The Robertsons of Inshes
From the Transactions of the
Gaelic Society of Inverness
The Robertsons of Inshes were
honourably connected with the burgh and parish of Inverness for over four
hundred years. Through the kindness of the last proprietor, Mr Arthur John
Robertson, known as “ The Laird” so well in and about Inverness, I was
favoured many years ago with the perusal and liberty of fairing some notes
from the singularly well kept papers of the family. In their papers the
family took great pride, and had them looked over by several antiquarians,
such as the late Mr Alexander Mackenzie of Woodside, Mr George Anderson, and
others. Mr Arthur Robertson, grandfather of the late laird, was a frequent
correspondent of the well-known collector, a century ago, General Hutton,
some of whose papers connected with Inverness and the North are in the
Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh.
The first Robertson of whom
there is authentic note was
1. Duncan Robertson, a cadet
of the Robertson's of Strowan, undoubted head of the Clan Donnachie, and the
Inshes family are mentioned as one of his kindred clan by the celebrated
Alexander Robertson of Strowan, warrior and poet, one of whose letters to
Inshes, dated “Hermitage, 20 July 1742" will be found hereafter quoted.
From the deed of 1448
after-mentioned, this Duncan would presumably have been born not later than
The first charter in
existence is a charter by
2. Robert, Duncan’s son,
burgess of Inverness, to William Michael, burgess of Inverness, of his
particate of land, lying on the east side of Domesdale, Inverness (Castle
Street), in form of pledge, dated Invemess, 20 April, 1448, the witnesses
being Patrick Fergusson, Walter John's son, Richard Logie, John Thomas,
junior, Johnr Gray, and John William. The three seals originally attached
have disappeared, but the document itself is in good preservation, and like
most ante-Reformation writs, brief, and of beautiful caligraphy.
I gave Duncan the first as
born about 1400, as his son must have been major by 1448. Robert was
succeeded by his son, extant. One is an assedation by the Council and
community of Inverness, in favour of William Robertson to build “a timber
shop opposite to the Tolbooth.” Mr James Robertson writes from Poland to get
a certificate of gentle birth from the Provost, magistrates, and clergy of
Inverness, “as being second son of William Robertson, some time Bailie and
one of the Town Council of Inverness, who was son of John Robertson, Bailie
and Councillor of Inverness.” That his mother was Margaret Paterson,
daughter of William Paterson, Bailie of Inverness, and of Agnes, daughter of
Hugh Rose of Kilravock. The father’s mother was daughter of Sir Thomas
Urquhart of Cromarty. I observe a memorandum that William Robertson died
1631, aged 72, and was therefore born in 1559,
7. And that John Robertson,
7th, was born when his father was 25, or in 1584.
It was in time of this John
that the Robertsons established themselves as landowners in the parish. John
had many struggles, becoming ultimately victorious through the assistance
and counsel of his wife, Janet Sinclair. The Barony of Culcabock, including
Knocldntinnel, and the little Haugh below, next the sea, were a great
attraction in the eyes of John and his wife. Being the only freehold in the
neighbourhood, these lands had particular value. Between the Leys, Culduthel,
and Hilton, on the one side, and Culloden on the other, the whole land,
except that small part of the Castlehill estate called the “Barony of
Castlehill,” were part of the old forest of Draikies, granted to the Burgh
of Inverness, extending from the Miln Bum to the Mount of Daviot, and
comprehending Inshes, its hill lands and woods, and the lands of Bogbain.
The superiority of Culcabock
was vested in the Hays of Mayne, and in properly in that of Paterson.
Alexander Hay of Mayne is infeft in Culcabock 7th Nov., 1498, and is
succeeded by William Hay, whose seal to a charter, dated 8th July, 1521, is
in fine preservation. After this William, the superiority drops out of the
Hay family until 1618, when James VI. .grants a charter to William Hay. Same
year the King grants a charter to John Grant.
