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The Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
No. V


In the notes in this issue we find the record of the first election of Charles Grant, afterwards Lord Glenelg, as member for the Inverness Burghs. His father was at the time member for the County. Both were distinguished men. The son succeeded the father in the representation of the County, and was for many years a member of the Government. He was born in India, at Kidderpore, in the Presidency of Bengal, in 1779; was educated at Cambridge, and called to the English Bar in 1807. In 1813 he was appointed a Lord of the Treasury, in 1819 Secretary for Ireland, and afterwards Vice-President of the Board of Trade, President of the Board of Control, and Secretary for the Colonies. He sat for twenty-four years in the House of Commons, and was raised to the peerage in 1835, with the title of Lord Glenelg. He died in 1866.

Mention is also made in this issue of the appearance of the comet of 1811, which was for many weeks a brilliant object in the northern sky. Some of our readers will be familiar with the fine poem on this comet by the Ettrick Shepherd, of which the following stanzas may be quoted —

"Stranger of heaven, I bid thee hail!
Shred from the pall of glory riven,
That flashest in celestial gale,
Broad pennon of the King of heaven.
"Whate’er portends thy front of fire,
Thy streaming locks so lovely pale,
Or peace to man, or judgment dire,
Stranger of heaven, I bid thee hail!"

From the "Inverness Journal."
1811

January 11.—It may be interesting to give the amount of the collection made for the Northern Infirmary in the Churches of Inverness on the first Sabbath of January this year. The total amount was £89 13s 3d, distributed as follows: English and Gaelic Church, £66 14s 3d; Chapel of Ease, £20 9s; Methodist Chapel, £2 10s.

Ibid.—Died, on 8th November 1810, on board a transport at Portsmouth, and on his return from Lisbon, in charge of the medical staff attending the sick and wounded, Doctor John Macleod, one of the physicians to his Majesty’s forces, and second son of William Macleod of Luskintyre. He is described as a young man of uncommon abilities and extraordinary proficiency both in literary and professional attainments. His death was caused through excessive fatigue in attending to his duties.

January 18.—At a meeting in Edinburgh of the Highland Society of Scotland, a report was submitted showing the progress made in collecting ancient Celtic manuscripts and materials for a dictionary. A letter was read from Sir John Macgregor Murray offering to contribute liberally to the expense of such a dictionary from a fund collected in India. The Society authorised a sum to be laid out towards the expense of the dictionary, and for having the ancient Celtic manuscripts collected by the Society transcribed and translated.

January 25.—A collection for behoof of Bible Societies in the Parish Church of Urquhart, Ross-shire, amounted to £60 12s, including a donation of £5 by Sir Hector Mackenzie of Gairloch, Bart. The minister, Rev. Mr Calder, sent £40 12s to the Scottish Bible Society, and £20 to the Edinburgh Bible Society.

Ibid.—Died, at Fort-William, on the 7th January, in the 42nd year of his age, the Rev. John Ord, chaplain of the garrison and rector of the Grammar School. He is described as a man of extensive erudition and an impressive preacher.

February 15.—Report of a dinner given "for the purpose of heating, as it is called, the Mason Lodge Hotel, recently taken possession of by Mr Bennet, from Edinburgh." The company numbered about 70, with Provost Grant as chairman and Mr Mackintosh of Hobo as croupier.

February 22.—Died, at the house of his mother, Lady Saltoun, in New Cavendish Street, London, on 10th February. the Hon. Simon Fraser, banker, proprietor of Ness Castle. Mr Fraser had completed his 23rd year. The property of Ness Castle devolved on his younger brother, the Hon. William Fraser.

Ibid.—"It may be mentioned as a proof of the increasing population of this place that Mr Smith, who holds two acres of land at the Haugh, has feued the same for the purpose of building. The ground being square and well laid out, it will form a neat village, which is to be called Gordonville."

March 1 and 8.—The death is announced on the 19th ulit., of Sir James Grant of Grant, Bart. It is stated that he took little part in politics, but enjoyed the love and respect of a numerous and happy tenantry, to whom he was a most attentive and indulgent landlord.. "He had all the affections, without any of the pride or any of the harshness of feudal superiority; and never forgot, in attention to his own interests, or the improvement of his extensive estates, the interests or the comfort of the people."

