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

“I think of the days of Prince Charlie,
When the North spent its valour in vain,
And the blood of the brave and the loyal
Was poured at Culloden like rain.

Now past like the mist on the mountains
Are the days when such deeds could be done;
The Clansmen are scattered for ever,
The race of the Chieftains is run.

O thoughts of the past! ye bring sadness,
And vain is the wish that once more
The great grassy glens that are silent
Were homes of the brave as of yore.”



“In the land of the Macphersons,
Where the Spey’s wide waters flow,
In the land where Royal Charlie
Knew his best friend in his woe.”

FOR many generations the people of Badenoch were so much inclined to chivalrous adventure and military achievement that no district in the Highlands in proportion to its size—with the exception, perhaps, of the island of Skye — produced so many distinguished soldiers. The Cinn-tighe or heads of the various branches of the Macphersons frequently gave all their sons to the profession of arms, of many of whom it has been justly said that their names and deeds will long live in the annals of the Highlands. Within living memory nearly all the farms in Badenoch were possessed by retired Macpherson officers who had distinguished themselves in the service of their country, and were remarkable not only for their varied attainments and the refinement of their courtesy, but also for their genuine Highland kindness and hospitality. The martial ardour prevailing for so many centuries in the Macpherson country, and the old order of things, have almost entirely passed away. Nearly every one of the farms referred to, possessed for ages from father to son by native-born tenants, are now in the occupation of strangers, who, although otherwise worthy and respected, have little or no connection, either by birth or name, with the district. In not a few instances, alas ! hardly a trace remains of the old homes of families belonging to the clan long well known and honoured in Badenoch, whose nearest kith and kin are now scattered “ o’er land and sea,” far away from the glens and the corries and crags their forefathers loved so dearly. It is so far gratifying to find that so many of the descendants of these families, now dwelling and prospering in foreign climes, still, as opportunity arises, give touching utterance—and Republican cousins, long settled in America, as much as any—to the feelings expressed in the address of the old Highlander to his countrymen :—

“My heart’s in the Highlands, I love every glen,
Every corrie and crag in the land of the Ben,
Each brave kilted laddie, stout-hearted and true,
With rich curly locks ’neath his bonnet of blue.

And the songs of the Gael on their pinions of fire,
How oft have they lifted my heart from the mire !
On the lap of my mother 1 lisped them to God :
Let them float round my grave when I sleep ’neath the sod.

And dear to my heart are the chivalrous ways,
And the kindly regards of the old Highland days,
When the worth of the chief and the strength of the clan
Brought glory and gain to the brave Highlandman.”

We are fortunate in still having in our midst, “dwelling among his own people,” Brigadier-General Macpherson of Cluny, the present Chief of the clan, who during a long period of active service has so worthily maintained the ancient military fame of his ancestors, and is the lineal descendant and loyal representative of an honoured line of chiefs that for ages exercised patriarchal sway in the district. The only other officer now resident in the district is Colonel Lachlan Macpherson of Glentruim.

In the following sketches of the seats of families in Badenoch, glimpses are given, gleaned from various sources, of many gallant soldiers furnished to the British army by the Macpherson country—the heather’d hills

“That heave and roll endlessly north away,
By Corryarrick and the springs of Spey,
The grand old country of the Chattan clan.”

1. Ardbrylach.—Though generally so spelt, the old natives pronounced it Ard-drylach. The Gaelic spelling is Ardroileach, which is said to be a corruption of Ardroighnich, the height of blackthorns. Others suppose the name to be Ardbhroighleach—i.e., the height of cranberries. The place is in the immediate vicinity of Kingussie, and was long possessed by a Ceanntighe or head of a family of the Macphersons.

“Mai. Macpherson of Ardbrylach ” was one of the Macphersons who signed the clan “ Covenant ” in 1628.

2. Ballachroan (Gaelic, BaiV-a-Chrothain, the town of the sheep-fold).—Ballachroan was the residence for a long period of a Macpherson family of the Sliochd Ghilliosa branch of the clan. It is noted as having been possessed for many years by Captain Macpherson, the famous Black Officer, who perished in the Gaick catastrophe in 1800, and of whom a sketch is given on pages 144-155. Ballachroan was subsequently possessed by Captain MacBarnet, sometime of the g2d Regiment, who married a daughter of Captain Macpherson, by whom he had a large family. George, one of his sons, a brave and promising officer, was killed in the attack on Delhi in 1858. Two "of Captain MacBarnet’s daughters still survive, and reside in Elgin.

In a letter of date 17th November 1891, received from the Hon. Mr Justice Maclennan, of the Court of Appeal, Ontario, a great-grand-nephew of Captain Macpherson, he says :—

“My grandfather, Alexander Ban Macpherson, emigrated from Badenoch to Canada in the year 1801, and one of his last acts in Badenoch was to form one of the search party for Ballachroan, who was his uncle. His brother-in-law, Murdoch Macpherson, commonly called Muireach-an-Lagain, had come to Canada a year or two earlier.”

3. Banchor (Gaelic, Beannachar, from root beann, a hill).—Old natives say the proper Gaelic name is Beann-chro, signifying a place surrounded or enfolded by hills. Banchor was long the seat of a branch of the Macphersons who prominently figure in the history of the district. “Jo. Macpherson, Benchar, yr.,” and “Jo. Macpherson, elder of Benchar,” are among the Macphersons who signed the clan “Covenant” on 28th May 1628. William and John Macpherson “ in Benchar ” were two of the Macphersons who joined in the expeditions of Montrose, and were (among others) appointed by the Synod of Moray in 1648, “in their own habit on their knees, to acknowledge their deep sorrow, &c.” “John Macpherson of Benchar ” was one of two Macphersons who, along with Mr Blair, then minister of Kingussie, in May 1746, after the battle of Culloden, conducted “ several people of the parish of Kingussie in Badenoch to Blair in Atholl, and delivered up their arms to Brig. Mordaunt, submitting themselves to the king’s mercy.”