The first name I have
observed as actual possessor of Culcabock was Sir William Paterson, rector
of Boleskine, found in 1500. No doubt he was one of the family of Paterson,
at this and for one or two centuries later so numerous and influential in
and about Inverness. Sir Thomas Paterson, rector of Assynt, is served heir
to his grand-uncle, Sir William Paterson, in Culcabock, Knockintinnel, etc.,
at Inverness, 21st July, 1513L The inquest included the lands of Durris, of
the value of 24 merks, while Culcabock was valued at 20 merks, and in time
of peace at 12 merks, was held before Hugh Rose of Kilravock,
Sheriff-Depute, and the following inquest: —Alexander Cumyng of Altyre,
Andrew Kinnaird of that Ilk, Alexander Urquhart of Burdsyards, David Douglas
of Pittendreich, Alexander Brodie of that Ilk, William Dallas of Budgate,
Henry Dallas of Cantray, Robert Steuart of Clava, Andrew Munro of
Davoch-cartie, Alexander Demme of Davidston, William MacCulloch of Plaids,
Angus MacCulloch of Tarrel, John Corbet of Easter Ard, Alexander Nicolson of
Freirost, James Murray of Fochabers, John Cuthbert of Auld Castlehill,
Walter Rose of Kin-stearie, Walter Douglas of Cramond, James Tullocb, de
eodem> George Dunbar of Moy, and William Douglas, burgess of Elgin.
A few years later, Elizabeth
Paterson is found as owner, together with her husband's name, Andrew Jak,
and on her resignation, a charter is granted by the superior to John Grant
of Glenmoriston, therein described “of Elachy,” in 1520, one of the
witnesses being Gordon Lesslie, rector of Kingussie. This John Grant, son,
as handed down by tradition, of the Laird of Grant by the Baron of
Kincardine’s daughter, is obliged to obtain an apostolic license for the
legitimation of his own children and the binding nature of his marriage with
Agnes Fraser. The license is granted by Marcus, Patriarch, by authority of
Pope Paul, on 30th April, 1544, wherein John Grant is described as “Laicus
Moraviensis," and Agnes simply “Mulier.” Inshes, as I nave said, had his eye
on the property, and in the first place, lent money over it to Glenmoriston.
The latter failing to pay, adjudication was taken out, and a title
completed. Further steps against Glenmoriston, with the view of Inshes
entering into actual possession of Culcabock, were violently resisted.
Inshes mmself was captured by stratagem at Inverness, and carried off to the
West, his farms were burnt, and his tenants and himself spuilzied. Though
some of these violent proceedings occurred chiefly in the time of William,
8th of Inshes, they may be properly referred to briefly at this point,
having begun in John Robertson’s time. Sir Hugh Campbell of Calder exerted
himself for Glenmoriston, with the view of an adjustment. The Bishop of
Moray is prayed to order a public subscription to compensate Inshes’ losses,
and finally, in 1664, Glenmoriston had to succumb. Upon 27th January, 1664,
the following Bond of Caution under law.burrows is given by Hugh Fraser of
Stray in favour of Glenmoriston: —
“I, Hugh Fraser of Stray, by
the tenor hereof Bind and oblige me my heirs executors and successors, as
cautioner and surety in lawburrows, for John Grant of Glenmoriston, That
Master William Robertson of Inshes and his men, tenants, their servants,
wives, bairns and families shall be harmless and skaithless of the said John
Grant and of his men, tenants, and dependers on his lands, heritages, taiks,
steadings, rooms, possessions, corn, cattle, guids and gear. And that they
nor none of them shall be anyways troubled nor molested thereuntil by the
said «john Grant, nor that his tenants, servants, followers, or dependers,
nor by any other of his or their causing, sending, hounding out, command
receipt assistance or ratihabition directly or undirectly in time coming,
otherwise than by order of law and justice, under the pain of one thousand
merks Scots money, likeas I, the said John Grant, further bind and oblige me
my heirs executors and successors to free and release my said cautioner and
his above specified at all hands and against all mortals. Subscribed at
Davochfour, 27 January 1664, before Alexander Mackintosh, fiar of Connage,
Capt. William Robertson, merchant, burgess of Inverness, Angus Mackintosh of
Daviot, and others.”
The following extract from a
similar Bond of Caution in lawburrows, granted same date and place, by
Glenmoriston, for his family and clan, is interesting from its full
enumeration of the people of Glenmoriston in 1664.
