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
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?
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.
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
Campbell's eldest son married Miss Trotter of Morton Hall, with
issuean 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
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
obeyedYour affectionate niece and humble servant. (Signed) ELIZ.
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