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Antiquarian Notes, Historical, Genealogical and Social
(Second Series) Inverness-Shire, Parish by Parish
Chapter I. Kilmorack


THERE is not a mountain or glen, lake or river, in the Highlands without its own tradition and story, and whether bright or dark, humorous or pathetic, they are all to us, in this present age of research, full of speculative interest. But their real history, and that of the people since the 'Forty-five, concerns Highlanders so closely that authentic and hitherto unpromulgated information, cannot be too widely made known. With this object in view, I have selected for the first of this series of Notes one of the largest artificial Saharas in the North.

I.—PARISH OF KILMORACK.

GLEN STRATHFARAR.

At the period of the final disjunction of the county of Ross from Inverness-shire, the Earl of Seaforth and Mackenzie influence was all powerful. Most of the Seaforth estates were made part of Ross, however arbitrary the bounds and wanting in natural division. For instance, the disjunction of Lewis, if divided at all, ought to have been at Tarbert; and nearer Inverness, the whole upper waters of the Morriston, the Affaric, the Cannich, and the Farar belonged naturally to Inverness, although assigned in every case, but that of the Affaric, to Ross. Again Corriecharrabie, whose waters run into the Orrin, should belong naturally to Ross. The name of "Glenstrathfarar" is modern and, the two first syllables being synonymic, should be limited to "Strathfarar." Of old the whole of it belonged to the Earldom of Ross, and the first time any part of the Inverness-shire portion has been noted is on 3rd March, 1416, in the contract of marriage betwixt Janet Fenton, sister of William Fenton of that Ilk, and Hugh Fraser of Lovat. In this contract it is stated that Fenton gives inter alia with his sister the two Buntaits, of the value of ten rnerks of old extent, under this condition that what time the lands of "Uchterache" be recovered, the said Hucheon and the said Janet shall receive these lands in joint infeftment to the extent of ten merks, and if the same lands of Uchterache be not found of the extent of ten merks land of old extent, Fenton shall make it up and shall receive back the two Buntaits.

Lovat seems to have got Uchterache, but did not give back Buntait. The name of Uchterache was general, and being supposed to be of the value of ten merks of old extent, probably included all the Lovat portion of Glenstrathfarar, with the exception of Inchvuilt, afterwards referred to. Prior to 1416 it seems to have been part of the Fenton portion of the Barony of Aird, and been impignorated by the family. By charter dated Beauly, 2nd May, 1607, Simon, Lord Lovat, grants inter a/ia the lands of Bencharran, lying within the Barony of Aigais, Forestry of Brewlin and Sheriffdom of Inverness, in wadset to James Fraser, first of Phopachy, and Elizabeth Fraser his spouse, daughter of William Fraser of Struy. The Forestry of "Brewlin " is thus found at an early date, subsequent scribes changing the word to "Beauly," although the Barony of Beauly, which extended from Tarradale to the Burn of Breachachy, never had a forest. On referring to my Belladrum collections I find that Ochtero (the old Uchterache) and others came into possession of the Belladrum family in 1636, remaining with them about a century and a half. By charter dated at Lovat 26th November, 1636, Simon, Lord Lovat, grants inter alia to Hugh Fraser of Belladrum, the town and lands of Bencharran, the town and lands of Muilzie, the town and lands of Ochtero, and the easter half of the town and lands of Brewling, extending to a half davoch and an eighth part of old extent, lying within the Barony of Aigais, Forestry of Brewlin, Lordship of Lovat, and Sheriffdom of Inverness. Upon the same date Lovat empowers Belladrum out of the price, to redeem three wadsets over the lands. In 1637 three other names appear, viz., Inchvuilt, Inchiochell, and Inchvallagan. George, Earl of Seaforth, grants a charter of the above three lands, described as lying within the Earldom of Ross and Sheriffdom of Inverness, dated at Brahan, 16th August, 1637, in favour of Cohn Mackenzie of Kincraig and Cohn, his eldest son. One of the witnesses to the sasine following, passed 3rd March, 1638, is "William Vic-Homas in Inchiochell." Colin Mackenzie, the younger, now of Kincraig, gives a blench charter of these three subjects as possessed by himself and his tenants, and described as lying within the parish of Kilmorack, Earldom of Ross and Sheriffdom of Inverness, in favour of Hugh Fraser of Belladrum, dated Inverness, 30th June, 166r. The reddendo to the superior is 13s 4d Scots with 3s 4d of augmentation. In 1661 Hugh, Lord Lovat, with consent of the Earl of Rothes and Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat, his curators, and others, grant a precept of Clare Constat in favour of Hugh Fraser of Belladrum of the lands contained in the charter of 1634. In 1691, when the Cess Roll for Inverness-shire was made up, Fraser of Belladrum is valued in Kilmorack for Glenstrathfarar for the sum of £296 Scots, all his other lands lying within the parishes of Kiltarlity and Wardlaw. In 1711 James Fraser, now of Behladrum, is infeft in Belladrum as heir of his grandfather Hugh, by Roderick Mackenzie of Prcstonhall, superior, and in 1756, James Fraser, then of Belladrum, makes up titles to the Kilmorack lands as heir of his great-grandfather, Hugh of 1661. In 1767 Captain James Fraser of Belladrum on the narrative that though he was still fully assessed according to the Roll of 1691, he and his predecessors had been really denuded of the whole Kilmorack lands in favour of the family of Lovat, except Easter Muilzie and Muilzie-reoch, which still belonged to him, at least in mid-superiority, prayed the Commissioners of Supply for modification and relief.

