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An Inverness Merchant of the Olden Time
By William MacKay

I. Introductory.

From the earliest period of which we have any historical knowledge, Inverness has been the principal town in the territory which we now know as the Highlands. In the sixth century it was the-capital of the kingdom of the Northern Picts, and at or near it was the king’s palace, to which St Columba made his memorable journey in 565. From its position at the head of the Moray Filth, and at the crossing of the ancient routes from the east to the west and from the north to the south, its standing as a trade centre must always have been an important one. Long before the Norseman or the Saxon visited our shores Pictish merchants bought and sold within its narrow bounds, and supplied the men of the hills and glens with such rude wares as were at their command, in exchange for the produce of the country and the spoils of the chase. The union of the kingdoms of the Picts and the Scots introduced fresh blood, greatly to the advantage of trade; and the little town’s prosperity was further increased by the settlement of Flemish and Frisian immigrants. The remote community was favoured and protected by the early Scottish kings, and charters bestowing exceptional rights and privileges on the burgh were granted by William the Lion and his successors. After that king’s time Saxon names prevailed among the burgesses, but Celts are also found—descendants of the old inhabitants, remaining Pictish in blood, but now speaking the Gaelic instead of the Pictish tongue. The foreign settlers intermarried with native families, and in time became more Celt than Saxon. The view that Inverness was a Saxon colony is only partially correct, and there is no ground for the assumption that the general Highlander was an enemy to the community. A Lord of the Isles or an Earl of Ross might, in the course of his wars and feuds, attack Inverness Castle and the town which flourished under its wing, just as he attacked the castles of Urquhart and Ruthven and the districts protected by them. But the Highland Capital existed for the benefit and’ convenience of the Highlands, and the fact was fully appreciated by chief and clansman alike. For a long period, it is true, the Saxon took more kindly to trade than the Celt, who rejoiced more in the free and open life of the country; but the Celt’s prejudice against town life and commercial pursuits gradually wore away, and by the sixteenth century we find men of Gaelic names generally engaged as merchants, churchmen, and lawyers, not only in our burgh, but all over the Highlands. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, while we meet such well-known Inverness names as Vass, Cuthbert, Schivez, Dunbar, Barbour, Hossack, Alves, and Inglis, which reveal their Saxon or at least their southern origin, although they were frequently borne by men in whose veins much Celtic blood flowed, we also find that the great majority of the traders and business men bore Gaelic names, or names which had come to be considered Gaelic, Many of those Highlanders were small lairds, or the younger sons of larger lairds. The families of Mackintosh and Grant gave prominent merchants to Inverness; the Chisholms of Sfcrathglass, the Cummings of Dulshangie in Glen-Urquhart, and the Macleans of Dochgarroch, gave merchants and lawyers; and as an instance of historical repetition, I may be allowed to mention that my own great-great-grandfather, John Mackay, laird of Achmonie, in Glen-Urquhart, practised law in Inverness from about 1680 till after 1715, and that he acted as solicitor in connection with the Grant estates in that glen, as I happen to do today. . The Forbeses of Culloden and the Robertsons of Inshes found the ancient burgh a profitable field of enterprise; and among the gentlemen who came from a greater distance was Alexander Stuart, of the family of Kinchardine in Strathspey, who settled as a merchant in Inverness about the middle of the seventeenth century, and whose son, Bailie John Stuart (or Steuart, as he wrote the name), was a merchant of position in the town from about 1700 till 1752.

Early travellers and writers have pictured the Highlands and the condition of the Highland people in gloomy colours, and if their accounts are true we must believe that our forefathers were the most miserable of men. There is, however, no ground for such belief. The men who described the Highlands in the old days were English or Lowland Scots, and before the time of Oliver Cromwell few of them ventured within the Highland bounds. Their descriptions are mainly founded upon the marvellous tales which floated among the Lowlanders concerning the “Wild Scots” who inhabited the mountains, and are not to be relied upon for historical accuracy. Even after Cromwell's soldiers made the Highlands comparatively well known, the Southrons who visited them and recorded their experiences strained after the marvellous to an extent which renders their accounts unreliable. Burt's Letters have been taken seriously by historians, and Lord Macaulay founded upon them his picturesque but untrustworthy description of Inverness and the Highlands at the time of the Revolution. But Burt, who wrote for the amusement of a friend in England, and perhaps also for his own, exaggerated greatly, and in many points his picture is a caricature. The mountains and glens are still with us, and we know that the mountains are not so high or the glens so dark and deep as he depicts them. We know that a traveller from Inverness to the barracks of Bernera in Glenelg had not to ride over the stupendous perpendicular precipices or through the bottomless bogs which he encountered, and that there is no lake in Strathglass which is so high and so shut in by top-joining mountains that the sun’s rays never reach it, and that it is covered with ice all the year round*. We also know that Highland eagles do not steal colts and calves. These pictures, which he draws of the country, are not more distorted than his picture of the town. According to him, Inverness was a collection of thatched and almost windowless hovels. The letter-books of Bailie John Stuart, upon which this paper is chiefly based, [These letter-books caver the period from 1715 to 1752. For the use of them I am indebted to the courtesy of the Bailie’s descendant, W. Hay-Hewton, Esq., of Newton, East Lothian.] toll us that large cargoes of slates and consignments of glass, were regularly brought into Inverness long before Burt’s time, as well as during his years of residence in the town. [According- to the introduction to his Letters, Burt came to Inverness about 1730. He himself, however, states that he was there in 1725. He repeatedly appears in the Bailie’s letter-books between 1726 and the end of 1729.] Well built and commodious houses, which he daily saw during those years, still stand, and more of a similar character have only been swept away within living memory. The plan which he himself gives of the burgh, and which is drawn from a careful survey, shows it to have been a regularly-built town of four main streets—Bridge Street, East Street (High Street), Castle Street, and Church Street. In those streets the merchants and lawyers had their residences and shops and offices—Bailie John Stuart’s house being about the middle of Church Street. It appears to have been a prominent buildings On 26th September, 1721, the magistrates and town council, in appointing constables for the ensuing year, allocated the part of Church Street above the Bailie’s house to Alexander Fraser and William Binnie, and the part of the street below his house to John Gibson and John Monro.

The export trade of Inverness consisted from early times of cattle, horses, fish, skins, wool, and furs. According to Boece, “mony wild hors” were reared in the Loch Ness district, and we know from other sources that that was the case. He also tells us that in the same district there were “mony martrikis [martens], bevers, quhitredis [weasels], and toddis [foxes]; the furringis and skinnis of thaim ar coft [bought] with gret price amang uncouth murchitudis.” Native timber, floated down from Glenmaristcn and Loch Ness-side, or from the glens of Strathglass, was also exporter!, or made into trading vessels, or into galleys for the chiefs and chieftains of the Hebrides and the West Coast. As early as 1249, the Earl of St. Pol and Blois had built for him in Inverness a “ wonderful ship,” which carried himself and his followers to the Holy Land. In exchange for the exports, the manufactures and productions of England and the South of Scotland, and of the Continent, were brought to Inverness, and sent into the glens. In 1578, Leslie, Bishop of Ross, describes our bur^li as “a toune nocht of smal reputatione”; but in common with other Scottish towns it for years suffered severely from the removal of the Scottish Court to London in 1603, and from the wars and troubles of the reign of Charles the First; and Tucker, who in 1655 prepared a Report for Cromwell on the Scottish ports, records that there was then connected with our town only one merchant and one small vessel. But it soon entered on a new career of prosperity, and the correspondence of Bailie Stuart shows that in his time it had an extensive home and foreign trade. Neighbouring chiefs and lairds had their town houses within its bounds and sent their boys to its grammar school, the annual “ haranguing ” at which was an event of interest. That school was not its only educational institution. In 1752' the Bailie writes to a married daughter in the South: —“ Wee have verie good schools of all kinds here, and vast many young girles sent here to be educat.”

