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The Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century

The year 1813 brought to a climax the great Continental war with Napoleon. The destruction of the French Army in Russia in 1812 undermined the power of the French Emperor, and during the year 1813 he was making super-human efforts to meet the Allied nations. His overwhelming defeat at Leipsic in October ensured his overthrow, although his abdication did not occur till the following year. In 1813 Wellington was steadily advancing through the Peninsula, driving Soult before him. At the same time Britain was involved in a war with the United States of America, which began the previous year. The right of search was the question in dispute. "The British claim to board American vessels and remove all who were suspected of being English subjects, was certainly a monstrous excess of power; but if the Democrats, on acceding to office, had exhibited as much willingness as their predecessors to give up deserters from the British flag, it is probable that the alleged right of search would have led to no more difficulty under the rule of Jefferson and Madison than under that of Washington and Adams. England took the law into her own hands in far too dictatorial a manner; but she had a real grievance. The Democrats were always opposed to the surrender of British seamen. They saw that the loss of her sailors was weakening England, and in an equal degree strengthening America; and they desired to promote both results by every means in their power. Thus out of a conflict of interests arose the war." (Cassell’s History of the United States.) It will be seen that in course of the year an American privateer did some damage to shipping on the Northern coasts of Scotland.

From the "Inverness Journal."

January 1.—The news of the astounding loss of the French army in Russia continues to be the great topic for comment. Bonaparte now, as always—but now more than ever figures as a despot and destroyer, the scourge of the human race. It is related with satisfaction that he skulked into Paris at night like a deserter, leaving the miserable remains of his army far behind at Smorgoni and Wilna.

January 15.—At a County meeting on the 8th, at which the Hon. A. Fraser of Lovat presided, it was resolved to raise a subscription for the relief of the suffering people of Russia. At a town meeting on the 11th—Provost Grant in the chair—a similar resolution was adopted.

lbid.—The death is announced of the Right Hon. A. Fraser-Tytler, Lord Woodhouslee, one of the Judges of the Court of Session and of Justiciary. [5th Jan 1813] "He formerly held the important situations of Deputy Judge-Advocate for Scotland, and Professor of History in the University of Edinburgh; and was appointed a Judge of the Court of Session in 1802, and of Justiciary in 1811. His lordship was author of several valuable works, both in law and polite literature. He was distinguished as an able and upright Judge, and an elegant writer."

January 29.—The Magistrates and Town Council of Inverness, "with a due regard to the distresses of the lower classes," resolved to grant a premium of one shilling for every boll of meal brought into the Inverness Market for the ensuing six months.

February 5.—Mr John Macandrew was admitted a practitioner in the Sheriff, Commissary, and Burgh Courts of Inverness.

February 12—The whole of the First Regiment of Local Militia, commanded by the Hon. Colonel A. Fraser of Lovat, volunteered their services for a further period of four years, and that without any bounty. In the next issue it is stated that the complement of the regiment was 1000; that not a man was above 30 years of age; and that the Officer-Commanding had been obliged to decline the services of hundreds who had come forward beyond the number required to complete the regiment.

Ibid.—A number of persons detected in malting and distilling contrary to law were brought before the Justices of Peace and fined. Some of the distillers were fined as high as £50, and none less than £20. It was stated that smuggling was carried on to an enormous extent.

February 19.—A number of sheep farms on the estate of Glengarry advertised to let.

Ibid.—"Died, at Scorriebreck, in the Isle of Skye, in the 87th year of his age, Malcolm Nicolson, Esq., who, with his predecessors, lineally and without interruption, possessed that farm for many centuries back. He was possessed of universal benevolence and charity, beloved and esteemed by his family, in which he presided as an affectionate husband, a dutiful father, and faithful friend, and his amiable and endearing qualities will be long remembered and respected by a numerous circle of his friends and acquaintances."

February 26.—Died, at Fortrose, on the 18th inst., the Rev. Andrew Bonniman, A.M., rector of the Academy there. Tribute is paid to his talents, his solid acquirements, and unremitting attention to duty.