The description of some of the Monar shielings was— "All and whole the lands and grazings of Luipinvir of Monar, as also the lands and grazings of Muichullinish, and the lands along the middle division of Luipinvir of Monar, as also the lands and grazings of Luiptiltrails of Monar." The upper part of Strathfarar, as also Corrycharrabie, was almost entirely forest, and pleasant indeed must have been the great forest hunts, which often lasted for a whole week. From morning to evening the woods, thickets, and recesses, for miles around were beaten inwards. At night the numerous company feasted and danced, and "high politics" were discussed by the leaders, forming not infrequently the basis of great public movements. The minister of Wardlaw, apparently from personal observation, narrates the details of one at Monar, attended by Lord Lovat, Lord Seaforth, and other prominent men, and it was while hunting in Corriecharrabie that the ill-fated Master of Lovat, in consequence of the taunts of his stepmother, hurriedly departed in July 1544, to meet death at Blar-nan-leine. An old account of this battle, purporting to give Lord Lovat's stirring appeal and address before the fight commenced, hitherto unpublished, will be given later on.

Strathfarar in its entirety, including the portion belonging to Sir Kenneth Matheson, and Fairburn, from the head waters of Loch Calavie, the river Strathmore and their respective tributaries, includes some of the finest scenery in the Highlands, combined with excellent fishings and grazings. Many years ago in conjunction with a valued friend, now no more, it took me eight hours to walk from Craig in Loch Carron, to Loch Monar side, and until our arrival we saw neither house nor person.

Having given a brief account of the early history of the ownership of Strathfarar, Inverness-shire, I will next deal with the occupation, beginning with the townships and names of the tenants as in 1767. The tenants in the Strath in that year were as follows:-

At Bencharan—Neil Maclean, Katharine Macdonald, Thomas Fraser, Duncan Macdonell, Mary Macfarquhar, and Peter "Greumach."

Wester Muilzie—Robert Fraser.

Easter Brewlin—John Fraser.

Ochtero—Donald Chisholm, John Chisholm, Elspet Fraser, and Alexander Macdonald.

Ardchuilck—James Fraser, Mary Fraser, Duncan Forbes, and Thomas Fraser.

In all 15 heads of families, with cottars and dependants, probably over 100 souls. The rent paid was £40 1s sterling.

It was to an island in Loch Muilzie that Lord Lovat was carried for safety after the battle of Culloden, prior to setting out for the West Coast. He left Gortuleg House early on the morning of 17th April, 1746, was taken across Loch Ness to Glenurquhart, thence up the valley into Strathglass. The English were too much occupied that day in the Aird looting and burning, and many of Prince Charles' soldiers had time to escape. The plunder gathered in the Aird and brought to Inverness for sale and shipment was enormous. My earliest recollections are connected with an old man who died in Ballimore of Dochgarroch fifty years ago, at a very advanced age, and understood to have been born the very day Culloden was fought. One of the old man's, by name Alister Roy Macdonald, stories was that his father, when ploughing at Dunballoch two days after the battle, was with his horses impressed into carrying valuables from Castle Dounie ruins to Inverness, for which he got neither pay nor thanks.