II. Bailie John Stuart.

The Barons of Kinchardine were of royal descent, the first of them being Walter Stewart, son of Alexander Stewart, the Wolf of Badenoch, who was a son of King Robert the Second. Walter was knighted for his valour at the battle of Harlaw, and he and his descendants continued to hold their beautiful estate in Strathspey until 1661, when it was sold to the Gordons. The eighth Baron was also named Walter, and from him was descended the Bailie, who was the son of Alexander, son. of Robert Og, son of Robert, son of Walter. In the Bailie’s veins there flowed not only royal blood, but also the blood of the chiefs of Grant, Mackintosh, Macgregor, and Cameron; and he and his first and second wives were by blood or marriage connected with almost every leading family within the central Highlands. His father, whom we find engaged in Continental trade, and seriously ill in 1718, probably died in that year. In any case, he was dead before September, 1728, when his widow’s death is referred to by her son, the Bailie, who records that she was “a vertuous good woman.”

The Bailie himself was bom on 2nd September, 1676, and was actively engaged in business on his own account before 1700. His correspondence shows him to have been a man of education and culture, well trained in mercantile matters and in law. He was married, first, to Marion, daughter of Bailie Robert Rose, of the family of Kilravock. She died early in life, and, for his second wife, he took Ann, daughter of Norman Macleod of Drynoch in Skye, who survived him.

During his long business career—from about 1700 to about 1752—he led a life of extreme activity. For years he appeared to prosper—giving the closest attention to his business as merchant, and to his duties as factor on the Earl of Moray’s Lordship of Petty. He also devoted time to municipal affairs, serving on the town council of Inverness from 1703 to 1716. He was a magistrate of the burgh from September, 1713, to 1715, and was ever afterwards known as Bailie Stuart. He was a man of speculative disposition and sanguine temperament, and he ventured and trusted too much. The result was that while other Inverness merchants of his class, such as Forbes of Culloden, Dunbar of i )alcross, Barbour of Aldourie, the Duffs of Drummuir and Muir-town, Fraser of Fairfield, and, at a later period, Inglis of Kings-millc;, and Robertson of Aultnaskiach, made money and became landed proprietors, he, who exceeded them all in industry and enterprise, died in poverty.

III. The Bailie’s Thade.

Bailie Stuart was a merchant in the larger sense of the word, and not in the Scottish sense of shopkeeper. So far as his letter-books show, he had no shop—his business being entirely a counting-house one. Nothing came amiss to him, and for more than half a century he carried on a home and foreign trade of a very extensive and varied kind. He purchased oatmeal on the seaboard of the Moray Firth and all round the coast to Montrose, and to an even larger extent in Caithness, and shipped it to the West Coast and the Hebrides in large quantities. His best customers were the garrisons of Fort-William, of Beraera in Glenelg, and of Duart in Mull, and the men who worked the lead mines of Strontian and Glenelg. To the West he, as a rule, sent the meal by ship round Cape Wrath; but sometimes he forwarded it on horseback to the east end of Loch Ness, from where it was taken by small boats or the Government frigate to Kilchuimen (now Fort-Augustus), whence it was again conveyed on horseback to Inverlochy. In 1717 he supplied the military Governor of Fort-William with 1000 bolls, and he continued for many years to supply that fort, as well as the other garrisons which I have mentioned. He also supplied the chiefs and gentlemen of the Highlands and Islands with that useful article of food, as well as with other commodities. What his wares were, and what the return cargoes consisted of, may be gathered from the following letters, which are selected at random from many of the same kind.

The first is addressed to the Bailie’s cousin, Donald Stuart, master of the ship “Margaret,” of Inverness, and is dated, Inverness, 7th July, 1722 : —

“This serves to order you to proceed to Cromarty to receive aboard my ship, ‘The Margaret’ of this place, five last herrin cask with salt. From thence you are to proceed without loss of time to Gerloch, where you are to address yourself to John Mackenzie, uncle to the Laird of Gerloch, to whom you are to deliver the sixtie salmon barrels with oat meall [in them], 39 barrs iron, 50 rolls of tobacco, and ane anker brandy, with timber balk and broads [boards], a fifty weight and a ston weight iron. You are likeways to deliver to the Laird of Gerloch’s order 5 last of herrin cask containing 200 bushels forraign salt; for which salt and cask you are to gett the Laird’s receipt. And you are likeways to get John Mackenzie's for the meall, iron, balk, broad, and 2 weights .... which receipts you are to transmit to me by the cupar, John Gibson, who goes to pack the salmon; for which purpose see that John Mackenzie takes this meall immediacy out of the barrels, that the salmon be immediatly packed and shiped. And you are to take on board the cod fish, from 24,000 to 25,000, and see you receive only good merchant ware. And if any be bad you are not to receive it as good cod fish, but two for one, and if any be under 14 inches in length you are likeways to receive two for one, in terms of the Contract. If you touch at Orkney it’s fitt you take a pyllot, or, if you do not, you must call at Stornoway, and in that event it’s fitt you get a coast coquet for 25,000 cod fish cured with forraign salt, and 60 barrels salmon, and cause the Land waiter endorse the same. And from Gerloch you are to proceed to this road [Inverness] and waite my furder orders. Mind you are to grant receipt for what fish you are to receive : and nota there are 300 barrels hoops aboard for packing the salmon.”

The second letter which I quote is addressed to Donald Macintyre—“ane honest sensible lad who has the Irish [i.e., Gaelic] language”—on 27th April, 1725 :—

“You are immediatly to repair to Portsoy, where you are to deliver my letter to Alexander Wood, master of the ship1 Thistle, of Bamif, who has loaded a full loadning of meall and bear for my account, which is shipped by Arthur Gordon of Camnue, to whom I wrote last week countermanding the bear I formerly ordered, or at most to ship only 50 bolls, with 700 bolls meall, so that if you find there is no bear to be shipt, you must forward my letter herewith given you to said Carnnue per express, by which I have advised him to ship 100 bolls more meall, making in all 800 bolls meall, for which Alexander Wood is to pass his receipt or bill of loading. How soon the said cargoe is fully shipt, you are to advise me by the Elgin post, and immediatly, without loss of anny time, you are to make the best of your way for Stomway in Lews, where you may dispose of a part of your cargoe if you can doe at 8 merks per boll of 8 ston, reddy money]—but does suppose you see non there, and, therefore, how soon you arrive you are to bespeak a skillfull pyllot to bring you from, thence to Loch Fallord in the Isle of Sky, where you are to address yourself to Roderick Macleod of Contliech, who will assist you in the disposal of a part of your cargoe there, and whose directions you are to follow in shifting of porta, and giving out of the cargoe, untill all is disposed. How soon you arrive in the Isle of Sky you are to acquaint my father-in-law, Norman Macleod of Drynoch. per express, who will likevays assist you with his best advice. I doe not incline to sell the meall under 8 merk per boll of 8 ston, and if you can get reddy money for the whole it’s the better, but, if not, you may trust to the following gentlemen what quantity of the cargoe they will order you to deliver them by their letters, viz.: —William Macdonald, tutor of Macdonald, Roderick Mac-lecd of Contliech, Roderick Macleod of Ullinish, Donald Macleod of Ballamemach, William Macleod of Uibust, who is married to my wife’s sister, or anny other that those gentlemen will desire to trust, or my father-in-law, Drynoch; and what payment you cannot gett in reddy money take their accepted bills payable here or at William Cumming’s shop in Edinburgh, again the 10th day of October nixt. And how soon you have disposed of all or as much as possible of the cargoe for the Isle of Sky, Herries and North Uist, if anny remain after these countrys are served, ycu are to repair to the Keyle near Glenelg, and there you are to address yourself to my father-in-law, who will dispose of what may remain of the cargoe, or will give proper directions anent the sama You’ll take notice that if anny bear is shipt at Portsoy you cannot dispose of the same under 9 merks per boll, and'for that end it’s fitt the skipper or you borrow a firlot at Portsoy to carry allongs with you. Not a you have likeways on board, to be disposed of for my account, 100 half barrs iron, containing 113 ston 9 lbs. old weight, which you are to sell at the best rate you can, not under 3/6 per ston. There is likeways 17 dozen of bottles of claret, to be soid at 16/ per dozen, bottles and all, or the wine without the bottle at 15/. There is likeways a bag of hops, No. 14, containing 1 cwt. 1 qr. 14 lbs., which you’ll see to dispose of at Stomway at the best price you can—I suppose may reach 1/ per lb., but failing of that, it must be sold at Glenelg or Duart Castle in Mull. Notwithstanding the prices of the meall and bear I mentioned, I must leave it to yourself, with the assistance of my friends, to make the best of it you can, according as you find it in demand in the several countrys, but not under five Pounds Scots per boll of 8 ston until you heal furder from me—that is, for the meall. How soon the cargoe is fully disposed, and that you have gott payment of the same in money or bills as above directed, you’ll give Alexander Wood, on receipt, twenty five pounds sterling to purchase his loading of scleat [slate] at Mull, and five pounds more if he takes any part payment of his freight, likeways on his receipt. And when you have so cleared fully with all and sundry, you are to repair to Glenelg, and make the best of your way home with such convoy and directions as my father-in-law will give you, or if you find it more advisable you may deliver to him the whole money and bills, on receipt. And for your trouble I am to give you four pounds sterling, and pay your necessary charges. I wish you a good voyag.”

