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The Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century

The year 1821 opened under the shadow cast by the Queen’s trial, so recently brought to an inglorious close. Loyal addresses were voted to the King, but not without opposition and with a marked desire to exercise severe criticism on the conduct of the Government. Examples of this will be found below. As the year advanced, the development of steam communication by way of Aberdeen created much interest along the northern seaboard.

In the second half of 1821 public attention was directed to the coronation of the King, the refusal to admit the Queen to the ceremony, her Majesty’s subsequent death, and the unfortunate incidents which attended her funeral procession in London. The visit of the King to Ireland was also a subject of interest and of more hopefulness than the circumstances warranted.

The first entry in July gives the population of the town and parish of Inverness, which was less than half what it has now reached. One of the most curious cases in the history of Excise prosecutions will be found in the notes for December.

From the "lnverness Courier."

January 4.—In this and other issues there are loyal addresses to the King from county meetings, Town Councils, and Presbyteries. The "Courier" at the same time mentions that party zeal of a political kind had long been absent from the Highlands, but was now beginning to show itself.

Ibid—"On Thursday, the 7th ult., the Highland Chieftain steamboat returned from her trip from Glasgow to Kyleakin, in Skye. She completed her voyage to that place, which is 240 miles from Glasgow, in 35 hours and 50 minutes, and she completed her voyage home in 40 hours and 16 minutes, notwithstanding having experienced the violent gales we had at the beginning of the month, and having to contend with many of the very rapid currents in the narrows along the western coast. We understand that the proprietors of this beat have resolved to ply her between Glasgow and Kyleakin by Crinan, Oban, and Tobermory, during the ensuing summer."

January 11.—A report of the Inverness county meeting shows that the terms of the loyal address to the King caused a lively discussion. Glengarry, who was not present, wrote that he saw no necessity for addressing his Majesty at present. Mr Grant of Rothiemurchus criticised with severity the conduct of his Majesty’s Ministers, and moved an amendment. Mr Fraser of Auchnagairn asked Mr Grant who gained the battle of Waterloo. "Mr Grant replied, not his Majesty’s Ministers, God knows. Had my Lord Liverpool, my Lord Castlereagh, or Mr Vansittart commanded that day, the battle would not have been gained. And had the Duke of Wellington possessed no more wisdom, vigour, or consistency than these gentlemen, even he would not have obtained the victory." Mr Fraser, yr. of Torbreck, who seconded the amendment, said that without entering at all into the question of the guilt or innocence of the Queen, he considered the withdrawal of the Bill of Pains and Penalties one of the proudest triumphs the people of England had ever obtained. The amendment was ultimately withdrawn, but the following clause adopted! from it was introduced into the address:—‘We have the utmost satisfaction in being able to assure your Majesty that in this part of your Majesty’s dominions, there exists no spirit of disaffection, or irreligion, or of immorality, nor have any attempts been made, so far as we have been able to learn, either by the circulation of books and writings, or otherwise, to shake the loyalty or to corrupt the manners of the people." In several county meetings elsewhere and in Presbyteries opposition was shown to the voting of addresses. "Dr Chalmers in Glasgow and Mr Andrew Thomson in Edinburgh respectively withstood the proposed Addresses, and reprobated the interference of the clergy in political matters, as the sure means of lowering the clerical character, injuring the cause of religion, and lessening the influence of its teachers over the minds of the people. Mr Macleod, yr. of Cadboll dissented from some parts of the Address adopted by the county of Ross.

Ibid.—The directors of the Sacred Music Institution announced that Mr Hunter had been engaged and had commenced teaching as successor to Mr Huntly.

January 18 and 25.—Reports of meetings, from many parts of England and Scotland, show the excitement that prevailed. Loyal addresses were voted to the King but the conduct of Ministers was frequently censured.

February 1.—Parliament was opened on the 23rd inst. by the King in person, and the speech from the Throne recommended the Commons to provide an income for the Queen. This concession tended to allay the public temper. The amount subsequently voted was £50,000 a-year.

