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Antiquarian Notes, Historical, Genealogical and Social
(Second Series) Inverness-Shire, Parish by Parish
Chapter VI. Boleskine and Abertarff


UPON the appointment towards the close of last century of George Brodie as Governor of Fort-Augustus, he took steps to reclaim the properties of the villagers who had been encouraged to settle in the neighbourhood of the Fort. This was highly resented and ended in litigation. Governor Brodie's pleas were rejected. The history of extra mural Fort-Augustus prior to 1799 will, I think, be found interesting although houses and owners have much changed.

The fort of Fort-Augustus was originally built in the beginning of the i8th century and was afterwards rebuilt at the Rising of 1745. It was very small and insignificant at first and from its situation was evidently intended not so much for a place of strength which could resist the regular attack of an enemy as a convenient station for the accommodation of troops in marching from the East to the West coast. Another object Government had in view in erecting Fort-Augustus was the civilization, according to their views, of that part of the Highlands. These different objects it is evident would be materially assisted by the erection of a village near the Fort; and accordingly, here, as in many other parts of the Highlands, Government gave great encouragement to the inhabitants in the neighbourhood to come near the Fort and form a village.

With this view Government about the year 1715 purchased from the family of Lovat a piece of barren waste ground contiguous to the Fort. The boundaries of this purchase were up to 1799 perfectly known and easily distinguished from the ground which the Government originally possessed and on which they built the Fort.

This new purchase being destined for a village, every encouragement was given by the different Governors of Fort-Augustus to the inhabitants of the county to come and settle on it by building houses and making gardens. The plan succeeded ; a very considerable village came to be erected, beneficial to the country around and of peculiar importance to the fort and garrison of Fort-Augustus by the accommodation it was always capable of affording to His Majesty's troops.

The value of this piece of barren heath purchased by Government was so exceedingly small that when it came to be portioned out into small lots for building on by the Governors of Fort-Augustus in fulfilment of the intentions of the Government, no written title was given to the inhabitants that came to settle on that piece of land and to form the village. The whole value of none of the lots was worth the expense of a disposition and sasine, titles which the inhabitants, when the village was first begun, could neither read nor be made to understand.

Whether anything was originally exacted by way of feu duty or ground rent is unknown, but it is certain that in process of time when the village began to progress the Governors bargained for a feu-duty, which seldom exceeded 5s per annum for each lot, and which feu duties the Governor for the time being was allowed to draw and retain to himself in addition to his pay as Governor.

On the faith of this agreement on the part of Government the inhabitants made their gardens and built houses, and when at any time the demands of Government rendered it expedient to acquire the possession of any of the village property, which sometimes happened, then a fair and equitable price was paid by the authorities to the village proprietor for what was taken from him. So universally was this good faith attended to that in the whole history of the village there did not occur a single instance where the inhabitants were disturbed in the peaceable possession of their property by the Governors, who on the contrary uniformly gave every encouragement in their power to new settlers coming to build on the Government ground. The inhabitants were taught to believe that the right to their houses and gardens were indubitable, although they had no written title flowing from Government, and ever since the erection of the village they had been allowed without any interruption to transmit their village property to their children and dispose of it at pleasure to third parties for a fair and equitable price.

So much for the general custom. I now propose to deal with an individual case, that of Mr John Mackay, messenger-at-arms, whose acquaintance the reader has already made, and who will be again referred to later on. Trusting to the inveterate practice of the village for near a century, Mr Mackay was induced to make purchases and to acquire property in the village of Fort-Augustus. One of the subjects acquired by him was possessed in 1748 by Mr Dallas, as schoolmaster. Dallas sold the house to Andrew Stark. Stark sold it to Alexander Chisholm, and Chisholm conveyed it to Donald Macdonald at Cairngoddy, a farmer living some miles from Fort-Augustus. This Macdonald again sold the house to the mother of the pursuer. The conveyance proceeds on the narrative that "I, Donald Grant, residing in Aberchalder (which is four miles distant from the village), heritable proprietor of the house and yard after mentioned, for a certain sum of money instantly advanced and paid to me by John Mackay, messenger in Fort-Augustus, as the agreed price and worth thereof, the receipt of which I hereby acknowledge therefor, etc."

After acquiring it in this manner, Mr Mackay improved it at considerable expense, and when the Society's school was withdrawn from Fort-Augustus he converted it into a schoolhouse, for which he secured an adequate rent. Mr Mackay's own house, though not within the bounds of the village of Fort-Augustus or upon the Government ground, was yet within ten yards of the schoolhouse, and the education of his children at a school so near and convenient for them was a powerful motive for his letting it to the village schoolmaster.

Mr Mackay acquired another possession in the village at the end of his own house, and just within the march of the piece of land that had been purchased from Lovat by Government for erecting a village. This second property was, about thirty years before, possessed by Donald Macdonald. From him it was purchased by the late Governor Trapaud, from whom Mr Mackay acquired it. But the subject being then in bad repair, Mr Mackay rebuilt and converted it into a peat barn, on account of its contiguity to his own dwelling-house, and in that manner it had been possessed by him for nine or ten years. The garden and crofts which were attached to these houses were used and occupied from time to time by him as his conveniency required.

Mr Mackay and other two villagers, viz., Thomas Clarke, innkeeper, and Donald Grant, King's mason, erected a kiln for drying corn, etc., in the village. This was for the convenience of the surrounding country, and the late Governor Trapaud not only encouraged the undertaking but also agreed to contribute a sum of money towards the expense, though his death soon after prevented the fulfilment of that intention. So the whole expense was defrayed by the three men named.

Mr Mackay possessed these three properties within the village in 1797, when the then Lieutenant-Governor of Fort- Augustus was appointed to succeed Governor Trapaud. Being a stranger in that part of the country and particularly to the practice, customs, and privileges of the villagers, and being misinformed as to the particulars by interested persons, the Governor was induced to suppose that as the whole houses and gardens of the inhabitants of the village had been erected and laid out on the Government ground ; and as Government had never granted any disposition or written conveyance for these lots of land to any of the inhabitants, the ground and all the buildings upon it must still be held to be the property of the Crown, and that the inhabitants might be removed from their possessions by the Governor of Fort- Augustus without any remuneration or recompense whatever for the sums which, trusting to the good faith and encouragement given them by Government, they had expended on their possessions.

The Governor was pleased to try the experiment with Mr Mackay, and for this purpose commenced an action of removing against him before the Sheriff of Inverness, to remove from the three properties he had acquired in the village by the progress already described, and from the land occupied by him.

Mr Mackay did not wish to enter into an expensive litigation in opposing the removing, because the Governor might say he wanted the property for the uses of the garrison, and when that was the case it had always been the practice of the inhabitants to give up their property on being fairly indemnified for the loss. On this account Mr Mackay gave no opposition to the removing but he insisted that upon being removed he was entitled to the value of the subjects from the Governor, and for that purpose brought a counter action against that Officer concluding for the appraised value of the houses, dykes, and improvements. Against this action the Governor pleaded that neither the pursuer or any of the villagers had right to the value of their houses, as they had no charter from the Crown but paid rent for their possessions to the Governor, and that he was not bound by the transactions of the late Governor or his predecessors. The Governor likewise gave in a separate paper stating that it escaped him in his defences to mention that Mr Mackay was at "full liberty to carry off the Government ground the materials of the houses or huts except in so far as it may appear that the few stones used in the building these huts on Government property being as is supposed found upon the Government ground." To these defences, answers were lodged in which Mr Mackay stated the practice of the village and the encouragement that had been uniformly held out by the different Governors on the part of the Government to the inhabitants settling and building in the village, and he further stated that it was the uniform practice,, as should be afterwards shown, for the Governors to pay for any of the houses they might have occasion to take from the inhabitants for the uses of the garrison.