Ibid.—At Hadley, [19th Feb 1813] in the County of Herts, Mrs Mary Humberston Mackenzie, widow of the late Major Mackenzie, and mother of Lord Sesforth.

March 12.—It is announced that Sir John Macgregor Murray intends to present a copy of Stewart’s Gaelic Grammar, lately published, to the Schoolmaster of every Highland parish in Scotland. Those intended for schools throughout the North had already been forwarded.

Ibid.—On the Sunday previous, while the people were assembling in the Church of Rosskeen, a part of the loft, which was crowded, yielded suddenly with a crash, exciting the greatest alarm. In endeavouring to escape, many persons were trampled down and dreadfully bruised. Two women subsequently died, and others were said to be in a hopeless condition.

April 2.—In a circular letter, addressed to the Lords-Lieutenant of the different counties, Government gave notice that after the 24th inst. the services of the greater pert of the Volunteer infantry of the country would be dispensed with.

April 16.—A long meeting of Directors of the Royal Academy to discuss charges brought by a correspondent signing "Invernessicus."

May 7.—It is stated; that a building in a central part of London, namely, in Cross Street, Hatton Garden, had been purchased for use as a Gaelic Chapel, "wherein divine service is now regularly performed by an Ordained clergyman, agreeably to the forms observed in the Highlands." The Duke of Sussex (Earl of Inverness) and the Hon. Colonel Fraser of Lovat each gave a hundred guineas to the funds for the chapel.

May 14.—The Rev. Thomas Bain. A.M., appointed rector of the Fortrose Academy.

Ibid—At the Balnagown sale of cattle on the 10th inst., a yearling bull solid for upwards of £26, a two-year-old for upwards of £42, and several heifers for £16 and £17 each. "This breed of Highland cattle has been brought to great perfection on Balnagown Farm, and their reputation is so high that one bull and two heifers were purchased to be sent to Hudson’s Bay, and several to the most distant parts of Scotland."

May 27.—"On Friday the 30th last month there was launched at Stornoway, witnessed by a great concourse of people, a fine new brig, about 200 tons burthen, the largest vessel ever built in the Hebrides. She went into the water in the finest style, and immediately on her starting was with the usual ceremonies honoured with the name of Lord Macdonald."

May 28.—Died, at Inverness, on the 22nd, at the age of 45, Colonel John C. Halket Craigie, Commanding the Northern Military District. He seems to have served in the district for 10 years, and was greatly respected.

Ibid.—"An act of intrepidity was performed at Portsmouth on Monday se’enight, which we have peculiar gratification in noticing. Three officers of the Inverness Militia were in a pleasure boat, and when sailing between the prison ships, a sudden current of wind upset the boat, which having heavy ballast, immediately sank. Two of the officers could swim, and they kept themselves upon the surface until boats took them up; but the other was in the most imminent danger of drowning. A French prisoner on board the Crown, named Morand, the moment he saw the officer struggling, jumped off the gangway into the water, and by putting his feet under the officer’s body as he was sinking, raised him to the surface, and then held him fast until further assistance was obtained. A proper representation has been made to the Government, and no doubt one part of the brave fellow’s reward will be a release from his present situation."

June 4.—Died, at his father’s house, near London, Thomas Cockburn Ross, Captain, 11th Portuguese Light Infantry, and Lieutenant in the Queen’s, eldest son of John Cockburn Ross of Shandwick, Ross-shire. He had been engaged in the battles of Vimiera, Talavera, the Douro, and other actions in the Peninsula. Although he was unhurt in these actions his constitution became impaired, and he died in the prime of youth.

Ibid.—Report of a speech in the House of Commons by Mr Charles Grant, jun. M.P. for the Inverness Burghs, in favour of Catholic emancipation. "It had been the boast of Lord Chatham," he said, "that he had sought for virtue among the mountains of Scotland, and that he had found it. Let them seek for it amidst the marshes of Ireland and they would as surely find it." Mr Grant stated that there were at that moment in the Austrian Army thirty Generals and a number of officers of subordinate rank who were Irish Catholics. "Guilt and shame must certainly attach to any country that could thus refuse to avail itself of the services of its sons."

