Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
No. 12

The year 1853 opened with the new Government under the Earl of Aberdeen, which replaced the short-lived administration of Lord Derby and Mr Disraeli. Lord Aberdeen’s Government was really a coalition, including such statesmen as Lord John Russell, Lord Palmerston, and Sir James Graham, and representatives of a younger generation like Mr Gladstone, the Duke of Argyll, and Earl Granville. The Earl of Clarendon was Foreign Secretary. Mr Gladstone made his first great mark as a financier, by a Budget which lowered interest by changes in stocks, readjusted the income-tax and legacy duties, and reduced taxes on 133 articles. Mr Gladstone extended the income-tax from incomes of £150 to those of £100 a year, and sketched a scheme for getting rid of the tax in 1860—a hope, however, which was not realised. The Budget brought the finances of the country into a stable condition, and was generally acceptable.

During the year a dispute arose between Russia and Turkey, which finally resulted in the Crimean war. In the first instance the dispute was between the Greek and Latin Churches regarding the holy places in Palestine. This question was solved, but in course of it the Emperor Nicolas of Russia claimed a protectorate over the Greek Christians in Turkey, which claim the Porte resisted. The Emperor sent as Ambassador to Constantinople Prince Alensohikoff, a man of dictatorial temperament who embittered the quarrel. The Turkish side was supported by the British Ambassador, Sir Stratford Canning, who was raised to the peerage as Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. A Congress of the Powers held at Vienna, failed to bring the parties to terms. The British and French Governments ordered their fleets to Besika Bay, at the mouth of the Dardanelles, to guard against a sudden attack on Constantinople. On 2nd July the Russians crossed the Prutli, invading the Turkish principalities, but even then wiar was net declared. The next step, however, was an attack by a Russian naval force on a squadron of Turkish ships at Sinope, when the latter were destroyed. The news of this attack aroused .passionate indignation throughout Europe. Both the British and French Governments were anxious to avoid war, but when the year closed all the omens pointed to the conflict which was soon to break out.

From the “Inverness Courier."


January 6.—“A fine golden eagle, taken in Strathglass, is at present in this town, with a view to its being sent to Paris as a present to the Emperor of France. The gentleman who sends it is, we believe, acquainted with Louis Napoleon, and the Emperor must acknowledge that this noble bird from our mountains is a very different looking creature from the miserable draggled eagle he took with him to Boulogne.  A number of rabbits have been sent as food for the eagle during its journey.”

Ibid.—The Hercules frigate, Captain Baynton, sailed from Campbelltown Loch on Sunday, 26th ult., with about 730 emigrants for Australia. The passengers were mostly from the islands of Skye, Harris, and Uist.

January 13.—The death is announced of Mr Roderick Reach, who had been for nearly ten years London correspondent of the “Courier.” Mr Reach was a native of Tain, and, after being educated at the Academy there, studied for the law. He then entered on an engagement in the West Indies, and resided for five or six years at Berbice, but on his health giving way he returned to this country, and became a solicitor and accountant in Inverness. “For many years the deceased was one of our most respected, useful, and popular citizens. His talents and accomplishments rendered his society much coveted, and his hospitable table was open to men of all sects and parties, and to vast numbers of strangers in their summer visits to the Highlands. In 1843 Mr Reach removed to London. He kindly consented to act as London correspondent for this paper (of which he was one of the original proprietors), and we need not say how much his admirable powers of observation and description—his wide range of reading and knowledge of the world—and his lively, discursive, yet forcible style, contributed to the delight and instruction of the public. There were few subjects, literary or scientific, in which he did not take some interest, and he had a singular felicity in popularising whatever he touched upon. His heart beat to every tender and generous impulse, and amidst the crowd of London he never ceased to think, to talk, and to write of his native north.” Air Reach was about sixty-six years of age. For some months before his death he had been compelled, by declining health, to give up writing, and his weekly task had devolved on his son, Mr Angus B. Reach.

Ibid.—The Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society contained a report of the improvements effected on the waste land of Urchil, forming part of Culloden Moor, and now included in the farm of Leanach. The paper was written by the tenant, Air John Rose, “an enterprising, intelligent, and successful agriculturist," who had obtained the medium gold medal of the society. Air Rose became tenant of Urchil (called Urchills in the notice) in 1840, under an improving or thirty-one years lease. When he took possession, the farm consisted of 256 acres 3 roods and 32 poles of arable land, and 248 acres 8 roods and 18 poles of pasture land— giving a total of 505 acres and 10 poles. All the land at the time was in a wretched condition, and Mr Rose set himself to improve and reclaim. He built fences, constructed upwards of thirty-six miles of drains, and erected a steading, at a cost of £800. The abstract of cost and returns showed that he had expended £4489, and had realised from produce £2215. A large part of the lease was, of course, still to run. The proprietor, Air Forbes of Culloden, in appreciation of Air Rose’s exertions, had presented him with a handsome silver salver, suitably inscribed. Mr Rose was also tenant of the farm of Kirk-ton, and of other farms in the neighbourhood of Inverness.

Ibid.—The Rev. Alexander Campbell, parish minister of Croy, died a few days before, at the age of 72. In 1820 Mr Campbell was ordained minister of Dores, and was translated to Croy in 1823. “Many will remember the circumstances attending Mr Campbell’s acceptance of this new office. A strong feeling had been raised against him in the parish, and it was found necessary to resort to the obnoxious alternative of employing the military to enforce the induction. Happily, Mr Campbell survived the last trace of ill-feeling which naturally arose among the parishioners through this violent step, and no pastor could have lived on better terms with his flock than did this lamented gentleman for many years in the parish of Croy.’’