February 8.—There is a report of a dinner of the Celtic Society in Edinburgh (the third general meeting), at which Sir Walter Scott presided, supported by Glengarry and Macleod of Macleod. About 70 gentlemen were present, attired in the Highland dress. The principal object of the Society was to promote the general use of the Highland garb in the Highlands. Sir Walter, in replying to the toast of his own health, said that it had been his good fortune in early life to be much in the Highlands. "He remembered with delight how he used to cling round the knees of some aged Highlander, and listen half astonished, half afraid, to the tales and traditions of that romantic country. It was then and there that he had imbibed that love for wild scenery and legendary lore which had since procured him what reputation he enjoyed. He knew that his friend Sir John Malcolm, when on his embassy to Persia, had gained much reputation by narrating to the Eastern Court, in their own language, the Arabian tales. He, in like manner, had only given back to his country the tales which they had formerly known and loved."

February 15.—"A reading-room was opened at Cromarty on Tuesday week, which is to take in three London daily papers, two Edinburgh papers, and the two Inverness papers. This establishment must be found peculiarly useful to the stirring town of Cromarty."

Ibid.—It is reported that the Badenoch Auxiliary of the Bible Society had collected £58 0s 2½d. Rev. Mr Macdonald, minister of Alvie, writes:—"Considering the almost total failure of the potato crop, on which the poorer class depend as their principal food for three-fourths of the year; the great fall in the price of cattle and sheep, the staple commodity of the country, during the whole of the last season, and more particularly towards the conclusion of it, together with the general poverty of the country, the above amount collected in these circumstances is a clear proof that the Bible is not undervalued among the Highlanders of this district."

February 22.—"The Society for educating the poor in the Highlands have, upon certain conditions, come definitely to the resolution of erecting a building in Inverness as a Central and Model School, and they have fixed on a plan which will afford accommodation for 300 scholars, who are to be educated on the new or Lancastrian system. The meeting at which this resolution was adopted was held here on Tuesday, in the Town Hall, and was numerously attended, Colin Mackenzie, Esq. of Kilcoy being in the chair." The directors only agreed to the erection of a school on such a large scale on condition of the inhabitants of the town becoming bound for a portion of the expense. To this a number of the inhabitants assented, and an agreement was entered into by which the Society was secured in the interest of the money to be expended on the building, and the feu-duty of the ground on which it was to be erected. The new school was to be erected on the west side of the river, immediately opposite the English [High] Church. It was calculated that the three schools, Academy, Raining’s, and Central, would provide accommodation for 900 boys and girls, covering the whole school population of the town.

Ibid.—Indications are noted of returning prosperity in the manufacturing districts, and "even in this remote quarter." With reference to this district "it is remarked both by commercial travellers and those connected with agriculture, that they recollect of no season in which the payment of accounts has been more prompt or fresh orders more liberally given."

Ibid.—In a scuffle near Milton of Kilravock between three Excisemen and two smugglers, a father and son, the father received injuries from which he died. The smugglers had refused to surrender the illicit spirits which they were conveying in a cart.

Ibid.—A list of premiums is published, adjudged by the Highland Society of Scotland to competitors in Highland districts. "Our Northern readers will feel gratified by observing that the premiums for improving sheep pasture by making sheep drains are making their way towards us. We learn that in the county of Sutherland there are some farms, on each of which, within the last five or six years, upwards of 50 miles of sheep drains have been executed."

March 1.—On the previous Monday, officers of Excise secured three horses laden with nearly six ankers of smuggled whisky, on the north side of Kessock Ferry, on their way to Inverness.

