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


RUTHVEN CASTLE, latterly used as barracks, now long a ruin, stands out imposingly, commanding an old passage over the Spey. The Chartulary of Moray contains a graphic account of certain great doings at the Standing Stones of Raite, and within the chapel and the great chamber behind the hail, in the Castle of Ruthven in October, 1380, connected with the disputes between Alexander, Seneschal and Lord of Badenoch, known as the Wolf of Badenoch, on the one hand, and Alexander, Bishop of Moray, on the other. Reference is made to free "tenants of Badenoch, and others who owed suit, following, compearance, or service, attached to the Court of Regality of Badenoch," who were summoned to attend by John Gray, "Mair" of Badenoch. A translation into English of what occurred will be found on pages 80, 81, and 82 of Invernessiana, whereby it will be seen that the Bishop was victorious all along the line.

The Stuarts did not long maintain possession of Badenoch, which, reverting to the Crown, was re-granted to the Gordons. In the first half of the seventeenth century, the Gordons began feuing in Kingussie chiefly to Macphersons, and the present representative of the Gordons possesses of the original 60 davochs of Badenoch, only three, namely, the lands known as North Kinrara in Alvie. The Castle and a few acres adjoining were either reserved from the original grant to the Gordons, or afterwards assumed by the Crown for use as a fortified place to overawe the people and compel obedience. Ruthven in 1746 I need not advert to, as it is frequently noticed, but soon after Culloden it fell into disuse, and formed merely an excuse to maintain some dependent of the Crown as barrack-master, the last being John Macpherson, styled "of Inverhall."

Dissatisfied with their immense possessions in Badenoch the Gordons could not endure to see these few acres in the hands of others ; and there being a question with the Crown as to Fort-William in the year 1787, they seized their opportunity. The Fort-William matter having been referred to David Young of Perth, and Angus Macdonald of Achtriachtan, to fix the amount payable by the Board of Ordnance, the wily Gordon factor, Tod, saw a likely way to acquire the Ruthven barrack grounds without payment. The circumstances are explained by Captain Rudyard's letter to the Duke of Richmond, Master-General of Ordnance, dated Edinburgh, the 5th of November, 1787, sending the Fort-William report. Mr Young, he narrates, by "particular request of Mr Tod, steward to the Duke of Gordon, went to visit the barracks at Ruthven of Badenoch, belonging to Government, as Mr Tod considered it highly probable that the Duke of Gordon, would expect the site of that ruin in part of the compensation for the grounds to be ceded at Fort-William, and in order to give your Honours a view of its value, I have enclosed Mr Young's report as to Ruthven also, and hope his going there, tho' not directed by me, will for the reasons recited meet your approbation."

So far Mr Tod had his own way, the next step being to get the barracks, by this time generally known as "St. George's Castle," for nothing. The two arbiters declined reporting on any sum for Fort-William, merely fixing the extent and boundaries. Their not naming a sum, probably on the astute Tod's suggestion, left it open to him to ask 40 years' purchase of the rental. Of course, Government kicked at this figure, when it was graciously reduced by Mr Tod to 30 years' purchase, on condition that the barracks should be thrown in, or to use the Duke of Gordon's own words, 3rd of December, 1787—" I hope your Grace will not think it unreasonable that I should expect that the barrack hill of Ruthven shall be restored to my family." So it was ultimately arranged, and a disposition having been prepared, the Duke of Gordon was infeft in it on the 31st of October, 1792.

The report of Mr Young, who is described as "a man of superior judgment and abilities, being an author on agriculture," is as follows, and is of value as showing the exact state of matters 109 years ago -

"At the desire of Mr William Tod, steward to His Grace the Duke of Gordon, I viewed the ruins of the barracks belonging to His Majesty at Ruthven of Badenoch.

"This was formerly the castle of the Comyns, then Earls (?) of Badenoch, who had very extensive possessions in the Highlands, perhaps more than any nobleman since possessed—which castle after having decayed was taken down and made into barracks for the military in the year 1727. It was burnt by the rebels in the year 1745, and is just now a complete ruin.

"This hill upon which the barracks are built is perhaps as remarkable as any to be met with in Scotland, being evidently an artificial mount, containing 2 acres and io falls, raised 40 feet high above the surrounding plain, having only access to it from the south, by reason of a morass, containing 2 acres 2 roods and 19 falls, which surround it nearly in the form of a square, which has been intended for a ditch that was to be kept always full of water in order to strengthen the place. This mount being surrounded by the morass, damped, as I am informed, the barracks very much, so that the military stores could not be kept from rusting, and even their linens would be so damp that they were obliged to have them conveyed to another place, in order to save them from rotting. This evil might be remedied by cutting a deep drain to communicate with the River Spey, which after being partly filled up with stones and a sluice put on, so as to let the water in and out at pleasure, might be converted to draw up and down. Upon my first view of this mount, I considered that it was artificial, and I was confirmed in my opinion by being afterwards told that after the military had dug a well forty feet deep for the supply of the garrison, they met with piles of wood that had been put there to support the earth. It appears to me that to erect any new building on this mount would be both difficult and expensive to get a proper foundation, being so unequal, as it would require a very great number of piles of wood to be driven in and long planks in order to make a firm foundation. The present ruins seem to prove this, as many of the walls are rent from top to bottom.