Ibid.—A paragraph gives an account of an old crofter, Paul Macdonald, aged 98, who had been for eighty years tenant of the small steading of Auldvounie, Curdlas, situated in Glen-Goullie, on the Callindal-loch estate, seven miles from any other dwelling. Paul was styled the “King of Curdlas.” He remembered his father lamenting the fate of the Highlanders at Culloden, and he had himself been engaged in many local frays. When George Fourth visited Edinburgh, Paul was sent by the Duke of Gordon to take part in the procession. “Every article in the house of Auldvounie is of the most primitive description, and the whole was formed and fashioned by the gudeman himself. Half-a-century ago he planted on his croft a sapling of mountain ash, which a few years since he cut down, and with a clasp knife and dirk he contrived to make a couple of chairs and a bedstead, which now decorate his humble dwelling. With the same tools he fashioned the cas-chrom, or plough, with which he tills his croft. It may be added that the sole horse possessed by the old man is thirty-six years of age.”—The same issue contains a letter from the Rev. Alexander Macgregor, then minister of the Gaelic Church, Edinburgh, giving a sketch of the life of Flora Macdonald. Many years afterwards, when minister of the West Church, Inverness, he published a life of Flora.

January 13 and 20.—The death is announced in Canada West of Mr John Fraser, formerly a merchant in Inverness, and Provost of the burgh from 1834 to 1836. In 1837 he went to Canada as Chief Commissioner of the British American Land Company, and resided at Sherbooke, Canada East. In 1844 he took up his residence in London, Canada West, as agent of the Bank of Montreal. “In all the relations of life he won the admiration and respect of his fellow citizens; to every movement for the promotion of morals, sobriety, and education, he proved himself an ardent friend.” Mr Fraser was killed at the age of fifty-seven by being thrown from his carriage. He was educated at the Inverness Royal Academy and King’s College, Aberdeen, where he graduated in 1812, but subsequently took up his father’s business in Inverness. Mr Fraser was the father of the late Rev. Dr Donald Fraser, of Inverness and Marylebone.

Ibid.—The right of patronage to the second charge of Inverness had now devolved on the Presbytery, which issued a presentation in favour of the Rev. John Macewen, of Dyke.—Proposals were going on for the establishment of a cotton or new woollen manufactory in Inverness.

January 20.—Letters appear from Australia giving an account of the condition of the country and the rush for the gold-diggings. A writer from Melbourne, who had taken out a cargo of goods there, tells his father that the charges for warehouse accommodation were enormous. “A place not bigger than your stable can readily bring £600 a year. A wretched storehouse, not better than a bam, cannot be procured under £1500 a year, paid in advance. Tradesmen get £1 a day, but lodging and high living swamp everything.” In a previous letter the London correspondent says that gold was now being realised at the rate of twenty millions per annum in our own colonies, to say nothing of California.

January 27.—The Emperor Napoleon had announced his engagement to Eugenie de Montijo, Countess of Teba, and notice was taken of her Scottish ancestry through the Kirkpatricks. The marriage is recorded in the following issue.

Ibid.—The death is announced of Dr Simon Mackintosh, minister of the East Church, Aberdeen. He was a native of Ardersier and had been for a short time minister of the Third Charge, Inverness. He had also been one of the presentees to the parish of Daviot while the controversy was going on in that parish before the Disruption. Dr Mackintosh was a man of classical abtainments, and a Gaelic scholar. He was scarcely forty years of age.—A memorial signed by nearly a thousand members, was presented to the Rev. Mr Macewen, Dyke, asking him to accept the presentation to the West Church in Inverness. A counter petition was got up in Dyke asking him to stay in the parish.—A Ragged School was opened in Inverness. It was situated in a school-house in Tanner’s Lane, off Tomnahurich Street, where Mr Mackay, who was appointed teacher, had previously instructed 170 children in the elements of education.

Ibid.—Mr Robert Harper, B.A., of Cambridge, who had been for a time Rector of the Inverness Academy, accepted the appointment of second master of the Grammar School of Dudley, in Worcestershire. He was succeeded as Rector of the Academy by Mr Scott, classical master, who had been for nearly thirty years connected with the institution.—The project of a railway between Inverness and Perth was again under discussion.—The Hercules, with 916 emigrants on board, left Rothesay for Australia on Sunday week.

February 3.—Miss Jane Mackenzie of Kilcoy, only daughter of the late Sir Colin Mackenzie of Kilcoy, was married on the 27th ult. to Major Wardlaw, son of Lieutenant-General Wardlaw. The marriage took place at Belmaduthy House, and there were rejoicings in the Black Isle.—Mr James Milne, shipowner, at Findhorn, a man of influence in Morayshire, died on the 22nd ult., at the age of fifty-five. One of his daughters became the wife of Sir Joseph Prestwick, an eminent geologist, and was the author of her husband’s biography and other books.

February 10.—Rev. Mr Macewen, Dyke, declined the presentation to the second charge in Inverness. The patron then offered the appointment to the Rev. Ewen Mackenzie, Kirkhill, holding that the patronage had not devolved on the Presbytery, as the Rev. Mr Stewart, Aberfoyle, had accepted the presentation, although he had afterwards resigned.

Ibid.—Mr John Paterson, Skinnet, an extensive sheep farmer in Caithness and Sutherland, died on the 27th ult. A native of the Borders, he came early to Caithness, and gradually rose to wealth and influence. “For nearly half a century Mr Paterson had been the very life and spirit of the two great markets, Inverness and Falkirk, of the former of which he might be said to be the chief promoter.”

February 17.—Mr A. Hill Rennie of Balliliesk died the previous week. He was a member of Town Council, and had been for twenty-five years a citizen of Inverness, conducting large business transactions, apparently in the timber trade.

Ibid.—The construction of the new bridge was at a standstill. “Of the exact cause of the state of matters we are not aware; but it is known that contracts for the resumption of the works have of late been all but completed with more than one party, and then abandoned.” There was a heavy snowstorm in the Highlands, particularly severe in the neighbourhood of Inverness. In the streets snow lay to the depth of two feet, and the roads were impassable.