Stuart addresses similar instructions to Wood, in which he states: —“After your cargoe is out you'll proceed to the Isle of Mull, where you will deliver my letter to John Stevenson, scleat quarrier, who will furnish you your cargoe, which will be about 30,000, suppose; and Donald Macintyre will furnish you money to pay for them at £10 Scots per 1000, and as much cheapper as you can.”

The necessity of being guarded by a “convoy” on Macintyre's journey across country from Glenelg to Inverness, shows that the arm of the law was still weak in the Highlands.

Sometimes Stuart sends large cargoes to Macleod of Macleod and Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat; and in one letter he mentions that these chiefs purchase meal from Irishmen, to whom they pay ready money, instead of granting bills as they do to him. Dublin merchants also appeared on the West Coast and purchased the lairds’ cod and ling for ready money, which unfortunately the Bailie had net always at command. Sometimes, also, he was forestalled in connection with the Inverlochy salmon by Glasgow merchants. But notwithstanding all this, he for many years had the largest fish trade in the North of Scotland. Only a few of his transactions can be referred to. In 1718 he purchases 99 barrels of salmon from Lord Moray, at 43s per barrel. In 1720 he buys a cargo of herring in the Lews, where Zachary Macaulay, a remote relative of Lord Macaulay, was his agent, and he also has an interest in a great herring venture in Loch-"broom. In 1723 he purchases 40,000 cod in Gairloch and Stornoway—the Gairloch fish being, he declares, better than that of Newfoundland, where the Gairloch curer gained his experience. In 1728 there was excellent herring fishing in the Inverness Firth, and he secured the bulk of the catch. In 1730 he acquires the salmon of Burdyards, Lethen, Lord Moray, Cawdor, and Lord Lovat. In 1735 he takes Lovat’s yield of 120 barrels, and in 1736 and subsequent years the salmon “crop” of the Earl of Seaf orth’s fishings of Kintail, until in 1743 Seaforth arrested the purchase on the shores of Loch Dilich. Herring and cod \vere cured for him from time to time by “Lady Assynt”—Mrs Mackenzie of Assynt—the Earl of Cromartie, Sir Alexander Mackenzie of Gairloch, Sir Colin Mackenzie of Coul, and other Highland chiefs and chieftains. Gentlemen of this class have been painted as far above trafficking of this kind, but the truth is that the old Highland landed proprietor had a keen eye to business, and was an expert at a bargain. The Lady of Assynt appears to have conducted her negotiations with a skill against which the Bailie found it necessary to be on his guards “ Madam," wrote he to her on 16th December, 1733, “ I received your acceptable favour, and I find you have accepted of my offer for your herrings. So I hereby oblige myself to receive them, being good sufficient merchantable ware, in the term of my last letter to your Ladyship and your last to me, 'twixt this and the first day of May nixt. But I think fitt to caution your Ladyship that to make them all good merchantable ware they need to be all repact: at shipedng, which will cost you no great expences.”

An offer, dated 31st January, 1734, to the Earl of Cromartier for his Coigeach herring may also be quoted : —

“My Lord,—I received your Lordship’s favour of 30th curt.,, and am willing to take your Lop.’s eighteen lasts herrins at the rate of Seven pounds Ster. p. Last, including ye Bounty—to be' received any time before ye midle of Aprile next, payable in six Moneths after Delivery. But it is not in my power to advance part of ye price just now, being extreamly stretned by many great Disapointments from Good Men, and obliged to goe South against Tuesday next. So if you let me have the herin payable six moneths after Delivery, or at Lamas next, you may send your obligation to Deliver the herins, per Express, and-mention that they must be Good, Sufficient, well Cured, well Packed herin, Cured wt. Foraing Salt, and in good tight Cask of ye Legall Gadge; and lie send my answer to such letter, Concluding our Bargain, which is all that can be done, by, My Lord, Your Lordship’s most humble-

“John Steuart.”


The Bailie’s slate trade was very considerable. We have, already seen his instructions to Wood to bring a cargo of 30,000 from Mull in 1725. In 1722 and 1723 he brings ship-loads from Mull and Easdale. In 1725 he supplies Colonel Urquhart of Newhall, in the Black Isle, with 20,000 Easdale slates for his “New Hall.” In 1734 he delivers 20,000, and in the following year 12,000, to Lord Seaforth, in the Cromarty Firth, for the Castle of Kildin; and in 1737 he sends a cargo from Easdale to London. Hugh Miller informs us in his “Scotch Merchant of the Eighteenth Century/' that coal did not find its way into the Cromarty Firth till 1750; but we find the Bailie bringing coals from Newcastle to Cromarty and Inverness as early as 1721, and the probability is that he did so even earlier. In 1729, his correspondent and agent, John Coutts, of Edinburgh, sends him a cargo of coal for those two towns, and gets in exchange a cargo of herring. The Bailie is continually bringing coals from Leith and Newcastle. In the latter town, indeed, his ships were well known. “Newcastle, he writes in January, 1722, to his brother-in-law, John Macleod, master of one of his vessels, who had arrived from the Continent with a cargo of iron, and general merchandize—“Newcastle, I find, will be your proper ; market, where at least you will find reddy money for the plank and pype staves, &c., perhaps for the iron too . . . and when your cargoe is disposed you are to reload the ship with coalls, and 20 gross of chapin bottles for my accot., and if you please to ship 20 gross more for your accot., you can have no loss by them; and if you can find good barrell hoops from 16/ to 18/ per thousand, you may fill up all the waste room in the ship with them. You are likeways to buy for my accot. a hyde of bend leather and half a dozen drest calves skins, with a pair of boots fitt for me, as also the value of ten shillings- of wine glasses, mugs, tea pots. . . .

Please order Mr George Ouchterlonie at London to insure a hundred and fifty pounds ster. for ship and cargoe from Newcastle homeward, and place the premium to my accot/’ He also brings hides of leather and dressed calves’ skins from London and other southern ports, as well as such things as tea, powdered white sugar, pewter plates, clothes for himself, and silks and other articles of raiment for his wife and daughters and lady friends. He liked to have nice things about him. In 1723 he orders from London two iron grates—one for his dining-room, and another for a bedroom—and he insists on their being “ hansom.” He was also fond of books, which he ordered, as a rule, from Strachan, of London. Of the more substantial home products, he brought large quantities of salt from the southern Scottish ports; hops from London, for the brewers of Inverness, Cromarty, and Stornoway; window glass from Newcastle; and building bricks from London.