"Notwithstanding these inconveniences the temptation for building is very great, as it has a very extensive prospect both of the surrounding hills and plains.

"The whole of the grounds, belonging to Government, forms an oblong square, containing 5 acres 1 rood and 19 falls, divided as follows:-


The householders in the parish in 1679 were as follows James Macpherson of Ardbrylach, James Mac Neill there, Donald Mac Allister reoch there, Allister Mac Coil-Chrom in Glengynack, Ewen Mac Coil-Chrom there, William Mac a Mair there. John Macpherson of Ballachroan, James Macpherson, his son, there, William Mac Coillie there, John Mac Gillie dhu there, William Mac Coil there, - Mac lain vic Conchie, younger, tailor there, Donald roy Mac Willie there, John Mac Gillie Challum vic Coil there, Murriach reach there, Finlay Mac Conchie vic Chatter there, Donald Mac Coil-Chrom there, Thomas roy Mac Challum vic Coil there, John Mac Hamish vic Aonas vic Allister reach there. Lachlan Macpherson of Pitmain, Donald Mac Allister there, Paul Mac lain vic Allister vic Homas there, John Mac Allister dhu vic Allister mor there, Donald Mac Willie there, John Mac Homas vic Allister there, John ban Mac Andrew vic Clench there. John Macpherson of Invereshie, John reach Mac a brabiter there, Allister reach, his son, there, Allister Oig there, Donald Glassich Mac Ildonich there, James Mac lain vic Hamish vic Aonas there, John Mac-aBhuie there. Thomas Macpherson, elder of Killyhuntly, Thomas Macpherson, younger, there, Thomas Mac reach vic a brabiter there, Allister Mac Coinnich mar there, Malcolm Macpherson of Phoness. Donald Mac lain Glas in Dallanach, Donald Mac lain mar there, Donald Mac Allister vic lain reoch there, Donald Mac Allister mor there. Thomas Macpherson of Etteridge, John Macpherson, his son, there, John Taillour there. James Macpherson of Invernahaven, William Macpherson in Corrarnsdale, Donald dim Mac lain vic Iver there, John Macdonald Mac Shan Gruer there, Duncan Mac Conchie mor there, James roy there, Angus Mac Ildonich there. Angus Mac lain Oig in Corrarnsdale beg. Malcolm Macgregor vic Conchie vic Allister in Tomfad, Allister Mac Conchie vic Allister there, John Macpherson, there, John Mac intaillor in Contalood, John, his son, there, Allister Mac Ildonich there, Adam Smith, there, Archibald Macdonald in Farletter, Malcolm Macpherson there, William Macpherson there, Ewen Mac Durririch (?) there, William Mac Aonas mor there, John Mac Andrew vic lain buie there, John Mac Coil vic Shader there, John Mac Allister vic Thomas there, Donald Mac lain, his son, there. Allister mor Mac ShanTaillor in Inveruglass, Donald, his son, there, Allister Mac Soirle there, William Mac Soirle, his brother, there, James Mac lain Oig there, James Mac Conchie there, James Mac Andrew, miller there, Donald Mac Soirle Roy there. William Macpherson of Nuide, Finlay Mac Angus ban there. Allister Mac Hamish ban there, Duncan Clench there. James Macpherson in Laggan of Kingussie, Donald Mac Vurrich vic Ewen in Kingussie rnor, James Mackay gald, there, Duncan Miller there, and John Mac Vurrich vic Ewen there.

The Gordon rental by the set of 1667 was thus in Scots money :-

The whole public burdens of Badenoch, including rates, stipends, and salaries, amounted to £331 4s 7d, whereof payable by the tenants £211 3s 3d, leaving to be paid by the landlord £120 1s 4d for the three parishes.

The rental of the parish of Kingussie had increased from £600 in 1667, to £1620 odds in 1829. The rise, in proportion to Laggan, was not so great, on account of the greater number of feus in the parish, which of course remained fixed.

I now give a list of some of Mackintosh's tenants in Kingussie parish in 1635:—Bessie Innes (widow of the first Borlum), in Benchar; Angus Mackintosh there (one of her Sons),; John Mac Andrew vic Clench in Clune; John Mac Coil dhu vic Allister there; Finlay Mac lain Roy there Donald Mac lain vic Clench there; Donald Roy Mac lain vic Fionlay there ; Duncan Mac lain vic Clench there George Mac lain mor vic Ewen there.