4. Biallid (Gaelic, Bialaid-bial, mouth).—The place is so named from being at the mouth of Glenbanchor. Biallid was once the seat of a family of Macphersons, and was for a long time possessed by Captain Lachlan Macpherson—“Old Biallid”—who died in 1858.

“Whatever cause Captain Macpherson espoused, he pursued with earnest zeal and indefatigable perseverance. A strong politician, and a staunch adherent of the Conservative cause, his arguments, enforced with native eloquence, seldom failed to convince and convert a wavering politician to his views of the question. With strong opinions and feelings upon particular points and subjects, Captain Macpherson always showed an honest and honourable disposition and spirit. In society he was pleasing and generous; as a magistrate, clear-headed and impartial; and as a countryman, liberal and warm-hearted.”

5. Coulinlinn (Gaelic, Cuil-an-linne, the nook of the lint).—Coulin-linn was long the seat of a branch of the Macphersons of Nuide. Once upon a time, when gambling was in vogue among the upper classes, to a greater extent perhaps even than it is now, the Duchess of Gordon of the time lost heavily at cards, and deeming it prudent to retire from the capital, betook herself to the north in post haste. At the old stage-house of Pitmain she was overtaken by officers of the law, who proceeded to poind her equipage. In this extremity she exclaimed—“Where are the Macphersons that I should be insulted in Badenoch?” A gentleman belonging to the Nuide family, being apprised of her ladyship’s plight, was able to advance a sum sufficient to secure her immediate relief, which enabled her to proceed upon her way. So grateful was the Duchess for the kindly succour thus bestowed by Macpherson, that he received Coulinlinn in wadset, and here his family long continued to reside, bound by the closest ties to that of Nuide.

6. Dalwhinnie (Gaelic, Dail - chuinnidh, signifies the “Plain of Meetings,” and is supposed to refer to the shepherds congregating in olden times at the shealings). “Who,” inquires MacCulloch, “shall praise Dalwhinnie? No one surely but the Commissioners who built it, and who desire you to be very thankful that you have a place to put your head in.” Mrs Grant of Laggan, in ‘A Journal from Glasgow to Laggan,’ thus describes Dalwhinnie :—

“In solemn prospect stretched before ye,
The mountains rise sublime and hoary;
Th’ inconstant blast the clouds dividing,
On which old heroes’ ghosts seemed riding;

While straggling moonbeams point their graves,
And roaring streams thro’ echoing caves
Resounding, fill the soul with terror,
While slave to superstitious erorr.”

It was within a short distance of Dalwhinnie that Johnny Cope drew up his army in expectation of being attacked by Prince Charlie’s followers in 1745, whilst they awaited him on the northern side of Corryarrick; and here, early in the year 1746, Lord George Murray planned and executed a series of attacks on various posts held by the Royalists. A battalion of the Athole brigade, and a body of Macphersons commanded by their Chief, Cluny—that is to say, common peasants, and a few country gentlemen without military experience—under Lord George’s directions, successfully surprised and carried twenty detached strong and defensible posts, all within two hours of the night; and the different parties punctually met at the appointed place of rendezvous, though their operations lay in a rugged, mountainous country. Of this exploit, General Stewart of Garth, in his ‘Sketches,’ says: “I know not if the whole of the Peninsular campaigns exhibited a more perfect execution of a complicated piece of military service.”

In the ‘History of the Siege of Blair Castle in mdccxlvi,’ privately printed in 1874, the Duke of Athole thus describes the capture of the posts held by the Royalists :—

“During the month of March the headquarters of the Highland army lay at Inverness. About the middle of that month Lord George Murray was ordered to march down into Athole to endeavour to dislodge the troops and Argyllshire Highlanders who were in garrison in that district. He accordingly proceeded on this expedition, taking with him 400 men of the Athole Brigade, and as he passed through Badenoch he was joined by 300 Macphersons under their Chief, Cluny. On the evening of the 16th of March the whole detachment set out from Dal-whinnie and halted at Dalnaspidal. Hitherto, with the exception of Lord George and Cluny, no person in the expedition knew either its destination or object. The time was now come for Lord George to explain his design, which, he said was to surprise and attack before daylight, and as nearly as possible at the same time, all the posts in Athole occupied by the king’s forces. For this purpose, the Highlanders were divided into a number of small parties, in each of which the Athole-men and Macphersons were proportionally mixed. There were about thirty posts in all to be attacked, reckoning all the different houses in which the enemy was quartered, the principal being Bun Rannoch, Kynachan, Blairfettie, Lude, Fas-kally, and the inn at Blair. As an encouragement, Lord George promised a guinea to every man who should surprise a sentinel on guard. After the different parties had discharged their duty by attacking the posts assigned to them, they were ordered to meet at the Bridge of Bruar, about three miles west from Blair, as the general rendezvous for the detachment. Having received their instructions, the different parties set out immediately; and so well was the scheme of attack laid, that before five o’clock in the morning, the whole posts, though many miles distant from one another, were carried. Nearly three hundred prisoners were taken, and only three or four killed, whilst Lord George’s detachments did not lose a man either killed or wounded, though there was a good deal of firing on both sides.”

Within a short distance from Dalwhinnie is Loch Erricht, in a cave at the southern extremity of which Prince Charlie, after the battle of Culloden, sought refuge from his pursuers.

“When we view the dreary region which he had to traverse, and add to this that only a few days before he aspired to one of the best crowns in the world, now fallen and hopeless, with 30,000 offered for his head, and how sad his feelings must have been when he found protection only in a cave full of chilly damps, with nothing but the bare rock for a pillow, we feel inclined to forget the errors of his family, and our better nature becomes alive to the fate of the unfortunate Charles Stuart.”