The Governor, aware of the force of this inveterate practice on the part of the preceding Governors, with which it was understood he had been but little if at all acquainted, betook himself to a specialty in the case, and maintained that Mr Mackay at that time living and having his dwelling house without the Government ground, though within a few yards of it, was not entitled to any of the privileges of a villager. On advising the case the Sheriff pronounced the following interlocutor:-

"19th April, 1790, The Sheriff-Depute having considered the lybeil, defences, answers, replies, duplies, and writs produced finds that as the pursuer had not his house on the Government lands, but on a neighbouring tenement, the erecting the peat barn, schoolhouse and kiln must be presumed to have been for his own accommodation as inhabiting said tenement and does not fall under any general rule applicable to the villagers. Finds that the pursuer as a tenant without lease having built the dyke lybeiled without any covenant for meliorations, his claim on that account cannot be sustained, therefore, and in respect of the offer by defender to allow the pursuer to carry away the materials of the houses, sustains the defences, and assoilzies the defender from the conclusions of the lybeil, reserving to the pursuer his claim of one-third of the materials of the kiln from Thomas Clarke and Donald Grant or others who may be in possession of said kiln and decerns."

To this interlocutor the Sheriff adhered upon advising a petition, and the cause having been afterwards advocated it was upon the 28th November, 1801, by a majority of the judges, decided in favour of Mr Mackay.

The following cases of free and recognised sales of village lots in Fort-Augustus were founded upon against the Governor. In 1760 Dugald Mactavish, merchant, built a house close to the old fortification and sold it to Angus Macdonald, whose daughter was in occupation in 1799, for 100 guineas. Mactavish bought the stances of other houses, and erected a good and substantial house which was purchased in 1777 by Government for £160, and a title taken from Mactavish, although he had none himself. George Beverley sold a house for £40 to Peter Macdonald, who resold to Thomas Gillespie at Glen Quoich on behalf of one Murray in Perthshire for £100, and finally sold to Thomas Clark; and lastly a house belonging to Elgin, a square wright, was purchased from him for the Government at a fair price.

The West boundary of the Government lands was the River Oich, the lands immediately beyond having for a considerable time been held in feu or in wadset from the family of Lovat by that of Culduthel, and it is understood included all the Lovat lands west of Oich and Loch Ness, from the Glenmoriston lands to those of Glengarry.

Alexander Fraser of Culduthel seeing the thriving condition of the village of Fort-Augustus, about 1779, encouraged settlers to come to the opposite side of the river, opposite to Fort-Augustus, in order to form a village there. In consequence of this encouragement, a village was actually built called Bunoich, in which among others, Dugald Mactavish built a small house.There were no written titles to these houses to Mactavish or to any of the villagers from the proprietor. The estate was afterwards sold to the family of Lovat, and Mactavish having incurred the displeasure of the managers of the Lovat estate, they brought an action of removing against him in which they succeeded. But he afterwards brought an action against the Lovat trustees concluding for the value of the houses he had built, and after a keen litigation the Court, by two consecutive interlocutors on the 13th and 29th May, 1790, found the trustees liable in terms of the libel, notwithstanding that they judicially offered to allow Mactavish to carry away the materials of his houses.

When the Hon. Archibald Fraser came into possession, he called Bunoich "Balfrishel," and there was quite a rivalry between the dwellers on either side of the Oich. It would appear that the allottees were subject to billet when the Fort was inadequate for holding passing troops, that Government had first claim upon their horses and carts for transport, and the "pride and pomp of war" attracting many recruits from the village youth, Government benefited greatly by the village.


Mr Malcolm Maclachlan declared in 1799, that he was a resident in the village of Fort-Augustus ; that about 1750, he, the said Malcolm, being a "macanical" man, and versant in the knowledge of the management of a garden, and vegetables being very scarce in this part of the Highlands, the late Governor Trapaud, with the approbation and consent of many of the commissioned officers then in Fort- Augustus, encouraged the said Malcolm to come to a part of the extremest of the garrison ground at Fort-Augustus, and gave him the stance for a house and for an extensive garden, upon which he built a good and sufficient house and garden, the remains of the latter was entire, except some lately destroyed by the late Lieutenant Stuart of the Invalids, but the house being coveted by the clergy then of the place, namely, Mr James Grant, now of Laggan, and Dougald Mactavish, the principal elder, for a schoolhouse much wanted in the place, he, Malcolm, sold the house and garden to them at a certain price. The said Malcolm was in possession for about eight years, during which time the late Governor Trapaud and the officers for the time being visited the said Malcolm's garden and house and told him many times, from his dexterity in cultivation and serving people in so remote a part of the country with vegetables, that he must go to Laggan-a-bhan to labour and raise crops for the distressed in or coming over Corryarraik. The said Malcolm further asserted that when he entered to the foresaid place, he had no other method than to dung or bring the spots to be of any service to himself or the proprietor but by force of dung, and then there were a number of old huts or houses that had been feued before or about the year 1745 that were going into ruins, and in particular he bought one of then) from one Barbara Gollan, another from Alexander Fraser, alias "Ucky," and another from John Bàn Maclean. The said Malcolm Maclachlan declared he has been acquainted with the village for upwards of 60 years (since 1739) and recollected Governor Caulfield, who only cessed in his short time the inhabitants 6d a year each. Collingwood, who succeeded, cessed them a shilling, and Trapaud, who followed, did not raise the rent at once, but brought it on gradually ; but it consisted with his, Malcolm's knowledge, that none of these Governors ever removed any person without being found guilty of a flagrant fault or treasonable crime, and even they were allowed to dispose of their property to the best advantage, and it consisted with his knowledge that during the whole troublous times "by the name of the forty-five " that the whole houses in the village was upon the extreme parts of the garrison ground, and the first commencement of these buildings were erected by the then troops that could not be accommodated in the garrison and thereafter disposed of by them at their removal to the inhabitants, who have since continued in possession without interruption.

The succession of Governors in last century—Caulfield, Collingwood, Trapaud, and Brodie—is important, and of Trapaud it may be noted that, though an Englishman and without family connection of any kind with Scotland, it was found after his death that from his long residence at Fort-Augustus, extending over sixty years, he be deemed legally domiciled in Scotland.

Another formal declaration, by Donald Macdonald in Carngoddie, may be given as illustrating the ancient history of Fort-Augustus. Donald says in 1799, that he was 80 years of age, and born in Fort-Augustus, and that the inhabitants in it were since he knew the first house of it in the practice of buying and selling, that he left 30 years ago when Governor Trapaud bought his house from him. He was acquainted with Finlay Macmillan afterwards in Urquhart, Lachlan Macqueen in Glenmoriston, James Fraser in Glendo, Malcolm Maclachlan above alluded to, Mrs Corbat, Alexander Bàn, piper in Glenmoriston also that Donald Macdonald's house was on the very spot where the peat barn is. Recollects when Mr Dallas was schoolmaster about fifty years ago he was a great favourite of Duke William's, and had his schoolhouse on the very spot where Mr John Mackay's house is. Dallas sold to Stark, Stark to Chisholm, Chisholm to Donald Macdonald, and Macdonald to John Mackay. Mackay rebuilt it for his mother, and then gave it to Grant, his brother-in-law, who, upon settling at Aberchalder, resold to Mackay. Macdonald further states that about 35 years ago (1764), Angus Macdonell, alias "Innore," bought a large house from Dugald Mactavish at £60, which was on the same line of road as those of Mr Mackay's, and was called, from a large sign at the door of it, "The Figure of Four"; and he could point out other houses bought and sold.

The references by Macdonald show how the Highlanders designated the Duke of Cumberland, and the curious name of the house reminds one of the singular novel published a few years ago, "The Sign of Four."