It will be observed there are no fewer than three Clarks in the above list, from one of whom descended Mr Alexander Clark, the well-known writer in Ruthven, grandfather of my late lamented friend and early patron, Mrs Robertson, formerly of Benchar, whose death the other day at a venerable age, without issue, closed a singularly useful life, also an ancient connection betwixt the Clarks—an important branch of Clan Chattan—and the parish of Kingussie.


In 1853 there died at Kingussie intestate, without father or mother, wife or child, brother or sister, Mr Eneas Peter Macpherson, the last of the ancient and honourable house of Phoness. This family had been decaying for some time before the sale of the estate in 1788, but Eneas Peter Macpherson, an indolent, weak man, succeeded to considerable property, after attaining middle age, through an uncle, Peter, who had long expatriated himself, settling, before the French Revolution, as a jeweller in Paris, where he died. His nephew and namesake was not forgotten, and thus it happened that Eneas Peter Macpherson, who never earned a penny, died in comfortable circumstances, carefully tended by his attached natural sister, Anne Macpherson.

The last Phoness was buried with all honour, the funeral being attended by the 'Gentlemen " of Badenoch in great force, with Cluny at their head. After the funeral, they met at the Duke of Gordon Hotel, and a minute, drawn up by the late Mr Donald Macrae, writer, as clerk, bearing to be of "the gentlemen of Badenoch" was made out and signed by Cluny as chairman and by the clerk. They were all Macphersons, and invited to say whether or not they claimed to be minuted as heirs of Phoness. Amongst others Colonel Gillies Macpherson, son of the Black Captain of Ballachroan, was mentioned. A poor man, giving a lengthened pedigree, stated that he was descended of Alexander of Phoness, who lived 200 years before, in which at least two Gilliecallums, two Donalds, and other such names appeared. Towards the close of the meeting, Cluny called for any further claimants, when, after a pause, the late Major Duncan Macpherson, some time at Drummond, of the Ralia family, stood up, and stated with much solemnity, that having heard all that had been said, he was satisfied that he, and he alone, was the nearest heir to Phoness, and he intended to make his claim good, sitting down amid applause and to the consternation of the Gilliecallum claimant, who for the time collapsed. Who was ultimately declared executor dative, and my own connection with the case, will be mentioned hereafter.
Lieutenant William Macpherson, father of the above- mentioned Eneas Peter, and last Laird of Phoness, on one occasion records, with proper pride of ancestry, but great inaccuracy, that his father "was the 17th heritor who sat in Phoness," a charming expression, being a literal translation of an old Gaelic idiom, now in disuse.

The first Phoness of whom I have any note was Allister Roy, whose son Donald signs the Bond of Union amongst the Clan Chattan in 1609 for himself and as taking burden upon him for lain vic William in Invereshie, and for the remanent of his kin of that race and house. Donald could not write, and it is to be noted that the Macphersons were divided under three heads—Cluny for himself, and for Brin and Breackachie; Thomas vic Allister vic Homas for Pitmean and those of that house; and Phoness as above.

Another Donald Macpherson of Phoness, probably a grandson of Donald of 1609, is a party to the bond, titled Band be certain of the name of Clan Chattan to their Chieffe, i9th November, 1664," and stands fifth on the list, headed by Brin, with Invereshie coming third. This bond, in favour of Lachlan Mackintosh of Torcastle, is signed by nine Macphersons, five Mackintoshes, four Farquharsons, three Macgillivrays, two Macbeans, two Shaws, one Macqueen, all leading men. At what time Phoness was acquired in property I have no note of. Even the name of the tenant is not given in the Gordon rental of 1603, but I am satisfied the Phoness family had a title at the time of this Donald of 1664. The extent of the land was a half davoch, and in the time of Alexander, son of Donald, who is found from 1689 to 1712, the family stood at its height, for he is found lending considerable sums of money.

The next proprietor was Malcolm, born about 1690, referred to in 1774 as in his 84th year. He had at least one brother, named Donald, of whom afterwards.

This Malcolm managed his affairs so foolishly that he was known as "Callum Gorach," and ran through his means, which included a wadset of Nessintullich. He entered the army, and even in his old age served in America and France, acquiring great popularity. Henry Davidson of Tulloch befriended him in London more than once. Here follows a letter—Phoness to Tulloch "Honoured Sir,—You'll please deliver the bearer hereof, Mr Lachlan Mackintosh, Shanval of Badenoch, or his order, Lieutenant Macpherson of Captain Ludovick Grant's Independent Company's acceptance of fifteen pounds sterling. He will deliver you your obligation to me for the same, as also pay the five guineas advanced to me at Cromarty. I was in great straits after my coming from Ireland, and was obliged to take up money from this gentleman for the balance of this bill, and I am with most respectful compliments to you and worthy lady, and ye may believe me your poor friend willing to serve you, (Signed) "MALCOLM MCPHERSON. "Addressed to "Henry Davidson, Esq. of Tulloch, at his house in London."

