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

. (page 26 of 37)
Online LibraryLachlan ShawThe 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 text (page 26 of 37)
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Shaw Macintosh of Borlum, a feu-holding of the
Duke of Gordon, as all Badenoch doth.

On the east side of the river, the parish ex-
tendeth 1-| miles on the river, and about 3 miles
into Glenfeshie south-east, all the property of the
Lairds of Macintosh and Invereshie.


[Situation, Soil, Climate. — The parishes of Laggan and
Kinguisie, with Alvie, comprise the whole district distin-
guished by the a])pellation of Badenaugh, extending from
Corryarioch at the west to Craig Elachy at the east,
upwards of 40 miles. The epithet badeii is familiar in tlie
names of ])laces on the Continent, occurring twice in tlie
cantons of Switzerland, and thrice in the circles of Gw-
many, probably of similar import in their languages to
that of the Caolic, in which hadeii signifies bushy, and
au'jJt, level ground. On the north side of the Spey, the
parish of Alvie is continued down the river from Kinguisie
for 8 miles ; and below this extent, it stretches down the
river on both sides for two miles farther. The inhabited
country, from the north baidv of the river to the bottom
<tf the mountain, is nearly '2 miles in breadth ; and on the


southern side, it stretches back into the Grampian hills,
along a valley more than a mile in breadth, through which
the river of Fessie winds its course, to the length of 6
miles of peopled country. The hills into which it ex-
tends, for many miles, beyond any habitation, are ex-
tremely barren, many of them rocky, and raised i^o such
a height, that vegetation fails upon their summits. The
interjacent valleys indeed produce a rich abundant pas-
turage in summer ; but in winter they are generally
inaccessible. The lower arable part of the country con-
sists of a light dry soil, lying on a sandy gravel, and much
encumbered with stone, producing weighty crops in a
wet season, but exceedingly parched in dry weather.
The climate is healthful and dry, and less snow falls than
at the distance of a few miles to either hand, occasioned
probably by its lying at an equal distance from the east
and west seas ; yet the mildews frequently injure the
crops both of oats and bear. The early or late frosts
generally hurt the potatoe to such a degree, as to be a
great discouragement to the cultivation of that useful
root; and it is seldom that more than a third part of the
crop of pease, which are only raised on land that has been
limed, can be saved. The people, however, attain to a
good old age ; several beyond 80 years : the last minister
died at the age of 101, discharging the duties of his func-
tion, until within 6 months of his death.

i:itate of Property. — -The only family-seat in the parish
is the elegant and spacious mansion of Belleville, lately
built by the translator of the works of Ossian, the pro-
perty now of his heir, James Macpherson, Esq., valued in
the Cess Books at £384 Scots. The Duke of Gordon's
estate amounts to the valuation of £525 13s. 4d. Kin-
craig and Dunaughton, the property of Mr. Mackintosh
of Mackintosh, amounts to £350. Dalraddie, appertaining
to William MacPherson, Esq., of Invereshie, amounts to
£132 6s. 8d. And Sir James Gi^ant of Grant, for the feu-
duties of Dalefour, has a valuation of £2 Scots : making
the whole ])arisli equal to the valued rent of £1394 Scots.

The inferior tenants are poor, and their habitations
wretchedly comfortless ; their farms are small, from £2 to
£6 sterling of yearly rent, and their land may be let from
5s. to 10s. the acre. The crops, consisting of oats, rye,
barley, and potatoe, are in general sufficient for the sub-


sistence of the inhabitants. The parish abounds Avith fir.
birch, aller, and a few oaks ; carried by the poorer people
40 miles to the nearest market towns, in small parcels, and
sold to procure the few necessaries they desire. There is
only one farm stocked wholly with sheep ; the whole of
that stock in the parish amounts to nearly 7000; the black
cattle to 1104; the horses to 510; and there are 101
ploughs. The real rent does not exced £800 sterling :
and £100 yearly may be obtained by the sale of the

State Ecclesiastical. — The Church, manse, and greater
part of the glebe, are situated in a green peninsula within
a lake, which is half a mile in breadth, and a whole mile
in length. It is a pleasant situation in summer ; but so
extremely cold in winter, that the name of the parish in
the original Gaelic is supposed elleihJi, the cold island;
although, from the rocky mountain-brow skirting the
north side of the valley, it is more likely to have been
from all, a rock, similar to the parish of Alves in ]\Ioray,
and Alva in Banffshire. The Church is so incommodi-
ously placed in the eastern quarter of the parish, from
which it is still farther detached by its peninsular situa-
tion, that public worship is frequently performed in the
Church of the district of Inch, in the lower end of Kin-
gussie, being much more contiguous to the greater ])art of
the people of Alvie. Although the Church was ])laced in
the peninsula during the times of Popery, yet this incon-
venience could not be felt during that establishment, as
there were three other chapels in the parish ; that of St.
Eata, at Kinrara, St. Drostan's, at Dunaughton, and the
chapel of Macluach, at Belleville. As the Church in a
short time must be rebuilt, perha]:)s the more central
situation of St. Drostan's chapel ought then to be pre-