It would seem that the village was not only populous but patriotic. A writer says that "their zeal and loyalty towards Government has always been found true, and one instance of it is that upon the 10th March last they assembled for the purpose of raising a Volunteer company, and a suitable number enrolled themselves for that purpose, which was laid before the Duke of Portland, to which a favourable answer was made. But Governor Brodie's proceedings against the village had so far damped the ardour of the people, that I suppose it would now be in vain to attempt any such measures where Governor Brodie would have the smallest jurisdiction over them."

One of Governor Brodie's high handed proceedings may be noted. William Fraser was owner of a house and some ground in Fort-Augustus, which, on enlisting in Sir James Grant's Fencibles, he let to a tenant recognised by Governor Trapaud. Brodie, however, turned the tenant out by the strong hand, as it is termed, and allowed the house to fall into decay out of mere wantonness. When Fraser returned he found his house a ruin, and before he was permitted to repair or occupy, he had to pay back rent for all the years since the Governor's appointment.

The opening up of the Canal made a great change in Fort-Augustus. By and bye it will have a railway, and it has considerable expectations in the future.


I give a memorial prepared for Mr John Mackay and Mr George Urquhart in 1816, illustrative of certain inns and innkeepers of the time. Outrageous as were the proceedings the criminal authorities declined interfering, and Mr Mackay, from kindly feeling to Mrs Macrae, contented himself with bringing the matter under the notice of the proprietrix of Seaforth, who administered a severe reproof to this "wild Macraw of the West." Mr Mackay says he was at the time turned 70 years of age, but in the notice of his death, 4th January, 1821, he is described as 73 years old.

Mr Mackay first stayed in Fort-Augustus, afterwards had a lease of Ardochy from General Hastings Fraser, and finally resided at Innisnacardoch. He had a large family, and some of my readers will, like myself, entertain a pleasant recollection of one of his sons, Alexander, so long a respected, genial, and popular Inspector of Taxes at Inverness. Mr Mackay's clerk, Mr William Mackinnon, whom I recollect 50 years ago as Sheriff-Clerk Depute at Fort- Augustus, was in his day a well-known character of picturesque appearance. Here follows the document—

"Memorial for John Mackay, tacksman of lnishnacardoch and head constable of the county of Inverness, and George Urquhart, publick carrier, residing in Inverness.

"The first of these gentlemen travelled the North of Scotland for these forty years, and the second for these twenty years, and are well known on the road for their attention. In the line between Inverness and the West sea at Kyle Rea and other parts of the Western Isles, there is a fine road carried on till within a few miles of its interior extent. On the line of this road at Cluny there is a place of resort for travellers going by the name of an inn, which is in the possession of Alex. Macrae, a sheep farmer of that place. This miserable inn has neither a comfortable stable, no hay, has no beds, and the whole accommodation is some whisky and potatoes, with some of the mutton which Macrae rears upon his farm. Upon the 23rd day of August last, the memorialists were travelling that country with their horses and came there upon that day, where they met Captain Macdonell of Faicham, and in the course of the evening there were joined by Mr Carve, inspector of roads, where they took some supper and drink and retired to rest in such beds as they had in the place, and in this way were they disposed of.

"Their horses were put into a kind of a dirty house, full of cow dung where they could not lye, and their fare were alone confined to a capfull of natural grass which was cut by the river side, without a manger, so that for that night they were upon this wet grass. Next morning when the memorialists got up they asked for corn, and then only got three lippies, but no place to hold the corn, which of necessity was placed on an old blanket on the roadside. After breakfast the bill was demanded from a girl who had charge of the house, but she being unable to make up the bill, and Macrae, the landlord, residing in another house at a distance, they had recourse to William Mackinnon, Mr Mackay's clerk, as the girl directed, and the share of each person divided, and there was included in this bill the three lippies of oats given the horses, and the girl being asked if there was anything and what to pay for the wet grass, the girl answered that she supposed that there was nothing to pay.

"By this time the horses were taken out of the house they were lodged in, and the memorialists were upon their backs, when Captain Macdonell insisted that they would take a dram before parting, and while so employed, the boy who attended the stable, and whose province it was to detail the price of the corn asked of Mr. Mackay's clerk two shillings for each horse for the wet grass given the horses the preceding night, on which Mr Mackay's clerk desired him to go to the servant girl, and ask her what was to pay, which he did and returned for answer that the sum demanded was wanted and coming to Mr Mackay's ears he told him that he had no change and would pay him the next time he would return to that place, or, if he, the boy, had change that he would instantly pay for it, altho' he thought that one shilling for each horse was sufficient for the accommodation that was afforded them.

"That upon this Mr Mackay's clerk went into the house and desired the girl to get change, but no change being at hand the whole went away, saying they would pay when he, Mackay, came again.

"They were not long upon the road when they observed a boy accompanied with a man having a large cudgel, and on coming up to the memorialist, Urquhart, he laid hold of the bridle of his horse and stops him. Mr Mackay was behind, and having enquired what he was about and to go about his business, he then returned and said that they had not yet reached Cruachan, a place so called at some distance, and then observed two more and Mr Macrae, the landlord, traversing the meadows below them. Upon which Mr Mackay asked what was meant by such proceedings, to which he answered that it was on account of the grass given the horses not being paid, upon which Mr Mackay having borrowed two shillings from one of those in company, which was offered to the man who seized upon Mr Urquhart's horse, but he refused them, and upon this the money was thrown down upon the road. This man came again, being encouraged by Macrae the landlord, who took hold of the bridle of the horse belonging to the memorialist, Mr Urquhart, and swore that he would bring his cudgel red from Mr Urquhart's skull, upon which Mr Urquhart dismounted and this man took away the horse.

"Soon thereafter a second man came and by directions from Macrae, the landlord, who stood at the opposite side of the road, seized upon the bridle of the horse belonging to Mr Mackay, upon which he asked if he was the person that employed those men so to use the memorialists, to which he answered that he was, and that it was on account of not paying their fare before they went away, upon which Mr Mackay alighted from his horse, and the said man took it away with him, which appeared extremely strange as Mackay was the intimate of Macrae his father and mother for upwards of twenty years, and had occasion to be in their house at least four or five times each year, where he had liberally spent his money and regularly paid them except as happened here for the want of change, but always paid them on his return back.

Mr Macrae being possessed of the horse, he was not therewith satisfied, but observing four cow beasts brought by the memorialist Mr Mackay from Glenelg driven by a servant, he caused some of the banditti seize upon them, and brought them also at the same time with him, proposing to Mr Mackay's servant to turn out and fight1 but the poor man was afraid of his life and declined it. Being thus deprived of the horses and the cows, the memorialists were under the necessity of walking all the way to Fort-Augustus, upwards of twenty-five miles of very bad road, and the memorialist Mackay was a very unfit subject for this travel, being heavy in boots, and turned of seventy years of age.

"Next morning Alexander Macrae or some one of those who were his companions sent the horses to Fort-Augustus, and being ridden the whole night they were very much destroyed, and the evening of the following day they were followed by the said four cows.

"The facts can be easily instructed by those whose names are annexed and the tendency of it is most apparent.

"The want of police will render this useful and necessary road of no avail, for while this road is infested with such barbarism it will deter travellers from frequenting it, but from the conduct of Macrae it is humbly submitted that he has subjected himself to punishment for his conduct, and it is humbly apprehended that the county as police should take it up and give instruction to their Procurator-Fiscal to investigate it and bring the necessary prosecution. For although it might be justifiable the insisting of payment even at the most entravagant rate alter the girl declared that she thought there was nothing to pay for the grass there, certainly some politeness ought to be adopted when she who kept the inn had no change, but surely no apology can possibly be made for forcibly depriving the memorialists of their two horses, of the four cow beasts, which had no concern with the squabble, and in afterwards sending them back after their wrath was appeased and the injury accomplished, but the memorialists leave their case with the county in the hopes that they shall see it necessary to place a regular man upon the road ; to punish Macrae for his conduct as an example to others, for unless this is (lone the road may in a great measure be abandoned.

