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

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

The Northern Highlands in the Nineteenth Century
No. 9


The year 1850 was active in Parliament. Mr Disraeli again asked for a committee of inquiry into the prevailing distress, with the view of transferring a portion of the expenses which had hitherto been defrayed out of the rates to the general taxation of the country. On a division there was a majority of only 21 against the motion, which delighted the protectionists. Great debates occurred on the foreign policy of Lord Palmerston arising out of what is known as the Don Pacifico case. In the Lords a motion of censure was carried by 169 votes to 132, but in the Commons, after a speech from Palmerston, which lasted “from the dusk of one day to the dawn of another,” his policy was endorsed by 310 votes to 264. Sir Robert Peel was mortally injured by a fall from his horse, and died on 2nd July.

The Gorham case in the Church of England stirred ecclesiastical feeling, and public excitement arose from the papal aggression implied in the creation of Dr Wiseman as Archbishop of Westminster and Cardinal. Lord John Russell encouraged the agitation. Dm ing the year Mr Gladstone paid the v.isit to Naples which resulted in his famous letters. In the Highlands the condition of the people continued to cause anxiety, and farmers took part in the movement for a return to protection.

From the “Inverness Courier"

1850.

January 3.—The issue contains a short biographical sketch of Patrick Fraser-Tytler, author of a History of Scotland, which still retains its position as a work of learning and research. Mr Fraser-Tytler died at Malvern on 24th, December 1849, at the age of 58. His eldest brother was William Fraser-Tytler of Aldourie, sheriff of Inverness-shire. Their father, Alexander Tytler, a Lord of Session under the title of Lord Woodhouslee, married in 1776 Anne, heiress of Aldourie, and so formed the northern connection. “Mr Patrick Fraser-Tytler,” says the editor, “may be said to have inhaled from his birth a love of Scottish history and antiquities.” His grandfather, William Tytler of Woodhouslee, was the author of a vindication of Mary Queen of Scots, and was celebrated by Burns as the “revered defender of beauteous Stuart.” The father, Lord Woodhouslee, was at one time Professor of Civil History and Greek and Roman antiquities in the University of Edinburgh, and wrote a digest of Universal History, which was translated into most of the languages of Europe.

Ibid.—Farmers were complaining seriously of the results of free-trade in corn, and copious extracts are given from an article in “Blackwood’s Magazine,” which sets forth their grievances and fears. Sir Robert Peel, however, had addressed a letter to his tenantry advising them to “dismiss altogether from their calculations the prospect of renewed protection.”—The northern counties were suffering from a severe storm.

January 10.—Mr James M'Cosh, editor and proprietor of the “Inverness Advertiser,” died on the previous day. He was about 35 years of age. “The immediate cause of death was disease of the heart, but the deceased laboured under a complication of physical weakness and malformation, that rendered his activity of mind a remarkable instance of energy. Mr M‘Cosh had only recently established a newspaper here, but he was long connected with the press in Dundee. He was a zealous member of the Free Church, and at the time of the Disruption wrote a pamphlet on the clergy, entitled ‘The Chaff and the Wheat.’” A subsequent paragraph states that Mr Mulock (father of Miss Mulock, author of “John Halifax, Gentleman,” etc.) was doing the editorial work of the “Advertiser.”

Ibid.—The contents include an account of a destructive fire at Cradlehall farm steading and a long report of a Protectionist meeting at Tain. The Glenalbyn Distillery, recently burned down, was in course of recreation, and was expected to be soon again in full working condition.

January 17.—There is a long report drawn up by the Edinburgh Destitution Board showing the amount expended in relief works in 1849. In March of that year no fewer than 8000 persons were receiving relief in Skye, or about a third of the whole population; in May and June the number was 5310. In the western region of Ross-shire large districts were removed from the Board’s immediate care by a co-operative agreement entered into with Mr Mackenzie of Dundonell, Mr Bankes of Letterewe, the representatives of Sir Kenneth Mackenzie of Gairloch, the late Mr Hay Mackenzie of Cromartie, and others. Various lines of road had there been constructed. The most important was the Garve and Ulla-pol Road, thirty-two miles in length, seventeen of which had been made some years before, but not in a continuous line. The Loch-Maree Road had been completed, and roads made between Poolewe and Aultbea, and at Gruinard and Little Loch-broom. “Wester Ross has thus enjoyed an expenditure, almost entirely during the last summer, of about £15,000—£10,000 from the heritors (proprietors), and the remainder from the Board; and while the population has been maintained in comfort, great facilities for intercourse have for the first time been opened to extensive and well-peopled districts.” Besides roads, piers and embankments had been constructed. In the island of Raasay, Mr Rainy had cooperated with the Board in the making of roads. The population of the island numbered 1100, and previous to this time there was not a road in the island. In the county of Sutherland the Committee became bound to spend £3500 in 1849 and 1850, the Duke of Sutherland expending an equal sum; the destitute people were to be supported and a road formed from Lairg to Loch-Laxford by Loch-Shin, twenty-eight miles in length. An agreement had been made with Mr Matheson of Achany for the enlagement and improvement of crofts. The editor pleaded that the latter object should be kept in view generally for the benefit of the people.