June 11.—We have authority to state that in consequence of the support and interest of the House of Cawdor, in the County of Nairn, being given to Sir James Mackintosh, Captain Charles Campbell, of the Navy, disposed of his freehold in that shire."

June 18.—Died, in the Island of Java, on the 29th July 1812, Lieut. Alexander Morrison, of the 78th Regiment, eldest son of the Rev. Mr Morrison, minister of Kintail. He was present with his regiment at the capture of Batavia, and with a subsequent expedition. A brother officer wrote that "he was one of the finest fellows he ever knew."

June 25.—Among the Acts relating to Scotland which received the Royal Assent on the 3rd inst. was the following :—"An Act to amend and enlarge the powers of an Act passed in the 45th year of his present Majesty, for assessing the proprietors of Lands in the County of Ross towards the expense of making and supporting certain Roads and Bridges therein; and of an Act passed in the 47th year of his present Majesty for Regulating and Converting the Statute Labour in the Counties of Ross and Cromarty, and part of the County of Nairn locally situated in the County of Ross; and of an Act passed in the 50th year of his present Majesty for amending and enlarging the powers of the two first-mentioned Acts."

July 2.—Sir James Mackintosh was on the 28th ult. unanimously elected member of Parliament for the County of Nairn, in room of Hugh Rose of Kilravock, who had accepted the Chiltern Hundreds.

Ibid.—Extract of a letter from a correspondent in Skye: —"It may be worthy of notice in your paper that last spring there were about 1200 persons inoculated in the Isle of Skye with the cowpox, and afterwards with the smallpox, but none of them were affected by it. This I have from the medical gentlemen who inoculated them. There were more than the above number who were not inoculated with the cowpox, all of whom took the smallpox. This is perhaps as strong a proof as has appeared of the benefits derived from vaccination." The explanation of this somewhat extraordinary, communication seems to be that the second set were inoculated with smallpox without being vaccinated.

July 9.—Great delight expressed at Wellington’s decisive victory over the French at the battle of Vittoria, fought on 21st June. The French on that occasion lost 151 guns, 415 caissons, and all their baggage. It was after this battle that Wellington was made a Field-Marshal

Ibid.—An American privateer, the Blockade of Rhode Island, Manly Swat, commander, captured on the 27th ult, off Cape Wrath, the sloop Six Sisters, of Inverness, and the brig Daphne, of Kirkwall. She also made several other captures, including a vessel, the Experiment, of Dumfries, laden with timber for Beauly. The master of this vessel was at the time in a state of mental derangement, and the privateer allowed her to depart, after seeding his surgeon on board to bleed the unfortunate man. He took from the vessel, however, all her charts, books, two muskets, a spy-glass, and some coals. According to the mate of the Experiment, the Blockade was about 200 tons burthen, mounted 18 long 9-pounders; 2 12-pounders, and 1 32-pounder in the middle of the main deck. Another correspondent described her as mounting 10 guns, with a complement of 70 men. The Experiment put into Scalpay Sound, Isle of Skye, on the 29th ult. A Broadford correspondent, who sends the particulars, writes :—"It is remarked here the hardship of the coast being unprotected. We have not a red-coat to turn out, although the Yankees should take it into their heads to annoy us on shore. The local Militia (3rd Inverness) has been dismissed, and the Volunteers also; and the Isle of Skye, though in importance not inconsiderable, is quite defenceless," On the 28th, his Majesty’s sloop, Cherokee, Captain Rammage, sailed from Thurso in pursuit of the privateer.

Ibid.—Married, at Edinburgh, on 2nd July, Sir David Hunter Blair of Brownhill, Bart., to Miss Dorothy Hay Mackenzie, second daughter of Edward Hay Maekenzie of NewhaIl and Cromarty. The marriage was celebrated with bonfires on the Cromarty estates.

