The year 1848 was a time
of crisis in Europe. It was the year of Revolution on the Continent.
France thrust out the citizen King, Louis Philippe, and most of the
other Continental countries threw themselves into the struggle for
constitutional change. The immediate results were only partial, but the
movement prepared the way for vital changes in subsequent years. In
Austria the Emperor was obliged to abdicate in favour of his nephew, the
Sovereign who still (1908) occupies the throne. The armed insurrection
in Hungary proved for the time disastrous to the patriotic party, as did
also the risings in Italy. Prussia and the principalities of Germany had
a variety of troubled experiences.
At home there was no real disturbance, but the Chartists in the month of
April created great alarm in London by threatening a monster meeting and
procession, organised by Feargus O’Connor. The proclamation of the
procession as illegal, and the preparations which were made by Ministers
and the police, overawed discontent, and the demonstration proved a
fiasco. It was on this occasion that 170,000 special constables were
sworn in, among them Prince Louis Napoleon, afterwards Emperor of the
French. Ireland was in a more excited state, and special laws were
passed to deal with sedition and treason. An agitation led by Mr Smith
O’Brien and his associates was thus brought to an end. The finances of
the nation were disordered, and the Whig Ministry had a good deal of
trouble to adjust them to the satisfaction of Parliament. The death cf
Lord George Bentinck, leader of the Protectionist party, opened the way
for the supremacy of Mr Disraeli.
In the Highlands there was still a great deal of destitution, for which
the Central Relief Committees had to make provision.
From the “ Inverness Courier.”
January 4.—The issue records the ceremony of laying the foundation-stone
of the monument
to Ewen Maclachlan at Fort-William, and describes the improvements that
the member for the Inverness Burghs was making, at Ardross. Mr Matheson
was building Ardross Castle, and began the work of reclamation and
improvement. “Since the month of March last he has expended no less than
£30,000. This great expenditure has been almost entirely on labour, not
on material.” The stones for building were procured on Ardross estate.
In the building department about 130 men were employed during the
greater part of the year; and the average number of labourers in field
and wood was 270. The Latter were generally the people of the district.
January 11.—The Glasgow Highland Relief Board had reports before it
showing that there was a revival of destitution, especially in Mull and
the western islands, including Lewis. Complaints were made against
Government, proprietors, and people. The Government were delaying to
send the drainage money, proprietors were reluctant to assist, and the
people in some places were unwilling to work. The Board took steps to
deal with the situation.
Ibid.—A correspondent sends an account of a remarkable dream. A lady
living in London dreamt that her mother, staying in the South of
Scotland, had died from falling from her horse. The death occurred at
the time and in the circumstances presented in the dream.
January 18.—Popular demonstrations had taken place in Milan, Genoa, and
Pisa, the extension from Switzerland of the revolutionary movement.
Locally the issue records the death of the Earl of Moray in his
seventy-seventh year. His lordship, who had been kind, courteous, and
considerate, was greatly regretted. He had resided for some years wholly
at Danuway, believing that the climate suited his health better than any
of his other residences. The Earl died from influenza, which was at this
time prevalent in the country. It was severely felt in London.
January 25.—The issue contains a report of the proceedings of the
Edinburgh Destitution Committee, and a letter from the
Inspector-General, Captain Eliott. The Edinburgh and
Glasgow Committees had local inspectors. There was serious destitution
in Skye and in the western districts of Ross-shire. In six parishes
there were 1680 able-bodied crofters who had no means to support, their
families; also 900 widows with families and single widows in the same
position. A good deal of grumbling had arisen as to the work-test
.applied to the able-bodied. Captain Eliott insisted that the real
object of the committee should be understood. “It is to prevent
starvation—not to advance public works, of however greatly
preponderating general advantage they may be. The primary object in
exacting work is to test the destitution ; and next to avoid the obvious
evils of eleemosynary relief.” The current wage was 6s a week.
February 1 to 15.—Accounts appear in these issues of the insurrectionary
movement in Italy, which at this stage promised success. In the British
House of Commons considerable interest was taken in a bill for the
removal of Jewish disabilities, the question having been raised by the
election of Baron Rothschild for the City of London. The bill was
carried through the House of Commons but lost in the Lords. A public
meeting was held in Forres in support of the measure.
February 18.—Mr Alexander Stables, factor for the Earl of Cawdor, died
on the 7th inst. in his 74th year. He had been factor on the Cawdor
estates for thirty-four years, assisted latterly by his son, Mr W. A.
Stables, who succeeded him.—Another paragraph records the death of Mr
Charles Grant, midshipman, son of Mr Grant of the Caledonian Hotel. He
had come home for a short visit, before joining as lieutenant the
gun-ship Ocean, when he took ill and died in his 24th year.
Ibid.—“In the spring of last year a liberal scheme of emigration was
carried out at the expense of the Duke of Sutherland, as one of several
means adopted to mitigate the distress occasioned in the Reay country by
the potato failure, as well as to improve the condition of the emigrants
themselves. The two ships were chartered and well provisioned!, and a
gratuity amounting to £2 on the average was given to each of about 380
emigrants, who sailed from the west coast of Sutherland in June. The
whole were carried safely to Montreal, where one party arrived as early
as the 30th of July. From Montreal they were conveyed, at the expense of
the Government. as far as Brandford, a distance of four or five hundred
miles, whence the emigrants proceeded to various townships on the banks
of the lakes, where many old friends were met with. The emigrants write
home in the most cheerful terms.” It was stated that the Duke proposed
to make the same liberal arrangements this year.