Malcolm Macpherson appears to have had a pension, but his memory giving way it was not regularly uplifted, hence on a particular occasion Invereshie and Balnespick, junior, as neighbours and Justices, kindly interfered and signed the following declaration:-

"These are certifying that Malcolm Macpherson of Phoness, through the infirmities incident to old age, has been for some years past incapable to manage his own affairs. This made him neglect to go to Inverness where Chelsea men were otdered to attend there, by which means he has been struck off from the list of Chelsea pensioners. As the poor old man has no means to support him- sell, it would be a most charitable action to get him reponed to his Chelsea, and as he is totally unfit himself even to manage that trifle properly, to order his Chelsea to be paid to a friend upon presenting a certificate of the old man's being alive. Inneressie, 3rd June, 1776. The above is certified by me,

(Signed) "WILL. MCPHERSON, J.P, And likewise by me at Invereshie of the same date. (Signed) "LAU. MCKINTOSH, JP."

Malcolm's son Donald had, it appears, been put in possession of the estate before his father's death. He seems to have led an idle useless life, though receiving some legal training in the writing chambers of John Macbean, Sheriff- Clerk of Inverness-shire, in 1736. Donald married, first, Isobel, daughter of Ludovick Grant of Knockando, and widow of Donald Macpherson of Corronach, and secondly, Margaret Macpherson, who, after his death, married Mr John Stewart. Dying without issue, about 1766, Donald was succeeded by his brother Angus.

Angus Macpherson, describing himself "of Phoness, Lieutenant in General Marjoribank's regiment, in the service of the States of Holland," on the narrative that he was to join his regiment, nominates as his Commissioners, George and William Macpherson, elder and younger of Invereshie, and Lieutenant John Macpherson (Ballachroan), of the Battalion of Highlanders, lately commanded by Major James Johnston, by deed dated at Edinburgh, on the 25th of May, 1767. He married Elizabeth, only daughter of James Macpherson of Killyhuntly, and having returned home by 1771 writes the following letter to his law-agent at Inverness :--

Sir,—You'll please without loss of time, serve my wife heir to her father, James Macpherson of Killyhuntly, and send up the Edict here, to be published in the Parish Church. Being in haste, I remain your most obedient servant, (Signed) "ANGUS MACPHERSON.

"Phoness, 20 March, 1771."

"P.S.—Be sure to return the Edict by this very post, as there is a sum of money in the Exchequer, which lies there without interest, and cannot be paid until the service is expede. The money is a balance of debt due by the late Evan Macpherson of Cluny, to James Macpherson of Killyhuntly. The Barons is willing to accept a confirmation upon ten pounds of the subject. To this you'll advert and send the Edict accordingly."

Lieutenant Angus Macpherson died about 1779, survived by his widow, and by at least two sons, the eldest of whom, Lieutenant William Macpherson, succeeded, and was the last Macpherson of Phoness.

The estate was sold to Mr James Macpherson, about 1788, who by this time had also acquired Etteridge and Invernahaven, east of Spey, Raitts in Alvie, and shortly afterwards Clune and Benchar, all west of Spey.

Lieutenant William Macpherson had married a worthy lady, who strove hard to keep up the family's credit before her husband's death about 1826, and thereafter for her son's sake. She and her son resided in Brae Laggan, and I have several of her letters to a rather exacting creditor, John Macpherson, Gallovie, which do her great credit.

After his mother's (Jean Macpherson) death Eneas Peter lived in obscurity at Raitts, of little use in the world while a trouble to no one, until all of a sudden, by the death of the Paris jeweller, he succeeded to a competency, indeed wealth, and retired to Kingussie, most carefully looked after by his natural sister, Anne.

The details of the fight for the Phoness succession in 1853-54 are too long, and I am hardly the person to give particulars of what occurred in my professional career. Suffice it to say that an old man, Mr Donald Ferguson, from Pitlochry, my client, was ultimately successful. He had not a scrap of writing, merely floating family tradition, to instruct his claim. Two ladies of the best type of the old school of Highland gentlewomen, the late Misses Robertson of Kindrochit, supported Mr Ferguson and through them the late Mr Robertson of Banchor, their relative, interested himself. The active opposition was latterly reduced to Colonel Gillies Macpherson of Ballochroan, who after a lengthened absence re-appeared in Badenoch, but was ineffective; as though nearly related to the Phoness family through his mother, the paternal or legal connection was almost as remote as the Gillie Callum claimant. Having had to make minute and laborious searches, in this case lasting over several months, my inclination for antiquarian and genealogic subjects received a great impetus. By the greatest good fortune I discovered a paper referring to Donald Macpherson, Mr Ferguson's ancestor, in which Donald was referred to as "brother to Phoness," in 1737. The late Mr Skene was examined, amongst others, as to the proper interpretation of the expression, and ultimately my client was successful. My late lamented friend, Mrs Robertson, Banchor, with her husband, exerted themselves greatly, and entertained the Kindrochit ladies at Banchor, and at Kingussie for several days when they came to give evidence before the Commissary Depute, Sheriff Colquhoun.

