Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
In the year 1833 the Reform
Government got to work with a new Parliament and a large majority. The
number of subjects which Ministers undertook to handle created friction in
its own ranks, and whetted the activity of the Opposition. Daniel
OConnell and his Irish followers were also particularly troublesome. The
first session, however, saw a great deal of work accomplished. A measure
was carried to put down excesses in Ireland; another to mitigate, or
attempt to mitigate, the hostility against the Irish Established Church.
Acts were passed dealing with the charter of the Bank of England, and
remodelling the powers of the East India Company, the latter being
deprived of its commercial monopolies. The important measure for the
abolition of slavery in the British Colonies was carried through. A
beginning was made with the beneficent factory legislation identified with
the name of Lord Ashley, afterwards Lord Shaftesbury. The first step was
taken towards the establishment of a national system of education in
England by a grant of £20,000. A reduction in the advertisement duty was
welcome to newspapers. Economists like Mr Joseph Hume were, however,
annoyed by the meagre efforts at retrenchment in the expenditure. Locally,
the sudden death of Colonel Baillie of Leys, the member for the burghs,
led to a bye-election, in which Major Cumming Bruce was the successful
candidate. It is rather curious that in the two elections after the
passing of the Reform Act, candidates who had been known as anti-reformers
were returned for the Inverness burghs. The columns of the "Courier"
during the year were largely occupied with political dinners and speeches,
which were important at the time, but for the reader of the present day
have lost much of their interest.
The notes below will be read with interest as recording
the beginning of Town Councils in their modern form. One of the first acts
of the Inverness Town Council was to abolish the office of hangman, which
appears to have existed in the burgh from time immemorial.
There is a full account of the hangmans perquisites,
which must have given much annoyance in the collection.
From the "Inverness Courier." 1833.
January 2.The result of the contest in the Elgin
Burghs is announced. There were three candidatesColonel Leith Hay, the
Right Hon. HoIt Mackenzie, and Mr Alex. Morison, yr. of Auchintoul. The
first-named was elected, the figures beingColonel Leith Hay, 343; Mr Holt
Mackenzie, 223; Mr Morison, 112. Colonel Leith Hay had a majority of 112
on the gross poll.
Ibid.Seaforth was entertained to a public dinner at
Dingwall on the 31st uIt. Mr Mackenzie of Kilcoy was chairman, and the
croupiers were Mr Mackenzie of Muirton, W.S., and Captain Sutherland of
Udoll. The dinner was in celebration of Seaforths return as a member of
January 9.The Right Hon. Charles Grant was entertained
to dinner at Inverness by a number of his supporters. Lovat was in the
chair, with Mr Hugh Fraser of Eskadale and Mr David Sheriff, Barnyards, as
croupiers. Colonel Baillie entertained from two to three hundred of his
friends to a dinner in the Northern Meeting Rooms.
January 16.Over six columns are devoted to the report
of a dinner held in the Northern Meeting Rooms to celebrate the "Cause of
Reform." About 250 were present. The rooms were decorated with laurels and
evergreens, and portraits of Earl Grey, Lord Brougham, and Lord John
Russell. The croupiers were Mr John Fraser, Church Street, Inverness; Mr
Ketchen, Nairn; and the Rev. Mr Stark, Forres. In the following week there
was a dinner at Nairn.
Ibid.The following Note to the readers of the paper is
an illustration of the difference between that day and this:
"In consequence of the navigation of the Caledonian Canal having
been interrupted by frost, a large package of stamps, which should have
reached us on Saturday, has been detained about Fort-William. On this
account we are compelled to print part of our impression on blanks, of
which due acknowledgement will be made to the Stamp Office."
Ibid.The same issue contains the announcement, derived
from a private source, that the Marquis of Stafford has received the title
of Duke of Sutherland. At a party given by the King the previous week, his
Majesty had proposed the health of "The Duke and Duchess of Sutherland."
The "Gazette" notice appeared in the next issue. The announcement was
received with great pleasure in Sutherland.
