Lachlan Shaw.

The history of the province of Moray. Comprising the counties of Elgin and Nairn, the greater part of the county of Inverness and a portion of the county of Banff,--all called the province of Moray before there was a division into counties online

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Peovince of Moray.


The History

Province of Moray.

Comprisivff the Counties of El (j in and Nairn, the greater part of the County of

Inverness, and a jwrtion of the Conntii of Banff,— all called the Provinre

of Moray before there teas a. division into Counties.



Enlarged and brought down to the Pi-esent Time


Author of "Scotirhrouiciin," '' Monasticon,'' d-c.



|3rintcl) nt the ^nibcrsitu ^Jwss,

And Published by







,-;^^^ ^ Author's Preface, ....
^^%4, Editor's Preface, ....


Hector Boece and old Roman Writers,
Early Inhabitants of the Province, .
Origin of the Druids and Celts,
Languages of Ancient Britain,
Names in the Cartulary of Moray, .
Marcheta Mulierum, . . .
Roman Progress, ....
Buchanan's and Gordon's Descriptions,
Possessions of the Celts and Picts, .
New Families Imported,
Culdees and Religious Houses,
Land Cultivation, ....
Primitive Dress, ....

Name, Extent, and Division of Moray,


The Geography of Moray,
The River Spey,
The Parish of Bellie,

Family of Gordon,
The Parish of Dundurcoss,
The Parish of Rothes,
The Parish of Knockando,

Family of Grant,
The Parish of Boharm, .








The Parish of Moitlich, 126

Family of Duff, .

. 156

The Parish of Aberlour, .

. 170

The Parish of Inveravon,

. 190

The Parish of Kirkmichael,

. 215

The Parish of Cromdale, .

. 225

The Parish of Abernethy,

. 240

The Parish of Duthel, .

. 250

The Parish of Rotheraurchus, .

. 260

Grant of Rothemurchus,

. 261

Shaw of Rothemurchus,

. 262

Farquharson of InvercaiiUl,

. 265

Family of MacIntosh.

. 268

Family of MacPherson,

. 272

The Parish of Alvie,

. 277

The Parish of Kingussie and Inch,

. 284

The Parish of Laggau,

. 298

The Parish of Speymouth,

. 300

The Parish of Urquhart, .

. 312

Family of Innes, .

. 313

The Parish of Lhanbryde,

. 326

The Parish and Royal Burgh of Els


. 346


The Author of this undertaking collected the materials
of it at different times, and wrote them for his own
amusement, without any design of offering them to the
public. He perused descriptions of several counties, but
had not the good fortune to meet with any tolerable
account of the Province of Moray ; whereof, mindful of
the observation,

Nescio qua iiatale solum dulcedine captos
Tenet, et immemores non sinit esse sui,

he has arranged his collections into the order in which
they now appear.

The Geographical Part would be less entertaining if
it was not intermixed with a Genealogical Account of
several families of eminence and distinction. In this
his chief view was to give the true origin and antiquity
of those families. It is generally agreed that we had not
fixed surnames in Scotland earlier than the eleventh
century. Before that period our Kings were named
patronymically — as Malcolm MacKenneth, Kenneth Mac-
Alpine, &c. The Author has in his hands manuscript
accounts of the families treated of, from which enter-
taining anecdotes might have been extracted. But this
he was afraid, would too much swell the work. He has
added the Armorial Bearings of Families. The Romans
preserved the distinction of families by the Jus Imaginis.
They divided the people into Kohiles, Novi, et Ignohiles.
He that had the Images or Statues of his ancestors, who
bore eminent offices, as Prtetor, Edile, Consul, &c,, was
called Nohle ; he that had only his own Image or Statue
was Novus, or an Upstart; and he that had no Statue
was Ignoble. Those little statues of wood, marble, brass,
&c., were carefully preserved and exposed at funerals and
other solemn occasions, and possibly from this came our
coats of arms. (Vide Suet, in Octav. et Diodes and
Nisbet's Use of Armories.)


In the Geographical and some other parts 6f this work ,
the Author has given the names of places in the Gaelic
language, which is a dialect of the Celtic. In this he has
generally observed the proper orthography, which often
differs from the common pronunciation in this kingdom.
This he has done to make the etymology of these names
of places the more intelligible.

The Natural History, although it contains little to
gratify the curiosity of those who are much versant in
such reading, yet valuable authors have given an account
of natural productions of countries such as they write of,
and the peculiar product of this Province ought not to be
omitted, and may be entertaining to many.