John Grant of Glenmoriston
binds himself to free William Robertson of Inshes and his, and harmless and
skaithless keep them from attack or molestation by
1 John Grant, tutor of
2, & 3 John and William
Grants, his lawful sons.
4 John Mac Neil in
5 Ewen Mac Iain beg there.
6 Duncan Roy Mac Homas vie
7 Alexander an Greasich
8 Patrick Smith there.
9 Donald Mac Conchie mor
10 Donald Mac Iain beg vie
Iain roy there.
11 Christopher Mac Coil vie
Iain roy there.
12 John Mac Alister dhu
13 Donald Mac William vie
Iain roy there.
14 Angus Mac Iain vio Neil
15 Duncan Mac Iain vie Neil
16 Donald Mac Hamish vie
17 Donald Mac Finlay vie Iain
roy in Blairie,
18 Ewen Mac Gillie Cnriosd
19 John Mac Ewen vie Gillie
20 John Mac Iain reoch there.
21 Duncan Mac Coil vie Iain
in Duldreggan mor.
22 John Mac Coil buy there.
23 John Mac Fionlay, brebiter,
24 Duncan Macintyre there.
25 Donald Mac Iain vie Coil
26 Ewen Mac Iain roy there.
27 William Mac Allister vie
28 Ewen Mac Allister vie Ewen
ban in Duldreggan beg-
29 Donald Mac Angus roy
30 Finlay mor Mac Coil there.
31 John buy Mac an Taillear
32 Soirle Mac Iain vie Soirle
33 Donald Mac Aonas vie Coil
34 John dhu Mac Iain vie
William in Dalchregart mor.
35 Duncan Mao Allister vie
36 Allister vie Ewen there.
37 Gillespie Mac Conchie vie
38 John Mao Iain dhu vie Iain
in Dalchregart beg.
39 Dugald Mac Iain his son
40 Dvncan ban Mac Iain vie
41 Ferquhar iviac Iain glas
42 John Mac Conchie vie Iain
vie Coil there.
43 Duncan Mac Iain vie
Conchie his son there.
44 Duncan Fergusson Mac Iain
45 Duncan Mac Gillespie
46 Donald Mac Iain there.
47 Donald ban Mac Conchie vie
Coul in Craskie.
48 Ewen Mac Conchie vie
49 William Mac Coul there.
50 Donald Hamish there.
51 Donald roy vie Coul there.
52 John Grant, Duncan’s son,
53 Malcolm Mac Iain vie Iain
54 Lachlan Mac Allan vie
Harlich in Achlean.
55 John ban Mac Coil vie Neil
56 John Mac Ewen ban in
57 Rorie Mao Coil vie Ewen
58 Donald Mac Coil vie Ewen
59 Ewen Mac Iain vie Iain vie
60 Donald Mac Ruarie vie Coil
61 John dhu Mac Coil vie Ewen
62 John Mac Iain roy there.
63 Rorie Mac Coil vie Ewen
64 Duncan Mac William vie
Iain Roy in Dalcattaig.
65 John Coul Mac Fionlay in
66 Donald Mac Coil vie Coul
67 John Mac Ferquhar vie
Quien in Blairie.
68 Alexander Mac Conchie ban
69 Donald Mac Gill Andrish
70 John Mac Conchie vie Iain
71 John Mac Iain Gromach
72 Allister Mac Coil ban in
73 Duncan Mac Iain mor there.
74 Alexander Chisholm in
75 John Mac Coil og, vie Coil
vie Iain ban in Achlean.
76 Allan his son there.
77 John dhu Mac Coil vie Ewen
This list is rather lengthy,
but it is worth giving in full, as without doubt comprehending every family,
for it will be noted, that while each township is gone over, a few
additional names are added as if of those omitted at first. Putting six to a
family, this would bring out 500 souls, and it is known Glenmoriston could
bring into the field 120 fighting men, some from Urquhart, and a few
occasionally from Glengarry.