January 23."Mr Davidson of Cantray bet with Sir
Francis Mackenzie that the former would run his gig mare in harness
fourteen miles in the space of an hour. The ground fixed was the north
mail road between Conon and Clachnaharry, and yesterday the time. Mr
Davidson himself drove the animal, and she performed the task in three
minutes less than the hour."
January 30.Three columns are given to a report of
rejoicings in Sutherland in honour of the Dukedom.
February 6.There is an article on the burdens laid on
newspapers, arising from a report that some relief was in contemplation.
The "Courier" was still a sheet of four pages, five columns to a page, and
the price was seven-pence, as it was of most other papers. Rumour pointed
to a repeal of the Stamp-duty. We have been so long accustomed," says the
editor, "to the restrictive dutyso long in the habit of paying
seven-pence for our newspaperthat so great a change seems at first sight
to be wild and impracticable." There was at the time a duty of 3s 6d on
all advertisements long and short. This duty the Chancellor of the
Exchequer reduced in the next Budget.
Ibid."Died, at Daviot House, on the morning of Friday,
25th ult., in his 78th year, the Hon. Angus Mackintosh, 25th Chief of that
Ilk, and 20th [25th] Chief and Captain of Clan Chattan. We will not go
into a lengthy or elaborate eulogium of the character of the deceased. We
will merely observe that he was a person of the most inflexible integrity
of a warm and sociable temper, given to hospitality, free of the sophistry
of the world, totally unaffected, accessible to all who had occasion to
address him, and in point of patriotism none could take precedence of him.
He had been nearly fifty years a resident in Upper Canada, of the
legislative Council of which he was a member. In that country his many
virtues and public enterprise endeared him to a numerous and respectable
acquaintance. His funeral was attended, from his late residence to Petty
(the family burying-ground for many generations), by one of the most
numerous assemblages of gentlemen and the tenantry generally we have
witnessed for many years."
February 20."As a mark of respect to Dr Robertson of
Aultnaskiachlong the Chief Magistrate of this burghit is proposed to
request that gentleman to sit for his portrait to ornament our Town Hall.
A subscription for this purpose was opened yesterday afternoon, and the
amount already subscribed evinces the general estimation in which the
worthy Provost is held by his fellow-townsmen of all parties."
February 27.At a meeting of the Gaelic School Society
in Edinburgh it was stated that in the Synods of Argyll and Glenelg, the
population amounted to nearly 206,000, and of these no less than 24,703
above six years of age were unable to read. In the parish of Gairloch only
about a fourth of the population were able to read.
March 6.An advertisement announces that a steamer was
to ply between Glasgow and Stornoway. The advertisement is signed by
Alexander Ferguson, 30 Turners Court, Glasgow.
Ibid.The same issue contains an advertisement
announcing that the Lordship of Lochaber, as founded by the late Duke of
Gordon, was to be sold by public roup in Edinburgh on 16th July. The net
rental was given at £5796 sterling. A subsequent advertisement gives it at
£6124 8s 2d.
March 13.Meetings in favour of modifying or abolishing
patronage in the Church were at this time common. In this issue there is a
report of a meeting at Raay, in Caithness, and it is stated that almost
every parish in the county had held similar meetings. Petitions from
Inverness and other places were also sent to the House of Commons, where
Mr George Sinclair, M.P., was moving in the matter.
Ibid.The walk on the bank of the River Ness, along the
property of Bught, had recently been made by the proprietor. There was as
yet no bridge connecting the Islands with the west bank.
March 20.There was a revival of illicit distillation
in the district. This was largely due to the low price of barley, and to
the withdrawal of a revenue cutter. In the local market barley was quoted
at from 24s to 27s per imperial quarter. In the next issue it is stated
that the fiare prices in the North were about 20per cent. below
the previous year.
March 27.There is an account of the bill introduced by
the Lord Advocate for municipal reform in Scotland.
