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A History of Moray and Nairn
By Charles Rampini LL.D. (1898)


In its endeavour to tell the story of the old province of Moray with accuracy, and at the same time in popular language, the present volume follows strictly in the lines of the previous volumes of the series. But it differs from its predecessors in the arrangement adopted. It appeared to the writer that by treating the Province, the Bishopric, the Earldom, &c., as separate subjects, he would be able to lay before the reader a more sharply defined picture of their nature, progress, and influence than if he had employed the more ordinary narrative form. He is far from maintaining that such an arrangement is in all instances the best. But in the case of Moray and Nairn the sequence of events seemed to lend itself to this disposition—the historical importance and interest of the one having, roughly speaking, ceased, or at least begun to wane, before those of the other waxed.

In a work of this kind there are necessarily many matters of detail which are not to be found in books, and which are only to be obtained from persons having the requisite local knowledge. The author desires to express his grateful acknowledgments to the many individuals—with not a few of whom he was personally unacquainted—who have so courteously assisted him in this way. To the Earl of Moray; to Captain A. H. Dunbar, younger of Northfield, who, in addition to much valuable information about his own family, did him the additional favour of reading over the chapters on the Bishopric and Earldom; to Captain Edward Dunbar-Dunbar of Sea Park and Glen-of-Rothes, the greatest local authority on the old social life of the district; to the late Rev. Dr Walter Gregor for access to his unrivalled store of local folk-lore; to Mr George Bain, the historian of Nairnshire; to Dr James Macdonald and Mr Hugh W. Young of Burghead; to Mr J. Balfour Paul, Lyon King-of-Arms; to Sheriff Mackay; to the Rev. Dr Cooper of Aberdeen; to the editors of the local papers; and to many others who, he hopes, will accept this general recognition of their assistance, he is under great obligations. To the relatives of the distinguished men whose lives are sketched in outline in the last chapter he has a similar acknowledgment to make. From Miss C. F. Gordon Cumming, and her brother Colonel

William Gordon Cumming, he obtained many interesting facts, now for the first time published, relative to the career of their brother Roualeyn, the well-known lion-hunter. To Mrs M'Kenzie, Ellonville, Inverness, he is indebted for access to the home-letters of her brother Colonel Grant of Househill, the distinguished African traveller. To Miss Brown, Muirton, Craigellachie, he owes almost all that is new in the sketch of her uncle, General Sir George Brown, G.C.B.; and a similar remark applies to the facilities placed at his disposal by Mr W. R. Skinner of Drumin, for the preparation of the memoir of his relative William Marshall, —one of the greatest, and certainly the most modest, of Scotland's musicians. The plan of Elgin Cathedral and Precincts is from a drawing prepared by George Sutherland, Esq. He has finally to acknowledge his indebtedness to Mr J. D. Yeadon, bookseller, Elgin; Mr W. Harrison, bookseller, Nairn ; and other local authorities, for much assistance in the compilation of the Bibliography.



Chapter I. The Province of Moray
The province of Moray: its boundaries, designation, and inhabitants —Prehistoric annals, and their teaching—Stone circles of Clava — The Piet of Moray: his religion and his social polity — Barghead—The Pictish kings—The Columbite Church — The Picts and the Scots—Disappearance of Pictavia, and independence of Moravia—The Scandinavians in Moravia—The battle of Torfness and the death of Duncan—Sueno’s stone near Forres— Macbeth—Malcolm Ceannmor—The Maormors—Moravia under David I.—Thanes and earls—The partition of the kingdom into counties wipes out the old provincial delimitations—The modem province of Moray.

Chapter II. The Bishopric of Moray
The bishopric of Moray founded by Alexander I.—The churches of Bimie, Kinneddar, and Spynie the cathedrals of the bishops of Moray—Elgin Cathedral—The constitution of the chapter—The early bishops of Moray—The raid of the Wolf of Badenoch—The Castle of Spynie—The power of the bishops—Bishop Forman—The restored cathedral—The rank and duties and emoluments of the dignitaries—Patrick Hepburn, the last Roman Catholic bishop of Moray—The Protestant bishops: Guthrie, Mackenzie, Aitken, Falconar—The cathedral allowed to fall into decay— John Shanks, the Cobbler — The priory of Pluscarden — The Abbey of Kinloss.