Burns thus touchingly depicts Prince Charlie’s supposed feelings on the occasion :—

“The small birds rejoice in the green leaves returning,
The murmuring streamlet winds clear through the vale;
The hawthorn-trees blow in the dew of the morning,
And wild scatter’d cowslips bedeck the green dale;
But what can give pleasure, or what can seem fair,
While the lingering moments are number’d by care?
No flow’rs gaily springing, nor birds sweetly singing,
Can soothe the sad bosom of joyless despair.
The deed that I dared, could it merit their malice,
A king and a father to place on his throne?
His right are these hills, and his right are these valleys,
Where the wild beasts find shelter, but I can find none.
But ’tis not my sufferings, thus wretched, forlorn,
My brave gallant friends ! ’tis your ruin I mourn ;
Your deeds proved so loyal in hot bloody trial,
Alas ! can I make you no better return?”

Dalwhinnie was a famous station in the old coaching days, and the following verse shows how progress northwards might be made :—

“Brakbhaist am Baile-chloichridh
Lunch an Dail-na-ceardaich,
Dinneir an Dail-chuinnidh
’S a ’bhanais ann an Rht.”

At Dalwhinnie there is now a most comfortably kept inn, and the prediction of the sardonic MacCulloch that “no one will ever wish to enter Dalwhinnie a second time” has been altogether falsified. In addition to the attraction of fishing on Loch Erricht in the immediate vicinity, no healthier or more bracing resort than Dalwhinnie during the summer and autumn months is to be found in the Highlands, and year after year there is a succession of old visitors from all parts of the kingdom.

7. Etteridge (Gaelic, Eadarais, or Eadar da eas, between the two waterfalls).—It was a common reply among old natives of Badenoch when a neighbour or acquaintance inquired as to the state of their health: “Tha mi an Eadarais, mar tha’m baile tha ’m Baideneach”—that is, in effect, “I am half-and-between, like Etteridge, the town in Badenoch.” At Etteridge, in the old coaching days, there resided for many years Thomas Macpherson, long so well known and respected in Badenoch as Tomas na Cidreoch {i.e., Thomas of the Nook), so called from the holding he occupied being known as Culreoch. Here he dwelt for a long period, and many a weary wayfarer found both food and shelter under his hospitable roof. Old Thomas was a noted genealogist, and one of the most original and marked personalities of his time in Badenoch. Possessed of no small share of mother-wit, he could, when occasion required, be extremely satirical. Occupying, as he did, what might be termed a “house of call” about half-way on the great Highland road between Perth and Inverness, he was frequently disturbed in the dead of night by some foot-sore traveller seeking rest. Speaking from within, “Who is there?” Thomas would ask in his sternest tones. “Only a traveller taking the way!” would be the response. “Well, take your way then,” would Thomas reply—“I am sure the way does not pass through my house.” On one occasion a stranger entered the house while Thomas was in the act of shaving. Inclined apparently to banter his host as to the keenness of the razor—“Is that a good scythe, goodman?” queried the stranger. “Not better than the stubble that’s before it!” was the instant reply. Etteridge was long possessed by Macphersons of the Sliochd Ghilliosa or Phoness branch of the clan, and is now part of the estate of Mr Brewster Macpherson of Belleville.

8. Glenbanchor (Gaelic, Gleannbeannchav. See Banchor). — Tradition has it that Glenballach, a “pendicle” of Glenbanchor, was the scene of the celebrated encounter between Muriach Maclan and the famous witch of Laggan.

9. Gordonhall (Gaelic, Lag-an-Ndtair, the hollow of the Notary).— “The name and its proximity to Ruthven Castle mutually explain one another.” Here, in olden times, the rents of the Gordon estates in Badenoch were collected.

10. Invereshie (Gaelic, Inbhir Fheisidh, the confluence of the Feshie with the Spey).—Invereshie is one of the seats of Sir George Macpherson-Grant, Bart. The founder of the Invereshie branch of the Macphersons was Gilliosa, a grandson of Muirach, parson of Kingussie, and the progenitor of Sliochd Ghilliosa, or third branch of the Macphersons, represented by Phoness and Invereshie in the earlier records, and now by Sir George. William Macpherson of Invereshie, who joined the army of Montrose, was killed at the battle of Auldearn in 1645. Sir Eneas Macpherson, tutor of Invereshie, Advocate, who lived in the reigns of Charles II. and James VII., collected the materials for the history of the Clan Macpherson, the MS. of which is still preserved in the family. He was appointed Sheriff of Aberdeen in 1684. George Macpherson of Invereshie married Grace, daughter of Colonel William Grant of Ballindalloch, and his elder son William, dying unmarried in 1812, was succeeded by the nephew George, who, on the death of his maternal grand-uncle, General James Grant of Ballindalloch, 13th April 1806, inherited that estate, and in consequence assumed the name of Grant in addition to his own. He was M.P. for the county of Sutherland for seventeen years, and was created a baronet 25th July 1838. He thus became Sir George Macpher-son-Grant of Invereshie, Inverness-shire, and Ballindalloch, Elginshire. On his death in November 1846, his son Sir John, sometime Secretary of Legation at Lisbon, succeeded as second baronet. Sir John died December 2, 1850. His eldest son, Sir George Macpherson-Grant, the present Baronet, who was born on 12th August 1839, represented the counties of Elgin and Nairn in Parliament from 1879 dwn to 1886. Of the first Laird of Invereshie, who obtained the crown-charter of his land, a singular legend is told in connection with a proverbial saying in the district:—

“Whilst his worldly prosperity was advancing, he happened to visit the castle of a certain chief. His attention was attracted to a lady of surpassing beauty and graceful mien, and he gazed on her face with a rapture he had never experienced before; so that, lovely, graceful, and intelligent as the ladies of Strathspey are acknowledged to be, their lustre was dimmed before the radiance of her splendour. The attachment was in due course found to be mutual, and the Laird of Invereshie, surrounded by a gathering of his clansmen, proudly conducted the lady home as his bride, to the cheering sound of the bagpipe. It would be tedious to recount all the luxuries that were introduced into his Highland home, and the hosts of his wife’s friends that still crowded forward to partake of them; the grief of the husband at an extravagance he could not maintain, and the chivalry that prevented him from endeavouring to check it. Believing, on the suggestion of his aged nurse, that his wife had subjected him to the influence of witchcraft, he entered her chamber at midnight, and requested her to accompany him to mark the beauties of the Feshie in the radiance of the moonshine. Having reached a crag that projected over a deep and rapid part of the stream, he lifted up the sylph-like form of his lady, and cast her afar into the bosom of the lake! ‘ She floats,’ hoarsely murmured Invereshie. ‘Oh save me!’ cried the lady. ‘Ha, she floats! Then was the old woman right! ’ ‘Help!’ was all that she could now utter.