February 24.—The snowstorm continued, and the “Courier” for the second week in succession was obliged to publish without its London letter.—The Ness Islands were still without bridges, which had been carried away in the flood of 1849, but a committee of young men had now taken the matter up, and were canvassing for support. A sum of £140 had been subscribed.—A contract for the new Suspension Bridge had at length been entered into with Mr Hendrie, Inverness, and eighty men were at work.

March 3.—Rev. Mr Mackenzie, Kirkhill, declined to proceed under the presentation issued in his favour to the second charge of the parish of Inverness. The Procurator of the Church had given his opinion that the right of presentation had fallen to the Presbytery, seeing that Mr Stewart 'had declined, and had not vacated the charge of Aberfoyle.

Ibid.—The steeple on the English Free Church, Inverness (United Free High), would not have been erected except for (the liberality of Mr Duncan Forbes of Leanach, and his brother, Mr Forbes of Culloden. The former had made himself responsible to the committee for the cost of the steeple, and now, on behalf of himself and his brother, handed over £360 to the building fund.

Ibid.—The workmen at the new bridge came upon the foundation beam of the timber bridge which spanned the Ness before the erection of the stone bridge in 1684. The beam was a splendid block of oak wood, and lay directly beneath the abutment of the old bridge. “Immediately beneath the beam were discovered about a dozen very curious pins for fastening dresses, and a silver ring of peculiar construction and workmanship. The pins are composed of copper and zinc—copper greatly predominating—and are of a bright golden colour; they vary in length from four to about seven inches; there are several varieties of form, all of them elegant and chaste in style. The pins are still sharp and delicately pointed, and they have suffered little from old age.” An antiquary pronounced the pins to be about 500 years old, but the ring was quite unique. “It bears the appearanoe of hoary old age.”

March 10.—The Duchess-Dowager of Bedford, a daughter of Jane, Duchess of Gordon, died at Nice on the 23rd ult. For twenty-three years she had resided for several months annually at the Doune of Rothiemurchus, not far from the spot where her mother’s remains repose. “There her hospitality was shared with many of the men must distinguished in the political world. Noblemen and gentlemen delighted to retire from the laborious duties or frivolous gaieties of London life to this secluded retreat, to enjoy the lovely scenery, the manly sports, and the cheerful home where the Duchess presided.”

Ibid.—Out of a set of five clergymen, the Presbytery resolved to present the Rev. Alexander Macgregor, of the Gaelic Church, Edinburgh, to the second charge of the parish of Inverness. The presentation was accepted, and thus began a long period of service.—The snowstorm had disappeared. after lasting with great severity for four weeks. It was noted that communication had been better maintained through the Badenoch district than on the road between Inverness and Aberdeen. In both districts, however, in the worst places, the mails had been carried by men on foot. For a fortnight or more no vehicles could run.

March 17.—Mr Roderick Macleod of Cadboll, Lord-Lieutenant of the county of Cromarty, who had long been in delicate health, died at Invergordon Castle on the 13th inst., aged 66. “He was a man of sterling integrity, liberality of sentiment, and kindness of heart. A member of the Scottish bar, Mr Macleod sat in Parliament for some time as member for Sutherland, and gave his support to the Reform Bill of 1832. From 1837 till 1840 he represented the Inverness district of burghs.

Ibid.—Three lithographed views of Inverness, taken by Mr C. T. Greenwood, were published by Mr Keith, bookseller, here. “The lithographs are drawn with accuracy and taste on tinted paper, and do more justice to our beautiful little town than any previous engravings. Their size is about 18 inches by 12. A prominent feature in one of the sketches is the iron suspension bridge now being erected.”—A pre-historic grave, consisting of stone slabs enclosing a human skeleton and an urn, was found on the farm of Cuthbertown, at Easter Delnies. The skeleton was bent, the urn beautifully carved, yellow outside, and black inside. It is described as “of stonework,” but was more probably of pottery, as the fragments crumbled to the touch. About eight years before two similar coffins, containing skeletons and urns, were found within a few yards of the same place.

Ibid.—James Fotheringham, the oldest Freemason in Inverness, and the founder of the Lodge of Oddfellows, died on the 6th inst., at the age of 92. He had been janitor for the Bank of Scotland, and was respected by all classes as a warm-hearted and upright man.

March 24.—The Glen-Tilt right-of-way case had come to an end. The Lord Ordinary found “that there is a public road leading from Castleton of Braemar, rin the county of Aberdeen, through the upper part of the valley of the Dee, and thence in a southerly direction through the Glen of Tilt, and the property of the defender, the Duke of Atholl, to Blair Atholl, in the oounty of Perth..” The Duke might have carried the case to the House of Lords, but refrained, or, as the editor puts it, “wisely abandoned his attempt to shut out the public from Glen-Tilt.”

Ibid.—A meeting was held at Stafford House, attended by about forty ladies, to promote an address from the women of Great Britain and Ireland to the women of the United States, on the subject of slavery. A report was read by the Duchess of Sutherland, and it was stated that the signatures to the address numbered 562,848, bound in twenty-six large folio volumes. It was resolved to send the address to Mrs Beecher Stowe, whose work, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” had attained a vast circulation in this country.

April 7.—On the 1st inst. the Aberdeen Steam Navigation Company’s steamer, the Duke of Sutherland, with goods and passengers from London, was wrecked close to the pier of Aberdeen, and out of a living freight of fifty passengers and crew, sixteen were drowned. There was at the time a heavy sea running on the bar, and a freshet on the River Dee. Just as the steamer was crossing the bar the current threw her head towards the point of the pier, and when the captain, to escape striking, reversed engines, the vessel was caught in a heavy sea, and driven right on the rocks by the breakwater. A series of mishaps occurred to the boats and the rocket apparatus, and the above-mentioned sixteen persons perished within a stone’s cast of safety. The master, Captain Howling, in endeavouring to warp a line, lost his balance, and, falling into tlie sea, was drowned.