Much of the salmon purchased by the Bailie was consigned to London, but much more was shipped to various Continental ports. To the Continent he also sent almost his whole purchases of cod and herring. In 1715, when his letter-books, so far as existing, begin, he sends cargoes of herring and cod to France, Spain, Minorca, and Danzig; and £or the next twenty-five yeprs his ships sail regularly between Inverness or the West Coast and all parts of the Continental seaboard from Sweden and Norway to the Adriatic, carrying fish, flesh, com, and other produce. Only a few of these voyages need be referred to. In 1715 he sends 73 barrels of pickled beef to Rotterdam, and a cargo of barley to Amsterdam; in 1716 a cargo of herring to Marseilles and Leghorn, and salmon and grilse to Rouen; in 1720 a oargo of “lamskins, commonly called mortskins,” to Danzig; in 1721, herring to Copenhagen, herring, salmon, and codfish to Venice, and salmon to Leghorn; in 1725, salmon to Holland and Spain, and herring to Stockholm; in 1735, com to Leghorn, and salmon from Lochbroom to St Valery; in 1736, salmon from Loch Duich to Leghorn, and potters’ ore and smelted lead from the mines of Strontian to Amsterdam; and, in 1738, lead ore from Glenelg to Rotterdam.

His return cargoes were made up of such goods as were then obtainable at those foreign ports: timber and barrel staves from Christiania, Stockholm, and Danzig; iron and sheet copper from Stockholm; tea, brandy, wine, tobacco, indigo, and iron from Amsterdam and Rotterdam: linseed, flax, and onion and other seeds from Campvere; salt from St Valery, Rouen, and the Spanish ports; claret from Bordeaux; sherry from Cadiz and Lisbon: and oranges, lemons, and other fruits from the Mediterranean ports. As a specimen of his instructions to his correspondents abroad, I shall quote his letter to John Andrew, Rotterdam, dated 24th March, 1721: —

“You are to ship for mvaccount in said ship [the ‘Christian ’] 4 chests best Burgundy wine, each chest to contain 50 flasks; and four half hogsheads of best Spanish Sake [Sack], to be bought new of the Keys if possible; 8 rehms writting wheat [white] paper of such as is commonly shipt for this place, from 50 t>o 60 Stivers per rehm; 120 single and ten duble ankers best French Brandy; another Chest of Burgundy, and one chest of 40 flasks for James Russell and me in company; item, for my proper accot. 50 lb. best Indigoe, and a tun of best strong French Claret, to be bought of the Keys; a warming pan; a waste ditto; and a large black bear’s Skin dressed on the inside.”

To the foreign wine merchants he occasionally sends, as a rare gift, a small quantity of whisky, which he sometimes calls “mountain wine,” and sometimes “Skye champagne.” Beer, brandy, and wines were at the time the drinks of the Highlands, but whisky was becoming more common than it was in previous times. In 1735, Stuart quotes its price at £12 per hogshead.

IV.—The Bailie’s Ships,

Tucker’s Report of 1655, to which reference has already been made, gives Inverness credit for only one merchant, and only one ship, of ten tons. Trie Bailie’s letter-books show that in his time Tucker’s solitary merchant was represented by at least a score of men of standing—mostly Celts, and all of good family. Among them were the Bailie himself and his father Alexander Stuart, Duff of Drummuir, Poison of Kinmylies, Fraser of Fairfield, Mackintosh of Termit, Schivez of Muirtown, John, Donald, and William Mackay, sons of Mackay of Scourie, Angus Mackintosh, Lachlan Mackintosh, William Mackintosh, Kenneth Mackenzie, Simon Mackenzie, John Duff, John Shaw, Thomas Alves, Ludovick Gordon, and Bailies Robertson and Hossack. Another merchant who did business in Inverness was Duff of Braco, ancestor of the present Duke of Fife. We find him. in 1725 in partnership with the Bailie in a timber and iron speculation. These gentlemen required ships for their operations, and Tucker’s single ship was represented by a considerable number. The Bailie himself owned, wholly or in part, about a dozen—almost all named after members of his family, and all commanded by gentlemen. The “Alexander” bore the name of his father, to whom she originally belonged, and was under the charge of his cousin, Alexander Stuart. The “John” bore his own name, and the “Ann” that of his wife; while the “ Marjorie,” the “Margaret,” the “Helen,” the “Janet,” the “Agnes,” and the “Christian ” tell of the daughters who sat by his fireside. The “Marjorie” was commanded by John Mackay, and afterwards, by Donald Fraser; the “Ann” by Alexander Rose, brother of the Bailies first wife, who subsequently sailed the “Helen,” and thereafter the “Janet”; the “Margaret,” succeasively by the Bailie’s brothers-in-law, Donald and John Macleod; the “Agnes” by his cousin, Donald Stuart; and the "Christian’' by John Baillie, of the family of Dunain—names which show that the Celt had taken to the sea .as readily as to the counter. There were also the Good Success,” the “Pledger" the “Swallow" and the “Lark ”; and the “Adventure” was for many years sailed to all parts of Britain and the Continent by John Reid, the Bailie’s son-in-law, and his best friend in his old age.

Some at least of those vessels were built by the Bailie at the Shore of Inverness, the oak being brought from Damaway and Loch Ness-side, and .part of the iron and timber frame-work ready-made from Danzig. At that time the southern Scottish ports had their ships built in Holland or on the Baltic ooast, owing to the scarcity and inaccessability of home timber. Tlie “ Marjorie” is described by him in 1721 as “a clever well manned vessel” of 50 tons; and next year he builds a new barque of 40 tons. The probability is that none of his ships exceeded 50. But, small though they were, they were continually ploughing the stormiest seas—sometimes braving the winds and currents of the Pentland Firth, sometimes crossing the Minch to Stornoway, or the North Sea to some Scandinavian or Dutch port; to-day at Leith, London, or Cork; to-morrow on their way across the Bay of Biscay and round Gibraltar to uie Spanish and Mediterranean ports or the head of the Adriatic. In 1743 we find John Reid in Jamaica. It would be interesting to know that he had made his way there in the good ship the “Adventure".

The Bailie was careful to insure his ships and cargoes against the various perils of the sea—the insurances being effected sometimes in Edinburgh, sometimes in London, but more frequently by his friend, John Andrew, of Rotterdam. Here again it is only necessary to give a few instances. In 1716 he insures a ship with her cargo of salmon, from the West Coast to Rotterdam “against risk from Swedish privateers.” Next year Andrew effects for him an insurance of 900 guilders on a ship and cargo “from Poleu [Poolewe] on our West Coast or ye Preades [the Hebrides] to the Port of Campheer [Campvere],” and on another ship “from Famburg to Christiansand in Norway, and from there to Inverness, and from Inverness to Cork.” In 1730 William Cuming of Ediuburgh insures ship and cargo of salmon from Inverness to Leghorn against all hazards, and in 1735, Udney, of London, ship and cargo of beiring and salmon from Loch Kennard and Loch-broom to St Valery.

The shipping risks were great and many. Swedish privateers scoured the Northern seas; the Southern were swept by Moorish pirates, who sometimes ventured even into British waters, seizing ships and taking their crews to Morocco or Algeria, where they served as slaves until released by death or a heavy ransom. The wars between Britain arid France and Spain made voyaging dangerous, and there were of course the ordinary perils of the sea.

On 8th October, 1717, the barque “Alexander,” laden with herring, sailed from Inverness for Cork, with instructions to dispose of her cargo there, and then to proceed to Rochelle for wine and brandy. Her captain, Alexander Stuart, was ill at the time, and Thomas Greig took his place. The good ship sailed along the East Cnast of Scotland and England, until it rounded the North Foreland, when it was met and captured by a Swedish privateer, of which an Englishman named Norcross was commander. Norcross proceeded to take his prize to Gothenburg in Sweden, but, landing in France, he was apprehended and sent to England to suffer for his misdeeds. The privateer, however, with the “Alexander,” sailed on without him. But when off the coast of Norway Greig and his Inverness lads suddenly attacked and overcame the Swedes who were on board their ship, and, sending them adrift, ran the vessel into a Norwegian harbour. A Danish war ship, who witnessed the daring deed, took the “Alexander” under her protection, and, claiming her as a prize, took her to Lairwick in Norway, and thereafter to Copenhagen. The claim was resisted by the Bailie, who had a good friend in Alexander Ross, merchant in Copenhagen. The British Ambassador was appealed to, and he brought the matter before the Danish Court, with the result that the ship and crew and cargo were released, and in 1718 Greig returned in triumph to Inverness, having sold his herring, not in Cork, but in the Baltic. But the “Alexander” did not long survive. She went to the bottom in 1720.

