Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
The changes that have occurred in the North of Scotland
during the century which has just closed will be understood in some detail
by those who follow the chronicle now begun.
It is our hope to be able to proceed
with the annals of the North, so as to form an index to the principal
events of the century in the Highlands. This work cannot be completed
without occasional breaks, but it will be kept in view and carried out as
circumstances permit. A bare index, though useful, would be comparatively
dull, and we therefore give in most instances short paragraphs, including
some not important in themselves, but interesting as illustrating the life
or habits of the period.
For the first six and a-half years
of the century, we have been obliged to fall back on the late Mr James
Suter's Memorabilia, which consist of short notes of events of public
interest. From the 7th of August 1807, we have the guidance of the
"Inverness Journal," and shall follow its files until the foundation of
the "Courier" in 1817. Our file of the
"Journal" is not absolutely complete, but some
of the missing numbers have already been placed at our disposal, and the
other few blanks may be filled. The publisher of the "Journal," Mr. John
Young, printer and bookseller, issued several works in Gaelic and English,
including a handsome edition of Macphersons Ossian. "Mr Young is said to
have conducted the Journal himself for a little time, but early in its
career the editorial chair was taken by David Carey, a native of Arbroath,
who discharged the duties for nearly five years. Carey was an author of
considerable versatility and abilitya poet, novelist,
and successful pamphleteer. While in
Inverness he published a volume of poems, printed by Mr Young, Craig-Phadrick,
&c.: Inverness, 1810. This volume is now chiefly valuable for the notes to
the piece Craig-Phadrick, containing as they do much information on the
early history of Inverness. In connection with the Journal, it may be
mentioned that a younger son of Mr Youngs, Murdo Young, was long editor
and latterly proprietor of the London Sun and True Sun newspapers."
(From Bibliography by the late John Noble in Scottish Notes and Queries.
At the beginning of the century the
means of communication were exceedingly limited. In 1804 smacks were
established to run once in three weeks between Inverness and London. It
was in 1806 that the first regular coach began to run to Perth by the
Highland Road, but it seems for a time, though only for a short time, to
have been discontinued. The Acts of Parliament for the construction of the
Caledonian Canal and the making of roads and bridges were passed in 1803,
and for years afterwards work was plentiful throughout the Highlands. It
will be observed that emigration was going on, apparently against the wish
of public men, if we may judge from the expression of opinion given below.
The sad fate of a large party of emigrants from the north coast is
chronicled by the "Journal."
From James Sitters
1800.A keen contest took place for
the representation of the County between A. Forbes of Culloden, S. Fraser,
yr. of Lovat, and Charles Grant, when Mr Grant was returned, and continued
to be member until 1819, when his son, the Right Hon. C. Grant, succeeded
Ibid.Sunday Schools first
established in the town by Charles Grant.
Ibid.Episcopal Chapel built.
Expense, £700, defrayed by subscriptions and a loan of £200.
Ibid.A fund. of £675 raised by
voluntary subscriptions for relief of the poor.
Ibid.The Castle Hill enclosed with
Ibid.Northern Missionary Society
begun. [1822. This institution has collected at Inverness and Tain, since
its commencement, about £3000 of voluntary contributions.]
1801.A large quantity of gunpowder
exploded in the centre of the town, by which seven persons were killed and
many others wounded. Almost all the houses in the middle of the town were
injured and had their windows shattered on this occasion.
Ibid.The first public nursery
garden in this place formed, viz., the Telford Street one.
Ibid.In this year died William
Inglis of Kingsmills, merchant and banker, a native of the town and
Provost of the Burgh,. the ablest and most useful Magistrate it had ever
possessed, the founder of its finest public buildings and of some of its
most valuable institutions, and for 30 years the chief promoter of all its
1802.Regular cattle markets
commenced at the Island.
1803.A chapel erected by the
Seceder congregation. [In 1820 this was converted into a Roman Catholic
Ibid.Acts of Parliament passed for
cutting the Caledonian Canal, and for making roads and building bridges in
the Highlands of Scotland.
