Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
In the early part of 1824 there are
several interesting entries relating to smuggling and the enforcement of
Excise penalties. A strong desire existed to put an end to illicit
distillation, but there were obstacles in the way, which are pithily set
forth in one of the extracts. The condition of the slaves in the West
Indies was at this time before Parliament. Many persons in the North of
Scotland were interested in West Indian plantations and the counties of
Ross and Inverness petitioned Government to proceed with caution in making
In the second half of the year the
question of Excise penalties on smugglers continued to excite much
attention. The Justices of the Peace were exceedingly reluctant to inflict
the minimum statutory penalty of £20, but the authorities insisted. In one
case from Banffshire whore the Justices proved obstinate, the offending
smugglers were brought before the Court of Exchequer and subjected to much
heavier penalties than if they had been fined by a Justice of Peace Court.
This seems to have been intended as an object lesson. It will be observed
that the formation of a company to introduce gas and water into Inverness
dates from 1824. There are many items of interest in the subjoined notes.
From the "Inverness Courier." 1824.
January 8.—At a Justice of Peace
Court in Inverness 293 persons were fined for breaches of the licensing
laws. From the Beauly district alone there were 178 cases. It was stated
that in the Inverness district the fines and arrears of licences amounted
to nearly £400.
Ibid.—The Rev. John Macdonald, of
Ferrintosh, was at this time interesting himself specially in the Island
of St Kilda. He had received the following contributions in aid of
buildings to be erected for the accommodation of a missionary and place of
worship:—From the students of King’s College, Aberdeen, £7; from Aberdeen
itself, £30; from Dundee, £19 19s; from Perth, £13 6s 4d.
January 15.—"In ploughing up a field
at Leys, near this town, the ploughman found a rod of
pure gold, about 15 inches long, with
three sides, each about 1/6 of an inch in depth. In the middle it is
twisted, and terminated by a bend similar to a shepherd’s crook, in very
rude workmanship. It was purchased at £4 10s by Mr Naughten, jeweller,
here, and is now in his possession."
Ibid.—"To the admirers of Gaelic poetry it will not be
uninteresting to know that in Slochmuic, on the property of the Earl of
Seafield, expired in 1746, John Macdonald, otherwise Ian Manntaiche, or
John the Stammerer. He had fought in the Stewart cause in 1715, and at the
age of four score and three drew his claymore for Prince Charles at the
battle of Culloden. He received several wounds, but more than these
regretted the loss of his harp, his companion for more than 60 years. He
lingered a few weeks after reaching an asylum in Strathspey, and was
secretly interred near the spot where he yielded his last breath. His
songs have celebrated the race for whose service he lived and died, and
the keenest satire and ridicule expresses his indignation and contempt of
their opponents. Perhaps there are not any Jacobite stanzas extant more
deserving of attention than the compositions of Ian Manntaiche."
January 22.—In this issue there is
another paragraph with reference to the gold rod found at the Leys. "Some
additional pieces of the same description have since been recovered by Mr
Naughten; and on connecting them and inquiring of the labourers as to the
manner in which they were found, they seem to have formed one piece of
about 18 inches long, and to have been twisted exactly after the fashion
of the worm of a corkscrew. It was found in the vicinity of the Druid’s
Temple at Leys; and a conjecture has been offered by a neighbouring
gentleman, who ranks high in his knowledge of these matters, that it is
likely to have been used in suspending vessels with incense employed in
certain religious rites. This would lead one to suppose that it must have
originally belonged to those of the Romish Church, for we do not think
that the Druids possessed those refined modes of worship."
Ibid.—"We learn that Mr Mactavish,
officer of Excise in Braemar, has made a seizure of smuggled whisky of
unusual magnitude. For a very long time back it was notorious that large
quantities of spirits were manufactured in Glenlivet—’now the only
district in the Highlands where this illicit and demoralising system is
carried on to any great extent—and that the joint fruits of the smugglers’
labour were conveyed to different parts of the low country by bands of
people by far too numerous and powerful for any attempt at seizure by a
single officer. On this last occasion Mr Mactavish watched the motions of
one of these bands, and discovered the concealment where the spirits were
deposited the first night of their journey. The smugglers, thinking all
quite safe, retired to sleep, when the previous arrangements for the
seizure were carried into effect, and when they awake they found
themselves minus twenty Scots ankers of pure Glenlivet." It is singular
that the above paragraph should describe Glenlivet as the only place where
illicit distillation was carried on "to any great extent," when so many
notices had appeared of breaches of the licensing laws, including illicit
distillation, in the county of Inverness. Perhaps the writer meant that
Glenlivet was the only place where the traffic was conducted on a large
January 29.—A case came on before
the Court of Exchequer, under a recent Act respecting the Scots burghs,
charging the Magistrates of Nairn, at the instance of three burgesses,
with having sold the lands of Hempholes on 7th January, and the lands of
Mosshall on 11th March 1823, without duly observing the provisions of the
statute. The objection was taken that the production of burgess tickets
was not sufficient proof that the plaintiffs had a title to sue. It was
contended that the Town Council books could alone be held to be legal
evidence. The Court sustained this view, and the plaintiffs were nonsuited.
A case brought against the Magistrates of Inverness for letting the lands
called the Carse, without duly observing the provisions of the Act, was
thrown out on the same ground.
February 12.—A paragraph mentions
that a woollen manufactory had recently been established at the Haugh, and
was being conducted with success.