Ibid.—Mr John Ferguson, wine merchant, one of the most respected citizens, died on the 14th inst., in his sixty-sixth year. It is stated that the business, of which he was latterly sole proprietor, had at one time supplied William Pitt and Lord Melville with their favourite port; and under Mr Ferguson furnished the mess tables of some regiments in India. “In all public matters and civic duties the lamented deceased took a warm interest. He had been a Councillor, a Bailie, and Provost of the burgh, and an elder in the Church. He was bound up with Inverness in all its social interests, and was known to all. His shrewd sagacious advice and lively comment were ready for every occasion, and many instances of genuine unostentatious charity and kindness might be recorded to his honour.” Mr Ferguson was Provost from 1836 to 1839. He originated a subscription for the first embankment of the river, promoted the pavement of the streets, and the formation of drains and sewers, and was one of the originators of the Gas and Water Company. He also for a long time efficiently managed the voluntary funds for the support of the poor. “Indeed in every measure affecting the interests of the town, Mr Ferguson took an effective, a cordial, and disinterested part.” —Another death recorded is that of James Bayne, M.D., Nairn, who was much respected in the town. He was a son of the late Dr Ronald Bayne, Kiltarlity, and was aged 62.

Ibid.—In the same number there is an interesting review of Hugh Miller’s “Footprints of the Creator.” It is stated that the work had already become the text-book of a learned lecturer in an English University.

January 24 and 31.—On tbe first date a tribute is paid to the Rev. Hector Bethune, minister of Dingwall, who had recently passed away, at the age of 67. Mr Bethune’s father was minister of Alness, where his son succeeded him until he was transferred to Dingwall. Mr Bethune’s preaching was “of a quiet rather than of an energetic character,” but he was an accomplished man, and commanded the respect of his parishioners. The prospects of the Highlands are discussed in the same number, and a protection meeting at Dingwall is reported. A bill for dealing with the Mackintosh Farr Fund continued to create local dissension. The North was in the grip of a snow-storm. On the 31st an account is given of the death of an English gentleman who perished in the snow in the parish of Durness in Sutherland. He had arrived as a pedestrian about three years before, and resided in the inn at Durness, but nothing was known of him, not even his name, until his papers were examined after his death. The same issue contains the death of Lord Jeffrey.

February 7 and 14.—A good deal of interest was excited by the discovery of what was supposed to be a new alkali from kelp, announced by Mr Layton of Rotherham. His communication was the subject of correspondence. A movement was in progress for the establishment of a comprehensive system of national education, but many years had to pass before it came to fruition. A bill for the erection of a new bridge at Inverness was under discussion.

February 14.—Some antiquarian relics found near Cromarty had been left at the “Courier” Office, and Mr Duncan, tenant of Muirhead, sent a communication on the subject. He said that as long ago as 1833 a labouring man digging out stones from a cairn found “a box-like place” neatly built, with stone flags at the bottom and top, but nothing within except about an inch of fine black mould. A few yards further the labourer came upon a square of about 12 or 15 feet, formed of large boulder stones of every variety of size, and inside a number of low walls or partitions, from 12 to 18 inches in height, the breadth between them being about 18 inches, and the length varying from 5 to 6 feet. “There was a number of these chambers side by fide and others across, so that there was no vacant space left within the square. These buildings were fitted up in a very inferior style of workmanship from that first described. There were no flags in the bottom or on the top; the thin walls were as simple as a piece of drystone dyke; and the whole were filled to the level of the top of these partitions with small stones and earth, and above that larger stones and earth to the top of the cairn.” In one apartment was a stone and a charcoal-like article, but nothing else—not even the vestige of a bone. On the east side of the square, however, a great many bones were found in a state of decomposition, also a human skull. “A random collection of stones and earth” had been heaped over them. In another place unknown something resembling a child’s hand had been found. A small coin was picked up in the spring of 1849 by a man digging a drain. An antiquarian friend told the editor that the stone sent by Mr Duncan was a stone battle axe or hammer, but the specimen was the roundest or bluntest he had ever seen, probably owing to its being of a soft steatite or serpentine. The charcoal-looking substance was a piece of jet, notched on the sides as a tally of rent paid. The supposed child’s hand was a piece of calcareous stalactite, not a relic of organic remains. The coin was a silver penny, probably ot Alexander III.