It will be observed that in Wester Muilzie Robert Fraser was tenant. He also held a wadset from Belladrum, of Easter Muilzie, and Muilzie-reoch, was a man of considerable note, married to Culbokie's eldest daughter, and paying a rent of 184 merks. Even at that period rents were rising, for the wadset being redeemed at Whitsunday, 1766, the lands were let of new at 300 merks. Regarding Muilzie, I have a note that "he perished in the storm which happened in February, 1768." His effects when rouped fetched nearly £400 sterling, and while £1 17s sufficed for the undertaker, no less than £6 16s 2d was expended "in wine and other necessaries," and £12 10s 8d for spirits, bread, and cheese, at the funeral on 18th February.

As showing the class of people. who lived in Strathglass at one time, it may be mentioned that Hugh Fraser of Aigais, who lived in the beginning of last century, known as "Old Father Aigais," was thrice married. His first wife, daughter of the Rev. Donald Fraser, brought him one son, Thomas. He married, secondly, the daughter of Fraser of Teanacoil, with issue—(1) Hugh Fraser, whom his father settled in Muilzie, father of Robert Fraser above referred to; (2) Alexander Fraser, whom his father settled in Eskadale, father of Captain Hugh Fraser of Eskadale (3) James Fraser, settled by his father in Polmon; (4) and (5) James and Simon Fraser, settled in Inchlair. He married, thirdly, the daughter of Fraser of Dunballoch, with issue—William, Robert, Andrew, Margaret, Isobel, Mary, and Amelia, in all thirteen children, most of whom were married and had issue, and in consequence almost all the Frasers in Strathglass of the better class towards the end of last century, were cousins.

The means of the tenants may be illustrated by the case of John Macdonald of Brewlin, whose stocks after his death were rouped at Torrankenlia on 11th June, 1789, and consisted of 3 horses, 1 bull, 18 cows, comprehending milk cows, heifers, and stirks, 34 goats, and 35 sheep.

The Commissioners on the Forfeited Estates, or more properly their factors, were the first evictors in the Highlands, and they were guilty of favouritism to such a degree in favour of strangers that many of the tenants emigrated voluntarily. A gentleman in Inverness, writing to his relative serving in the East Indies, under date of 16th April, 1775, makes the following remarks:

"The spirit of emigration to America still continues in the Highlands, and is daily spreading and gaining strength. Many hundreds are going over this year from the Aird, Urquhart, Glenmoriston, Glengarry, Kintail, and other parts, besides many in the south-west parts of Scotland, which is very strange, considering the present confusion in America. The Provinces of New England and Virginia are actually in rebellion, and have an army in the field, and the whole Continent seems to have united in an attempt to throw off their dependence on Great Britain. Government is sending over eight regiments to reinforce the army there, and a large fleet to block up their harbours and bring them into order. What the event will be God knows, but I am afraid a good deal of blood will be spilled before matters are settled."

Simon, Lord Lovat, was by no means a bad landlord, being not only an improver of land, but of a kindly and courteous demeanour towards the very lowest. He never stirred about without a bag of farthings for beggars and others, a coin at that time, it has to be recollected, which would purchase a needful article. Lord Lovat turned out no people, but, as I have said, gave encouragement for reclaiming land. The Commissioners' leases cannot be found fault with on the score of the conditions as to farming, housing, and enclosing, and the period of endurance was exceptionally long. Their rule terminated in 1774, and during General Fraser's possession, up to 1782, the same humane feeling towards the people prevailed. Many of the General's old soldiers were settled in Strathfarar, and it may be said that during the time of the administration of General Fraser's trustees, up to 1802, the people had greatly increased in numbers and were generally well off, and undisturbed. Such of them as did emigrate departed in good spirits, to the only lively tune emigration has produced-

The time was coming, however, when eviction preceded emigration, and the unhappy emigrant's departure was under the wail-