Ibid.—Three men were conveying several ankers of smuggled whisky across the river opposite Ness Castle. They were pulling the boat across with a rope. The river being very high, the rope broke, the boat filled, two of the men were drowned, and the third was rescued after being carried down a mile and a-half clinging to the stern. The spirits were to have been used at the wedding of one of the men who was drowned.

March 15.—Establishment of a daily mail coach between Inverness and Aberdeen. It was to commence running on 5th April. Inside fare, £3 13s 6d; outside, £2 9s.

April 6—A statement appears that the proprietors of the Long Island have not promoted emigration, but have encouraged tenants to remain, It is stated that the practice of exacting services has been abolished, that the small tenants in general hold directly of the proprietors, and that all payments of rent are made in money.

Ibid.—The Caledonian Company announce that while their coach is to run twice a-week to Edinburgh (it seems to have been reduced to once a-week in winter), they are to put on in June a diligence, to run five days a-week, and to perform the journey in two days instead of three. Passengers were to be allowed seven hours’ rest the night they were on the road.

Ibid—A carrier announces that he is to make a journey once a month between Inverness and Fort-William. Previously he had only made occasional journeys.

April 12—Road completed between Inverfarigaig and the new road to Moyhall.

April 19.—"That highly useful class of judges, the Sheriff-Substitutes of Scotland, have at last had justice done to them, by receiving an addition to their salaries."

April 26.—At the Circuit Court, two shoemakers’ apprentices from Elgin were convicted of assaulting. stabbing, and otherwise maltreating William Taylor, late executioner at Inverness. and were sentenced to be transported beyond the seas for seven years. The attack seems to have been made on the hangman for his conduct at the execution of Gillan at Speymonth. The report of the execution bears that the unfortunate criminal was kept waiting on the scaffold by the unskilfulness of the executioner, "whose concern seemed directed to the perquisites of the office more than the business in which he was engaged." There is a tradition that the executioner died from the usage he received on his way borne, but the short paragraph given to the trial of his assailants only speaks of mistreating. The expression "late executioner" implies no more than that he had been dismissed from his office. If he had died, the sentence would have been more severe.

May 24.—Miners brought from Wales by the Marquis of Stafford struck on a seam of coal at Brora. They hoped to be able to make the working remunerative. This apparently was the first actual proof of the existence of coal (lignite) in considerable quantity at Brora. The first bore was 230 feet in depth.

June 21.—The Caledonian Coaching Company propose to run their coaches by the Highland road three times a-week, "with such expedition that a person leaving Inverness at six o’clock in the morning can with comfort and ease get to Edinburgh next day to dinner; and in like manner from Edinburgh to Inverness." The coach from Inverness reached Dunkeld at ten o’clock in the evening, and left at five next morning, reaching Perth in time to catch the coach for Edinburgh.

June 28.—Recorded that Sir James Mackintosh, then Recorder of Bombay. had sent a remittance from that Presidency of £627 8s to the Academy of Fortrose, where he received his early education. Also that Mr John Forsyth, a son of the late William Forsyth, of Cromarty, had sent from Calcutta £125; and that George Gunn Munro, treasurer of the Island of Grenada, son of Mr Munro of Poyntzfield, and an old pupil, had sent £210.

Ibid.—Died, at Inverness, on the 24th, William Wilson, merchant in Inverness, and for many years one of its most active Magistrates.

Ibid—"Died, in the 23rd year of his age, near Almeida, on the 5th May, Lieutenant William Houston, of the 71st Regiment, a young officer of excellent talents, of amiable disposition, and of great promise. He fell on that memorable day, gallantly leading a division of Light Infantry to the charge, and amongst the most advanced of his admiring companions. He was the only son of Hugh Houston, Esq. of Creich, in Sutherlandshire; had early discovered a high and martial spirit, and embraced the military profession with ardour and enthusiasm."

July 12.—The University and King’s College of Aberdeen unanimously elected John Tulloch, A.M., of the Inverness Academy, to be conjunct Professor of Mathematics with Mr Duncan in the said University.

July 19.—Colours were presented by Mrs Gillanders of Highfield to the first regiment of Ross-shire Local Militia, commanded by Lieut.Colonel Munro of Culcairn, and were consecrated by Rev. Mr Bethune, of Alness, chaplain to the corps.