Ibid.—The Highland dress of a Scottish nobleman, Lord Orkney, attracted great attention at a ball given by the Emperor and Empress of the French, in Paris. He is described as wearing “the knife at the garter, the hunting horn, the plaid, the kilt, the bonnet, the sporran, all complete as Roderick Dhu or Fergus Macivor.” We are also told that “he drew more eyes upon him than even the Duke of Brunswick, who was covered with diamonds.”

April 14.—The scheme of a railway between Inverness and Perth was revived, and steps were taken for a fresh survey of such parts as presented special difficulty.—From correspondence between Mr Rainy of Raasay and Sir Charles Trevelyan it appeared that the Raasay emigrants, who went to Australia the previous year, were well satisfied, and were urgent for friends and acquaintances to join them. The Emigration Commissioners announced that the continued ability of the society to give assistance would depend “upon the prompt payment of the advances we have made to those who have already emigrated.” The ship Hercules, carrying emigrants from Skye, had been detained at Queenstown owing to an outbreak of smallpox.

April 24.—Mrs Beecher Stowe, the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” had arrived at Liverpool, and was presented with a purse containing £130 from the ladies of that city. The author of “Sam Slick” arrived by the same vessel.

Ibid.—A party of students from Inverness, visiting Culloden Moor, turned up a stone below the surface of the ground where the graves were most numerous, and found an octagon crystal bottle, well corked, and containing the following paper: — “This was left by Hugh and John Lee, from Manchester, who, on 18th March 1837, came to see the field on which some of their forefathers fell. They hope that no true Scotchman will destroy this.” The youths replaced the bottle.

April 28.—Air Gladstone’s famous Budget is dealt with. His speech occupied five hours. Many changes were made, but only two need be noted here. One was the reduction of the advertisement duty to sixpence, which the editor characterises as a “halting, probably a reluctant, step.” The most important change in the stamp-duties was that which laid the legacy tax on real as well as on personal property. “It has been a long-standing grievance that a professional man’s, or tradesman’s, small savings on life-assurance, when passed to his family, were taxed by the State, while landed estates passed from generation to generation Scot-free.”

Ibid.—The Committee of Management of the Inverness West Church presented a petition to the Synod of Moray asking that Court to recommend to the General Assembly to assist, by a collection throughout the Church or otherwise, in extricating the West Church; and its late incumbent’s family (the family of Air Clark) from the difficulties which embarrassed them. It appears that Mr Clark had devoted about £2000 to the building of the church, besides a sum of £700, of which repayment had been guaranteed by the Presbytery of Inverness. The Synod agreed to transmit the petition.

Alay 5.—At the Inverness County meeting, on the motion of Mr Mackintosh of Raigmore, a resolution was adopted recommending to favourable consideration the scheme for a railway between Inverness and Perth.

Ibid.—Air John Macdougall, long a farmer at Clephanton, on the estate of Kilravock. died at the age of ninety-three. He was the father of Charles Macdougall, advocate, whose name occurs at an earlier date, and whose premature death in the West Indies was greatly lamented. The father was a native of Breadalbane, but settled early in the north, and was greatly respected.

May 12.—The illness of the London correspondent, Mr Angus B. Reach, is mentioned. His doctor had interdicted him from writing. Afterwards, as we know, the late Shirley Brooks acted in his place. —A paragraph records the death of Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Macleod, who entered the Madras Army nearly sixty years before, and served under the Duke of Wellington in the Mahratta campaign.

May 19.—-The London correspondent says: — “The streets have been for months past, and are now, cut to pieces with trenches for laying down the electric telegraph. London underground will soon be one maze of stretching wires and one gleam of flashing messages. All the public offices are now electrically connected with each other; all the police offices, a great many of the mercantile houses with the railway lines, most of the clubs with the House and the Royal Italian Opera, with the House and the central termini. A new line has been successfully laid down across the open part of the Channel to Ostend, and it is expected that another attempt will be made between Holyhead and Kingston, or a shorter course between Port-Patrick and Donaghadee.” The year 1837 is generally assigned for the birth of the electric telegraph, but its use took time to develop.

Ibid.—The Rev. Alexander Macgregor was inducted to the West Church, Inverness. The same issue records that Mr Macgregor had presented to the Society of Antiquaries a bronze celt and a large stone patera, found deeply embedded in a moss in the parish of Kilmuir, Skye.—The Rev. Mr Macrae of the Free Church, Brae-mar, had accepted a call to Knockbain.—• Near Fort-Augustus, “during the process of blasting a large stone of several tons’ weight,” a cavity was discovered in the oentre of it, two feet long, eighteen inches wide, and twelve inches deep. “In this cavity were found several human bones, a bottle which would hold about a Scotch pint, and what appear to be the remains of a Highland dirk. The bottle is in three pieces, perhaps broken by the explosion. The blaster noticed a seam or fissure in the stone before blasting it.”

May 26.—The dispute between Russia and Turkey was coming to a crisis. Prince Menschikoff had demanded a final decision from the Sultan, and on both sides warlike preparations were going on. “Will the Czar venture to precipitate hostilities in the face of England and France? We are pledged to support the independence of Turkey, and a British fleet has sailed for the Mediterranean. The French Ambassador is in cordial co-operation with Lord Stratford, and the Sultan thus backed is strong in his right. The Emperor of Russia is not likely, we repeat, to encounter such formidable opponents, and we consequently anticipate that some unimportant concessions will be made and peace preserved.” Unhappily these anticipations were not realised.

