Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

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

While examining the papers connected with a case already mentioned, I came upon a letter from General Macleod of Macleod, written immediately after his appointment as Lieutenant-Colonel of the 2nd Battalion just raised of the 42nd Highlanders. From being in a damp place, the concluding two or three lines of the letter have worn away and disappeared. The letter is addressed to and docquetted by Provost John Mackintosh of Aberarder, "Col Mackleod of Mackleod London, 27th September, 1779."--

"Dear Sir,-I have the pleasure to inform you that I have been appointed Lieutenant-Colonel to the 2nd Battalion of the 42nd which is going to be raised. As I cannot obtain leave to repair immediately to Scotland, I have begged my friends in Skye to begin recruiting my quota in my absence. I have lodged £700 in the hands of Mr Alexander Anderson, Lothbury, London, as a fund for this service, and I have directed Tallisker, and my factor, Mr John Macdonald, to apply for any sum they may want to you. You may draw on me at Mr Anderson's, and depend on having your bills duly honoured. Captain John Mackintosh of the 42nd is appointed major, and I am desired by Lord John Murray to spur his friends in recruiting for him. The rank of officers depend on the speedy comp—." (here the paper becomes illegible.)

Captain John Mackintosh, above mentioned, got his majority and was the last of the Mackintoshes of Corrybrough Mor, in Lower Strathdearn, having sold the property to the Balnespick family, who still possess it.

It is well known that Skye sent out hundreds of men and scores of officers who served in the Indian and Peninsular wars, and, judging by their letters, fine fellows they were in every respect. For instance, here is a kindly letter from Lieutenant William Macleod of Glendale, dated the 23rd of March, 1787 :-

"Glendale House, 23rd March, 1787. The bearer, a poor though honest fellow, has this moment got the enclosed summons from our ruler, your namesake. For the love of God do exert yourself on his behalf. What prepossesses one most in his favour is that he and the rest of the tenants of the farm had a tack of the lands which our factor got a reading of; and thereby made away with it. My opinion of the matter is that you should summon the person who had the tack in keeping to produce it, and he will then tell how he gave away the other people's right. This will bring things to light in the proper colours. He will pay himself what he is able to spare, and moreover, you will yourself get renown.—Yours affectionately. (Signed) "WM. MCLEOD."

One further illustration. Lieutenant John Macleod of Unish, I should fancy a retired veteran under petticoat government, sends to an Inverness merchant for a trifle for himself, and for a young boy three or four primers, both modest purchases; but for his wife 2 dozen large yellow buttons for a riding habit, a hat to the value of eight or nine shillings, with one black feather, and a pound of pins.


ANY one going from Fairybridge towards Stein and Waternish will observe a tall, gaunt, roofless building at the head of the lake, the walls whereof indicate that substantial people once lived there. Why it has become a ruin, unless it was accidentally burnt, seems rather strange. Here lived a century ago Captain Alexander Macleod, natural son of Norman Macleod of Macleod of the '45, a veteran who had seen much service abroad. In 1775 he met Dr Johnson and Boswell at Dunvegan Castle, and is described as one of the influential clansmen of Macleod. He married Anne, eldest daughter of Flora Macdonald, and one of their children was the ill-fated Lieutenant Norman Macleod, who was killed in a duel by Glengarry in 1798.

In connection with this duel Sir William A. Mackinnon, K.C.B., one of Skye's most gallant sons, sends me the following information relative to an incident which occurred several years after—

Many years after the unfortunate death of Lieutenant Macleod killed in the notable duel, Glengarry went to Skye on a Visit to Lord Macdonald. He appeared at Portree on a market day where there happened to be a large gathering of Skye gentlemen, including many of the Macleod Clan, among whom were several relatives of the unfortunate Lieutenant Macleod.

On Glengarry's arrival at the Market Stance, he at once had a cask of whisky placed there, where in the old Highland style drink was served all round. Thereafter the gentlemen assembled in the inn to dine, having Glengarry present as their guest. After some time, as the whisky began to have its effect on the people attending the market, and particularly among the Macleods, a cry for revenge for Lieutenant Macleod's death was raised, which was taken up by the Skyemen generally. While the dinner was going on an angry and excited crowd gathered outside the inn, and demanded Glengarry dead or alive, as they were determined to avenge Macleod's death. Lachlan Mackinnon of Corry was in the chair, at the time holding the office of Sheriff of Skye. Corry vent outside and made a speech to the crowd, praying them not to forget the laws of hospitality, or so far forget themselves as to cause injury to or insult the guest of the great Chief of the Island. Still the crowd clamoured and insisted on having Glengarry at their mercy. Corry then, seeing that matters were becoming serious and that the crowd meant mischief, got Glengarry smuggled out by the back door of the inn, where a horse was ready for him, and he rode off to Kylerhea, and thence out of Skye, to which he never again returned.

The Skyemen, however had the gillies with Glengarry's stag-hounds still in their hands. They did not touch the former, but mutilated the stag-hounds by cutting off their ears and tails, and in sending away the men and dogs a message was sent to their master that if he ever came back to Skye his head would come off.

The above account was given to me, says Sir William, by my father, late minister of Strath, and my mother, Corry's sister, many years ago.