February 19.—Notice is taken of a
paper by Mr George Anderson, Inverness, read before the Society of
Scottish Antiquaries. It gave an account of cairns and circles of stones
in the neighbourhood of Inverness, and was accompanied with a map in
manuscript and several drawings of the circles described. Mr Anderson
suggested the possibility that some at least of these circles had been
erected for the administration of justice, and mentioned one in particular
which he thought might have been constructed for this purpose. "It
consisted of a double circle of stones, not, as is commonly the case,
concentric, but placed in opposition so as to resemble the figure 8. Mr
Anderson related some instances of the care with which the neighbours
abstain from injuring these relics, particularly the cairns, from a kind
of superstitious dread of evil which will happen to the unhallowed
disturbers of the dead. He also related a tradition of a farmer who had
temerity enough to commit sacrilege on a cairn, and who never afterwards
Ibid.—The same issue contains long
extracts from a report on smuggling in the Highlands, compiled by the
Commissioners appointed to inquire into the collection and management of
the Revenue. Most of the points have been already mentioned in these
Notes, but some are new. Sir George Mackenzie of Coul spoke of the
administration of the law by the Justices of the Peace. "In this country,"
he said, "scarcely one legal sentence has been passed for many years, as
the books of collection will testify. This has happened from no other
cause than the law being considered by the Justices as too severe; in
consequence of which they have been administering a law of their own." Sir
George also observed that there was not a Justice of the Peace who could
say that he did not, in his own family, consume illegally-made spirits. Mr
Mackenzie of Ardross declared that land-holders had an interest in not
carrying the law into effect. "If a gentleman has an estate in the
Highlands worth intrinsically £400 per annum, he may sell it to smugglers,
if there are mosses on it to supply fire, for the purpose of carrying on
illicit distillation at five, six, or seven hundred pounds; whereas, if
illicit distillation were suppressed, it would immediately fall back to
its true value, and he would lose half his income. The interest,
therefore, of the proprietor to prevent this is obvious. In like manner
the owner of a low country arable farm sells his barley to smugglers at a
rate at least one-third higher than he should otherwise obtain for it.
Even this year barley has fetched from the smugglers in Ross-shire 30s and
32s per boll, while the licensed distillers have bought theirs from
Montrose at 18s to 20s." The report bore that the number of distilleries
under the superintendence of the Inverness Collector was only ten, the
largest, 200 gallons, the smallest, 47; that the legal distillers were on
the decline; that they could not manufacture to sell with profit for less
than 11s per gallon of the highest legal strength; that smuggled whisky
was delivered in Inverness at 6s per gallon, 12 per cent. under proof,
being a difference of 19 per cent. from the legal whisky, which would make
the price of the illegal 7s 2d; that it was sometimes sold at 5s; that the
population of Inverness consumed about 1000 gallons per week, of which a
very small proportion paid duty. "Seizures of illicit spirit very
frequent; always in very small quantities; it is brought in by women in
tin vessels, made to fit their shape, and other small vessels; never by
carts or horses; deposits made near the town, when it was divided into
small quantities." The report mentions only 3 legal distilleries by name,
those carried on by Captain Munro of Teaninich, by Captain Fraser at
Brackla, and by Mr Harper in the county of Sutherland (probably Clynelish).
The Report had been drawn up some time before its publication, and formed
the foundation of the new distillery laws of 1823.
February 26.—"William Brodie, Esq.
of Brodie, has been appointed by the King to be the Lord-Lieutenant of
Ross-shire" — The same number contains a memoir of the late Charles Grant,
taken from a London magazine.
Ibid.—A meeting was held at
Fort-William and a Society formed for the purpose of disseminating
Christian knowledge by means of Sabbath Schools, Circulating Libraries,
and the dispersion of tracts. The Rev. Charles J. Bayne presided at the
meeting, and Sir Ewen Cameron of Fassifern was elected patron.
March 4.—Two Excise cutters made a
capture at Kilmuir, near Kessock, of 100 English galIons of whisky and
five horses. The whisky was sold at the Excise Office at Inverness, and
the horses were disposed of by public roup at the rate of 6s a head.
Ibid.—"The venerable Highlander,
Patrick Grant, to whom his Majesty two years ago granted a pension of one
guinea per week, died at Braemar on the 11th ult., in the 111th year of
his age. He expired while sitting in his elbow chair having felt scarcely
any previous illness. His pension now devolves on his daughter, Anne,
during life. It is thought her late father was the only survivor of those
who fought at the battles of Culloden and Falkirk. He was present when the
Pretender embarked for France."
March 18.—"Some days ago a ploughman
in the service of Mr Lockhart Kinloch, at Knock-town of Muirtown,
ploughing rather deeper than usual, turned up two cannon balls, one a
six-pound shot, the other a four-pound ball, both much corroded; they have
no doubt been fired from the Castle, which is exactly opposite and about
1800 yards distant; a stone shot of the size of a six-pound iron ball, of
granite, and a ball 16 inches in diameter, of granite, encrusted in the
cavities of the stone with brick-dust indurated, were some time ago found
opposite the Citadel, and have probably been fired from it."
Ibid.—The solicitors of Inverness
gave a dinner in the Town. Hall, at which Mr Gilzean, the
Sheriff-Substitute, was the chief guest Provost Grant (of Bught) was in
the chair, and Mr Kinloch, Sheriff-Clerk, officiated as croupier.
March 25.—A melancholy drowning
accident is recorded in this issue. A person engaged in building a house,
engaged four men from Clachnaharry to convey stones from Redcastle Quarry.
"The boat employed on this occasion was old and insecure, and on her
return from the quarry deeply laden, sank at a distance of about 200 yards
from the Redcastle Pier, when, melancholy to relate, the employer and
whole crew perished. Four of these men were married, and have left widows
and a number of helpless children to deplore their fate. The other was a
young man who supplied his aged and infirm relatives. The bodies were
found as the tide retired, and conveyed next day to Clachnaharry, where a
scene of distress ensued among their families and neighbours, which we
need not describe. Tuesday last the interment of the bodies took place,
and a more mournful procession was never witnessed in this quarter."
lbid.—A movement began for the
amendment of the laws relating to salmon fishing. The Commissioners of
Supply of the county of Elgin held a meeting and passed resolutions on the
subject. The greatest evil specified was the want of legal protection for
the fish during the breeding time.