Ibid.—A lithograph sketch had been prepared by Mr Batchen, architect, of the new buildings in Bridge Street to be erected by the Town Council in place of the old Court-House, etc. “The only objection to the scheme, if it proves a paying one, which can possibly be urged, is strongly brought out by Mr Batchen’s lithograph—namely, the absurdity of attaching a steeple to a row of drapers’ or grocers’ shops. It seems droll enough to raise a lofty steeple on a jail, but by the new arrangement, the only conceivable purpose of our elegant spire will be to support the weather-cock and amuse the jackdaws.”

June 2.—At the General Assembly of the Established Church a committee was appointed to assist in raising funds to liquidate the debt on the Inverness West Church. The Assembly considered the case of a parish schoolmaster at Kiltearn, who had absented himself from the parish church, had occasionally attended the Free Church, and had also had a child baptised by the Free Church minister. The schoolmaster had sent in his resignation to the Presbytery, but there was only one minister present when it came up, and he had subsequently withdrawn it. He was now ready to sign the formula and the Confession, and even to have his child re-baptised by the parish minister. Dr Cook advised the Assembly that there was no necessity for a reference, and that the Presbytery had full right and control.—The issue contains long letters from Highland emigrants to Australia, all satisfied and cheerful.

June 9.—A return is given of the operations of the Highland and Island Emigration Society during the year 1852, being the first year of its existence. The total number of emigrants, adults, and children came to 2605, distributed as follows:—To New South Wales, 522; Victoria, 1633; South Australia, 411; Van Diemen’s Land, 39. The details give 380 married couples, 417 single men, 490 single women, 497 boys under fourteen, and 442 girls. There was a surplus of males among the children under 14, and a surplus of females above that age.

Ibid.—Died at Helmsdale, on the 2nd inst., William Macbeth, better known as the blind piper. “Although blind from his infancy, he could make all the instruments belonging to the bagpipes, besides all the tools required by a farmer for cultivating the soil. He had travelled Scotland, the greater part of London, and most of the thoroughfares of the principal towns in England, by aid of a boy who led him.”

June 16.—The late Sir Kenneth Mackenzie of Gairloch had recently come of age, and rejoicings were held on the Gairloch estates.

June 23.—The laird of Inshes proposed to feu part of his ground at Millburn.

June 30.—A movement was on foot for the removal of disabilities, which prevented the clergy of the Episcopal Church in Scotland from taking curacies or holding benefices in the Church of England. The disabilities dated from the Jacobite risings of the eighteenth century. “There are some old people still living who have heard from the lips of the widow of the Rev. James Hay—an Episoopal minister in Inverness during the latter part of the eighteenth century—how her husband and his congregation evaded the intolerant statute [which limited the attendance to five.] They met in a house at the east end of Baron Taylor’s Lane; and while Air Hay read service in an apartment containing only four other persons, a trap-door in the ceiling was opened, so that the little flock assembled in the upper room were enabled to hear their minister and join in the prayers. A trusty Episcopalian was stationed at the door, to give notice when any Hanoverian informer appeared, and on a preconcerted signal being given, the trap-door was closed.”

July 7.—The Committee of Subscribers for the improvement of the Ness Islands had received contributions to the amount of £300, and obtained sanction from the Town Council for the erection of bridges. They hoped also to raise sufficient to erect a lodge. The Council agreed to give a subscription of £50.

July 14.—The Russian troops had entered the Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, now known as Roumania. The British and French fleets were in Besika Bay, and the situation was under discussion between the Governments. “It is rather remarkable,” says the editor, “that with matters in this dubious and perilous position there should be SO' little apparent excitement in the public mind. If war were declared to-morrow it would hardly be a surprise; and yet there does not appear to be even any great curiosity as to the merits of the question on which that dread appeal is possibly to be taken.”

July 21.—At the Sheep and Wool Fair there was a rise in prices for all descriptions of sheep of from 20 to 30 per cent. In wool the sales were limited on account of the high prices asked. Buyers were prepared to give an advance similar to that on sheep, but in many instances this was refused. It is stated that the transactions at the market now amounted annually to about £200,000.

Ibid.—General Stuart, an aged officer in the Russian service, visited Inverness. He claimed to be descended from the Royal Family of Stuart through Prince Charles’s daughter, the Duchess of Albany. For many years the venerable officer had made a pilgrimage to Scotland every three or four years to visit the scenes celebrated in connection with the Forty-five.

July 28.—In accordance with the feeling of the House of Commons Mr Gladstone agreed to abolish the advertisement' duty instead of merely reducing it by two-thirds. In consequence of this the “Courier” announced that it would have “a class of small cheap advertisements at Is 6d each,” for persons seeking situations and the like.

Ibid.—Several items of local interest are recorded. One is the death of two of the oldest citizens, Donald Fraser, the bellman, and John Macnaughton, the hook-dresser. Donald, though very frail, discharged his duties to the last. Macnaughton for a long time enjoyed the honour of being the only professional dresser of fly-hooks north of Aberdeen. “Thirty years ago not a hook was to be had in Inverness which had not passed through John’s hands.” Anglers paid half-a-crown for the commonest 6almon fly.—The Ness Islands Committee had adopted plans by Mr Dredge for the erection of bridges.—The Rev. George Shepherd, Elgin, died at the age of 59. He had been minister of Laggan and of Kingussie, and joined the Free Church at the Disruption. Afterwards he accepted a call to Elgin.—A paragraph tells about the thirty-six inhabitants of St Kilda who left in the autumn of 1852. Three died on the passage to Melbourne; the others, within two days of their arrival, were all engaged by one employer, at wages varying from £50 to £70 a year.

August 4.—An emigrant ship, called the Countess of Cawdor, cleared out of the Muirtown Looks on the 1st inst. The vessel belonged to Mr Dallas, Nairn, and was bound for Australia. The emigrants numbered about sixty, and their departure excited great interest.