On behalf of the successful claimant, I gave a great dinner in the Duke of Gordon Hotel to the Sheriff, the agents, witnesses, and all interested or concerned, and, as one present said, he had not seen such a festive gathering in Kingussie since the days of the Duke of Gordon's occasional visits at rent collections.


In consequence of the spread of the burgh of Kingussie, the population in the parish has been increasing in marked contrast with Laggan and Alvie. The country parts, excepting Kingussie and Newtonmore, have however become greatly depopulated, and in especial those parts bordering on the river Truim. The opening of the railway has neither removed nor checked the sad state of matters. Mr James Macpherson of Ossianic fame, who acquired Phoness, Etterish, and Invernahaven, began this wretched business, and did it so thoroughly that not much remained for his successors, though they followed his example in doing their little worst up to the comparatively recent clearings in Glenballoch and Glenbanchor.

Take the case of Dallanach as an illustration. The very name is now practically lost. Yet as late as 1763 there were eight well-doing heads of families, namely, Andrew Macpherson, who lived at Inishlea of Dallanach. Andrew Clark, Alexander Clark, William Macpherson, Donald Macpherson, Thomas Macpherson, Donald Macpherson, and Angus Macpherson, say 50 souls. Every place James Macpherson acquired was cleared, and he had also a craze for changing and obliterating the old names. The first attempt, namely, to suppress Phoness, Etteridge, and Invernahaven, and call the whole Glentruim, was stopped by the Duke of Gordon, who owned one side of the Truim towards its foot, and both sides higher up. Another attempt of Mac Ossian's was more successful—changing Raitts into Belville. This last seems of late undergoing a further change into Balavil, perhaps to emerge in time, even in English, into Palaville. Upon this point it may be noticed that Mac Ossian, in making an entail and calling four of his numerous bastards in the first instance to the succession, declares an irritancy if any of the heirs use any other designation than that of "Macpherson of Belleville."

There is not a single inhabited house, I rather think, on the estate of Invernahaven at present, but it was once a rather important place, possessed and occupied by people in fair circumstances as heritors. Dalwhinnie, as its hill grounds, at one time pertained to Invernahaven. Captain Alexander Clark, one of Mac Ossian's nephews, was long tenant of the place. Here is one of his letters illustrating a gross case of oppression by one of the "gentlemen" of Badenoch, who, according to the well-known Gaelic saying, swarmed in every town, and was


Writing from Invernahaven on the 12th of April, 1808, Captain Clark says—

"Andrew Macpherson, tacksman of Biallidheg, was on Saturday last served with a summons to the Sheriff Court of Inverness at the instance of Mr Lachlan Macpherson, tacksman of Biallidmor, and the nature of the complaint, you as a Highlander, will easily comprehend. In the beginning of March last Andrew Macpherson went to Biallidrnor to ask the liberty of kiln-drying some corn in Mr Macpherson's kiln, and not finding him at home, sent his grieve or foreman with his compliments to Mrs Macpherson, requesting the use of the kiln, which Donald Macrae the grieve, said his mistress granted. That Andrew then had none of his own horses at home, and finding two of the petitioner's horses at his door and in his grass, he supposed for the distance he might use the liberty of sending the little corn he had to the kiln with these horses. The defender lives on the next farm to the pursuer, besides you must know that it is a common practice in the Highlands to get the neighbours and their horses to assist in sending to kiln and miln. I only regret for the sake of the community how little they have been troubled in that way this season. That Andrew denies his having used Mr Macpherson's horses in any bad way, or over-loading them in the least. That John Macpherson in Crubinbeg, brother of the pursuer, assisted in loading the horses, and the before- mentioned Donald Macrae and Donald Mackintosh, two of the pursuer's men servants, assisted in unloading the horses, and that Mackintosh at the time said that the cart fitted the pony remarkably well. From these circumstances it will clearly appear that there was no intention of using the horses ill. That when Andrew was in the act of kiln drying his corn, Mr Macpherson came home and locked the door of the kiln, and would not for the space of three days allow to proceed with the drying which the corn wanted, neither would he give him a sack of it for the use of his family. By this interruption the meal produced from the corn was much injured. Andrew from the very first offered to submit all he did to the decision of any two gentlemen in the county, or the Justices of the Peace."