Ibid.—The issue quotes from a Ross-shire paper an account of
improvements made on the estate of Bogbain, in Easter Ross. The estate
originally belonged to the town of Tain, and tradition said that when St
Duthus first came to the district he took up his abode at the spot, but
sometime afterwards removed a little further down, where the town of
Tain now stands. There seems to have been at one time a hamlet at
Bogbain, and the place where St Catherine’s Cross stood was still
pointed out. The land was long occupied as a grazing ground by the
people of Tain. The estate was bought in 1836 by Mr Kennedy, who
drained, planted, and cultivated the soil, at a cost of £15,000. The
results had been eminently successful. Among other things it is stated
that a large space of from 40 to 50 acres, which formerly was a lake
from 5 to 8 feet deep, was now the most productive spot on the estate.
Ibid.—The Highland Destitution Board had agreed to give one-half of the
estimated expense of constructing a road, twelve miles in length, on the
south bank of Loch-Maree. The trustees of the Gairloch property were to
pay the other half. The cost was estimated at £2500.
February 29.—The Revolution in France, causing the abdication of Louis
Philippe, occupies a prominent place in this issue. “Three days of last
week,” it is said, “the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of February 1848, will be
as memorable in French history as the three celebrated days of July
1830.” The London correspondent predicted that this convulsion would
shake every throne of Continental Europe to its foundation.
Ibid.—A Jamaica paper records with much regret the death of Mr John
Edwards, Receiver-General of Jamaica. The editor of the “Courier”
adds—“Mr Edwards was a native of Inverness, practised some years here as
a solicitor, and afterwards filled the important situation of
Sheriff-Substitute. His amiable character and agreeable manners, his
talents and eloquence, rendered him highly popular and beloved in his
native town. His warmest sympathies were connected with the Highlands,
and we fondly anticipated his return amongst us to spend the evening of
his days in leisure and honour.”
March 7.—King Louis Philippe and his Minister, M. Guizot, had arrived in
England, though not by the same route. The former came from Havre to
Newhaven, the latter through Belgium by Ostend to Folkestone. The moment
the King set foot on shore he exclaimed, “Thank God, I am on British
ground.” A letter from Germany states that the Germans were much excited
by the news. They had always misgivings as to the probable consequences
of Louis Philippe’s death, “'but this strange rupture baffles
calculation.” Several interesting letters from Germany appear about this
time, written, we believe, by the late Mr Walter Carruthers, then a
Ibid.—A stone coffin enclosing a skeleton was found by men trenching a
high knoll in front of Fyrish House, parish of Alness, Ross-shire. The
skeleton was entire, the teeth in the lower jaw fresh and white, and not
one wanting. An urn was found in the grave, and a small piece of brass
(bronze), “apparently of an ornamental nature.” It is stated that “Mr
Walker, the tenant, had a coffin made of part of the flagstones, in
which he placed the bones, and once more committed them to their native
rest.” Mr Walker was at the time- improving his farm by trenching and
ploughing from a foot to fifteen inches deep.
Ibid.—“The Privy Council has just given a judgment in favour of the Hon.
Mrs Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth, in her appeal of a suit raised in
Ceylon, for recovery of her estate in that island. By this judgment she
regains possession of the estate, with full costs, and large damages in
name of profits during the time she has been deprived of the estate up
to the day when it shall be restored.”—The same issue publishes the
regulations for the distribution of the Highland Relief Fund in Skye.
They relate to the labour test and other matters.
March 14.—Serious riots had occurred in Glasgow and Edinburgh. There was
a disposition to regard them as “Chartist riots,” but this was denied.
They arose among; the unemployed. In London, Manchester, and other
places there had also been disturbances, but not of importance.
Ibid.—Dr Colquhoun Grant, staff-surgeon to the forces, died at Zante, in
the Ionian Islands, on the 3rd January, at the age of 63. He had served
in the Peninsular war, and completed his forty-third year in the
service. Dr Grant was the last of five brothers who died in the service
of their country.
Ibid.—Attention is directed to a statement in the “Ross-shire
Advertiser” to the effect that notwithstanding the destitution,
sickness, and mortality in the Northern Counties, not one of the paupers
in the parish of Alness had died during the previous nine months. They
were in number 82, many of whom were above 70, and some more than 80
years of age. In contrast to this it was calculated that in Ireland
one-fifteenth of the mendicant population had died the previous year of
typhus fever alone.
Ibid.—At the census of 1841 the number of children in the town and
parish of Inverness, including all who had entered their sixth year and
had not completed their fourteenth year, was above 3450. The number at
this date (1848) in the day schools of every class (vas only 1700.
Hundreds of poor children were to be seen at all hours wandering in the
streets. It was pointed out that schools, either free or at the lowest
rate of fees, must be multiplied.