"Note of the names of the persons that can prove the outrage alluded to—Captain Alexander Macdonell of Faicham, and Mr Garve, Inspector of roads and bridges, saw all that was done or said in the house, which was civil and discreet in all points, but after going away therefrom and when followed by Macrae and his banditti there was none present but William Mackinnon, clerk to Mr Mackay, and Archibald Macdonald, tenant in Carnagoddy, near Fort-Augustus, who was driving the four cow beasts.

The horses and said four beasts were, as mentioned in the memorial, brought from Cluny to Fort-Augustus by Ranald Macdonell, son to John Macdonell, senior, cattle dealer at Fort-Augustus, and by him driven to Mr Mackay's residence at Inshnacardoch, with a letter accompanying the same from Mrs Macrae, mother to the said Alex. Macrae."


The story of the Gwyne family, as narrated hereafter, is described by the, accomplished Mrs Grant of Laggan, as one that would be hooted at as exaggerated and improbable fiction if told in a work of imagination.

The use of Loch-Ness as a means of communication with Inverness and the sea was early recognised, and its free navigation, as well as that of the River Ness, declared by law, During the Usurpation, specially constructed boats plied on the loch, and after Fort-Augustus was erected in 1729, Government maintained a regular service of boats called "galleys." The story of the commanders of the galleys is given in the following papers, and some old people of Killichuiman will recollect some if not all the members of Captain Mark Gwyne's family, on whose behalf the petition was presented. Their house was the nearest to the Loch, between the Canal and River Oich, with some fine old trees in the grounds, and with the exception of the old inn, the King's House, partly remodelled, probably the oldest house in the village.

Mrs Grant, as is well known, spent her youth at the Fort, her father, Duncan MacVicar, having been appointed barrack master in 1768, and eleven years afterwards she married the Rev. James Grant of Laggan. Mrs Grant, who survived until 1838, recollected Dr Johnson's visit to the Fort in 1773. She had just before interesting herself in the Gwynes received a pension of £50 through the intercession of Sir Walter Scott, and it may be observed that in one of his letters Sir Walter seems slightly huffed that, though it it cost him a deal of trouble and importunity, the lady was somewhat offended by the smallness of the amount. Mrs Grant's letter shows her character as kindly, amiable, and affectionate.

"Brae House, Tuesday, February, 1827.

"Dear Sir,—The ornaments of Style are now become so cheap and common that it requires no great power of mine to embellish an affecting story. I think however extreme history in one respect resembles beauty, that it's most adorned when adorned the least. Flowers of Rhetoric would merely destroy the simplicity that best recommends a state of real woe. This being the case I think the plain statements in your sketch is sufficient. The trifling alterations I have made go merely to substantiate and place as it were in clear light facts and dates which my age and long intimacy with the family have made more familiar to me than perhaps to any other now remaining of their friends.

"This case requires no exaggeration. So much do the strange incidents and deep afflictions of real life exceed all the paintings of fancy, that if the story of this family and its disaster made part of a work of imagination it would he looked at as an exaggerated and improbable fiction.

"God grant that the prayer of these orphans, poor in mind, body, and estate, may meet attention. This is one of the few occasions which tempt me to committ the sin of wishing myself rich. I am, however, rich in good wishes, and of this wealth no one can deprive me. Farewell, dear sir.—I am yours truthfully,

(Signed) ANNE GRANT."

Follows the memorial and petition of the family of the now deceased Captain Mark Gwyne, to the Right Honourable the Secretary at War, 1827:-

"The late Capt. Gwyne, who for fifty years commanded the Government sloop employed in carrying stores from Loch Ness for the garrison at Fort-Augustus, entered as midshipman in the navy when he was twelve years old, and was above eighty at the time of his decease. Having thus been about 70 years in what may be properly styled the Naval Service, and being considered as one of the Government officers and under the command of the Government, receiving a salary of about £130 per annum. In this situation he supported respectably the character of a British officer for about fifty years and was much esteemed for the candour, benevolence, and spotless integrity of his character in private life. His family under their present circumstances have a more than common claim upon the beneficence of Government. His father, who was a man of superior abilities and a thoroughbred seaman, having a large family growing up, was at his own request transferred from the navy, in which he had served from a boy, to the command of the above mentioned sloop, so that for a hundred years this family have been in the service of their country. The father of the deceased was about the year 1773 engaged in superintending the building of a new sloop at the lower end of Loch Ness which obliged him often in stormy winter weather to go up and down from his home at Fort-Augustus in an open boat.

"On one of these occasions, in the month of December, the boat in which he was returning home was cast away and every one on board perished. His eldest son, John, was at this time a lieutenant on board a man-of-war then stationed on the coast of North Carolina, and was in the same month and year with several others drowned by the upsetting of a boat as he was returning from the shore to his ship. The second son, Jaspar, was purser in different King's ships and was lost on board the " Repulse," which foundered in the West Indies when making a part of the fleet which returned from America about the year '78. Thus three individuals of this family lost their lives in the service of their country, all being of worth, bred to the naval service almost from infancy.

"It remains to finish the calamitous history of this deserving family by stating the present circumstances of all that remains of their representatives. Captain Gvyne, marrying late in life was left with the charge of a young motherless family, when his health and spirits were declining. A long protracted illness and the expense of rearing and educating his children entirely exhausted any little matter saved from his income as a provision for them. Two sons and two daughters are thus left utterly destitute, all so feeble in constitution and so liable to ill health that they are unable to work for their bread some of them are deficient in intellect and one has been for years bedrid. So helpless a family having so many claims on public compassion may, it is thought, hope for some share of the liberality of that Government which their predecessors have served faithfully and honourably. So many of them dying in the service of their country that the family is so far extinct, that they have not a relation left to pity and assist them. If a case so very singular and so clamant on different accounts shall engage the attention of your lordship, it is the humble petition of the orphan family above described that either a continuance of their father's salary, or assistance from some other public fund may be afforded to prevent their suffering the extremity of want."


Towards the end of January, 1744, a great sensation was caused in Inverness and neighbourhood by the abduction of Miss Jean Fraser, only daughter of the deceased Bailie William Fraser of Inverness, and of Mrs Jean Kinnaird. The young lady was a desirable match, having a fortune of 5000 merks. The abductor was William Fraser, then merchant in Fort-Augustus, a member of one of the most respectable families in Stratherrick. If the lady herself was willing, her friends were not, and the circumstances may be so far gleaned from the following letter by the Town Agent in Edinburgh, to Provost Hossack, dated 1st February, 1744, kindly communicated to me by the present Town Clerk:-

"Edinr., 1st February, 1744.