February 21.—Among the donations recently made to the Scottish Society of Antiquaries was “a singular bronze relic found in the Isle of Skye.” In appearance it resembled a bent spear, and was supposed to be an implement for hollowing out boats and large wooden vessels. The relic was discovered during the previous summer, along with several bronze swords and spearheads, a cup-headed bronze pin, and the remains of a wooden box.

February 28.—“Mr Disraeli has been suddenly elevated to the position of a great man. He was sneered at by all parties. The Marquis of Granby looked askance at his efforts to become leader of the Protectionists, Lord Stanhope denounced his alliance, the Peelites kept him aloof, Mr Cobden defied him, and the Whigs disowned him. At one bound, however, he has placed himself in a conspicuous position as a Parliamentary tactician.” This triumph was brought about by Mr Disraeli’s motion for transferring part of the poor rates and local burdens to the consolidated fund, which produced a two nights’ debate, 'and was defeated only by a majority of 21. The editor regarded the motion as delusive1* but admitted that it was a significant hint to Ministers.

March 7.—Mr James Laidlaw, known for more than thirty years as one of the most extensive sheep-farmers in the Highlands, died on the 4th inst., at Contin, in his 62nd year. “The deceased was first taught his letters when a child by James Hogg, the Ettrick shepherd, and his brother, Mr William Laidlaw, was long the ‘dear friend,’ as Mr Lockhart remarks, of the great Minstrel at Abbotsford. Hogg was ten years in the service of Mr Laidlaw, Blackhouse, Selkirkshire, father of the deceased, and to this connection he owed his introduction to Scott and some of the best friendships of his life. The deceased and his eldel brother, Mr George Laidlaw, now the only survivor [1850], early settled in the Highlands, and held extensive farms from the Chisholm in Strathglass, and Sir George Mackenzie of Coul, Ross-shire. He was open and liberal, a great reader and original thinker, with the utmost simplicity of character and kindliness of disposition.” Being a very tall man the Highlanders called him “the Sassenach Mhor,” and Sir Walter Scott once invited his neighbour, Lord Somerville, to meet Mr Laidlaw under that name. His lordship enjoyed the joke (he had expected to meet a Highs land chief), and was delighted with Mr Laidlaw’s sagacity and information. “North and South, indeed, by high and low, Mr Laidlaw was esteemed and respected, and he goes to his grave, though far from the cherished scenes of his youth, deeply and widely lamented.”

March 14.—The Rev. Alex. Rose, D.D., one of the ministers of the Inverness High Church (retired for some years), died on the 12th inst. in his 78th year. For many years he was an influential clergyman irt Inverness. Dr Rose was born at Broom-hill, Cawdor, in 1772, and educated at the parish school of-Nairn, under Mr Strath, and at King’s College, Aberdeen. After leaving the University, he lived for some time in Lochaber, where he acquired a knowledge of Gaelic. Dr Rose was appointed assistant in Inverness in 1795, and shortly afterwards ordained to the third charge, which he held for about three years, when he was promoted to the second. “He had it more than once in his power to remove to the first charge, but from motives of delicacy and regard for his colleague, Who could not obtain the necessary patronage for his promotion from the third to the second charge, he declined to remove.” Dr Rose was twice put in nomination as Moderator of the General Assembly, but the state of his health prevented him from accepting the distinction. Curiously enough his successor, Dr Macdonald, had also the same choice, and declined.

Ibid.'*—In the education controversy then going on, an appeal was made to a memorandum by Dr Chalmers advising that “in any public measure for helping on the education of the people, Government should, in the present divided state of the Christian world, abstain from introducing religion at all in their part of the scheme.” Dr Candlish contended that this declaration referred only to the Government scheme as then existing and_ supported by Government grants; while Dr Guthrie, Hugh Miller, Dr Begg, and others maintained that it applied to the general question of education. “On the whole of this question of education and on the condition and treatment of the Free Church teachers, Dr Candlish has been effectually demolished by the editor of the ‘Witness.’ ” It was in the beginning of 1847, as we learn from Miller’s life, that he first came to a rupture with Dr Candlish on important questions.

March 21 and 28.—A case affecting the Nairn Academy, which had been going on for three years, was now decided in the Court of Session. The question was whether Mr John Marshall had been duly elected teacher on 2nd April 1847. The Court decided that he had, and that, in consequence of his resignation on 5th May 1847, the office had been since vacant, although another teacher had been acting in the interval.—There was controversy between the burgh of Inverness and the county regarding financial clauses in the Bridges Bill now before Parliament.—The Rev. Alexander Coull, minister of Alves, died on the 11th inst. He had been parish schoolmaster of Edinkillie before he was settled in Alves in 1843—The issue of the 28th records a snowstorm of considerable severity in the Highlands.—In the general mews of the day a good deal of attention is given to the Gorham case.