Ibid.—The same number reports a long
debate in the House of Commons on the subject of negro slavery. The
Government proposed a series of reforms to ameliorate the condition of the
April 1.—The death is recorded of
the Rev. Robert Smith of Cromarty. He was a native of Inverness, and was
distinguished as a pastor and preacher.
April 8.—"We understand that the
beautiful and extensive highland barony of Glenelg, in this county, was
purchased last week in Edinburgh by the Right Hon. Charles Grant, M.P., at
£82,000 sterling. A few years since the same estate fetched nearly
£100,000, and a vast sum has since been expended in improvements upon it."
lbid.—County meetings continue to be
held and resolutions passed on the subject of salmon fishing. The duties
on wool were another topic before these meetings. Ministers had proposed
to remove some restrictions on trade, and more particularly to allow the
exportation of long wools. Manufacturers, however, were endeavouring by
petitions "to alter the opinions of his Majesty’s Ministers, and by
continuing the monopoly they now enjoy to purchase wool at their own
prices, as has hitherto been the case." This is the statement of the
county of Ross, which agreed to petition Parliament in favour of the
proposals of his Majesty’s Ministers.
April 15.—"The Magistrates of
Dingwall have readily conceded to the inhabitants of that town the free
election of Commissioners of Police, and agreed to several important
amendments suggested by the burgesses on the impending Police Bill. This
is an indication of the liberal spirit of the age, and an example worthy
April 29.—"Mr Maclean of this place,
who has lately returned from prosecuting his studies as an artist in
Italy, has in his possession two old coins, the sight of which may gratify
our antiquarian readers. He obtained them at Burghead, where 17 of similar
description were found, the whole deposited in a horn. This horn, though
entire when found, crumbled into dust on being exposed to the air. The
following account of these coins is given by a gentleman skilled in
matters of antiquarian research: ‘Your coins must be of the reign of
Edward Ill. The ‘fleur de lie’ shows it could be no earlier, and the work
not much later. The motto round the reverse seems to be ‘Crucem Exaltat
Gloria,’ which I have on a gold coin of Edward III. The inner legend is, I
think, Villa Ro: Meyron, for the town of Rochester where they were coined,
Meyron, the name of the Mint Master."
May 6.—Petitions from the counties
of Inverness and Ross prayed the Legislature to be careful in any
interference they made with the domestic affairs of the West Indian
Colonies. These petitions spoke of the danger of agitation among the
blacks, and of the amount of property that was imperilled. The object of
the Ross-shire meeting was to petition "against a spirit apparently
spreading, having a tendency to lead to measures which may be productive
of the most disastrous consequences if not provided against by the wisdom
of Parliament." Their resolutions bore that "the advantages derived by the
United Kingdom from the West Indian Colonies are estimated at little less
than twenty millions sterling, besides the value of property calculated at
nearly 130 millions." The resolutions of the county of Inverness
deprecated sudden and violent changes, but also declared that "the
existence of slavery in the West Indian Colonies is an evil of the
greatest magnitude," and called for the attention of Parliament with the
view of the ultimate admission of the blacks to the same rights as the
rest of his Majesty's subjects; further, "that the measures lately adopted
by the Legislature for gradually enlarging the rights and providing for
the religious and moral instruction of the slaves are eminently deserving
of the cordial and unqualified support of all classes."
Ibid.—At the Circuit Court at
Inverness, Thomas Macpherson was accused of having on the 24th July thrown
a stone at the late Alexander Davidson, sawyer at Daltullich, said to be
in the parish of Edinkillie and county of Elgin, whereby the said Davidson
was murdered. Macpherson pleaded not guilty. "On the cross-examination of
the first witness it came out that Daltullich was situated in the parish
of Ardclach and county of Nairn. After a learned argument, Lord Pitmilly
decided that the objection was fatal to the indictment, and the panel was
dismissed from the bar."
Ibid.—"Died, at the Manse of
Kildonan, on the 14th April, the Rev. Alexander Sage, minister of that
parish, in the 72nd year of his age and 37th year of his ministry."
Ibid.—Notice is taken of the death
in March of James Mackay, resident at St Louis, in Louisiana. About forty
years before, Mr Mackay had emigrated from Scotland to Canada, and
becoming engaged in the fur trade, he explored the region of the upper
lakes and the country as far west as the Rocky Mountains. Afterwards he
settled in Louisiana, then under Spanish Government, and was employed to
explore the country watered by the Missouri and its tributary rivers, "a
region almost without a civilised man." In remuneration for his services
he received a grant of a large tract of land, and was appointed to various
offices, including that of Military Commandant. When Louisiana was ceded
to the United States, he was chosen to serve in various capacities,
as Major of Militia,
Judge of a District Court and member of the Legislature. A tribute is paid
to the character and services of Mr Mackay.
May 13.—The foundation of a new
Episcopal Chapel was laid at Fortress on the previous Friday.
lbid.—The Conveners of the County at
an adjourned meeting laid on the table a letter from the Lord Advocate
enclosing a communication from the Board of Excise insisting on more
vigorous measures for the suppression of illicit distillation. Collector
Watson stated that the Justices sitting at Excise Courts had no
alternative except to impose a minimum fine of £20 on offenders, and that
in future he would insist on this penalty. The meeting drew up a series of
resolutions showing that from the poverty of the people such fines could
not be levied, and that if they were insisted on, the jail accommodation
would not be sufficient to contain the parties imprisoned at a single
Excise Court. At a Court which followed immediately afterwards there was a
large number of cases. The Justices in the first case inflicted a fine of
£3, on which Collector Watson withdrew all the other cases, for the
purpose of reporting to the Board of Excise.