It was not until 27th May,
1666, that matters, through the interposition of Sir Hugh Campbell of
Calder, and the payment by Inshes of 9500 merks, were finally arranged, and
a Discharge and Renunciation executed by Glenmoriston, which is also signed
I now revert to the further
acquisitions of property and dignities by John Robertson of Inshes. Upon 7th
July, 1615, ' John Robertson, eldest lawful son of William Robertson,
senior, burgess of Inverness, is admitted a free burgess of Inverness. The
extract, which has the ancient seal of the burgh, in very good condition so
far as it exists, showing both sides, is signed by the Town Clerk, and bears
to have been granted in presence of John Cuthbert of Auld Castlehill,
Provost Alexander Paterson, William Campbell and Duncan Forbes, Bailies.
John Robertson acquires one of the four coble fishings on the Ness from
Finlay Macphail. He also acquires Easter Inshes, also Easter Leys, or Leys
Cruin, from Simon, Lord Lovat. The disposition, dated Dalcross Castle, 14th
May, 1629, is concurred in by Lady Lovat, who could not write.
In and about 1626, John
Robertson, with Duncan Forbes, Provost, Alexander Baillie of Dunain, and
many other proprietors, binds himself to the Earl of Moray, on behalf of the
Clan Chattan, then undergoing violent persecution at his lordship’s
Easter Inshes was acquired by
John Robertson from Baillie of Dunain, who had held them for a short time,
succeeding a family named Macphail. He further acquired Wester Inshes from
There was an hereditary feud
’twixt the families of Paterson and Robertson, patched up for a time by the
marriage of Alexander Paterson with Katherine, daughter of John Robertson,
and finally ended by the Patersons withdrawing from the contest.
Parts of the forest of
Draikies, including Bogbain, were acquired from the burgh, and thus the
Inshes propery stretched in part from the sea until it met Mackintosh at the
Mount of Daviot.
John Robertson, described of
Easter Inshes, merchant, burgess of Inverness, married Janet
Sinclair—contract dated at Edinburgh, 22nd September, 1624—daughter of
William Sinclair, Indweller in Leith, then widow of Alexander Newall,
merchant in Edinburgh, with the consent of Marion Purves, her mother, and
Robert Baillie, merchant and burgess of Edinburgh, then Marion’s husband.
Inshes signs the contract thus—“Ihone Robertson Williams son of Easter
Inshes with my hand.”
In 1628, in respect of John
Robertson apologising for aiding the Clan Chattan, the Earl of Moray is
graciously moved to acquit Inshes, by deed signed at the Castle of Darn
away, 3rd February, in presence of Hucheon Rose of Kilravock and John, his
John is dead before 17th
December, 1657, survived by Janet, his wife, and at least three
sons—William, who succeeded; Hugh, afterwards Provost of Inverness; and
George, described as John Robertson’s third son. It may be noted here that
Inshes, having in 1647 petitioned Parliament for a grant of 10,000 merks in
satisfaction of the losses by and through Glenmoriston, is voted 2000 merks.
9. William Robertson, who
reigned for the long period of at least 60 years—his father dying in 1657,
and his own name being found as owner in 1717.
William Robertson passed as
an advocate, and was a man of considerable attainments, an excellent classic
scholar—some of his Latin effusions being extant. He first married Magdalen
Rose of Kilravock, and some of their love letters exist, most creditable to
both, for they would stand the rather crucial test of being read in a court
of law. Inshes lost his wife early, and married secondly Sibilla Mackenzie
of Pluscardine. Their second daughter married, in 1698, John Rose of Holme.
The eldest daughter, Jean, married, same year, Duncan brother to Alexander
Robertson of Strowan. Her tocher was 6000 merks. The bride’s mother, Sibilla
Mackenzie, was living, and her nearest of kin, Provost Hugh Robertson, and
Charles Mackenzie of Eamside. Among the witnesses to the contract are John
Robertson of Lude and Patrick, his brother-german.