Ibid.At a public meeting in Stornoway on the 20th
inst.Mr Murdo Mackenzie in the chair it was resolved "that it is the
unanimous sense of this meeting that the sum allowed by Government for a
Packet betwixt Stornoway and the opposite coast, is totally inadequate to
the support of a vessel suitable to the purpose, and that this community,
in consequence, labour under the most serious grievances, which loudly
call for remedy." A committee was appointed to collect facts and prepare
an application for redress. The grievances of Stornoway are thus of old
April 10.With this issue the "Courier" was enlarged,
becoming a sheet of six columns to the page, or twenty-four columns in
all. It was also printed in new type and with a new press. The circulation
of the paper had increased, a fact due in a measure, as the editor states,
to the growing desire for public information and political inquiry. "Most
of our readers must, in their oily intercourse with society, have observed
that the recent extension of political rights and the improvements entered
on by the Government, both in Church and State, have given an impulse to
the public mind unexampled in any former period of our history. Napoleon
termed us a nation of shopkeepers; we may now be called a nation of
readers and politicians. Great Britain seems at this moment to realise the
idea of a mighty people roused at once to the full consciousness of their
strength, and admitted to the exercise of new powers and privileges."
April 17.The Court-House and gaol of the burgh of Tain
were burned down on the 15th inst. The fire was discovered about two
oclock on Monday morning, and spread with great rapidity. Three persons
confined in the jail lost their lives, one (perhaps two) imprisoned for
debt, the third the wife of the second prisoner, who had come to visit her
husband. The Town-House had been erected only in 1825, at the joint
expense of the town and county, and was not insured.
Ibid.A report on toll dues, roads, and other matters
affecting the movement of sheep and cattle from the Northern Counties to
the Southern markets appears in this issue. The exaction of tolls was a
great grievance, particularly in the counties of Perth and Stirling. The
committee suggested various remedies, including the formation of a general
drove road, on a line formerly recommended by Mr Telford. The report is
signed by Mr J. Murray Grant of Glenmoriston.
April 24.Intelligence was received here last night of
the death of Colonel John Baillie of Leys, member for the Inverness
District of Burghs, and a Director of the East India Company. The Colonel
died at his house in London at twelve oclock on Saturday last. He was
attacked about ten days previous with the epidemic so prevalent in the
metropolis, the influenza, which was followed by inflammation, that in a
few days proved fatal. He was, we believe, in his 61st year. Colonel
Baillie was a native of the town of Inverness. He entered early in life
into the services of the East India Company as a cadet; and held
successively the important offices of Professor of the Hindostanee
language in the Companys College at Calcutta, and Resident at Lucknow.
After his return to England in 1816, he sat for the burgh of Hedon, in
Yorkshire, which he represented in two Parliaments. He was returned for
the Inverness Burghs in September 1830, and again at the last general
election, after one of the keenest contests witnessed in Great Britain.
The sudden death of this gentleman so recently after his struggle here,
and almost before the excitement it occasioned had subsidedand in the
midst of the pending negotiations relative to the East India Companys
Charter, in which he took a strong and lively interestirresistibly
reminds us of the eloquent exclamation of Burke:-What shadows we are and
what shadows we pursue." Colonel Baillie built Leys Castle near
Inverness, and planted the woods around it. The Castle was unfinished at
the date of his death.
May 8.It is announced that the Chancellor of the
Exchequer had reduced the duty on advertisements from 3s 6d to 1s 6d.
"This alteration was brought forward on Thursday evening, and appears to
have been assented to without a dissentient voice." The reduction came
into effect in July.
Ibid.The Parliamentary Commission on Roads and bridges
had replaced the Bridge of Borlum, in Glen-Urquhart, with a stone bridge
of two arches, each 40 feet span. They had also contracted for the
erection of a bridge over the river Findhorn, at Corrybrough, in lieu of
that which was carried away by the flood of August 1829. They had likewise
resolved to effect an improvement in the pass of Slochmuich.
Ibid.The death is announced of Mr James Macpherson of
Belleville, son of the translator of Ossian. He is said to have carried
out great improvements on his property, with the view of giving employment
to those around him, and of converting into smiling and productive fields
the mosses and unenclosed wastes of his estate. "The magnificent
embankments which he has made along the whole line of the Spey, opposite
his propertythe villages which he founded on the most liberal principles
at Newtonmore and Lynachat, and the immense improvements which he has
effected in draining, clearing, enclosing, and planting, will long remain
a monument of his liberality and patriotism." Mr Macpherson was also a
farmer and improver of stock.