March 21.—In the Sheriff Court, Inverness, five workmen, journeymen
shoemakers, were indicted for intimidating, molesting, and obstructing
certain master shoemakers in their mode of carrying on their business,
by threatening a strike or compelling them to discharge men in their
employment, and by prohibiting them from importing ready-made boots and
shoes from London, Glasgow, or other places. They were also accused of
intimidating, molesting, and! obstructing certain of their
fellow-workmen who did not comply with the rules of their association.
There was no charge of violence. The case was taken under the Statute
6th, George IV., and was conducted for the Crown by Mr George Young,
advocate-depute, who had come from Edinburgh for the purpose. Sheriff
Colquhoun found the charge proven, and sentenced four of the prisoners
to two months’, and one to one month’s imprisonment. An appeal was taken
to the High Court.
Ibid..—Sixteen persons were drowned on the coasts of Caithness and
Sutherland, six by attempting to land in a heavy surf and ten by the
upsetting of a boat.
March 28.—The Republican Government in France was having, a stormy time,
but in addition nearly all the Continental nations were in revolution.
Austria, Prussia, Poland, Naples, and the German principalities shared
in the tumult. “Every king,, elector, hereditary prince and potentate,’’
says the London correspondent, “is either flying from his ancestral
palace or negotiating for his personal safety by humiliating concessions
of popular rights long and proudly and persistently ignored.” Meantime
the London police had “little to do except lounge about and chat with
the maids in the areas.”
Ibid.—Mr Smith O’Brien, M.P., Mr T. F. Meagher, and Mi John Mitchell
were arrested in Ireland on charges of sedition
Ibid.—A paragraph is devoted to an old Highlander, Kenneth Chisholm,
Invercannich, Strathglass, who, it was said, had attained: the
patriarchal age of a hundred years. He never wore trousers except once
when his wife persuaded him to don them on a snowy day, but on his way
to the hill he discarded them, vowing he would never entangle his legs
in such garments again. He possessed an old gun, which had seen service
in 1715 and 1745, andl with which at the age of 13 he brought down two
deer with one shot— the first shot he had ever fired at deer. At last,
however, he was induced to raffle the gun at a shooting match—every shot
to cost 4d, with a glass of mountain dew to the bargain. He attended the
match himself, carrying the gun, and realised £4 after paying expenses!
April 4 to 18.—These issues contain accounts of revolutionary activity
in Prussia, Austria, and Italy. Locally, the news is of slight interest,
if we except a proposal from the directors of the Academy for the
amalgamation of educational funds in the burgh, combined with a movement
for the establishment of a college in Inverness. Afterwards a scheme
arose for the extension of elementary education. Rev. Mr Macconnachie
was translated from the Gaelic Church, Inverness, to the parish of
April 18.—“The Chartist demonstration on the 10th of April was a total
failure as respects the intimidation of ministers or the design to
produce a revolution, but it was a memorable gain as respects the glory
and stability of the British Empire.” It was calculated that the
gathering on Kensington Common was under 20,000, “including the most
incurious and indifferent of the spectators and bystanders.”
Ibid.—At the Inverness Circuit Court, an effort was made to obtain a
reduction of the sentences passed on the shoemaker trade-unionists. The
presiding Judge, however, Lord Cockburn, refused to accede to the
April 25.—A new steamer, the Ben-Nevis, was to be put by the Messrs
Burns on the route to Glasgow, and another vessel was in preparation by
the same firm. “Inverness owes much to the enterprise of the Messrs
Burns, who manage the communication between this and Glasgow, by the
canals, with the greatest spirit and liberality.”
May 2.—The Rev. James Mackay, rector of St Michael’s Church, Mangatuck,
in the diocese of Connecticut, was appointed colleague and successor to
Dean Fyvie, of St John’s Chapel, Inverness. “What makes his election the
more interesting is that we believe ho is the first Episcopal clergyman
ordained in the United States who has been appointed to a living in
Scotland, although the Church in America originally received its
Episcopate from Scotland.” Mr Mackay, however, was a native of
Inverness, the son of Mr George Mackay, a well-known merchant. In 1851
he divided the vote for the Bishoprick of Moray, but the fate Bishop
Eden was ultimately appointed. Mr Mackay became an army chaplain in
India in 1857, and died in June 1908 in the eighty-seventh year of his
Ibid.—The previous winter was an exciting one for sportsmen and
naturalists, as frequent storms drove aquatic birds to unfrozen arms of
the sea. “Among the specimens sent here for preservation we saw a very
beautiful wild swan, shot near Nairn, by Charles St John, Esq., author
of the Wild Sports and Natural History of the Highlands. The bird was
the finest of the kind he ever killed. It weighed 27 lbs., measured 8
feet across the wings, and five feet in length; it was the leader of the
flock.” Several swans were shot at Glengarry; three at Loch-Crivachan,
near Glen-shiero; and one at Gordonstoun, Morayshire. —The number has a
long description of a Ragged School in Edinburgh, which concludes with a
suggestion of one for Inverness.
May 9.—A large party of emigrants sailed from Granton for Otago. Before
their departure they attended service in Free St George’s Church,
Edinburgh, conducted by Rev. Mr Sym and Dr Candlish, and an address to
emigrants, by the late Dr Welsh, was distributed among them. The vessel
was victualled for six months, and a library was provided.
