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 34 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 34 of 37)
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In 1798, the " Little Kirk " having become ruinous, and
the Magistrates, whose property it was, not being inclined
to make any repairs upon it, the numerous congregation
built a new and commodious church in Moss Street, and
requested ^Mr. Bayne to continue as their minister in the
new church, but he was interdicted by the Presbytery in
1799 ; which decision was confirmed by the Sjmod of
Moray and General Assembly in 1800 ; so that the congre-
gation was under the necessity, unwillingly, to give up
their connection with the Established Church of Scotland
and unite themselves to another denomination. " The
Little Kirk " was demolished by the Magistrates about
or previous to the year 1800, and all traces of it


Appear to have stood for many centuries in the centre
of the High Street, on the site of the present water-foun-
tain. They are mentioned in 1540. In 1572 they seem
to have been undergoing repair ; for on the 13 Oct.
of that year the Burgh Court was held within the
" Quhoir of the Parische Kirk." They probably were
then thatched buildings ; for about 1600 an entry occurs
in the Burgh Records : — " Item, £3 6s. 8d. for fog to
thack the Tolbooth." In 1002 they had become ruinous,
and a contract was entered into on the 27 Jan. that year
between the Bailies and Town Council, by which the
contractors bound themselves " to big ane sufficient tol-
beith, within the said burgh, quhair the auld tolbeith
thereof presently stands, of threiscore futtis length,
twenty futtis of braid and wideness." It was to have a
sufficient prison-house, a Council-room, and other accom-
modation. The cost was to be 513 merkis, with other
allowances. The work seems to have been completed
about 1605. The stones of the wall enclosing St. Giles'
churchyard were freely used in the building ; and the
roof was " sclaited wi* stanes frae Dolass."

Although a most incommodious building, according to
modern ideas, it had a very pictures(iue a})pcarance, with
its stone steeple and high crow-stepped gables. It was
erected in the year 1717, in room of tlic previous one,
burnt in 1701 by Robert Gibson, j)roprietor of Linkwood,
a hinatic confined in it. He married a sister of Anderson


of Westerton, in the parish of Botriphnie, but was unhappy
in his marriage, and his domestic troubles drove him mad.
The cost of this building was £4,000 Scots, and 40 bolls
of victual. The accommodation was not much. It con-
sisted of the Sheriff's Court-House, and, immediately
opposite to it, entering from the same passage, was a room
for the imprisonment of debtors, above which was a room
for criminals, and adjoining to it a horrible chamber called
the pit, where delinquents of the worst description were
placed for security. There was no fireplace in it. Light
came through an open slit in the wall, in which there was
no glass, and the poor criminal in a winter night was
exposed in this stone chamber to the cold biting winds.
It was truly squalor carceris. On the west end of the
building was the Council Room, which, for the space of
125 years, was used as a place of meeting by the Magis-
trates, and where they held their quiet debates and
elections; the old Council electing the new, without dis-
turbance from the outward world, and notexposed to News-
paper reporters, like their less fortunate successors of the
present day. On the north side, fronting the High Street,
was a dungeon called the Black Hole, somewhat under-
ground, where disturbers of the peace on market days,
and petty delinquents, were confined for 12 or 24 hours,
according to circumstances, often without light or food,
in a very summary manner, much at the pleasure of the
famous Police ofiicer of the day, and frequently without
any warrant. It was a very filthy place, without a ray
of light, and no air except what came through the key-
hole, and much infested with rats. The prisoners had
therefore a miserable time of it, and were thankful to
promise good conduct for the time to come, to be i-elieved
from their wretched prison house. Within the Jail there
was a winding turret stair on the south side, which led to
a bartizan on the roof, the only airing place for the
prisoners. The debtors seem to have been the only
parties who enjoyed the privilege of walking here ; the
criminals had no such relaxation. In a summer evening
the debtors (and in these days they were very numerous)
were seen moving about, and breathing the cool evening
air, after the confinement in their miserable apartment
during the day, where they had their meals, and slept
all together. In the steeple there were a clock and bell.


This bell was removed to the Grammar School, and pro-
bably is the same bell which is still used at the Academy.
Historians write confust'illy aiient the jail and kirk bells.
The clock had only one hand to indicate both hours and
minutes. It is now in the Museum. The metal weather-
cock was placed on the top of the steeple in the year
1778. Its predecessor, which was made of wood, not
answering the wind rightly, was sent to Inverness to be
rectified on the ISth March, 1718. He fell down in 1778,
when the one of metal succeeded.