The doom of Strathfarar was arranged in 1802 to take effect at Whitsunday 1803, and it is but fair to the memory of the Hon. Archibald Fraser to enquire whether he was justified by way of necessity, or otherwise, in the steps he took. In 1742, Lord Lovat having by that time settled with Hugh Fraser of Fraserdale, executed an entail of his estates in favour of his eldest son, Simon Fraser, and the other heirs male of his body. Had Lord Lovat and his eldest son not been forfeited, the estates would under that entail have devolved on the successor free of encumbrance. The Crown took steps to set aside the entail, and by a majority of one voice in the Court of Session was successful, and the Lovat estates were annexed to the Crown. Simon Fraser, being himself attainted, could not succeed and had no status to object to the Crown's contention, while Lord Lovat's two younger sons, Alexander, who died without issue in 1762, and Archibald had the strongest possible interest. Although an appeal to the House of Lords was competent, this was not taken, and Archibald Fraser in one of his numerous private prints complained that his interests were purposely unattended to at the time. The Lovat estates were restored to Simon Fraser in 1774, free and unfettered, save with a burden of £20,000 odds incurred by the Commissioners. During his possession he not only, according to his brother, paid none of this debt but incurred a good deal more in the purchase of North Morar, etc. Further, he executed a new entail of the Lovat estates, altering the old order of succession, and left a trust settlement whereby his trustees were to retain the possession and management until the whole debts were paid off. Archibald Fraser complained that though he was called to the succession in 1782 as institute of entail, under his brother's deed, yet he never received a farthing of the rents, which were barely sufficient to meet the interest of debts and burdens, and after this went on for several years the trustees had to obtain an Act of Parliament to enable them to sell several lands and valuable superiorities. Morar was scheduled for sale, but the very high prices obtained for the superiorities obviated its being exposed. In a sentence, Archibald complained that while he ought to have succeeded unencumbered, he stood deprived for many years of any income, and was ultimately denuded of a considerable portion of the Lovat estates and had to develop what remained as best he could. On the other hand; it must not be forgotten that Government departed from its large claim, the importance of which is indicated by the Duke of Gordon in a letter dated London, 7th March, 1785, from which the following is an extract. "At the same time he (Lovat) told me that he must necessarily delay, for a few days till he had concluded a transaction with Government, now in agitation, which is of the utmost importance to his family."

When the trust virtually came to an end Archibald Fraser's position was thoroughly substantial.

The clearance of Strathfarar was the work of Highlanders of fair standing. Many such, alas, tempted by the prosperity of the Lowland sheep-men followed their example. Two of old "Father Aigais'" descendants, Hugh Fraser, Achnacloich, who married Eskadale's daughter, an heiress, and Robert Fraser of Aigais, who married one of the Borrodale ladies, entered into a partnership to lease the whole, except Corriecharrabie, at a tremendous increase of rent over that for 1767, which was only a trifle over £40. The new rent was £600 and the lease was signed at Beaufort on the 29th December, 1802. It seems to be recorded in the Sheriff Court books in the month of October, 1804, and is a singular though short production, with several marginal additions as if haggled over at the last moment. I call it a singular document, for while stipulating that assignees and sub-tenants are excluded, yet the tenants "may retain and accommodate in spots least fit for sheep farming, such of the present inhabitants of the said lands as they shall specify in writing." It is quite certain that the arable lands of the people were very well fitted for sheep farming, and so what was intended for the poor remnant of the people was land unfit for beasts. This really was a worse fate than that of the West Coast and Isles men, who, driven to the shores, had some chance of subsistence from the sea. The tenants, by a marginal note, had also power to subset to each of twelve cottars a croft not exceeding in value five pounds a year, apparently an afterthought of compunction, and the lease was to terminate at Whitsunday, 1821. Here follows the tenants as on 13th May, 1803, a few days before the clearance was carried out, and it will be seen that the numbers had more than doubled since 1767-

Luibreoch--Allan Cameron, Charles Cameron.
Inchvuilt—James Michael, Rory Macdonald, Alexander Macdonald, Hugh Macdonald.
Brewlin—Duncan Turner, servant to General Fraser; Angus Chisholm, do.; Donald Fraser, do.; Simon Cameron, do. and mailer; Alexander Chisholm, do., do.
Uchanro—Thomas Fraser, a servant.
Ardchuilck—Hugh Forbes, a servant; Hugh Macgillivray.
Inchvlair— Rory Buie, a servant.
Muilzie-reoch—John Fraser, tenant; Hugh Fraser, John Forbes.
Muilzie nan clack—Hugh Fraser, Simon Fraser, his son; Robert Chisholm, Rory Forbes, John Macra.
Bencharran--Alexander Fraser, Hugh Maclennan, Donald Macdonald, Rory Maclean.
Deanie— Hugh Fraser, Thomas Fraser, Donald Macrae, Thomas Fraser, Alexander Fraser, piper and mailer.