‘Help!’ exclaimed he, ‘thou canst help thyself by thy foul enchantments!’ The eddy whirled her to the root of a tree, on one of the twigs of which she laid a convulsive grasp. Taking his sgian dhubh from his belt, he severed the rootlet, uttering the sentence that thenceforth became proverbial in Badenoch, ‘Thou hast taken much, thou mayest take that too!’ When, however, he saw her sinking, he exclaimed, ‘My wife, my love! Oh, murder! murder!’ He rushed into the waters, and it is to be hoped that he saved her life, that he was cured of his superstition, and his lady of her extravagance, and that they lived happily ever after.”

11. Invernahaven (Gaelic, Inbhir-na-Amhuinn, the confluence of the Truim with the Spey).—Invernahaven is situated about six miles from Kingussie, near the junction of the river Truim with the Spey, and is celebrated as the site of the clan-battle in 1386, which ten years later led to the famous conflict on the North Inch of Perth between the Macphersons and the Davidsons.

“Buchanan,” says Shaw, in ‘Vita Jac. I.,’ “mentions the battle of Invernahaven, but out of the order of chronology, for it happened anno 1386; ‘ Catanei et Cameronii, orto inter ipsos dissidio, tanta contentione animorum et virium pug-narunt, ut multis Cataneorum trucidatis, Cameronii pene omnes extincti fuerunt.’ The occasion of the conflict was as follows : The lands of Macintosh in Lochaber being possessed by the Camerons, the rents were seldom levied but by force, and in cattle. The Camerons, irritated by the poinding of their cattle, resolved to make reprisals, and marched into Badenoch about four hundred men strong, commanded by Charles MacGilony. Macintosh, informed of this, in haste called his friends and clan to meet together. The Macintoshes, MacPhersons, and Davidsons, soon made a force superior to the enemy; but an unseasonable difference was like to prove fatal to them. It was agreed by all that Macintosh, as Captain of the Clan Chattan, should command the centre of their army; but Cluney and Invernahavon contended about the command of the right wing. Cluney claimed it as Chief of the ancient Clan Chattan, of which the Davidsons of Invernahavon were but a branch. Invernahavon pleaded that to him, as the oldest branch, the right hand belonged, by the custom of Scottish clans. The contest was spun out, till the enemy were at hand; and then Macintosh, as umpire, imprudently gave it in favour of Invernahavon. The MacPhersons, in whose country they were met, and who were as numerous as both the Macintoshes and the Davidsons, being greatly offended, withdrew as spectators. The conflict was very sharp, by the superior number of the Camerons; many of the Macintoshes, and almost all the Davidsons, were cut off. The MacPhersons could no longer bear to see their brave neighbours and friends overpowered. They rushed in upon the Camerons, and soon gave them a total defeat. The few that escaped, with their leader, were pursued from Invernahavon, the place of battle, three miles above Ruthven in Badenoch, over the River Spey; and Charles MacGilony was killed in a hill in Glenbenchir, which is still called Cor-Harlich—i.e., Charles’s Hill.3 This fight, in my opinion, gave occasion to the memorable conflict on the Inch of Perth, in presence of the king and nobility, anno 1396. Buch., lib. 1. cap. 2 and 3, gives a particular account of it, but does not name the combatants. Boetius calls them ‘ Clan Cattani et Clan Caii.’ But though we read of those in the name of Cay or Kay, in the Lowlands, they are never reckoned among the clans, nor had the Clan Chattan any intercourse with them. The combatants, thirty of a side, were the MacPhersons, properly Clan Chattan, and the Davidsons of Invernahavon, in Irish called Clan-Dhai, which is commonly sounded Clan-Cai; and our historians, ignorant of the Irish, made them a clan different from, and at enmity with, the Clan Chattan, whereas they were a tribe of them. I mentioned above the rash judgment of Macintosh in their favour, giving them the right wing in battle, and Clunie’s resentment of this injurious decision ; after which decision, the Mac-Phersons and Davidsons for ten years miserably slaughtered one another. The judicious author of a MS. History of the Family of Kilravock says that a contest about precedency was the occasion of this conflict, and the fight at Perth was constructed a Royal sentence in favour of the MacPhersons. I have mentioned this conflict, though it was not in Moray, because the combatants were of this Province; and our historians have not sufficiently explained who they were, or what was the cause of the combat.”

Invernahaven was for a long period the seat of a family of Macphersons frequently mentioned in the old records of Badenoch. “Jo. Macpherson of Invernahaven ” was a party to the clan “ Covenant ” of 1628.

12. Invertromie (Gaelic, Inbhir - thromaidh, the confluence of the Tromie with the Spey) was long the seat of a family of Macphersons. “ Thomas Macpherson of Invertromie ” is one of the many Badenoch Macphersons mentioned in the Records of the Synod of Moray in 1648 as having “ confessed ” to taking part in the expeditions of Montrose. Like most other seats of families, Invertromie had a burial-place. Here MacDhonnachaidh Ruaidh and his descendants had their home—Sliochd He Dhonnachaidh Ruaidh—the race of red-haired Duncan. Invertromie was possessed for some time by Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon, a son of Alexander, the fourth Duke of Gordon, who for some time commanded the nth Light Dragoons.