May 15.Owing to the death of Colonel Baillie there was
a fresh contest for the representation in Parliament of the Inverness
District of Burghs. The candidates were Major Cumming Bruce and Mr Stewart
of Belladrum. The latter laboured under the disadvantage of being absent
during the contest, having been detained in London by severe
indisposition. The result of the election wasMajor Cumming Bruce, 358
votes; Mr Stewart, 292; majority for Major Gumming Bruce, 66. The
successful candidate had a majority in all the burghs except Nairn. In
Forres he had 93 votes as against 44.
May 29."Mr Alexander Ross, house carpenter, Tain, who
died a few weeks since, was one of the few who recollected the battle of
Culloden. At the period of the battle he was ten years of age. A body of
the retreating Highlanders took possession of the choicest of his fathers
cattle, and, entering his house, laid violent hands on all that appeared
desirable to consume or carry off."
June 12.The bridge at Millburn, near Inverness, was
now widened ten feet, and the footpath extended about a mile further from
June 19.The scheme of Government for the future
administration of the affairs of India was explained in the House of
Commons by the President of the Board of Trade. "Mr Grant spoke for nearly
three hours and a-half, and, according to the journals of all parties,
with his usual eloquence, force, and effect."
Ibid.On Tuesday, the 11th inst., a gathering of the
people of Badenoch assembled at Dalwhinnie to welcome and escort home
their Chief, Cluny Macpherson, and his wife, to their residence at Cluny
Castle. The procession was headed by about fifty gentlemen on horseback.
On arriving at the Castle the Chief thanked them in a Gaelic speech.
June 26."Mr Macleod of Geanies has retired from the
Sheriffdom of Ross-shire, having held that office for, we believe, the
long period of fifty-nine yearsa. life-time in itself."
July 10.There are letters and articles in this and
other issues respecting outrages that were said to have occurred in the
district of Dundonnell, in the west of Ross-shire. Some of these outrages
dated several years back, and were connected with a law case. Others had
to do with the removal of yairs for catching herrings. The stories were
obviously exaggerated, and though they caused much excitement at the time,
they are not now of interest.
July 17.The Inverness Sheep and Wool Fair was very
satisfactory to sellers. "From a calculation which we made, assisted by
some of the gentlemen attending the market, it appears that the
transactions in sheep amounted to about £100,000; and those in wool to
£70,000 or £80,000. The prices were high. In wool there is a great
advance, particularly of the common blackfaced description, which brought
21s and 21s 6d per stone of 48 lbs., being a rise of from 5s 6d to 6s 6d
per stone over last years prices. The highest price obtained for Cheviot
wool was 20s 9d per stone of 24 lbs., deliverable in the Clyde, being an
advance over last years prices of about 4s 6d." The advance in blackfaced
wool was partly accounted for by its growing scarcity, as Cheviot stock
was becoming more general. The following prices are quoted :Cheviot
wedders, 22s to 31s; ewes, 13s 6d to 20s; lambs, 8s to 11s 3d; blackfaced
wedders, 16s to 24s; ewes, 7s 6d to 12s 6d; lambs, 6s 6d to 9s 6d. Cheviot
wool, per stone of 24 lbs., 18s to 20s 9d; cross ditto, washed, 14s to
16s; unwashed, 12s to 14s; blackfaced, per stone of 48 lbs., 20s to 22s. A
meeting was held on the subject of the transport of stock, and the report
of a committee was adopted, praying the Commissioners of Highland Roads
and Bridges to survey a line of drove road from a point near Highbridge,
across Rannoch Moor to Killin, or to a point on the old military road near
July 24.The death is announced of the Duke of
Sutherland at Dunrobin Castle on Friday, the 19th inst. The Duke arrived
in the North only a fortnight previous, and was shortly afterwards seized
with the illness which proved fatal. His Grace was born in January 1758,
and was consequently in his 76th year. He married the Countess of
Sutherland in 1785, and succeeded his father as Marquis of Stafford in
1803. A few months before his death he was created Duke of Sutherland. His
Grace did much for the county by liberally assisting in the construction
of roads and harbours and promoting education.