April 4.—A Parisian weekly journal called ‘‘L’ Illustration” was publishing a series of articles descriptive of Scotland. Its correspondent had been in Inverness and through the Canal, and gave a lively and generally correct description of what he saw. One incident may be mentioned. The visitor was strolling one day along the banks of Loch-Oich, when he suddenly heard a sound on the breeze. “I listened; it was the distant sound of the bag-pipe; it was a tune of my own Brittany, an ancient melody with which my mother loved to lull me to sleep. I stopped, much affected as I listened; the landscape before me seemed to grow confused and to disappear : tears stood in my eye. I returned on my journey, and quickening my step soon arrived at a little inn, before which some peasants were dancing to the sounds of the bagpipes. It was a Highland marriage. They invited me with a polite air to join in the festivities, and I risked myself to the mazes of a reel—a Scottish dance full of vigour and character, and much resembling the native dances of Brittany. I pledged the young people in whisky, and there you might see the Breton of Armorica, fraternising with the Britons of Caledonia.”

Ibid.—Cairngorm stones were at this time found in considerable numbers in the mountain from which they take their name. Very fine specimens had been purchased by Inverness jewellers. They had been dug by a shepherd from a. pocket in a rock.

Ibid.—The same issue records the death of Lieutenant-General Sir John Macdonald, Adjutant-General, and Colonel of the 42nd Highlanders from 1844 until his death. He had served in Egypt, in the Walcheren expedition, and in the Peninsula, and had received many distinctions for his services.

April 11 and 18.—The burgh and county had come to terms about the Bridges Bill, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer suddenly announced opposition. At the same time he stated that he was disposed to give a grant of £4000, and to refer the matter to the Commissioners for Highland Roads and Bridges, throwing the burden of any expense beyond the money gift on the annual grant of £5000 made to the Northern Counties. When he had received a report * from the Commissioners he would introduce a bill to carry out his own views. Thus the local bill dropped. The editor says that the cost of preparing it had come to several hundred pounds, and that expenses to the amount of between £2000 and £3000 had been occasioned altogether by the flood—in repairing the banks, building the foot-bridge, and other matters.

Ibid.—The death of Mr Alexander Mackenzie, Kessock, long a burgess and magistrate of the burgh, is recorded on the 11th inst.— A story from Badenoch tells how a young captive eagle, which had escaped from its cage, returned to the immediate neighbourhood, and allowed itself to be recaptured. —A movement was begun “to restore efficiency to the Inverness Mechanics’ Institution, or to create from its remains a new and more life-like association.”—The issue of the 18th contains a report of the rejoicins at Aldourie, when Captain Fraser-Tytler returned from active and distinguished service in India.—The issue also records the death of Mr James Forsyth, merchant, a respected citizen of Inverness, who had filled the office of magistrate, and was for many years an elder in the High Church.

April 25.—Mr John Macdonell, Keppoch, grandson of the Keppoch who was killed at Culloden, by his son Angus, had recently passed away. John was born in 1766, and was sent early to Rome to study for the Catholic Church, but never took orders. In 1784 he returned to his native country, but before leaving Italy he and a fellow-student were presented to Prince Charles by the Abbe Macpherson, then rector of the Scotch College at Rome. “He was the last Scottish gentleman (wrote a correspondent) who saw Prince Charles and kissed his hand; he always retained a lively recollection of him, and brought home a piece of the ribbon whereon he wore his orders, which he kept carefully to the day of his death. In his after life he followed sheep farming, in company with his brothers, and never married. He was learned, and was in the habit of corresponding with several of the most learned of the age he lived in. Sir Thomas Dick Lauder made honourable mention of the information he received from him when taking the levels of the celebrated parallel roads of Glenroy; and Dr Buckland found in him a useful informant and a friend.”

May 2.—The Rev. John C. Mackenzie, Professor of Classical Literature and Mental Philosophy in the Free Church College in Halifax, Canada, died in March. He was a native of Inverness, and had been classical master in Tain Academy.—In this and preceding issues are reports of the celebration of the majority of the Marchioness of Stafford (the late Duchess of Sutherland).

Ibid.—At the Inverness County meeting the project of erecting a lunatic asylum for the northern counties was revived. The attempt to institute an asylum by public subscription had failed, and it was now resolved to ask the counties on the mainland from Nairnshire northwards to concur in the introduction of a bill in Parliament. The number of pauper lunatics supported at the time in the district was 534.—The death of the poet Wordsworth is recorded, and is the subject of an interesting article.