13. Kerrow (Gaelic, Ceathramh, the fourth part of the davoch of Kingussie) was possessed for many years by Lieut.-Colonel Alexander Macpherson of the 59th Regiment, a brave officer, who saw much service, and was severely wounded. He had also two brothers, both gallant officers in the army, one of whom (Lieutenant James Macpherson) was killed in Java in 1814. The other was Captain Eneas Mackintosh Macpherson, who was wounded at Quatre Bras in 1815, and was subsequently well known as tenant of the farm of Nuide. One of Colonel Macpherson’s grandsons (Mr L. A. Macpherson) is now the proprietor of the estate of Corrimony in Glen 'Urquhart.

14. Killiehuntly (Gaelic, Coille-Chunntuinn, said to mean the wood of Contin, but the derivation of the name is very doubtful).—Killiehuntly was once the seat of a family of Macphersons. “A M'Pherson of Kylle-huntly” is one of the seventeen heads of families of the clan who signed the remarkable “Vindication” by the Macphersons to the Duke of Gordon in 1699. Lieutenant James Macpherson of Killiehuntly was one of the first officers of Lord Loudon’s Highlanders whose commissions were dated 8th June 1745. Killiehuntly was the most ancient possession of the Clarks in Badenoch, and from these Clarks the family of Penicuik is said to be descended.

15. Knappach (Gaelic, A’Chnapaich, the hillocky land) was the birthplace of John MacIntyre (a nephew of James Macpherson, the translator of Ossian), who, by prudent conduct and distinguished gallantry, rose from comparatively humble circumstances to a position of affluence, and attained the rank of Lieut.-General in the service of the East India Company. In the parish church of Kingussie there is a marble tablet to his memory with the following inscription :—


The thorny paths of life he trod
With calm and even mind;
In every ill relied on God,
Now bliss with Him doth find ;

To celebrate his Maker’s praise
He joins the hosts above,
And with the Saints his voice doth raise
To sing his Saviour’s Love.

This stone is erected by his affectionate widow.”

At Knappach also was born and bred Captain John Macpherson of the g2d Highlanders, the trusted friend of Colonel John Cameron of Fassifern. Another son of the same family was also an officer in the army. Their nephew, Fear Allt Lairidh, will still be remembered by many natives of Badenoch.

16. Nuide (Gaelic, Noid).—Old natives say the name means nead, the Gaelic for nest, and that it is derived from the nest-like form of the old burial-place there, while others allege that it is connected with nodha, new. Nuide was formerly the residence of a branch of the family of the Chief of Clan Chattan. Andrew Macpherson of Nuide was one of the Macphersons who signed the “ Covenant ” of 1628. “Donald Macpherson, son to the guidman of Noid,” was one of the Macphersons who took part in the expeditions of Montrose, and after subscribing the “Confession,” were ordained by the Synod of Moray in 1648 “to make public confession in their own Parish Kirk.” This Donald Macpherson, who in 1635 married Isabel Rose, a daughter of Alexr. Rose of Clova, was the common ancestor of the following families of Macpherson—viz., Cluny, Ralia or Glentruim, Blairgowrie and Belleville. “William Macpherson of Noid” was one of the Macphersons who signed the “Vindication” to the Duke of Gordon in 1699. Mr Sinton, the minister of Dores, has communicated to me an interesting incident in connection with Lachlan Macpherson of Nuide’s succession to the chiefship: Upon the death of Duncan Macpherson of Cluny in 1722, without male issue, the succession to the chiefship and to the Cluny estates was for a time a matter of contention among his kinsmen. In order to bring their rival claims to a settlement, all the heads of families concerned agreed to meet at the inn of Garvamore, and to produce such proofs of descent as they could respectively show. Among those who appeared at Garvamore was Lachlan, the son of William of Nuide above mentioned. Shortly after Lachlan set out from home, his wife, Jean Cameron of Lochiel, a lady of great force of character, convinced of the right of her husband to succeed to the chiefship, directed a trusted henchman to saddle her horse and accompany her to Garvamore. When they reached the inn she alighted, told the man to hold her horse in readiness, and then immediately entered the house, and proceeded to the chamber where the rival kinsmen were assembled. All, of course, rose to receive the Lady of Nuide, who, taking advantage of the confusion, swept all the documents on the table into her apron, and hastily withdrew, closing the door upon the astonished claimants. Without a moment’s loss of time her servant placed her in the saddle, and giving her the reins, she galloped off in the direction of Nuide. Having arrived there, she ordered her eldest son and heir (afterwards Ewen of the ’45) to mount and ride back with her to Cluny, and there the spirited lady took up her abode that night. “Agus,” added Mr Sinton’s aged informant, “fiach co chuireadh a mach i?”—“And who then could oust her?”

To the Nuide branch of the clan is supposed to have belonged Allan Macpherson of the 77th Regiment (Montgomery’s Highlanders), of whose ingenuity and tragic fate in the expedition against the Cherokees, in the spring of 1760, the following account is given in General Stewart of Garth’s ‘Sketches of the Highlanders’ :—

“Several soldiers of this and other regiments fell into the hands of the Indians, being taken in an ambush. Allan Macpherson, one of these soldiers, witnessing the miserable fate of several of his fellow-prisoners, who had been tortured to death by the Indians, and seeing them preparing to commence the same operations upon himself, made signs that he had something to communicate. An interpreter was brought. Macpherson told them that, provided his life was spared for a few minutes, he would communicate the secret of an extraordinary medicine, which, if applied to the skin, would cause it to resist the strongest blow of a tomahawk or sword; and that if they would allow him to go to the woods with a guard to collect the proper plants for this medicine, he would prepare it, and allow the experiment to be tried on his own neck by the strongest and most expert warrior amongst them. This story easily gained upon the superstitious credulity of the Indians, and the request of the Highlander was instantly complied with. Being sent into the woods, he soon returned with such plants as he chose to pick up. Having boiled the herbs, he rubbed his neck with their juice, and laying his head upon a log of wood, desired the strongest man amongst them to strike at his neck with his tomahawk, when he would find he could not make the smallest impression. An Indian, levelling a blow with all his might, cut with such force that the head flew off at the distance of several yards. The Indians were fixed in amazement at their own credulity and the address with which the prisoner had escaped the lingering death prepared for him; but instead of being enraged at this escape of their victim, they were so pleased with his ingenuity that they refrained from inflicting further cruelties on the remaining prisoners.”