In 1718 Alexander Stuart sailed from Inverness for the Mediterranean; but his ship was taken by the Moors, and he and his crew were captives in Morocco until the end of 1721, when they found their way back to Inverness. On their return the Bailie negotiated a bill for £20, “the money being designed to supply my poor friends come out of captivity.”

On 12th November, 1718, the “Good Success,” in which the Bailie was interested, was wrecked “on a blind rock off ye Illeland of Sandsartone, off ye coast of Swedeland,” Captain Alexander Dunbar and the crew narrowly saving themselves by taking to a small boat three minutes before she sank in forty fathoms. They made their way to Danzig, and reached Inverness in the “Janet" on 4th January. In December, 1720, the “Marjorie ” was crushed in the ice near Copenhagen, and Captain Donald Fraser and all the crew, except two, were drowned. In the following December a barque bringing meal, nuts, and oak-bark to the Bailie was stranded on the coast of Aberdeenshire. Immediately the unfortunate vessel struck, the native fishermen “fell on her,” and carried the riggings and the cargo to their houses. “ Baillie Forbes,’7 writes Stuart, “ who seems to be ane honest gentleman and Baillie in those bounds, was so convinced of there barbarity from there own confession that he fined them in ten pounds ster.

By a lait Act of Parliament medling with wreckt good where all the crew come safe ashoare is made Felonie and to be punished with death, and if some rascall was hanged for such a crime it would be a good service done the nation, and probable deter from such proceedings again.”

The “Ann,” laden with wine from Bordeaux, was wrecked on the still-dreaded coast of Usshant in Brittany in December, 1725. Next year the “Margaret” was lost near Montrose; and in 1728 the “Agnes” was wrecked in the Orkneys, uninsured, involving the unfortunate Bailie in a loss of 5000 merks. In his latter years the “Christian” alone remained to him—“my poor Christian,” he tenderly calls her. She escaped the perils of the sea, but she met a less glorious fate. She was seized and dismantled by sheriff-officers at Leith, and, to her owner’s undying sorrow, sold for his debts.

V.—The Bailie as Factor.

When the first of his letter-books now existing opens in 1715, we find Bailie Stuart factor for the Earl of Moray on the fair and fertile Lordship of Petty, whose castle—Castle Stuart—has undergone hardly a change since his time. One of his letters tells that before 1712 he was also factor for Lord Bute on an estate in Ross-shire. He continued Lord Moray’s factorship till 1734—not only acting as the administrator of his property, but also, as baron-bailie, presiding over the baron court, which, until its powers were curtailed by Parliament in 1747, exercised an almost unlimited jurisdiction, the right of pit and gallows not excepted.

I have referred to Stuart as the administrator of Lord Moray’s property, but little administration was in his day required. The land was reclaimed by the tenants, who also erected the farm buildings, and, when they left, received “melioration” for them from their successors. The factor of the olden time had little to do with the work of reclamation and building, and his duties were almost exclusively confined to those of convicting and giving judgment in the baron court, collecting money rents and feu-duties, gathering in the rents payable in kind and realising them, removing defaulting tenants and letting their holdings to others. He had to perform the unpleasant part of his modem representative’s duty without the pleasant; and his class consequently acquired a reputation for severity and oppression which in some parts still lingers.

That the Bailie was in his own day looked upon as an oppressor of poor tenants is very probable; that he was their friend is clearly shown by his letters, which are now brought to light for the first time. He never lost a fair opportunity of pleading their cause with the Earl whom he represented. The troubles connected with the rising of 1715 were followed by distress, which, in some districts, developed into a famine. The people of Petty were among the sufferers, and they found it difficult to pay the rent for the crop of 1715, part of which was payable in money—“custom” or “custom money”—and part in grajn—“ferm” or “farm”—which was gathered into the grange barn which still stands at Castle Stuart, and converted into meal or sold to maltsters and brewers.

The Bailie’s cousin, John Stuart, Commissary of Inverness, and brother of Alexander Stuart, the shipmaster to whom reference has repeatedly been made, was the Earl’s “doer” or solicitor in Edinburgh, as well as the Bailie’s agent there; and there was constant correspondence between the cousins. On 21st April, 1716, the Bailie writes the Commissary with money for various purposes, and he concludes his letter thus:—“I entreat how soon this comes to hand you pay the Earle of Morray £50 sterling more, and gett his Lordship’s receipt to me for the same, and forward the enclosed letter to his Lordship after reading and sealling. I think the Earle should give down to his tennants of Pettie a year’s custom money, which is no great matter, in consideration of their Losses, which they will not recover in heast; and I wish you would advise this.”

The advice was given and taken, as is shown by the following letter dated 28th December, 1716, which I give as a specimen of the Bailie’s epistles to the Earl, It will be observed that the factor’s cautioners or sureties for his intromissions threatened to withdraw, and that he was consequently disposed to resign. The feu-duties referred to are sti 11 paid, to the Earls of Moray for certain lands in Strathnaim and Strathdearn. “May it please your Lordship,—Severall considerations relaiting to your Lop’s interest oblidged me to run this by express, which accom-panys the inclosed papers came some time agofc to my hands from Commissar Steuart. I hade returned them much sooner, but that I could not prevail with Dunmagless and John Mackgilvray to signe them till verie laitly; they making Demur annent Alex. Mackpherson of Craggie, who, they say, is much in arrear and quite broke. They insinuat they are to recall their Cautionrie in the factorie again [against] Whitsunday, in which case I think your Lop. must think of a new manadger on the estate again that time. In the meantime, I return your Lop. a coppie of my interim Factorie subscrived, as also a Duble of the rentall, with bill on Mr James Muchelson, jeweller in Edinburgh, for fiftie pound sterling on four days’ sight, which I understand will answer punctually, and is what I have received of these feu duties as yett, and I shall send what more money comes to my hand as I gett it. I have indorsed the bill to your Lop., so that your Lop. may indorse it blank, and send it over for payment to your doer at Edinburgh. I sent a good time agoe some funds for answering your Lop., about two hundred pound sterling, which I hope has answered your Lop. or now, and is much more than I could make good as yet of last year’s farms [i.e., grain rents] of Pettie. However I doe hope again Candlemas shall bring your Lop. one hundred pounds sterling more, all by the hands of Commissar Steuart. As to the £ sterling sent by ye bearer, I expect a receipt in return of this, mentioning it is a pairt of the feu duetys of Strathern [Strathdearn] and Strathnern in consequence of my factorie.

“Now, my Lord, I come to writ to you Lop. annent current farms [grain rents] of Pettie. Your Lop. wrot me some time agoe to dispose of the same the best I could, which certainly I inclyne to doe; but iaitly happening to meet with old James Russell he insinuat that bear this year would be worth six libs Scots per boll, and I doe not know but he may have writ your Lop. soe. My Lord, I have done what I could here lo get your Lop. a price, but I find it will be difficult to reach eight marks; therefore without your Lop/s express orders would not sell. I confess the Cropt in Morray this year is much less than last, but I believe likeways that the Demand from Abroad will be also less. Considering what of old Victuall is yet on hand here, the price of Corns can not rise much. However I will be glad your Lop. imploy the old Chamberlain to try what can be done here with the bear of Pettie, and Fie heartily concurr with him. Your Lop.’s further orders on this head will l>e necessarie without loss of time, seeing the tennants are begun to thrash their farms, and the sooner they pay it I am sure the better for your Lop..

“I wrot to Commissar Steuart severall months agoe shewing that the people of Pettie had suffered verie much dureing the time of the lait unhappy civil wars, and that therefore they expected some compassion from your Lop. on that head. I humblie proposed to give down to such as were really sufferers discount of a year’s customs, which he told me your Lop. com-plyed with. Now I want some orders on this head under your Lop.’s own hand, and shall observe them.”