This is a good illustration of Biallid's churlish disposition. Let us take an instance of his violence. Mr John Macpherson at Cluny Mains, afterwards at Gallovie, writes on 24th January, 1816, transmitting information for "Donald Macpherson, one of my neighbours, against my neighbour Captain Macpherson, Biallid. It is a well founded complaint, for upwards of 12 months since Biallid attempted to lay hands on him on my own farm. In consequence, the complainer was afraid to attend to his duty near the march. Biallid is known to be the most turbulent man in the county, and has within the last few years committed many acts of violence, so much so that one poor man's life was for a long time despaired of, and after he summoned Biallid before the Sheriff Court for redress, his funds failed him, the doctor's fees taking all he had. He had applied by petition last April to the Justices, at least to two of them, but l3ialIid had the ear of them, so they refused a deliverance."

Wrong doings were not confined to the "gentlemen." Ralia writes wrothfully from Breackachie on the 15th of April, 1794, of another Macpherson thus—

"This covers a bond of caution by Captain Charles and myself for the persons complained of in the Process of Lawburrows. I am such a stranger to legal operations that I do not know whether it is competent to counteract Letters of Lawburrows. If such a step is known in law, there never was a better field for it than the present. The infamous man, who I cannot better describe, since his discharge from the Duke of Gordon's First Fencibles, has made it his study to foment quarrels, and form parties on public and private occasions to attack persons unguarded from liquor, or alone, ever since. He did so on the occasion for which he now sues Lawburrows. The persons complained of, who are as industrious, decent men as any this country produces in their sphere, came to see the anniversary of their children at cockfighting annually observed. In the evening with the master of the school they withdrew to a whiskey house adjacent to take some refreshment to themselves. This William Macpherson, in his usual manner, who bore no good will to any of the parties, thrust himself upon the company after they were something flustered (being fasting) with liquor, and after being told his company was disagreeable, withdrew with a confidant of his, who prudently counselled him not to join the company any more, upon that occasion, as they seemed to dislike his association, which he then promised. The reverse he acted. He withheld himself from the company until they became stupid with the excess of drink, and collected from different farms in the neighbourhood, a parcel of unwary people. He then came and attacked them in a state of insensibility, beat and bruised them most cruelly, broke two ribs in the side of one of the persons complained of, dislocated the thumb of another, and with his teeth bit a third. He then withdrew, but terrified that such rascally behaviour would not be overlooked, took this mode of protecting himself. The persons concerned being of the first character in this country in their own line, scorn to apply for a similar defence, yet they and their friends consider themselves greatly injured."

I turn to a more agreeable subject and give a really creditable contract of marriage, written by a country lad, James Macpherson at Coraldie, dated Etterish, the 2nd of February, 1737. Endorsed on the back is an acknowledgment of the loan of a book, "Kennet's Roman Antiquities" (much in repute at one time, but now superseded), indicating considerable erudition on the part of some of the ancient residenters in the valley of Truim:-

"Etrish, 2nd February, 1737.

"Sir,—Seeing that your sister Margaret and I by God's assistance resolve to marry again to-morrow, and the time being so short and the want of stamp paper, that she cannot be secured effectually in the hundred merks she is to have of my effects free out of this house in case she did survive me, by and attour her division as law provides her. I do assure you and promise by these to grant and give to her my obligations on stamps at or before my receiving of the bill resting by Duncan Macpherson in Crubinbeg and John Macpherson his brother, payable for her behoof, for 270 merks Scots. So that you need not scruple to allow the marriage to go on. And being a favour done to me who am and resolve to be your affectionate brother.


"Addressed to Mr John Macpherson, son to the deceased Thomas Macpherson some time in Garvabeg."

"Nessendullie, November 19th, 1750.

"There received by me, Donald Macpherson, son to Ewen Macpherson of Laggan, from Nessendullie, the "Roman Antiquities" by Kennett, which I oblige myself hereby to return when demanded.


I conclude this part by giving the terms of arrangement of separation between Evan Macpherson, schoolmaster of Ralia, and Margaret Macpherson his wife, also Isobel Macpherson, her mother, which has in all seven signatures—