May 20.—Lord Byron died at
Missolonghi on the night of the 19th April, after an illness of ten days.
"However far his compatriots may differ in their estimate of the moral
worth and usefulness of this illustrious person, they are at one in the
sentiment of melancholy regret for the premature extinction of the most
splendid poetical genius that England has produced in her latter days."
Ibid.—"In consequence of different
Acts of Parliament, the Heritors of the county directed their Collector to
make an assessment for the money necessary for the repair of the military
and Parliamentary roads proportionally on the proprietors of houses within
the Royal Burgh of Inverness, conform to their rentals, as liable to the
property tax in the year 1814, and to levy the same accordingly; but the
burgh Heritors resisted the assessment on the ground that they were not
liable by these statutes, which clearly meant to exempt houses in the
town, and the question was carried by them to the Supreme Court by
suspension. After a tedious and expensive litigation the case was decided
on the 15th inst. in the Second Division, when their lordships unanimously
suspended the Letters and found the suspenders entitled to their expenses.
By this decision the proprietors of houses in the burgh have got free of a
heavy assessment intended to be levied for 1815 and subsequent years."
lbid.—Notice is taken of experiments
to be carried out by the Morayshire Farmer Club to ascertain the most
profitable kind of winter feeding for cattle. The writer adds—"Although
this Society have, by a series of five years’ cattle shows and premiums,
from 1812 to 1816, accomplished a very considerable improvement in the
breeds of black cattle and draught horses in the county of Moray—as is
strikingly obvious to those acquainted with the state of that district
previously—yet they are most anxious to carry that improvement still
further; and intend to institute another series of cattle shows with the
view of exciting and keeping up, among practical farmers, a spirit of
attention and emulation in this great branch of agriculture."
June 3.—At the meeting of the
General Assembly of the Church of Scotland several members of the
Presbytery of Inverness were rebuked for irregular proceedings in
connection with the settlement at Kiltarlity.
Ibid.—Proposals were suggested at
this time for passing a Poor Law Bill for Scotland. The "Courier"
says:—"In the parish of Inverness there is no assessment for the poor, but
the inhabitants of the town contribute voluntarily for the support of an
Institution for the Suppression of Begging, and from which soup, meal, and
money are distributed among the necessitous. The burden of maintaining the
poor is thus left upon the benevolent inhabitants of Inverness, the
proportion of the expense defrayed by the Heritors being very slender
June 10.—At the annual meeting of
the Northern Missionary Society, held at Inverness, contributions to the
amount of £77 14s were reported.
June 17.—"On Tuesday, Peter Scott,
from Edinburgh, was elected master of the Latin and Greek classes in the
Inverness Academy, in room of Mr Carmichael, who has been appointed one of
the masters of the Edinburgh Academy."
June 24.—The Wool Market this year
opened with a very dull tone, but before the close there was an
improvement, and most of the stockmasters sold. "A great part of the
Cheviot wool was sold at 13s per stone of 24 lbs. English, at short
credit, with a sixpence more per stone of reference, depending on the
state of the market at settling. When credit on bill for a more extended
time was given, that description of wool fetched 14s per stone. We heard
of one small lot of superior wool from Sutherland having been sold as high
as 15s per stone. The wool of the blackfaced sheep sold a little lower
than the Cheviot, say at 12s and 12s 6d per double stone. The sheep market
was not quite so spirited as that of the wool; but a very considerable
number was disposed of notwithstanding. One lot of Cheviot wedders sold at
19s, and the current prices of the market for this sheep were from 13s to
17s; Cheviot ewes from 7s 6d to 8s 6d and 9s; Cheviot wadder hoggs at 5s
6d, 5s 9d, and 6s; and lambs at 4s 6d to 6s; Blackfaced wedders brought
from 9s 6d to 13s 6d; ewes from 6s to 7s; and lambs from 4s to 5s. A
contract to the extent of about £1200 was entered into by the sheep
farmers of Sutherland with a gentleman of this town for smearing
July 1.—Died at Miltown Cottage on
the 27th ult., Captain George Macpherson, R.N. He entered the navy as a
midshipman in 1800, served under Lord Nelson, fought in the Dardanelles,
in Egypt, in the Walcheren Expedition, and on the attack on Algiers in
1816. In private life his character was hospitable and kindly. "On the day
of his funeral, the garrison of Fort-George testified their respect for
departed worth by paying, unsolicited, the military honours due to his
rank; and the shops in Campbelltown, through which the procession passed,
were shut. A number of his sorrowing friends resolved to erect a monument
to his memory in testimony of their heartfelt regard."
Ibid.—Lord Macdonald died in London
on Saturday, the 19th ult. He served some years in the 10th Regiment, and
afterwards raised a corpsof Fencibles. He also represented the
borough of Saltash in Parliament for several sessions. Lord Macdonald did
much for the improvement of his estates. "Convinced that the first step
towards improvement is to render a country accessible, his lordship made,
with the assistance of Government, upwards of 100 miles of public road, on
his own property, in the Isle of Skye and North Uist; subscribed largely
towards the formation of roads in the districts leading to those islands
and built handsome piers at Kyleakin and Portree, not only to promote the
trade of those villages, but generally as a protection to shipping in a
tempestuous sea. As an inducement to himself and his successors to live on
their own estates, he began a magnificent castle at Armadale, according to
a design by Gillespie, and carried it on so far towards completion, and
embellished it with so much taste that it is now one of the greatest
ornaments of the North. His lordship constant endeavours also to improve
the manufacture of kelp and introduce the culture of hemp, to drain the
marshes and cultivate wastes, to erect churches, mills, and bridges, and
by every means to provide food and employment for the lower orders, will
cause his memory to be long cherished in the hearts of a grateful
population." It was Lord Macdonald’s boast that not a man had been
compelled to emigrate from his property, and that not one tenant had his
goods sequestrated from the time his lordship came to the estates. A
notice in a subsequent issue says that in 1817, when there was actual
famine over the greater part of the Highlands and Isles, Lord Macdonald
became bound to Government in several thousand pounds for supplies of
grain and potatoes sent to his estates.