There w^ere several small shops under the prison, par-
ticularly one at the west end, long occupied by a cooper,
who hammered and fired casks in the front of his shop,
and made such disturbance by the heavy blows of his
tools from dawn to dusk, as would not now be permitted
for one hour by the more tender inhabitants of the present
day. On the east end of the Jail, and attached to it, was
a building of wood, but slated, called the Meal House, in
which the Council sold meal to the inhabitants, it being
then the duty of the Magistrates to furnish meal to the
indwellers of the burgh at a very reasonable })rice, in
particular during seasons of scarcity, which, in these days
of free trade and more abundant supplies, is not required.

The Jail, Court-House, and other accommodation being
found quite inadequate for modern re([uiremcnts, were
removed in 1843, and the old bell is now placed in the
new Court-House, but its sounds are not so often heard
as in former days. In conjunction with the bell of the
Parish Church, it roused the inhabitants to the labours of
the day at six o'clock in the morning, and it rang its
curfew at eight in the evening. A very good though
somewdiat rough print of the Court-House and Jail is still
preserved, published about 50 years ago, and a finer one
is contained in Rhind's ^Sketches of Moray in 1839.

THE vicar's manse AND GARDEN
Were opposite St. Giles' Church, on the north side, and
is said to have been accidentally burnt. The grounds
extended from the High Street at the south to tlie stank
of Burghbrigs at the north. The Burgh Records (1!>
Nov., 1650, till 4 April, 1059) evidence litigation here-
anent. In the Process, 1705-G9, the ministers Shaw and
Riiitoul against the heritors, a Pr<.)of was led as to there

THE vicar's manse AM) (iARDEX. 373

having been a Manse ; when John Rhind, a witness for
the ministers, deponed that there were 40 Manses in the
Town and College, or tofts an<l tails, which had l)elonged
to the Canons and Chaplains under the Catholic Estab-
lishment, although no houses now stood thereon ; and
Mr. James Robertson of the College deponed that, al-
though he owned six of these Manses, he could point to
■one only, in which he dwelt himself. The Court of Ses-
sion found in 1769, under this Process, that neither of the
ministers of Elgin was entitled to a manse.

In 1781, " the Vicar's manse, ground, and gardens "
belonged to Hay and Peterkin, ministers of Elgin ; and,
with consent of the Presbytery and Magistrates, were by
them excambed with Dr. Thos. Stephen, in Elgin, for
croft-land of equal value, by contract of excambion dated
2nd, 4th, and 8th Jan., 1781. Dr. Stephen died in 1818,
and was succeeded by his son Dr. James Stephen, who, in
1823, disponed the western and largest portion of " the
manse, ground, and gardens " to John Forsyth, iron-
monger ; and the eastern or smaller portion, along with
some other ground, to Peter Nicholson, merchant. John
Forsyth built a handsome house and shop on the western
part, which he sold to the late Dr. John Paul, in 1841,
which now belongs to his son. Dr. John Liston Paul,
The eastern portion was built upon by ^Ir. Nicholson,
who shortly after sold the ground and building to the
British Linen Co., on which are now their branch-office
and agent's domicile.

Next and immediately adjoining the Manne, Ground,
and Garden, are the burgh subjects, formerly belonging
to Isaac Forsyth, the well-known publisher and book-
seller, which after his death were sold by his trustees to
Dr. Mackay. The most prominent portion is the eastern
part, in which there is the old Tower, of which an engrav-
ing is given in Billing's Antiquities, vol. II., and Rhind's
Sketches of Moray, page 54. The ancient titles have
been lost.

Lower down the High Street, and in the immediate
proximity of Isaac Fors3^th's Library and premises, stood
a venerable Mansion, formerly on a piazza, of which there
is a Plate in Billing's Antiqitities, vol. II. The window-
tops were highly ornamented, and bore the date 1680,
and the initials I. \l. The titles do not go so far back as


the date of the building, and its original o wner is now
unknown. The existing titles bear that it belonged, in
170G, to James Cramond, merchant, who was a magistrate
of the burgh ; in 1718 to Alexander Mill, merchant ; in
1761 to Capt. Peter Inncs, R.A.: in 1768 to George
Charles, merchant, in whose descendants' names it re-
mained until 1826, when it was sold to Alexander Hay
of Edintore, and by his trustees, some years ago, to John
Anderson, merchant, who demolished it, and erected
thereon a modern building.