Ibid.—“The East India papers, received by the last mail, state with
regret that Sir J. P. Grant of Rothiemurchus, Chief-Justice of Calcutta,
has been obliged to leave the country for home by ill-health. Sir John
has been on the bench at Bombay and Calcutta for the long period of
twenty years. He embarked for this country on the 12th of March last by
the ship ,Earl of Hardwicke. Before his departure a public meeting voted
a farewell address and a portrait to him.”
Ibid.—A correspondent sends an account of a discovery of coins in a
remote district of the parish of Edderton, near Tain. They were fourteen
in number, and consisted of silver pennies of Edward I. and Edward II.
‘‘Could they,” asked the correspondent, “be part of the pillage carried
off by the Northern clans who assisted Bruce at Bannockburn?”
May 9 and 16.—The death is announced of Sir Hugh Munro, Bart, of Fowlis,
who died >11 2nd May in London, aged! 85. He was succeeded in the
estates by an only daughter, but the title went to Charles Munro, eldest
and only surviving son of the late George Munro of Culcairn. The
heiress, however, survived her father only eight months, dying unmarried
on 12th January 1849. Owing to peculiarities attending Sir Hugh’s
marriage, there was a long litigation, in her father’s lifetime, before
the succession was established.
May 23.—There is a quotation from a Cape paper regarding the exploits of
Roualeyn Gordon Cumming in South Africa. A long article deals with
unemployment and emigration. Outside the distress in the Highland glens
the situation was dark. It is stated that in February there were 6000
persons in Paisley dependent on public charity, and trade had scarcely
improved since then. In Glasgow it was estimated that 12,000 working men
were out of employment. Many people were wandering from place to place
in the Lowlands, deprived of labour by the suspension of railway works.
The prospects of Australia as a field for emigration are discussed, and
quotations are made respecting the work of Mrs Chisholm, a lady known as
the Emigrants’ Friend.
Ibid.—At the Town Council the Clerk read a letter from the Treasury
offering a grant of £400 for the improvement of the Ness Islands, on
condition that they were permanently appropriated as a place of
recreation for the inhabitants of the town; that a sufficient sum was
raised by subscription to complete the contemplated improvements; and
that the corporation or some other public body would undertake the
upkeep of the islands. Dr Nicol had charge of the scheme, and the
Provost was authorised to call a public meeting.
May 30.—The Edinburgh section of the Highland Destitution Board had
issued a report. The opinion of counsel had been taken as to the
disposal of the funds remaining after the crisis of 1847. It was held to
be clear that no subscriber was entitled to withdraw his contribution;
and that if the committee were satisfied of the existence or the
probability of destitution in the Highlands, arising from the same
causes ais before, it was their right and duty to administer the balance
of the fund, with large discretionary powers in its application. The
destitution in Skye, in the western districts of Ross-shire, and in
Shetland, which was severe in 1848, wais dealt with. The labour test is
explained by the editor. “A whole day’s hard labour is not exacted for a
pound of meal. The rule practically acted upon is to give the maximum
allowance of 1½ lbs. of meal for eight hours’ fair Labour; the relief
officer having it in his power to give only one pound when the working
time is idled away. But a day’s honest work also entitles the labourer
to lialf-a-pound of meal per day for every child too young for
employment; while the wife, by spinning, or in certain caises by mere
attention to personal and household cleanliness, can earn her
three-quarters of a pound or pound per day, Sunday included. The section
have taken the evidence of the inspectors as to the efficiency of the
test, and all concur in recommending strongly an adherence to the
principle and the quantity fixed.’’ The Board was also giving its
attention to the improvement of appliances for fishing.
Ibid.—We understand that at the judicial sale, on Wednesday, of the
lands of Leanach and Balvraid, part of Culloden Moor, the purchaser was
George Munro, Esq., for behoof of Duncan Forbes, Esq., Culloden Castle.
The price was £2625.”
June 6.—Sir Thomas Dick Lauder died on 29th May, at the Grange,
Edinburgh, at the age of 64. Sir Thomas married his third cousin, the
heiress of Relugas, and resided there for a good many years. He saw the
great Morayshire flood of August 1829, and has left a vivid account of
it. He was also the author of “The Wolfe of Badenoch” and other works. A
student of geology and natural history, he made a considerable mark in
his day. Lord Cockburn thus describes him:—“Lauder could make his way in
the world as a player, or a ballad singer, or a street fiddler, or a.
geologist, or a civil engineer, or a surveyor, and easily and eminently
as an artist, or a layer out of grounds.” It wais his wife’s father,
however, George Cumming, W.S., who first embellished Relugas, and
brought Alexander 'Wilson from Berwickshire, to assist in introducing
improved turnip husbandry. A notice of Mr Wilson appears in our second
volume, July 4, 1827. Sir Thomais lived at his paternal residence, the
Grange, Fountainhall, Haddingtonshire, from 1831 until his death. For
the last nine years of his life he was secretary to the Board of
Manufactures and Fisheries.