"Dear Sir,—Last night about six a clock the Bearer with the Magistrates letter and precognitions anent the Insult and Ryot committed on my good old friend Baillie Fraser's daughter found me in the Excheqr. Court where I was detained till betwixt eight & nine aClock at night upon doss bussiness. But as soon as I got free I went down to Mr Robert Dundass, His Majesties Solicitor-Generall & consulted him upon the affair, & after reading over the precognitions and coppies of letters, &c., he drew a petition to the Lords of Justiciary in name of Mrs Fraser, the mother, & her son, and by six a clock in the morning I got the Justiciary Clerk Dept. and...... had the petition transcribed over, and a proper warrand write out ready tat nine a clock to get signed by a Lord of Justiciary. But haveing got as much time as to wait upon my Lord President & acquaint him of the affair, he was of opinion that as the thing was so very atrocious that the petition should be in name of the Lord Advocat & be signed by Mr Solicitor. Accordingly, when I came back to the Parliament House about ten a clock I first acquainted the whole Lords of Justiciary of the affair, and they thought as the President did, that the King's Advocat should give his countenance so far as to take the precognition for his own information and then sign the petition himself. Thereupon I got the petition write out of new & and the warrand made out upon it. I waited till the Lords rose & then got the Justiciary Lords to meet, and they ordered the warrand, which is signed by Lord Roystoun, & you have it inclosed. As it is now half ane hour after two, I doubt much if the bearer can overtake the tyde at Leith. However, to show you that I have been diligent, & not neglected a moment, I have despatched the bearer before I sat down to dinner. As for the assistance of the military, the Lords would not allow it except that they heard the Civill Magistrat was deforced, in which case proper application may be made, & assistance will be given. There is one thing that you must get done and that is to get a letter from Mrs Fraser and her son directed to Mr Robert Dundass, His Majestie's Solicitor, acquainting him that they have sent to me the precognition and proper information anent the Insult and Ryot committed by Wm. Fraser on their daughter and sister, & begging his countenance and assistance to get justice, which you'll send me any time with your conveniency that it may lye with the precognitions. This I undertook for, or I would not got the Solicitor to sign the petition. I received the five guineas you sent me.—I am, Dr Sr, your most obedient sert. (Sgd.) WILL. FORBES."

"There are two persons complained on that are not right designed & yrfor no warrand could be got agt them. (Addressed on the back) to Mr John Hossack, Provost of Inverness."

I now follow up the matter from information in my own possession. [Printed Papers in the Justiciary Case were recently offered for sale in an Edinburgh Second-hand Catalogue, but unfortunately for me, were sold before my attention was directed to the matter.] It would appear that Lord Lovat was applied to by William Fraser and his friends, but his Lordship absolutely declined, and the following letter addressed to Hugh Fraser, younger of Foyers, shows Lord Simon's views of abduction in old age, different probably from what he would have written fifty years earlier. Be that as it may, the letter is highly proper and becoming in one holding Lord Lovat's high position. The letter is illegible in several parts, and I do not guarantee its literal correctness :-

Beaufort, 25th January, 1744.

Dear Hughie,—Your letter of this day's date from Gortuleg came to my hand just now twixt 6 and 7 o'clock at night. Though it be not uncommon to see two or a few men of a county distracting and misleading others near the brink of Darkness, yet I own what you write is beyond comprehension, surprising and astonishing. That a small number of people, and some as I know intelligent enough countrymen, should carry off and violate all duties, and run on as if they were destinate to ruin and destruction, which the unhappy affair they have in hand must certainly entail upon them yet I hope in God what I write to you to the people who should lead and conduct that country under me, and what will come to the others concerned if any vestige of judgment remains with them, will give them a better turn to this unhappy affair and by some measure prevent what must be a fatal blow to all of them if things go on according to the strain of your letter. I can do no more at this distance than desire that you, or should this not find you in the country, one of the others to whom it is addressed, make public to the gentlemen of the country who are embarked in this unlucky business, of any discretion or sagacity, and tell them as I have maturely considered the consequences that must attend such a mad and unjustifiable conduct by them against the country and against my family and character, that I desire and order as they shall be answerable, and upon their duties and allegiances sacred and civil, to put a stop to their madness, and proceed no further in their outrageous and unhappy measures, and to convey the poor injured girl in the most safe and convenient manner to the town of Inverness, to the mother and the Guardians of the peace. And if this they refuse or delay to comply with, I must look upon as stating themselves aliens to me, showing all disregard to my orders, and doing me and my family all the hurt in their power. You may assure them, and they may read in this letter, that the resentment of the relations of the poor girl and of the town of Inverness, cannot be so implacable against them as mine will justly be. I desire that you or those to whom this shall come to lose no time in making the best use of those orders they can.—Dear Hughie, yours, (Signed) LOVAT."

"As to the letter which it seems the girl has wrote to Inverness, in order to 'appease the Magistrates," I can assure you neither that nor all the declarations that she can make, while her liberty is restrained will avail or better the case a single farthing. These proceedings can have no other effort but to aggravate the crime and to inflame the resentment to it and nothing but sending the girl immediately to Inverness, whether married or unmarried, can save every man that has been in this affair from ruin and destruction, the whole name of Fraser from eternal shame, and my person and family from hurt and trouble."

A paper dated 1779 bears that this ' William Fraser, merchant in Fort-Augustus, thereafter vintner in Inverness, having under cloud of night, with a band of men, forcibly entered the house in the month of January, 1744, of Mrs Jean Kinnaird, [Ed: Between you and me and the gatepost, I don't think her name was Mrs Jean Kinnaird; I think it was Margaret Kinnaird, relict of Baillie William Fraser, merchant, Inverness; and the daughter was named Jean Fraser] relict of Baillie William Fraser, merchant, in Inverness, and thence carried off Jean Fraser, only daughter of the said Baillie William Fraser, and brought her to Stratherrick, where he married her, the Magistrates of Inverness, entered a criminal prosecution against him and his accomplices before the Court of Justiciary."

The criminal proceedings were likely to be attended with very serious consequences to William Fraser, and Lord Lovat having failed them as just mentioned, William Fraser and his friends applied to Norman Macleod of Macleod to intercede with the Magistrates of Inverness to withdraw the prosecution. Macleod was then member for the county, and possessed great influence therein, and also with the Magistrates, and the Hanoverian Government. His private character was bad, and this coupled with his conduct towards Prince Charles, has given him an unenviable position in the history of his honourable hous. But he did exert himself in a matter probably congenial, though considerable time elapsed before an arrangement could be made, and it was not until the 17th of June, 1745, that the proceedings were stayed by Macleod accepting a bill, payable on the 2nd of November, 1745, to Mr William Forbes, Writer to the Signet, Agent for the town, for the very considerable sum, at that period, of £70 sterling, being the expenses of the criminal process up to that date.

William Fraser's outrageous proceedings appear to have arisen from his impecuniousness, and as early as 1745, the portion of his wife, Jean Fraser, of 5000 rnerks was assigned by them to Thomas Fraser of Garthmore.

Owing to the troubles in the country in '45-46, no demand was made upon Macleod's bill until 1754, and the further steps which took place under it, and William Fraser's ungrateful conduct, may now be recorded. Macleod naturally applied to Fraser, by this time settled as a vintner in Inverness, to relieve him, and that as he declined to do so, a process was instituted against him in the Sheriff Court at Inverness.

As soon as the first interlocutor was pronounced, William Fraser advocated the case. In the meantime letters of inhibition at Macleod's instance were raised in 1758; and in the month of January, 1760, after a long proof and keen contest, decree was given against William Fraser for the said sum of £70, with interest from 2nd November, 1745, as also for £83 5s 11d of expenses, and £17 1s 3d expenses of extract. In July, 1761, Macleod took a process of adjudication against Fraser, adjudging a tenement of land or dwelling-house in Inverness, which he had himself acquired under adjudication, containing the following reference to the Burg-age land west of the River Ness, having a description with which I am not familiar, viz , "Little Inverness." The description is as follows:-" All and haul that house or tenement of Burrow bigged land lying in that part of the town of Inverness, which lies on the north side of the water of Ness, commonly called little Inverness, formerly possessed by Alexander Chisholm, cooper in Inverness, and his sub-tenants, and now by his widow, with the yeard, area, and pertinents thereto belonging, if any be." Macleod at the same time adjudged an heritable bond over the lands of Erchitt for £220 sterling of principal and annual rents, granted by Fraser of Erchitt to the said William Fraser.

At the date of this adjudication in July, 1761, the original debt of £70 had run up to £224 sterling. Macleod finding that the bond over Erchitt had been previously validly conveyed to Dr James Fraser of London, and William Fraser having died insolvent, was glad to get rid of the business even at a considerable sacrifice, and upon the 28th April, 1767, assigned the debt to trustees for behoof of Ann Fraser, relict of the deceased Simon Fraser, merchant in Inverness. Ann Fraser and her trustees now took up the running with vigour, and in the first place obtained decreets of constitution and of adjudication against William Fraser, son and heir in general of the deceased William Fraser, and his tutors and curators.