In July, 1717, the factor wrote his constituent fiom Castle Stuart,, referring to the poverty of the tenants, his own factorial troubles and disappointments, and the poor remuneration he received for his services. His salary was 200 merks (£\ 1 2s 2½d) per annum. In 1720 he returns to the same subject, and declares he is sick of the factorship, for which, he repeats, he is not adequately rewarded. Next year he pleads for tenants whom the Earl ordered to be evicted; and in 1722 he absolutely refuses to carry out a removal. In 1723, however, a number of evictions took place; but the new men who came in were not more prosperous than the old, and in 1733 the tenants of the Lordship are described as being in a most wretched condition. In that year there was a famine in the land.

Although the Bailie was himself of gentle blood, or rather, perhaps, because of that circumstance, he never, if he could avoid it, sacrificed the common people for meu of family. In March, 1717, he wrote the Earl protesting against his instructions to turn out tenants in Petty to make room for William Macgillivray, a brother of the Laird of Dunmaglass. “I think,” he states, “It will be u hardship to remove such honest tennents on so short advertisement. ... I must say I am already sick of too many gentlemen tennents in Pettie.”

The landed gentlemen of Strathnaim and Strathdearn, who were the Earl’s vassals, gave him much trouble. Not only, were they constantly in arrear with their feu-duties and casualties, but, what was even a more heinous sin against feudal law, they often absented themselves from the baron courts which they were legally bound to attend, and defied the baron-bailie. The latter’s complaints grew in strength and frequency, until, in February, 1734, he made his last journey to Donibristle, his constituent’s seat in Fife, squared his accounts, and terminated his factorial career. He boasted that he travelled home from Donibristle in two days and a half. Perhaps the consciousness of having left a heavy burden of cares and worries behind added to his speed.

VI.—The Bailie’s Customers and Correspondents.

I can only refer to a few of the Bailie’s customers and correspondents. During the period of forty years covered by his letter-books almost every Highland lord and laird, chief and chieftain, wadsetter and tacksman, is found crossing aud recrossing the stage. We have seen how long and close was his relationship with the Earl of Moray. With the Duke of Gordon and Sir Henry Innes of Innes he trafficked in salmon ; with the Earl of Findlater in salmon and meal. The Earl of Seaforth, who was out in the Fifteen, and led the Spanish expedition which came to grief at the battle of Glenshiel, sold his salmon to him, and bought his slates; and Seaforth*s famous factor, Donald Murchison, dealt with him, and granted bills which he found it difficult to meet. The Earl of Cromartie, who fought for Prince Charles, and was saved from the block by the devotion of his wife, entered into herring and meal transactions with him with a shrewdness which has no savour of romance. Simon of Lovat, who was not so fortunate, was his constant friend— “my best friend; Lord Lovat,” he calls him— selling the Beauly fish to him, buying his salt and other commodities, and accommodating him with money and bills when his purse was empty. The Bailie’s second wife was Lovat’s near relation, and the nobleman addresses the merchant as his dear cousin, and entertains himself aud his wife and daughters at Castle Dounie. The Countess of Sutherland likewise invites the young ladies to Dunrobin, while her son, Lord Strathnaver, grants their father bills which he takes years to pay. In the far North the Earl of Caithness and his brother Francis, Sinclair of Ulbster, and Lord Reay, have extensive dealings with our merchant. Nearer home his principal customers are Lord President Forbes, who long delays payment of a wine bill due by him as representative of his brother, “Bumper John;” Mackintosh of Mackintosh, who fought for King George, while his wife, Colonel Ann, fought for Prince Charles; Mackintosh of Borlum, the famous Brigadier of the Fifteen; the renowned Alasdair Dubh, Chief of Glengarry, who fought at Killiecrankie and Sheriftmuir ; his less worthy grandson, “Young Glengarry,” who, after the Forty-Five, led a mysterious life in France, and whom Mr Andrew Lang identifies with Pickle the Spy : Macdonell of Scotas, who fell at Culloden ; Macdonald of Kinlochmoidart, who did good service at Killiecrankie and Sheriffmuir, and his son, who fought at Culloden, and was executed at Carlisle; Stewart of Appin and Stewart of Ardshiel, who both suffered for their loyalty to the Stewart Line; Sir Alexander Macdonald of Sleat and Macleod of Macleod, who were accused of encouraging Prince Charles and betraying his cause; the Laird of Grant, who during the conflict sat on the fence; and the Gentle Lochiel, who joined the Prince despite his conviction that his cause was hopeless.

Another noted Jacobite whose name frequently appears in the letter-books is the Bailie’s cousin, Colonel John Roy Stuart. So little is known of the personal history of this brave soldier and excellent Gaelic poet that what the letter-books tell of him may be of interest. In 1727 he is an officer in the service of King George, and recruiting in the Highlands. “Our cousin, the Dragoon,” writes the Bailie, “is taking 20 handsome men to his regiment.” Captain Burt was in Inverness at the same time, and the two must have met. In 1736 John Roy is again in Inverness, and, through Lord Lovat’s influence, and perhaps also through the good offices of the Bailie, is allowed to escape from prison. Next year he is in Loudon, and writes promising to pay his bill of ,£17 14s to the Bailie. In 1739 he grants a renewal of the bill. From that year till 1745 he is in France, the Bailie’s letters to him being addressed to the care of Mr Smith, Boulogne. The bill remains unpaid, and in November, 1743, the Bailie, without effect, endeavours to got him to send home brandy in payment. In August, 1745, news comes that he is in Ghent, wearing the Highland dress, and in much favour for having saved the life of a lady. In September, 1745, he is in the Highlands in the interests of Prince Charles— “in very good credit and esteem" writes his cousin. After Culloden, he for a time wandered in his native Strathspey, composing “psalms” in English and laments in Gaelic, and in the end found his way back to Boulogne, where he died. In November, 1749, his widow is referred to. His brother, Captain Donald Stuart, of Lord Lewis Drummond’s Regiment, is repeatedly mentioned.

That the Bailie was a Jacobite and a friend of the Jacobites is clear; but he did not allow that circumstance to interfere with his intercourse with the Hanoverians. Between 1715 and 1735 he is on intimate terms with General Wightman, who won the battle of Glenshiel; Lieutenant Allardyce, of the Fusiliers, who was defeated by Donald Murchison at Ath-nam-Muileach, in Glen Affaric; Sir Patrick Strachan of Glenkindy, Surveyor-General to the Forfeited Estates Commissioners; Sir Robert Pollock and General Siburg. Governors of Fort-William; Lieutenant Wainsbarow, Governor of Duart Castle ; General Wade, the pacifier of the Highlands, and the maker of the famous roads; Captain Burt, who wrote the “ Letters from the North of Scotland;” General Guest, Governor of Inverness; Colonel Lie, whose regiment was stationed in our town in 1728; and General Sabius, whose regiment was there in 1734. With these officers he traded and drank healths—avoiding, we may assume, that of “the King over the water.” Guest lived for a time in his house, and continued to be his friend long after he left the North. In 1723 the Inverness magistrates had the tide-waiter and a soldier whipped by the common hangman. The military were greatly incensed, and threatened vengeance. The Bailie got Guest to intervene, and peace was restored. In 1728 there was a somewhat similar quarrel between the town and Colonel Lie, which was brought to an end by Wade, through the good offices of Guest. In 1729 Guest and Burt assisted Stuart in recovering the price of meal sold by him in Argyllshire. Stuart, in return, obliged the Hanoverian officers. In 1725 he discounted' a bill by his friend, Captain Mungo Herdman, on Richard Whitehall for the cost of a frigate on Loch Ness for King Jeorge’s service—Whitehall being the builder. In 1728 we find him arranging for the conveyance of baggage and invalid soldiers from the Barracks of Bemera, in Glenelg, to Fort-William.

