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Glimpses of Church and Social Life in the Highlands in Olden Times and Other Papers
Chapter I. Introductory remarks—Ministers of the parish of Kingussie and Insh.

“I consider Scotland among the most interesting portions of the civilised globe, advancing in the career of continued improvement, and in a spirit of opposition to every remaining abuse. The Scots are a people moral, pious, well educated. But what would they have been now, had they not succeeded in the struggle which they waged for centuries for that Ecclesiastical Establishment to which they owe all that distinguishes them so advantageously at this day? I have seen a priesthood of Pastors who realise the wish of the prophet, to be kept equally apart from the temptations of poverty and the seductions of overgrown wealth; who laid the foundation-stone of her improvement, and by their piety and zeal and faithful labours have raised the noble fabric, the most splendid for moral beauty in the whole earth.”—Lord Brougham.

“Laden with o’erflowing feeling,
Then streamed on his fervid chaunt,
In the old Highland tongue appealing
To each soul’s most hidden want,
With the life and deep soul-healing
He who died now lives to grant.”

IN giving the sketches which follow, let me say, by way of preface, that in addition to a summary of the succession of the Protestant ministers of Badenoch since the Reformation, I have attempted merely to give such bits of odds and ends regarding them, gleaned from various sources, as might be deemed of general interest.

While no great pre-eminence can be claimed for any of their number, no district north of the Grampians can, upon the whole, boast, I believe, of a more creditable succession of able and faithful ministers, in whose comparatively humble history the general life of the Church in the Highlands, during the last three hundred years, could be better exemplified. The Reformation in Scotland, as is well known, was completed by the action of the Estates of the kingdom in 1560. On the 17th of August of that year the Confession of Faith drawn up by John Knox was adopted. On the 24th of the same month Acts were passed annulling all previous Acts relating to the Church. The Pope’s jurisdiction within the realm was abolished, and an Act was passed making it criminal to say or hear Mass. Confiscation of goods was the punishment of the first offence, banishment of the second, and death of the third—toleration being not understood, and still a long way off. A commission was also given to Knox and others to draw up a Book of Regulations for the new Church. The result of their labours was the production of the ‘ First Book of Discipline.’ Four orders of office-bearers in the Church were appointed—the Superintendent, the Minister, the Elder, and the Deacon. It was proposed that the possessions of the ancient Church should be appropriated for the three great purposes of the maintenance of the ministry, the education of the youth, and the sustenance of the poor. Unfortunately, through the cupidity of the barons, into whose hands much of the Church’s endowments had fallen, this excellent arrangement was never fully realised—these rapacious gentry sneeringly calling it “a devout imagination.” At the first meeting of the General Assembly of the Reformed Church held in December following, a resolution was passed “to ask at the Estates of Parliament and Lords of the Secret Council for eschewing of the wrath and indignation of the eternal God that sharpe punishment be made upon the underwritten, . . . whilk sayes and causes Masse to be said and are present thereat.”

For a considerable time after the Reformation many parishes in the Highlands had to content themselves with the services simply of a reader or exhorter.

“The reader was an interim substitute for a fully trained clergyman, so long as the clergy were scarce. He did not baptise, or marry, or celebrate the Communion, but in certain cases he conducted the ordinary service of the Church— a matter then more easy, inasmuch as a printed prayer-book was in regular use. In dealing with Scripture, the reader was allowed to add a few words explanatory or hortative; but he was cautioned not to be too long, nor to attempt preaching properly so-called. A trace of this early office still meets us in the popular name of lectern or lettern applied to the precentor’s desk. The office itself still survives in the Swiss Church and partly in the Church of England, where the lessons are often read by laymen. A large proportion of our country churches, for some time after the Reformation, had readers only, who were also the first schoolmasters. In 1567 there were 455 readers and 151 exhorters to 257 ministers, and in 1574 there were 715 readers to 289 ministers. In 1581 their abolition was voted by the General Assembly, but they lingered on long in many remote places.”

It gives us an idea of the spiritual destitution prevailing in the Highlands, and the intermittent character of religious ordinances in these early post - Reformation times — as compared with the overchurching of the present day—when we find that two such large and important parishes, and so far apart, as Abernethy and Kingussie, were under the sole care of “John Glas, Reader and Exhorter in the Irische tounge”—the district of Rothiemurchus being also for a time under his care.

In the extremely interesting work, ‘The Parish of Strathblane and its Inhabitants from Early Times,’ recently published by Mr Guthrie Smith, of Mugdock Castle, Strathblane, a very instructive picture is given of the Church services, as performed over a great part of Scotland for the first seventy or eighty years after the Reformation :—

“At seven o’clock a.m. the church bell begins to toll to warn the inhabitants to prepare for service. At eight o’clock it again repeats the summons, and all betake themselves to the sacred building. On entering the church the congregation reverently uncover their heads, and kneeling put up a silent prayer to God for His blessing on the service. Mr Cuik, the reader, who is ‘ decently clad in grave apparel,’ having called over the roll or catalogue of the congregation and marked all absentees to be dealt with, proceeds to the lectern and reads from the ‘ Book of Common Order ’ the first prayer of the service, the people all kneeling. This was called the ‘ Confession of our Sins,’ and is a beautiful spiritual composition. Other prayers from the Liturgy follow, and the congregation rising from their knees, Mr Cuik in an audible voice reads over a suitable psalm, when the people, all standing, sing it to the regular tune which was printed along with it in the Psalter. The singing ends with the Gloria Patri in these words :—

‘Gloir to the Father and the Sone,
And to the holie Gaist,
As it was in the beginning
Is now and aye shall last.’

The reading of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments is then proceeded with, and this bringing the first part of the service to a close, the bell again rings, and Mr Cuik leaving the lectern, Mr Stoddert, the minister, who has just come from Campsie, enters the pulpit, and kneels for some minutes in silent devotion. This done, in a ‘ conceived ’ or extempore prayer he prays for illumination and assistance in preaching the Word, and for a teachable spirit in the hearers. He then puts his hat upon his head, as do all his audience, and gives out his text. It is nowhere recorded whether this ancient minister of Strathblane was a man of gifts or not; but taking it for granted he was, he would be frequently interrupted during the delivery of his discourse, as was the custom at that time, by the applause and approbation of the people. The sermon being concluded, a prayer for the whole estate of Christ’s Church follows, the service ending with the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed; another psalm is then sung, the blessing is pronounced, and the people separate. In the afternoon they again assemble; the children of the congregation are publicly examined in a portion of the Catechism, which being concluded, the minister gives a short discourse on the doctrines they have just been handling, and the blessing being pronounced, the service ends. . . . After the morning and afternoon services the people gave themselves up to recreation and games, for while attendance at all the services of the Church was rigidly enforced, at this early time, lawful sports and amusements after service was over were tolerated, though not altogether approved of, by the Church. In fact, it did not seem to be thought an improper thing for a minister to keep a public-house, provided it was a well-conducted one, as the following from the proceedings of the General Assembly of 1576 proves :—

“Ane Minister or Reader that tapis ale beir or wyne and keeps ane open taverne sould be exorted be the Commissioners to keep decorum.’”

But without further introduction let me proceed to give the succession of the ministers of Badenoch from the Reformation down to the present time. In the case of the parish of Kingussie there have been, I find, during that period, eighteen parochial ministers; in Alvie fifteen; and in Laggan twenty,—the average duration of the incumbency of the several ministers in each parish being eighteen, twenty-two, and sixteen years respectively. From the existing records of the Presbytery of Abernethy, which date back to 1722, I have gleaned several particulars as to the acts and history of the ministers of Kingussie and Alvie subsequent to that year. Unfortunately, however, as regards some of the earlier ministers, I have succeeded in obtaining but little information beyond the bare record of their names, with the addition, in some cases, of the duration of their ministry.


i. John Glas, Reader and Exhorter, 1567-74.—Mr Glas is stated to have been reader and exhorter in the Irische tounge at Abernethy and Kyngussie in 1567. He was presented by James VI., 14th March 1572. In 1574 Rothiemurchus and Kingussy were also under his care, with i j xx 1 i. (1, 6s. 8d.) of stipend. He studied in 1578.

2. Archibald Henderson, 1574-15—Mr Henderson is a consenter and subscriber to a tack or lease “ of the teynds of Ruthven in Strath-boggie,” of date July 18, 1574, in which he is designed as “parson of Kingusie.”