Chapter III. The Earldom of Moray
The men of Moray a danger to the State—They are driven to the hills, and the Laigh granted to foreign settlers—The freemen of Moray loyal to Bruce—The castle of Elgin—King Edward’s peaceful conquest of Scotland—The battle of Stirling—John, Earl of Buchan, Edward’s lieutenant in Moray—Bannockburn— Randolph, first Earl of Moray—The Randolphs—The Dunbars : “Black Agnes of Dunbar”—The Douglases—The Stewarts— The Gordons: “The Cock of the North”—The Stewarts again: “The good Earl of Moray,” “The bonnie Earl of Moray”—Earl Francis, the Arboriculturist—The earl and the sheriff.

Chapter IV. County Families of Moray and Nairn
The story of the Gordons properly belongs to Aberdeen and Banff—The Grants: the first settlement of the family in 1316—They make many acquisitions of property—And in 1694 obtain a charter from William and Mary consolidating their estates—Sheumas nan Creach—John, the fifth Laird—The romance of the seventh Laird — Montrose and the Grants—“The Highland King”—The battle of Cromdale—The ’15 and the ’45—Culloden —“The good Sir James”—Later lairds—The Duffs: their origin and acquisitions of property—William Duff of Dipple—Peers of Ireland—The later earls—The Gordons of Gordonstoun : “Sir Robert the Wizard ”—The second Sir Robert—The Kinnairds of Culbin: the Culbin sands — The lairds of Cawdor: Cawdor Castle—Later fortunes of the family—The Roses of Kilravock—The Brodies of Brodie.

Chapter V. The Towns of Moray and Nairn
Elgin: not the natural capital, but made so because of the cathedral —The town’s debt to the church—Its appearance—Its progress under the earldom—The Earl of Dunfermline, Provost—The incorporated trades—Political corruption—The unincorporated trades—Findhom and Lossiemouth, and the Continental trade— Education—Forres—Nairn.

Chapter VI. The Land and the People
Population of Moray and of Naim—Census of occupation—Climate, soil, and physiographical position—The Moray floods—Geology— Progress of agriculture—Timber—The Morayshire Farmers’ Club and its good offices for agriculture — The housing of the rural population—Rural “ploys”: the penny wedding—Lyke-wakes—“Rants” and “tweetles”—Shinty and “the bools”—Food and drink—The care of the poor—Fastem’s eve—Beltane—Michaelmas—Hallowe'en—Hogmanay—Superstitions—The fisher-folk— Modem characteristics of the counties.

Chapter VII. Distinguished Men of Moray and Nairn
Florence Wilson—Lachlan Shaw—Isaac Forsyth—William Leslie— James Grant—Provost Grant — Sir Thomas Dick Lauder— Cosmo Innes—Charles St John—Dr George Gordon—William Hay—William Marshall—Roualeyn George Gordon Cumming —William Gordon Cumming—Constance Frederica Gordon Cumming—James Augustus Grant—Sir George Brown.

Strathspey Raid to Elgin in 1820

Record of the Kirk Session of Elgin
1504 - 1779 with a brief record of the Readers, Ministers and Bishops 1567 - 1897 by Wm. Cramond, LL.D., FSAScot., Schoolmaster of Cullen (1897) (pdf)

THE Minutes of the Kirk-Session of Elgin are, in several respects, the most valuable now extant in Scotland. The parish was of more than ordinary extent, and containing, as it did, a large burghal and a considerable rural population, the business of the Session was thus necessarily of a very varied character, while the successive Session Clerks were men possessed of exceptional qualifications for their office. Few, if any, Session Books illustrate so fully the various phases of social and religious life in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries.

A Survey of the Province of Moray
Historical, Geographical, and Political by John Grant and William Leslie (1798) (pdf)

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