March 8.—A controversy arose in connection with the Inverness Athanæum. It was alleged that of five London daily papers received into the room, four had for some time been Opposition papers, and that of eight taken in during the Queen’s trial, seven were Opposition and only one Ministerial. It seems that there were about 130 subscribers to the institution, and a number of these threatened to resign unless both classes of newspapers were fairly represented. The annual meeting agreed to take in three Ministerial and three Opposition papers. It appeared to be uncertain, however, whether feeling would be allayed. As the institution was in debt, the subscription was raised from £1 is to £1. 10s per annum.

March 15.—A school for the instruction of female children was opened in Inverness. The classes were held in the Old Academy.

March 22.—"Yesterday the Rev. Mr Scott was ordained minister of the burgher congregation of this place. A number of the neighbouring ministers in the same connection attended on this occasion, and the Rev. Mr Anderson, of Boghole, and Mr Kennedy, of Keith, preached two very appropriate sermons. We understand that a new meeting-house is immediately to be erected to accommodate this congregation and their new pastor."

Ibid.—"A smuggling lugger discharged part of a cargo of gin, brandy, tea, tobacco, &c., at a fishing village near Alturlie Point, below Culloden, on Thursday, the 1st inst. Of the whole cargo, only seven matts of coarse tobacco, containing about a cwt. each, two boxes of tea, and a small quantity of snuff were seized. Information was given to the Acting Supervisor in Inverness, not until eight days after the landing, and after his proceeding to the place of concealment he found that the whole smuggled goods had been removed." Several seizures of the smuggled articles were afterwards made, amounting in value to about £1000. The smuggling lugger succeeded in landing goods at other places on the coast.

March 22.—This issue publishes a correspondence between Glengarry and Clanranald arising out of the question of the Chiefship.

Ibid.—"Died, on the 20th inst., Alexander Fraser, Esq. of Torbreck, in the 77th year of his age, deeply and justly regretted."

April 12.—A half-witted man, named Gunn, from Caithness, confined on a charge of sheep-stealing, effected his escape with considerable ingenuity from the prison of Inverness. He got out about two in the morning. "But in proof of his real insanity, instead of profiting by having by many hours the start of his pursuers, he knocked up the people of an adjoining public-house, boasted of what he had done, and demanded some whisky. The consequence was that the alarm was immediately given, and by ten o’clock he was taken a few miles beyond Nairn. He had called at the jail of Nairn to visit a friend there on his way."

April 12.—Riots occurred at Gruids, in Sutherland, in resistance of summonses of removal. A military force had to be called in to quell the disturbance.

May 3.—This issue contains the report of the trial at the Circuit Court of seven persons from Elgin charged with. the stealing of a Bailie. The unfortunate person was Bailie Francis Taylor, who had been carried away from Elgin and conveyed in a boat to Brora, to prevent him acting in the Fife interest at the election of 1820. The defence alleged that Taylor was a consenting party to his own removal, and as the Crown considered the evidence for the prosecution insufficient, they threw up the case, consenting to a verdict of not guilty.

May 10.—Mr Charles Grant, senior, late M.P. for the county, presided at the annual meeting of the Inverness Auxiliary of the Bible Society. The Society had that year transmitted £200 to the British and Foreign Bible Society, a much larger sum than had been sent in any former year. A sum of £1050 in all had now been transmitted to the parent institution.

Ibid.—"When Mr Charles Grant, senior, retired from the representation of the county, he was requested by the freeholders to sit for his picture, which was to be hung in the Court-room here. The painting was some time ago finished by Raeburn, and does great credit to his pencil. It was hung up before the meeting of the Court at the late Assizes. The many obligations which this county and the Highlands at large owe to the devoted zeal with which Mr Grant has, for a large portion of his useful life, promoted every object connected with the prosperity of the county, was very happily expressed by Dr Robertson at the late public dinner in honour of his Majesty’s birthday. Dr Robertson concluded his observations by saying that "Inverness-shire did not owe so much to all the members who had represented the county since the Union, as to the individual efforts of the late member." The portrait now hangs in the Sheriff Court-room in the Castle.