Ibid.The lands of Merkinch first
feued out for building.
Ibid.The Northern Infirmary opened
for the reception of patients. Expense of building, £5000. Annual
expenditure, about £700 a-year. The whole defrayed by voluntary
contributions, chiefly parochial.
1804.Smacks begin to ply
successfully at fixed days to and from London. At first the period of
succession was once in three weeks. [In 1814 it became one in ten days.]
In 1770 vessels arrived from London only once in four or five weeks, and
even these were very small; and at the same period the communication with
Leith was not more frequent. At present the voyage to Leith is at least
one in ten days.
Ibid.Sasso Ferratos valuable
picture of the Holy Family (bequeathed to the town by James Clark, of
Naples, a native of Inverness) was placed in the hall of the Academy.
1805.Theatre built. This building
was the speculation of a private individual.
Ibid.Inverness-shire Farmer Society
formed for the improvement of agriculture. [There was no meeting of this
Society for many years previous to the spring of 1821, when it was
Ibid.The interest of a sum of
£1500, bequeathed by Baffle Thomas Young, to be paid yearly to the poor
and placed under the management of the Kirk Session.
Ibid.First iron foundry commenced.
1806.First regular coach to Perth
by the Highland road. Mr Suter addsThis coach was soon discontinued, and
the present useful establishment was then projected.
IbidPoors Coal Fund begun.
Collected chiefly at the church doors. Mr Suter notes that from the time
this fund was started until the time he wrote (1822) £680 had been paid
Ibid.Buildings of Telford Street
1807.Gunpowder magazine built at
the Long-man. Expense, £250, paid by the Burgh.
From the "Inverness Journal." 1807.
The dates at the beginning of each
paragraph are the dates of issue of the paper, not of the events
August 7, 1807.On this date was
issued the first number of the "Inverness Journal." It bears the imprint
as publisher of John Young, bookseller, Inverness, and the price was
six-pence per copy, by subscription £1 7s 6d per annum. The paper was
issued weekly on Friday. It consists of a well-printed sheet of four
pages, five columns to a page. The first leading article begins by
referring to the progress that had been made in recent years in all the
useful arts in the Northern Counties. "The face of Nature has, by the
exertions of some discerning and spirited individuals, happily assumed a
different aspect, and new channels of industrious occupation have been
opened for the surplus population of the County." The writer trusts "it
will be readily admitted that the value of these blessings may be enhanced
and more fully appreciated by a more extended knowledge of their nature
and effects; and that few sources of general information are better
calculated for the attainment of this desirable object than a
well-conducted newspaper. Interested," the writer continues, "in
everything that relates to the prosperity of a district of country to
which we lie under so many obligations, it shall be our earnest desire to
introduce into the Inverness Journal every topic that may tend to its
improvement and advantage." The number is well advertised, chiefly with
sales of timber and farms to let. One of the news paragraphs states that a
bill has just been passed by the Legislature authorising the distillers in
Scotland hereafter to commence working on the 10th of November in each
year, instead of the first of October; the date being more convenient than
the other with respect to the harvest, the providing of cattle, hiring of
servants, &c. A communication appears from Sir George Mackenzie of Coul
giving the results of experiments with vaccination on members of his own
family. He expresses the conviction that "cowpox, when properly managed,
is a perfect safeguard against the most loathsome and pestilential disease
to which the human frame is subject."
August 14.The Inverness-shire
Farmer Society met on 7th inst., when office-bearers were elected, the
Hon. A. Fraser of Lovat being President, and Mr John Young, bookseller,
secretary. The Society met quarterly. The subject set down for discussion
at the November meeting was "What is the best rotation of crops for land
that has been limed?"
August 21.Majority of the eldest
son of the Marquis and Marchioness of Stafford celebrated on 8th inst. A
company of 60 dined at Dornoch, Lord Reay in the chair. "Two companies of
the Sutherland Volunteers attended and fired volleys after each of the
leading toasts." Other five companies of the battalion were entertained on
the Links of Golspie.. There was another battalion, the companies of which
were entertained in Lord Reays county and in Assynt.