Ibid.—The issue contains the trial of John Mitchel, editor of the
“United Irishman,” for felony. He was convicted and sentenced to
transportation for fourteen years. Mitchel was sent to Bermuda, and
afterwards to Van Diemen’s Land, but escaped to the United States in
1853. In 1874 ho returned to Ireland, and was elected to Parliament for
Tipperary, but was not allowed to take his seat. Mitchel died in 1875.
Ibid.—A second lot of silver coins of Edward I. and Edward II. was found
in the parish of Edderton, in the same spot as the first find. The first
lot numbered fourteen, the second eighteen.—A gamekeeper at Applecross
had a fight with a wild cat, on whose tail he accidentally trod as she
was suckling one of her young. “The furious creature immediately flew
upon him with the utmost ferocity, and a very serious combat ensued.”
Happily, one of th9 gamekeeper’s dogs killed the cat, which measured 4
feet 8 inches from tip to tip, and was one of the largest killed there
for many years.
June 6 and 13.—The Edinburgh section of the Central Relief Board had
issued a second report, brought up to the end of April. The gross number
of recipients of relief in fourteen districts of Skye was rather more
than one-fifth of the population. In six of the western districts of
Ross, namely, Shieldaig and Kisliorn, Applecross, Lochcarron, Plock-ton,
Lochalsh and Dornie, Glenshiel and Inverinate, the number receiving
support was 3410, out of a population of only 7300; and of this number
the proportion of disabled adults was as 1 to 6.5. In the North-Western
districts, including Poolewe and Loch-broom, road-making was either
proposed or was going on, in co-operation with the proprietors. Accounts
from the manufacturing, districts in England and Scotland showed no
signs of improvement. The disturbed shite of the Continent was
June 13.—The “Lays of the Deer Forest,” by John Sobieski and Charles
Edward Stuart, are noticed at some length in this and the next issue.—A
paragraph gives particulars of an old soldier, Ronald Macdonald, living
at Rosemarkie, who was said to have attained the age of 102. He was a
native of the parish of Fodderty.
June 20.—A scheme for making a road round the Longman was approved by
the Town Council. A committee for assisting the unemployed had money in
hand, between £100 and £200, which they were willing to devote to this
purpose, looking for further assistance from the Town Council. A scheme
for improving the harbour was at the same time under discussion.
June 27.—Among the papers printed in the second report of the Edinburgh
section of the Relief Board was a narrative by the Inspector-General on
the condition and prospects of the people on the West and North-West
Coasts of Sutherland. After the disastrous season of 1846 the Duke of
Sutherland voluntarily offered to relieve the Board of all care for the
tenantry on his estates. Food, money, and the means of emigration were
provided. Destitution was for the time staved off at the enormous
expenditure of £78,000. “ The Duke’s whole rental from Sutherland does
not exceed £40,000, so that in this one year of suffering he expended
double his whole rent, exclusive of the sums disbursed on the building
operations at Dunrobin.” When the second failure of the potato occurred
in 1847, the Duke again came forward to undertake the charge of his
whole tenantry, but relief was given under more stringent rules than
before. As some appeared to be dissatisfied, and petitions had been
forwarded from the Scourie district to the Central Board, the Duke asked
Captain Elliot to visit the county to make inquiry. The general result
of the report was entirely in favour of the Duke’s methods and
exertions. Destitution had been kept from the doors of the poor people
by measures unaparalleled in magnitude and administered in the kindest
manner. “I hardly trust myself,” wrote Captain Elliot, “to express any
refreshing sense of the Duke of Sutherland’s benevolent intentions, in
which he is well seconded by efficient management, much less to contrast
his personal interest and efforts with what so harshly grates upon me
elsewhere.” The Inspector complained that fishing was neglected by the
villagers, while boats from the East Coast were capturing ling and cod.
He spoke well, however, of the people of Assynt as willing to work, and
more skilful in handling their implements than some of their neighbours
on the coast further south ; but they, too, neglected the fishings,
although the Shetland curers were ready to advance lines, and to pay
money for the fish. The proprietor had provided schools in every parish,
but the attendance was discouraging Captain Elliot remarks—‘‘It is a
curious thing how often my notebook abounds with the observation that
any particularly intelligent scholar was a widow’s son, generally very
poor.” Speaking of systems of improvement, he takes occasion to
recommend that which was adopted in Gairloch, as “the most satisfactory,
successful, and systematic experiment that he has seen.” The Duke of
Sutherland contemplated some such system for the future regulation of
his small tenantry.
Ibid.—Mention is made of improvements at St Helena, near Rosemarkie. It
is stated that there is a spring called “Napoleon’s Well,” within a
circular enclosure, planted round with shoots from the weeping willows
that grew over the Emperor's grave. “These willows were obtained from Mr
Maclean of Hawkhill, to whom a plant had been presented several years
ago by a medical gentleman, whose love of the curious had led him to
bring it to this country.”
July 4.—“The terrible revolt in Paris, extending over a period of four
days, casts all modern insurrections into the shade.” This was a
conflict waged between the proletariat and the French Government, in
which thousands of lives were lost.