3. Andrew Makfaill or M'Phail, 1584-89.—Mr M‘Phail was presented by James VI., and translated from Farnua (Kirkhill) in 1584

4. Angus Mackintosh, A.M., 1614-43.—Mr Mackintosh had been a student at the University of Edinburgh, where he took his degree in 1606. He died in the winter of 1643.

5. Lachlan Grant, A.M., 1649-70.—Mr Grant was presented by James, Lord Gordon, and translated from Moy and Dalarossie in 1649. Accompanying Mr Grant from Moy to Badenoch, as part of his belongings, came a bevy of not less than five fair young daughters. To the ever-susceptible Macphersons—in whose country they had now settled —the attractions of the fair strangers proved irresistible, and they were all speedily absorbed in that great clan—three of Mr Lachlan’s daughters marrying lairds, and the other two men of substance and family. The dutiful daughters perpetuated their father’s name in their offspring, and “Lachlan” in consequence subsequently became a Christian name of very common occurrence among the Macphersons. Mr “Lachlan” died 6th April 1670.

6. Hector Mackenzie, A.M., 1670-88.—Mr Mackenzie, who was a native of Sutherland, was ordained 30th November 1670, and translated to Inverness in 1688.

7. Donald Taylor, 16--1701.—Mr Taylor was entered session-clerk at Foveran, 17th February 1678, and officiated as preacher or minister at Kingussie till 1701, but was not “legally settled.”

8. John Mackenzie, 1701-g.—Mr Mackenzie, formerly of Inver-chaolain, is stated to have “intruded at Tarbert.” He came to the Highlands, “being skilled in the Irische tongue,” and was translated to Laggan in 1709.

g. Daniel Mackenzie, A.M., 1709-15.—This Mr Mackenzie, who had been previously minister at Knockando, was translated from Kingussie to Aberlour in 1715.

10. Lachlan Shaw, A.M., 1716-19.—A native of Rothiemurchus, Mr Shaw was educated at Ruthven, in Badenoch. He acted for some time as parochial teacher at Abernethy, and he subsequently distinguished himself, and became well known as the historian of the province of Moray. Before there was a division into counties that province extended from the mouth of the Spey to the borders of Lochaber in length, and from the Moray Firth to the Grampian Hills in breadth, and included a part of the shire of Banff to the east, the whole shires of Moray and Nairn, and the greatest part of the shire of Inverness. “I well remember,” says Shaw in his History, “when from Speymouth (through Strathspey, Badenoch, and Lochaber) to Lorn there was but one school—viz., at Ruthven in Badenoch; and it was much to find in a parish three persons that could read or write.” Mr Shaw was translated to Cawdor in 1719. He died minister of the first charge at Elgin on 23d February 1777, in his eighty-fifth year, and was buried in the Cathedral there.

11. William Blair, 1724-80.—For a period of five years after Mr Shaw’s translation to Cawdor, Kingussie was left without any minister. Mr Blair, who had been previously assistant at Glenlivet, was inducted as minister of the parish in 1724. The following extract from the minute of meeting of the Presbytery of Abernethy on 16th September of that year, when his induction took place, gives a sad picture of the state of the parish at the time :—

“The Presbytery finds that there is no Eldership in the Paroch, appoints him [Mr Blair] to get a legall one quam primum, and to take care that the Parochial Library be according to the original List, which is given him by the Presbytery. The Presbytery find there is neither Manse nor Church in repaire, no utensils but a bason. Mr Blair is appointed to have all these got in good order, and to report.”

During the earlier years of Mr Blair’s ministry considerable obstacles appear to have existed in the way of regular communication between different parts of the parish. In addition to other good services rendered by him for the benefit of his parishioners, he succeeded in persuading the Presbytery of Abernethy to enter into a contract for building a bridge across the river Tromie, between the old village of Ruthven and the district of Insh and Invereshie, on the south side of the Spey—the cost being defrayed out of the “vacant stipends ” of Kingussie. Here is the record of the procedure as narrated in a minute of meeting of the presbytery, held at “ Dell of Kyllihuntly ” on 25th April 1728 :—

“Mr Blair reported that he made intimation of the Presbytery Meeting this day to the Duke of Gordon’s Doers and the other gentlemen in the Parish of Kingussie, and that they were now present, as were the Masons—viz., Adam Brown, &:c. Then the Parish of Kingussie and said Masons being called, compeared Peter Gordon, Doer to the Duke of Gordon, James Macpherson of Kyllihuntly, Malcolm Macpherson of Ardbrylach, John Macpherson of Benchar, and several others with the said Masons. Then the Moderator represented the design of this day’s Meeting, and that it was proper to inspect the bounds to see which is the most convenient place for building the said Bridge. Upon which the Presbytery, with the gentlemen foresaid and workmen, did inspect the bounds, and found and determined that the fittest place for building the said Stone Bridge on Tromy was ’twixt the said Dell and Kyllihuntly, where there are rocks on each side of the •water, fitt for a foundation. Then, having consorted anent the cost of building the said Bridge, Adam Brown, Mason from Dunkell, did undertake to build a sufficient stone Bridge upon the said water eight feet broad within lodges and thirty foot wide ’twixt land stoolls; as also to make a sufficient causey on the said Bridge, and afford all materials, and finish the same before the first of September next, for the summ of four hundred and forty pounds Scots” (about ^36, 13s. 46. sterling money) ; “ as also to give sufficient Baill—viz., Peter Macglashan in Kirktown of Blair of Atholl—for performance. Then the Presbitry condescended to the whole, providing the Duke of Gordon, who is now at Edinburgh, be satisfied therewith, and appoints Mr Chapman, Commissioner from this Presbitry to the General Assembly, to caus draw up a scroll of the said Condescendence and show the same to the Duke of Gordon, enquire his mind thereanent, and report.”

Here is the report made by Mr Chapman at a meeting of the presbytery, held at Kingussie on 7th June following:—

“Mr Chapman reported that he waited upon the Duke of Gordon at Edinburgh, and informed of the Presbitry’s agreement with masons for building a stone Bridge on the Water of Tromie near to Ruthven, and did show him the Contract thereanent, with which the Duke was satisfied, and returned his thanks to the Presbitry for their care in the said affair. . . . Then the Masons being called and having signed the said Contract, as did their Cautiener Peter Macglashan in Kirktown of

Blair of Atholl, as also did the Moderator in name of and appointment of Pres-bitrie. It was appointed that a precept for three hundred merks Scots should be given to the Masons upon Dougall Macpherson, Collector of the Vacant Stipends of Kingussie.”

The bridge thus erected appears to have met the requirements of the district for a period of nearly one hundred years, until in 1832 it was widened and repaired by Sir George Macpherson-Grant of Ballindalloch and Invereshie—the grandfather of the present Sir George—who had become the proprietor of the extensive property on both sides of the Tromie, from its source in the forest of Gaick to its fall into the Spey.

From the long distance and the want one hundred and fifty years ago —long before the days of stage-coaches or railways—of any regular means of transit, the benefits of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh can have been availed of only to a small extent, if at all, by the people of Badenoch. And yet, little as they could afford to spare at the time out of their scanty sporrans, collections in aid of that noble institution appear to have been periodically made in the church of Kingussie. In a minute of the presbytery, of date 26th January 1731, it is recorded that “Mr Wm. Blair did this day give in ten shillings sterling to the moderator as the collection of Kingussie parish for the Infirmary at Edinburgh, to be transmitted.” That similar collections were made in all the congregations within the bounds of the presbytery appears from the following entry in the presbytery records, of date 27th April 1731:—

“This day the collections for the Infirmary at Edr. were delivered to Mr Lewis Chapman to carry south—viz., From Abernethy, 7, 4s.; from Kingussie, 6 ; from Kirkmichael, 7, 4s.; from Alvey, 6; from Cromdale, 13, 16s. ; and from Duthil, 18. And the said Mr Lewis Chapman was apptd. by the Presbytery to deliver the said money to David Spence, Secretary to the Bank of Scotland, and get his Receipt therefor.”