The following is an interesting sketch of a noted Captain John Macpherson of the Nuide branch of the clan, who settled in Philadelphia about the year 1746, and of some members of his family. The particulars have been communicated to me by his great-grandson, Mr George Macpherson, a highly esteemed citizen of Philadelphia, and a loyal and devoted clansman worthy in every respect of his distinguished ancestry and of the honoured name he bears :—

“Captain Macpherson—the founder, so to speak, of the Philadelphia family, and ‘ the pioneer of the clan ’ in America—was, according to ‘Douglas’s Baronage of Scotland,’ published in 1798, a grandson of William Macpherson of Nuide, who, in the reign of King James VII., married Isabel, daughter of Laughlen Macintosh, Esq., by whom he had four sons and six daughters.’ Laughlen, the eldest son, on ‘the death of his cousin, Duncan of Clunie, without issue male, succeeded to the chieftainship, &c., &c., anno 1722, and was ever after designed by the title of Clunie, as head of the family and Chief of the clan.’

“William, the youngest of the four sons of William of Nuide, was ‘bred a writer in Edinburgh and agent before the Court of Session, and married Jane, daughter of James Anderson, merchant in Edinburgh.’

“John, the fourth of the six sons, having, we are told, ‘been bred to the sea, was commander of the Brittannia privateer of Philadelphia during the late war, when, by his conduct and bravery, he did honour to himself and his country. He took many French privateers and Dutch smugglers with French property, besides other valuable prizes; and had from the merchants of Antigua a present of a sword, richly ornamented, as an acknowledgment of their sense of his signal services in protecting their trade, distressing their enemies, &c. He assisted at the reduction of Martinico, where, at the admiral’s desire, he ran his ship into shallow water and dislodged the French from a battery which obstructed the landing, for which he had many tokens of the admiral’s regard. He lost his right arm in a desperate engagement with a French frigate, where both vessels were totally disabled. He made a handsome fortune, and is now settled near Philadelphia.’2 Captain Macpherson, who did such ‘ honour to himself and his country,’ was thus a nephew of Laughlen Macpherson of Nuide, who succeeded to the chiefship in 1722, and his descendants are accordingly not very distantly related to Brigadier-General Macpherson of Cluny, the present Chief.

“John Macpherson (see Note A).—Born in the city of Edinburgh in the year 1725. Came to this country about the year 1746. Married Margaret, the sister of the Rev. John Rogers, of New York. Died September 6, 1792. Of this marriage there were two sons and two daughters :—

“1. William Macpherson (see Note B).—Born in the city of Philadelphia, 1756. Died November 5, 1813. He married, first, Margaret, daughter of Captain Joseph Stout, by whom he had a son and three daughters—

2 Ibid.

“(1.) Joseph (U.S. Navy).

“(2.) Julia (married Philip Houlbrooke Nicklin).

“(3.) Margaret (married Peter Grayson Washington).

“(4.) Maria.

“He married, second, Elizabeth White, March 9, 1803, daughter and eldest child of Bishop William White, by whom he had two daughters (see Note D)—

“(1.) Esther (married Dr Thomas Harris).

“(2.) Elizabeth (married Rev. Edwin W. Wiltbank).

“2. John Macpherson, jun. (see Note C).—Died December 31, 1775, in the attack upon Quebec.

“ Had I the ability or gift of writing in the polished style of so many historians, I could, with the material before me, write you such a sketch of these three brave and noble men, that you would feel very grateful and justifiably proud of them, for you would ever remember them as being of the Clan Macpherson. As you would read of the brave father, Captain John Macpherson, of his many successful encounters upon the sea, of the prominent place he occupied in the annals of this city, you would feel satisfied of the fact that this Macpherson, the pioneer of the clan in this country, reflected credit upon those of his fatherland. As you would read of his son William Macpherson, of the active part he took in fighting for his country through the dark and dreary hours of the Revolution, you would feel the more satisfied that the good name was still untarnished; and as you read of the heroic Captain John Macpherson, jun., of his death at the attack upon Quebec, you would thank God, the merciful Father of all, for giving us these men of remarkable calibre for our ancestors, and as being the representatives of the clan in this far-away home of their adoption. As I lack the ability and polished pen, I must content myself with giving you but a few facts gathered from the various annals of this city :—

“Note A.—‘John Macpherson, during thirty-five years of his life, was one of the most noted citizens of Philadelphia. He followed the sea, going through the gradations of service which finally made him fit to take command of a vessel. He assumed command of the privateer ship Brittannia, rated at twenty guns, in the year 1757. War with France was then raging. In May 1758, the Brittannia fell in with a Frenchman, carrying thirty-six guns, and well manned. In the heat of the action Captain Macpherson’s right arm was carried away by a cannon-shot, and he was taken below. The first lieutenant was disabled. The second lieutenant continued the fight until he was also wounded. The surgeon became the only officer in command, and he ordered the colours to be struck. When the officers of the French vessel boarded the Brittannia they beheld a bloody spectacle. Seventy of the crew had been killed or wounded. The deck was strewn with the bodies of the dead and dying. The action of the Frenchmen was inhuman. They carried the first and second officers on board their own vessel, cut down the masts and rigging, threw the cannon and ammunition overboard, and then set the vessel adrift. The crew managed to get up jury-masts, and navigated the ship into Jamaica, where, upon survey, it was found that 270 shots had passed into the larboard side of the Brittannia, some below water. In the succeeding year Captain Macpherson made up for his adverse fortunes. During 1759 he took eighteen prizes. Two of them were French sloops, laden with plate and valuable effects, besides ^18,000 in cash. In the latter part of 1760 and the beginning of 1761 Macpherson took nine prizes, worth ^15,000. During that period he fell in with a French man-of-war of sixty guns, but managed to escape by the superior sailing qualities of the Brittannia. The scene of his operations was in the West Indies, between Martinique and St Eustacia, and he was a protector of the commerce of that section of the West Indies. He carried into the ports of Antigua two French privateers of ten guns. He captured a letter of marque of four guns, loaded with coffee and cotton.