A little east of the above, on the same side of High
Street, there is a large House covered with gre}^ slates.
It may be a century and a half old. It has an extensive
frontage to the street. Upwards of a century ago it was
the property of Thomas Stephen, merchant, and Provost
in 1770. The titles extend back to 1652, but the frontage
may date a centur}^ later.

On the south side of High Street, and directly opposite
St. Giles' Church, was erected, in 1776, the largest House
ever built in the burgh. It had the Grant arms and the
initials of the owner and his wife placed in the front.
The builder was designed in the titles as James Grant of
Logic. It entered from the street by a handsome gate-
way, which conducted into a paved court, within which
was a large garden. There were two excellent shops
fronting High Street, and the large building within the
court was converted into two dwelling-houses, entering
on each side of the gateway. It must have been a costly
erection, and in a style to which the burgh was not then
accustomed. Some 15 or 20 years after it was liuilt, it
was sold to James Milne, a native of Elgin, who made a
considerable fortune in London. He succeeded his father-
in-law. Provost Stephen, as agent of the Aberdeen Rank,
who died, advanced in years, in 1.S28. He had a literary
taste, and executed some fine pen-and-ink sketches, par-
ticularly heads of Roman Emperors. His son, Thomas
Miller, who spent much of his early life in India and the
Island of Java, succeeded and lived for the last 30 years
of his life in Elgin and latterly in this property. He died
on 7th May, 1870, and left the large House to his cousins,
the Misses Stephen, who, after making many imjirove-
ments, sold it in 1875 to the Cit}^ of Glasgow Rank.
Since the sale the building has been entirely reno-


vated, and forms an immense improvement to High


Was the residence of the Dean of the See or Diocese,
and was called the Deanery. From the Cmninal Letters,
as well as from Ane Account of the Family oflnnes, ])age
128, we are informed that on the 1st Jan., 1554, a scene
of strife and violence took ])lace within the Cathedral
during Vespers. Eighty of the family or clan of Innes, all
armed, entered the Church, with the intent of murdering
Alexander Dunbar, Prior of Pluscarden, David Dunbar,
Dean of Moray, and other Dunbars who were laymen.
The Dunbars had come for the same purpose, to slay
William Innes of that ilk, with his servants. The feud
did not prove fatal ; but both families litigated for nearl}^
23 years, until the ISth Oct., 1577, when the animosit}-
again burst out from seven of the Inneses, Geo. Douglas,
Vicar of Aberchirder, and others. These came with arms
to the manse of Alexander Dunbar, the Dean in the
Canonry of Elgin, and beat and wounded Andrew
Smyth, his servant and keeper of his horses, broke up the
stable-door, and cut the halters of his horses, intending to
steal them. The Dean, roused by the disturbance, came
out in his habit, unarmed except with a dirk which he
always carried. One of three John Inneses attacked the
Dean with his sword, and wounded him severely on the
head and both hands, and left him for dead. This John
Innes, moreover, mortally stabbed in the breast Elizabeth
Dunbar, a girl 13 years old, the Dean's eldest (natural)
daughter. Also, in the silence of the night of the 29th
May, 1578, the same set ransacked the Dean's house at
Carsehillock, and carried away 40 sheep, wethers, ewes,
and lambs. For these deeds the Inneses were put to the
horn, which proved ineffectual ; but a convention was
held at the Cluny Hills, near Forres, on the 7th Nov.,
1578, when the hostile parties were reconciled.

TJie Deanery was inherited by the Dunbars of Burgie
for two centuries. Bad harvests succeeded from 1694 till
nearly a century onwards. During the famine of 1742,
the Lady Dunbar of Burgie, who then occupied the North
College or Deanery, had a large pot of Brochan in daily
use for the starving hordes. Tradition says that the lane
which led to the Deanery was strewed with the dead