May 9 to 30.—The condition of agriculture is a frequent topic, the movement in favour of protection having shown renewed strength. A considerable revival of smuggling in the Highlands was noted. Roualeyn Gordon Cumming, home from South Africa, had opened an exhibition at Hyde Park Corner, London. The “Athenamm” stated that Roualeyn had killed 18 lions, 28 specimens of the black rhinoceros, 76 hippopotami, and 105 elephants; that bis lions’ skins were particularly fine; and that he had at least one thousand pounds’ worth of ivory in the room, and a pair of elephant’s tusks measuring nine feet. “Mr Cumming would realise Charles the Fifth’s idea of a hero. He knows not fear.” June 6.—Evictions were threatened on the Strathaird estate in the island of Skye, . involving families which numbered 620 souls. The proprietor offered assistance to send the people to Canada, but they declined to remove. Most of them had been dependent on the Destitution Fund, which was to cease in a few months.

Ibid.—“Workmen have been engaged for the last few days, under the direction of Mr Mitchell, engineer, boring the bed of the River Ness, to aid in the enquiries relative to the foundation and site of the proposed bridge. Near the spot where the old bridge stood, they went to the depth of about forty feet, the first ten of which were sand and gravel; the remainder a strong, firm clay.”

June 13.—The death is recorded of Lieut.-Colonel Patrick Campbell, of the 52nd Light Infantry, which took place at Brighton. He was a son of Mr Robert Campbell, long principal sheriff-clerk of Inverness-shire, and had seen service under Moore and Wellington.—The subscribers to the memorial to Dr Nicol resolved to have a painting for the Northern Infirmary, a bust for the Town Hall; and if any funds were over to place them in the hands of the town as a Nicol mortification. The amount subscribed was about £250.—An article on Rome and the Papal States appears from the pen of Mr James B. Fraser of Reelig.

Ibid.—The heads and horns of a fossil deer had lately been added to a collection of deer heads in Conan House. The span of the horns was eleven feet, and the entire head presented a mass of formidable antlers, 22 in number. It is not stated where the head was found.

Ibid.—A vessel named the “Countess of Cawdor” had been launched at Naim. She was a first-class brig, about 255 tons burden, built by Mr Anderson, Macduff, for Mr Dallas, merchant at Nairn.

Ibid.—The following paragraph from the London letter will interest golfers:—“The annual meeting of the Golf Club came off on Saturday last at Blackheeth, when great numbers of your northern distingues were present. The match was a very spirited one, although in the early part of the day rain fell, and made the ground somewhat slippery. For the third time an English clergyman, the Rev. Mr Marsh, bore away the medal from the distinguished golf-players of Caledonia. Sir William Monteith was second in the honours of the day.”

June 20 to July 4.—These issues record the debates in the Lords and Commons, when Lord Palmerston’s foreign policy was censured in the one and approved in the other. The wreck of the Liverpool passenger steamer Orion, which struck on a sunken rock near Portpatrick, and went down with the loss of 157 lives, fills a large space. Locally, a paragraph on June 20 records the re-discovery of the original well at Strathpeffer, which had been lost for thirty years. It appears that in building the pump-room the masons had flagged over this well, leaving another but rather weaker one open. The two wells were now brought into use. On July 4 there is a long review of Roualeyn Gordon Cumming’s book on his adventures in South Africa. A visit of the Right Hon. T. B. Macaulay to the town is also recorded. He was accompanied by Lady Treveylan and her daughter, and visited the battlefield of Culloden.

July 11.—The death of Sir Robert Peel was recorded in a line “by special express” in the previous issue, and this week there is an account of his life and services. Referring to his closing years the editor says: —“The grief of the whole nation at his death attests the deep and universal feeling of confidence with which he was regarded. He stood above all parties and official position, in a situation that probably no public man ever before occupied. His elevation was a moral and intellectual one, befitting the close of a protracted and eventful public life.”

Ibid.—A report is published by Mr James M. Rondel, C.E., on the proposed new Inverness bridge and its site. Three sites had been suggested, namely, the site of the old bridge, one at Fraser Street, 200 yards lower down the river, and one opposite Wells Street, 600 yards below the former bridge. Mr Rendel recommended the old site, and was in favour of the erection of an iron girder bridge, which he estimated to cost £16,000, exclusive of the purchase price of the Castle Tolmie property.

Ibid.—A great Highland fete in London is described in past and present issues. The Queen and Prince Albert were present, and there was a large gathering of Highland chiefs and others, attired in Highland costume. The London correspondent thought the fete might be called the field of “the Cloth of Tartan.” Roualeyn Gordon Cumming was a notable figure present. The first prize for pibrochs went to Alexander Campbell, piper to Lord Lovat.