In view of the prominent part the Macphersons had taken in the Rising of 1715, the Government of the day, two or three years later, deemed it expedient, for the purpose of overawing the numerous Jacobites in Badenoch at the time, to erect on the site of the old castle of the Comyns the barracks at Ruthven—the ruins of which still exist. In 1733—and probably for some years previously—it would appear Mr Blair held from the Committee for managing the “ Royal Bounty” the appointment of preaching monthly to the company of the royal forces by whom the barracks might for the time be garrisoned, for which an annual salary of 10 was allowed to him. The fund known as the “Royal Bounty,” it may be well to explain, is a donation of 2000 which for a very long period has been annually given by our successive British monarchs for extending the benefits of the Reformation in the Highlands and Islands. From the first the Committee have been charged to appoint their agents to such places as they shall find, after due information, to be the most proper according to the design expressed in the Royal Warrant. In so doing, it is stipulated that they should have “particular regard to such parishes in South Uist, Small Isles, Glencoe, Harris, and the counties of Moidart, Glengarry, Lochaber, and the other parishes of the Synods of Glenelg and Argyll, which the Committee shall find by reason of their vast extent, by prevalence of Popery and ignorance, and other unhappy circumstances, to be in the greatest distress.”

Before Mr Blair could “get up his sallary ” from the Committee, he required to obtain the attestation of his presbytery to the effect that he had duly preached at the barracks in terms of his appointment. Evidently a bit of a tiff had arisen between himself and his presbyterial brethren in connection with this appointment. At the time the “legall stipend ” of Kingussie amounted only to “about 800 merks”—barely exceeding in sterling money that of Goldsmith’s immortal parson. In the present day the minister of such a large and important parish as Kingussie would hardly be regarded — as the presbytery of Abernethy a century and a half ago apparently regarded Mr Blair—to be “passing rich on 40 a-year.” The following extract from the presbytery minutes, of date 28th November 1733, shows how jealously the presbytery guarded —even to the extent of doing injustice to one of their own body—against what, to their collective wisdom, appeared “needless” expenditure, of any portion, however small, of the second King George’s Royal Bounty :—

“Mr Wm. Blair having applied for an attestation of his preaching monthly in the Barracks of Ruthven in order to get up his sallary for this last half-year from the Committee for managing the Royal Bounty. The Presbytery refused to grant the same, (1) Because they know not if he did preach there or not, and (2) Because they were of opinion that the application of the Royal Bounty that way did not answer the Royal Design and Recommendation. Upon which Mr Blair protested and took Instrument for this Reason—viz., Because he had laid before the Presbytery the Barrack-Officer’s attestation signed by three Ruling Elders, showing that he had preached monthly there. To which Protest and Reason the Presbytery returned this answer—. Yt. the Barrack-Officer who signs said attestation was not in North-Brittan till August last, and therefore could not attest for what did proceed said time, and the rest who sign said attestation are not Elders; and, 2d, They told Mr Blair that preaching at said Barrack was needless, in regard that the Kirk and Manse of Kingussie are within less than an half mile to it, and that for ordinary there are not above forty or fifty soldiers in it, and that that fund had been better bestowed on a Catechist than on a Minister who has a legall Stipend already.”

Notwithstanding the precautionary measures adopted in Badenoch by the Government of the time, the Macphersons continued to cherish towards the house of Stuart—albeit the many grievous failings of that unfortunate dynasty—an unswerving fidelity and devotion that “no gold could buy nor time could wither.” The skirmish between Mr Blair and the Abernethy Presbytery as to preaching in the barracks at Ruthven took place, it will be seen, in 1733. Twelve years later the Macphersons, with their chief, “the devoted Ewen of Cluny,” at their head, flocked to the standard of the “ King of the Highlanders,” regarding, as they did —like the “wee bird” in its touching and sadly burdened song, “Wae’s me for Prince Charlie!”—the Badenoch Hills, in which, wandering as a fugitive after Culloden, he for a time found refuge, as "by right his ain ”—

“On hills that are, by right, his ain,
He roams a lonely stranger;
On ilka side he’s pressed by want,
On ilka side by danger.”

Had the Prince perished at Culloden we would have never heard of the heroic Flora Macdonald, and have altogether lost a chapter of Highland loyalty and devotion, than which there is nothing more touching nor of deeper interest in the annals of our country. In view, however, of his later history, and the closing scenes of his life, a greater lustre would undoubtedly have attached to his memory had he fallen at Culloden, fighting, as he so gallantly did, against such overwhelming odds.

“Many,” says Chambers, “whose destiny has never subjected them to severe trials, will call the habits of this unhappy Prince a proof that he never possessed a magnanimous character, as he must have otherwise scorned so wretched a solace-ment for his misfortunes. Let these persons pray that they may never be reduced to analogous circumstances, or placed in similar temptations. To be born with disputable pretensions is one of the greatest of misfortunes. Even in the middle walks of life, how often do we see industry, worth, and ability wrecked in their course in consequence of the inheritance of some claims of property, which the law cannot be brought to sanction till it has worn out all that could have enjoyed the boon ! How much severer the calamity of being born to the prospect of the highest object of human ambition—ever in view, and ever denied—to be born, in short, as Cardinal York expressed it, a king by the grace of God, but not by the will of man ! It has always appeared to me that, in the case of Prince Charles Edward, the agony of hope deferred and severe disappointment, and the degradations ultimately put upon him by individuals who, by birth, were no more than his equals, wore out a spirit originally vigorous, and from which, in happier circumstances, good fruits might have been expected.”

But this by the way.

Previous to the sad disaster on “bleak Culloden Moor,” Prince Charlie’s adherents succeeded in obtaining possession of the Royal Barracks in Badenoch. Overthrown by that disaster, and realising in some measure how little they could trust to the mercy of that “bloody butcher” the Duke of Cumberland, whose inhuman cruelty is almost unexampled in the annals of British history, the remnant of the ill-fated followers of Prince Charlie fled to their native fastnesses. On their way so far south they met at Ruthven, when, after a brief council of war, and setting fire to the building to prevent the barracks being used again by the forces of King George, they dispersed never more to reassemble. The following extract from ‘The Scots Magazine’ for May 1746 indicates to some extent the success attending the subsequent efforts of Mr Blair as a “peacemaker” on behalf of some of his unfortunate parishioners:—

“Brigadier Mordaunt with the Royal Pultneys and Sempils Battalions and six pieces of canon arrived at Perth from Inverness by the Hill Road, and met with no disturbance in their march. They burnt some rebels’ houses and nonjurants’ meeting-houses in the way. Several people of the Parish of Kingussie in Badenoch, who had been seduced and compelled (?) by the rebels to join them, went to Blair in Atholl conducted by Mr AVilliam Blair, their Minister, John Macpherson of Bencher, and Donald Macpherson of Cullinlin, and delivered up their arms to Brig. Mordaunt, submitting themselves to the King’s mercy. They were all permitted to return home peaceably.”

The Abernethy Presbytery of the time appear to have been fully alive to their duties as a court of the Church, and to have been in the habit of making periodical visitations of all the congregations within their bounds. Most systematically and thoroughly indeed were these visitations gone about, and apparently with the best results. When the presbytery visited Kingussie, there was first the most minute inquiries made as to the personal behaviour of Mr Blair, his care of his family, the soundness of his doctrine, its suitableness to the capacity of the congregation, and his ministerial diligence. The conduct of his elders and deacons was then inquired into, and the extent to which the people attended and profited by the administration of ordinances. The diligence and faithfulness of the schoolmaster, the state of the “fabrick” of the church, the amount of the “legall stipend,” and the “Communion element money,” were in their turn considered by the presbytery—even the condition and number of the “church utenciles” being regarded as within the scope of their inquiries. On the occasion to be immediately adverted to, we are told that they did not hesitate to “call” for the appearance of the beadle of Kingussie, although that officer had “dyed,” and passed away from their judgment, “a fourth night” previous to the date of the visitation.

In the present day, when we hear so much of careless and inefficient ministers, and the necessity of our Highland presbyteries exercising a more effectual supervision over the ministers and kirk-sessions within their respective bounds is so apparent, the following extract, giving an elaborate account of a visitation of the congregation of Kingussie fully one hundred and fifty years ago, is certainly very instructive:—

“At Kingussie, June 24th, 1735.

“After prayer, met in Presbytery Mr Francis Grant, Moderator, Master James Chapman, William Grant, William Blair, George Grant, Lewis Chapman, Alexander McBain, James Lesly, Archibald Bannatin, Alexander Fraser, Hugh Grant, Alexander Irvine, Alexander Ross, John Grant, Ruling Elder, and William Barron, clerk.