Ibid.Mr George Sinclair, M.P., moved on the 16th in
the House of Commons for leave to bring in a bill to repeal the Act of
Queen Anne abolishing patronage in the Church of Scotland. Mr Horatio Ross
seconded. The motion was withdrawn, as it was found that it could not be
entertained without the previous consent of the Crown.
August 7.The remains of the late Duke of Sutherland
were conveyed from Dunrobin Castle, and were laid in Dornoch Cathedral on
31st July. "There was a total absence of pomp and pageantry. The coffins
were made by this Graces own carpenter, the shroud was sewn by the
females of his family and the daughters of his tenants, and his body was
placed in its last abode by the hands of his faithful servants. This
absence of all ostentatious display was, however, more than compensated by
the attendance of thousands and the heartfelt grief, surpassing show,
which pervades every heart." The number of persons present was estimated
at ten thousand. The refreshments consisted of bread, meat, and ale,
whisky being excluded.
August 14.The Directors of the Inverness Academy at
this time adopted a resolution to appoint teachers without salaries,
allowing them to take payment in fees, to be regulated by the Board. Mr
James Falconer was appointed writing and commercial master.
August 21.The Scots Burgh Reform Bill, and a
supplementary bill dealing with burghs not Royal, passed through Committee
in the Lords. The following issue recorded the third reading.
August 28."Strangers continue to flock into the North,
and there never perhaps was a time when the Highlands had so many
visitors. Our inns are all full, bed and board; coach seats are almost as
difficult to obtain as a lottery prize in the olden time; steam-boats are
equally crowded, and gigs and horses are everywhere but at home. In the
interior of the country we find parties of all descriptionssportsmen with
dogs and guns, the patient angler with his rod, the geologist with his bag
and hammer, the botanist with his book of specimens; the scene-hunter with
his pencil or memoranda, and numerous groups intent only on pic-nicking
among wild hills, streams, or waterfalls. . .
Our Highland inns are greatly improved. The lairds are still too careless
in looking after the change-houses on their estates; but in general
traffic produces cleanliness and civility, and the force of example as
well as precept begins to be felt and acknowledged."
September 4.There was opposition in the parish of
Petty to the acceptance of the Rev. John Grant as their minister. One
objection was his alleged deficiency in the Gaelic language. The
Presbytery heard him preach, and found that Mr Grant had an intimate
acquaintance with the Gaelic language, and possessed great fluency and
accuracy in it. They resolved to proceed with Mr Grants trials for
ordination, but to defer further consideration of the case till the
approach of the General Assembly.
Ibid.It is stated that Rob Roys favourite claymore
had been presented by Mr Ryder, of the Aberdeen Theatre, to Mr Alexander
Fraser, the young laird of Torbreck. The present was accompanied by the
following certificate of its authenticity:"This was the favourite
claymore of Rob Roy. It was presented by him to his particular friend and
near relative, Mr Campbell of Glenlyon, and remained in that family until
Francis Gordon Campbell of Troup succeeded to the title and estates of
September 11.At the Inverness Circuit Court there were
numerous charges of assault, and the presiding Judge, Lord Meadowbank,
said there were more cases of assault tried at this Circuit than in all
other parts of Scotland united. "The people of the Highlands," he said,
"seemed in this respect to be a people living without law." The editor
thought this statement a little exaggerated; but he expressed the hope
that influential persons would "exert increased activity to repress an
offence which has become a reproach and disgrace to us, and which seems,
unfortunately, to he on the increase."
September 25.The portrait of Dr Robertson of
Aultnaskiach, painted by subscription for the Town Hall, was recently
finished. A panel at the bottom bears the following subscription: "In
testimony of regard for his private worth and public usefulness while
Chief Magistrate of Inverness, this portrait of James Robertson of
Aultnaskiach, M.D., was placed here by public subscription of his fellow.
citizens, 1833. John Sime, Esq., S.A., pinxt." The paragraph proceeds"The
portait is the size of life, in a sitting posture, with one hand
containing a letter, and the other engaged in lifting an eye-glass. The
likeness is admirable, bating perhaps a little too much fulness in the
body. . . Mr Sime, the artist, is well known as
a bold and felicitous portrait painter, and we have since seen some
pictures on which he is at present engaged, which give us even a higher
idea of his talents." The portrait now hangs in the Council Chamber.