Ibid."Died here, on the 9th curt.,
Mr Thomas Hossack, officer of Excise. He was stationed in this place for
upwards of 30 years, a circumstance which affords the best proof of his
integrity as an officer and of his good conduct as a member of society."
August 28.Memoir of Colonel Patrick
Macleod, of the 78th, who fell commanding a detachment stationed at El
Hermet in Egypt to cover the Siege of Rosetta. He was the second son of
Donald Macleod of Geanies, Sheriff-Depute of the County of Ross. The
memoir is continued through several issues.
Ibid."The Highland Society of
London have sent Mr Alexander Stewart, the editor of a recent collection
of Gaelic poems, on a tour through the Highlands for the purpose of
collecting such fragments as are still extant of the poetry, music, and
historical tales of the ancient Caledonians. An inquiry into the
topography of the dominions of Fingal; of the places of birth, residence,
and interment of the Invincible Chief, his warriors, and bards; of the
scenes of their exploits; together with the remains of their buildings,
tumuli, &c., form also a part of his mission."
September 17.Thomas Gilzean elected
Provost. October 2.Duncan Munro, on 26th inst., elected Provost of
Fortrose. "After the election Sir Alexander Munro, late Provost, came
forward in the most handsome manner, and tendered to the Magistrates and
Council £50 sterling to assist in defraying the expense of pipes lately
laid for supplying the inhabitants with water."
Ibid.At the Circuit Court, held on
29th ult., several persons were tried for assaulting Revenue officers, and
were sentenced to imprisonment. The following case is also recorded
"James Hogg and others, residenters in Cromarty, were indicted for
riotously obstructing the funeral of a person who they supposed had been
guilty of suicide, and assaulting the persons attending the funeral. But
his lordship, being of opinion that this was a matter more proper to be
taken cognisance of by the Sheriff of the County than for trial before the
Circuit Court, he remitted the case to the Sheriff of Ross and Cromarty,
with power to him to proceed therein."
October 9.Foundation-stone laid of
the bridge across the river Conon, near Dingwall. The ceremony was
performed by Sir Rector Mackenzie, attended by a number of the gentlemen
of the neighbourhood, and the Dingwall Volunteers.
Ibid.Sir Charles Ross of Balnagown
elected Provost of Tain. Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster elected Provost of
Ibid."On Tuesday, 29th ult., an
animal resembling a tiger cat found its way into a house in Invermoriston,
which being observed by a woman of the house, who instantly gave the
alarm, he sprang towards her with the greatest ferocity, at least sixteen
feet, but was prevented from doing her injury by three men who pursued and
killed him. A leather collar, with an iron chain about eight inches long,
was found round his neck. It is supposed to be the same animal which
recently made his escape from Brahan, and is said to have done
Ibid.A Caithness correspondent
writes as follows:"With so many incitements to industry and the means of
employment afforded by the Caledonian Canal and other public works now
carrying on in the North of Scotland, it might naturally be expected that
the rage for emigration among the Highlanders should be repressed, if not
altogether extinguished. Yet it is to be regretted that within these few
days a ship was cleared out of the Custom-house of Thurso for Pictou, in
America, with a number of families of these deluded people, consisting of
130 persons in men, women, and children, none of whom were under the
necessity of leaving their native country." The Editor adds-"Most
criminal infatuation that can thus lead men to migrate from their native
homes into a state of voluntary banishment, peril, and toil the most
laborious, to a country where they have not only to toil, but to make the
field, the half of which exertion and labour would have made the country
they thus abandon pregnant with every blessing." (See below.)
Ibid.The following obituary notices
appear:- "Died, at Nairn, on the 7th curt., Alexander Hay, Esq.,
depute-lieutenant, and captain of Volunteers in Nairnshire. His merit
alone raised him to the most respectable situation in that county, and
afforded him the exercise of a mind truly benevolent. He is much and will
be long regretted."Died, at Montego Bay, Jamaica, on the 10th July,
Thomas Carnaby, there, son of William Carnaby. merchant in Forres;
beloved, respected, and regretted by all who knew him."