"In presence of Captain John Macpherson of Ballachroan, Bailie Macpherson in Glentromie, Captain Alexander Macpherson of Biallid and Captain Alexander Clark in Knappach. We, Mr Evan Macpherson in Ralia, Isobel Macpherson, his mother-in-law, and Margaret Macpherson, his spouse, have come to the following agreement:- That Mr Evan shall yearly from his salary allow five pounds sterling yearly for the aliment of his mother-in-law and wife, over and above the annu-il rent of the money in Invernahaven's hands, which Mr Evan is to make up to fifty pounds sterling. This settlement to stand from the date hereof till January, 1786. This principal of fifty pounds to be lodged with Invernahaven is to be conceived in fee to Mr Grant's children, and in life-rent to his mother-in-law, and after her demise to his wife. In case the above designed women do not agree long in one family, we agree that the foresaid aliment shall be divided equally between us. Moreover, if Mr Evan's salary is reduced, we promise to suffer our income to be reduced in proportion. It is to be observed that if Mr Evan cannot at the first term add what is requisite to make up fifty pounds as above, in that case he is to be allowed one pound sterling of the foresaid aliment to help him. If Mr Evan's salary is reduced to very little and that he cannot spare any, in that case, as the interest of the fifty pounds cannot support both the women, they shall be allowed to draw ten pounds from the capital, but the forty pounds always to remain in fee for the children. In testimony that we are willing to abide by the above settlement, we subscribe these at Muirhouse, 29th July, 1785, before and in presence of the above gentlemen.


"D. MCPHERSON, Witness.
"ALEX. CLARK, Witness."


Invertromie, originally feued in 1638 to Donald, son of .Macpherson of Noidbeg, consisted of a davoch of land. When sold in 1795, it was, and had for sometime, with that curious perverseness for changing ancient names, been called Inverhall. The seller, Hugh Macpherson, became involved, like many in Badenoch, with the Black Officer of Ballachroan, and though his private debts were insignificant —only a few hundred pounds—a sale had to be made. The description, as will be seen, was couched in an inflated style worthy of Robins. Still it was a beautiful place and a valuable sporting ground. This is the advertisement which appeared in the Edinburgh newspapers—

"An Estate in Badenoch, with excellent shooting quarters, for sale. To be sold, by public voluntary roup, within the Old Exchange Coffee-house, Edinburgh, on Monday, the i6th day of June next, between the hours of five and six afternoon,
"All and whole, the Lands and Estate of Inverhall or Invertrommie, with the whole Sheillings, Pasturages, and Pertinents thereof, lying in the lordship of Iladenoch, parish of Kingussie, and county of Inverness. These lands hold feu of the Duke of Gordon, for payment of 50 merks Scots, with some small customs and services which are all converted. The yearly rent is at present only £110 sterling, but, as there are no leases on any of the lands, a very considerable increase of rent may reasonably be expected, and has indeed been offered, on granting leases for a moderate endurance.

"There is not perhaps in the Highlands of Scotland a more beautiful or picturesque spot than that now offered to sale. It lies in the very heart of Badenoch, along the banks of the Water of Trommie, and is also bounded by the River Spey, at the junction of the Trommie with that river. It is interspersed and skirted with birch and other brushwood; extends four or five miles from the strath or middle of the country, due south, up the Glen of Trommie; and the proprietor has a right of pasturage to the very source of Trommie, several miles farther up.

"In the low part of the estate, or at Invertrommie, there is a large field of fine arable land, of the best quality in the country. There is also an extensive meadow or morass, adjoining to the arable land, along the banks of the Spey, and yielding great crops of fine natural hay. Trommie and Spey afford great plenty of salmon, and trout of different kinds, in the greatest perfection. There are several falls of the waters of sufficient force to drive mills or machinery of any extent, and constantly supplied with water. The estate is well supplied with moss of the best quality. It contains a slate quarry, and it is believed there is also plenty of lime stone. It is in every respect capable of the highest improvement.

"In the middle of Glentrommie, there is a residence which has for several years been occupied as a shooting quarter, by different gentlemen of rank and fortune, and here the proprietor has built a substantial house of several apartments, superior to most shooting quarters. Fancy can scarcely figure a more pleasant or romantic situation than the place affords. It is close by the river, surrounded with natural woods of great beauty and considerable value on both sides. There are large fields of fine natural grass round the house by the river side. For a sportsman, there cannot be a more eligible station as, around the residence, there is a range of four or five miles of the best shooting ground in the Highlands; the game is in great abundance, and frequently within twenty yards of the house—and trout and salmon in the river running past the door. There is also a carriage road to the shooting quarters, leading from the high road from Edinburgh to Inverness.

The whole estate and particularly the glen, is also well calculated for a sheep walk, and having the water on one side of it, and the whole being well supplied with stones, may easily be enclosed at little expense.

"There is no mansion-house on the estate, but many delightful situations for building on, particularly at Invertrommie, where, besides having a view of that part of the estate, there will also be had a complete view of the country of Badenoch for many miles up and down, the beauty of which is well known to every person who has travelled the Highland Road. Belville House (a new modern and elegant building) immediately fronts this part of the estate—the ruins of the Barracks of Ruthven, the Parish Church, the Place of Gordonhall, and many other beautiful objects are all in the immediate neighbourhood. There is also a view of Loch Inch, and the River Spey for several miles of its course through that delightful country. The whole forming one of the finest landscapes in Scotland.