Ibid.A fine piece of plate for presentation to Mr John
Mackenzie, banker, had arrived, and was on exhibition. It consisted of an
epergne richly chased and ornamented, standing on a handsome plateau, and
surmounted by a bouquet. The cost was a hundred and twenty guineas. On one
compartment was engraved Mr Mackenzies arms, and on another his crest and
the following inscription:"Presented to John Mackenzie, Esq., by admirers
of his public conduct and private character, residing in Inverness and
neighbourhood; in acknowledgment of his strenuous and valuable services in
support of popular rights during Earl Greys administration, a period of
the highest importance to the political independence and welfare of the
nation, September 1833."
October 2.From a notice of the Northern Meeting, it
seems that the gathering had for some years fallen off. The account of the
Meeting says that at one period it "used to draw together nearly all the
leading families of the Highlands." This year it was "enlivened by the
presence of several strangers," but the attendance was "more respectable
than numerous," and the dinner parties were much smaller than formerly.
"There was no attempt to revive the sports of the turf, or to institute
any public amusement, excepting the ball, which was well attended."
Ibid.A treatise on the Natural History of the Salmon,
by Mr Alexander Fraser, tacksman of Dochnalurg, which seems to have been
first printed for private circulation, was now published. Several extracts
from it are given in this issue.
Ibid.A bazaar, which is described as a "novel and
interesting exhibition," was held in the Town Hall for the benefit of the
conjoined charities of the Infant School, the Female School, and the
Female Work Society. Stalls were kept by Lady Saltoun, MrsFraser
of Lovat, Lady Mackenzie of Gairloch, Mrs Cumming Bruce, Mrs Fraser of
Culduthel, Mrs Fyvie, &c. The proceeds amounted to £401 15s 6d. A small
basket made by the Queen brought £4 10s.
Ibid.Two Commissioners, Mr Hunter and Mr Innes, were
at this time in the North, making arrangements for carrying out the
Municipal Reform Act. Inverness was divided into three Wards.
October 9.There was at this time a commercial crisis
in Bombay and Calcutta, involving also some London houses. The amount of
liabilities is placed at £15,000,000 sterling. The Burmese war is assigned
as one of the chief causes of the financial collapse. The Indian
Government floated a loan which withdrew a large sum from the commerce of
Ibid.The death is recorded of Mr John Macpherson, at
Cluny Castle, in St Thomas in the East, Jamaica, a near relative of the
Chief of the Clan. "The old gentleman, in defiance of mosquitoes and
everything else, continued to wear the philabeg, composed of the tartan of
his clan; and at the skirl of the pibroch every negro within reach of its
sound was heard to exclaim, God bless my old mama; he makes plenty of
noise for me. So universally was this gentleman respected in the quarter
that a holiday was granted to all the negroes to attend his remains to the
narrow house; and a poor old Highlandman who could scarcely crawl to his
kinsmans grave, produced his bagpipe, and played the Macphersons
Lament in a style which was responded to by every Celt present doffing
October 16.The epergne described in a previous
paragraph was presented to Mr John Mackenzie, banker, at a general meeting
of the subscribers in the Royal Hotel. Mr John Thomson, banker, was in the
chair, and the presentation was made by Mackintosh of Mackintosh.
lbid.The remains of Gregor Macgregor, alias Willox,
and widely known as "Willox the Warlock," were laid to rest in the
Church-yard of Kirkmichael, Strathdon, on the 5th inst. "Gregor was the
last of a line of ancestors, long the object of awe and veneration, as the
possessors of the only means ever known of prying into futurity, and of
controlling and circumventing the works of both natural and supernatural
agents." His tools consisted of a piece of yellow metal, resembling the
bit of a horses bridle, which was said to have been taken from a
water-kelpie; and a transparent stone, "resembling the nob of a crystal
bottle," which was said to have been extorted from a mermaid. "Strange as
it may appear to the enlightened reader, these credentials, transmitted
from father to son, obtained for many ages implicit faith among the
peasantry of Scotland from Perth to John o Groats." In recent years faith
in Willox had fallen off, but he had a specious tongue and a fund of
traditional lore which brought him many visitors. Apart from his
profession of necromancer, to which be adhered to his dying day, the
paragraph says that there was nothing very reprehensible in the character
or conduct of Willox.