October 16 and 23.Notices of the
Northern Meeting, which began on Monday, 12th inst., and lasted for the
week. It is noted that the Duchess of Gordon was not present, and that
Lord Seaforth, who had been unwell, was not sufficiently recovered to
October 30."A few days ago at a
marriage in Kirkhill, the mother of the bridegroom, who was 96 years old,
was so elevated on the occasion that she sang and danced, and entertained
the company with 80 years old stories, and would have no other music than
the Highland bagpipe, which she said was always the music that Lord Lovat
and the lairds of her day danced to on similar occasions."
November 6.Very heavy rains,
causing floods, and corn carried away. From the scarcity of fodder and
general failure of the turnip crop, black cattle had become of little
value. "A tolerable milk cow may be had for from three to four pounds." A
storm followed of great severity.
November 13.Heavy fall of snow and
intense frost. Harvest not all gathered in.
Ibid.Proposal to obtain Royal
Charter for the Northern Association of Gentlemen Farmers and Breeders of
Sheep, to extend to the counties of Inverness, Ross, Sutherland, and
Ibid.The Inverness Farmer Society,
on previous Friday, held a ploughing match at Drakies. Fifteen ploughs
competed. "The first premium was assigned to James Elliot, servant to Mr
Fraser-Tytler of Aldourie; the second to Murdoch Macgregor, servant to Mr
Shaw at HoIm; the third to John Macbean, servant to Mr Mackintosh of Holm;
and the fourth to Gordon Watson, also servant to Mr Fraser-Tytler. It may
be mentioned as worthy of notice that the plough used by Murdoch Macgregor
was made by himself, though he never was bred to the cart-wright
Ibid."Died, at the Manse of Dyke,
on the 6th curt., the Rev. John Dunbar, in the 71st year of his age and
45th of his ministry."
November 20.Notice of the erection
of a pier at Broadford, Skye, through the spirited exertions of Lord
Ibid."The large and beautiful basin
of the Caledonian Canal has for some time been frozen over, and has
afforded a delightful field of exercise and amusement to skaters."
Ibid."The total number of roads now
formed and forming in the Highlands amount to forty, containing nearly one
thousand miles of extent." Passages from the annual report of the
Commission of Roads and Bridges appeared in several issues before this
December 25."The estate of
Cradlehall, consisting of ninety acres arable, fifty-seven acres young
planting, and nine acres pasture, which was advertised for sale in this
paper, at the upset price of £4275 10s, has been purchased by Charles
Grant, Esq., M.P., for £7950. Its commanding situation and other natural
advantages render it capable of being made a most delightful place of
residence. This property was originally a pendicle of the lands of
Castle-hill, which were purchased in the year 1788 for £9000; and it may
not be deemed unworthy of remark that the whole except two lots, valued at
£12,000, has been sold for the sum of £44,000, so that this estate,
without having undergone any material improvement. has been enhanced
upwards of six times in 20 years."
Ibid.A correspondent at Thurso
communicated the following distressing intelligence "We have just
received; the melancholy accounts of the loss of the brig Rambler, of
Leith, James Norris, master, cleared out at this port in September last
for Pictou with emigrants. They left Stromness the 1st of October, and on
the 29th of the same month were totally wrecked near the Bay of Bulls, in
Newfoundland. When the ship left this port she had on board 130
passengers; the crew consisted of 14 seamen, besides the Captain and
Surgeon. Of these, the only survivors are three passengers. the second
mate, and four seamen; so that, melancholy to relate, 138 persons have
perished on this unfortunate voyage."
Ibid."The King has been pleased to
present the Rev. David Brichan, Doctor in Divinity, to the Church of the
united parishes of Dyke and Moy, vacant by the death of Mr Jobn Dunbar,
late minister there."
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