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The Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
No. 9


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 O’Connell 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 hangman’s 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 candidates—Colonel Leith Hay, the Right Hon. HoIt Mackenzie, and Mr Alex. Morison, yr. of Auchintoul. The first-named was elected, the figures being—Colonel 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 Seaforth’s return as a member of Parliament.

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 duty—so long in the habit of paying seven-pence for our newspaper—that 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 Aultnaskiach—long the Chief Magistrate of this burgh—it 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 Turner’s 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 20 per 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 standing.

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 o’clock 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 o’clock 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 Company’s 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 subsided—and in the midst of the pending negotiations relative to the East India Company’s Charter, in which he took a strong and lively interest—irresistibly 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 property—the 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 was—Major 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 father’s 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 Inverness.

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 years—a. 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 year’s 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 year’s 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 King’s House.

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 Grace’s 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 descriptions—sportsmen 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 Grant’s trials for ordination, but to defer further consideration of the case till the approach of the General Assembly.

Ibid.—It is stated that Rob Roy’s 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 Glenlyon."

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 Mackenzie’s 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 Grey’s 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, Mrs Fraser 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 the country.

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 kinsman’s grave, produced his bagpipe, and played the ‘Macpherson’s Lament’ in a style which was responded to by every Celt present doffing his bonnet."

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 horse’s 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 Sepping’s 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 civilisation."

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 Saltoun’s jewels, and the plate, family pictures, and books, were saved, but the Hon. Miss Fraser’s 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, MP.

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.

Ibid—A 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 transported."


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