October 23."We believe we can state with safety that
smuggling is fast decreasing in the Highlands. Donald still keeps hold of
a few heights and hollows, where the gauger cannot conveniently find his
way; but as a trade, illicit distillation will soon die a natural death."
October 30.A paragraph from the "Elgin Courier"
describes how Mr Dean, farmer at Easter Oakenhead, found the remains of a
ship while ploughing at the eastern extremity of the Loch of Spynie, in
Morayshire. The editor of the paper, with a companion, cleared away part
of the soil, so as to inspect the buried timbers. "The whole length of the
vessel appears to have been thirty feet; but we did not ascertain the
breadth. The whole of the ribs are entire, and composed of oak, and the
stern is quite round on Sir Robert Seppings plan. When we came to that
part of the vessel which must have been the deck, although distinguishable
enough, yet the spade went through as if it had only been clay. We may say
the same of a piece of birch wood about two inches in diameter, which was
perfectly entire in the back, yet the spade went through it with greater
ease than it would have done through an apple. What appeared to us most
singular was the distinct appearance that the whole of the space between
the ribs and the outer and inner covering, of which we could find no more
traces than we did of the deck, had been closely filled up with heather,
which appeared before touching it quite fresh; but immediately after
became a pulp. It is more than probable that this vessel has been lost
nearly 600 years ago, as one of its dimensions could not have navigated
the Loch of Spynie, more particularly in the part where it has been found,
after the 12th or 13th century."
November 6.the close or self-electing system in burgh
corporations had now come to an end, and the new Town Councils were
elected this week throughout the country. In Inverness the Reform party
was successful in all the three wards. "The contest was conducted with
great activity, but, we are happy to add, in peace and good humour. There
were a few long cheers on one side and a few long faces on the other, and
the winners are to invite their Provost (Mr Mackenzie, the banker, we
presume) to a public dinner; but all is quiet and conciliation." The total
number of votes cast for the Reformers was 1462 and for the Conservatives
1053, giving a majority of 409.
November 13 and 20.The following were the first
Provosts elected under the Reform Act in the Northern Burghs Inverness,
Mr John Mackenzie, banker; Nairn, Mr Isaac Ketchen; Dingwall, Mr Hugh
Innes Cameron, banker; Tain, Mr H. R. Ross of Cromarty; Fortrose, Dr
George Tulloch; Forres, Mr Charles Gordon, wine merchant; Elgin, Mr
William Gauldie, merchant. The Scottish papers, it is stated, were teeming
at this time with accounts of the sayings and doings of the new Councils.
"Conscious that more is expected from them than from their predecessors,
the civic functionaries appear to be all up and stirring." The first
business of the Glasgow Town Council was a discussion regarding the
propriety of discarding the cocked hats and gold chains worn by the
Magistrates. The cocked hats were discarded but the gold chains were
retained. The issue contains a list of charities in Inverness. The total
under the charge of the Magistrates end Council was £38,538 14s 6d, but
this included the Mackintosh Farr Fund, amounting to £25,218. The annual
produce of the Kirk-Session funds was £367 per annum. This included
collections of £100 at the church doors. In a subsequent issue it is
stated that this £100 was derived from the ordinary collections, and that
special quarterly collections for the poor produced an additional revenue
of at least £200 a year, so that the total from church funds may be placed
at £567 a year.
November 27."Died, at Petty, on the 15th inst., the
Rev. William Smith, minister of the panels of Petty, and Presbytery of
Inverness, in his 87th year." A long account of Mr Smith, who seems to
have been a man of great ability and influence, is contributed by a
friend. He was regarded as an authority in
Church Courts, and was at the same time a powerful preacher. "The
great feature of the man, mentally and
physically, was strength; there was nothing puny or frivolous about him."