In the Civil Part there is such variety as cannot but
be agreeable to some readers. In the Roll of Barons
there are several alterations since the 1700 — in some,
sons have come into the ])lace of their fathers, in others,
collaterals have succeeded ; and in 1774 the King and
Parliament granted to Major General Fraser the lands
and estate of the late Lord Lovate, his father. But the
Roll as it now stands is so well known that it is unneces-
sary to write it.

The IVIilitary History is drawn up from the best writers
the Author has met with.

The Ecclesiastic Part may appear to some readers too
long; the length, however, may be excused, considering
the great variety of matter it contains. The Author has
used a style so laconic and brief that he could not express
his thoughts intelligibly in fewer words ; and it may be
agreeable to some to find the succession of Ministers in
parishes and the changes in ecclesiastical government
since the Reformation.

In a Collection of this nature there cannot but be
mistakes and errors, which the Author hopes the candid
reader will correct rather than condemn.



Lachlan Shaw was the son of Donald Shaw, a respectable
fanner at Rothiemnrchus, in the county of Inverness, and sup-
posed to be a descendant of the ancient family of the Shaws
who were long settled at, and proprietors of, the estate of
Rothiemnrchus. He was an exception to the majority who fill
the Scottish pulpits who rise from lowly birth and reach the
pinnacle of their meritorious ambition by being schoolmasters
or tutors (rarely) in county families. The family of Shaw
of Rothiemnrchus originally came from the south of Scot-
land, but was settled in the Highlands at an early period;
and as early as the year 1226 they held the lands of Rothie-
mnrchus as tenants from the Bishops of Moray, The Historian
was evidently proud of his connections with the ancient family
of the Shaws of Rothiemnrchus.

His birth must have taken place between the years 1685 and
1690. He probably received the rudiments of his education
at Ruthven, in Badenoch, then the only school of any import-
ance (as he states himself) on the whole course of the river
Spey ; and it is likely he studied philosophy at the University
of Old Aberdeen, to which Highland students then, as now,
generally resorted. In 1712 he was parochial teacher at Aber-
nethy. In that year the Presbytery of Abernethy presented
Mm to a divinity bursary (see Siinod Records, v., 314), and he
is noted in that capacity in the Synod Records of 1712 and 1713.
In 1714 (see Synod Records, vi., 14) he passed a Synod examina-
tion, having previously produced a favourable certificate from
Professor Hamilton of Edinburgh.

Having comjileted his divinity studies at the University of
Edinburgh, the Synod recommended their commissioners to
send him north to their bounds for active duty. On the 20th
September, 1716, he was settled as minister of the parish of
Kingussie, and appears on the roll of members of the Synod of
Moray on the 30th October that year. (Synod Records, vi., 35.)
He continued minister at Kingussie until 19th November,
1719, when he was translated to the parish of Calder, and on
the 9th May, 1734, he was settled at Elgin, where he continued
during the remainder of his life.

Mr. Shaw seems early to have turned his attention to collect-
ing statistics for his History, perhaps for his own personal
information, and with no view to after publication. So early
as 1726 he had made a tour through the remote parts of the
Highlands of the Province of Moray, particularly Glengarry,
then almost inaccessible, and he gives a deplorable account of
the state of religion, and of the gross ignorance of the inhabi-