May 17.—A conveyance was established to run between Inverness and Cromarty once in ten days, for the convenience of passengers going by the London smacks. It is stated that the want of such a conveyance had hitherto "made the smacks nearly useless to the people of this quarter." The vessels were said to be comfortable and even elegant.

May 24.—"At Resolis, on the 14th curt., the Rev. Robert Arthur, minister of the united parish of Kincardine and Cullicuden, in the 78th year of his age and 47th of his ministry. He was a man of respectable talents and gifts; a warm and animated preacher of the Gospel; like our blessed Lord, he went about doing all the good in his power to both the souls and bodies of men, having considerable skill in medicine as well as theology."

May 31.—"Here, on the 20th inst., after a short illness, the Rev. Alexander Fraser, senior minister of this town, in the 70th year of his age, and the 43rd of his ministry. The gentleness and kindness of his disposition, his unfeigned piety, and exemplary conduct, procured him the attachment of his friends and the respect of his flock." The heritors and Magistrates made application to have the Rev. Thomas Fraser, minister of the Third Charge, transferred to the First. This they did in recognition of Mr Thomas Fraser’s zealous labours in the community, and his attention to the poor and sick. He had carried on his work for twenty years on a very slender stipend. Rev. Mr Rose, who held the second charge, had "very handsomely waived his claims in favour of his highly deserving colleague."

Ibid.—This issue announces the beginning of a regular conveyance by steam vessels between Aberdeen and Leith. "The ‘Tourist' arrived at Aberdeen on Thursday last (24th inst.) betwixt eight and nine o’clock in the evening, in the face of a strong northerly wind, from Leith, after calling at most of the intermediate places; and another steam vessel, of like elegant description will put on the trade in a few weeks, when one will sail from each port daily." The vessel entered Aberdeen Harbour in grand style, with a band of music playing.

June 14.—A man named William Cochrane set up bathing machines at Seabank to encourage bathing in the neighbourhood of Inverness.

Ibid.—The annual meeting of the Northern Missionary Society was held at Inverness. Rev. Mr Smith, Cromarty, preached in the High Church, and Rev. Mr Mackintosh, Tain, in the Church-yard. A sum of £54 was collected at the door, and £58 contributed by subscription, making a total of £112.

Ibid.—A steam vessel called the "Brilliant" was launched at Dumbarton. to complete the connection with Inverness by way of Aberdeen. She was 106 feet keel length and 125 feet deck, and had engines of 80 horse-power.

Ibid.—"Died, in Great Pulteney Street, Bath, between two and three o’clock in the morning of Friday week, the Right Hon. John Campbell, Lord Cawdor, of Castlemartin, Pembrokeshire. His lordship is succeeded in his title and estates by the Hon. John Frederick Campbell, M.P. for Carmarthen, who married the eldest daughter of the Marquis of Bath."

June 21.—The Wool Market was held a day or two before. The following prices were obtained:—For Cheviot wool, 18s to 20s per stone of 24 lbs. English. Some blackfaced wool sold at 20s per double stone, but the market prices may be stated at from 18s to 20s. Good wedders brought 20s; the general market price. 18s to 20s; Cheviot ewes, 14s to 16s; black-faced ewes 12s; Cheviot lambs, 8s; blackfaced, 6s to 7s. A considerable quantity of wool had been disposed of, but the more opulent farmers had not accepted the offers of the staplers. All the sheep were not disposed of.

Ibid—"Died, at Rosehall, on the 10th inst., William Munro, gardener at Rosehall ever since 1747. As he was a married man with a large family when he first came there, and had been employed as a gardener elsewhere for several years, his age at that time could scarcely be less than 30; and he must therefore have attained at least the age of 104. Yet in spite of this extraordinary longevity, he retained the full use of his faculties, and was able to walk about till within a very short period before his death."

June 28.—Four persons who had been convicted of theft and sentenced to transportation at the Circuit Court, broke the jail at Nairn and escaped. One of them, a woman, was soon recaptured.