“‘The Council and Assembly of the island of Antigua considered him a defender, and voted him a sword.

“‘In July 1762, war with Spain having been declared, the Brittannia came into Philadelphia with two Spanish vessels laden with indigo and sugar, and Macpherson resigned the command.’— Westcott.

“Captain Macpherson built a fine mansion near the city of Philadelphia, and gave it the name of Cluny, but afterwards changed the name to Mount Pleasant. John Adams, who dined at Mount Pleasant in October 1775, said of Macpherson that he had the most elegant seat in Pennsylvania, a clever Scotch wife, and two pretty daughters. He had been nine times wounded in battle, is an old sea commander, made a fortune by privateering, had an arm twice shot off, shot through the leg, &c. He was a man of philosophic turn of mind. During 1771 he removed, by machinery of his own contrivance, a one-story brick house from one street to another. The operation was effected by apparatus placed inside the building, and worked by himself. He advertised in 1782 to give lectures on astronomy. He published in 1791 lectures on moral philosophy. In 1783 he published a ‘Price Current’ for the use of merchants. In 1785 he published the first Directory of the city. He died September 6, 1792, and is buried in St Paul’s Churchyard, in Philadelphia.

“So much for John Macpherson, an unceasing worker, a brave, noble, and eccentric man.

“Note B.—William Macpherson was born in Philadelphia in 1756. At the age of thirteen he was a cadet in the British army. Then he held a lieutenant’s commission, and was made adjutant of the 16th Regiment. At the breaking out of the war he declined bearing arms against his countrymen, and tendered his resignation, which was not accepted until his regiment reached New York in 1779. He joined the American army on the Hudson at the close of 1779, and received a major’s commission from General Washington. His services during the war were rewarded by the appointment by General Washington of Surveyor of the port of Philadelphia, September 19, 1789. He was appointed Naval Officer of the port, November 28, 1793, which office he held under the administrations of Presidents Adams, Jefferson, and Madison, until his death, November 5, 1813. He married, first, Margaret Stout, a daughter of Captain Joseph Stout, and his second wife was Elizabeth White, a daughter of Bishop White. He was earnest and true in his devotion to his country; a man in every sense of the word, and, as being a true man, respected by all. He is buried in St Paul’s Churchyard, by the side of his father.

“Note C.—Captain John Macpherson, jun.—He was the first Philadelphian of any note killed during the Revolutionary War. He was aide to General Montgomery in the operations against Canada, and fell with his commander in the assault upon Quebec. The night before his death he addressed the following letter to his father :—

“‘My dear Father,—If you receive this, it will be the last this hand shall ever write you. Orders are given for a general storm on Quebec this night, and heaven only knows what will be my fate; but, whatever it may be, I cannot resist the inclination I feel to assure you that I experience no reluctance in this cause to venture a life which I consider as only lent, to be used when my country demands it. In moments like these, such an assertion will not be thought a boast by any one—by my father I am sure it cannot. It is needless to tell that my prayers are for the happiness of the family, and for its preservation in this general confusion. Should Providence, in its wisdom, call me from rendering the little assistance I might to my country, I could wish my brother did not continue in the service of her enemies. That the all-gracious Disposer of human events may shower on you, my mother, brother, and sisters, every blessing our nature can receive, is, and will be to the last moment of my life, the sincere prayer of your dutiful and affectionate son, John Macpherson.

‘Headquarters, before Quebec, 30th Dec. 1775.’

“General Philip Schuyler sent this letter to the young man’s father, with the following :—

“‘Permit me, sir, to mingle my tears with yours for the loss we have sustained —you as a father, I as a friend. My dear young friend fell by the side of his general, as much lamented as he was beloved, and that, I assure you, sir, was in an eminent degree. This, and his falling like a hero, will console in some measure a father who gave him the example of bravery, which the son in a short military career improved to advantage. General Montgomery and his corpse were both interred by General Carleton with military honours.—Your most obedient and humble servant, Ph. Schuyler.’

“The death of Montgomery was regarded as a national calamity. Even in Britain eulogies on his character were delivered. Upon General Carleton’s approach a hasty retreat was made, and the whole of Canada was recovered by the British.

“Now, my good friend, I have told you of three good and brave men. I have one more to tell you of. These three men fought the fights of the worldly; the one I will now tell you of fought the fights of the spiritual:—

“Note D.—William Macpherson’s second wife was a daughter of Bishop William White, of whose early history I will not write other than say he was a son of Colonel Thomas White, who was born in London in 1704, and came to this country in 1720. In 1779 the son was elected rector of Christ Church and St Peter’s in Philadelphia. In October 1785 an address from the clerical and lay deputies of the Church in this country was sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury and other bishops, requesting them to confer the episcopal character on such persons as shall be recommended by the Church in the several States by them represented. The subject was an involved one. By the laws of England, as they then existed, the Archbishops could ordain and consecrate only such persons as took the oath of allegiance and supremacy to the king, and due obedience to the Archbishop of Canterbury. From this necessity relief could only come through Parliament. Through the kindly offices of Mr Adams and the Archbishop of Canterbury and others, the way was cleared of all obstacles, the needed Act of Parliament (26 George III., c. 84) was passed. The Archbishop had applied to the king, and obtained his Majesty’s licence, by warrant under his royal signet and sign-manual, authorising and empowering him to perform such consecration. On 14th September 1786 the Convention met in Philadelphia, and the official record is summed up in these words: ‘The Convention accordingly proceeded to the election of a bishop by ballot, and the Rev. William White, D.D., was unanimously chosen.’