The stipend, including the communion allowance, is
£70, with a glebe nearly 2 acres arable, and summer-
pasturage for one cow. The proprietors allow £15 for
keeping the pai-sonage-buildings in repair. The right of
patronage j)ertains to the family of Gordon. The salary
of the parochial school is £10 sterling; and as session-
clerk, the allowance is only the dues of the I'egistration
of baptisms, and the publication of tlie ])ui{)Oses of mar-
riaa:e ; for the first, Is. (id., and Is. for the last : tlie num-


ber of scholars about 30, with the customary fees. The
Society for propagating Christian Knowledge maintains
a school also in the parish, with an appointment of £9, to
which is added, by a bequeathed endowment, the sum of
£o, for discharging the office of catechist in the quarter
of that establishment. The number of the poor is 25 :
and the contributions for their support about £8 J^early.
The people are all of the national religion, and amount to
the number of 1011 souls.

Miscellaneous Information. — The people have little
idea of trade or manufacture, excepting a considerable
quantity of a coarse kind of flannel called plaiding, or
blankets, sold for about lOd. the ell of 39 inches. Al-
though all disputes are settled by the justice of the peace,
without recourse to the sheriff, or other judge, yet, from
the difficulty experienced by the lower class in securing
a subsistence, their honesty or veracity are not always to
be depended on : the}^ have no inclination to leave the
spot of their nativity : and if they can obtain the smallest
pendicle of a farm, they reject entering into any service ;
and are extremely averse to that of the military. They
are fond of dram-drinking : and squabbles are not infre-
quent at burials or other meetings. Few of the older
people can read : and they are rather ignorant of the prin-
ciples of religion. There are 2 retail shops, 6 weavers,
4 tailors, 2 blacksmiths, and 2 who make the brogue-shoes
worn by the poorer people.

The rivers and the lake afford trout, salmon, and pike :
the salmon are killed by the spear, and caught by the
rod of the angler. It is supposed the trout of the lake
do not visit Spey by the brook which it discharges, as
they are of a better quality than those of the river. The
great road from Inverness to Edinburgh is conducted up
the north side of the Spey for the whole length of the
parish ; it passes through a number of little heaps, or piles
of stone and earth, opposite to the Church : the most con-
spicuous one was latel}^ o])ened ; the bones of a human
body were found in their natural order, with two large
hart-horns laid across.] (iSurvey of the Province of Moray.)

[The only lake is Loch. Alvie, a beautiful sheet of watei-
about a mile in length, and half a mile in breadth, which
almost surrounds the o-lebe, manse, and Church, havinor a


depth of 11 fathoms. Pike are found in it of from 1 lb.
to 7 lb. weight. On the Tuesday morning of the floods
of ]829, this loch rose to an unprecedented height, cover-
ing one half of the minister's garden. Being the Sacra-
mental occasion, the ministers were confined prisoners
within the manse, till the flood subsided on Wednesday

A short way along the edge of Locli Insh, the railway
plunges into the beautiful birch-clad knolls of Kincraig,
whence it emerges on a high moorish plateau (James
Evan Baillie, Esq., and Sir George MacPherson Grant;,
with a few trees scattered over its surface ; from which a
magnificent view is obtained of many of the highest of
the Grampian mountains.

On the summit of Tor Alvie, a conspicuous mountain
north west of Kinrara, George the last Duke of Gordon,
erected a monumenfe, or rather cairn, which bears an
inscription on a brass plate commemorative of those
officers of the 42nd and 92nd regiments belonging to this
district, Avho fell at Waterloo.