“Mr Blair preached on his ordinary—viz., 2 Tim. 2. 19 : ‘And let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity ’—and he being removed, the Presbytery entered on the consideration of the sermon, and the several Brethren’s minds having been asked thereanent, it was approven off, and he being called in, this was intimated to him.

“Then the Minute appointing this diet of Visitation was read, and the Edict appointing Mr Blair to summond the Parishioners to this diet was called for, and Mr Blair informing that it was served, it was sustained.

“Then the Presbytery called for the Report of the Committee appointed to visit the Session Records, and they not being as yet in readiness to give in their

Report, Mr Irvine was added to their number, and they appointed to be in readiness to give it in against to-morrow at Alvie.

“A List of Elders and Deacons was called for and given in—viz. : Donald McPherson in Culnlion, Robert McPherson in Druminaoinich, John McPherson in Ruthven, James McPherson in Invertromie, Andrew Macpherson in Knappach, William Golanach in Farletter, Thomas Oig-Macpherson in Foeness, John Macpherson in Ardbrylach, Elders; James Bain in Inveruglas, William Davidson in Ardbrylach, John Macrae in Banchor, Deacons, who, being called, were present except James McPherson, William Golanach, and John Macrae, for whose absences excuses were given and sustained.

“The Presbytery, considering that a Visitation has not been held in this place for a considerable time past, thought proper to appoint a Member to explain the nature of a Visitation in the Irish Language for the sake of the commonality. Then Mr Blair was removed and particular questions put to the Elders anent his personal behaviour and care of his family, the soundness of his doctrine, the suitableness of it to the capacity of the Congregation as far as they were able to judge, and anent his Ministerial diligence,—to all which they gave satisfactory answers, whereupon Mr Blair was called in and encouraged to go on in the Lord’s work. Then the Elders and Deacons were removed, and Mr Blair was asked the ordinary questions about the constitution of his Session, the conduct of the Elders and Deacons in their respective families, and their care and diligence in their offices, to which Mr Blair answered that some of them had officiated as Elders for a considerable time before his admission without legall ordination, but that he has not as yet been able to prevail either with them or with others ; he has found it necessary to add to their number since, to submit to legall ordination, yet he hopes in some little time to be in case to give the Presbytery more satisfying accounts anent the orderly constitution of his Session; and as to the other questions relative to them he gave satisfying answers.

“Then the Ministers, Elders, and Deacons were removed, and the ordinary questions were put to the Heads of Families anent their conduct, and if they had any reason to complain of any of them, either as to their personal behaviour or their discharge of their respective Offices; to which satisfying answers being given, they were called in, and encouraged.

“Then the Minister and Elders were asked as to the people, whether they duly attended Ordinances, were profiting by them, and if they were subject to discipline; to which very agreeable and satisfactory answers were made.

“Then the Schoolmaster, who is also Precentor and Session-Clerk, was removed, and the Session and people asked with respect to his diligence and faithfulness in his offices; and they having nothing to object, he was called in, and encouraged.

“The Beadle being called for, Mr Blair reported that their Beadle dyed about a fourth night agoe, and that they had not fix’d on another as yet.

“The Presbytery enquired about the Church Utenciles, and it was answered there was only a bason and a Communion Table Cloath, which were in Mr Blair’s custody. And as to the poor’s money, Mr Blair referred to the Register for the account of it.

“As to the Fabrick of the Church, it being visible to the Presbytery that it yet wants part of the Roof and other reparations, the reason was asked why that work went so slowly on. To which it was answered by Mr Blair and the Heritors present, that application was lately made to the Duchess of Gordon’s Chamberlain, the proper person to uplift the fund appointed for the reparation of the Kirk, and it was hoped the work would very soon go on. The Presbytery appointed their Moderator to write the said Chamberlain, intreating he may not loose time in making the Fund effectual, lest the winter come on before the work be finished.

“Mr Blair being asked anent the stipends, how much it was, answered it was about eight hundred merks; and being further enquired if there was a Decreet of Plot for it, answered in the negative, but that it was pay’d according to use and wont; and being asked about Communion Element money, answered that by paction betwixt the Heritors and him the Heritors obliged themselves to pay fifty merks yearly for Communion Elements. Being asked if there was a legall Manse, Glieb, and Grass, he answered that the Manse had been declared legal, and that he was satisfied with the Glieb and Grass.

“It being asked if there was a Parochial School, it was answered that there was not one in terms of the Act of Parliament, but that there was a fund of two thousand merks lying in the Laird of Clunie’s hand, the interest of which was yearly laid out for maintaining a grammar-school in the parish.

“Appointed Messrs William Grant, Archibald Bannatyne, and Alexander Irvine to inspect the Parochial Library, and Mr Blair to give in a List of the Books thereof, that they may report to-morrow at Alvie.

“Then the Moderator gave suitable exhortations and encouragement to the Congregation, and the Presbytery adjourned to Alvey to-morrow at ten o’cloke, and closed with prayer.”

When everything was found satisfactory, it will be seen that a word of encouragement from the presbytery to minister, elders, deacons, and schoolmaster to persevere in every “good work” was not wanting.

The records of the presbytery show that in the course of his prolonged ministry Mr Blair got more than one pressing call to leave Kingussie. So attached, however, does he appear to have been to the place, that he continued minister of the parish for the long period of fifty-six years, baptising and marrying no fewer than three generations of the parishioners. According to the old Badenoch rhyme, any of the numerous Kingussie “ Calums ” of the time in search of a wife had simply to apply to Mr Blair to have their wants in that respect supplied; although, sooth to say, eligible maidens were not apparently—even in those “good old days ”—without some imperfections. The rhyme represents two

Kingussie worthies—the one a weaver and the other a tailor—engaged in a combat of wit, and is given entire in the delightful ‘ Snatches of Badenoch Song’ collected by Mr Sinton, the minister of Dores, published in the last two volumes of the ‘Celtic Magazine.’ Let me, in connection with these sketches, give the two concluding verses:—

‘Gheibh mi bean bho Mr Blair, Thuibhairt Calum Faigheadair; Ni chaileag air am beil an spkg, Thubhairt Calum Tailear.

“S’ ioma Calum tha sinn ann,

Thuibhairt Calum Faigheadair; Calum dubh is Calum cam, Thubhairt Calum Tailear.”

Mr Blair had been twelve years minister of Kingussie when the famous James Macpherson was born in 1736 at Ruthven, in the immediate neighbourhood. The minister would doubtless be on terms of intimacy with the family, and fully twenty years of his long incumbency of Kingussie had yet to run when his young parishioner (whom he had in all probability baptised) created such a furore in the literary world by the publication of the poems of Ossian. Here is an illustration of the interest excited by that publication in the translator’s native parish, as taken from the diary of Mr Blair already referred to, bearing to belong to “iEneas Macpherson, which was left him by his grandfather, who was Minister of the Gosple at Kingusy Ruthven of Badanoch in the year one thousand seven hundred and eighty-one —

“It is proposed to open an Exhibition of Paintings, taken solely from the Poems of Ossian, and executed by the greatest Masters in London. This Exhibition to be called by the name of Ossian’s Hall, Ossian’s Gallery, or by similar appelation. Such an Exhibition would not only be highly beneficial to the promoters, if conducted with judgment and liberality, but would add a new lustre to the justly celebrated Poems of Ossian, and be an honour to the Country, and a valuable present to the public. To be conducted upon a plan similar to that of the Shakesperean Poet’s Gallery, and to be under the direction of a certain number of persons, one of whom to be appointed Acting Manager. In case apartments cannot be found in an eligible situation, which may be judged fit for the purpose of this Exhibition, a new Building will be necessary to be constructed upon the most approved plan, and in the most centrical situation in London. It is not doubted that the Poems of Ossian will afford ample scope for the pencil in all that is grand, sublime, and striking in painting. But in order to relieve the eye, as well as to throw these into a more striking point of view, one apartment may without inconsistency be furnished with Paintings from ”

(Here, unfortunately, part of the diary has been torn away.)