tants. It is supposed that his History was -written and com-
l>leted many years before it was published, and tliat at, or even
previous to, the year 1760, it Avas ready for the press. He
speaks of the Re1)elHon of 1715 as frosli in tlie memory of
persons then living, of the Rebellion of 1745 as a matter
of yesterday, and he gives a roll of the freeholders in the
different counties connected with the Province for the year
1760. All his facts point to a period much antecedent to
the year 1775, when the History was published, except that he
brings down the settlement of parochial clergymen and some
other necessary details to the period of publication. Mr. Shaw
had manyfacilities forwriting aHistory of theProvince of INIoray.
Born and brought up on the banks of the Spey, and minister
of Kingussie until the year 1719, he had thus an opportunity
of acquiring the most accurate information as to the families of
Grant, Gordon, Macpherson, Macintosli, and others, then the
leading proprietors in that district. Removed next to Calder,
he remained for fifteen years among the Campbells of Calder,
Roses of Kilravock, Brodies, Erasers, &:c., to whose charter-
chests he had no doubt free access. Translated to Elgin, where
he remained for 43 years, till the close of his long life, he had
doubtless the best opportunities of examining all the County
Records, Registers of Synods and Presbyteries, titles of the
families of Dunbars, Innes, Duff, and otiier proprietors. These
advantages, coupled with unwearied diligence and very con-
siderable talents, enabled him to complete the best local
history of any district in Scotland, and to embody in wonderful
small space a mass of most accurate information, which, except
for his industry, would have been in a great measure entirely
lost. His pages are not encumljered with fall: A few words
communicate the fact, backed Avith his authority — without a
particle of humour or wit to sharpen or enliven the assertion.
All throughout, the patient reader has to wade througli the
slough of historic drudgery which the footsteps of the industi'i-
ous author long ago imprinted. Every line is a study and
draft on the attention; for a "popular" work (in modern
acceptation) it is not. In the year 1769, Pennant visited Elgin
on the occasion of his first tour in Scotland, and he mentions
having then visited Shaw, whom he states to l)e 90 years of
age. (This is evidently a mistake, for Shaw could not have
been then above 84 at the utmost.) He furnished Pennant
with a great many details and statistics relative to the Province
of Moray, evidently extracted from his History, not then
published, and which are printed in the Apjiendix to the first
volume of his Tour. (See Pennant, vol. i., edition 1790, p. 163,
and Appendix to that volume, pp. 280 314.)


Lauchlan Shaw was twice married. His first wife was a
Miss Stewart, daughter of Collector Stewart (of the Customs),
at Inverness, by whom he had a son and daughter, David and
Anne. David went to New York and there married a Miss
Day, by whom he had two sons and two daughters. Janet,
one of the daughters of David, married a Mr. Wilkies, nephew
of the famous John Wilkies, and by him had a daughtei-
married to the late Lord Jeffrey of Edinl)urgh. Anne married
Bailie John Copland, of Aberdeen, and had a daughter, Helen,
married to Dr. Patrick Forbes, minister of Boharni, afterwards
Professor of Humanity at Aberdeen. Mr. Shaw's first wife did
not live long, and he married again on 14th March, 1727, Ann
Grant, daughter of Duncan Grant, one of the Bailies of Inver-
ness. By her he had a large family, of whom grew up Duncan,
Lachlan, and Donald, Mary, Isabella Marjory, and Sarah.
Duncan was minister at Eafibrd from 1753 to 1783, Avhence he
was translated to Aberdeen. He was eminent in his day as a
divine and a scholar, was made a Doctor of Divinity, and
Moderator of the General Assemblj^ He married Jean Gordon,
daughter of the Rev. George Gordon, minister of Alves, and
had three sons and four daughters, all of whom seem to have
died without issue. Lachlan, the second son, went to Jamaica,
was there seventeen years, and died in London on his return
to England. David died at the age of eighteen, when prepar-
ing to set out to join his brother Lachlan in Jamaica. Mary
and Isabella both died unmarried. Marjory married the Rev.
William Peterkin, one of the ministers of Elgin. Sarah
married a son of William Donaldson, at Morriston, near
Elgin, and had a large fjimily, of whom was Lachlan Donaldson,
St. John, New Brunswick, and some time Mayor of that city,
who compiled this sketch.

Shaw resigned his charge as one of the ministers of Elgin on
5th April, 1774, and died at Elgin, 23rd February, 1777, and
must have been then at least 90 years of age. (See separate
Begister of Presbytery of Elgin, p. 149.) He was survived by his
wife, Ann Grant.

He was evidently a hard student, and kept up his knowledge
of the literature of his country to the close of his long life, and
he was the centre of the literary society of this part of the
■country at the time. He was on intimate terms with many of
the proprietors of the county, particularly the families of
Brodies and Dunbar of Northfield, with whom he communi-
cated on the literature of the day, and exchanged new publica-
tions. He seems also to have been a Gaelic scholar. He
corresponded with Lord Hailes and others on historical, liter-
ary, and antiquarian subjects.