bodies of those who were flocking thereto for relief, but
whose last energies failed. In 175G the Deanery, with
grounds, was sold to James Kobertson, Bishopmill, Pro-
vost of Elgin, who married Barbara Brodie, daughter of
Joseph Brodie of Milltown, who y)rocreated a family of
sons and daughters. He married Barbara Brodie, daugh-
ter of the laird of ^lilton, or, as it is now called, Milton-
Brodie, in the parish of Alves, formerly called Windyhills,
which successively belonged to Dundases, Dunbars, and
Brodies. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Joseph
Robertson, by whose heirs the North College was conveyed
to a younger brother, James Robertson, on the 29th
March, 1784, who was long resident in Jamaica, where he
had large estates. Latterly he resided in Elgin, the place
of his nativity, where he died in 1816. He built the
west wing of the present mansion, containing the dining-
room, and planted the orchard, with many trees along the
banks of the Lossie and upon the lawn. His son,
Alexander, was born on the 13th December, 1808, and
received his education at the Elgin Academy. He spent
his first business years in London, in the lime trade. He
took a great interest in the Parliamentary politics of the
district, and did much to further the interests of Sir
Andrew Leith Hay of Rannes and Leith-Hall. When the
National Provincial Bank of England was started about
1835, Sir Andrew was one of the principal promoters ;
and through his influence Mr. Robertson was made Joint-
Secretary and ultimately Managing Director. He was
also a Director of various other Companies, such as the
Commercial Union Insurance Company. He was well
known in London as an authority in all matters of
finance, and as one of sound judgment and foresight. He
married Harriet B. Wemyss, daughter of Patrick Wemyss
of Craighall, Aberdeenshire, by wliom he had an onl}'-
daughter, wlio is married to Dr. Wane, 20 Grafton
Street, Berkeley Square, London, where he died unex-
pectedly of heart-disease and bronchitis on the 6th March,
1879, and whence his remains were taken for interment
in the New Cemetery of Elgin.

The Dedncry, in the 18 or 20 acres of which it consists,
contains the foundations, not now visible, of other six of
the old Manses connected with the Cathedral, with all
their irardens and grounds. After Mr. Robertson was


relieved from the active management of the Bank, he de-
lighted in improving this Elgin residence. He built a
new porter's lodge and a south wing to the house, con-
taining kitchen and servants' accommodation, with seve-
ral bed-rooms. For many years Tlie College had been let
to several tenants in succession; but latterly the proprietor
was the sole occupant of one of the finest seats about the
city of Elgin.


Embraces — 1. The Archdeacon's Manse. 2. The Sub-
Dean's Manse. 3. The Sub-Chanter's Croft. 4. A lot of
ground acquired from Wm. King of Newmill. 5. Sander-
son's land.

The Archdeacon was minister of Forres. The Manse
was conveyed by Gavin Dunbar, then Archdeacon of
Moray, to Patrick and Christian Pollock, by charter
dated 14 Nov., 1574; and, after many steps of progress,
fell lo Alexander Cook, and was conveyed by James
Cook and Janet Cook to the Hon. George Duff of Milton,
fifth son of William, Earl of Fife, by disposition of date
18 May, 17G8.

The Sub-Dean was minister of Delias. The existing
titles of the manse commence in 1689, when the subjects
were in possession of Stevenson, from whom

they passed to Jonathan Forbes, father of William Forbes,
Town-Clerk of Edinburgh. He was served heir to his
father on 12 May, 17G1, and conveyed the property to
the above Mr. Duff by disposition of date 29 IMay, and 4
June, 1765.

The Sub-Chanter was minister of Raflbrd. The titles
of this lot extend only to the middle of last century.
John Wiseman sold them to Mr. Duff on 31 Aug., 1768.

The fourth lot was acquired hy Mr. Duff from Wm.
King of Newmill on the 27 Jan., 1768.

The fifth lot (Sanderson's land) was disponed by Mar-
garet Sanderson and others to Mr. Duff on 25 May, 1794.

All these lots being enclosed in one park, it is impos-
sible now to distinguish them. Part of the IVIansion-
house is probably as old as the time of the Archdeacon.
Mr. Duff executed a deed of entail on SO Dec, 1802, and
died at an advanced age in 1818. In his time, the house
was comparatively small ; for then gentlemen of rank
were content with moderate accommodation. He was


succeeded by his only sod, Major George Duff, who added

largely to the house. On his death, the property de-
scended to his cousin, the Hon. George Skene Duff, who
never occupied the house himself. It was then let to
tenants. For some years it was occupied by the gTeat
Naturalist, the late Charles St. John. In 1804- Mr. Duff
sold the ]n-operty to the late Archibald luglis of Ceylon,
who vastly improved the mansion and policies. It is to
be regretted that he removed the old precinct-wall, using
the materials for building purposes. Previous to his
death he removed herefrom, when the South College was
sold to Dr. Cooper of Old Deer.