The mutilation of his dogs must have been a severe blow to the old Chief, as from his history it is well-known how much he prided himself on his stag-hounds. In old times deer were chased and run down by the dogs, and I believe Glengarry was one of the last who continued the Ossianic method.

Sir William A. Mackinnon never forgot the story, and it is probable that he is the only living Skyeman who knows the facts here narrated.

It seems singular that Captain Alexander Macleod had been an officer in Glengarry's regiment, as is seen by the following extract from the letter of a creditor of the Captain's, dated Portree, 1795, afraid of his money:- "Mr Alexander Macleod of Lochbay has joined Glengarry's Volunteers, and has left the country in my debt without informing me."

It was Captain Macleod's daughter Mary who lived at Stein, and gave so much valuable information to the late Rev. Mr Macgregor, which he utilised in his excellent work on Flora Macdonald, published by A. & W. Mackenzie, Inverness.

Stein was one of the most pretentious undertakings of the Fisheries Society, and how its officials conducted themselves towards the natives may be gathered from the letter after quoted, written by Captain Macleod, from Gillin, 30th July, 1801, and backed as from "Captain Macleod, Bay." The Captain writes—

"A most violent attempt was made upon my life by William Porter, surgeon, and agent for the British Society at Lochbay. At said place, upon Saturday, the 6th day of June last, the said William Porter, having taken a walk upon the shore of Lochbay, upon the said day, in company with his wife, was there met by me and Captain Norman Macleod of the Waternish Volunteers, and without any altercation whatever he, in the true style of an Hibernian, struck me over the head with a stick he had in his hand, at the same time grasping my face with the other, and by the appearance of my eyes afterwards, his intention was to have pulled either one or both of them out, with his fashionable talons. Not satisfied with this, he wrested a hazel stick from me, which had a heavy head carved like a man's, which he took by the small end and continued to strike me on the head, till the stick flew in shivers, and the blood ran in torrents down my shoulders. Captain Macleod's right arm, like my own being disabled, it was impossible for him to have saved me, and if people upon the beach employed in riddling sand had not interfered, there is no doubt he had taken my life, which he most certainly wished to have done These people declared, though they observed the Doctor strike me repeatedly, they concluded we were diverting ourselves as they always knew us to be on very good terms. When I found myself relieved by the workmen, and finding three large cuts in my head, I took up a stone and flung it at the Doctor, which did not hit him. I also acknowledge to have called him a bloodthirsty Irish scoundrel, and that none but an infamous coward would have used a man he well knew had only the power of his left hand, in the manner he had done. Captain Macleod stood all this time with his hand upon the hilt of his sword, fearing, as I was told, that one of us might pull it from him. After he had gone away, the Captain observed he struck me with his whip, and that he believed it still remained where he dropped it. I told him it was no whip but the stick he first struck me with, and which he broke over my head, in which state it appeared to him like a whip, on which I took it up and let him see it. I do not know but his using me in this manner, knowing me to be one of the Justices of Peace for this county, aggravates the crime. My holding this office he cannot pretend to be ignorant of, as he employed me more than once in that capacity. With great difficulty I endeavoured to walk home, the distance being about a short mile, and took boat immediately for Grishernish and showed Sheriff John Macdonald the situation I was in. lie pretended he was sorry for my usage, but could do nothing in the case until the matter was judicially brought before him, and suggested the propriety of my applying to Livingstone, the innkeeper at Portree, his Procurator-Fiscal, and he was uncertain when he could hold a Court on account of the sickness of one of his daughters—She, being a patient of Dr Porter's, and the Fiscal distant about fourteen miles, and having despaired of any redress, I returned home the same evening. The afternoon being chilly, and getting cold, I found myself feverish, and being next morning much worse, my wife and some others who were present deemed it necessary to send an express for Dr Macaskill, who arrived Monday the 8th of June, and found my head very much swelled, and cut to the bone in three different places, and the glands of my neck so much swollen and pained, that I could hardly move my head on the pillows. Thus, I was unable to stir out of bed for eight days. I was obliged to apply last week to Dr Macaskill, who was so kind as bring some camphor and other things to reduce the swelling in my neck, which I am sorry to say does not seem to yield to his application, but rather increases and becomes worse. Since the above accident, or rather premeditated assault, I am very sensible of a defect in my sight. During four days, from the blows given, all objects appear to me red, from which I am inclined to think that the organs of sight have been impaired.

I want damages of £200, and whether the Sheriff allows so much or not, I hope he will put a stop to the arbitrary proceedings of the British Society's agent—he like his predecessor in office, acting more like a Spanish Viceroy than a man employed to encourage the natives of this country to industry, and to direct their attention from emigrating to the States of America."

The above presents a singular state of matters among the "Upper ten" of Waternish a century ago. The representative of law and order behaves like a savage; a Captain of volunteers goes about wearing a sword which he cannot use, reminding one somewhat of the resultless duel between Lord Chatham and Sir Richard Strachan - The Earl with sword full drawn, stood waiting Sir Richard Strachan Sir Richard, tho' longing to be at him, Stood waiting for the Earl of Chatham."

It will not surprise the reader that a lady of mature charms, but well preserved, was at the bottom of the business. The Procurator-Fiscal of Skye was an innkeeper, and the Sheriff of the day used to hold Courts within the Change-House of Dunvegan.

Return to Book Contents Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus