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


The family of Invereshie is one of the few old Highland families showing an almost unbroken line of prosperity, at present standing higher than ever. Putting aside for the moment his Ballindalloch holding, Sir George Macpherson- Grant stands head and shoulders territorially over all other Macphersons both in acreage and rental. By origin Sir George is descended of the two houses of Macphersons of Dalraddie, and Grants of Rothiemurchus, being of Invereshie originally by purchase, and of Ballindalloch by destination. Invereshie alone falls within the scope of these papers, and I pass at once over the fabulous origin given by Douglas and the asserted connection with the old Invereshies, and mention the first Macpherson of Dairaddie, properly so termed, viz., Paul, whose name and designation in the original charter of Dalraddie is stated thus, "Paul Macpherson, son lawful of Donald Macpherson in Dalraddie." This charter, or rather disposition and feu contract, is granted by George, Marquis of Huntly, Earl of Enzie, with consent of Lady Anna Campbell, his spouse, and George, Lord Gordon, his son, dated 12th October, 1637, and registered in the books of Council and Session at Edinburgh, 24th July, 1767. The lands conveyed are thus described—

"All and whole, the town and lands of Dalraddie, extending to a davoch of land, comprehending therein the seats and town following, viz., Kynintchar, Knockcaillich, Lynanruich, and Balavullin, which are parts and pendicles of the said davoch !ands of Dairaddie, with all and sundry their houses, biggings, yards, tofts, crofts, woods, fishings, multures, mosses, muirs, outsetts, insetts, parts, pendicles, and other pertinents whatsoever, as well not named as named, together with the sheillings, grazings, and pasturages in Teavorer, Teriuchneck, and Badabog, and other parts used and wont, and as the tenants and possessors of the said lands were in use of before, lying within the parish of Alvie, Lordship of Badenoch, and the Sheriffdom of Inverness."

I have no note of Paul's son, but in 1683 John of Dalraddie, his grandson, appears, and in 1691 Angus Macpherson, also described as grandson of Paul, is found. This John, third of Dairaddie, had a son, also called John, married to Isobel Cuthbert, daughter of Provost Cuthbert of Inverness, of the Castlehill family. Of this marriage there were two sons—John, fifth, who succeeded, and married to one of the Cluny ladies, leaving no issue, was succeeded by his brother George, sixth.

I now turn to the Macphersons of Invereshie, which by this time had been acquired by Dairaddie. The first Macpherson who acquired the heritable right to Invereshie was Angus Macpherson, by disposition and feu contract by the forenamed George, Marquis of Huntly, his wife, and son, in his (Angus') favour, dated 22nd October, 1637, registered in the Books of Council and Session on said 24th July, 1767. The following is the description of the subjects :-

"All and whole the lands of Invereshie, Countilate, Corarnstilmor, with houses, biggings, yards, tofts, sheillings, grazings, and whole parts, pendicles and pertinents whatsoever, with the liberty of the woods and pasturages in the whole foresaid lands as well in property as in commonly used and wont, all extending to a davoch land of old extent. The lands of Farletter, Corarnstilbeg, with houses, biggings, yards, and whole other pertinents thereof, extending to a davoch land, with the fishing of salmon upon the Lake of Loch Insh and the water Spey, running through or by the same, commonly called the fishing of Farletter. The land of Inveruglass and Clauchan with the mill thereof, formerly upon the water of Dallishaig, now upon the water of Tromie, extending to the half of a davoch land of old extent. The lands of Dell of Killyhuntly with the croft thereof, extending to a davoch land of old extent. The lands of Invermarkie with the mill thereof, comprehending the lands of Achnisuchan, alias Auch Guisachan, with the mill croft of Invermarkie :—all extending to four davochs and a half davoch of lands, with houses, biggings, yards, tofts, crofts, woods, fishings, sheillings, grazings, and whole pertinents thereof used and wont, lying within the Lordship of Badenoch parishes of Kingussie and Insh, late Regality of Huntly, and Sheriffdorn of Inverness."

Angus Macpherson, first heritor of Invereshie, was a few years after he became owner, killed in one of Montrose's battles, and left a son John, very young, whose estates were managed by the Tutor, also called John Macpherson. John Macpherson, second of Invereshie, was succeeded by his son Gillies, but commonly called Elias Macpherson, who falling into serious pecuniary difficulties sold his estates to Macpherson of Dalraddie. Elias afterwards became a soldier, and died abroad without issue, about 1697. His uncle, Sir Eneas Macpherson, left no male issue, but he had at least one daughter, who married Sir John Maclean of Duart. The premier male line of Invereshie thus terminated, but it is understood there are male descendants in existence of Angus before mentioned, the first heritor of Invereshie.

I now revert to George, sixth of the Dalraddie line, who possessed Invereshie and Dalraddie for upwards of 6o years, and being a man of great prudence and thrift, bordering on penuriousness, placed his family on a very secure footing, and by his marriage brought the fine estate of Ballindalloch ultimately to them. He purchased the very convenient adjoining estate of Balnespick. Before this purchase, although Invereshic extended to the Perth and Aberdeen marches, the frontage to the Spey, only from the flat near the church of Insh to the Feshie was insignificant. I rather think that it was he who managed to secure for a trifle the Glebe of Insh, but this may have been managed before George's time. Some of the ancient residenters in and about Insh have inherited curious stories of his penuriousness. Be that as it may he preserved and added to his estate, and has the credit of making the first fir plantation in Alvie, viz., "Baddan Shonat," a piece of planting not far from the home farm of Invereshie, so called from a clever strong country woman, Janet, who carried the plants on her back from Ballindalloch, after George Macpherson's marriage. Naturally, Alvie grows the finest fir, but it has not been the worse of the handsome and thriving plantations of recent years made on the plains of the Mackintosh and Invereshie estates. In old times these two families were not only near neighbours, but close and hereditary friends. Here is a letter from Invereshie to Mackintosh of Balnespick on behalf of the Laird of Mackintosh, dated Invereshie, 17th May, 1779:-

"I am favoured with yours just now, with respect to my casting and using divots for my houses on the Muir ground west of Lagganlia and Croftbeg. It was by an indulgence which we had from Laird Lachlan Macintosh, and his successor, Laird William, during their pleasure. I never pretended to have any title of using any property upon said ground, but by permission, and when that permission is withdrawn I will always be thankful for past favours. If it is continued I shall give as full an acknowledgment as may be desired in these terms. As to my miler or others of my people, if they have encroached in casting divots or peats upon Mackintosh's property, I shall notify to them to stay for the future. All here joins me in compliments to you and Mrs Mackintosh.—I ever am, dear sir, your affectionate humble servant, (Signed) GEORGE MCPHERSON."

The first break in this hereditary friendship occurred towards the end of last century, when Mackintosh found it necessary to embank the turbulent Feshie for some distance from its inver into the Spey. The losal of Dalnavert being situated below Invereshie, received naturally the first and bulk of the Feshie when in flood, and as a great part of the farm was becoming useless, Mackintosh resolved to make on his side a straight and powerful embankment, which was carried out at the enormous expense in those days of over a thousand pounds sterling. This did not at all suit Invereshie, whose lands were thereby every winter flooded from Loch Insh to the Feshie, but it was a matter that could not be stopped, and only mitigated in part by an additional cut made by Invereshie for surplus river Spey water. In later years march differences in Glenfeshie occurred, and a well-meant effort of final settlement by excambion failed. As the whole of Glenfeshie has been for several years let as one forest, difficulties have been, for a time at least, overcome.

George Macpherson was succeeded by his son, William Macpherson, who did not marry. George's second son, Captain John Macpherson, a man of sterling character and cultivation, far beyond his turbulent or dissipated neighbours, predeceased the elder brother, William, on whose death the succession opened to his nephew, George, afterwards Sir George Macpherson-Grant, who had succeeded prior to his uncle William's death, to the estate of Ballindalloch. Sir George, first Baronet, may be considered as the real founder of the family. Shrewd, ambitious and determined, party and men were made subservient to his wishes, and he was steadily successful. He bought up at great expense all the ridiculous but burdensome stipulations in his Gordon charters, finally acquiring not only the freehold of Invereshie, but the lands of Invertromie, and also a great slice of the Gordon Kingussie lands. He was succeeded by his son, Sir John, whom I cannot more fitly describe than as a fair-minded, scrupulous, and honourable gentleman, whose promising life was unhappily cut short after a too brief career. His son, the present Sir George, is so well known that I need but say that he, like the present Lochie], has, by zeal, industry, and thought, in course of a long reign, strengthened and added to the best traditions of his house, and shown what a great Highland proprietor can and ought to be.


The rental of the Gordons in 1667, was as follows, and it may be mentioned that from the large holdings of Mackintosh and Invereshie acquired early the Gordon rental was smaller in Alvie than in the other parishes of Badenoch:-

Here follows a list of some of Mackintosh's tenants in the parish of Alvie in 1635—Angus Macqueen, principal tenant of Meikie Dunachton; John Mac Coil vic William there; Angus Mac Conchie there; John Roy Mac Allister vic Fionlay there; William Roy Mac Huistean there; Donald Mac Coil vic lain Dhu there; Andrew Miller there; Donald Mac Conchie vie Gorrie there; Allister Mac Fionlay vic Ewen there; Mac Fionlay Dhu there; Kenneth Mac Fionlay Mor there; James Gow there; Duncan Mac Gorrie there Ferquhar Dhu there; Donald Dhu Mac Gorrie there James Shaw in Dunachton beg ; Soirle Mac Fionlay vie Ewen there; Finlay Mac Allister vic Fionlay vie Ewen there: Katharine nin Donald Roy there; William Mac Allan Roy there; Gillespie Mac Coil vic Gorrie there; John Mac Haniish vic Aonas there; Alexander Roy in Pittourie; Lachlan Mackintosh of Stron, principal tacksman of Kincraig; Finlay Mor there ; Alister Dhu Mac Fionlay there; Soirle Mac Allister vic Fionlay there; Allister Mac Fionlay there; Hugh Macqueen there; James Shaw in Dalnavert; William Shaw, his son, there; Thomas Mac lain vic William there, William Miller there; Donald Mor Mac Allister there; John Mac Hamish, tailor, there; Angus Macpherson of Invereshie, principal tacksman of the croft of Dalnavert, bewest the water of Feshie.

I next give a list of several of the tenants and occupants of Alvie generally in 1679 :—Lachlan Macpherson of Dellifour; Leonard Macpherson, his son, there; Duncan Dow there; Ewen Mac Coil there; Angus Mac Coil vic Phail there; John Macrae there; Allister Mac William vic lain Mor there; Allister Macpherson there; Donald Macpherson in Pittourie; Donald Mac Phai] vic Coin ich there; Patrick Macpherson there; Thomas Mac Griasich Chotter there; Allister Macpherson of Pitchern, there; John mor Mac a ghillie rioch there; William Mac lain vic Gillandrish there; William Gow there; Donald Macpherson in Pitchern ; Allister Mac Allister vic Muriach there; Ewen Oig there ; Allister Mac Coil Reach there ; John Macpherson in Dairaddie; Finlay Mac Ewen there; John roy Mac Coil vic Eachen there; William Mac Gillie Michael there ; Allister Mac Hamish vic an Taillor there; Donald Mac Phadrick mar there; Donald Gordon there; Thomas Dow there; John Mor Mac lain vic Thomas there; Donald Maclean of Wester Lynvuilg; Donald Mac Conchie vic Phail there; Hucheon Rose there; James Mac lain vic her there ; James and Angus Macpherson there; Angus Macferquhar there; Donald Mackenzie there; John Mac Gillie Phadrick vic lain there; Donald Maclean there; John Mac Phail vic Coinich there; John Oig Mac Ferquhar there.

After his marriage Alexander, fourth Duke of Gordon, brought Jane Maxwell, the new Duchess, to the north, and they visited all his estates. She was not taken with Gordon Castle, but so much struck with Kinrara that she at once made up her mind that it should become her Highland residence, and she stuck to it to the last, ordering that her remains be there laid.

Both Kinraras, Gordon's and Mackintosh's, are beautiful, and nowhere in Badenoch are the hills more set off with birch than at North Kinrara. But, alas, at the beginning the Duchess' wishes were carried out by the removal of a numerous and contented people. Even yet after the lapse of more than a hundred years green oases on the sides of the wooded Tar Alvie showing ancient cultivation, are to be found—and it is a great satisfaction to me that ere matters have fallen into utter oblivion, never to be recalled, I record the woeful events which occurred in 1770, in connection with the clearing of North Kinrara. Upon the 20th of February, 1770, the Duke signs in London a precept agreeable to the ancient Scottish form, to warn out Patrick Grant of Rothieniurchus, principal tenant, and the following people, in the personal occupation of the lands of Kinrara and Dellifour

1, Donald Grant, in the boat house of Knappach; 2, Peter Grant, in Easter Kinrara; 3, John Grant there; 4, John Shaw there; 6, James Grant, in Wester Kinrara; 7, Anna Forbes there; 8, James Grant, in Balnacruick; 9, James Cameron, in Sloch; 10, Alexander Macdonald, senior, in Gortnacreich; 11, Peter Macdonald there; 12, Alexander Macdonald, junior, there; 13, Donald Grant, in Abban; 14, Alexander Cameron, in Croftgown; 15, Robert Cameron there; 16, Annie Grant there; 17, Mr William Gordon, minister of the Gospel there; 18, Peter Grant, in Dellifour; 19, James Grant there; 20, John Campbell there; 21, Alexander Cuthbert there; 22, Alexander Cameron there; 23, Christian Macpherson, Mailander there; 24, Malcolm Macdonald, Altnagown, probably over one hundred souls, doubtless poor enough, but honestly paying the whole rent exacted by the Gordons, while allowing a neighbouring laird to sit free for the best part of the possession. Great precautions were taken that the services were legally complete. Patrick Grant seems to have then resided at Dell of Rothiemurchus, but the house was shut up, and copies were not only left in the lock hole, and stuck on the church door of Alvie, but also a copy left in a cloven stick on the grounds of Kinrara and Dellifour.

Retiring from the great Metropolis the Duchess statedly and for long periods lived at Kinrara, nearly always accompanied by her daughter Georgina, afterwards Duchess of Bedford. Lady Georgina was passionately attached to Badenoch, but unlike the others, the steady close friend and protector of all poor people far and near, and her name to the present day is deservedly held in the warmest affection.


As I said, Duchess Jane, who died in London in April, 1812, is interred at Kinrara, with an absurdly inflated inscription about her descendants, quoted by Banker Macpherson, page 82 of his Old Church and Social Life in the Highlands. At page 81 Mr Macpherson makes this statement, "If Duchess Jane prepared the inscription to be placed on the monument." If Duchess Jane prepared the inscription, as Mr Macpherson alleges, then she had among her many undoubted gifts one hitherto unknown, no less than the second sight, or more properly that of foretelling futurity.

The descendants of her five daughters are given nomination on the monument, and under the head of Lady Georgina, fifth daughter, above referred to, who married John, Duke of Bedford, there are mentioned four sons and two daughters, viz., Lady Georgina Elizabeth Russell, and Lady Louisa Jane Russell, the present Duchess Dowager of Abercorn. It is to the last venerable lady, who not long since celebrated her 8oth birthday, surrounded by over one hundred descendants, I have to refer. Peerage authorities tell the public that Lady Louisa Jane Russell was born on the 8th of July, 1812, three months after her grandmother, Jane Duchess of Gordon's death. How could Duchess Jane, if she prepared the inscription, know that an unborn child of her daughter Georgina, would be a girl and named Louisa Jane, perhaps Mr Macpherson, if he stick to his text in any new edition, will explain and clear up.

The end of the inscription runs thus—"This monument was erected by Alexander, Duke of Gordon, and the above inscription placed on it at the particular request of the Duchess, his wife." I quite admit an ordinary reader, who perhaps never heard of any Duchess but Duchess Jane, might be misled by this. Mr Macpherson ought to know, but seems to have overlooked that Duke Alexander was married a second time, after Jane Maxwell's death, to Mrs Christie, who had been in the first Duchess's service, and was much attached to the Gordon children. The inscription, although obscure in its latter part, can by no possibility have been prepared by Duchess Jane.


A pretentious erection, said to have been originally designed by the architects of The Adeiphi, London, was erected by Mr James Macpherson alter he became purchaser of Raitts in 1788 and had removed most of the old possessors. These under the Borlums were very numerous, and mainly removed by the first James, while a total clearance was made by the second James Macpherson, who leased the Mains of Raitts and a considerable part of the estate in 1809 to Thomas Dott, feuar in Hilton Hill, near Cupar-Fife, at an enormous rise of rent, viz., 36o forehand. A list of the people removed by Macpherson in'I8O9 will be found as an appendix.

To Croftmaluack was assigned the name of Chapel Park, and having called a series of bastards to succeed as heirs of entail, he departed, securing, by payment, interment in Westminster Abbey Macpherson's works, other than the Ossian fabrications, have fallen into oblivion. He was deeply imbued with the atheistic cant so fashionable in the second half of last century and gave free rein to his views in the Introduction to the History of Great Britain and Ireland, a publication scathingly reviewed and exposed in a scarce pamphlet called "Remarks" on the "Introduction," published in London in 1772.

For some years he resided in a certain locality, in London, near the Houses of Parliament, long since swept away, which locality is so graphically described by Dickens in "Nicholas Nickleby" that, though somewhat lengthy, I transcribe it—

"Within the precincts of the ancient city of Westminster, and within half a quarter of a mile or so of its ancient sanctuary, is a narrow dirty region, the sanctuary of the smaller members of Parliament in modern days. It is all comprised in one street of gloomy lodging-houses, from whose windows, in vacation time, there frown long melancholy rows of bills, which say, as plainly as did the countenances of their occupiers, ranged on Ministerial and Opposition benches in the session which slumbers with its fathers, " To Let," " To Let." In busier periods of the year these bills disappear, and the houses swarm with legislators. There are legislators in the parlour, in the first floor, in the second, in the third, in the garrets ; the small apartments reek with the breath of deputations and delegates. In damp weather, the place is rendered close by the steain of moist Acts of Parliament and frowsy petitions ; general postmen grow faint as they enter its infested limits, and shabby figures in quest of franks flit restlessly to and fro like the troubled ghosts of complete letter writers departed. This is Manchester Buildings ; and here, at all hours of the night, may be heard the rattling of latch-keys in their respective keyholes : with now and then —when a gust of wind sweeping across the water which washes the Building's feet, impels the sound towards its entrance—the weak, shrill voice of some young member practising to-morrow's speech. All the livelong day there is a grinding of organs and clashing and clanging of little boxes of music ; for Manchester Buildings is an eel-pot which has no outlet but its awkward mouth—a case-bottle which has no thoroughfare, and a short narrow neck—and in this respect it may be typical of the fate of some few of its more adventurous residents, who after wriggling themselves into Parliament by violent efforts and contortions, find that it, too, is no thoroughfare for them that like Manchester Buildings it leads to nothing beyond itself; and that they are fain at last to back out, no wiser, no richer, not one whit more famous, than they went in."


It was while in Manchester Buildings that Macpherson and Dr Johnson had the famous tussle. A few years ago, at the cost of a few shillings, I became possessed of several papers, copies of some of which follow. Nos. I, 2, 3, 4, and 5 are in Macpherson's handwriting. What appears in italics are underlined by him

No. 1. "Private.

"Dear Sir,—Upon mature consideration I have sent the enclosed ostensible letter. However unwilling I may be at this time especially to do anything that may create noise, I find I cannot pass over the expressions contained in Dr Johnson's pamphlet. I desire therefore that you will use your endeavours with that impertinent fellow, to induce him to soften the expressions concerning me, though it should occasion the delay of a few days in the publication. If he has a grain of commonsense I suppose he will see the impropriety of the words, and prevent further trouble. You may show to him the enclosed but to none else, and take care to keep it in your own hands.—! am, dear sir, Yours affectionately
(Signed) "J. MACPHERSON."

"Manchester Buildings."
"Jany. 14th 1775."

(Addressed) "To William Strahan, Esq., New Street, Fetter Lane, Fleet Street," and endorsed by Mr Strahan, the publisher, "J. Macpherson."—

No. 2.

"Dear Sir,—A friend of mine this moment put into my hands, a sentence extracted from a work entitled 'A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland' which I am informed is written by Dr Johnson expressing his incredulity with regard to the authenticity of the Poems of Ossian. He makes use of the words insolence, audacity, and guilt. To his want of belief, I have not the smallest objection. But I suppose you will agree with me that such expressions ought not to be used by one gentleman to another, and that whenever they are used, they cannot be passed over with impunity. To prevent consequences that may be at once disagreeable to Dr Johnson and to myself, I desire the favour that you will wait upon him, and tell him that reelect he will cancel from his Journey the injurious expressions above mentioned. I hope that upon cool reflection he will be of opinion that this expectation of mine is not unreasonable.—Dear Sir, Your most obedient, humble servant.


"Manchester Buildings."
"Jany. 15th 1775."
(Addressed) "William Strahan, Esq."

Macpherson seemed in a great hurry for a reply in the form of an apology, and again writes Mr Strahan, probably the same day, but there is no date—

No. 3. "Private.

"Dear Sir,— I expected to have had Dr Johnson's final answer to my, I think, very just demands at seven o'clock. I beg leave to enclose to you the Jurtort of such an advertisement as would satisfy me. As I am very serious upon this business, I insist that you will keep it to yourself, for were it not the present circumstances of an affair in which you, as well as I are concerned, I should before this have traced out the author of the Jouiney in a very effective manner. Unless I have a satisfactory answer I am determined (indeed it is necessary) to bring this business to a conclusion before I begin any other.—Dear Sir, Yours, etc., etc., (Signed) J. MACPHERSON."

"Past 4 o'clock."

No. 4. "To the Printer of the 'St. James Chronicle.'


"The author of the Journey to the Western Highlands of Scotland, finding when it was too late to make any alterations, that some expressions in page and had given offence to the gentleman alluded to, he takes this mode of informing the public, that he meant no personal reflection ; and that should this work come to a second impression, he will take care to expunge such words as seem, though undesignedly, to convey an affront. This is a piece of justice which the author owes to himself, as well as to that gentleman."

No 5. "Privatee.

"Dear Sir, —Something like the enclosed may do. Will you transcribe it carefully, as it would be highly improper anything in commendation of the work should go in the hand of the author. I can easily trace the malignity of the Johnsonians in the "Plain Dealer." Such allegations, though too futile to impose on men of sense, may have weight with the foolish and prejudiced, who are a great majority of mankind. I think, therefore, it were better no such things should appear at all if that can be done.—Dear Sir, your's affectionately (Initialed) " J. M."

Addressed to "Mr Caddell, bookseller, opposite Catharine Street, Strand."

"˝ past 4 o'clock."


"Mr James Macpherson,—I received your foolish and impudent letter. Any violence offered to me I shall do my best to repel, and what I cannot do for myself the law shall do for me.

I hope I shall never be deterred from detecting what I think a cheat by the menaces of a ruffian.

"What would you have me retract? I thought your book an imposture. I think it an imposture still. For this opinion I have given my reasons to the publick, which I here dare you to refute. Your rage I defy. Your abilities since your Homer, are not so formidable; and what I hear of your morals induces me to pay regard not to what you shall say, but to what you shall prove. You may print this if you will.
(Signed) "SAM JOHNSON."

It is quite possible that Mr Caddell never sent the prepared apology. In any case no apology was made, nor the contemplated steps, if any were really intended, taken by Macpherson.


I shall next refer to the original Ossian papers which Mr Macpherson said he had deposited for exhibition. No one apparently did examine them, and when the Highland Society, years after Macpherson's death, took up the matter of their authenticity, no papers could be found. His representatives, at least those called as heirs of entail, professed they could find none, and it was contended and has been generally thought that Macpherson had destroyed them before his death, huffed at their being questioned, and that when he offered exhibition no one appeared. By accident, however, reading over some legal proceedings connected with Macpherson's succession and estates I found, not long since, a distinct reference showing that as late as 1807 these Ossian papers did exist, and I now give the verification.

Mr Alexander Macdonald, merchant, of Thames Street, London, aged 25 years and upwards, deponed on oath on examination before a Commissioner in 1807 that Mr John Mackenzie, late of the Inner Temple, was one of James Macpherson's executors, and George Mackenzie, late surgeon 42nd Regiment, was administrator of John Mackenzie's estate. That the said George Mackenzie, previous to his leaving London in autumn, 1803, deposited with the deponent all the books, papers, and documents found in the repositories of the said John Mackenzie at his chambers, Fig Tree Court, Temple. Depones that by the authority of the said George Mackenzie he, Macdonald, had delivered the papers to Mr Alexander Fraser, solicitor of Lincoln's Inn, London. That the said John Mackenzie by his memorandum showed that he, one of James Macpherson's executors, received these Macpherson papers in autumn, 1796, from Sir John Macpherson, another of the executors. Depones that there were a great variety of books and papers, contained in an iron chest and two or three tin boxes, sent to Mr Fraser, but the deponent had no means of knowing to what subjects they related, save and except thd the contents of the iron chest were composed chiefly of the manuscript of the poems of Ossian, that having been pointed out to him by the said George Mackenzie, by whose directions he acted.

Here then certain Ossian papers are clearly traced to the custody of Mr Alexander Fraser of the Leadclune family, in 1807, who lived on to about 1832, as I think, but I have no note of his death. What became of them is hard to say, and though some of them have no doubt disappeared for ever many may exist. The Macvurrich manuscript, which had been entrusted to Macpherson, has fortunately turned up after many vicissitudes. People have made up their minds that no poems such as those given by Macpherson ever existed, but that he had collected a number of valuable manuscripts does not admit of any doubt, and it may be hoped that at least some of them may yet be recovered and given to the world, as has been so handsomely done by the present Clanranald in the case of the Macvurrich MS.


It will have been noticed that Dr Johnson had no high opinion of Macpherson's morals, a well-founded view, for rarely even in the profligacy of last century has it been more flagrantly flaunted than by him. The eldest natural son, James, according to his tombstone in Kingussie Churchyard, was born in 1765, and the name of his third, though not the youngest, is there found, born in 1778, so that the business is found at least running over a period of 20 years. But what could not wealth and wordly success surmount? A detestable, cringing, and apologetic tone has been used by several writers from whom better things might be expected that cannot be too severely censured. Let me just for a moment refer to his manner of life in his later years. A certain woman, Margaret Macpherson, deponed at Edinburgh on the 14th of December, 1808-

"That her name was Margaret Macpherson, otherwise Bain, and that she was wife of Walter Bain, mason in Dundee. That she was about twenty years in the service of the late James Macpherson of Belville, and that she acted during the last 14 years in the capacity of housekeeper. That she was with Mr Macpherson, both when be resided at Belville and in England. That Mr Macpherson was in the habit of talking much to the deponent confidentially on matters of business, especially during the latter part of his life. . . . Depones that Mr Macpherson has shown her several letters from the Colonel (Colonel Allan Macpherson of Blairgowrie), some of which she read herself, and others that were read to her by Mr Macpherson, and as far as she recollects the general purport of them was to solicit Mr Macpherson not to take infeftment upon the estate of Blairgowrie, as it would bring the Colonel to disgrace, and break his wife's heart."

Is it any wonder that no respectable woman ever entered the doors of Belville, although from some hints by Mrs Grant of Laggan, that good lady was not disinclined to gratify a rather prurient curiosity by doing so, of course paying her respects to the "housekeeper."

By means of the gold and jewels of the Nabob of Arcot, a determined enemy of Britain, Mr Macpherson sat in Parliament for Camelford, afterwards disfranchised by and through its utter corruption, amassed a considerable fortune, his allowance being 12,000 pagodas annually from the Nabob. From Macpherson's accounts against the Nabob, I excerpt the following as specimens. " H— of C—" means House of Commons, and a pagoda was worth perhaps 3s to 4s according to the exchanges :-

Further—oh the shame of it—he was able to buy a tomb in Westminster Abbey. It is to be hoped that the day may not be far distant when such monuments as those of Macpherson's, and of frauds like Sir Cloudesley Shovel's, will be swept out of the national Walhalla.

Macpherson educated and sent his eldest natural son, James, to India, introducing him to a friend in these terms, by letter, dated London, 12th of July, 1782 :-

"This, I trust, will be delivered to you by James Macpherson, who is appointed a cadet on your establishment. Mr Macintyre will probably have informed you what and who he is. I shall therefore only introduce him to your countenance and protection."

This son James was a poor extravagant creature who did little in India, as may be judged from the following personal account given by himself under date

"Camp, Shur Cur, 30th November, 1786.

" I assure you I have entirely laid aside my extravagance and steadfastly resolved to be as economical as my station will allow of nor can I fail to act up to this resolution, having continually such good examples as the Marrattas before me."

Upon being called as heir of entail at his father's death early in 1796, he came home, making no figure further than removing the people and raising his rents. He had, it is true, to encounter tremendous litigation in connection with his father's intricate and involved affairs. He came out as a great Whig in politics, being dominated therein by Ballindalloch, and in his estate affairs by that objectionable politician, Sir David Brewster, who, posing as patriot, as placeman feathered his nest handsomely at the public expense ; ruling for years at Belville as if it were his own. James Macpherson, the son, though married had no family. The next in succession was one of his natural sisters, Miss Anne Macpherson, who was not likely to marry, and indeed did not even live in Scotland, so the Brewsters reigned, and the estate seemed within their legal grasp. This James Macpherson, dying without issue in 1833, the next heir of entail, Miss Anne Macpherson, succeeded. She, a stranger to the north, and from the misfortune of her birth, had hitherto led a retired but thoughtful life, having considerable firmness of character. Miss Macpherson found it necessary to free herself of the Brewsters, who tried to continue supreme as in James Macpherson's time, and she at last had to turn the key of her door on Sir David. His desire to outlive Miss Macpherson, who at her accession was rather delicate in health, and well over 50 years of age, was not to be gratified. She got stronger, while age was fast creeping over Sir David, and the chances were that she would survive him. To add to his vexation Miss Macpherson regularly recorded improvements under one of the Entail Acts, constituting these a debt on the entailed property. His latest appearances in Inverness were to scrutinize the vouchers recorded in the Sheriff Court books, through a magnifying glass, to discover, if possible, erazures, vitiations, or imperfections which might thereafter be the ground for setting aside the charges as affecting the succeeding heirs of entail. But he was called away, while Miss Anne Macpherson, known as the "Miss dubh," lived honoured and respected until 1862, reaching the age of 84, when she was succeeded by her sister Juliet's son, the late Colonel Brewster, who assumed the additional name of Macpherson in terms of the deed of entail.

I pass over at present some of the cruel aspersions by some of the Brewsters on members of the Borlum family and its connections, although I deeply resent them, as these can be dealt with more properly in a work for which I have been gathering materials during the last 40 years, and hope to be able to publish some day, after visiting the New England States and Georgia, to verify some important points, and to be called Annals of the House of Borlum in Great Britain and America.