“It is not to be disputed that were it once set on foot, it would, in this age of refinement, meet with such high encouragement as not only in the course of a very few years would indemnify the Proprietors in their expenses, but be a source of gain far beyond conception. An Exhibition of this kind possesses advantages to the Proprietors far beyond the generality of adventures of this nature; for in the first place, the Paintings, which a long course of time does not in the smallest impair, together with the Building, are a certaine fund—the former, indeed, instead of being impaired by the hand of time, become infinitely more valuable. In the next place, the expenses of upholding the Exhibition is comparatively very small. One or two persons to attend at exhibition hours will be sufficient.”

Here is a “sketch” of the estimated expenditure—as given in Mr Blair’s diary—“which would be required to carry on the proposed Exhibition, and of the profits which are likely to arise from it ” :—


Suppose 100 Paintings at 50 each .... 5000 0 0

Two do. at ,200 each ...... 400 0 0

The Building ....... 1000 0 0

6400 0 0

Besides expense of two men at ,40 per ann. Int. on this sum at 5 p. ct. is 320 per ann., which, with the men’s allowance, will be 400 p. ann.


Supposing 100 persons at an average to come to the Exhibition each day at is. each, which from the success Exhibitions of a like nature have, is a moderate calculation,

5 p. day is p. ann. ..... 1825 0 0

Catalogues at is. each, on which the profit will be 6d. p. ct., supposing one-half of the compy. to purchase Catalogues 426 10 0

2251 10 0

Deduct expenditure .

. . 400. 0 0

Balce. p. ann. . .

• • 1851 10 0 ”

This ambitious proposal, notwithstanding the sanguine expectations as to its success, appears never to have taken practical shape, and to have been ultimately abandoned.

Many further interesting odds and ends, having reference to Mr Blair’s long and eventful incumbency of Kingussie—extending, as it did, from 1724 to 1780—might be given. The sketch, however, in connection with his ministry, has already extended to such a length that I must desist. Mr Blair died at Kingussie on 25th December 1780, in the eighty-seventh year of his age, and sixtieth of his ministry, his remains being interred in the “Middle Churchyard ” there.

12. John Anderson, 1782-1809.—Mr Anderson is described by Mrs Grant of Laggan in one of her “Letters from the Mountains,” in 1791, as “a person of fine taste, superior abilities, and extensive information.” In 1792—ten years after his induction—he got a new church built at Kingussie. He was one of the executors of “ Ossian ” Macpherson, who died on 17th February 1796.

Colonel Thornton in the journal of his visit to Badenoch in 1784, referred to on page 44, thus alludes to a sermon which he heard delivered by Mr Anderson in the church of Kingussie:—

“August 14.—Day charming; went to church and heard a very well-delivered sermon from Mr Anderson. This gentleman, though a Lowlander, by absolute perseverance has taught himself the Erse language, in which he preaches a sermon after delivering one in English.”

However well delivered, the sermon does not seem to have had a very rousing effect upon the congregation,—for the Colonel adds that it appeared to him “the men came here to eat tobacco and the women to sleep; ”and he ventures“ to affirm that a tax on sleeping females at church would bring in from this parish a pretty revenue.”

Mr Anderson was translated to Bellie (Fochabers) in 1809. He acted as factor and commissioner for the Duke of Gordon, and was appointed a justice of the peace. Objections having been made to his holding these offices, the case was carried through the subordinate courts to the General Assembly. The Assembly declared “that it is impossible they should not highly disapprove of the Parish Ministers of this Church engaging in such secular employment as may be inconsistent with the full and faithfull discharge of their spiritual functions.” Mr Anderson in consequence demitted his spiritual charge for the more lucrative secular offices. It was in reference to the plurality of offices thus enjoyed by him that the following doggerel rhyme got into general circulation during his lifetime:—

“The Reverend John Anderson,
Factor to his Grace,
Minister of Fochabers,
And Justice of the Peace.”

Mr Anderson died 22d April 1839, eightieth year of his age.

13. John Robertson, 1810-25.—Mr Robertson was for some time missionary at Achreny, in Caithness-shire, and subsequently minister of the chapel - of- ease at Rothesay. He was presented to Kingussie by Alexander, Duke of Gordon, in 1810, and appointed a justice of the peace for the county of Inverness in 1818. An able and faithful minister, a “clear and unctuous preacher,” Mr Robertson’s “praise in the Gospel was throughout all the churches,” and he was revered and greatly beloved by the people of Badenoch. He was the favourite minister of the well-known “Apostle of the North”—the late Dr Macdonald of Ferintosh. He died at Kingussie on 4th March 1825, in the sixty-eighth year of his age and thirty-eighth of his ministry, his remains being among the first laid to rest in the “ New Churchyard ” of Kingussie.

In the ‘Inverness Courier’ of 17th March 1825 his character is thus described :—

“In Mr Robertson the Church of Scotland has lost a dintinguished ornament, and his family and parish have sustained an incalculable loss. In his character there was a happy union of great intellect, fervent and rational piety, unswerving fidelity in his Master’s cause, and zeal tempered by wisdom, and controlled by discriminating prudence. As a preacher his talents were of no common order. Possessed of a clear and comprehensive understanding, he made the most intricate subjects intelligible to the meanest capacity. His reasoning was always close, cogent, and convincing; his illustrations rich and varied; his similes in the highest degree chaste, striking, and appropriate; his appeals to the heart powerful and persuasive, and these important requisites .of the ministerial character were rendered doubly interesting by the sincerity and unction with which they were inculcated. None who had the happiness of hearing him could fail to perceive that his whole soul was occupied with his subject, and that he felt the deepest concern for the immortal interests of those whom he addressed. The sincerity which he displayed in the pulpit he daily cherished and eminently exemplified in his intercourse with the world. He was an ‘Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile.’ He detested that temporising policy which, contrary to deliberate conviction, accommodates itself to the feelings and sentiments of others. In short, in all the relations of life, but especially in the domestic circle, he practised the duties which in his public ministrations he so earnestly and piously enforced. These excellences were well appreciated by his affectionate flock, for it may with truth be affirmed that no pastor was ever more revered and beloved by his people, or went down to the grave more deeply and generally lamented.  The righteous shall be held in everlasting remembrance.’”

In a fervent and beautiful elegy by the “Apostle” of Ferintosh— considered the best of all his Gaelic poems—the “Apostle,” as if standing beside the newly opened grave, and apostrophising his departed friend, tenderly exclaims that if there were “aught that could make heaven to me more desirable besides eternal communion with my God, it is that thou art there before me.”

This lament will be found in the ‘ Poems and Hymns ’ of Dr Macdonald, issued by the well-known Gaelic publishers, Messrs Maclachlan & Stewart of Edinburgh. It is too long to be given here entire, but the tender prelude to the “ Apostle’s ” song of sorrow will give some idea of the strains that succeed :—


“Tha Bkideanach an diugh fo ghruaim;
A teachdair aillidh thugadh uaip’;
’Se bhi g’a charadh anns an uaigh,
Thug sgeula cruaidh r’a aithris dhuinn.


Ar leam gu’n cluinn mi sean is og
Air feadh na tir, ri gul is bron ;
Is dhoibhs’ d’am b’kbhaist bhi ri ceol,
Cha’n eol an diugh bhi aighearach.


Cha’n ioghnagh’m bron ud—’s i a chaill
An solus kluinn bha gun fhoill,
Bha tabhairt blkth’s dhi agus soills’,
Gu trie rinn aobhneach, subhach i.


An solus chuireadh gean is surd
Air luchd a’ chridhe bhriste bhruit’,
Is do’n fhear-thuruis bheireadh iul,
A stiiiireadh ceart gu Sion e.


Ach theich a nis an rionnag shiolls’.
Is dh’ fhkg sud Bkideanach fo’n oidhch,
Och, dh’ fhkg sud Bkideanach fo’n oidhch
’Sa h-aoibhneas phill gu dubhachas !”

These stanzas Professor Blackie1 has kindly translated for this volume as follows:—


“Badenoch to-day is bowed with grief
For the teacher gone that was her glory.
The spade that dug his grave hath sent
From glen to glen a tearful story.
Ever learning something new,
Holding fast the good and true,
What he trows he tells right free,

' Arjdtvuv iv dydirr  ”


Old and young are weeping to-day,
Young and old the wide land thorough ;
The voice the loudest wont to sing
Now dies away in notes of sorrow.