During his life the most important events in the history of
his country, both in Church and State, took place, and these
he has recorded in his interesting Work. lie was probably
alive at tlie time of the -Revolution iu 1688, when the sceptre
for ever passed away from the male line of the House of Stuart.
He was approachiug tlie years of manhood when the Uniou
between Scotland and England took place in 1707. He
witnessed the Eebellions of 1715 and 1745, and the breaking
up of the Highland Clans by the abolition of the heritable
jurisdictions in 1748; and he lived to see the commerce,
agriculture, and manufactures of tlie country raised from the
state of depression succeeding the Union to one of much com-
parative progress and prosperity, and the foundations of national
wealth placed on a sure and firm basis. In regard to the
Church, he was alive when, by the Act 1690, Episcopacy and
lay patronage were abolished, and Presby terianism was restored.
He was only grown to manhood wlien lay patronage was again
introduced by the Act 1712; and he was a minister of the
Church during the famous Marrow controversy, the Secession
of 1732, and the commencement of the Relief Church in 1752.
A contemporary of Wodrow, Boston, AVillison, and the Erskines,
as Avell as of Robertson, Blair, and Carlyle, he saw the decline
of the "Evangelical" party, and the beginning, progress, and
final triumph of the "Moderate" party in the Church. With
reference to national literature, he saw it, from a i)criod of the
deepest depression, raised to the full blaze of glory by tlie
publications of Robertson, Hume, Adam Smith, Blair, Smollet,
and others.

Cosmo Innes writes in his Preface to the licgi.^fnim Ejj'isco-
pahis Morcmense : — " The Bishoprick of Moray has been more
fortunate than the other districts of Scotland in forming the
subject of the labours of a diligent and zealous local historian.
Shaw's History of the Province of Muraii, though awkwardly
arranged and defective in many particulars, may yet boast of
lieing the best district history of Scotland. He derived his
information in general from authentic sources, and, among
other materials, made use of the Chartulary of the Bishoprick.
It seems now indeed wonderful that the access to such sources
of knowledge, and the acknowledged care and industry of the
author, did not produce a more learned and satisfactory Work.
But it must be remembered that the study of hi.stoi-ical antiqui-
ties was in his time in its infancy, and that in Scotland the
Reformation produced such a revolution in laws, customs,
manners, and even language, that it is still like venturing to
talk in a foreign tongue for a Scotchman to enter upon the field
of ancient cccli-siastical institutions."


Within the latter half of this century, Historical subjects have
gradually been rewritten. Evidence, not before possessed by
the writers of a previous generation, is now freely laid open and
diligently explored. Our National documents and State papers
are no longer excluded from the research of the student, whilst
our landed gentry are doing their best to further this spirit of
inquiry by permitting their Papers to be examined by tlu-
Historical MSS. Commission. The result of these advantages
is now apparent. Events which, with their dates, we learned
(by taics) in the days of our youth in School books, puerile in
all conscience, are proved never to have taken place; while
the characters of prominent persons, e. g., Mary Queen of
♦Scots, assume now altogether a different phase.

In addition to his History of the Province of Moray, Shaw is
the author of the continuation of Rose's Genealogy of the Faviily
of Kilravoclc, published by the Spalding Club in 1848. He also
edited the Rev. Dr. Macpherson's Critical Dissertations, with
Notes and Additions: London, 1768. Mr. Robert Young
states that he left a good many MSS. on scientific subjects,
which he saw in the possession of Mrs. Grant, his grand-
daughter, at whose decease they were lost.

In 1827 a second Edition of Shaw's Province of Moray was
published by John Grant, bookseller in Elgin ; but the original
text cannot be distinguished from the extraneous additions and
partizan observations. In the present Edition the whole of the
original Shaw is given in prominent large type, at once distin-
guishable from the bracketed Corrections and Addenda, with
the authorities. Even the tilts for his and Shaw's idea of eccles-
iastical polity are allowed to pass unchallenged, the field being
left to themselves, where they have their own play in their
own way. A common transgression of Historians is to foist
their idiosyncrasies, leaving an evanescent ofiensive odour.

In a verbose Note of small type, extending from page 325 to
page 327, in Grant's Edition, occurs this intolerant episode : —
. . . . " The foolish maintenance of all the variety of vagabond
Gospellers, Seceders, Reliefs, Methodists, Haldonites, Inde-
pendents, &c., who prey upon their people by substituting their
respective kinds of sanctimonious scrupulosities for the simph-
apostolic Avorship of the Presbyterian [Established] Church,
unvarnished by prelatic pomp, and piuified from sectarian cant
and hypocritical grimace. The first Bishops of our nation
.... were similar to the modern sectarian vagabonds, and
performed their prelatic functions in all places without distinc-
tion." The most befitting ejaculation, in the way of rejoinder,
to this editorial specimen can be supplied by the ai^preciative
reader. It is not fit for the home circle nor out of doors.