July 5.—"The population of the town and parish of Inverness has just been ascertained, and amounts to 12,194. In 1811 it was 11,600, giving an increase of only 594. In 1811 a woollen and a thread manufactory were in full employment in Inverness, both which are now given up. The operations of the Canal were also carrying on in the immediate neighbourhood of the town, which are now completed. These works caused a great population in 1811, and are some of the reasons why the increase is so small."

Ibid.—"As an instance of the remarkable drought this season, Loch-Lomond has lately fallen fully seven feet perpendicularly from the water mark; and persons pass and repass between two of the islands on stepping stones which had been placed there. Our own fine river is now lower than we ever remember to have seen it."

lbid.--The issue contains the report of the Commissioners on Highland Roads and Bridges, giving a summary of the work accomplished Since their appointment in 1803. They had expended to the 31st of December 1820 the sum of £470,548. Parliamentary grants amounted, with interest, to £252,390, and contributions by Highland proprietors, with interest, to £212,860, a sum of over £5000 still remaining to be provided. The Commissioners note with satisfaction that they had absolutely avoided a single instance of litigation in all their multiplied transactions, though the contracts to which they had been parties were no less than 120 in number. They stated with regret, however, that contractors and their cautioners had suffered to a large amount under the strictness of the specifications. "Various memorials have been successively transmitted from Scotland praying some compensation for losses incurred; and the Commissioners now find with deep regret that the very extent of the evil precludes them from giving any hope of relief, the unavoidable losses of sureties, contractors and the creditors of these contractors, being estimated at £34,000; their actual loss having been probably twice that sum." The roads consisted of 874 miles, 1521 yards, executed by means of Parliamentary grants and contributions from Highland proprietors; 283 miles of military roads, and 24 miles of roads in Ross and Cromarty, executed solely by county funds, but all of which were repairable under an Act of 1819, the total extending to 1182 miles 1521 yards. The total number of bridges erected was 1117.

July 12.—The announcement is made of the death of Napoleon Buonaparte (he is not called Emperor) in the Island of St Helena on the 5th of May. A short article points the moral of his extraordinary career and final destiny. The writer astutely remarks that "by the death of Napoleon, this country will save considerably in money, and lose what, in spite of the thrifty fit that is upon us just now, we really value more—Continental influence."

Ibid.-Preparations were in progress for the Coronation of George IV. The Queen claimed as a right the honour of being crowned. This was ultimately refused.

Ibid.—An advertisement announces that hot and cold baths were about to be opened in Nairn.

July 19.—A correspondent writs—"Notwithstanding the rapid progress of knowledge and civilisation in this country, the whole rigid and impolitic order of ecclesiastical censure is still observed in some Highland districts. Not many weeks ago a clergyman in one of the Northern Counties caused a young woman stand and undergo censure for three successive Sundays in presence of the congregation, although she had been married at least seven months before she became a mother. This is an excessively rigorous, if not an unwarrantable, exercise of the clerical functions."

July 26.—This number contains a full account of the King’s Coronation in Westminster Abbey on the 19th inst. The Queen was refused admission. Dinners to celebrate the Coronation were held at Inverness and other towns. At the end of the month the King left on a visit to Ireland.

August 9.—"From August; 1819 to March 1821 the Sutherlandshire Association paid, for the destruction of vermin the sum of £320. The vermin destroyed during that time consisted of 112 full-grown eagles, 18 young eagles, 211 foxes, 317 wild cats, martins, and pole cats; 516 ravens, 281 hawks, 1183 carrion crows and magpies, and 570 rooks and jackdaws."

Ibid.—A letter from Glengarry explains why a lady was needlessly alarmed by his appearance at the Coronation. He was dressed in the full costume of a Highland Chief, including a brace of pistols. At a particular stage Glengarry happened to carry one of the pistols in his hand, and this alarmed the lady.