Badenoch weeps for the light she has lost,
So pure, no taint of guile was in it;
It gave her warmth, it gave her wisdom,
And made her heart sing like lark or linnet:


The light that came to the broken-hearted,
And lifted them up with the strength of a lion,
And shone on the weary pilgrim’s path,
And guided his feet on the way to Zion.


But he shines no more the star of her joy,
And darkened her life with a curtain of sorrow;
And Badenoch is left of her glory bereft,
With weeping to-day and with wailing to-morrow.”

The following prose translation of some of the concluding stanzas, by the late Dr Kennedy of Dingwall, in his ‘Life and Labours of the Apostle,’ published in 1866—meritorious as that translation is—gives but a faint conception of the touching pathos of the original:—

“Some have felt the tidings of thy death pierce them as a sharp arrow that hath reached the marrow of their bones, and there stuck fast. Theirs is a sorrow that shall not soon dry up, unlike the grief of others, which is but for a little, and then passes quite away. As the dew of night on the mountain on a calm morning quickly passes away as if it never was, so soon as the Sun has cast his rays upon it, thus some are for a short season sad; but joy and singing reach them, and, lo ! their sorrow is away, and it is found no more. But the showering rain abides not on the surface, but goes down into the soil; and the deeper it sinks, it is the more abiding. Thus the sorrow of some is but increasing when that of others has quite passed away. Near to the spot where thou hast often stood to preach have they laid thy dust; and as before thy life, so now thy death, is each Sabbath giving instruction to thy people. Some, doubtless, will look with a heavy heart often on that spot of earth, fragrant to them since thou wast laid there. Methinks I hear one of them thus speaking over thy grave : ‘ Alas! all complexion and beauty have now departed from that noble manly countenance. Nor hand nor foot can this day move; they are now at rest under the spell of the Grave. Tongue shall not speak; nor shall ear listen to the wail of the mourner. The eye once so bright, lively, and loving, that often beamed so kindly on the children of grace, and through which the tender heart could be so easily discovered, is now under the seal of Death, and shall not be opened. The tongue once so skilled to preach to us the Gospel is now under the strong lock of the Grave, and shall speak to us no more. Oh, ye inhabitants of the Grave, what stillness has lain upon you since your form and beauty have departed! Oh, when again shall ye move? The worm shall sleep in the ground; in a quiet corner rests the insect during the storms of Winter, but with Spring they shall awake again. But when shall a Spring arrive that shall arouse the still silent dwellers in the Grave? When shall they awaken out of their sleep? A long, long sleep is theirs ! Leaves shall spring out again from the branch, bare and uncomely though it be to-day; and in his celestial journey the Sun shall return again after he has gone out of sight. But when shall these again appear in beauty who now lie withered in the Grave; when shall those Sun-rays reach them that shall give them resurrection from that bed? Yes, warmth shall come after the cold, and day after the longest night; but when shall day dawn on the Grave, and its long night be past? But Soul, restrain thy mourning; day shall yet dawn on the Grave, and before it the Grave’s long night shall flee away with all that made it dark and frowning. The dust of him for whom thou hast often wept shall then arise with comeliness, beauty, and strength greater than though in the Grave it had never lain. O Grave, employ thy power to-day, for the King of hosts permits thee. Yea, extend thy sway, and swallow up the nations. But boast not of thy might, for, though it is enduring, it is not eternal. Already the Almighty One hath won an everlasting victory over thee. And in Him shall His Dead arise—a glorious band, His own purchased possession. Their tongue shall then no more be silent, for all that made them dumb is gone.’”

“Near to God was the power of his speech,
But not the track of his life was lower;
Nicely his preaching and practice agreed,
As the hand keeps time with the step of the sower.”

14. George Shepherd, A.M., 1825-43.—Mr Shepherd was for some time schoolmaster at Kingussie, and was minister of Laggan from 1818 to 1825. He was presented by Alexander, Duke of Gordon, and translated from Laggan to Kingussie in May 1825. In 1819 Mr Shepherd married Miss Robertson (a daughter of his predecessor), on whom the following song was composed. This song, in which Mr Shepherd is represented as “Strephon,” is said to be the genuine poetical effusion of a young man, a stranger in the district of Badenoch, who had fallen passionately in love with Miss Robertson, but to whom he never had the courage to reveal his feelings in any other form:—

The Lovely Maid of Badenoch.
Tune—Loch Erricht-side.

“Long may she bloom so fresh and fair,
Cherished by heaven’s kind fost’ring care,
Nor wither in the mountain air
That blows so keen in Badenoch.

May no rude blast or chilling storm,
Nor wasting sorrow’s cank’ring worm,
E’er blight the joy or mar the form
Of her that blooms in Badenoch.

But may she live devoid of guile
And every artful female wile,
Except that sweet bewitching smile
That graces her of Badenoch.

Although she never can be mine,
Yet mem’ry round my heart shall twine
Her dear remembrance, and confine
My sweetest thoughts to Badenoch.

Those hills which I no more may see,
Those rugged wastes that cheerless be,
Shall for her sake be dear to me,
Though far away from Badenoch.

Ah, yes ! their very names to hear,
Shall be like music to my ear,
And from my eye shall start the tear
For her I loved in Badenoch.

O Strephon, how I envy thee!
Thou’rt happier far than I can be,
Since ’tis thy fate to tear from me
The lovely maid of Badenoch.

How gladly would I choose to die,
And leave this world without a sigh,
Did she but know the love thatI
Do bear for her in Badenoch !

But, be she blest, I’ll not repine,
Her happiness shall aye be mine;
Kind heaven will aid me to resign
The lovely maid of Badenoch.

But should misfortune stern oppress,
And pour the cup of dire distress,
My cot should be a dwelling-place
For her who blooms in Badenoch.

I’ve drank Love’s deepest draught of woe,
And through the world must cheerless go,
While heaves my heart with many a throe
For her I loved in Badenoch.

But words, alas ! could never tell
What feelings in my bosom swell;
So now a long and last farew.ell
To her I loved in Badenoch.”

Mr Shepherd joined the Secession of 1843, carrying with him all but a small number of a large and attached congregation. At the beginning of his incumbency he was very imperfectly acquainted with the mother-tongue, so dear to Highlanders. In course of time, however, he acquired a wonderful command of Gaelic, although his quaint and broken phrases in that language, down to the termination of his ministry in Kingussie, are still remembered and frequently repeated in the district. He became minister of the South Free Church in Elgin in October 1852, and died suddenly on a visit to Aberdeen on 20th July 1853, in the fifty-ninth year of his age. He was succeeded in the Free Church of Kingussie by the present scholarly and much-respected incumbent, the Rev. Neil Dewar, who has, during the long period which has since intervened, ministered with great acceptance to that congregation. Under the auspices of the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, Mr Dewar was associated with the late Dr Clerk of Kilmallie, and the late Dr Maclauchlan of Edinburgh, in the revision of the Gaelic Scriptures, and is well known as one of the most able and accomplished Gaelic scholars of the present day.

15. Charles Grant, 1843-56.—Mr Grant, who had been for some time minister of Rothiemurchus, was presented by Charles, fifth Duke of Richmond, and translated from Rothiemurchus, 26th September 1843. Appointed, as he had been, to Kingussie within three or four months after the Secession of 1843, Mr Grant was shunned for many years by the great bulk of the parishioners, for no other reason than that he adhered to the Establishment. As the late Dr Norman Macleod often said in alluding to the general results of that sad event:—

“The sacrifices were certainly not all on one side. With indignant energy he portrayed the trial it was to the flesh to keep by the unpopular side, and to act out what conscience dictated as the line of duty. If it was hard to go out, it was harder to stay in. It would have been a relief to have joined the procession of those who passed out amid the huzzas of the populace, and who were borne on the tide of enthusiasm—greeted as martyrs, and regarded as saints—in place of remaining by the apparent wreck of all that was lately a prosperous Church. The heart sank at the spectacle of those empty benches, where once sat Chalmers and Welsh and Gordon, and such able leaders as Candlish and Cunningham; while the task of filling up more than four hundred vacant charges, and reorganising all the foreign missionary agencies of the Church, which had in one day disappeared, was terribly disheartening. There was no encouragement from the outside world for those who began with brave hearts to clear away the wreck. Scorn and hissing greeted them at every turn, as men whose only aim was ‘ to abide by the stuff.’ One unpopular step had to be resolutely taken after another, and the unpolitic legislation of the last ten years reversed. Unless there had been in his mind a deep sense of duty, Norman Macleod was the last man in the world to undertake the dreary task which for many a day was assigned to him and to his brethren. But he did not hesitate. Although his heart was burdened by its anxieties, he took his place from that day onward as a ‘restorer of the breach,’ and was spared to see that the labours of those who endeavoured in the hour of danger to preserve the blessings of an Established Church for the country had not been thrown away.”