December 4.There is a description of Martinmas Market,
which then brought together several thousand people, and afforded an
opportunity for the sale of many rural commodities. The writer notes that
"bonnets which even twenty years ago were unknown excepting among ladies,
are now worn by young women of the humblest station; and over every head
when it rains is raised an umbrella. Indeed, the latter is considered by
the country people an indispensable appendage, and the display of
umbrellas on our streets last Friday was truly formidable, and would have
impressed a South Sea Islander with a high idea of our comfort and
Ibid.The beautiful residence of Lady Saltoun, known as
"the Cottage," on the banks of the River Ness, was totally destroyed by
fire on the previous Monday evening. The most valuable moveables,
including Lady Saltouns jewels, and the plate, family pictures, and
books, were saved, but the Hon. Miss Frasers jewels, and the wardrobes of
both ladies, were sacrificed.
Ibid.A public dinner was given at Forres in honour of
the new Provost, Magistrates, and Town Council. Provost Gordon was in the
chair and the toast of the evening was proposed by Major Cumming Bruce,
December 18.A public dinner was given in the Northern
Meeting Rooms in celebration of the accomplishment of Burgh Reform. The
company numbered 315, and the room was splendidly lighted with gas.
Provost Mackenzie was in the chair, supported by the Hon. Colonel Grey,
M.P. (a son of the Prime Minister), Mr Fraser of Lovat, Sir Francis
Mackenzie of Gairloch, Mackintosh of Mackintosh, Captain Fraser of Balnain,
Macleod of Cadboll, Mr Stewart of Belladrum, &c. Colonel Grey was at the
time residing in the neighbourhood, in command of the 71st Regiment.
Provost Mackenzie, on behalf of the Town Council, presented him with the
freedom of the burgh.
IbidA Perthshire paper takes notice of the success of
a literary and antiquarian society in the county town. The "Courier"
having extracted a few sentences, adds"We quote this with some degree of
shame and regret, not as regards Perth, but as respects Inverness. We have
an Institution here of a similar nature, but so little is it encouraged
that we question whether it can languish on another year. It is in
contemplation, we hear, to apply for the hall of the Academy, to serve for
the Museum, and we hope this will be obtained."
December 25.The Inverness Town Council, being of
opinion that the services of Donald Ross, the hangman, might be dispensed
with, resolved that the appointment should cease. The editor
says"Retrenchment being the order of the day, the Council conceived they
could dispense with the services of the executioner, which are seldom
required here, and have hitherto been paid for, like the services of other
high legal functionaries, at rather an extravagant rate. Donald Ross was
appointed executioner in 1812, with a salary of £16 per annum. As most
public appointments of a rare and difficult nature are accompanied with
fees and perquisites, independent of salary, Donald had various bites and
nibbles at the public purse. First he was provided with a house, bed, and
bedding. Second, he was allowed thirty-six peats weekly from the tacksman
of the Petty Customs. Third, he had a bushel of coals out of every cargo
of English coals imported into the town. Fourth, he was allowed a piece of
coal, as large as he could carry, out of every cargo of Scotch coals.
Fifth, he had a peck of oat-meal out of every hundred bolls landed at the
Shore. Sixth, he had a fish from every creel or basket of fish brought to
the market. Seventh, he had a penny for every sack of oat-meal sold at the
market. Eighth, he had a peck of salt out of every cargo. Ninth, he was
allowed every year a suit of clothes, two shirts, two pairs of stockings,
a hat, and two pairs of shoes. Added to these fixed and regular sources of
income, Donald levied blackmail on the lieges in the shape of Christmas
boxes, and had besides a sum of five pounds at every execution at which he
presided. Now all these items must have amounted to fifty or sixty pounds
per annum, and as there have been just three executions since Donald
acceded to office, they must have cost the town nearly four hundred pounds
each execution. It is worthy of remark that the last hangman here
experienced a very untimely end. He had gone to Elgin on professional
business, and was attacked on his return, about Forres, by a mob of
mischievous boys and lads, who maltreated him in so shameful a manner that
he died on the spot. The most active of the mob were, however, tried and
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