Ibid.—A delegate from Aberdeen addressed a meeting of workmen m
Inverness on behalf of trade unions. He repudiated all sympathies with
strikes.—The same issue records that the Post-office authorities had put
a stop to the mail packet between Dunvegan, in the Isle of Skye, and
Lochmaddy, in North Uist, depriving 17,000 people of postal
communication. The cause was attributed to a disagreement between Lord
Macdonald and Colonel Gordon of Cluny as to their respective proportions
of the expense of maintaining the mail packet. It was alleged that
Colonel Gordon had paid nothing to the cost of the mail.
Ibid.—A! circular mound had been opened at the Edracharron Moss, in the
neighbourhood of Lochcarron. It contained stone coffins, constructed
with great care, and placed at equal distances from each other enclosing
skeletons much decayed. No tradition alluded to this place of sepulture.
It is stated that the flags of which the coffins were made must have
been conveyed by sea.
July 11.—Comparison is made of the treatment of the starving poor in
France and the treatment accorded to them in the Highlands. The Duke of
Sutherland, as formerly stated, had spent £78,000 in the famine years;
in Skye “the generosity of Macleod of Macleod was scarcely bounded by
his means;” in the Lews in 1846-7, Mr Matheson had spent about £40.000,
or nearly five times the rental of the island. Most of the proprietors
had contributed to the best of their ability.
Ibid.—A special meeting of the Inverness Parochial Board was held in the
Gaelic Church to discuss the best and most equitable mode of laying on
assessments. This was the beginning of an animated controversy on “means
and substance” which has now lost its interest.
July 18.—At the Inverness Wool Market prices for ewes and lambs were
about the same as the previous year, but on wedders there was a fall of
from five to ton percent. This was considered very satisfactory, as the
market of 1847 “was rather a remarkable one.” On the other hand, few
sales were effected in wool, the staplers holding out for low prices on
account of the state of trade.
Ibid.—The issue contains a long document relating to a disturbance in
Dingwall in 1739. Sir Robert Munro of Fowlis was chiefly involved in it.
July 25.—The Highland Destitution Board had received a final grant of
£6148 from the British Association, making in all £77,683, received for
Scotland from that Association. The Board, with the co-operation of
proprietors, had entered into, contracts in connection with the great
trunk line of road from Dingwall to Ullapool,
Ibid.—The House of Lords gave judgment on the question of drove stances,
agitated between the Marquis of Breadalbane and various respondents. The
Lords held: that the right of the respondents to the drove-stances could
not be sustained, and they remitted the case on other points to the
Court of Session.
August 1.—The plans of the proposed embankment and road round the
Longman had been returned to Mr Leslie by the Admiralty with their full
consent and approval. The Inverness Town Council bound itself to
undertake the formation of the embankment and road on obtaining a
August 1 and 8.—The insurrection in Ireland, with which the name of
Smith O’Brien is associated, occurred at this time. There was much
disaffection, but the rising itself was paltry and suppressed by a small
body of police.
August 8.—Sport was expected to be very poor this year, the mortality
among grouse being unusually great. The disease was said to be from
tape-worm. Mr Wallace, formerly M.P. for Greenock, who occupied Skibo,
in Sutherland, suggested1 that the moors should enjoy a jubilee, as they
sometimes did in earlier days. Incidentally, Mr Wallace mentions that he
was one of those who first rented moors in the Highlands, “now nearly
fifty years since.” These moors, he adds, “were the very same as the
Queen now rents for Prince Albert, namely, the Abergeldie moors in
Aberdeenshire.”—The issue contains an article on the vitrified fort of
Knockfarrel, near Dingwall.
August 15.—There is a report of a joint cattle show held at Invergordon,
under the auspices of the Farmer Societies of Easter and Wester Ross. Mr
Kenneth Murray, Tain, acted as secretary.
August 22,—Mr Alexander Matheson, M.P., wrote to the Provost that he had
been unable to obtain any definite answer from the Treasury, as to a
grant for the roadway at the Longman. The Treasury, however, was willing
to transfer to this object the grant of £400 promised for the
improvement of the Islands. The Council agreed to make application for
the transfer, as they had not meantime sufficient funds to carry out the
arrangement formerly proposed for the Islands.
August 22 and 29.—A great gale had burst upon the East Coast during the
herring fishing. On the Caithness coast forty-five lives were lost.
September 5.—A great shoal of whales appeared in the Cromarty Firtli.
Forty-five were driven ashore near the village of Salt-burn, and other
twenty-five at various parts of the coast. A large number of whales,
however, escaped to sea.—The foundation stone of a new court-house and1
Council Chamber was laid the previous week, with masonic honours, by
Provost Murray of Geanies.— The Free Church Institution at Inverness was
now being carried on with Mr Thomas Morrison, A.M., as rector, the
commercial department being conducted by Mr Mackenzie, who has been
thirty-three years among us, and is well-known for his abilities as a
teacher of youth.”—Mr John Mackenzie, author of "The Beauties of Gaelic
Poetry” died at Poolewe on the 19th ult. He was a native of Gairloch,
and is said to have published, edited, or translated about thirty
different works, which appeared in the Gaelic language.
September 12.—Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, with the Prince of Wales
and the Princess Royal, were now at Balmoral, which afterwards became
their Scottish residence. The royal party embarked at Woolwich, and
arrived at Aberdeen exactly twelve hours before they were expected.