Some of the Bailie’s business agents and correspondents at home and abroad may be mentioned. His principal correspondent for many years was John Coutts of Edinburgh, the founder of the great house of Coutts «fc Co. Coutts discounted bills, but his business mainly consisted of ventures in herring, cod, salmon, corn, and meal. Stuart also did much business with Alexander and James Coutts and George Ochterlony, London; Marjory -banks and Coutts, Dantzig; John and Alexander Andrew, Rotterdam ; Jacob Ferray, Havre ; Desoby Brothers & Co., Amsterdam ;

Henry Grahame, Stromness; and James Fall and Brothers, Dunbar. But to the student of Highland history it is more interesting to note that the great majority of his business correspondents bore Highland names—in Edinburgh, James Cumming and Patrick Cumming, of the family of Dulshangie in Glen-Urquhart; in Glasgow, Roderick Macleod and Macfarlane &c M‘Carroll; in Fort-William, William Macdougall &c Co. ; in Dingwall, Alexander Mackenzie ; in Stornoway, Zachary Macaulay; in London, William Cumming, John Maclean, Donald Mackay, David Ross, Charles Mackintosh (“who is everyday on ’Change”), and Alexander Mackintosh of Kyjlachy, grandfather of Sir James Mackintosh, the historian of England ; James Campbell, in Stockholm; Hugh Ross, in Gothenburg; Alexander Ross, in Copenhagen ; Robert Mackay, in Rotterdam; John Macdonald “in Holland;” in Bordeaux, Robert Gordon and John Macleod: in Barbadoes, “Mr Mac hay on the wharf ;” and in Jamaica, “Donald Macdonald,” my father’s grandfather, who was transported to Barbadoes for his part in the Forty-five, and, escaping to Jamaica, changed his surname—and who now rests in his native Glen of Urquhart under a tombstone to the memory of Donald Mackay-Macdonald, Esq., late Planter in Jamaica, and Representative of the Ancient Family of Achmonie.” Even the Bailie’s periwigmaker was a Celt—Maciver, Edinburgh ; and so,, with perhaps one or two exceptions, were his lawyers—in Edinburgh, John Macleod, advocate, who was concerned in the-abduction of Lady Grange ; Roderick Macleod, W.S. ; William Fraser, W.S., proprietor of Balnain in Stratherriek, founder of the family of Aldourie, and grandfather of Patrick Fraser-Tytler, the historian of Scotland; and John Stuart, W.S., Commissary of Inverness. In Inverness Stuart’s legal advisers were Evan Baillie of Abriachan, a successful “ doer,” whose most prominent client was Simon, Lord Lovat; and John Taylor, who held some land right in virtue of which be- was one of the few “ barons” or freeholders who were entitled to vote for a member of Parliament for the County of Inverness, and whose name still lives in Baron Tavlor’s Lane. Baron Taylor appears in the letter-books from 1720 to 1743.


The Bailie’s letter-books throw interesting side-lights on the mercantile and social life of his time.

Money was extremely scarce, and credit was consequently extremely long. The ready-money system was virtually unknown, and sellers and buyers lived in an atmosphere of bills and bonds which frequently floated unpaid for many years. Reference has already been made to some of these obligations. A few more may be mentioned. In 1706 The Mackintosh granted the Bailie a bill for £15. In 1716 it was protested for non-payment. It was still past due in 1736. In 1738 the principal was paid; but the Bailie writes that he had lost thirty-two years’ interest. “ Too simple ! ” is his comment. In 1717 he is dunning Colonel Grant of Ballindalloch, whose name has come down to us as one of the raisers of the Black Watch, for the contents of a bill ; in 1728 the •dunning is still going on. A bill by the Chief of Glengarry and Macdonell of Scotas, which was past due in 1722, was in the same condition in 1730. Lochiel’s obligation, granted prior to 1720, was “not yet paid” in 1729. Brigadier Mackintosh of Borlum’s bill, signed before his gallant invasion of England in 1715, was unpaid in 1737. Colonel Donald Murchison’s document for ,£6 7s was unpaid for years, and so, as we have seen, was John Roy Stuart’s paper for £17 14s. Some time before 1735 the Laird of Mackinnon granted his bill for the then large sum of £114 19s 2d. Notwithstanding persistent pressure, it was still due in 1742. William Macculloch, a Ross-shire laird, signed a bill in 1728. In 1743 it is recorded that he is in Virginia, and that payment is -expected when he returns. The bill is unpaid in 1749. About 1710 the Bailie’s father took an acceptance from Angus Mackintosh of Kyllachy, who was taken prisoner at the battle of Preston in 1715. In 1735 the Bailie is pressing Kyllac'hy’s son Alexander, the London merchant, for payment of it. In 1722 Stuart refers to the difficulty he has in recovering from Bumper John of Culloden a bill for £25, which represents a quantity of Culloden’s famous claret. He experiences the same difficulty in 1740 in recovering the debt from John’s successor and representative, Lord President Forbes. In 1717 our merchant is urging Lord Strathnaver and Lord Reay for payment of obligations long past due. The English officers who were then stationed in the Highlands, and whose paper the Bailie was always ready to take, were also frequently in default—among them being General Siburg, Governor of Fort-William, in 1725; Colonel Long and Major Ormsby in 1726; Captain John Trelawney m 1727 ; and our friend Edmund Burt, the critic of Highland customs, in 1729.

Although the Bailie found it difficult to get payment of his bills, they were not all allowed to lie fallow in his desk. In a measure they served him the purpose of bank-notes. He frequently sends them to his correspondents in satisfaction of his own obligations; and sometimes they return to him after many days, and after passing through many hands. Highland bills were as a rule made payable at Crieff, where a great cattle tryst took place every year in September. The market was regularly attended by Highland lairds, tacksmen, and drovers, and Stuart was frequently present personally or by proxy, and did his best to exchange his paper for the gold produced by the black cattle.

There was in his time no bank within the Highland bounds, and no way of remitting money except in specie, notes, or bill-transmitted by the ordinary posts, or by “expresses”—that is, special messengers. A post walked from Inverness to Edinburgh with more or less regularity every week, returning the following week. These posts—we have the names of some of them, Colin Dunbar, Robert Cattach, James Gilmour, Donald Jack, and William Macdonald—were selected for their strength, courage, and fidelity to trust, and during the Bailie’s half century of business there is but one single charge against them—the post of 1722 was a drunken careless fellow. Their adventures were many, but they seldom failed to carry their mails and treasures to their destination. There were periods, however, of special danger. During the troubles of the Fifteen and the Forty-Five the service was suspended. In 1721 Stuart is unable to risk a remittance to Edinburgh “for fear of robbery, which is very frequent of late in the Highlands.” He is at all times careful to seal the bag containing the money, or what represents money, and to send a separate letter specifying the bag’s contents—the individual coins, the bank-notes and their numbers, the amounts, dates, drawers, and acceptors of the bills. The contents were of necessity mixed. In 1718 a remittance to Banff consisted of a bank note, 67 gold guineas, 5s in silver, and 28d in copper. In the same year a special messenger was sent to the Earl of Moray in Fife, carrying in gold £157 stg, all in guineas and half guineas, except "Luidores.” Some idea of the rate at which these messengers were remunerated will be got from the following payments in 1735—to an express from Inverness to Lochbroom and back, 8s stg.; to one from Inverness to Loch Kennard, on the west coast, of Sutherland—"50 long Highland miles”—and back, 7s 6d stg. In 1727 an express was sent to the Bailie from Dunbeath, Caithness, with a letter closing a meal bargain; in 1728 one from Orkney to report the lo3S of the Agnes; and in 1733 an express from Ardshiel, in Argyllshire. In 1726 Stuart sent an express to Dunvegan with a £300 bill for signature by Mncleod of Macleod and Macleod of Ulinish. The sums paid to those messengers are not stated.