Kinrara is the finest mansion in the parish, and is less
than two miles from the Church. Jane Maxwell, the
accomplished Duchess of Gordon, died 11th April, 1812,
and lies interred in the grounds, at her own request, in
a spot which she selected, — where a monument, erected
by the Duke, constructed of hewn granite from the
Grampians, marks the locality. In 1821, when Leopold,
King of the Belgians was in Scotland, he remained ten days
at Kinrara, the favourite residence of the above Duchess.
There is a sprightly song and dance called "Kinrara,"
the latter of which may be found in Eraser's Gaelic Airs;
commemorating the mirth and festivity that often en-
livened the romantic retreat. Mrs. Allardyce of Crom-
arty composed the beautiful " Lament for the Duchess of

Belleville, which gives its name to a district in this
parish, was the property of James MacPherson, the author
or translator of Ossian's poems, wlio died here on the 17th
Feb., 1796, a^t. 58; but was buried, at his own desire, in
Westminster Abbey. 1'he lands of Belleville were for-
merly the possession of Macintosh of Borlum, the leader
of a gang of robbers. The harony of Dimaucldon came
into possession of this family of Macintosh by marriage


in 1500, and the chief of the clan had a Castle which was
burnt in 1G89, and was never rebuilt. It is said that
South Kinrara and Dalnavert, commonl}^ called Davochs
of the Head, the remaining portion of the Macintoshes'
property, formed part of the compensation given for the
head of William loth Laird of Macintosh, beheaded by
order of the Earl of Huntly in 1550, when on a friendly
visit to Huntly Castle. On the meadow of Belleville,
between the public road and the Spey, is the pond or lake
of Lochandhu, formed by the river, and celebrated in a
novel by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder.

The House of Lochandhu was said to have consisted of
a plain and very low centre, hardly high enough for one
storey, but ap))earing from its double row of small win-
dows to be divided into two. On each side was a lower
wing, running out to the front at right angles, dedicated
to a variety of useful purposes. A birch-grove, which
formerly engirt the pond, was the lair of the bandit
Borlum. Here, it is said, Borlum murdered one of his
own domestics, for refusing to cross the Spey with him
and rob the house of a weaver in Killihuntly, who was
known to possess some money ; and here Borlum met his
associates to plan their predatory excursions.

Belleville House occupies the site of Baits Castle, the
chief ancient stronghold of the Comyns. It is an elegant
mansion, after a design by the celebrated Adam, situated
on a fine eminence sheltered on the north by an extensive
plantation of Scottish fir and larch, and by the rock of
Craighuie covered with natural birch. By his literary
labours, MacPlierson raised himself from the humble pro-
fession of Parish Schoolmaster at Ruthven, where he was
born, to a prominent position among the literary men of
his time, and realized an ample fortune which enabled
him to purchase the estate of Belleville. Among the
many legacies and annuities which he left, his will
directed that £300 should be expended in erecting a
monument to his memory in some conspicuous situation
at Belleville, which was done. Within a clump of larclies,
about half a mile south west of the mansion, and near the
public road, there is a beautiful marble obelisk on which
is fixed a medallion of MacPherson. On his death,
Belleville passed into the possession of his son, who
died in 1833, when it fell to his elder sister, the first


spouse of Sir David Brewster, who lived here for some

There is a curious artificial Cave at Raits, near Belle-
ville, the dimensions of which, when entire, was 14o solid
yards, artificially built round with dry stones, and covered
on tlie top with large grey flags. This cave was con-
structed by, and made the resort of a band of robbers,
nine in number, who were designated by the unpro-
nouncable name of Clannrishicgillenaoidh, Over the cave
was erected a turf cottage, the inmates of which partici-
pated with the robbers in their spoils, chiefly carried on
in revenge upon the MacPhersons, whose suspicions got
excited. They, accordingly, sent one of their tribe, attired
as a beggar-man, to seek quarters for the night in this
dubious hut. Pretending to suffer from the gravel, the
pauper was allowed to stay in another rude domicile hard
by ; who narrowly watched proceedings. By-and-bye a
large flag-stone was raised within the hut, whence issued
the entire band prepared for a sumptuous feast on the
MacPhersons' mutton. By this stratagem the marauders
were found out; and next night the MacPhersons mas-
sacred the whole.

About a mile to the west of the Parish Church at
a place called Delfour, are the remains of a Druidical
cairn, enclosed by a circle of large stones about 55 feet in
diameter. In the vicinity of this cairn, rises an obelisk
or Runic stone 8i feet high, 5 feet broad at the base, and
diminishing gradually in breadth to the top, where it is
only 0)1 inches. Both cairn and obelisk are in the middle
of an arable field.

Several tumuli occur on the road to the manse, in one
of which were found the bones of a human body entire,
with two large harts' horns laid across.] (Ed.)