And its extensive grounds embrace the Houses of the
Laird of Pluscarden, the Marquis of Huutly, the Bishop's
town-residence, and Dunkinty House, with their parks
and gardens, and forms an extensive domain. The en-
trance-gate stands at the junction of North College Street
and King Street, on the south-east corner of the grounds,
through w^hich the approach winds gracefully, terminating
in an oval space in front of the House. Grant Lodge is
the jointure residence of the Countess of Seafield, and
stands on the site formerly occupied by the Elgin resi-
dence of the Marquis of Huntly. It is a large handsome
buikling of three storeys, with two conservatories, one on
each end. The principal entrance is reached, a handsome
jjorte-cochere supported on four massive pillars. The
basement floor is occupied with the servants' accommoda-
tion. The first floor contains a large dining-room on the
right,and a morning-room ontheleft,whilethe western wing
contains the boudoir. On the second floor are the draw-
ing-room and best bed- room, and a large suite of apart-
ments. The grand staircase contains some flnc valuable
paintings by eminent masters, and several marble busts.
No part of the House has the appearance of an older date
than the middle of last centur3^

The Marquis of Huntly's House is referred to in the
Burgh Records as far back as 1540, but it may have been
much older. It stood on the north side of North College
Street, and the House of the Laird of Fluscarden was
near it. Both these Mansions are apparent in Slezer's
Vievj of Elgin, published in 1003. Probably Fluscarden


House was erected by the Mackenzies when they were
proprietors of that estate.

Janet Brodie, wife of Ludovick Grant of Grant, bought
the Estate of Pluscarden in 1G77 for her son James, after-
wards Sir James Grant, and perhaps at the same time the
House in Elgin.

At what time the Grant family acquired the Marquis
of Huntly's House cannot be ascertained.

In 16G1, the Marchioness of Huntly lived in this House,
and had a Roman Catholic Priest resident with her (the
Rev. William Ballant3'ne), who died here, and was buried
in St. Mary's Aisle in the Cathedral.

There is no record when Pluscarden and Huntly Houses
were removed.


Is now occupied by the house and premises on the
south side of High Street belonging to Mr. Williamson,
hatter. In Sir Robert Gordon's Genealogy of the Earls of
Sutherland, page 82, it is stated that S. Duthac or Duffus
was "a verie godly man, patron of Sanct Duffus his
chappell, besyd the town of Tayn; into the which chappie
a great confluence of people, yea some of our kings, did
resort in pilgrimage in former ages." S. Duthac's Chapel
in Tain, whose walls are yet considerably entire, being
enclosed with a wall, and having a cemetery around it,
was frequentl}^ visited by King James IV. on his many
pilgrimages in the 15th and 16th centuries. Probably S.
Duthac's Manse in Elgin was either a resting-place for
pilgrims on their way to the shrine at Tain, or the resi-
dence of a chaplain. On the back of the present front
house is the date 1707 ; but it may be doubted if it be so
old, as the stone may belong either to an older building,
or to the house further up the court, which is occupied as
an inn, and seems older than the front building. The old
titles are lost: but from Ahhreviaiio Retorvatorum Cajnit
Elgin et Forres, it appears that " Robert Innes, son of John
Innes, burgess of Elgin, was served heir to his father in
the rood of land and Manse of S. Duchat, a chaplainry
founded within the Parish Church of Elgin, 9 Jan. 1629."
In 1782, ^. Dmhat's Manse belonged to the Earl of Find-
later, who, on the 7th June that year, sold it, through
Provost George Brown, to George Simpson, vintner in
Elgin, from whose heirs it was adjudged by John Sime>


of the Island of Antigua, on 7th July, 1795. His son,
William Sinie, tenant at Drummond, made up a title as
lieir to his father in 1808, which was confii-med to him
by the heirs of George Simpson, by disposition dated the
loth and 17th Nov., 1808. He conveyed the subjects to
the late William Gill on the 2nd July, 1812, whose
trustees disponed the property to Mj-. Williamson in 1867.


Was a deep pool in the hollow ground to the eastward
of the Cathedral, and was long well-known to every
schoolboy. Strange ideas of its awful depth and dark
legends of its history haunted the minds of boyhood. So
late as loGO, witches were publicly and legally drowned
herein. It has been conjectured that, at a remote period,
the channel of the Lossie may have passed through the
Order Pot; for, whenever the Lossie was swelled by
unusual floods, it made for its old haunts. There is an
old prophecy, said to be Thomas the Rhymer's : — " The
Order Pot, and Lossie gray, shall sweep the Chan'ry Kirk
away." Many thousand carts of rubbish from the Cathe-
dral grounds and elsewhere have been emptied into the
" Pot." An etching of it is given in Rhind's Sketches.
Herd-boys are represented in the act of drowning a dog
or cat, while three cows are in contemplation as witnesses.

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 34 of 37)