July 16.—This number contains an account of the famous action fought on 1st June between the American frigate Chesapeake, Captain Lawrence, and the British frigate, Shannon, Captain Broke. It is worth while quoting the story as told by the Editor of the Journal at the time in his own words :—"The action was fought off Boston, and took place in consequence of a challenge sent by Captain Broke to the American Commander, inviting him to try his strength. The Chesapeake was superior in size, superior in weight of metal, and superior in numbers to the Shannon. She came out fresh from her own port, in all the consciousness of preparation, in all the consciousness of superiority, and in all the confidence of conquest. She was attended by several American barks and boats, laden with the friends and countrymen of her crew, eager to witness the battle and the victory; but in 15 minutes after she came into action she was forced to yield to the gallantry of her antagonist. Twelve minutes after the action began our seamen boarded, and three minutes were sufficient to complete the business. This intelligence will be received with feelings of satisfaction, greater, perhaps, than the cause altogether warrants. We know that the result of the contest is precisely what we do and ought to expect from the valour of British seamen—that we have no reason to exult in it—but still it is in a high degree pleasurable to receive this practical demonstration of the truth of what we have ever affirmed, that with anything like equal means, the spirit and skill of our navy is irresistible." It may be added that American seamen had notable victories to boast of during the war, and the exploit of the Shannon was all the more gratifying to the British. Captain Lawrence, of the Chesapeake, was mortally wounded in the action above recorded, and during the remaining four days of his life, in moments of delirium, he often exclaimed, "Don’t give up the ship." He was buried at Halifax, in Nova Scotia, with the honours of war, some of the oldest Captains in the British Navy carrying the pall.

July 23.—On the previous Monday night or Tuesday morning, a non-commissioned officer, Sergeant Andrew Cullen, of the 21st Regiment, then stationed at Fort-George, killed his wife by stabbing her with a chisel. He afterwards inflicted severe wounds on himself. Cullen had been intoxicated for some days when he committed the crime.

Ibid—American privateers continue to infest the West Coast. A vessel belonging to Mr Macdonald, Lochinver, with salt and other stores for the herring fishing, was captured within half-a-mile of his dwelling-house.

Ibid.—The death is announced of Lieut. Colin Mackenzie, of the 71st Regiment, killed at the battle of Vittoria. He was a son of John Mackenzie of Kincraig, Roes-shire, and was much regretted.

July 30.—Died, at Thurso, on the 20th inst., the Rev. William Munro, parochial schoolmaster of Thurso. He is spoken of as a particularly diligent and successful teacher.

Ibid.—On Saturday last a detachment from the 2nd Battalion of the 42nd Regiment, consisting of 70 privates, 4 sergeants, 4 corporals, and 7 officers, embarked on board the Inverness Packet for London, with a view to join their gallant companions in Spain. At this time the Inverness Militia were encamped on Southsea Common.

August 6.—After the inspection of the 1st Regiment of Ross-shire Local Militia, a ball was held at Dingwall, which is described in glowing terms. "Dancing commenced with reels, in which the charming Lady Mackenzie of Avoch shone with unrivalled splendour." Her husband, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, the explorer of the North-West, was also present. "That celebrated and ingenious philosopher, Sir Humphrey Davy," was in the neighbourhood, but was prevented from being present by a severe cold. His wife, however, "the fascinating Lady Davy," was a centre of attraction. The ball was given by Lieut-Colonel Munro of Culcairn and the officers of the regiment.

August 17.—The Wester and Easter Ross Farmer Clubs held again a united show at Alness. The Morayshire Farmer Club also held a show at Elgin, at which they distributed a hundred guineas in prizes. One of the objects of the latter club was to establish in the County and to bring to its utmost perfection "the true Scots breed of black cattle." [Six weeks are missing from the file after this date]

October 1.—The Gazette notice recording the fall of St Sebastian is given in this issue.

Ibid.—Thomas Gilzean was this year re-elected Provost of Inverness.

October 15.—Killed in action with the enemy in the river Elbe, Lieutenant David Gray, of the Royal Marines, serving on board his Majesty’s ship Desiree, and second son of Mr James Gray, merchant, Inverness. He was interred with military honours at Heligoland, and his brother officers, in respect for his memory, ordered a tombstone to be placed over his remains.