Fortunately the approach of the squadron had been observed, and the
Lord-Provost and Magistrates were in waiting.
Ibid.—Mr James Ingan, of Norfolk Street, London, an enthusiast in all
that pertained to the Gael, presented a petition to Parliament asking
that provision should be made for giving instruction in Gaelic. His
object was the establishment of a professorship, and he was understood
to be of opinion that the chair should be at Inverness. Nothing followed
on this petition.
September 19.—The Northern Meeting was held the previous week (an early
date) and was reckoned a brilliant gathering, approaching even 1847,
when the Prince Consort was present. The bustle was prolonged into the
following week. A paragraph mentions the various steamers and coaches
running in summer time, the steamers going on one hand from Inverness to
Glasgow, and in other directions to the north-east coast, Leith and
London. The coaches ran daily to Dingwall, Caithness, Perth,
Fort-William, Aberdeen, and Elgin. “From this enumeration—six steamers
and nine coaches, or eighteen if we calculate arrivals and departures—it
will easily be conceived that in the golden days of summer (of which, by
the way, we have had very few this season) our streets are kept
perpetually in a state of excitement, and we make no count of the
numberless persons, travelling carriages that daily rattle over the
causeway.” The steamer Edinburgh Castle is mentioned as being in command
of Captain Turner, “both vessel and captain great favourites.”
Ibid.—;There is another report by the Edinburgh Destitution Board on its
relief operations. According to unanimous testimony the destitution was
as great as in the previous year, but relief was more economically
administered by a paid staff and under, the test system. For instance,
under the local committees, the fortnightly distribution of meal in Skye
averaged 1280 bolls, while under the inspectors it was 330 bolls. In
Wester Ross the figures fell from 938 bolls to i'93, including Gairloch
and Lochbroom, and in Shetland from 662 to 122. In. Skye, since the date
of the second report, the greatest number relieved in one fortnight was
5559, betwixt the 6th and the 20th of May, of whom 1310 were employed on
roads, 129 at spinning, 448 at knitting; 1806 attended school, and 1822
performed no work, the great majority suffering from fever and other
diseases. On the 3rd of June the total had fallen to 5335, and cn 12th
August to 4395. Captain Elliot gave tbe greater share of credit for
industry to the women of the island, who had rapidly acquired skill in
knitting. In the Wester Ross area 3576 were receiving relief in May, but
the number had fallen about half on the completion of agreements for
road-making. The prospects of the various districts were not regarded as
very promising for the ensuing year.
Ibid.—Mr Forsyth, from Dyke, a teacher still remembered by many of the
present generation, was appointed to the mastership of Bell’s School.
September 26.—The sudden death of Lord George Bentinck, the leader of
the Protectionists, was a startling blow. He was found dead in a field.
The editor described him as “a sort of comet or meteor in the political
world,” but paid a tribute to his character and sincerity.
October 3.—It is announced that owing to a change in the mails, due to a
recent acceleration, the “Courier” would in future be published on
Thursday instead of Tuesday. The issue also states that Mr D. Macdougall,
“who has done so much to popularise the High land dress,” had received
an extensive order for tartan dresses, shawls, and plaids for the Queen,
and for Highland costumes for the Prince Consort, the Prince of Wales,
and Prince Alfred. In the foreign news it is noticed that Prince Louis
Napoleon had taken his seat in the French National Assembly.
October 12.—Asiatic cholera, which had existed on the Continent, now
appeared in Britain. Cases had occurred in London, Hull, Sunderland, and
Ibid.—Smith O’Brien, the leader of Irish revolt, was convicted of high
treason. Sentence of death was passed, but was afterwards commuted to
transportation for life. O’Brien was released in 1854, and pardoned in
1856. He died at Bangor in 1864.
Ibid.—Reports are given of shows at Golspie and Grantown, and a list of
prize# obtained at the autumn exhibition of the Inverness and Northern
Horticultural Society. This society was active at the time.
October 19 and 26.—“Insurrection in Vienna and the flight of the
Emperor” is the sensation on the first of these dates. The Austrian army
had so far triumphed in Lombardy, but Austria itself and Hungary were in
the grip of revoluntary forces. On the 26th it is stated that
“insurrections and revolutions are now so common that they excite less
surprise than a meal-mob did in Scotland fifty years since.”
October 26.—A paragraph records the death of Dugald Macooll on the 12th
of August, at Seymour, Newcastle District, Upper Canada. He was formerly
of Kenmore, Lochfyneside, Argyleshire, and one of his sons was Evan
Maccoll, author of the “Mountain Bard.” Dugald, the father, is described
as a man of uncommon physical strength, and as one of the last in
Argyleshire to give up the habitual wearing of the Highland garb. “As a
holiday dress he stuck to it long after it had ceased to be worn by all
others in Lochfyneside.” He also possessed a rich store of Highland song
November 2.—'Note is taken of a beautiful model of an Albanian woman,
executed in wax, by Lady Ross of Balnagown. “The figure is small, but
exquisitely shaped, evincing high artistic skill in the moulding and
draper}.”—Two youths were killed by the failure of a crane at the new
county buildings in Tain. The accident caused much indignation, as a
death from a similar cause had occurred the previous week.—A long report
of the Nairnshire Farmer Society shows the kind of work that was then
carried on by such associations.