Ann Fraser's advisers discovered that the deceased William Fraser had a debt against John Macdonell of Ardnabi, against whom he had obtained a decreet of adjudication on the 15th June, 1752.

She also was confirmed executor creditor to William Fraser, giving up on inventory Jean Fraser's 5000 merks before referred to ; as also £43 16s 9d, the amount of a bill drawn by the deceased William Fraser and accepted by Simon Fraser, brother to Hugh Fraser of Foyers. It would appear that on the 3rd November, 1761, there was a post nuptial contract of marriage between William Fraser and Jean Fraser. With regard to the debt against Ardnabi, James Fraser of Gortuleg, Writer to the Signet, offered Ann Fraser £60 for her rights, which she accepted on 31st May, 1776.

At Whitsunday 1779 the original debt of £70, which, with interest and expenses amounted, as before mentioned, in July 1761 to £224, had now reached with further interest the enormous sum of £424 sterling. Of this sum Ann Fraser had received the Ardnabi debt of £60, and she considered the Foyers bill with accumulated interest amounting to £80, good, thus leaving a deficit of no less than £282. To meet this there was only the adjudication against the property in Little Inverness, and as there was a competition by other creditors, I fancy Ann Fraser did not make much of her speculation, although I am unable positively to say how the matter terminated.

The business of vintner was a profitable one, and people of fairish position took up the calling. I have mentioned that William Fraser was of a respectable Stratherrick family, and the well known Major James Fraser of Castle Leathers, younger son of Culduthel, for some time "kept a Public" in Inverness, of which, however, he was rather ashamed.

Jean Fraser, the heroine of my story, lived into this century. I find a receipt dated at Inverness, the 27th May,1803, wherein, "I, Jean Fraser, relict of the deceased William Fraser, vintner in Inverness, acknowledge to have received from James Fraser, vintner in Inverness, the sum of £60 sterling to account of the furniture sold him by contract."


The fine estate of Glenmoriston, extending to 70,000 acres, watered by its beautiful river, is incomplete however at top and bottom. Originally the whole top belonged to other families, but by the acquisition of Glen Loyne from the Laird of Grant, the lands watered by the river Loyne, which falls into the Moriston, forming the upper boundary at this part, is complete to the watershed. The boundary at Cluanie is arbitrary, and the lands in the parish of Glenshiel must at some remote period have been lost or dissevered from the remainder of Glenmoriston. The original barony as bestowed on the Grants, on the other hand, consisting in whole of a £27 land of old extent, included the forty shilling land of Culnakirk, and the twenty shilling land of Clunemore in Glenurquhart. Glen Loyne was probably got in exchange for Culnakirk and Clunemore, parted with in 1696.

That Dalcattaig and Portclairs, really forming for several miles one side of the Glen, prominent and imposing from all quarters, did not originally form part of the Glenmoriston estate, seems so surprising and unnatural that various accounts are given for the anomaly. I will first give the version told me in the Glen many years ago, and follow it up by narrating the real history, with some account of the long continued struggle on the part of the Grants to acquire these lands. The popular tradition is that the lands were of old really part of Glenmoriston, that on one occasion on a windy stormy day Lovat and Glenmoriston were out hunting, having, as they started, their plaids fastened, as was customary, with valuable brooches. Lovat was prudent, and carried a large common pin in reserve. As the wind increased Lovat, afraid of loosing his brooch, took it off, substituting the pin. Glenmoriston unfortunately lost his brooch, which, in consequence of the high wind and storm, could not be found. Starving with cold and labouring under the inconvenience of carrying his plaid, now merely an encumbrance, he begged Lovat to lend him his brooch. This Lovat, who had a particular regard for his brooch, was unwilling to do and wished to be excused. At length, under importunity, he gave the brooch to Glenmoriston, and to impress due caution said, "If you lose my brooch, you must replace it by Dalcattaig and Portclair." This Glenmoriston in his need agreed to, and alas by and bye, a furious gust striking him, the fastening gave way, and the brooch disappeared for ever, although searched and searched for, for months; and thus the lands were lost to Glenmoriston. So far the tradition.

Now for the real state of matters, as these have come under, my observation. In 1691, when the Cess Roll was made up for Inverness-shire, John Doun, fifth of Glenmoriston, is entered in the parish of Boleskine and AbertarfI as heritor of Dalcattaig and Portclair. In 1693, when lain-a-Chraggain, sixth of Glenmoriston, accompanied by Donald Macdonell of Lundie, his friend and supporter, came to Dunain, courting Janet Baillie, sister of William Baillie, then of Dunain, lain, with consent of his father, agreed to settle upon her seven hundred merks per annum of a jointure out of his'lands of Inver and Glenmoriston, and of Dalcattaig and Portclairs. But it would appear that the last mentioned lands at these periods were only held in wadset of Lovat.

Patrick Grant, seventh of Glenmoriston, after the death of his elder brother John in 1735, entered into a submission with Simon Lord Lovat, regarding the lands of Meikie Portclair. The paper prepared for Glenmoriston now given has no date, but it would be between 1735 and 1745, and is most interesting.

"Information for Patrick Grant of Glenmoriston-

"The deceased John Grant of Glenmoriston, grandfather to the said Patrick Grant did settle seven thousand merks in the hands of the deceased Hugh Lord Lovat, for which he got the lands of Dalcaitag and Portclaires in wadset, by which wadset right Glenmoriston was obliged to pay off a surplus duty as the customs of the said lands eighty pounds Scots or thereby yearly to the family of Lovat as ye said wadset right in itself more fully purports. Some years after obtaining of the said wadset, these customs did run on unpaid and for recovering of the same the deceased Thomas Fraser, Lord Lovat, then Beaufort, father to the Right Honourable Simon Lord Fraser, now of Lovat, being then a young valiant and forward gentleman, was appointed and commissioned to march with two or three hundred men in order to take possession of a part of the said wadset lands violently, if no other accommodation could be made with Glenmoriston in friendly manner to that effect, which accordingly he did, and after coming to those bounds with the foresaid number of men, he and Glenmoriston did meet, and after a long communing it was unanimously agreed that the town of Meiklc Portclare should be alvayes sequestrate and allow'd in the possession of the family of Lovat during the non-redemption of the said wadset for making full payment and satisfaction of the said customs and superplus duty, to prevent any further demur or disorder that might arise in case of any bad payments of this subject matter in time coming, and to that effect there was a settlement made in writing twixt the said Beaufort and Glenmoriston; but among other misfortunes in the year 1689 the castle of Invermoriston, being the house of Glenmoriston's residence, was burnt by the Earle of Sutherland, where all Glenmoriston's papers with everything else were entirely destroyed, excepting his charters and other rights, which were hid under ground, among which this agreement and writing was cut off, so that it cannot now be further evidenced, whereby the attestation of some old honest men who are yet living in the country, and knows the premises to be all of verity, and further can attest that alwayes since the commencement of the said wadset right, anterior to the above agreement, Glenmoriston has been in possession of the said lands of Meikie Portclare.