August 16.—Notice of a veteran named John Reid, living in the village of Delnies, Nairnshire, who had seen prolonged service as a soldier, and had nearly completed his hundredth year. "He entered the 2nd Battalion of the Scots Royals upwards of eighty years ago, and fought at the battles of Dettingen, Fontenoy, Walls, and Culloden. He served also through the whole of the American War, and was present at the sieges of Quebec and Ticonderoga, where he was severely wounded by a musket ball, which entered his thigh, and which it was found impossible to extract. This ball he means to bequeath as a legacy to one of his sons, of whom he has several, all begotten in lawful wedlock, and although be married at the age of 70, and all of whom are serving their King and country." This veteran had been only twice intoxicated during his long life, once at the time of his enlistment, and again when the news of his Majesty’s coronation arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the Royals then lay. Mr Macleod, of the Inverness Royal Academy, painted his portrait, and intended to present it to the Duke of Kent, then Colonel of the Royals, in which Reid had served for upwards of forty years.

Ibid.—The 4th or Long Island Regiment of Inverness-shire Militia assembled at Benbecula on 22nd July, under command of Lieut.-Colonel Macdonald of Staffa. Only two of the rank and file were missing, and they were supposed to have entered the navy. The regiment was dressed in the complete Highland garb.

August 23.—"This place for some days back has been the resort of an immense number of persons of rank and fashion, who at this season of the year generally visit the North for the purpose of viewing its beautiful and romantic scenery."

August 30.—George Sinclair of Ulbster elected M.P. for Caithness, in room of his father, Sir John Sinclair, who had accepted an office under the Crown.

Ibid.—Mr Adam appointed rector of the Inverness Academy.

September 6.—List of subscriptions sent from India to the Meikle Fern Disaster Fund. The total sum was 3229 pagodas, and it was stated that the value of a pagoda was 8s 9d. The money was transmitted through Dr Walter Ross Munro, of Calcutta.

September 20.—Death announced of Peter Baillie, Esq. of Dochfour, M.P. for the Inverness Burghs. "Through some mistake, the name of Evan Baillie, Esq., M.P. for Bristol, was inserted in the obituary of most of our contemporary prints, but we have the pleasure to state that, though at an advanced age, that gentleman is in the perfect enjoyment of health, except in so far as it may be affected by so severe an affliction as the death of a beloved son." Mr Evan Baillie survived until 1835, when he died at the age of 95.

Ibid.—In this and other issues there were frequent references to a comet which was then attracting great attention.

September 27.—Publication of a volume of poetry entitled "Craig-Phadric, Visions of Sensibility, Legendary Tales, and Occasional Pieces," by D. Carey. Mr Carey was editor of the "Journal." The price of the volume was 10s 6d.

Ibid.—Foundation laid of Lord Macdonald’s village of Kyleakin. There was a ceremony, attended by the ladies and gentlemen of the neighbourhood, and followed by festivities on the village green.

October 4.—"Francis Jeffrey, Esq., so well known and justly celebrated for his literary and legal knowledge, paid a visit to this place on Saturday last, on his way from Kinrara, the beautiful and romantic cottage of her Grace the Duchess of Gordon. Having viewed the operations of the Caledonian Canal, and the delightful scenery around Inverness, with which he seemed highly gratified, this eminent character set out for Aberdeen, on his way to Edinburgh."

Ibid.—Died, on 16th August, at Timdow of Garthmore, in the parish of Abernethy, William Stuart, in his 91st year. He joined the army in his youth, went to Flanders in 1743, with the 42nd Regiment, and was at the battles of Fontenoy, Lafelt, and the siege of Bergen-op-Zoom. He was supposed to be the last survivor of those who went abroad with the 42nd in the above year.