November 9.—Mr Forbes of Culloden had presented to Mr Rose, farmer at
Kirkton and at Leanach, a piece of plate, valued at £30, in recognition
of his improvements at Leanach. The testimonial bore the following
inscription:—“Presented to John Rose, tenant of Leanach, &.C., by his
landlord, Arthur Forbes of Culloden, to mark the .sense he entertains of
the skill, energy, and success with which, for the last eight years, Mr
Rose has prosecuted his extensive improvements on the Culloden estate.
November 1848.” It is stated that Mi Rose entered on the possession of
Leanach in 1840, when a considerable portion of the land was useless
moor. In draining, liming, and building dykes Mr Rose had expended
£6000, and reclaimed two hundred acres of land. “His operations were
upon Drummossie Muir, but he has carefully abstained from any intrusion
upon the graves of those who fell on that fatal field.” The soil was
already producing excellent crops Mr Rose had also erected a slated farm
steading at his own expense.
Ibid.—Sir George S. Mackenzie, Bart, of Cool, died on the 26th ult., at
Kincllan, near Edinburgh, in the sixty-ninth year of his age. Sir George
was author of “Travels in Iceland,” and of several publications on
agricultural and scientific subjects, in which he took great interest.
He was a Fellow of the Royal Society, President of the Royal Scottish
Society of Arts, and Vice-President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
The editor describes him as “a man of an ingenious and inquiring mind,
eager in the pursuit of a favourite topic, and occasionally led astray
by mere novelty and paradox.” Sir George regulated the rents of his
tenantry by the fiars’ prices.
Ibid.—An account is given of improvements at Ballindalloch, forming the
farm of Marypark. —From Achnacarry comes an address presented to Lord
Malmesbury, who was the tenant of Lochiel’s shootings. Lord Malmesbury
in his “Memoirs of an ex-Minister” makes frequent reference to his
visits to Achnacarry.—The issue contains a biographical sketch of John
Mackenzie, the compiler of “The Beauties of Gaelic Poetry,’’ whose death
was formerly noticed.
November 16.—Notices are given of improvements in Morayshire, for which
medals had been granted by the Highland and Agricultural Society. The
recipients were Dr Man-son, Spynie; Messrs Grant, Drumbain; and Mr
Lawson, Oldmills.—A report also appears of a crofters’ dinner given at
Gairloch in connection with a competition for prizes presented by Sir
Kenneth Mackenzie for improvements in cultivation.
November 16, 23, and 30.—These issues contain interesting articles on
the Kilravock Papers, recently issued by the Spalding Club. On the 23rd
there is a description of the new buildings erected in High Street as
the headquarters of the Caledonian Bank, and a paragraph reports
subscriptions for a monument proposed to be erected on the battlefield
of Culloden. On the 30th the death of Lord Melbourne, formerly Prime
Minister, is recorded. The same issue reports the outbreak of
insurrection at Rome.
November 30.—At a meeting of the Glasgow section of the Highland) Relief
Board, the report represented the prospects in the Highlands as still
gloomy. The potato crop had generally failed, and in not a few districts
the people were crowded together without employment or the means of
subsistence. The amount in bank at credit of the Glasgow section was
reduced to £18,624. Letters were read from Colonel Gordon of Cluny,
stating that during the nine years he had held possession of his estate
in the Long Island his rental had been £37,407, and out of this he had
paid, in endeavouring to improve the condition of the people, £26,983.
The Board had spent £513 in sending garden plants and seeds to the
district under their charge, and were hopeful of results.
December 7 and 14.—The flight of Pope Pius Ninth from Rome, the
abdication of the Emperor of Austria, and the succession of his nephew
the present Emperor are prominent topics in these issues. In this
country cholera was on the increase, having largely extended in Glasgow
and the southern counties of Scotland.
December 14.—In an article on the sporting season it is stated that red
deer and roe had been more plentiful than usual, but grouse had fallen
below the average. Floods in June had thinned the young broods.
Sportsmen spared the birds in order to provide better sport for next
December 21.—The election of Prince Louis Napoleon as President of the
French Republic excited speculation as to the future. He was then, as
afterwards, a “man of mystery.” Trouble in Prussia had resulted in the
granting of a constitution which was considered satisfactory.
Ibid.—A report of the Highland Destitution contains some figures. The
population of the three districts of Skye, Wester Ross, and Shetland, in
which there was an organised and regular system of relief, was about
80.000. The greatest number at one time upon the list of recipients,
during the time the test was in full operation, amounted to 8562. When
the test was only in partial operation the number increased to 13,803.
The entire cost of the food directly distributed throughout the whole
season was £7888. The funds in hand, when all accounts were paid, would
slightly exceed £70,000. Hopeful results had come from the efforts to
establish a home industry in hosiery.
December 28.—Attention is directed to Isaac Pitman’s system of
shorthand, phonography, now so universally practised. It is stated that
one of the workers in Dr Nicol’s mills, Simon Thomson by name, had
studied the system, and was corresponding in it with Pitman.