July 15.—"The steam packets through
the Caledonian Canal, and coaches from the South and East, daily bring
crowds of strangers to visit the Highlands; and the three steam packets
and daily coaches seem to be at present well employed."
August 5.—"On Wednesday the 29th
ult., the Malvina, built by and belonging to Mr John Gordon, was launched
off the bank of the Caledonian Canal. She is intended for a steam packet,
and is built on the new principle of manifold courses of planking. She
draws only 18 inches of water, notwithstanding which she lies very steady
and stiff in the water."
Ibid.—A meeting of the Heritors and
Commissioners of Supply of the County of Ross resolved to establish tolls
in aid of the County assessment.
Ibid.—"Mr Stuart, younger of Duncan,
while passing through Dingwall on his way to the estate of Strathconon,
which he has lately purchased, happened to learn that a gentleman was
confined in the jail of that town under circumstances which strongly
excited his feelings. Mr Stuart immediately lodged £60 with the
Magistrates of Dingwall and procured the prisoner’s enlargement. The debt
was for £50. What enhances this humane act is that Mr Stuart never heard
of any of the parties concerned till his visit to Dingwall"
August 12. —On Thursday, the 5th
inst., Mr Macleod of Geanies completed the fiftieth anniversary of office
as Sheriff-Depute of the Counties of Ross and Cromarty, having been
appointed in August 1774, when he was about 30 years of age. His
administration, it is stated, had been throughout distinguished by great
vigour activity, and talent. The inhabitants of the county had also been
remarkable for their peaceful and orderly conduct. The Sheriff’s fiftieth
anniversary was celebrated by a public dinner given at Dingwall by the
Sheriffs-Substitute and procurators of the Counties of Ross and Cromarty.
Meetings were also held at Tain.
Ibid.—A Justice of Peace Court was
held at Inverness to determine the question whether they had the power to
inflict a smaller penalty than £20 for certain offences against the
distillery laws. An offender stood his trial, and Counsel appeared for the
Crown. The Court found that according to statute the sum of £20 was the
minimum penalty, and imposed it accordingly, the alternative being six
months’ imprisonment. Counsel for the prosecution stated that the object
of the Crown was to establish a precedent, and this being a test case,
they did not insist on the penalties.
August 19.—A correspondent
writes:—"At a Justice of Peace Court lately held at Broadford, in Skye,
for the purpose of discussing prosecutions, at the instance of Mr Burrell,
Collector of Excise, Oban, the Justices present, anxious to put an
effectual stop to smuggling, imposed a fine of £5 for each conviction in
malting cases, and a fine of £100 for each conviction in cases of illicit
distillation; and granted warrants for incarcerating every delinquent who
fails to pay within half a year, in the jail of Inverness, for the period
of six calendar months. The whole of the fines imposed on this occasion, I
understand, amount together to the enormous sum of £3400."
August 26.—"During the fourteen days
immediately preceding Monday last, upwards of 2500 Highland shearers
passed through the Crinan Canal for the South, in the steamboats Ben
Nevis, Comet, and Highlander, from the islands of Mull, Skye, &c. So
crowded was the Highlander on one occasion that she was compelled to land
a number of the passengers at Crinan, and cause them to walk down the bank
of the Canal to Lochgilphead."
September 2.—"The law with regard to
fining smugglers and the power of Justices being now perfectly understood,
another serious obstacle to the due prosecution of offenders against the
Excise laws has arisen. A few weeks ago in Dingwall no Justice of Peace
appeared at a Court which was summoned, as they could use no discretionary
power in the exercise of their functions, and we learn that in some of the
other neighbouring counties it is the resolution of the Justices to come
forward and state their determination not to act upon the regulations of
the Act, even at the hazard of being struck off the Commission. At a Court
held here on Tuesday last, a great deal of discussion took place, and a
number of cases were put off on the plea of undue services of intimation
on the delinquents. Three persons were fined in the penalty of £20, and a
warrant for incarceration, after much difficulty, was granted against one
of the men."
Ibid.—At the anniversary meeting of
the Northern Missionary Society, held at Tain, subscriptions and
collections were intimated to the amount of £86 14s.
September 16.—"Died, at Madras, in
the East Indies, on his way home to Britain, on the 1st of September 1823,
Thomas Fraser, Esq. of Gorthleck, in the Civil Service of the Honourable
East India Company at Nellore."
September 23.—At the annual meeting
for the election of Magistrates, Dr Robertson of Aultnaskiach was elected
Provost of Inverness.
September 30.—The Common Good of the
Burgh of Inverness, including tolls, anchorage, and shore dues, was
disposed of this year for £887 6s 6d.
Ibid.—"The Right Hon. Lord Macdonald
has most liberally given a donation of £50 to the Northern Infirmary. This
Institution has received more money from this noble family than from any
other whatever. The late Lord Macdonald contributed no less than £200 at
different times in aid of the Infirmary funds. Lady and Lord Macdonald,
accompanied by Provost Robertson, visited the Infirmary, and were pleased
to express themselves in terms of great approbation with regard to the
appearance and management of the Institution."