The following incidents serve to illustrate the extent to which the persecuting spirit of the people was aroused at the time of the Secession, and the painful test to which Mr Grant’s fidelity to the old Church of his fathers subjected him. The wife of a parishioner of Kingussie to whom Mr Grant had shown some kindness—and who had, for a time, evinced considerable hesitation in making up his mind to leave the old Church— had given birth to a son, and was visited by the wife of one of the leading Secessionists. After some remarks appropriate to such occasions, the worthy visitor referred to the intended baptism of the child, and in alluding to Mr Grant, thus forcibly gave expression, in her native vernacular, to her feelings: “Tha mi an duil nach leig sibh le spogan a chon boin uisge chur am feasd air aghaidh an leanabh,”—i.e., “I hope you will not allow the paws of the dog ever to sprinkle a drop of water on the face of the child.” Meeting and addressing a courteous salutation to another Secessionist on the street, sometime after the Secession, the response Mr Grant received, with a malignant scowl, was, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” These incidents are only two out of many that might be related, in the way of showing that the “ martyrdoms ” of ’43 were not by any means exclusively on the side of those who were borne along, with such enthusiastic plaudits, on the popular Secession wave of the time. To dwell upon such incidents would be uncharitable. I allude to them simply for the purpose of doing justice to the memory of Mr Grant, who, under the most painful and discouraging circumstances during the whole course of his ministry in Kingussie, faithfully endeavoured to do his duty to the best of his ability. Happily for the credit of our common religion, and of our common humanity, the intensely bitter sectarian feeling prevailing between the two Churches for so many years after 1843 has in a great measure— especially among the people themselves—passed away.

“Let us hope,” says Dean Stanley, “that the age of the Disruption has been succeeded by a generation not baptised into that fierce fire; and probably there are few now in Scotland who can enter into the violence with which at that time households were rent asunder, children quarrelled in the streets, ancient friends parted. Auchterarder, the scene of the original conflict, after a few years settled into a haven of perfect peace, the pastor whose intrusion provoked the collision between the spiritual and civil courts lived and died respected by the whole parish. Many would now join with the honoured historian of the catastrophe of 1843 in that truly Christian discourse, in which, whilst vindicating the right of the Free Church to sever itself, he withdrew any claim to its being regarded as a fundamental or essential principle of religion.”

To many devoted friendships so sadly severed by that catastrophe might be appropriately applied the beautiful lines of Coleridge, so touchingly quoted by Norman Macleod in his closing address as Moderator of the General Assembly of 1869 :—

“Alas ! they had been friends in youth,
But whispering tongues can poison truth,
And constancy lives in realms above,
And life is thorny; and youth is vain;
And to be wroth with one we love
Doth work like madness in the brain.
Each spake words of high disdain,
And insult to his heart’s best brother :
They parted, ne’er to meet again!
But never either found another
To free the hollow heart from paining—
They stood aloof, the scars remaining,
Like cliffs which had been rent asunder;
A dreary sea now flows between;—
But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder,
Shall wholly do away, I ween,
The marks of that which once hath been.”

Pity it is that there are still so many Presbyterian ministers throughout the country given to such minute hair-splitting and straw-dividing distinctions! To all fair-minded, right-thinking men, the acts and utterances of many of these ministers are sad in the extreme, and would almost make us despair of our miserable divisions ever being healed. Would that we all fully realised the shame and discredit attaching to our National Presbyterianism by the continuance of these divisions; and that, by mutual forbearance and concession, a comprehensive Union might be brought about on the old stable foundations! Given the will, the way to such a happy consummation could surely be found. In this connection the following remarks made by the genial and accomplished minister of the Church, “Nether Lochaber,” in alluding, in one of his delightful contributions to the ‘Inverness Courier,’ to a portion of these papers published in the ‘ Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness,’ may be appropriately quoted :—

“Whatever the original reference in the phrase, ‘ the curse of Scotland,’ there can be little doubt that in more recent days the curse of our dear land has been that worst of all bad things—the odium theologicum—religious animosity and sectarian bitterness. It were well for the country if people would only adopt something of the fine philosophy of Skinner’s grand old song :—

‘Let Free and ’Stablished all agree,
Free and ’Stablished, Free and ’Stablished,
Let Free and ’Stablished all agree
To drop their snarliegorum. '

Let Free and ’Stablished all agree
To spend the night in mirth and glee,
And cheerfu’ sing along wi’ me
The reel of Tullochgorum!

O! Tullochgorum’s my delight,
It gars us a’ in ane unite,
And ony sumph that keeps tip spite,
In conscience I abhor him.

Blythe and merry we’s be a’,
Blythe and merry, blythe and merry ;
Blythe and merry we’s be a’,
And male’ a cheerfu’ quorum.

Blythe and merry we’s be a’
As lang as we ha’e breath to draw,
And dance, till we be like to fa’,
The reel of Tullochgorum.’

“If a little more of the spirit that actuates and makes beautiful the good old Aberdeenshire parson’s song were imported into the everyday services of our Churches north and south of the Grampians, we should have a better and a happier people, and eke a better and a happier clergy—‘agricultural depression’ and ‘stagnant trade’ to the contrary notwithstanding.”

But to return to the ministry of Mr Grant. Unendowed, perhaps, with the gifts (often very superficial) which go to make a popular preacher, no more clear-headed, warm-hearted minister, nor one more sincerely interested in the religious and temporal welfare of the parishioners, ever, I believe, filled the pulpit of Kingussie. His minutes in the kirk-session records are models of composition as well as of penmanship. Possessing influential friends in the south, and disregarding denominational distinctions, not a few of the Badenoch lads of the time were indebted to him for a successful start in life. He died at Kingussie, 29th March 1856, in the fifty-second year of his age and twenty-sixth of his ministry, his remains resting in the “New Churchyard,” close beside those of his saintly and justly revered predecessor, Mr Robertson. As one of the boys to whom Mr Grant in the course of his ministry showed many acts of kindness and encouragement, let me gratefully pay this humble tribute of respect to his memory.

16. Alexander Cameron, 1856-57.—Mr Cameron, who was a native of Tomintoul, acted for some time as assistant to Dr Macpherson, Professor of Greek in the University of Aberdeen. Presented by Charles, fifth Duke of Richmond, he was admitted as minister of Kingussie 26th August 1856, and died at Kingussie 19th April 1857, in his thirty-first year, after a brief but greatly appreciated ministry of eight months.

17. Gregor Stuart, 1857-66.—Mr Stuart, a native of Cromdale, was for some time minister at Kinlochluichart, and subsequently at Rogart. Presented by Charles, fifth Duke of Richmond, he was inducted as minister of Kingussie 29th September 1857. Possessed of great natural ability and shrewdness, he acted for some years as clerk to the Presbytery of Abernethy, was a very pithy and practical preacher, and genial and popular minister. He died at Kingussie 4th September 1866, at the early age of forty-one, greatly regretted by the parishioners and by numerous friends throughout the Highlands. His remains are interred in the “ New Churchyard,” and through the efforts of Mr James Mackenzie, the esteemed ex-postmaster of Kingussie, for many years an elder in the parish church, a well-merited and appropriate mark of respect has been recently paid to Mr Stuart’s memory by the erection of a tombstone bearing the following inscription :—

“bg a fcia Jticntjs in fflcmorg of

18. Kenneth Alexander Mackenzie, M.A., LL.D., 1867.—The present minister, Dr Mackenzie, is one of the three sons, devoted to the ministry, of the late John Mackenzie, M.A., minister of Lochcarron, of whom he is now the only survivor. Of these three sons, one of their number (the much respected and lamented minister of Ferintosh), filled in 1884 the highest position in the Church—that of Moderator of the General Assembly—with great credit to the Highlands, and the universal satisfaction of the whole Church. His brother (the present minister of Kingussie) succeeded their father as minister of Lochcarron in 1856. He was presented by Charles, sixth Duke of Richmond, and admitted as minister of Kingussie 7th March 1867. He has thus been now minister of the parish for fully twenty-five years. The following address, presented by Mr Macpherson of Belleville in name of the congregation, to Dr Mackenzie, in presence of a large assemblage representative of all denominations, on the occasion of his silver wedding in October 1889, speaks for itself:—

“We, the members and adherents of your congregation, desire very cordially, on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of your happy marriage-day, to present to you and Mrs Mackenzie—the worthy and faithful partner of your wedded life—our warmest congratulations.