“From Bishop White’s account of the consecration I take these words : ‘ Sunday, February 4, we attended at the Palace of Lambeth for consecration. The assistants of the Archbishop on this occasion were the Archbishop of York, who presented, and the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and the Bishop of Peterborough, who joined with the two Archbishops in the laying on of hands.’

“He returned to his diocese during the same month, and died July 17, 1836.

‘From scenes like these old Scotia’s grandeur springs,
That makes her loved at home, revered abroad :
Princes and lords are but the breath of kings,
“An honest man’s the noblest work of God.”’

So says our Burns.”

17. Phoness (Gaelic, Fodha-an-eas, below the waterfall. This is the derivation given by old natives, but from the configuration of the ground some have supposed the name to be a corruption of Fodha-thir, signifying the underland or low-lying ground).—Phoness was possessed for many generations by the Sliochd GhilViosa branch of the Macphersons. “ Maj. Macpherson of Phoiness, Don. Macpherson in Phoiness,” and “ Duncan Macpherson, broyr. to Phoiness,” are three of the clan who sign the “Covenant” of 1628. “Alex. Macpherson, Phoness,” is one of the parties to the “Vindication” of 1699. Of a noted Malcolm Macpherson of Phoness a sketch is given on pages 155-157- The Phoness property was acquired by purchase from the Phoness family by James Macpherson, the translator of Ossian’s poems, a few years before his death, and is now possessed by his great-grandson, Mr Brewster Macpherson, as part of the estate of Belleville.

18. Pitmain (Gaelic, Pit or Baile-meadhan, the middle town. What the old and very common prefix Pit, or more properly Pait, meant in old Gaelic it is difficult to say. It is supposed that it was used to denote a small plot of arable land to which we now apply the term croit—i.e., croft.)—Pitmain was long possessed by Sliochd Iain ic Ewen, or second branch of the Macphersons. “Williame Macphersone in Pitmeane” was among those of the clan who were found by the Synod of Moray in 1648 “to have joyned with the enemies” (in the wars of Montrose) “in bloodie fights,” and “were ordained Sunday next to mak thair repentance in sackcloth in the kirk of Caddell ” (Cawdor). See page 381.

Pitmain was the birthplace of General Sir John MacLean, “a distinguished officer, who by daring feats of gallantry, and the exercise of superior talents, rose to the rank of a Knight of the Bath, and obtained some other rewards and distinctions for his signal services.” George, a brother of General MacLean, for some time Governor of Cape Coast Castle, was married to the unfortunate Letitia Elizabeth Landon.

19. Ralia (Gaelic, Rathliath, the grey rath or circle, the old Druidical term for places of worship).—Ralia was the residence for a long time of a branch of the Macphersons descended from the family of the Chief. Lachlan Macpherson, last of Ralia—a gentleman of great weight and influence in Badenoch—had a large family, and some of his sons, by distinguished bravery and enterprise, rose to rank and affluence.

Ewen, a major of the 42d Madras Native Infantry, acquired an ample fortune, with which he purchased from the Gordon family the estate of Glentruim, now possessed by his son, Colonel Lachlan Macpherson.

Duncan, a gallant officer, was a captain in the 42d Highlanders, and was severely wounded at Correlino, in Batavia, ultimately attaining the brevet rank of Major. He acted for some years as Collector of Customs at Inverness, and was a Deputy-Lieutenant and Magistrate of the county of Inverness.

James, “who early distinguished himself by feats of surpassing gallantry and daring in the army, which obtained for him the favour and patronage of the military authorities. At Badajoz he headed ‘ the forlorn-hope,’ and with his own hand pulled down the French colours, and planted a soldier’s red jacket on the crest of the enemy’s citadel. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the army, and the command of the Ceylon Rifle Corps.”

20. Ruthven (Gaelic, RuaAhainn, red-place).—The old village of this name, as well as the old Castle of Ruthven in the immediate neighbourhood, is closely identified with the history of Badenoch, and is frequently mentioned in the old records. In the statistical account of the parish published in 1842, it is stated that “ Ruthven of Badenoch is known as well for its antiquity as its celebrity in history. It is one of the few places in the north mentioned by Ptolemy, in his ‘Geographical Account of Britain,’ about the year 140. This ancient Greek writer says it is situated in the province of Moray, and gives it the name of Baycwa.” In olden times Ruthven was celebrated for an excellent inn, and as possessing a “ tolbooth ” to which all refractory delinquents were summarily consigned by the kirk-session of Kingussie. Ruthven is also noted as the birthplace of James Macpherson, the translator of Ossian’s poems, and as at one time a distinguished seat of learning. So famous was the school of Ruthven in this respect that towards the end of last century many young men educated there were specially selected, and sent as teachers by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge to all parts of the Highlands. “It was,” says Sage in his ‘Memorabilia Domestica; or, Parish Life in the North of Scotland’—“It was on a sacramental occasion that I first saw, and thenceforward became most intimately acquainted with, Mr Evan Macpherson of Ruthven in Badenoch. This gentleman, for justly might he be so styled, was the second teacher which that Society sent to the parish of Kildonan. His first commission from the Society directed him to teach at Badenloch, but in the course of time he migrated from place to place till from the upper part of the parish he ultimately settled at Caen in the lower and eastern extremity of it. Here he died, and his memory is still venerated by all who knew him.”5 The farm of Ruthven was possessed for a considerable time by Colonel Mitchell of the 92d Highlanders, long so well known in Badenoch. After two senior officers were successively struck down. Colonel Mitchell commanded that regiment at Quatre Bras until he himself was severely wounded. Ruthven was subsequently possessed by Lieutenant Alexander Macpherson of the same regiment, a gallant soldier, who distinguished himself, and was wounded at the battle of Toulouse. His widow still survives, and resides in Kingussie.

21. Strone (the Gaelic name Sroin means nose, but the word when used topographically means Point).—At Strone resided for some years Captain Cattanach, long well known in Badenoch, a brave soldier of very eccentric habits, whom the last Duke of Gordon delighted to have in his company on festive occasions.

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