William Robertson obtains a
pew for himself in the old High Church of Inverness in 1676, by the
following Writ: —
“At Inverness, the 1st day of
August, 1676. The said day there was a supplication presented by Mr William
Robertson of Inshes, making his humble address to the Session of Inverness:
Regretting the inconvenience for himself and family in the High Church of
the said Burgh for the reverent and incumbent attention of the ordinances:
Desiring he might be licensed and empowered to cause build and erect two
sufficient pews next to the Guildry’s dask. Whereupon, which supplication
after rype and grave advisement, was found very reasonable, and knowing him
to be a deserving person, the whole members of the Session did unanimously
grant the said two pews, and thereby to inherit and enjoy them in all time
coming as ane undoubted heritage. For which two pews, the said Mr William
did give the little dask sometime belonging to his mother—And to be given to
Hugh Robertson, Treasurer, and James Cuthbert, late Bailie, ordaining also
these presents be insert and registrat in the principal Session register of
the Burgh, therein to remain for future security and preservation thereof.
Extracted by me. (Signed) John Innes, Clerk of the Session.”
The last Laird has often told
me that at this time the Gaelic Church pulpit, originally an auctioneer s
rostrum, and made in Holland, was given by his predecessors, and stood in
the old church after 1664, and is the "dask” before referred to.
lushes had busied himself in
erecting the handsome place of sepulture of the family adjoining the church.
It was feared that it would block a window in the aisle, and this, it will
be observed, was guarded against in the grant: —
“At Inverness, the [tom] 1664
years. For as muckle as Mr William Robertson of Inshes gave in a
supplication upon the last day of March 1663 years, supplicating the Session
of Inverness to build and rear up ane tombe above the corpus of the deceased
Marion Purves Lady Walstown, some time his grandmother,—The Session
continued and delayed the same, fearing the building of the foresaid tombe
should prejudge the light rights of the said church, when the same should be
built, upon the west side of the side wall from the little door of the old
aisle of the said church,—taking ane foot or thereby of the south gable
gabie thereof,—as the compass of ground in length and breadth is casten. And
the Session taking the same into consideration, with advice and consent of
my Lord Bishop of Moray, has given and granted, and by these presents gives
and grants hereby to the said William Robertson of Inshes to build, rear,
and make up the said tombe as is above designed, with this provision, that
the same when it is built shall in no ways prejudge the walls or lights of
the said church in the least. And if it be found prejudicial to the lights
or walls of the said church, immediately against the completing thereof,
then and in that case by the signature of the said Lord Bishop, or any
person he shall nominate to that effect, it shall be demolished in so far in
so far (sic) as it shall be found prejudicial to the lights and fabrick
foresaid. And likeways the Session, with advice and of command of my Lord
Bishop of Moray, dispones as much ground in length and breadth as above
designed, to appertain in property to the said Mr William Robertson of
Inshes and his family as their burial place in all time coming for ever.
“(Signed) Murdo Moravien, Eps.
“Recorded in the Kirk Session
books, 9 February 1664"
In 1703 (7th December), John
Robertson, younger of Inshes, is contracted in marriage with Barbara
Balfour, second daughter of Lieut.-Col. John Balfour of Faimie. The contract
is dated at the Canongate, Edinburgh, and witnessed, inter alias, by Arthur,
by the providence of God Archbishop of St Andrews; Alexander, by the mercy
of God Bishop of Edinburgh; John, Master of Balmerino; Sir Robert Douglas of
Kirkness; Mr Colin Mackenzie, advocate; Sir William Gordon of Dalpholly;
Thomas Robertson, second son to Inshes; George Innes, younger of Coxtoun;
and Mr James Elphin-stone, son to the Master of Balmerino. This was a high
match for the family, but, unfortunately, the tocher was moderate, and the
family lived up to, if. not beyond, their means.
The following letter from
Bumper/’ John Forbes of Cul-loden, dated 1714, shows the close, kindly, and
neighbourly footing on which the Culloden, Castlehill, and Inshes families,
near neighbours, lived: —
Culloden, 21st October 1714.
“Your good friend and mine,
Castlehill, tells me that you are much my friend. I do indeed believe it,
and though I cannot at this time or in this manner express the true sense I
have, and always will have, for your friendship, I assure you, on the word
of a comrade, that none longs more for ane opportunity to serve you or
wishes better to your familie than,
“Your most affectionate
cousin and faithful friend,
(Signed) “Jo. Forbes.
(Addressed) “The Honourable
“The Laird of Inshes.”
