
"This is severe enough, but much less than has been experienced in many
towns of similar extent in the South. Trade is again reviving here; our
markets are attended, and, generally speaking, public confidence is
restored." A proportion of cases had occurred in the village of Culcabock,
arising, it was supposed, from the dampness of houses caused by a recent
flood. A few cases occurred after this date in Inverness but the plague,
on the whole, had disappeared.
November 7.Cromarty was clear of cholera. The number
of cases had been over thirty; the number of deaths ten.
November 14.A paragraph is given to a Grantown
character, deceased, who was known as "Jamie Blin," or "the
Solicitor-General of Grantown." He had been born almost blind, but he
managed to find his way about, and wandered over the district between
Grantown, Elgin, and Inverness. Jamie possessed a prodigious memory and an
insatiable desire for political discussion, speechifying, and newspapers.
His pockets were generally filled with news-sheets which he got other
people to read for him. At the time of Courts of Justiciary and contested
elections he was generally to be found in Inverness. "Throughout his whole
life the memory of poor Jamie was most extraordinary. He could repeat
speeches of an hours length almost verbatim, after once hearing them; and
as he generally copied tone and gesture as well as words, he appeared
occasionally, when in the vein, a most imposing orator. His outer man, it
is true, was seldom in keeping with the character he assumed; for Jamie
was never solicitous about the business of the toilet, and his tattered
vestments, with newspapers bulging out in all directions, sometimes
contrasted strongly with his eloquent exordiums and perorations. In all
parties the rustic politician was generally welcome, and it may be truly
said that the stock of harmless mirth has in many districts been abridged
by the death of the Solicitor-General of Grantown."
November 28.A hot controversy had arisen between
Seaforth and Hugh Ross of Glastullich in connection with the Ross-shire
election. There are five columns of letters in this issue. A duel was
threatened, but averted.
December 5.On the previous Friday the Suspension
Bridge over the Findhorn, near Forres, was opened with a procession of
trustees and subscribers. Afterwards 105 gentlemen dined in the St
Lawrence Masonic Lodge. Mr Fraser-Tytler, who declared the bridge open,
was in the chair.
Ibid.The dissolution of Parliament had been fixed for
the previous Monday, and the writs were expected on the 6th in Inverness.
December 12.The Northern Missionary Society held its
anniversary meeting at Tain on the 21st uIt. Collections, subscriptions,
and donations amounted to £68 4s 8d.
December 19 and 26.The nomination for the Inverness
District of Burghs took place on the 17th. There were four candidates,
namely, Major Cumming Bruce, Mr Stewart of Belladrum, Colonel Baillie of
Lays, and Mr Robert Fraser of Torbreck (who appears to have come on the
scene unsolicited). The hustings were erected on the Exchange, and there
was a crowded gathering in spite of unfavourable weather. The polling
occupied two days (Thursday and Friday), and the result was the return of
Colonel Baillie, who stood seven votes ahead of Mr Stewart. The total
figures were as follows Colonel Baillie, 250; Mr Stewart, 243; Major
Cumming Bruce, 192; Mr Fraser of Torbreck, 6. The scale was turned at the
last moment in favour of Colonel Baillie by Major Cumming Bruce
recommending his reserved voters to support that candidate. Major Cumming
Bruce had his chief support in Forres, where he polled 88 votes.
December 26.The nomination of the candidates for the
county of Inverness took place on the 22nd. Mr Fraser of Lovat proposed Mr
Charles Grant, and Mr Fraser of Culbokie seconded. Mr Mackintosh of Geddes
proposed Macleod of Macleod, and Rev. Mr Smith, Urquhart, seconded. The
result was not published until the next issue, when the figures were
announced as follows:For Mr Grant, 257; for Macleod, 213; majority for Mr
Ibid.The nomination for Ross-shire came off at
Dingwall on the 24th. Mr Mackenzie of Kilcoy proposed Seaforth, and Mr
Archibald Dudgeon, Arboll, seconded. Sir George Mackenzie of Coul proposed
Mr Munro of Novar, and Mr Davidson of Tulloch seconded. The result as
given in next issue was as follows:-Seaforth, 277; Novar, 152; majority
for Seaforth, 125. The contests for the counties of Inverness and Ross had
excited great interest, and in both cases the popular or Reform candidates
were elected. "No constituencies in Scotland, says the editor, "will be
better represented as regards public conduct or private character, general
talent or Parliamentary experience. Seaforth has for nearly a quarter of a
century supported those principles which have secured for him so
triumphant an issue; and Mr Grant is known to the whole kingdom, not only
as a Cabinet Minister, but for his enlightened views of national policy,
his brilliant eloquence and extensive acquirements." Mr James Loch was
re-elected member for the Northern Burghs without a contest.
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