“Long and widely known as you have been for the very warm, active, and intelligent interest you have for so many years taken in the cause of education in the Highlands, and of the elevation in that direction of the Highland people, we rejoiced in common with your many friends throughout the country when your labours in that important cause, and the general esteem entertained for you, were publicly recognised by the degree so deservedly bestowed upon you by your Alma Mater, the University of Aberdeen.

“Your services as the energetic Secretary of the Ladies’ Gaelic School and Highland Bursary Association, in stimulating the higher education of Gaelicspeaking lads connected with the Church of Scotland, and affording encouragement to so many of the most promising of their number to study for the ministry of the Church in the Highlands, have, it is well known, been productive of the most beneficial results, and are, we have reason to believe, warmly appreciated by the Church at large.

“As Chairman of the School Board of Kingussie (with the exception of a short period) since the passing of the Education Act in 1872, your services in that capacity are universally admitted to have been invaluable, and of great benefit to the youth attending the Public Schools in the parish, as well as to the district generally.

“Settled as you have been as Minister of the Parish for a period now extending to nearly a quarter of a century, we specially desire to express our high appreciation of the earnest, faithful, and devoted manner in which for such a long period you have discharged the duties of your sacred office, and of your unwearied exertions in the way of promoting the wellbeing and prosperity of all classes of the community.

“To mark our affection and respect for you, not only as our Minister, but in all the relations of life, we very heartily unite in asking your own and Mrs Mackenzie’s acceptance of the tokens of our esteem and regard which we now present to you.

“We earnestly hope and pray that Almighty God may prolong your days, and continue abundantly to bless and prosper your ministry amongst us, and that you and your wife may be spared to each other in health and happiness for many years to come, mutually sharing in the general esteem and regard which you both so happily enjoy.

“Signed in name and on behalf of the Congregation of the Parish Church of Kingussie, by

“James Mackenzie, Elder.
Peter Macpherson, Elder.
A. Macpherson, Elder.
Duncan Macpherson, Elder.”

In the course of a very interesting speech in reply to the address, Dr Mackenzie adverted at some length to the progress of education in the Highlands. As of general interest let me give the following extracts :—

“In the laudatory address which had just been read, allusion,” said Dr Mackenzie, “had been made to the interest he had taken in education, not only in the parish, but in a measure throughout the Highlands and Islands. For forty years or more he had been of opinion that if the Highlands were to be benefited, it was by placing as good an education as possible within the reach of the youth of the northern counties. Much had been done in the past, and perhaps a good deal required to be done still; but if the parents of children realised what had been already done, and took advantage of it, much good would be the result. He always noticed that the Highland youth, both boys and girls, were more easily trained and taught, and much more easily polished, if he might use the word, than the youth of the eastern and southern counties of Scotland. Highland children were in fact generally, however poor their parents might be, born ladies and gentlemen. He never yet saw children in the Highlands who were educated above a certain point — that was a point a little beyond the standards of the present day—who did not very soon afterwards earn their own living, and not only their own living, but were able to assist their parents, if they had them, and their friends. They had alluded also in the address to the Ladies’ Bursary Association. He was glad they did so in the way they did, because a considerable amount of his time was taken up with the work of the Association. He thought that work was a good work, and calculated to benefit a considerable number of promising youth of the Highlands. That Association saw that many Highlanders went to the universities unprepared. They discovered that there were no secondary schools in the Highlands, and as they were unable to equip schools themselves, they thought they could benefit the Highlands by assisting the most promising young men in the north to go for two years to the best schools in the south. In this way they put them very much on an equality with the more favoured youth of the south. He might say that that Association now had upwards of forty bursars attending the universities of Scotland, most of whom had distinguished themselves in their classes. Allusion had also been made to the honour conferred on him by appointing him Chairman of the School Board. During all the years he had been on the board he had found it most pleasant to act along with his friend Mr Dewar and the other members. They did not always agree, but if they differed they agreed to differ, and the work of the board had been carried on most amicably and most pleasantly. Much had been done in the Highlands for education since the passing of the Education Act in 1872. He thought they would agree with him in saying that it was now full time for them not to ask for more, but to make the best of what they had got. Throughout the Highlands before the passing of the Education Act many of the school buildings, for instance, were in a wretched state of repair. Some members of the first school boards came to the conclusion that it was better for them not to take advantage of the Act, but go on with the schools as they were, and depend upon associations connected with the different Churches for the salaries they formerly paid. He (Dr Mackenzie) was so much afraid that they would continue to be of this opinion until the time elapsed when building grants could be asked for, that in the General Assembly of 1873 he ventured to move that the Church of Scotland should cease to maintain the General Assembly schools from the end of that year. His motion did not then find a seconder; but before the end of that year he was glad to say that the Church came to a better and wiser frame of mind, and intimated to the Department that they were no longer to continue these schools. Education, he said, was much better before that period in Badenoch than in his old country. In Lochcarron he had often found young men and young women unable to sign their marriage schedule. That showed the state of education before the Act was passed. He was glad to say, however, that he had never met a native of Kingussie, bride or bridegroom, who was not able to sign his or her name.” Alluding to the improvement in school buildings, he said, “There was a school at Ettridge built of turf when he came to Kingussie. There was no chimney—only a hole in the roof through which the smoke might or might not pass as it felt inclined. The fire was placed on a stone in the centre of the room, and the furniture in that school, which when he examined it was attended by nearly twenty children, would be dear, he should say, at 5s. In that district they had now a school which cost about 400, and though not a palatial building, was quite large enough for the purpose. The whole of the expense of the erection of that building was defrayed by the Government. There were, as they knew, clauses inserted in the Act suggested by Lochiel, allowing special building grants to be made to Highland districts. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie called a meeting at Inverness, which was attended by several members from that and other boards throughout the north, and the result was that the Government were moved to increase their allowances, and did so to a considerable extent; for they in Kingussie benefited by that meeting to the amount of ^550 for additional building grants, and other parishes —larger parishes—benefited to at least double that extent. He referred to the interest Dr Craik, the present Secretary of the Education Department, had taken in the Highlands for through the Highland minute drawn out by him after his visit to the north, pupils in the Highlands could earn about 6s. per head more than pupils in the south and east of Scotland. Since then they had got practically free education in Scotland. Where no fees had previously been paid, the grant of about 1 os. a-head per annum would be a clear gain, and so great a gain that he knew more than one parish in the Islands where it would amount to the sum formerly required to be raised by a school rate, and where no school rate would henceforth require to be levied unless salaries and other expenses increased.”

Dr Mackenzie is unwearied in his exertions in the way of promoting the good of the parishioners of Kingussie generally. I am sure I simply echo the cordial wishes of the people of Badenoch when I express the hope that he may be long spared, in health and strength, to go out and in amongst us.

In connection with the present ecclesiastical state of the parish—with its two Presbyterian churches, not many yards apart, and its Catholic chapel or meeting-house—let me quote the following lines from our old friend Professor Blackie’s ‘ Lays of the Highlands and Islands ’:—

“Three churches in the village stand :
This serves the State, and that is Free,
The third doth own the Pope’s command,
And God in heaven claims all the three.
All units from one centre flow,
And all the strangely woven strife
Of high and low, and swift and slow,
Makes music in a larger life.
As the huge branches of a tree
Clash, when the stormy buffets blow;
Hostile they seem, but one they be,
And by the strife that shakes them grow.
So the vast world of adverse things,
That with a reeling fury nod,
Battles of Churches and of Kings
Have one unshaken root in God.
Who this believes will fear no harm
From counted articles or beads;
There’s room in God’s wide-circling arm
For all that swear by all the creeds.
Creeds are but school-books, kindly given
To teach our stammering tongues to spell
His name; all help the good to heaven,
And none can save the bad from hell.”

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