In translating some of the Charters (mutilated in the Appen-
dix), Grant renders Bricius ^^ Bruce" ! At page 421 Kanulph,
Earl of Moray, is called '■'■Randolph," which is much the same
as calling rain r/rain. At page 455, line 3,/ratri is translated
" f/i'iiflenuii." At page 450, line 1, r/cnfes is translated ^'hlack-
guanh." It should be people, followers, or vassals — certainly
not " blackguards." Since the Issue of both Editions of SJiair,
the Eegistrum Episcopatus Moraviense has ])een jjublished, which
utterly negatives the re-issue here of the fragmentary and
incorrect Charts given in the former Appendix or Appendices.

In 1798, "A Survey of the Province of Moray : Historical,
Geographical, and Political, was printed at Aberdeen for Isaac
Forsyth, bookseller, Elgin." This was the conjoint labour of
the Kev. John Grant, Minister of Dundurcas, and latterly of
Elgin, and of the Kev. William Leslie, Minister of St. Andrews-
Lhanbryd, Avhose eccentricities and beneficence in granting
original certificates of character, to all and sundry, are still in
remembrance. Mr. Grant prepared Chapters I. and II., and
Mr. Leslie the III. and lY. It is now very scarce, and has in
consequence been printed in extcnso in this Edition, as a valuable
auxiliary to Shaic. It got the soubriquet of " Little Isaac."

" Sketches of the Past and Present State of Moray " came before
the public in 1839, by William lihind, illustrated with beautiful
etchings by Donald Alexander. The former was bom at
Inverlochty in 1797. He had tlie misfortune to be deformeil in
the ankles, but was a genius in mind, being a surgeon and the
author of many volumes and treatises on Natural history,
geology, zoology, &c. He died at Woodhaven, near Newport,
Fifeshire, in 1874.

In 1842 appeared "Sketch of the Gcologi/ of Moray" by Patrick
Duff. I bought the Presentation Copy "To Mr. Oswald
Brodie, with best wishes from the Author. — July, 1844." This
thin 8vo is illustrated with eleven plates, and its contents Avere
first published in a series of twelve articles in TJie Elgin

In 1851, from the Ga:efte office, Forres, came " llw Lintie o'
Moray" being a Collection of Poems, chiefiy composed for and
sung at the Anniversaries of the Edinburgh INIorayshire Society
from 1829 to 1841. This thin volume contains for the most
part the compositions of William Hay, who was born in the
White Horse Inn Close, Elgin, about 1791. In 18G0 ap-
peared a Lecture ou the Antiquities of ]\b)ray by Professor
Cosmo Innes. In 18GG John Camden Holden, of London,
published "Elgin and the Lantern of the North." In 18(hS
"Morayshire Described" was issued by Ivussell &: Watson,


At a meeting of the Edinburgh Geological Society in 1881,
a Paper was read by Thomas D. Wallace, Inverness, on "Recent
(Geological Changes on the Moray Firth." He gave an elaborate
description of the changes in question, and remarked that there
could be no doubt but the waters of the Moray Firth from
Buckie to Covesea, a distance of over 20 miles, were receding
from the land. This was not caused by the mass of land
rising, but by the sea banking itself out with the aid of the
wind. From Lossiemouth to Kingston, at the mouth of the
Spey, great changes might be seen taking place daily. The
changes at the mouth of the Spey were very remarkable,
although they had proved most disastrous to the inhabitants
of this interesting little village. In summarising the results
brought out in the course of his paper, Mr. Wallace said that
all the rivers Avhich he had mentioned at no great distant date
entered the Firth at points considerably to the Avest of their
present outlets, and they were again tending in that direction ;
that some of the rivers had not only changed their mouths, but
their channels for considerable distances ; that all around the
shore of the Firth there were beaches or terraces of different
origins and of difterent dimensions; that in some places the
sea was gaining upon the land, while in others the very reverse
was taking place ; and that the accumulation of sand, gravel,
and pebbles were almost entirely confined to the south shore.

Mr. James Fraser, C.E., Inverness, also contributed a Paper
on " The Recent Formations and Glacial Phenomena of Strath-
nairn." It was stated that Strathnairn had been found to be
remarkably rich in traces of the great Ice Age, and an account