"In short, there can seldom occur an estate for sale situated like the present, fitted alike to gratify the pleasures of the sportsman and the roan of taste, who may choose to reside in the country and, at the same time, affording every possible encouragement to the purchaser in a mercantile view merely, as a proper subject for improvement.

"The title-deeds, which are perfectly clear, are in the hands of James Robertson, writer, Castle-hill, Edinburgh, to whom intending purchasers may apply for further information; or to Captain Charles Macpherson, at Gordonhall, near Ruthven, who will also show the estate, and either of whom have power to conclude a private bargain."

The first feu of Invertromie was included in the charter by George, Marquis of Huntly, with consent of Lady Ann Campbell, his spouse, and George, Lord Gordon, his son, in favour of Donald Macpherson, eldest lawful son of John Macpherson of Nuide beg, who also received with it, described as a davoch of land, the town and lands of Nuide rnor. This charter is dated at Huntly, the 28th of April, 1638, and confirmed by the Crown on the 5th of March, 1642. Six years later Invertromie belonged to Captain Thomas Macpherson, from whom it passed to Lachlan, who is found in 1683. Lachlan was succeeded by his son, Duncan Macpherson, found in 1697 and 1698. In 1711 there is notice of Thomas, son of the deceased Angus, son to the also deceased Lachlan Macpherson of Invertromie before mentioned. Duncan of Invertroniie, also before mentioned, was succeeded by his son, Alexander, found in 1723. A break in my notes here occurs until 1787, when Hugh Macpherson, described of Inverhall, gets a charter from the Duke of Gordon as heir of his father, John. This was the Hugh who became involved with the Black Officer of Ballachroan, and had to sell the estates. They were advertised in 1794 for public sale, but no sale being effected, though several were after it, a sale by private bargain was made to the Duke of Gordon on behalf of his illegitimate son, Major George Gordon of the 11th Dragoons. Major Gordon was infeft in 1796, and was well-known as " The Duke's George," so called by the Duchess of Gordon to distinguish him from "My George"—her son, George, Marquis of Huntly. Major Gordon was a great sportsman, for whom was also purchased Dalwhinnie hill grounds, as popular in his own way as his distinguished brother. Major George Gordon later became Inspector General of Foreign Corps, and sold Invertromie to George Macpherson Grant of Invereshie, who was infeft in 1835 in "the davoch town and lands of Invertromie, with the grazings, sheillings, and pasturages thereof, and outsetts of the same in Glentromie, called Kinchraggan, Linacloich, Lynmore, with the sheillings in Riechraggan, parish of Kingussie." The feu duty originally stipulated remains on the lands, passing with the Badenoch lands sold to the Baillies.

The earliest proprietor of the davoch of Etteridge that I have note of was John Macpherson, found in 1627. The descent I do not propose to trace but merely note the following names—John found in 1677, Thomas in 1683, Murdo in 1697, another Murdo found in 1760, who was father of John of Etteridge found in 1781, while in 1787 James Macpherson is infeft by the Duke of Gordon. The Etteridge family had a grazing on Loch Errocht—west side, called Catlag-Etterish to distinguish it from Catlag, or Catlodge-Cluny. The last-mentioned James Macpherson of Etteridge sold the estate to his namesake, Mac Ossian, whose heir of entail presently possesses the place.

The Macphersons of Invernahaven long occupied a creditable position in the parish. The earliest I have noted was James Macpherson, found in 1679, 1683, and 1711. James Macpherson was succeeded by his son Alexander, found in 1712; then there is a break to 1781, when John Macpherson is found proprietor of Invernahaven. He made a settlement in favour of his son James, who sold to Mac Ossia n.
In a letter to one of James' creditors, Captain Charles Macpherson of Gordonhall, on the 15th of September, 1799, writes of him—'He has for many years been a resident in the West Indies, but is expected home about Martinmas, when his few creditors who have claims against his estate will be satisfied." His mother or step-mother was then living. James Macpherson left no issue—a title to Drumouchter, or the Dalwhinnie hill lands, all that remained of the Invernahaven estate, being made up in i8or, by Captain John Maclean of the 93rd, and Jean Macpherson, his aunt, spouse of Lieutenant John Macpherson of Blargie, as heirs portioners to John Macpherson of Invernahaven, their grandfather and father respectively, who on precept by the Duke of Gordon were infeft 14th August, 1801.

Captain Maclean, arranging with his aunt, became sole owner, and in 1819, then Colonel Sir John Maclean, K.C.B., sold Drumouchter to the Marquis of Huntly.

Drumouchter now belongs to Glentruim.

Kingussie and Upper Speyside
A Descriptive Guide to the District (1905) (pdf)

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