Ibid.—The Northern Meeting opened on
the 29th, "and we have the pleasure to state that there scarce ever was a
greater concourse of illustrious company and splendid equipages witnessed
in our town." The Marquis and Marchioness of Huntly were present. Races
were held at Dunain.
Ibid.—The Rev. Alexander Stewart,
late minister of the Chapel of Ease in Rothesay, was on Thursday last
admitted to the pastoral charge of the parish of Cromarty.—On the same day
the Rev. Mr Royes was admitted to the pastoral charge of The parish of
Ibid.—At a trial at the Circuit
Court, counsel for a female prisoner complained that she had been already
confined six months in the prison of Tain, a place which he described as
totally unfit forthe accommodation of any human being. "The floor
is of clay, there is no bed to lie upon, no fire-place, nothing but the
bare stone wall. There is a sort of window, or rather aperture, in the
wall, framed with iron stanchions, without a pane of glass to protect the
unfortunate prisoners from the inclemency of the weather." The presiding
Judge, Lord Pitmilly, ascertained on enquiry that this statement was not
exaggerated, and he sentenced the culprit to be confined for other six
months in the Jail of Inverness, the County of Ross to bear the expense.
At the same time he urged the Magistrates of Tain and county gentlemen to
provide a suitable place of confinement. The Advocate-Depute said he would
report the matter to the Lord Advocate, and if the recommendation from the
Bench was not attended to, the Magistrates of Tain would be compelled to
provide a proper jail. A paragraph states that the Magistrates of Tain
some time previously offered to contribute a large sum "considering the
revenue of the burgh" for the building of a new jail, but the County would
not meet them with suitable assistance.
Ibid.—In the same issue there is a
notice of Dr Macculloch’s book, a Tour in the Highlands and Islands of
Scotland. Dr Macculloch described the situation of Inverness in
appreciative and felicitous terms. Of the town itself he says:—"When I
have said that Inverness is a clean town, and a good-looking town, and
that it has a handsome bridge, and that its castle has vanished, and that
it possesses the best and the civilest and cheapest inns in Scotland, and
that it has a steeple to its jail instead of to its church there seems
nothing left to say about it. But who shall describe its situation in ten
times that number of words?" After eloquently describing the scene, he
concludes—"Those who have not seen the Highland fair washing clothes in
the Ness have probably seen the same display elsewhere; yet they have not
anywhere seen this show in greater purity and perfection." Dr Macculloch
made some ill-natured remarks about Nairn, which leads his reviewer to say
that he is quite mistaken. "A more cheerful little town with a more
pleasant society in and about it does not stand in the North of Scotland.
No stranger who has once enjoyed its hospitality will be in any haste to
quit it, and if the Doctor had remained but a few days to breathe the
pure, invigorating air of Nairn, to look upon its pleasant marine views,
and to cultivate an acquaintance with its inhabitants, he would have got
rid of some of those ill-humours, the expression of which often detracts
from the general merit of his performance."
October 7.—In this issue there is a
fuller account of the Northern Meeting. "The company began to arrive in
great numbers as early as Tuesday of last week; and by Wednesday noon our
streets were literally crowded with equipages and vehicles of every
description proceeding to the race-ground. The weather on that day was
cold and rainy, but on the two following days it became mild, clear, and
pleasant." The gaieties occupied three full days. Nearly 300 persons were
present at the ball on Friday night, and upwards of 250 sat down to
supper. Mr Mackenzie of Kilcoy presided at dinner on Wednesday, the Hon.
James Sinclair on Thursday, and the Marquis of Huntly on Friday. "In the
ballroom the Marchioness of Huntly presided, with manners so kind and
graceful, with a judgment so correct and in accordance with the general
feelings of the company, as to give great satisfaction. Under her
ladyship’s directions, the tactics of the dance were arranged with the
utmost order, mingling in due proportion the gracefulness of the quadrille
with the sprightliness of our own strathspeys." It was stated that this
was on the whole the most agreeable and splendid Meeting which had taken
place in Inverness since the first establishment of the Northern Meeting.
High expectations were formed of the next Races, towards which large sums
had been already contributed. A subscription had been opened for erecting
a new stand on the race course. The Marquis of Huntly and Lord Macdonald
had each subscribed a hundred guineas.
Ibid.—At a Head Court of the County
of Inverness, the roll of freeholders was revised. The new roll as made up
consisted of sixty-six voting freeholders in the County.
October 14.—As formerly intimated,
the Magistrates of Dingwall conceded to the inhabitants of that burgh the
free election of three Cornmissioners to co-operate with the Town Council
in the administration of the Police Act, passed in the last session of
Parliament. On the 6th inst. the election took place in the Town Hall in
presence of the Chief Magistrates. Three Commissioners ware chosen by open
poll of the inhabitant householders. "The election was conducted in the
must peaceable and decorous manner. From this circumstance it may be
fairly inferred that no danger whatever could result from restoring to the
Scottish burgesses the right of suffrage, of which they have so long been
Ibid.—"Died, at Arbroath, in the
prime of life, on the 3rd curt., Mr David Carey, junior. Having solely
devoted his life to literary pursuits, Mr Carey may be said to have been
an author by profession, and his productions in this line, both in prose
and verse, are numerous and possessed of considerable merit. For a number
of years past he was connected with the public press in London, where he
continued to reside till lately, but he returned to his native place in
hopes of recovering his health. Mr Carey for some years conducted the
Inverness Journal for the late Mr Young, and while here published the long
descriptive poem of Craig-Phadrick," &c.