In 1703, Thomas Robertson,
only son of John, only son of Provost Hugh Robertson before mentioned,
married Miss Coutts, of Montrose; and in 1713, Captain Thomas Paterson, of
Montrose, marries Mary, daughter of William Robertson— William Coutts,
Provost of Montrose, being one of the witnesses. Of this family sprung the
founder of the historic banking house of Coutts.
A younger son of Inshes,
Thomas, is described in 1723 as “late General Surveyor of the Customs at
The following excellent
letter, from old Robertson of Strowan to his clansman, Inshes the younger,
may be inserted here: —
“The letter you mentioned
which you did me the honour to design for me, never came to my hands, else
to be sure I had made you a return in due time.
“I cannot think the trustees
on your estate can or will refuse so just a demand as to count and reckon
for their intromissions. If the matter be put into a clear light, there are
none upon the Bench but must see it reasonable; and I am persuaded that my
Lord President, whom you have strove to oblige, will use his influence in
your cause. He is a person who will not be biassed in a point that is
palpable oppression, xnis is the world’s opinion of him, and must not be
contradicted. So that it seems to be your main business at present to get
your design represented in a handsome manner to his Lordship, who will
certainly do. you justice and also generosity. But things must be done with
great modesty and temper. As for myself, I am the most oppressed man in the
nation, and my affairs have strangely fluctuated ever since my old agent—
worthy George Robertson—departed this life; nor do I well know which hand to
turn me to. So does villainy prevail in this world.
“But as the Lady Inshes is
now at Edinburgh, she can well settle charges with, and know the method of
bringing your trustees to reason. I am in a manner endeavouring the same
against some trustees of my own name, who are attempting to do injustice to
my father’s family, against the laws of God and man. But I Am hoping, with
the assistance of Providence, at length to get the better of them—and their
perjuries, forgeries, calumnies, and notorious lies, defeated. All I have
done must, at long run, drop me into confusion.
“Mr Boss advises me to write
my advice to Provost Hossack, which I will do in a day or two. What
influence that may have upon him I cannot tell, but I shall do my best.
Being with utmost affection,
“Your most obliged cousin and
“(Signed) A. Robertson of
“Hermitage, July 20, 1742.” .
In 1742 old William Robertson
is noted for the last time, .while John, his son, and William, his grandson,
are both mentioned. '
10. John Robertson succeeded,
and, earning nothing, while his manner of living was much in excess of his
means, brought his affairs and the estate to a low point. He was succeeded
by his son,
11. William Robertson, who,
equally careless, did nothing to improve matters. The Duke of Cumberland and
his advisers tried hard, here, there, and everywhere, to get up evidence
against all landowners or men of any property who might have shown
themselves favourable to the Stuarts, in order to confiscate their estates.
Of the very few on whom an impression was, they imafined, made, one was this
William Robertson, a weak man, in the fullest sense of the word. He was sent
up to London to give evidence, but thought better of his position, if the
whole were not a plot for incriminating neighbours got up by the Duke, and,
on interrogation in London, he took up the position of “ nihil novit/’ and
that the reports about his knowledge were unfounded. He was sent back to
Inverness, as mentioned in the letter given: —
“ London, 10th February,
“The bearer, Mr William
Robertson of Inshes, one of the J.P.’s for the County of Inverness, is one
of those that was ordered up by His Royal Highness's orders. I spoke of him
to you formerly. Sir Everard Fawkner has remitted him to you, to consider
what it is proper he should have for carrying his charges down to Inverness.
You'll therefore please let him have what you judge proper, as he can be of
no manner of use here. I have given orders as to the clothing of two men you
mentioned to me. I am, with great respect, Sir, “ Your most obedient servt.,
“(Signed) David Bruce."
His connections were much
distressed about his supposed disclosures, as may be seen from this letter,
from a near relative on the mother’s side, dated 22nd September, 1746— a
letter reflecting the high character of the writer, who probably had no
sympathy with the Jacobites: —
“By a letter I had from my
sister Inshes, of the 13th, I was confounded to hear of your being at
London, since she did not assign me any cause for it.