The family of Mackintosh is connected by property with the parish of Alvie for over 600 years, by authentic writings, and at present the largest heritors are able to say that they were there prior not merely to the Gordons but to the Wolf of Badenoch, and even to the Comyns. I have baid so much about them in the little work, Dunachton Past and Present, published in 1866, that I do not incline to say much here in addition. But I would point, in evidence of antiquity, to Dalnavert, and that curious wooded eminence on the losal of Dalnavert, latterly known as Keppoch, but of old "the Shian," where as far back as the 13th century dwelt Ferquhard Mackintosh, son of Shaw, or Seth, as it is written. The superiority of that part of Alvie parish, including Invermarkie, was in 1336 part of the Earldom of Ross. I might also say much about Mackintosh's part of Glenfeshie, formerly Ric Aitchacan, Ric-na-Bruich, and Achleam-a-choid, now all forest, and unfortunately of late years dependent on the greater Glenfeshie belonging to Sir G. Macpherson-Grant. The place which Lady Georgina Gordon, Duchess of Bedford, was so fond of, sometimes called "The Island," sometimes "Georgina," was the favourite residence of the Duchess of Bedford, and her "huts" were visited by the highest in Great Britain. Mrs Fraser, wile of James Fraser, sometime forester in Glenfeshie, who died lately at Lynchat, was a favourite servant with the Duchess, and Mrs Fraser, who could hardly restrain her tears when referring to her late loved mistress, has often told me that the Duchess was in the habit of saying that she loved her huts in Glenfeshie over and above every spot in the world. The huts were mere turf walls, bottomed with stone, and by and over each door rowans were planted and trained, carrying out the ancient view that they kept away witches. In the memoirs of Charles Matthews there is a graphic description of the
locality and of crossing the River Feshie in flood. Above the fireplace in the dining-room hut, was a fine picture of a stag on the rough plaster, by Sir Edwin Landseer. The whole needed the greatest care from the severity of winter weather. The Duchess' chief residence was at the Doune of Rothiemurchus, but she spent much of the season at the huts. After her death both sides of the Feshie were rented by the same sporting tenants, and the houses opposite the huts being built of wood were dryer, and consequently became the principal residence of unhardy Southrons. The late Alexander Mackintosh, twenty-sixth of Mackintosh, was on such friendly terms with the Duchess—a splendid tenant in every respect—that latterly no conditions were inserted in her leases, the result being that the huts fell into ruins, particularly in the time of the Duke of Leeds, over whom the Mackintoshes had no control, nor was he there even with their consent. Mark the ill consequences. Her Most Gracious Majesty rode on one occasion from Balmoral, through Glenfeshie, and to the Spey, and records her surprise and regret to see the state of ruin in which the huts had fallen, through the vandalism of the owner. I think, but not having the Queen's book by inc as I write cannot verify it, that she was guided by Lord Alexander Russell, who is still alive, and who ought to have known all about the place in which his mother so frequently stayed. He did so himself, for a hill road still known as "Lord Alexander's Road," is called after him. He did not, however, know the truth, for he allowed Her Majesty to believe that the ruin lay at the door of the Mackintoshes. The real truth was that Mackintosh had nothing to do with it, could not interfere, and knew nothing about it, the wrongdoer being Her Majesty's own "cousin and Councillor," that notorious Duke of Leeds, of whom the well known story is related as to his treatment of guests invited to the forest.

He was so selfish that he could not endure any visitor killing a stag. Upon one occasion a young gentleman was invited to Glenfeshie, to whom the Duke showed so much attention as to attract the notice of Watson, the head stalker. Next morning early, Watson, to make sure, knocked at the door of his Grace's bedroom, and asked if Mr So-and-So "was to have a stalk, or the walk" in use to be given to visitors. The Duke was deafer than usual, and the query had to be repeated in tones sufficiently loud to be overheard by others, as? also the gruff reply, "A walk." To the credit of the young gentleman, who either heard the colloquy or was told of it by others, he left the place immediately and told the story, which circulated in every club, sporting and political, making it so disagreeable for the Duke that he either ceased renting forests, or would not be accepted as a tenant, and had to purchase Applecross.

When I had charge of the Mackintosh estates the late Alexander Ćneas Mackintosh, twenty-seventh Mackintosh, authorised the dining-room to be restored as far as possible, and a pretty wooden hall of the finest Glenfeshie wood, with handsome windows, was erected, with the old gable on which was Sir E. Landseer's picture properly enclosed and incorporated. As to its present state I know not, not having been in the Glen for many years. I desired that Lord Alexander Russell should be called on to explain the true position of matters to Her Majesty, but the late Mackintosh thought, as it had become ancient history, it was not worth while stirring up a matter which was passing into oblivion, so it was dropped for the time. It has, however, always rankled in my mind and I welcome this opportunity of letting the truth come out.

I pass from Alvie with regret, endeared as it is and ever will be to me, not only from old family ties but happy personal reminiscences of times and people gone for ever, leaving naught but that fond memory which brings the light of other days around me."

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