October 21.—An account is given of a
discovery of an earthen jar containing a great number of coins in a high
state of preservation. The jar was found at a depth of about a foot from
the surface of the ground, close by the Greyfriars Church-yard in
Inverness. The apprehension that the coins would be claimed by the
Exchequer kept the discovery secret for a time, but it is stated that boys
on the street were latterly selling them at threepence each. The coins
were silver pennies, many of them English, of the reigns of Henry IlI.,
Edward II., and Edward lII., and the rest Scottish, chiefly of Alexander
III., Robert I., and David II. "It is supposed that the jar contained
upwards of 3000 of these silver pennies; but from the breaking of the
vessel before they were observed and carting away the mould in which they
were found, many of them must have been lost." The hoard, it is stated,
must have been deposited about the middle of the 14th century, none of the
coins being of more modern date. The claims of the Exchequer had prevented
other finds from being reported. "We know that a few months ago an old
woman found a large horn in the hollow trunk of a tree in the remote
district of Arisaig, filled with ancient coins, but from the fear of being
deprived of them, she doled them out at a trifle each, and thus have they
been lost. Some years ago a like treasure, to an unknown amount, was
discovered in the old Castle of Urquhart. and were instantly sent to the
crucible or otherwise disposed of for the same reason. We may mention at
the same time that the Exchequer very liberally returned to Mr Naughten
the gold rod found some months ago near the Druid’s Temple at Leys."
Ibid.—A Ladies’ Society representing
Easter Ross, Cromarty, and Sutherland, held its seventh anniversary at
Tain on the 15th inst. Subscriptions and donations amounted to £70 9s. The
money was distributed among various missionary and educational societies.
October 28.—"The representation of the County of
Inverness will become the subject of extraordinary competition at the next
election. The Right Hon. Charles Grant, the present member, the Right Hon.
Lord Macdonald, Colonel Baillie of Leys, M.P. for Headon, and J. N.
Macleod of Macleod have respectively addressed the freeholders, and the
canvass is proceeding with great spirit on both sides."
Ibid.—"The Muir of Ord Cattle
Market, now the most important in all the Northern Counties of Scotland,
held last week, and was well attended by dealers from the south country.
The ready sale of stock at former markets and by private bargains, thinned
this last market of a great proportion of cattle. Still, the number
brought forward on this occasion was moderately estimated at 3000, and
money exchanged for stock must have amounted to a sum of from £10,000 to
£12,000. A few jobbers scoured the country a day or two before the market
opened, and bought a number of inferior beasts, but none of the
respectable dealers had recourse to this practice. The highest price given
was for a lot of stots from Lord Cower’s farm in Sutherlandshire. They
fetched eleven guineas per head; some say a few shillings more. It is
certain they were not less. But these cattle were not purchased by one of
the regular cattle-dealers. The price for three-year-old stots ran from £6
to £7 10s; two-year-old stots from £5 15s to £7 7s. Some two-year-old
stots belonging to Lovat brought £7 10s. Inferior two-year-old stots
brought from £2 15s to £3 10s, and one-year-old stots of good stamp
brought £4. Two fine heifers belonging to Mr Jeffrey were sold as high as
£7 10s each. Two-year-old heifers were sold from £3 to £4. Heifers,
however, were not in great request at this market, nor was the market for
sheep of very great importance. The greater part of this description of
stock had previously been disposed of. Only one lot of good blackfaced
wedders appeared at the market, and were sold at 17s each. Some inferior
wedders sold at 10s. Blackfaced ewes fetched from 6s to 9s. By the evening
of Friday last the Muir of Ord was cleared of every beast brought forward;
and consequently the market held on the Island, near this town, on the
following day, was one where very little business was done. This market
has, indeed, for a long time been falling off. It has almost entirely
given way before the Muir of Ord market."
Ibid.—Two Excise seizures are
reported. One consisted of 120 gallons of foreign gin, being part of the
cargo of a lugger, which had been successfully pursued by a sloop of war.
The gin was found concealed under the sand banks near Campbelltown. In the
other case a revenue party seized five horses, removing upwards of one
hundred gallons of smuggled whisky in the neighbourhood of Fort-William.
lbid.—A bill for amending the forms
of Judicature in Scotland was at this time under consideration, and was
discussed at county meetings. The County of Ross declared "that the system
of administration of justice in Scotland is so defective in point of form,
and is attended by such delay, expense, and uncertainty, that a thorough
revision of it is highly expedient." On the other hand, the County of
Elgin declared "that in the Court of Session the form of process is
substantially good"; and the machinery of the Sheriff Courts worked so
well "that any attempt to improve it cannot be very necessary."
November 4.—A meeting of Highland
proprietors was held in Edinburgh to promote the cause of Highland
education and make application on the subject to Government. One speaker
said that he was a member of a Society in Inverness which had established.
30 schools; another said he was a member of a Society in Edinburgh which
had established 80 schools. Mr Inglis, W.S., said that Highland
proprietors were more burdened with expense in educating the lower orders
than proprietors of any other part of the Kingdom. He also said "he was
assured by a Highland gentleman that according to the usual mode of
conducting education in the Highlands, a Highlander might be enabled to
read the whole Bible in English without understanding a word of it." A
letter circulated by a Highland proprietor stated that of the male
population in the Highlands not above one-third could speak any English at
all, and not more than one in ten could read or write it. The women were
almost entirely ignorant of English. "It is a peculiar and very
unfavourable circumstance for a Highlander that to instruct him with any
effect he must be taught not one language but two. To read Gaelic is of no
service to him, because there are no Gaelic books printed. If taught
English without Gaelic he learns it by rote without comprehending the
sense." A speaker at the meeting said that, as the result of experience,
he could state that a person having once been taught to read Gaelic
acquired a knowledge of English five times easier than if put to learn
English at once. Resolutions were adopted to further the object of the
November 11.—A meeting of the
Society for the Education of the Poor in the Highlands was held on the 3rd
inst. in the Inverness Town Hall. There was a crowded attendance, due to
the fact that the member for the county, the Right Hon. Charles Grant, and
his brother, Mr Robert Grant, were to address the meeting. Their speeches
were characterised by an eloquence and fervour which captivated the
audience, and are commented on in the newspaper columns. Among the other
speakers were Colonel Baillie of Leys and Provost Robertson. The report of
the meeting extends to four columns.