July 18.—The result of the Wool Market was regarded as highly satisfactory. Some reduction in the price of sheep from the previous year’s prices had been expected, but the drop was comparatively small; while wool had risen by about one shilling per stone.

Ibid.—A man named Robert Pate was tried for striking the Queen with a cane as she was driving out from Cambridge House, Piccadilly. The blow bruised and cut her Majesty’s forehead. Pate was sentenced to seven years’ transportation.

July 25 and August 1.—The bill which proposed to amalgamate the funds of the Mackintosh Farr Trust with the funds of the Inverness Royal Academy was considered at great length before a Committee of the House of Lords, numerous witnesses being examined. The Committee decided that no sum of money should be contributed out of the Mackintosh Farr Fund for the purposes of the Academy, but approved of clauses relating to management, audit, supervision, and the admission of bursars. The promoters, however, withdrew the bill.

August 1.—Major-General Sir Alexander Cameron of Inverailort, K.C.B., died on the 20th ult., at the age of 71. He began his military career under the Duke of York in Holland with the 92nd Highlanders; and afterwards served in Egypt, in the Peninsula, and at Waterloo, where he was severely wounded. Sir Alexander was interred in the churchyard of Kihnallie, within a few feet of his gallant clansman, Colonel Cameron of Fassfern.

August 15.—On the 12th inst. Viscount Reidhaven, son and heir of the Earl of Seafield, was married in London to the Hon. Caroline Stuart, youngest daughter of Lord Blantyre. The marriage was celebrated with rejoicings in Glen-Urquhart and Strathspey. On the 7th inst. Mr John Grant, yr. of Glenmoriston, was married to Emily, daughter of Mr James Morrison, formerly M.P. for the Inverness Burghs. This marriage also called forth rejoicings on the estate.

Ibid.—A reporter who went to Strathconan gives an account of clearances that had taken place on the estate of Strathconan, belonging to Mr Balfour. Some of the people had club farms, and in one case the tenants had asked the proprietor to take the holding off their hands. This led to other changes which had called forth public criticism.. A proportion of the evicted were squatters. The arrangements made by the proprietor, however, were represented as liberal. The net result was a reduction of the population from 508 persons to 383. Twenty-seven families, making in all 123 persons, were removed. The reporter says that “forced removals, under any circumstances, and however carried out, must bear an aspect of oppression,” but he thought there would be an increase of oomfort among the population that remained.

August 22.—A letter from Melbourne gives an indifferent account of the condition of things in Australia at this time. A great emigration was going on to California, where the gold-fever was acute.

August 29.—An account had turned up of the expenses incurred at a funeral, carried out by Alexander Rose, tacksman at the Ness of Invergordon in 1751. The deceased was the widow of the tacksman of Meikle Tarrell, and the total oost came to £20 6s. Cromarty supplied some of the items, but an express was sent to Inverness for bread. “The most\ notable feature, however, is the charge for claret and white wine. Wine is still used at respectable funerals, but the taste for claret seems a forgotten pleasure with most of the people in the country. In the long period that has come and gone since the clerk put pen to the paper before us, wine has doubled and trebled in price. Tea, however, seems cheaper now by one-half.” Three bottles of claret and five of white wine came to 13s 4d; and this was not reckoned a sufficient supply, for there is another entry, “To 1½ doz. claret and 7 bottles white wine, £2 1s 8d.” Half a pound of fine Congo tea cost 4s 6d.

Ibid.—The death of Louis Philippe, driven from the throne of France by the Revolution of 1848, occurred on the 25th inst. He was in the 77th year of his age.

September 5.—Queen Victoria, with Prince Albert and their family, travelled from the Isle of Wight to Scotland, making something of a “royal progress,” especially in the north of England and on this side of the Border. The Queen stayed at Holy-rood, and Prince Albert laid the foundation stone of the National Gallery. Afterwards the royal party went to Balmoral. Among the sporting visitors in the neigh-hood of Inverness was Lord Gough, the conqueror of the Sikhs, who had taken Corrimony in Glen-Urquhart.

Ibid.—The English Free congregation (now the United Free High) had acquired the site at the foot of Fraser Street for their new church, and plans for the building were in preparation.—A young man named Grant, from Glasgow, who had climbed Ben-Nevis with some friends on the 26th ult., parted from them on his way down, and slipping on a steep slope was killed.—A wounded stag, attempting to leap across the gorge at Foyers, above the lower fall, fell into the stream and was carried over by the torrent into the cauldron below. A gamekeeper was slung down the precipice, and secured the body of the victim.—The first show of stock, under the auspices of the Inverness Farmers’ Society, was held on the Academy Green on 29th August, and was considered a great success.