Ibid.—The Earl of Seafield died at Cullen House on 30th July, in his seventy-fifth year. His lordship was much esteemed as a kind landlord. He planted and improved largely, rebuilt the town of Cullen, constructed the harbours of Cullen and Portsoy, and made great improvements on the mansion-house and pleasure grounds. His elder brother, Sir Lewis Alexander Grant, succeeded in 1811 his cousin James, seventh Earl of Findlater and fourth Earl of Seafield, who died without issue. The deceased Earl succeeded his brother in 1840.

Ibid.—Local works and improvements are the subject of notice. The new Ness Bridge was proceeding very slowly. “The contractor, Air Hendrie, has been working with might and main, and he has lately been in the south obtaining larger pumps for emptying the coffer-dam. The hard and stony nature of the lower soil, into which the piles had to be driven, and the porous, gravelly nature of the upper stratum, have been the chief difficulties to contend with.” —Most of the building forming the old Jail in Bridge Street had been removed, and the beautiful steeple was to stand for a time in solitary state.—The building of the new lock-up was going on at the base of the Castle Hill.—The improvements at the western end of the Castle Hill had been all but completed. A lodge had been erected, a gateway constructed, and an iron railing run along part of the hill. “The most marked improvements effected by the Commissioners are enclosing the grounds with a good wall, smoothing the surface of the hill, re-sowing the whole with grass, and planting a row of trees, which will hereafter form a pleasant overhanging screen along the roadside and the bank of the river.”—At the mouth of the river the Harbour Trustees were working to deepen and widen the channel of the river.—The heavy breastwork of hewn stone, thrown from Kessock to the outer bank of the Canal, which was undertaker conjointly by the Mackintosh Trustees and Mr Matheson, M.P , had been completed for some time, and was pronounced to be as fine a piece of workmanship as could be found around Inverness.

Ibid.—Sir James Matheson, M.P., was entertained to public dinners at Invergordon and Dingwall. At, the Dingwall meeting the late Sir Kenneth Mackenzie of Gairloch made his first public appearance since he had attained his majority, and met with a very cordial reception.

August 11.—The bill for the abolition of University tests in Scotland had passed its third reading in the House of Commons, and afterwards passed through the Tipper House. The Lord Advocate’s Sheriff

Courts Bill, which, had been the subject of much discussion in Scotland, also became law.

Ibid.—In the excavations going on at the site of the old prison, at the corner of Bridge Street and Church Street, ancient tanpits were found, abounding in broken horns and bones of deer, and in one spot the remains of a pig-stye had been preserved ! The vertebral bone of a whale had also been turned up.

Ibid.—The East Free Church had been almost entirely rebuilt and improved, at a cost of about £1200. On the previous Sunday services were conducted in Gaelic by the Rev. Mr Maclauchlan, and in English, at two diets, by the Rev. Dr Candlish. The collection amounted to £161.

Ibid.—In addition to two daily coaches, a daily luggage van was running between Dalwhinnie and Perth, exclusively for baggage, game, and dogs. It was the size of a large omnibus, and was constantly crowded.

August 18.—Grouse shooting opened under very promising circumstances. “The deeds of the first day of the shooting are in some instances, perhaps, unparalleled.”

August 25.—Lieutenant-General Lord Saltoun died on the 17th inst., at his shooting quarters at Auchinroath, near Rothes, in the 68th year of his age. In his military career Lord Saltoun distinguished himself under Moore and Wellington, and was severely wounded at Waterloo. He was a Knight of the Thistle, and held other honours, British and Foreign.

Ibid.—A memoir had been published of Mr Fairbairn, a distinsguished Manchester engineer. He was a native of Kelso, but his father came to the North as land-steward for the Earl of Seafield, and afterwards rented the farm of Moy, near Contin. The son was educated partly at the Parish School of Munlochy, and partly at a private school kept at Kinnahaird by a relative of his own, the Rev. John Mackenzie, afterwards minister of Lochcarron.

Ibid.—The collection of hunting trophies made by Roualeyn Gordon Cumming in South Africa had arrived at Inverness, and were to be exhibited in the building in Bank Street formerly occupied as the Free Church. It had been exhibited in London for three years, and formed a great attraction. “The collection is probably unrivalled as the work of one man; and the specimens of wild animals are in many instances the finest in Europe of their kind.”

September 8.—Mr William Fraser-Tytler of Balnain and Aldourie, Sheriff of Inverness-shire, died at Malvern on the 4th inst., aged 76. He was sheriff of the county for forty-two years, having succeeded Commissary Fraser of Farraline in 1811, and he was also for many years convener of the county of Inverness. His father, Lord Woodhouselee, was a distinguished Scottish Judge and author, and his grandfather, William Tytler of Woodhouselee, was an eminent antiquary, and wrote a defence of Mary Queen of Scots. By the marriage of Lord Woodhouselee with Anne, daughter and heiress of Balnain and Aldourie, these estates came into the family, and they assumed the name of Fraser as a prefix to their own name of Tytler. Sheriff Fraser-Tytler married Margaret Cussans, only daughter and heiress of George Grant of Burdsyards (now Sanquhar), near Forres; and was succeeded in the Aldourie estates by his eldest surviving son, Captain William Fraser-Tytler of the Hon. East India Company’s service.—The same issue records the death of Sir Charles J. Napier, the conqueror of Scinde.

Ibid.—The estate of Islay was sold the previous week to Mr Morrison, of the firm of Morison, Dillon, and Co., London, for the sum of £451,000.