There were in all 32 heads of families. Aigais appears to have had some special claim to Deanie and Bencharran, and at his own instance warns out the five tenants of Deanie, with this variation that while Hugh Fraser is omitted, having probably died, the name of Mary Forbes, a widow, is included. From Bencharran Aigais warns out the four tenants before named, with the addition of John Maclennan and Janet Stewart, a widow. In 1803 Allan Cameron, and Hugh Maclean, Craigscorry, whose mother was one of " Father Aigais'" descendants, are ejected from Luibreoch. The tenants lost no time in stocking their new possession, and under date of 17th June, 1803, Eskadale writes—" Aigais and myself have now arrived at Inchlochell with betwixt 500 and 600 hoggs from the West Coast," and complains "they are not put in full possession, and that the grass of Gleninchiochell is being eaten up and destroyed." In 1806 Lovat ejects from Deanie the poor piper, Alexander Fraser, who seems to have escaped this doom in 1803. In this last year he has a separate summons for himself, instigated by Eskadale, whose ill doings as an evictor are well known in Strathglass. In 1805 some of the Brewlin tenants, who had been left in a semi-starving state under the new conditions were finally removed and got value for timbers, etc., to the extent of L40 19s 8d. Besides their own houses, barns, and byres, reference is made to servants' houses, milk houses, dairymaids' store places, sheep cotes, etc., showing that the people must have at one time at least been well off. The after history of Glenstrathfarar is of little interest, being a mere shifting and displacement of large sheep tenants, Highland and Lowland, as they became bankrupt, or fell out of the race, or had their rents unduly raised. Some little credit is due for the accommodating of a portion of the people who had been removed from Glencannich and Glen Affric, but this relief was never intended to be permanent, and did not stop that total afforestation which was approaching as steadily and inevitably as death.

The grazing of Corriecharrabie was counted the finest in Strathglass or Strathfarar, and consequently had been frequented, like Killin, as summering from far and near. I have spoken to old men who in their youth not only shielled but smuggled there, and it was delightful to listen to their enthusiastic accounts of those days and of the gatherings at Tigh Corriecharrabic, pleasantly situated on the banks of the Orrin.

Having given the names of the inhabitants of Glenstrathfarar in 1767 and 1803, it may be interesting to give the names of the inhabitants of Beauly who were the founders of that village in the latter year. In the atest rolls the number of tenementers in Beauly exceeds over 300, and many will no doubt recognise the names of their predecessors. In special, my valued friend Mr Joseph Chisholm, Cannich Cottage, Ballifeary, will find the names of his father and grandfather. John MacCallum, innkeeper; James Fraser, farmer; Simon Fraser, servant Alexander Finlayson, merchant; Donald Mackenzie, tenant; William Fraser, tenant; William Thomson, tenant; Alexander Calder, tenant; Alexander Fraser, smith and tenant; John Mackenzie, pensioner; James Macdonald, ground-officer; William Chisholm, carpenter; John Chisholm, carpenter; Alexander Chisholm, carpenter; William Chisholm, tenant; Joseph Chisholm, his son; Hugh Fraser, tailor; John Mackenzie, flesher; Hugh Allan, ship builder; John Mackinnon, baker; John Campbell, shoemaker; Alexander Fraser, weaver; Thomas Fraser, day-labourer Hugh Wishart, day-labourer; Alexander Michael, blacksmith; John Macdonald, wheelright; Alexander Mackenzie, merchant; James Fraser, mason; John Mackenzie, shoemaker; William Chisholm, innkeeper; Malcolm Morrison, weaver; Rory Maclean, tenant; Andrew Fraser, soldier, Hugh Fraser, mason; James Ross, weaver; Thomas Stewart, day-labourer; Christopher Urquhart, coppersmith; James Clough, coppersmith; Thomas Mackenzie, shoemaker; Alexander Macra, flax dresser; and William Macdonald, wheelright - 41 heads of families of the total 245 then on all the Lovat estate in the parish of Kilmorack.


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