The prices of meal, iron, claret, hops, hoops, salmon, and slates have been referred to. In 1729, when there was a famine in Ireland and the Highlands, meal rose to 13s per boll of 8 stones— equal, considering the scarcity and value of money at that time, to not less than ten times that sum to-day. The price was frequently as high as 9s 6d and 10s. No wonder the poor people had, in times of distress, to depend on dulse and shell-fish, wild roots, nettles, and the blood of their living cattle. Coarse salt fluctuated from 1s 1d to 2s 6d per bushel; herring, from £6 to £7 per last; cod, from 13s to 14s per “qutte.” Sherry, delivered on board in Spain or Portugal, cost £23 per pipe. Tea cost 14s per lb. For a tea table, which the Bailie bought in Edinburgh in 1734, he paid 30s. He bought butter in Kintail and Glenelg, in 1718, at 5 merks per stone, and cheese at 2s per stone. Tallow candles were sold at 6d per lb. Lemons, which were freely used to flavour drink, and which Burt tells us made even whisky tolerable, cost in Inverness 4s per dozen. “There are no lemons here to be had for anie money,” writes the Bailie to the Governor of Fort-William in 1729, “but how soon anie arrive, which will be verie soon, I shall send as manie as a horse can carrie.”

One would suppose, from the scarcity of money and the excessive prices which prevailed, that men of the Bailie’s class, living quietly in remote Inverness, would have tried to exist without luxuries in food and raiment; but that was not the case. Not satisfied with the produce of the country, he bought his own clothes, stockings, shoes, and hats, and his wife’s and daughters’ silks and damasks, in London. From the same city, as well as from Newcastle and Leith, he brought such articles as coffee, tea, flour, biscuits, mustard, drugs, Epsom salts, washing rubbers, hair brooms, branders, 'Spits, skewers, flesh crooks, flamers, pewter dishes, and even pear trees, apple trees, yews, laurels, and varigated hollies for his garden. The time-honoured deal cradle was not good enough for him, and in 1722 he bought a “wand cradle” from Rotterdam, and when that was used up he, in 1735, sent to Leghorn for a “watlin cradle.” The walls of his rooms were covered with wall-paper from London. In the same city he purchased his books, including “coper plate coppie books for assisting my boys in their writing.” Edinburgh sent him his newspaper, the Caledonian Mercury. Direct from the Mediterranean he got his lemons, oranges, olives, raisins, anchovies, and “best Florence eating oil.” London and Rotterdam furnished his coffee beans and the “best Bohea,” which his wife carefully kept for the refreshment of the county ladies who did her the honour to call..With the leaf at 14s per lb., and the shillings rare, the delectable beverage had to be sipped sparingly.

VIII.—The Close.

The extent of the Bailie’s business notwithstanding, it cannot be gathered from his letter-books that he ever really made money. As has already been said, he ventured and trusted too much ; and his losses were great. His household and family expenses were heavy. He appears, however, to have made ends meet until about the year 1735, when he began to be in financial straits. After that things went from bad to worse. He made strenuous efforts to convert his bills into cash, but without much success. His creditors gave him trouble. The newsagent who sent him his weekly paper from Edinburgh served a summons on him in 1741, and so did Maciver, the periwigmaker. In December of that year he was threatened with horning and caption, and the other legal processes which were the dread of the impecunious. “I cannot pay these claims,” he writes, “was I to be hang’d as well as imprisoned. I care not to go to a stinking gaol at this time of the year, in my old age.” In January, 1742, he declares that “ all the diligence [i.e., legal execution] in Scotland cannot squeeze money out of me at present.” But the law could not be restrained; and the Earl of Seaforth dealt him a great blow by arresting his salmon on the shores of Loch Duich. In 1743 he was “prodigiously straitned for pressing demands, and for the sustenance of my family.” He was “ perplexed and dunned to death by poor people.” He got relief for a time, but pinching poverty returned, and in 1749 “ swarms of small creditors are on my back.” He is incessantly importuning his friends, and such of his sons as are doing for themselves. Some of his friends and several of his children, as well as his son-in-law, Captain Reid, did what they could for him, but his distress continued. His last letter, which is dated 28th September, 1752, is pathetic. At great length he gives his son John, who was then settled in South Carolina, an account of the family, and he concludes:—“Thus have I given you an account of all our family, so have only to add that your mother and I have laboured under great troubles of late years, and only subsisted by the bounty of our children—and few or non other of late—and our schemes have misgiven. May God sanctify every dispensation of his providence to us, as I am now very old, and of lait feel the effects of it. Your mother, Meg, and brothers give you their blessing, and to your spouse and child—in which I join.” It was the last of his many epistles, and he did not long survive the effort.

Stuart, as has been seen, did not allow politics to interfere with his friendships or his business. He was; nevertheless, a sincere and hopeful Jacobite. In August, 1716, he contributes £1 sterling to a fund for the relief of the Jacobite prisoners in Edinburgh Castle, and three months later he sends a contribution to Carlisle, for the relief of “the poor gentlemen” incarcerated there. In 1717 he notes with evident approval that his father prays God for the restoration of the ancient royal line. His letter-books make no allusion at the time to the events of the Forty-Five, but in October, 1748, his son Francis hands Bishop Forbes a written account of the cruelties that followed Culloden, and in the following m6nth he himself writes the Bishop on the same subject. “I do not think,” he writes, “there were ever greater inhuman barbaritys and cruelties of all kinds perpetrat in anie countrie, either Cristian or Infidel, than was in this at that period ; and all by order of the Commander.”

Soon after the close of the war Stuart is in correspondence with the Highland exiles on the Continent; and in March, 1751, he makes a journey to France, where he remains till November. He records his cordial reception by his friends there, through whose hospitality he “lived at little expense,” and who made an effort to get for him a “share of the pension settled by the Court of France for certain gentlemen in distress.” The effort was without success, “as I wanted certain qualifications without which my project could not doe, but at the same time I got assurance that at a proper time I would be provided for.” The proper time did not come, and notwithstanding his son John’s offer to allow him £20 a year if he settled in Boulogne, the disappointed old man returned to his native Highlands to resume for a few months his struggle for existence.

In Church politics, it is almost needless to say, the Bailie was an Episcopalian. In 1717, when factor of Petty, he declares that he has “no stomach for planting [Presbyterian] kirks.” In 1734 the Rev. Robert Jameson, “minister of the Gospell to the Episcopall Congregation of Inverness,” made over his library in crust for the congregation—among the trustees being Stuart and “John Taylor, writer”—Baron Taylor. In his letter of November, 1748, to Bishop Forbes, he states—“We are here in a Deprest confin’d condition as to the public profession of our religion, though our good worthie Pastor [Mr James Hay] does all he can; but I dare say matters will not long continue so. Meantime, God grant us patience and resignation to His unerring Providence.” When the Bishop visited Inverness in 1762, and again in 1770, he found the good Bailie’s memory still green in the Highland Episcopal fold.

Stuart’s family was a large one. Of his children, Ann married Richard Hay-Newton of Newton, in East Lothian, and it is to her descendant, the present Laird of Newton, that I am indebted for the use of the letterbooks. Another daughter married Captain Reid, and another Captain Wedderbum. His son Alexander was a wine-merchant in Leith. James went to India, where he prospered. John, after spending some years at sea, and going round the world with Lord Anson as purser of the famous “Centurion,” settled in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was appointed British agent for the Carolinas, He is said to have been the sole survivor of the massacre at Fort Loudoun, on the Tennessee River, in 1760. In the American War of Independence he took the British side, and, on the conclusion of the war, left" America for ever and settled in England, bringing home with him a young- son, who was destined to become famous as Sir John Stuart, Count of Maida—the victor of Maida, where, to the surprise of the world, “the veterans of Napoleon fled before the British steel.”

The Bailie’s sons, Francis, Patrick, and Henry, also settled in South Carolina, where descendants of Francis are now well-known citizens. Many Highlanders emigrated to the same state in the early years of the eighteenth century, and for generations Gaelic was as much spoken there as in the parish of Inverness. The Gaelic is now dead in the state, but in Charleston the “ Old Stuart House,” built by John and Francis, still stands.

I shall conclude by referring to a trait in the Bailie’s character, which, although trifling, is pleasing and not without interest. He was fond of gardening and flowers, and was in the habit of placing sprigs of southern wood, balm, and other sweet-smelling herbs between the leaves of his letter-books, many of which lay there undisturbed until I perused the volumes after the lapse of almost two centuries.

The Bailie’s Signature

Download the full Letter-Book of Baillie John Steuart here

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