September 12.—A proposal was under consideration to transfer the poor crofters and cottars in the district of Sollas in North Uist to a district in the south of the island called Langlash and Loch-Efortside. Lord Macdonald gave his consent, and Destitution Committees were willing to make a grant of £1700. It was proposed to give the families, between 60 and 70 in number, holdings of twenty acres each. The people, however, were doubtful about the scheme, and expressed a preference to go to Canada.

Ibid.—No fewer than two hundred persons had recently been roaming the Cairngorms, searching for precious stones. Their imaginations had been excited bj paragraphs announcing the discovery of such stones by a resident shepherd. No success, however, attended the crowd of marchers.

September 19.—A representative of the paper visited Gairloch, the estate of Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, to investigate the experiments made in a garden system of cultivation introduced among the crofters by Dr Mackenzie of Eileanach. The reporter thought that Dr Mackenzie deserved credit for his effort to introduce the system, but expressed the opinion that it “had proved little less than an entire failure.” Its best result was to raise the crofters’ ideas of comfort, and to induce them to erect better houses than the old black bothies. The experiment, however, was not profitable either to the estate or the small tenants.

Ibid.—The Prime Minister, Lord John Russell, paid a visit to the Dowager Duchess of Bedford at the Doune of Rothiemurchus. He was presented with an address at Aviemore, and followed to the Doune by a procession of Highlanders. At night a bonfire was lighted on the Ord Bane.

September 26.—The Northern Meeting was a we[l-attended and brilliant gathering. It is noted that for some years no sports or ball had taken place on Wednesday, the programme being confined to Thursday and Friday. Lord and Lady Gough were present at the sports and balls.

Ibid.—“Her Majesty has made a graceful recognition of genius by knighting the distinguished artist, Edwin Landseer, who is at present at Balmoral, sketching the red deer of the Highlands.”

Ibid.—John Jardine, advocate, Sheriff of Ross and Cromarty, died on the 21st inst. at the age of 74. He had been Sheriff of Ross-shire for seventeen years. His successor was George Deas, then senior advo catedep ute.

October 10 and 17.—The election of a Coadjutor Bishop for the diocese of Moray and Ross excited much interest. The election took place at Elgin on the 2nd inst., the clergymen proposed for the office being the Rev. James -Mackay, incumbent of St John’s Episcopal Church, Inverness, and Rev. Robert Eden, rector of Leigh in Essex. Four voted for each candidate.

One of Mr Eden’s supporters was Dean Maclaurin, Elgin, who a few days afterwards announced his secession to the Church of Rome. This added to the interest taken in the question.

Ibid.—A disease, considered to be pleuro pneumonia, had broken out on several farms in the neighbourhood of Inverness, and had proved most fatal, especially among dairy stock.

October 24 and 31.—The condition of the West Highland people was again a matter of public concern. The Strathaird crofters in Skye had sent an appeal for assistance, alleging that they could not go to seek employment at a distance, as the proprietor and authorities were threatening to turn them out by military force. This statement was denied. On the other hand it was pointed out that the crofters had declined to emigrate to Canada, although their landlord had offered an advance of £1200, to be divided among them according to their necessities. The landlord was not deriving a shilling from the estate, as no rent was or could be paid by the people. It is announced that at last an agreement was likely to be completed between Lord Macdonald and the Perth Destitution Committee with regard to the people of Sollas. They were to receive allotments at Langlash and Loch-Efortside, in North Uist, on conditions arranged between the proprietor and the Committee. Air Charles Shaw, sheriff-substitute of the Long Island, was to be sole arbiter if any question arose. The general outlook in the west, however, is represented as gloomy. “The Destitution Funds are now exhausted; the potato crop has again failed in the West Highlands to a very considerable extent; and those whose information best entitles them to judge, concur in the opinion that before the spring of 1851 general and severe distress will be experienced on the extensive western coasts and islands of Inverness and Ross.”

Ibid.—Lord Ashley (afterwards Earl of Shaftesbury), who had been a guest at Dunrobin, was presented on his return journey with the freedom of the burgh of Tain.

October 31.—The Chancellor of the Exchequer had communicated to the agents of the burgh his final determination respecting the new bridge over the Ness. He proposed to grant half the cost of the bridge; the remainder and the approaches to be a charge on the County or the Highland Roads and Bridges Fund; but lie was prepared to advance the money. This might be repaid either by the county or by deduction from the road fund. A toll might be levied on the bridge as the parties chose. The engineer now estimated for a girder bridge and approaches £16,000; for a suspension bridge from £13,000 to £14,000.