"The late Mr John Grant, younger of Glenmoriston, brother to the said Patrick Grant did purchase the said lands of Dalcaitag and Portclare with the rest of the estate of Glenmoriston (which were forfeited) from the hands of the publick, and to pay off the price of his estate, was obliged to borrow money from this present Lord Lovat, for which he did renounce his right of the said lands of Dalcaitaig and Little Portclaire, but always excepted in the renunciation the lands of Meikie Portclaire on which the former wadset right stands good for two thousand marks, being the balance unpaid of the moneys settled in that manner with the family of Lovat, and as this Lord Lovat through ignorance that Glenmoriston was ever in possession of the said town of Meikle Portclaires and that consequently he believed Glenmoriston had no just title or right to the two thousand marks unpaid, on that account and to remove all disputes 'twixt my Lord Lovat and Glenmoriston, a submission was formally extended 'twixt them, to be determined by the final sentence and decision of Evan Baillie of Abriachan and Alexander Munro, Commissary of Inverness, arbitrators, but ere anything was or could be done in relation to the said submission, Glenmoriston died. But now with the same view the like submission is renewed betwixt my Lord Lovat and the said Patrick Grant of Glenmoriston, to be determined by the decision of Mr Robert Craig and Mr William Grant, advocates, arbiters mutually chosen by the said parties who are to have their instructions from this information and other writs herewith given."

Patrick Grant was most anxious to have a commission to examine aged witnesses, many of whom were 90 years of age and upwards, as to his grandfather's originally possessing PsIeikle Portclair. The proceedings fell to the ground, however, in consequence of Lord Lovat's forfeiture, and seem to have dropped thereafter.

Iain-a-Chraggain having been forfeited for his accession to the Rising of 1715, his estates fell under charge of the Commissioners on Forfeited Estates. Glenmoriston was sold at a public roup on 24th of November, 1730, and was purchased by Ludovick Colquhoun of Luss for the sum of £1086 sterling, and under burden of paying all wadset moneys thereon. The whole rental in 1725 and 1726, was only £60 8s 4d sterling, whereof £26 8s 10d represented wadsetted lands, leaving of surplus for the laird and the Forfeited Estates Commissioners in his stead £33 9s 6d. In 1725 the accounts stood thus, on the one side the rents as above, £60 8s 4d; on the other, cash paid Edmund Burt, Esq., £8 8s 0d; the wadsetted lands, as above, £26 18s 10d; stipend, £3 14s 1d ; arrears, £21 7s 5d; total, £60 8s 4d. And in 1726, the rent £60 8s 4d; the arrears, £21 7s 5d; total, £81 15s 9d; on the other side, cash paid Edmund Burt, Esq., £9 9s 0d ; the wadsetted lands, £26 18s 10d; stipend, £3 4s 11d ; arrears, £41 13s 10d total, £91 15s 9d. In a minute of sale, dated 3rd December, 1730, Sir John Clerk, Baronet, George Dalrymple, and Thomas Kennedy, Esquires, Barons of Exchequer, declared that they sold to Ludovick Colquhoun, all and hall] the lands of Glenmoriston, and "also the lands of Dalcattaig with its parts and pendicles as the same were possessed by John Grant, late of Glenmoriston, and his predecessors heretofore," as also all other lands and estates, though not named, which might have belonged to the said John Grant. The price of £ ro86 sterling, Luss bound himself to pay. The purchase was a friendly one, and in course of time Colquhoun and his successors resold at different times the property and superiority of Glenmoriston to the Grants. Luss did not convey Dalcattaig and Little Portclair included in the sale to him, because, as mentioned in Patrick Grant's memorial, Lovat lent money to Patrick, on condition of being allowed to have these lands, but first John Grant, and thereafter his brother Patrick Grant, claimed from Lovat Meikie Portclair, as I have said, in virtue of the old wadset moneys not having been fully paid. Simon Lord Lovat, thus became interested in the lands of Dalcattaig and Little Portclair though sold by the Forfeited Estate Commissioners to Luss, as is more fully set forth in an application by Colquhoun in 1750, making a claim on Lord Lovat's estates. After narrating the sale to him in 1730, Colquhoun of Luss, then Sir Ludovick Grant of Grant, states that "Simon, late Lord Fraser of Lovat, being desirous to purchase that part of the estate of Glenmoriston called Dalcattaig, and Little Portclair, which would not be separately sold by the Barons of Exchequer, dfd prevail with him to grant an obligation whereby, upon payment of 5500 merks with interest from the time of attaining possession, he, Grant, became bound to grant a sufficient and solid disposition of the premises to Lord Lovat and his heirs male, or to any person or persons he should appoint by a writing under his hand. That the obligation if extant was supposed to be among the other writings of the said Simon, late Lord Fraser of Lovat. That Lord Lovat, by obligation signed by him at Edinburgh, on 24th November, 1730, before William Drummond of Baihaldie and John Macfarlan, Writer to the Signet, bound himself to pay Grant the sum of 5500 merks, with interest from the date of his being put in possession of Dalcattaig and Little Portclair. But Lord Loyal, without paying the price, or demanding a disposition of the lands, did at his own hand assume and enter upon possession of the lands, and continued therein until his death, without making any satisfaction either of principal or interest. That after Lord Lovat's death and forfeiture, his estates were surveyed, and amongst other lands those of Dalcattaig and Little Portclair were included, but in reality they formed no part of the Lovat estates, as he, Grant, had never been denuded thereof." Grant accordingly entered claim upon Lord Lovat's estates for the said sum of 5500 merks, with annual rent since 1731, if the Crown desired to keep the lands, or otherwise that he would resume possession thereof, and merely claim the annual rent, in satisfaction for the period he was out of his lands.

Land was rising rapidly in value, so the Crown kept these lands, and they remained as part of the estates of Lovat which were restored to General Simon Fraser.

It was necessary towards the end of last century for the trustees of General Simon Fraser to sell lands and superiorities to pay off debts, and having procured an Act of Parliament to effect this, the trustees proceeded to a cognition and sale, scheduling several lands and superiorities as the most convenient for disposal and least hurtful to the estate of Lovat generally. Amongst others the 11th lot was "the lands of Wester Eskadale and Wester Main, lying in the parish of Kiltarlity, and in the district called Strathglass. These lands lie detached at the other extremity of the estate, and being adjacent to the property of Captain Fraser of Eskadale, there is reason to believe he will give a suitable price." Objections were called for by any of the heirs of entail, and inter a/ia Captain Simon Fraser of Foyers and Major Archibald Fraser, late of the Glengarry Regiment of Fencibles, appeared and stated inter a/ia "that certain parts of the estate of Lovat called the lands of Dalcattaig and the two Portclairs, lying in the parish of Abertarfl, or Stratherrick, and on the north side of Loch Ness are not included in the condescendence of the pursuers. The reasons given for the sale of Eskadale above mentioned, apply with far greater force to these lands, as they lie discontiguous to the estate of Lovat, under the Act of Parliament. The lands of Dalcattaig and Portclairs lie contiguous to Glenmoriston, and there is every reason to suppose he will give a suitable price for them, and indeed he has already signified his intention of offering fifty years' purchase for them, and will readily give the full value of the same, when the real value is ascertained and made known." This was in 1798, and no doubt Foyers, who had married one of the Glenmoriston ladies, was put in motion by that family. It was unsuccessful, however, for the Lovat trustees declined to consent, and the matter again fell to the ground.