“I supposed it had been upon
a call from Lord President, who has always proved your true friend, and is a
man of ..he greatest honour; but as my sister would certainly have wrote me
if that had been the case, I am hopeful you will take no step there without
his particular advice and direction, and then you are sure you will act no
part but what is consistent with a man of honour. It gives me pain for the
‘fama clamosa’ of your journey there, though it is not possible for me to
give the least credit to it.
“Every good man will think
himself bound by his conscience to serve his King and his country (even to
the last drop of his blood) in what is honourable. But there are some
employments that have ever been and will ever be of so infamous a nature
that the accepting of them must of necessity make one infamous and
detestable to all mankind, even to those very persons that make use erf them
to serve their ends. It is an employ inconsistent with honour, truth,
religion, charity, or any one thing that is consistent with religion. It is
only fit for the devil and his angels—it is what cuts one off. for ever with
not only every friend and good man; but even men otherwise wicked won’t have
any intercourse with such men. God forbid that any friend I have the least
concern in should be so demented. For my part, I would have more pleasure in
seeing my relation and friend hanged, drawn, and quartered, rather than
accept of such ane hellish employ. And therefore, my dear Willie, as it is
impossible that you could give any person encouragement to believe you
capable of so wicked and abominable a trade, which would not only bring
infamy on yourself, but more or less on your friends and relations. Sure you
could not be poisoned with such sentiments from any sprung of my father's
loins. It gives all your friends here the utmost concern to hear such a
clamour; and though we are persuaded you would rather part with your life
than your honour, yet all erf us expect that you will signify it under your
hand—that to say you are capable of any such infamous trade is malicious and
wicked; and therefore by your telling me the truth in plain terms, I will
have it in my power to suppress this ‘fama clamosa' and take people to task
who shall venture thereafter to sully your character. Write me per post
directly, to the care of Mr John Mackenzie, W.S., Edinburgh. You can easily
believe what concern I must have in your character, therefore consider the
anxiety I must have till I hear from you. I am, dear Willie,
“Your most affecate. uncle,
“(Signed) John Crawfurd..
“Ballingiy, 22 Sepr. 1746/'
12. Arthur Robertson
succeeded to an estate practically in the hands of creditors, but, by dint
of attention and ability, contrived, during his long possession, extending,
like that of his predecessor, William, over 60 years, to keep up a good
position, and maintain the credit of the family. In his time, however, all
the old and considerable burghal property was disposed of. His brother,
Captain Thomas, died in India, leaving some means, which had to be shared
with others, including a sister, Johanna, found in 1772 as spouse of Capt.
Zebulon Cockerell, of Sunderland. Their grandmother, the old Lady Inshes,
Mrs. Barbara Balfour, was still alive. Being a freeholder, Inshes had
considerable influence, and by his own and his successor’s warm support of
the Grants, after the Lovats had retired, earned their gratitude and
substantial good-will, as many of their letters testify.
In 1817 Arthur Robertson is
dead, and was succeeded by his son,
13. Masterton Robertson,
married to Miss Shearer, which lady many old Invemessians will recollect, a
conspicuous figure, in her pew in the gallery of the High Church. Masterton
Robertson was rather unfortunate, and had to submit to be put under trust,
during which period the family lost Easter Leys, acquired by Lachlan
Mackintosh of Raigmore. In his Glasgow! student days, Masterton was on very
intimate terms with another student who afterwards became famous—Francis,
One of Jeffrey’s letters from
Oxford, without date—shewing that thorough belief, if not conceit, of his
own powers and judgment, afterwards so conspicuous—-may be given as an early
specimen of the writer’s decided views on whatever, subjects or persons he
chose to discuss. The writing is so bad as make it almost unreadable: —
“I received your letter last
week, and from the expedition with which it appeared to have been
transmitted, I am more puzzled to account for the delay in the postage of my
first, which ought to have reached you almost a fortnight before you appear
to have received it, as you will see from the date.
“My hands are so cold I can
scarcely write, you see—so while I am (suppling?) them at the fire, I will
look over your letter again, that this may be, in a true and legal sense, an
answer to it.
“Now—ay—this is something
like; my handwriting is not at any time superlatively elegant, but when my
fingers are cold you see what I make of it.