September 15.—Painful scenes had occurred at Knoydart, on the estate of Mrs Macdonell of Glengarry, the last portion of the property in the hands of the Glengarry family. The greater part of a population of about four hundred persons, men, women, and children, were evicted. On the part of the owner it was alleged that there were not ten who had paid rent for periods extending from six to fifteen years. A ship was engaged to take the people either to Australia or Canada, and an outfit was provided. Fifteen or sixteen families, however, numbering altogether about sixty persons, refused to emigrate, and, their huts being pulled down, they retreated to gravel pits and shelters in the hill-sides. The occurrence, it is stated, caused a strong outburst of feeling over the country.

September 15 and 22.—The Northern Meeting came off in favourable weather, the games being held, as usual at this period, in the Academy Park. “The Meeting,” we are told, “has almost entirely lost its original character, and is much more an assembly of English sportsmen and southern tourists than of the aristocracy of the Highlands. Scarcely a score of Highland proprietors were on the ground, and these were almost wholly from the neighbourhood of Inverness.” These remarks apply but partially at the present day. Highland proprietors from all districts are among the most regular attenders at the Meeting.

September 22.—Professor Aytoun, of Edinburgh, lectured in the Cour1>House to a crowded audience on the Ballad Poetry of Scotland. He appears to have been passing through Inverness in connection with his duties as Sheriff of Orkney. The lecture was under the auspices of the Mechanics’ Institution.

Ibid.—Mr George Young, advocate-depute (the late Lord Young) was appointed sheriff of the county of Inverness, in succession to the late Mr Fraser-Tytler.—The Rev. Thomas Fraser, A.M., was inducted to the parish of Croy.

September 29.—A correspondent contradicts the statements made on behalf of Mrs Macdonell of Glengarry regarding the condition of the Knoydart crofters. Mrs Macdonell had only come into the management of the property in the summer of 1852, and her first act was to warn the people off the land. “At Martinmas of 1852 many of the crofters paid the rent, and they all paid what they could. Glengarry was then living, but is now, alas, dead. This is the true solution of the question.” Most of the families who had refused to emigrate had now obtained shelter or dwellings, chiefly through the kindness of Mr Macdonald, Scothouse.

Ibid.—Mr Gladstone, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, had been on a visit to Dunrobin, and was detained there some time by indisposition. On his way south he was presented with the freedom of the burgh of Dingwall and the burgh of Inverness. “At present,” says the report, “there are many relatives of the right hon. gentleman residing in Dingwall, and it was at the house of one of these, Mrs Chisholm, that Mr Gladstone remained while in town.” At Inverness, it had been arranged that the Provost, Magistrates, and Town Council should meet him at the principal bridge entering the town—at that time the Waterloo Bridge—but Mr Gladstone left his carriage on the north side of Kessock Ferry, and, after crossing, took the first omnibus. He was consequently in the Union Hotel before his arrival was known. In both towns Mr Gladstone’s visit excited much enthusiasm, and he delivered appropriate speeches.

October 6.—Turkey had declared war against Russia. The question now was how the Western Powers would support their ally.

October 13.—Captain Alexander Ellice, R.N., Comptroller-General of the Coastguard, and formerly M.P. for Harwich, died suddenly at Glenquoich, the residence of his brother, the Right Hon. Edward Ellice, M.P. He was about sixty years of age, and had seen a good deal of service.

Ibid.—In a paragraph on the progress of the work of erecting the Inverness Suspension Bridge, it is stated that in laying the foundation of the great tower, the workmen passed through a bed of clay of the hardest nature, “almost as hard as stone itself.” Among the relics turned up were bronze finger-rings and bronze shawl-pins of the very earliest form.

Ibid.—An emigrant ship from Liverpool, bound for Quebec, with over 400 emigrants on board, was wrecked in Vatersay Bay, near the Island of Barra, on the 28th ult., and 360 lives were lost. The emigrants were English, Irish, and Scotch, including a hundred house-carpenters from Glasgow, all of whom perished.

Ibid.—Mr Grant, factor for Knoydart, replies to the statements made by a correspondent on the evictions. He says that the arrears of rent outstanding amounted to £2375, and that Mrs Macdonell, acting for her son, who was a minor, considered it her duty to remove a non-paying body of tenants. He also says that liberal provision had been made for the people, and that passages were paid for those who had no means. They preferred to go to America rather than to Australia, because they had friends and relatives in the former country.

October 20.—“The committee of the proposed Inverness and Perth Railway have resolved—the state of the money market precluding the possibility of raising the capital for the entire scheme at the present moment—to confine their attention to the northernmost section, and to apply next session of Parliament for a bill for the formation of a line of railway from Inverness to Nairn.” It was stated that Mr Falshaw, on behalf of Mr Brassey, railway contractor, had examined the ground, and reported favourably, and that Mr Brassey would make a very moderate offer for the work, and take a considerable amount of stock.

October 27.—The editor returns to the subject of the Knoydart evictions. He finds that the recent removals did not arise from any wish on the part of the people to go abroad, nor yet from any pressing necessity involving the welfare of the Glengarry family or affecting the resources of the estate, but solely from an arbitrary resolution formed by one or more of the trustees to clear away the crofter and cottar population. “Mrs Macdonell of Glengarry, the managing trustee, has all along received credit for her liberality and care in providing for those of the people who did emigrate; but the proceedings which followed have been of a character morally indefensible, though perhaps within the limits of the law.” These proceedings consisted of the eviction of twenty families who remained in their old homes, and levelling twelve houses to the ground. “Weekly since that date, acting on peremptory orders, the sub-manager and his men have gone the round of the desolated district, and overturned the poor structures erected by the sufferers to shelter themselves from the storms of a premature winter.” A representative of the “Scotsman” had visited the district, and strongly condemned the proceedings. The arrears amounted nominally to £2300, but the correspondent believed that it was the intention of the late Glengarry to wipe them out. After the potato failure of 1846, he had directed that no rent should be asked from the crofters, whom he looked upon “less as tenantry than as children and followers.” The evictions were everywhere created a painful impression, and were strongly condemned. News, however, had been received that the vessel which carried the Knoydart emigrants to Quebec had arrived all well after a voyage of twenty-eight days.