August 16.—Several columns are devoted to the death of the Queen, with comments from the London papers. It is stated that her Majesty’s death, "so sudden in itself, and closing as it does a life pursued by evil fortune, appears to be profoundly felt by the nation." Her demise was announced in the "Gazette" with the usual symbols of mourning, and at the houses of the principal nobility the window shutters were closed. Later, at the funeral procession of the Queen through London, there was a disturbance and two men were killed by military fire. During this time the King was in Ireland.

Ibid.—The Inverness Central School was opened on Monday the 13th. About 64 children were enrolled.

Ibid—Opposition was made to the clergyman presented to the living of the parish of Kiltarlity. Some of the parishioners shut up the doors and windows of the church to prevent him gaining admission. The presentee preached in the open air.

August 23.—The steamer Brilliant reached Inverness on the night of the 22nd. A great many persons flocked to the Canal Basin, where she was expected to moor, but to their disappointment the vessel stopped at Kessock. "The Billliant started from Newhaven at 6 o’clock Tuesday morning, reached Peterhead at 8 in the evening, and starting again at 6 o’clock on Wednesday, reached Inverness about 8. The time in which the voyage was performed (including calls) was exactly 29 hours." Previous to this the Brilliant sailed from the West Coast round the Pentland Firth to Aberdeen and Leith. "This is said to be the first vessel that ever got through the Pentland Firth and round Duncansbay Head, against the full force of a stream tide and strong contrary wind."

August 30.—The new Parish Church of Rosemarkie was opened on the 12th inst—A show of sheep, for premiums given by the Highland Society, was held at Golspie on the 23rd.

September 6.—Prominence is given to the report of a concert, which opens with the remark that "the visits of good musicians to this country are like those of angels, few and far between." The vocalists were Mr Welsh, Mr Horn, and Miss Wilson, whose names may possibly be recalled by those familiar with the singing of the time. Miss Wilson was the favourite.

Ibid.—"Died, on the 23rd ult. James, youngest son of James Grant, Esq. of Bught, a youth in his 18th year, who lost his life while bathing in the river Lea, near Hertford College. The untimely fate of this amiable young man has occasioned universal sorrow among those who knew him."

September 13.—Died, at Drumduan, Fortes, on the 7th inst., James Miller late mathematical instrument maker at 12 Blewitt's Building, Fetter Lane, London. He was a native of Forres, and by trade a blacksmith. Having gone to London, he boarded in the house of a sextant-maker, and soon became a skilful worker, ultimately acquiring distinction by effecting improvements in mathematical instruments. He had the honour to receive several gold and silver medals from the London Society of Arts.

September 20.—Public rooms were opened at Kingussie on the 14th, and pony and foot races were held. The Marquis of Tweeddale was judge of the races. A party dined at Pitmain Inn, the Marquis of Huntly presiding. A ball, held in the new rooms in the evening, was attended by 100 ladies and gentlemen. The Marchioness of Huntly was present.

Ibid..—Soaking rains and sultry heat had greatly damaged the crops in England, and prices rose considerably in the corn markets. Harvest work in the North, however, was carried on under favourable conditions. The accounts from England were exaggerated, and prices afterward rather declined.

September 27.—The Northern Meeting was held the previous week, an earlier date than in previous years. The change was considered satisfactory, and "the concourse of fashionable company was unusually great."

Ibid.—A change was about to take place in the mails all over the country, accelerating speed. To the south of Aberdeen the rate was to be nine miles an hour; from Aberdeen to Inverness, eight miles an hour; and from Inverness to Thurso, seven miles an hour. The times for despatch and arrival were also changed. The effect was to save nearly a day between Wick and Edinburgh, and a full day between Edinburgh and London.

October 4.—The revenue of the Inverness Common Good, derived from Petty Customs, tolls at the two bridges, anchorage and shore dues, &c., amounted this year to £993 15s, being an increase of £70 on the previous year.