Ibid.—The Pontifical decree, establishing a Roman Catholic hierarohy in England, was published, and created great excitement.

November 7 to 28.—During the month there was constant discussion on what was called the Papal aggression, indignation being fanned by a letter written by Lord John Russell to the Bishop of Durham. In the Highlands there was the greatest apprehension on the subject of distress in the Hebrides. Mr Shaw, sheriff-substitute in the Long Island, had addressed a letter to the sheriff of Inverness-shire on the 30th of September, and it had been submited to the Lord-Advocate and the Home Secretary, Sir George Grey. The latter laid the communication before the Board of Supervision, which wrote that four years of distress had not been sufficient to bring about any change of conditions offering hope of permanent improvement, and the immediate relief of impending destitution must be provided for by the local authorities from local resources. The letter says—“Where the proprietors have sought to diminish the pressure of the population upon the means of subsistence by issuing notices of removal, accompanied by offers of liberal assistance to emigrate, they have generally been met by a sullen refusal or turbulent resistance, and by clamorous complaints of injustice.” The Board thought if responsibility was thrown, at least in the first instance, on the Parochial Boards, the effect would be useful. The Home Secretary concurred with the Board of Supervision, and with regard to emigration, suggested that application should be made to the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners.

Ibid.—The editor protested against the whole burden of Highland distress being thrown on the districts. He points out that the Highland proprietors were as helpless as the poor people themselves. All the proprietors might not have done their duty, but many had, and the evil was beyond their means of cure. In Skye the resources of Lord Macdonald and Macleod of Macleod were exhausted. “No Highland landlord exerted himself more entirely and devotedly than Macleod in the interests of his people and estates. He made roads, established communication with the Lowlands, borrowed drainage money, improved land, opened shops, and largely involved his estate with the view of placing his people in a position unassailable by future failures of the potato. But these well-meant efforts failed. The large sums expended produced no reward. The kind-hearted chief can now look on only from a distance, and see, without the power to mitigate, the distress which threatens that clan whose welfare lies nearest his heart.”

Ibid.—The plans for the new bridge over the Ness had been received. The estimate for the proposed girder bridge had now been raised to £20,000, and for a suspension bridge to £18,000.—Preparations were in progress for the great exhibition of 1851. Mr D. Macdougall of the Clan Tartan Warehouse, had failed to induce an Inverness committee to sanction a stall at the exhibition, and he had obtained a place through the Elgin Committee.— The editor had begun a series of articles on local antiquities.—A fire had destroyed Mr James Anderson’s sawmills in Shore Street.

Ibid.—On the 21st inst. the decision of the College of Bishops on the question of the election of a Coadjutor Bishop of Moray and Ross is announced. The conclusion was that as neither the Rev. Robert Eden nor the Rev. James Mackay appeared to be supported by a clear legal majority, the Bishops refused to accept and confirm either.

December 5 to 26.—The same public subjects occupy attention during the month. There is frequent reference to the condition of the West Highlands, and a letter appears from Macleod of Macleod urging that emigration appeared to be the only means by which the population could be permanently rescued from the danger of a constantly recurring destitution. The death of Sir John Macpherson-Grant of Ballindalloch calls forth a cordial tribute, and also that of Mr J. W. Lillingston of Lochalsh. The latter was the eldest son of Abraham Spooner of Elmden Hall, Warwickshire, who took the name of Lillingston on his marriage with Miss Lillingston of Ferrity Grange, Yorkshire. Mr Lillingston the second married a niece of Sir Hugh Innes, Bart, of Lochalsh in 1832. The property' at the time was under trust, and its sole management did not come into Mr Lillingston’s hands until 1844. He then relieved the tenantry of arrears, and in the year of the potato famine expended £2600 in meal, for which he only received a return of £620. He assisted those who petitioned for aid to emigrate, expending £1000 on the last emigration from Lochalsh.

Ibid.—On the 12(h inst., under the head of Local Antiquities, there are extracts from papers at Culloden House, giving items of accounts sent in for losses sustained by tenants at the close of the rising of 1745-6. A horse, “taken by the Frasers,” is valued at £1 13s 4d, and a house burned by a party of Highlanders at 6s 8d. The farm of Leanach, on the Moor of Culloden, was then cultivated, and within its enclosures the Duke of Cumberland ordered the English soldiers slain in the battle to be interred. The tenant was then one James Macdonald, who sends in an account claiming £5 8s 4d for losses sustained from the royal troops. The principal item is a mare, £1 13s 4d; two lambs, Is each; and a barrow, 6d. There are other interesting items.

Ibid.—A movement for the cultivation of flax was at this time suggested in Glen-Urquhart.


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

Quantcast