Of the woods in this and the other parishes 1
speak elsewhere, and so go on to


I begin with Insh, whicli is situated below
Kingussie, on the east side of the river. Here
the river passeth through a lake lo niile long,


and near to a mile broad, called Loch Insh.
And when the river sweheth, a branch of it
runneth on each side of a small hill on which the
Clmrch standeth, thereby making it an island ;
and hence is the name Insh.

The Clmrch is 21 miles south of Alvie, and dh
miles north of Kingussie.

This parish extendeth near to 3 miles every way,
betwixt the waters of Feshie and Tromie.

Feshie falleth from the Grampian hills, and
being swelled by many brooks, after a course of
about 15 miles, dischargeth into Spey below the
Church, and it boundeth the parishes of Alvie
and Insh. Tromie likewise runneth out of the
Grampian hills a course of about 14 miles, and
falleth into Spey, a mile north of Ruthven, and
boundeth the parish of Insh to the south. All
betwixt these two rivulets is the property of
George MacPherson of Invereshie, chief of one of
the principal tribes of that name.

Close by the Church of Insh are the lands of
Balnespick, holding of Grant of Rothiemurchus,
which had been the property of Macintosh of
Kinrara and Balnespick, but were sold to Inver-
eshie about the year 1749.

An half mile up the water of Feshie, is the
seat of the proprietor, who has a salmon-fishing
on Loch Insh, and a passage-boat on Spey at the



Ou the east side of Spey, stretcheth about
6 miles from Tromie to Truim. The riviilet
riseth in the hills of Drumochter, and running
from south-west to north -east betmxt the
parishes of Kingussie and Laggan, after a course
of about 15 miles, falleth into Spey at Inver-

Near the mouth of Tromie is Invertromie, the
heritage, for several generations, of a branch of
the MacPhersons of Pitmean, and in 1758 pur-
chased by John MacPherson of the family of
Invereshie. A mile up the river is Euthven, a
small village having a post-office. Close by it, is
a green mount* jutting into a marshy plain ; the
mount about 20 yards high, and the area on the
top of it about 120 yards long and 60 broad.
Here Cummine Lord Badenoch had his seat and
fort (See my '' Military History "). The lands
of liuthven are the Duke of Gordon's propertj^

* The Mount of Rutliven, rising abniittly from the marsliy
plain south of Kingussie, has the ruins of an old T»arrack on it,
Avhich have an imposing appearance, but which were much
inferior in strength and size to the more ancient Castle which
they displaced, which l)elonged to the wuld ("ummings, Earls of
Badenoch. Queen Mary frequently visited this Castle, that
she might enjoy the pleasures of the chase in the adjoining
forests. The Barrack, built of. stones in 1718, was defended
against a whole Highland host by 12 men, under the command
of a Serjeant MoUoy, in Feb. 174G, when the rebels set it on
fire. It was here that the chiefs re-assembled their forces, to
the number of 8000, two days subsequent to the Battle of
Culloden, in the hopes of Prince Charles again taking the
field. (Eu.)

S. COLUMBA'S priory at KINGUSSIE. 287

Next up the river is Neid, a part of Clunie's estate
uow forfeited to the Duke of Gordon his superior,
by the clan-act. At the mouth of Truim, is
Invernahaven, the heritage of John MacPherson,
Chief of the Clan Dahbi or Davidsons. And two
miles up the side of Truim are Phoiness and
Etterish, the property of a gentleman of the
family of Invereshie. I pass to

The west side of the river, on which the parish
extendeth 4^ miles.

The Church standeth near the north end, 6
miles south of Alvie, and near to 15 north of
Laggan. The lands are Laggan, Ardbrylach,
Kingussie, Pitmean, Strone, and Bealids ; and are
the property of the Duke of Gordon. Coulinlin
is the heritage of Donald MacPherson, of the
family of Clunie. Clunie is now the feu-hold of
Andrew MacPherson, of Benchar, holding of
Macintosh as superior, and this gentleman hold-
eth Benchar in mortgage off Macintosh of Borlum.

[The village of Kingussie occupies the precincts, and
the Church the site of the ancient Priory dedicated to S.
Coluraba, which was founded by George, Earl of Huntly,
about 1490. The lands belonging to it were bestowed
by the family of Huntly, and were resumed by them at
the Reformation. Part of the ruined Chapel of the Mon-
astery remains in a sequestered spot near the hotel. The
Kingussie estate, on the death of the last Duke of Gordon,
passed into the possession of James Evan Baillie, Esq., of
Culduthel and Glenelg, formerly of Bristol. His territories
now extend over a principal part of the "great lordship of
Badenoch," the country of clmnps of wood, as the word
implies.] (Ed.)