October 29.—The Marquis of Huntly presented a portrait of his mother, the late Duchess of Gordon, to the Northern Meeting. The members of the Meeting, to show their respect for the Duchess, intended to commission a portrait for themselves, but the Marquis of Huntly insisted on making the presentation himself.

Ibid.—"Died, on the 8th of May, at the advanced age of 80, on his estate of Gross Point, near Detroit, in North America, the Hon. Alexander Grant, a member of his Majesty’s Executive and Legislative Council of Upper Canada, and for nearly half-a-century Commodore of the fleet on Lake Erie. This excellent man was of the Glenmoriston family, and was a brother to the late Patrick Grant, Esq. of Glenmoriston. He went to America in 1754 as lieutenant in one of the Highland regiments, and was instrumental, from his nautical knowledge, in obtaining the command on Lake Champlain during the war which conquered Canada from France. During the rebellion of the Colonies, he was eminently useful on the upper lakes, and also in administering the government of Upper Canada after the death of General Hunter. He has left one son, a lieutenant in the Canada Regiment, and a numerous family of daughters and grandchildren, who will long cherish the remembrance of a fond and indulgent father."

November 5.—Andrew Cullen was executed at Inverness on the previous Friday for the murder of his wife. The place of execution is not mentioned. "Cullen was a man of very strong mind, and. his ingenuity as a mechanic might have rendered him a valuable member of society, had not his predilection for drinking, which brought him to an untimely end, proved an insurmountable obstacle to the regular prosecution of many excellent designs which he had partially carried into effect."

Ibid.—Captain John Ross, of the 19th Portuguese, and Lieutenant in the 92nd British Line, fell at Mayo as the head of his company on the 31st August. He was the son of the Rev. John Ross, minister of Rosskeen, and a very promising officer.

November 12.—This number contains the news of the great overthrow of Napoleon in the series of battles at Leipsic in the middle of October. The headings announcing the victory of the Allies occupy nine lines in large type.

Ibid.—The Session of Parliament was opened on Thursday the 4th. The Address in the House of Commons was moved by Lord Compton, and seconded by Mr Charles Grant, member for the Inverness Burghs, "with that eloquence which so particularly distinguishes our member." The report of Mr Grant’s speech occupies more than two columns of the "Journal." Speaking of the Alliance against Napoleon and the prospects of peace, the hon. member said—"Anxious as we are to procure peace, let us remember by what means alone such a peace can be obtained as we can safely accept. Let us recollect that it must not be a peace founded upon a compromise of any great interest; upon a dereliction of any sacred principles; the creature of timidity on our part, of insolence and artifice on the part of the enemy. It must be a peace founded on mutual advantage and mutual confidence, and resting on the basis of social order, law, and justice."

November 26.—Died, on Sunday the 7th inst., at Brahan Castle, the Hon. Francis Mackenzie, second son of Lord Seaforth.

December 3.—News of Wellington’s victory over Soult on the Nivelle.

December 10.—At the Nairnshire meeting in London a member presented a subscription paper for aiding the work of erecting a pier at Nairn. A sum of £75 was subscribed, and a Committee was appointed to correspond with friends in the North on the subject.

December 17.—The Marquis of Huntly was married on the 11th inst. to Elizabeth Brodie, only daughter of Alexander Brodie of the Burn. "This happy event took place at Bath, and the numerous friends of the distinguished couple are manifesting their joy on the occasion by public dinners, bells, and bonfires, throughout the counties of Aberdeen, Banff, and Moray, &c. The marriage is celebrated in the "Journal" in a song of nine stanzas, after the style of Skinner’s Tallochgorum. Subsequent issues contain notices of rejoicings in numerous districts of the Highlands.

Ibid.—Died, at Bught, on the 7th curt., Mrs Jean Baillie, relict of the late Duncan Grant of Bught, in the 82nd year of her age.

December 24.—Mr Charles Grant, member for the Burghs, was appointed one of the Lords of the Treasury.

The following paragraph appears in James Suter’s Memorabilia:—"1813.---Embankment of Town Lands at the Longman completed. Expense, £494, paid by the Burgh."

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