October 25.—Report of Northern Meeting, which began on Monday, 14th, and continued during the week. On Friday, about 140 ladies and gentlemen sat down to dinner, and there were about 200 dancers in the ball-room. Among the amusements of the week was a trotting match between a pony belonging to the Marquis of Huntly, and a horse belonging to Mr Forbes of Culloden. The pony was the winner. "The distance, which was about six miles, was performed with apparent ease in twenty-three minutes, being at the rate of nearly sixteen miles an hour."

lbid.—Notice of dinner given at Moyhall by The Mackintosh of Mackintosh to a distinguished party, which included Mr Charles Grant, son of the member for the County, and candidate for the representation of the Burghs. "Though many of those forming the party were in the morning at the distance of 40 miles front Moyhall, yet they all arrived nearly at the same time. One of the dishes at table was a hind quarter of one of the blackfaced breed of sheep, seven years old, which weighed 80 lbs., and had 21 lbs. of suet. It was fed at Moyhall, and proved a delectable treat." The dinner was at six o’clock, the party was kept up until two o’clock a.m., and the visitors remained for the night. In the morning, after breakfast, they left, some for Kinrara, and the others for Castle Grant.

November 1.—The sixth anniversary of Trafalgar was celebrated in Mrs Maclean’s Inn, Forres, by the Forres Trafalgar Club, on Monday, 21st October, "a day which will ever be remembered by Britons with the highest emotions of national pride, regret, and satisfaction." The Marquis of Huntly was in the chair, and fifty-two members were present.

November 8.—On the 4th, Charles Grant, afterwards Lord Glenelg, son of the member for the County, was elected to represent the Inverness Burghs in Parliament. The election took place at Fortrose, on that occasion the returning burgh, and in expressing his thanks, Mr Grant declared that he was utterly unconnected with any political party; "and the privilege of making this assertion with truth is one which I value too highly ever to resign." The gentlemen present afterwards dined together, and the health of the new member was proposed by Sir William Gordon-Gumming of Altyre, who said—"I have long been intimately acquainted with him. I know him to be a man of staunch independence, and venture to predict that this day will be always reckoned auspicious for the interests of this country." The same evening a school ball was given, and many of the gentlemen honoured the ball with their presence, the dance being kept up with great spirit until past midnight.

Ibid.—"On Saturday the Magistrates of this place [Inverness] conferred the freedom of the town on Charles Grant, Esq. of Watternish, now M.P.; Sir William Gordon-Gumming of Gordonstoun and Altyre, Baronet; Donald Mackintosh, Esq., writer, Edinburgh; and George Gunn Munro, Esq. of Grenada."

Ibid.—The Committee of the Meikle Ferry Disaster Fund announce another distribution of money collected. A correspondent in Skye very kindly sends us a copy of the circular issued at the time, still wonderfully fresh after ninety years. The total amount distributed to date was £2909 15s, and this did not exhaust the fund, although the amount of the balance is not stated.

November 15.—On the 8th inst., the tenantry on the Cawdor estates celebrated the majority of the Hon. John Frederick Campbell, eldest son of Lord Cawdor. Mr Dunbar Brodie of Burgie and Lethen presided, as the nearest relative of the Cawdor family present. The Castle was illuminated, and the country ablaze with bonfires.

November 22.—The ferry-boat between Fort-George and Rosemarkie was overturned on the 15th inst., with 13 persons on board, and all were drowned except 2. There was a strong wind against the boat, and a pony on board. The boat turned broadside to the storm, and a wave burst over and swamped her. One man was saved by clinging to the pony, and another man by holding to the mast. A subscription was raised for the relatives of the sufferers, to which the officers and men of the 2nd Battalion of the 78th, quartered at Fort-George, contributed £21 7s 7d.

November 29.—Two new roads completed between Bonar, in Sutherland, and the Ord Hill. This included the bridge over the Helmsdale river. Plan submitted for the mound and bridge across the Fleet at the Little Ferry.

Ibid.—"Died, at Dresden, on the 5th October, the Right Hon. James, Earl of Findlater and Seafield, Lord Deskford. His lordship’s princely estates, yielding about £40,000 per annum, together with the title of Earl of Seafield, devolve on Sir Lewis Alexander Grant of Grant, Bart., eldest son of the late lamented Sir James Grant of Grant, Bart."

December 6.—The road from Inverness to Fort-Augustus, by Urquhart, completed. The original contractor for the road failed, and his surety, Sir John Campbell of Ardnamurchan, had to finish the work. Great praise is given to Sir John for the manner in which he executed the work, although it involved him in a loss of £2000.


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