288 macpherson's parentage, exploits, and capture.


[James Macpherson was born of a beautiful gipsy,
who at a great wedding attracted the notice of a half
intoxicated Highland gentleman, one of the Macphersons
of Invereshie. He acknowledged the child, and had him
reared in his house, until he lost his life in bravel}^ pursuing
a hostile clan, to recover a spiaith of cattle taken from
Badenoch. The gipsy woman, hearing of this disaster in
her rambles the following summer, came and took away
her boy ; but she often returned with him, to wait upon
his relations and clansmen, who never failed to clothe him
well, besides giving money to his mother. He grew up
in strength, stature, and beauty, seldom equalled. His
sword is still preserved at Duff House, a residence of the
Earl of Fife, and few men could carry, far less wield it as
a weapon of war ; and if it must be owned, his prowess
was debased by the exploits of a freebooter, it is certain
no act of cruelty, no robbery of the widow, the fatherless,
or distressed, and no murder was ever perpetrated under
his command. He often gave the spoils of the rich to
relieve the poor ; and all his tribe was restrained from
many atrocities of rapine by their awe of his mighty
arm. Indeed, it is said that a dispute with an aspiring
and savage man of his tribe, who wished to rob a gentle-
man's house while his wife and two children lay on the
bier for interment, was the cause of his being betrayed to
the vengeance of the law. The magistrates of Aberdeen
were exasperated at Macpherson's escape, when they
bribed a girl in that city to allure and delude him into
their hands. There were a ]ilatform before the jail, at the
top of a stair, and a door below. When ]\Iacpherson'&
capture was made known to his comrades by the frantic
girl, who was so credulous as to believe that the magis-
trates only wanted to hear the wonderful performer on
the violin, his cousin, Donald Macpherson, a gentleman
of Herculean powers, did not disdain to come from Bade-
noch and to join a gipsy, Peter Brown, in liberating the
prisoners. On a market-day they brought several assis-
tants ; and swift horses were stationed at a convenient
distance. Donald Macpherson and Peter Brown forced
the jail, and while Peter Brown went to help the heavily-
fettered James Macpherson in moving awa}', Donald

MACPHERSON's capture and escape in ABERDEEN, 289

Macpherson guarded the jail door with a drawn sword.
Many persons assembled at the market had experienced
James Macpherson's humanity, or had shared his bounty,
and they crowded round the jail as in mere curiosity, but,
in fact, to obstruct the civil authorities from preventing a
rescue. A butcher, however, was resolved, if possible, to
detain Macpherson, expecting a large recompense from
the magistrates. He sprang up the stairs, and leaped from
the platform upon Donald Macpherson, whom he dashed
to the ground by the force and weight of his body.
Donald Alacpherson soon recovered to make a desperate
resistance, and the combatants tore off each other's clothes.
The butcher got a glimpse of his dog upon the platform, and
called him to his aid; but Macpherson, with admirable
presence of mind, snatched up his own plaid, which lay
near, and threw it over the butcher, thus misleading the
instinct of his canine adversary. The dog darted with
fury u})on the plaid, and terribly lacerated his master's
thigh. In the meantime, James Macpherson had been
carried out by Peter Brown, and was soon joined by
Donald Macpherson, who was quickly covered by some
friendly spectator with a hat and greatcoat. The magis-
trates ordered webs from the shops to be drawn across
the Gallowgate; but Donald Macpherson cut them asunder
with his sword, and James, the late prisoner, got off on
horseback. He was some time after betrayed by a man
of his own tribe, and was the last person executed at
Banff, previous to the abolition of heritable jurisdic-
tion. He was an admirable performer on the violin;
and his talent for composition is still in evidence in
" Macpherson's Rant," " Macpherson's Pibroch," and "Mac-
pherson's Farewell." He performed those tunes at the
foot of the fatal tree, and then asked if he had any
friend in the crowd to whom a last gift of his instrument
would bo acceptable. No man had hardihood to claim
friendship with a delinquent, in whose crimes the acknow-
ledgment might implicate an avowed acquaintance. As
no friend came forward, MacPherson said, that the compan-
ion of many gloomy hours should perish with him"; aiul
breaking the violin over his knee, he threw away the
fragments. Donald Macpherson picked up the neck of
the violin, which to this day is preserved, as a valuable
memento by the family of Oluny, Chieftain of the Mac-
VOL. I. 19


Online LibraryLachlan ShawThe 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 text (page 26 of 37)