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


THERE never was much of this parish in Inverness-shire, and that little has been transferred to Nairn.

Yet it is full of past interest, with only three predominant families during the last 700 years, viz.—the Roses, Calders, and Campbells. No Highlander wishes ought but well to the Roses, both of Kilravock and Holme, while the behaviour of the Campbells for many a long day has wiped out their original and arbitrary intrusion.

The history of the Campbells of Cawdor has been so well and fully given by the late Mr Cosmo Innes and others as to be familiar to most people. As I happen to possess several genealogies brought down to 1750 and many curious papers, I select a few extracts.

The first, from an anonymous compilation made about the beginning of the century, is not without interest. The compiler, under the head of John Campbell, the first Lord Cawdor, so created in 1796, says of the estate-

"When Lord Cawdor visited Cawdor Castle in 1804 he was much struck with the great extent of waste lands and useless wood lands on the estate. For 25 years previously Scotland had made such rapid trides in planting and agriculture that the change was most apparent, and the contrast between his estates and many others, was notorious and frightful. He therefore gave orders to enclose and plant the hills of Urchany and Budgate; adding such other enclosures as his quick and penetrating eye saw absolutely necessary for their improvement. There was particularly one bleak and barren spot between Campbell town and Nairn, of great extent, and of no value but for planting. This land tho' partly planted is still a great eyesore to travellers who inquire whose wastes and wilds are those that lie so much neglected?

"The pernicious system of leases for lives is here most apparent; which was granted to Mr James Macpherson, the factor who succeeded Mr White.

"His Lordship was much hurt at the destruction of the noble wood at Cawdor, and chiefly around the hermitage, one of the most interesting objects of the estate. He saw that the beautiful old birch trees, so ornamental with their weeping branches and rugged stems (which years like grey hairs render so venerable) were all cut down near the hermitage. They had attracted the notice and admiration of visitors, and that of the justly celebrated Jean, the late beautiful Duchess of Gordon, who had seen this fine scenery while on a visit to Kilravock Castle. She had complimented his Lordship on their possession and hoped they would be preserved. But what was his mortification to find they had all been cut down and sold. It will take ages to fill up the blank thus made in the wood.

The place was planted with some fine young oaks, which show the hand of man at work, where nature lived formerly undisturbed' and where the hermit could sing -

"Nymph of the grot whose sacred fount I keep
And to the murmur of whose waters sleep;
Ah, spare my slumbers, gently tread the cave,
Or wash in silence, or in silence lave.

"Had Linnaus seen the furze or whins about the romantic waterfalls of Cawdor before he fell down in adoration to his Maker upon seeing their blossoms on Blackheath, what would he say? For Sweden like the west coast of Scotland produces no whins. Lord Cawdor, however, wisely ordered their destruction and their place to be supplied by the beautiful young wood now so thriving. He rebuilt the hermitage and made a neat safe path to it from the castle enclosures along the west bank of the burn, where he showed his taste and knowledge of mechanics by a small ingenious bridge thrown over the same, one end of which is supported by the branch of a fine old birch tree. The enclosing of the romantic scenery to the south-east of Budgate and the manse, and adding it to the wood would add to the grandeur of the place, as well as beauty to the woods, which it is easier to anticipate than express. He was fully aware of the rich inheritance which these improvements, in a few years would give his heirs."

The family of Cawdor, after a severe contest with that of Moray, secured the superiority of the barony of Strathnairn.

The feu to Lord Moray was trifling compared with the sub feus or heritable tacks by the latter to the actual possessors. Yet, as holding of the Crown, the Cawdor family had the political influence in the baronies of Strathnairn and Durris.

The first Lord Cawdor sold all his superiorities about the beginning of the century, except that over Dunmaglass, for considerable sums, while their over superiority did not fall to Lord Moray until a later period. He is now Crown vassal and superior of all Strathnairn in Inverness-shire, with the exception only, as I think, of half of Tullich and Elrig, Tordarroch, and that part of the old barony of Lairgs, consisting of Lairgindour and Mid Lairgs.

Sir Archibald Campbell of Clunes, second son of Sir Hugh Campbell of Calder, married in 1688, Anne Macpherson of Cluny, as mentioned in a former chapter. Sir Archibald has recorded no less than five poetical tributes both in English and Latin to her memory. Even one of them is too long for quotation, but I give an old conceit in form of acrostic.

Sir Archibald Campbell's eldest son married Miss Trotter of Morton Hall, with issue—an only child, Elizabeth, understood to have been betrothed to the ill-fated Lieutenant- Colonel Alexander Macgillivray of Dunmaglass killed at Culloden, 17th April, 1746, and to have died of a broken heart within four months thereafter. Elizabeth Campbell was very much admired, and is particularly referred to in a letter by Simon, Lord Lovat, quoted in the book of the Thanes of Cawdor.

I give a letter to one of her aunts, dated Clunes, 22nd October, 1743—

"The unexpected promise I was obliged to make my Lord Lovat of waiting Lady Clunie home, has hurried me so that I must leave the country in a very confused manner. I attempted seeing you oftener than once when at Muirtown, as Miss Taylor can tell you, but was so undetermined about my time of leaving that place, and knew that I could not command one day. I came here from Moyhall, Friday last, and engaged to return there again Monday next and from that to Castle Downie. As 26th of this month is what was fixed upon for joining Lady Clunie home, we meet Miss Farquharson at Moy who goes along'st with us to Clunie, and I go straight from thence to Edinburgh. As I have no time to ask your commands, if you send me them they shall be cheerfully obeyed—Your affectionate niece and humble servant. (Signed) ELIZ. CAMPBELL."


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