Ibid—At a county meeting, Mr Fraser-Tytler called attention to the question of a new gaol and Court-house for Inverness. The subject had been before the meeting on a previous occasion, and a remit to the Convener was continued, with instructions to correspond with other counties. At the same meeting attention was directed to the expense of keeping up the military roads in the county, and suggestions were made for reducing the expense.

October 11.—Two columns giving an account of an adventure on the Alps are contributed to this issue, under the initials JA. (probably John Anderson). Other issues about this time contain cleverly written papers on the situation and appearance of the town of Inverness. The writer mentions the floats of timber which were conducted down the river by a single raftsman, guided by a long pole.

October 18.—"We are desired by the ministers of Kingussie and Laggan to state that the young laird of Cluny has handsomely bestowed on the poor of these parishes the purse of 11 guineas which he won at the pony race run at Kingussie on the 14th ult., excepting 2 guineas given to the boy who rode the pony?"

October 25.—Mr Mackenzie of Newhall presented the Rev. Donald Sage, minister of the Gaelic Chapel of Ease, in Aberdeen, to the church and united parishes of Kirkmichael and Culicudden, vacant by the death of the Rev. Robert Arthur.—The death is recorded in the same issue of Colonel Colin Mackenzie C.B., of the Madras Engineers, Surveyor-General of India. Colonel Mackenzie had rendered eminent services to the Company and to science in general, by active and indefatigable researches into the history and antiquities of India. He was a native of the Lews, and was very liberal to private and public charities in the island. Colonel Mackenzie was 68 years of age, and spent 40 years in the service of the Company.

November 1.—A correspondence at this time was going on about cattle markets and a resolution adopted by drovers not to go beyond Conon-Bridge. The drovers complained that further north they were subjected to many inconveniences, and that cattle purchased by them were seized for trespass if they went ever so little off the highway. The then owner of Ardross seems to have been peculiarly vigilant in seizing cattle straying from the old drove road from Kincardine to Strathrusdale. The drovers likewise complained of the site of the market held at Kyle.

November 22.—"The new Chapel of the United Associate Congregation in this place was opened on Sunday last, by the Rev. Mr Stark, of Forres, who preached three discourses in the course of the day to very crowded congregations; when a collection amounting to £15 15s was made to be applied in aid of the expense of building the Chapel."

November 29.—"On Saturday night, or rather early on Sunday morning, Mr Fraser, supervisor of Excise, accompanied by Mr Mackay, Collector’s clerk, discovered at the Abban, behind Huntly Place, five men and three women, conveying several smell casks of smuggled whisky into the town for sale. On the officers attempting to make a seizure, a scuffle ensued between them and the smugglers, when the latter got off with all their booty, except one small cask, which was secured by the officers. Both parties were a good deal hurt in the affray, and one of the smugglers is so ill that he has been sent to the Infirmary."

December 6.—There is a report of a curious Excise case tried at a Justice of Peace Court at Inverness. The master of a smack called the Janet, had on her voyage from Leith picked up a considerable quantity of gin, which had been landed and concealed on the premises of the shoremaster. On the Excise officers making inquiry, the shoremaster denied all knowledge of the gin, but after a search, 18 kegs were discovered under ground in his garden, with cabbage planted over them, and several pints were found in a jar in his kitchen. The Excise sued for heavy penalties. The defence was that the complaint was wrongly laid; that the gin had been found on the high seas and came under the denomination of flotsam; that under the statute the finder was obliged within 24 hours after landing the kegs to give notice to the Excise; that in this case the Excise had not waited for 24 hours, but had seized the gin before the expiry of that period; and hence that no penalty was due. The Court admitted the soundness of the plea, and exonerated the defenders. Notice was then given that an action of damages would be raised against the officers for having detained the smack from the 6th of October till the beginning of December.

December 27.—The retirement of Mr Charles Grant from the office of Chief Secretary for Ireland is announced. There had been differences on the question of the Catholic claims. Mr Grant was succeeded as Chief Secretary by Mr Henry Goulburn.

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