When Colonel John Grant of Glenmoriston died he left considerable means, part of which was invested in the name of Patrick, Colonel Grant's eldest son, in 1804 in the purchase of the Estate of Scotos, forming portion of the Barony of Knoydart. Ronald Macdonell of Scotos, was married to one of the Glemoriston ladies, which may have led to the purchase, for it was never in itself a success, being detached from Glenmoriston, and scattered through the remainder of Knoydart. Glengarry gave much trouble in the matter of boundaries, marches, accesses, etc., and finally he bought Scotos, which was again re-incorporated with Knoydart, and so continues till this day. Scotos was sold in the time of James Murray Grant, who had succeeded his elder brother Patrick. The late Glenmoriston, who was long a prominent man in the North, took great interest in county and public affairs, filled the offices of Convener and vice-Lieutenant, and being a constant resident, had a thorough knowledge of his family history, and a just pride in its honourable traditions. The family was the first to support the Charles Grants for the representation of the County, and adhered to father and son to the last. Later on, when Thomas Alexander Fraser of Lovat attained his majority, he also became a leading supporter, and it might be said that no two gentlemen in the Highlands were more intimate or disposed to favour the other. After the passing of the Reform Bill, when the suffrage was thrown open to tenants paying L50 and upwards, Charles Grant the younger's position became weaker in the County, until at length his defeat became inevitable, and he took refuge in a Peerage, the Government desiring to appoint another to his office. The Whig party fought desperately to maintain Grant in his position, Glenmoriston being ever in front. The election literature of 1830-1836, is full of wit, one of the most celebrated productions being the rhyming verses commencing with the words:-

There was a committëe,
Composed of twenty three,
Of the wisest men of Inverness, Ness, Ness,
Etc., etc., etc.

These twenty-three were the leading Whigs whose respective shortcomings and foibles were cleverly and accurately hit off. The author was reputed to be Macleod's sister, he himself being called to account as responsible for her by an irate officer, one of the twenty-three, of whom it was suggested that he did not possess even

"The little learning which is a dangerous thing,"

for it was said

"The Colonel at school could never learn, learn, learn."

Charles Grant had become Lord Glenelg; his party was still in power, and the county representation having gone for ever from the Northern aristocratic Whigs, all began to press for rewards and acknowledgments. Specimens of the stupid, shrewd, and clever, had their reward, but amongst them was not to be found the name of "honest Glen" as he was called, though he was, as I said, always in front, and stood one contest in person. This overlooking of him was much commented upon. I have, however, wandered from Dalcattaig. No laird felt the annoyance of vicinity so much in his younger days as the late laird, all his frontage to Loch Ness being comprised within the river Moriston and the burn of Ault Sigh. He knew he could not purchase the lands, as they were under strict entail, but he naturally thought that his most intimate friend would oblige him without hesitation by agreeing to an advantageous exchange.

The lands of Knockie and Delchapple, being in the market, were purchased by Glenmoriston with the view of exchange with Dalcattaig and Portclairs. Knockie lay very convenient to Lovat's Stratherrick estates, but on being approached, Lovat positively declined to negotiate ; and so Knockie remains with Glenmoriston of no particular value to him except that it stretches out pleasantly in view of Invermoriston House on the other side of the Loch. Miss Maria H. Grant in one of her charming novels alludes to one of the pleasures of life at Invermoriston, consisting of the frequent visits paid to and received from Knockie while tenanted by a worthy but tedious soldier, now deceased, known as the "Great Bore," the mutual invitations being through smoke raised by the lighting of fires on particular eminences.

The adjoining lands of Innisnacardoch and Achterawe would have changed hands years ago, unless prevented at great cost by the late Lovat, which would have left Dalcattaig and Portclairs isolated from other Lovat lands. In these changing times it would be rash to say that there is no chance of their ever becoming part of Glenmoriston.


Lord Selkirk's emigration scheme met with much opposition from Highland landlords, and though unsuccessful was in every sense a great undertaking, promulgated before the proper time. The different publications on the subject, his own defences, the observations and strictures of Brown and others, the accounts of the desperate struggles with the Fur Companies, ending in the Earl's retirement from the contest, are full of interest, and it is a pity no historian like Washington Irving in his entrancing story of "Astoria" has as yet depicted in an equally graphic manner the history of the Selkirk Settlement in these days, at present to great extent occupied by a large and thriving population.

How the enclosed letter from Lord Selkirk came into my possession I cannot say, it being lately discovered tied up in a bundle connected with Stratherrick, nor do I know anything of Mr James Stewart, to whom it was addressed, described as "late Fraser F. Regiment, Foyers, by Inverness.)) is not in good preservation, has several markings, the only complete one, however, being " Doctor John Macra, Ardintoul, Kintail, by Loch Carron." The letter is entirely in the Earl's handwriting, small, neat, and distinct. The Earldom of Selkirk has lately merged into one of the minor titles of the Duke of Hamilton.

"London, January, 16th 1803.

"Sir,—I lately received yours of the 3rd, in reply to which I have to observe that I have already engaged the full number of people whom I intend to take out to America in my own employment, and also the persons whom I wish to superintend them, so that I have not at present any situation vacant of the nature you refer to. If, however, it is in any event your intention to go to America, I would incline to suggest your joining the Stratherrick people who are going this season. If you have sufficient influence with them to induce them to settle in the situation I shall point out to you, I can put you on a way of rendering the business very lucrative to yourself, while it will at the same time be advantageous to the people, provided they are able to lay out something on the purchase of land after their arrival. I am, sir, your obedient servant.

(Signed) "SELKIRK."

It is well known that many of the original Frasers, Mactavishes, Macgillivrays, and others, the real heads of the North West Company, went from Stratherrick.


From the annexed petition it would appear that the population between Loch Lochy and Loch Ness in 1808 was very considerable, while the season was unfavourable and employment scarce. The Fort-Augustus market of old was an important one. "All the gentry in the country are generally present" writes an inhabitant, quarrels were renewed and fought out, and it was at one of them, I rather think about 1806, that Dr Macdonald of Fort-Augustus was severely beaten, said at the time by instigation of Glengarry, who owed him a grudge. Glengarry was held responsible, and had to pay £2,000 damages, besides the Court calling the attention of the Lord Advocate to the propriety of his being removed from the Lieutenancy and Magistracy of the county. Times are changed in the parish, for ecclesiastics not lairds, are now both dominant and militant in and about Fort-Augustus. Follows the petition—

"Unto the Right Honourable the Commissioners for the Caledonian Canal, etc., etc. The Petition and Memorial of the persons hereto subscribing, tacksmen, tenants, cottars, and labourers residing in that part of the Great Glen of Scotland, situated between the eastern end of Loch Lochy and western end of Loch Ness.

"Humbly Sheweth,—That the formation of Highland roads and bridges in the north of Scotland and the Caledonian Canal, held up to the memorialists a source of industry which would put an end to the apparent necessity of emigration among the lower classes of society in the district of the country where the memorialists reside, as well as in many other districts to the north and south of this line.

"This hope so sanguinely entertained was realised by the memorialists in the commencement of the Glengarry line of road from the Military road at Aberchalder towards Loch Urn. In forming this beneficial road many of the memorialists derived very considerable benefit, as no person could work but had it in his power to do so, near his own house, and a variety of the articles of consumpt in the country received a ready market from the influx of money occasioned by this public undertaking.

"This road being now completed from Aberchalder many miles westward induced the contractor to commence forming the road this season at Lochurn Head, as he finds labourers from that district of country, and that it lessens considerably the expense of carriage, whereby the numerous inhabitants in and about the foresaid Great Glen of Scotland and in Sleismine and Sleisgarve of Glengarry, are laid idle.

"In this very severe year, the memorialists feel much the want of public employ and many of them may be obliged to seek for subsistence at a distance, and thereby induced to desert their native country.

"As one object which the nation had in view in those public employs, was to find labour for the lower classes of the community which is amply supplied on the east and vest end of the Canal (as well as the improvement of the country at large) it would afford the greatest relief to your memorialists if the central district of the Canal was commenced so as to find labour for them and others in its contiguity. For having already reaped the benefit of public employ they feel the want thereof, particularly in so severe a season as the present, more than if they had never tasted of its sweets. Under such distress as the generality of your memorialists labour, they look forward with confidence in the benevolent interest of the Right Honourab!e Commissioners to direct such measures to be taken as in their wisdom they shall see proper.

"May it therefore please the Right Honourable Commissioners to take the premises under their consideration and to do therein as to them shall appear proper and thereby afford to the memorialists such relief as to them the justice of their case may require. And the petitioners shall ever pray."

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