November 18.—This issue reports an
almost uninterrupted continuance of wind and rain for many weeks. "The
River Ness, which has been rising for some weeks, attained yesterday to
such a height as has not been remembered by the oldest inhabitant in town,
and now presents a magnificent but fearful spectacle. Those residing on
either side of the river found it necessary to protect their houses by
raising temporary embankments for keeping out the water, which is rolling
down with such strength and rapidity as to create fears for the safety of
the bridges." In many districts a large part of the crop was not only
unstacked, but uncut.
November 25.—"In the year 1795 a
letter containing a one pound note of the British Linen Company’s Bank was
addressed by a man in this town to J. Macdonald, private, Light Company,
78th Regiment, then in England. Before the letter arrived at its
destination, however, Macdonald sailed for India, and the letter followed
him. From India it followed him through the various routes of his Company,
and came back to Inverness about ten years ago. Shortly before then
Macdonald came home, and died at Dochfour. There was, therefore, no
claimant for the letter, and it was returned to the General Post-Office.
From this office it was again sent after the 78th Regiment, followed it,
and about ten days ago was sent back after Macdonald to Inverness, still
containing the identical one pound note. It is now claimed by the person
who despatched it, who is still living."
Ibid.—The same issue contains a long
account of the great fire in Edinburgh which destroyed the steeple of the
December 2.—An amusing description
of the Martinmas Market in Inverness is contributed by a correspondent.
Friday was the great day of the fair. "The whole Highlands seemed to have
poured forth their crop of live stock, biped and quadruped—in short, there
was ‘life in Inverness’ for the few short-lived hours of the Martinmas
Market. Every avenue to the town presented the most amusing pictures and
scenes of humour. The ‘whiskies, buggies, gigs, and dog-carts, curricles
and tandems’ of the highest other, down to the lobans of the lowest
potato-monger, thronged in ‘every lane and alley green.’ But the town, the
town itself, was the scene. Doctors and dancing dogs, ladies and lawyers,
clerks and cobblers, ministers and mountebanks, poets and pick-pockets,
puppies and pedlars, soldiers and sailors swelled the motley group. At one
end of the town one was sure of getting a smearing of butter and a squash
of herring pickle, while the finishing touch was reserved for the squeeze
among the well-haired blankets upon the Exchange." There was a horse
market, made up of garrons "so lost in hair that but for their size and
want of horns they might be taken for an incursion of the whole colony of
Abriachan goats." Now-a-days the market has dwindled to very small
December 9.—A prospectus was issued
for the formation of a wool stapling company in Scotland. The promoters
included several Highland proprietors.—A new set of Imperial weights and
measures came into operation and were set forth in this issue.
December 16.—The Macdonald
controversy, relating to the Chiefship, was the subject of frequent
correspondence. Several letters appear in this issue. The controversy was
started by Glengarry, and became very acute between himself, Clanranald.
and Lord Macdonald.
Ibid.—A company was formed in
Inverness for supplying the town with water and lighting it with gas. The
proposed capital was £10,000, a large proportion of which had been
subscribed. Provost Robertson headed the subscription list.
Ibid.—An article appears on Trades
Corporations in Scottish Burghs. "In these privileged burghs," says the
writer "juntos, consisting often of not more than half-a-dozen persons,
exercise despotic sway in all matters concerning their own craft. They fix
high prices, which are not to be deviated from without heavy penalties.
They limit the number of apprentices, and prohibit by enormous fines
strangers of the same trade, however skilful, from entering within their
precincts; and thus at every avenue shut out the communities that have the
happiness to possess them from all the chances of a fair and free
December 23.—Attention is directed
to the case of certain persons from the County of Banff brought before the
Court of Exchequer for illicit distillation and having malt and wash in
their possession contrary to the statute. In one case a verdict was found
for the Crown to the amount of £500; in another, £200; and in other two,
£100 a-piece. The article states that the offenders might lay the account
of such heavy penalties to the mistaken clemency of the Justices of the
Peace. If the Justices declined to do their duty, offenders would be
brought before the Exchequer with results such as the above. The writer
urged Justices to perform their statutory functions.
Ibid.—It is announced that under the
Act for providing additional places of worship in the Highlands, forty new
churches were to be erected, with stipends attached of £120 a-year. "The
plans and surveys are now in progress, under the superintendence of Mr
Joseph Mitchell and Mr James Smith, of this town, and it is expected that
operations will be commenced early in spring."
Ibid.—"The subject of railways with
steam carriages at the present moment creates an extra-ordinary degree of
interest in the southern parts of the Kingdom." Some writers spoke of
vehicles travelling at the rate of 20 miles an hour. Others believed that
in the progress of improvrly in spring."
Ibid.—"The subject of railways with
steam carriages at the present moment creates an extra-ordinary degree of
interest in the southern parts of the Kingdom." Some writers spoke of
vehicles travelling at the rate of 20 miles an hour. Others believed that
in the progress of improvement a much higher speed might be found
December 30.—At a meeting of the
Society of Antiquaries, Mr John Anderson exhibited the seals of the
ancient Bishops of Moray.
Ibid.—A Society was formed in
Edinburgh for amending the system of Church patronage in Scotland. The
initiatory resolutions were moved by Mr George Sinclair, yr. of Ulbster.