Ibid.—Nearly a hundred persons left Lochaber the previous week for Australia, going under the auspices of the Highland and Island Emigration Society. They went of their own accord, and their landlord, Lochiel, paid a third part of their expenses, and cancelled all arrears of rent. The arrangements seem to have been carried through in the most friendly manner, and though there was sadness at parting, the emigrants gave three cheers as the vessel moved away.

Ibid.—Three young men were drowned by the upsetting of a boat near Orbost, in Skye. One was the youngest son of the Orbost family.

November 3.—A visitation of cholera, though less widespread and acute than on former occasions, had caused alarm in the country. The Presbytery of Edinburgh had proposed a national fast, but Lord Palmerston, who was Home Secretary, declined to comply with the request. He recognised the Christian doctrine that “manifestations of humble resignation to the divine will, and sincere manifestations of human unworthiness are never more appropriate than when it has pleased Provideuce to afflict mankind with some severe visitation;” but he considered that the nation should proceed in the work of sanitary purification and improvement before invoking the blessing of Heaven on their exertions.

Ibid.—Three men from Suishnish, in Skye, were tried before the sheriff and a jury for deforcement. “It appears that the trustee on Lord Macdonald’s estate in Skye, with the view of forming a sheep-farm of some extent, removed thirty-two families, or about 120 persons, from the holdings they occupied to a different part of the estate. The arrears of rent are said to have been trifling, and with the present improved prices for stock, a good potato crop, and excellent herring fishing, the men were in comfortable circumstances—able and willing to pay rent. Indeed, the Suishnish and Borreraig crofters have always been held to be the most respectable of their class in Skye. Some of the men resisted the officers sent to turn them out, but no violence was used, and the jury, by a largo majority, acquitted the parties.” It is stated that the sympathies of the public were strongly with the Skyemen, and there was a general impression that the proprietor himself sympathised with them.

Ibid.—A sum of £350 had been collected for the erection of bridges at the Ness Islands, and Mr Dredge, of Bath, was now erecting the two at each side. A sum of about £120 was still required for the erection of a lodge and an intermediate bridge connecting the two islands.

Ibid.—Mr Alex. Grant, factor for Knoydart, wrote denying that the late Glengarry had remitted the crofters’ rents. “I frequently,” he said, “suggested to Glengarry the propriety of relinquishing the rents due by the crofters, and commencing them on new accounts. He always resolutely refused to do so, but used various ways and means to stimulate them to habits of exertion and industry.” The editor says: — “Whatever resolutions Glengarry expressed to Mr Grant respecting arrears, he never offered to carry them into effect. It was not until after his death that summonses of removal were served upon the crofters.”

November 10.—Mr Thomas Mulock, who had been for some time resident in Inverness, apologised for certain charges which he had brought against the Duke of Sutherland respecting the management of his estates. “My mind,” he says, “has undergone no change respecting the impolicy of Highland clearances. But I feel conscientiously convinced that even unquestionable truths may be advocated with an angry pertinacity which impedes usefulness instead of promoting it.”

November 17.—After a long series of disputes and unauthorised military collisions, the Czar Nicolas had declared war against Turkey. The question what the western Powers would do had not yet been determined.

Ibid.—The prospectus had now been issued for the construction of the Inverness and Nairn Railway. The Great North of Scotland had allowed their powers on the west side of the Spey, or at least west of Elgin, to lapse, and had made no movement for a revival of them. Mr Brassey, “who had made more railways than perhaps any man living,” had offered to construct the Inverness and Nairn line for little more than £4000 a mile. “The whole distance is but fifteen and a half miles; there is scarcely a. brook to cross, and the land between the termini is almost a dead level.”

Ibid.—A new landing pier, about three hundred feet in length, had been constructed at Nairn, largely through the efforts of Provost Wilson.—Waterworks were completed and opened at Invergordon

November 24.—The farm-steading at Bunchrew was destroyed by fire, and some cattle perished.

Ibid.—The report of the Highland Emigration Society, organised by Sheriff Fraser, Portree, had been issued. The Society raised in contributions a sum of £8000, and had expended, for the year ending the previous April, £7200: by which sum 2600 emigrants of all ages had been enabled to emigrate to Australia. A sum of £2100 became due from the proprietors of the estates from which these people went, on account of one-third payable by them, and was in course of collection. An amount of £7QuO was also due to the Society by the emigrants themselves, fpr which the committee had taken promisory notes. The balance in the hands of the treasurer at the date of the balance-sheet was £2748, which had since been increased by £3000 voted by the Colonial Legislature of Van Diemen’s Land. The Society proposed to continue its operations.

Ibid.—The proposal was mooted, at the suggestion of Bishop Eden, for the erection of a Cathedral at Inverness as the future seat of the Bishops of Moray and Ross. It was not, however, until 1866 that the foundation of the Cathedral was laid.

December 1 to 22.—Meetings were held during these weeks in promotion of the Inverness and Nairn Railway. There were also meetings for the improvement of the sanitary condition of the town. The issue of the 15th records the death of the Rev. James Grant, minister of Nairn, father of Colonel J. A. Grant, the Nile traveller. He had been parish minister of Nairn since 1815. The death is also recorded of Colonel Alexander Fraser, Glengarry, Canada, who was a native of Glendoe, in Stratherrick, and went in the early part of the century to Canada with the Canadian Fencible Regiment from Scotland. He became a member of the Legislative Council.

December 29.—This issue gives prominence to the report that “in the balance of probabilities, and in the actual belief of the Government,” Great Britain was now virtually at war with Russia. The destruction of a Turkish naval squadron at Sinope by a superior naval force was at any rate hurrying matters to a crisis.

Return to Book index


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

comments powered by Disqus