“You ask me to drop you some
English ideas. My dear fellow, I am as much, nay more, a Scotchman than I
was while an inhabitant of Scotland. My opinions, ideas, prejudices, and
systems are all Scotch—the only part of a Scothchman I mean to abandon is
the language, and language is all I expect to learn in England, and indeed,
except it be playing and drinking, I see nothing else that it is possible to
acquire in this place, both of them unfortunate accomplishments, in which I
have neither ability nor inclinations to excel.
“As to playing, I think I
told you how much we had of that, and for drinking, if I could only make you
walk down my staircase, I think you would understand what rioting in College
means. More, Sir, you would see the fragments of doors which were broken to
pieces last night, then you would see all the shattered, splintered frames
of the windows, without one pane of glass entire, and the railing of the
stair itself violently tom, more than one half of it lying on the
landing-place, a trophy of their prowess. Nor were their depredations
confined to my neighbourhood, but extended over the whole College, and this
is a scene which is lately acted even three or four times a week.
“What hints you expect upon
our learned Masters I am at a loss to guess, but unwilling to disappoint
you, I shall give their general character in a few words. ~+mn~ne Fellows, in
Heads of Colleges, are in general men of a drowsy, stupid, gluttonous,
scottish disposition, resembling in their external appearance and address
our old friend Bauldy Arthur. Men who had in their youth, by dint of
regular, persevering study, painfully acquired a considerable knowledge of
the requisite branches of science,— which knowledge served only to make them
pedants, and to render still more austere and disgusting, together with that
torpid insensibility and awkwardness which they had contracted in the course
of their painful retirement from the world. Men who, accustomed themselves
to pay a vile and sycophistical reverence to their superiors, while they had
them, now insist upon a similar adoration and observance to themselves.
“If you add to this a violent
attachment to the game of whist, and to the wine called Port, you will have
a pretty accurate conception of the venerable men to whose hands I am now
committed, and under the influence of whose example I cannot fail to acquire
every virtue and every accomplishment under Heaven.
“But this is really very
uncharitable, for there are exceptions to this character within this
“I am quite in the horrors at
the prospect of the long lonely winter nights I must wear out in this dull,
dismal place, without the assistance of company, or public places, jv family
parties, or old acquaintances, or anything that can render cold and
“I am half ashamed of the
length of this letter, but I have so many occasions to apologize for the
same fault that I have oome boldly not to consider it1 at all, and tc be
quite callous upon the subject; or to make no secret of wha* will not be
hid, I very seldom write shorter letters than this.
“I hope, however, that this
fair confession will not frighten you from my correspondence, but rather
stimulate you to a similar conduct, and induce you to punish me only by
“Are there any resident in
Glasgow whom I know? Compts. to every body, say for me all that you think I
should have said, and believe that I am,
“(Signed) F. Jeffrey.
“Do not address me as
‘Student of Laws.’ We have no classes here, so this appellation is improper,
and God knows what those precise gentry may say to it.
“Masterton Robertson, Esqre.,
“Student of Laws,
“University of Glasgow/’
Masterton Robertson did not
survive long as owner, and was succeeded by his eldest son,
14. Arthur John Robertson, so
well known in and about Inverness. Gifted with great natural talents, he was
charming company, hospitable and kindly to a degree. He married twice;
first, Miss Marianne Pattinson, of Montreal, through whom, in his latter
years, he succeeded to valuable Canadian property. She left both sons and
daughters, one being wife of Surgeon-General Mackay, who has had a
distinguished career. He was for some time resident in Inverness, and now in
Edinburgh, an active Chieftain of the Clan Mackay Association, which, for
wealth and energy, ranks amongst, if not the first of modem Clan
Associations. Of this marriage there are several descendants.
Inshes’ eldest son, also
named Arthur, died during his father’s lifetime, leaving a son, who
represents the family of Inshes. The late Inshes was a great improver, and
spent beyond the returning capacity of the estate. This, and the amount of
inherited debt, ultimately caused a sale of Inshes, purchased by one of the
numerous family of Bairds, who bought land so largely in Scotland some years
By the death of my worthy and
valued friend, the late Arthur John Robertson, terminated that close
connection between the Robertsons and the town of Inverness, which lasted
for over four hundred years.
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