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Origin and History of Agriculture and Land-Ownership.—Davachs
and other Divisions.—Rise and Fall of Population.—Sub-
Division of Holdings.—The Occupiers of the Soil.—Origin
of the Crofter.—Leases.—Agricultural Productions and
Customs.—Ancient Trade in Cattle, Skins, Wool, and Furs.—
Rents and Services.—Foundation of Lewistown and Milton.—
Famines.—Game Laws.—An Ancient Royal Forest.—Timber
Traffic. — Trades. — Old Industries. — Copper Mine.—Iron
Works.—Lime Manufacture.—Distaff and Spindle. —Linen
and Woollen Factories.—Introduction of Spinning Wheels.—
Ale.—An Ancient Brew-house.—Whisky-Making. — Modern
Breweries.—Roads and Bridges.—Traffic on Loch Ness.—
Ancient Boats.—Cromwell’s Frigate.—The Highland Galley.
— Steamboats. — Highland Hospitality. — Inns. — Samuel
Johnson at Aonach.—The Dwellings of the Past.—Modern
Improvements. — Law and Order. — Sanctuaries. — Baron
Courts and their Procedure.—Curious Administrative Division
of the Parish.—Church Courts.—The Poor.—Social Customs.
—Fights and Feuds.—Modern Changes.—The Conclusion.

If we could but raise the thick curtain that shuts
out the distant past from our view, we would see
our remote ancestor in Urquhart and Glenmoriston
dwelling in caves and crevices, or clustered with his
fellows in the hut-circles whose remains still cover
the higher moorlands of the Parish, a stranger to
tillage and pasturage, wandering in search of food
over a land which he has not yet learned to call


his own. Coming nearer our own time, we would
find him the possessor of flocks which roam with
those of the other members of his family or tribe
over a district which he and they have marked out
for themselves, and vaguely claim as their common
possession. At a later period we would see him
combining his pastoral pursuits with the art of
husbandry, and cultivating patches of land on the
run-rig system ; or, later still, enclosing his arable
fields and their surroundings, and appropriating
them to himself, or holding them for certain dues
or services under a chief or other person who has
already acquired a right of ownership to them.

At what precise period this last stage was
reached in Urquhart and Glenmoriston, it is impos­
sible to say. If we literally accept the words of Dio,
who wrote in the third century, there was in his
time no tillage in what we now know as the High­
lands of Scotland, the people living “ by pasturage,
the chase, and certain berries.” But probably we
ought not to read this as meaning that they were
absolutely without knowledge of husbandry ; for in
the time of Columba—the sixth century—corn,
agricultural operations, and farm buildings were so
common as to prove that agriculture was not then of
very recent introduction. In Columba’s time, too,
the right of private property in land was known,
and not only was Iona conferred on himself, but from
his day downwards lands were from time to time
granted to his followers and successors, who were
the great teachers of husbandry in the Highlands.


Their possessions in our Parish have already been
referred to.1 Until the eleventh or twelfth century,
the owners of the soil held it on the unwritten
title of duchas. Then written charters became
common—issuing in the first instance from the
King, from whom all right was held to flow. The
first title now known of land in our Parish is the
agreement of 1233 between Sir Alan Durward and
the Chancellor of Moray.2

With the exception of the lands which belonged
to the Church, the whole territory now embraced in
the Parish formed, from the earliest time of which
we have record till 1509, one large domain, attached
as a rule to the Castle, and held by the King or by
persons to whom the King granted it.3 In 1509 this
territory was alienated from the Crown, and divided
into three estates—Urquhart, Corrimony, and Glen-
moriston—and granted to the Laird of Grant and
his two sons. In 1557 the old Church property of
Achmonie was acquired by John Mackay. In
that year, therefore, there were four private pro­
prietors in the Parish. That number continued
with certain variations till 1779, when Achmonie
was purchased by the Laird of Grant. In 1825 the
estate of Lakefield (now Kilmartin) was formed out
of Corrimony, and the old number of four heritors
was thus restored.

1 See Chap. xvii.

2 See p. 16, supra.

3 In this domain was also included that portion of the forest of Cluanie
which lies to the east of the water­shed, and now forms part of the estate of
Kintail. See footnote p. 448 infra.


The early Celts sometimes divided their lands
into davachs—the word being dabhach, a vat or
large vessel used for measuring or holding corn,
and the meaning of it as applied to land being,
a sufficient extent for the sowing of a dabhach
of seed. To this extent of arable land was
attached a certain outrun of moorland or green
pasture. Where the word davach, or its equiva­
lent dock, is found, it proves that part at least of the
lands to which it is applied was under tillage before
the twelfth century, when Saxon or Southern
systems of measurement came into use in the North.
Glenmoriston was divided into several davachs, and
Urquhart into ten, which are still known as the
Ten Davachs of Urquhart—Deich Dochan Urchu-
In our Parish the word davach first appears
in Sir Alan Durward’s deed of 1233, and the division
indicates that at one time Urquhart consisted of ten
large holdings corresponding with the ten davachs.
Some of these were subsequently divided into half
davachs, quarter davachs, and bolls.

It is interesting to trace the increase within the
last three centuries of the number of agricultural
holdings. The charters of 1509 show that what
is now the estate of Urquhart (including Achmonie)
consisted of 18 holdings, Corrimony of 4, and
Glenmoriston of 12. Randolph’s charter to Sir
Robert Chisholm, in 1345, proves that some at
least of these divisions existed in that year, and
the fact that they are in 1509 described by their
Old Extent values would appear to show that the


divisions existed as far back as the thirteenth
century, when the Old Extent valuation was made.
The tenants of these large holdings had sub­tenants
under them. In 1548 there were still 18 holdings
on Urquhart and Achmonie, which were occupied by
111 tenants and sub­tenants. In 1636 the tenants
and sub­tenants numbered 110. In 1765 the estate
of Urquhart proper was let to 81 tenants, who had
under them 70 sub­tenants and 50 cottars, exclusive
of the sub­tenants and cottars of Shewglie, who
probably numbered 10. Achmonie at the time had
11 tenants. In 1808 the sub­tenants were made
crofters, holding directly of the proprietor ; and
Urquhart and Achmonie were divided into 169
holdings, including the allotments of Milton and
Lewistown, but exclusive of cottars possessing houses
and gardens only. After that year the population,
which had for ages been kept down by war and
spoliation and famine, rapidly increased, with the
result that the holdings were gradually sub­divided,
until they now number 306, exclusive of 106 cottars
having houses and gardens.1

1 In connection with these figures, it may be interesting to note the
population of Urquhart and Glenmoriston at various periods. In 1755,
according to Webster’s returns, the inhabitants numbered 1943. In 1763
they were estimated by Lorimer at 2000. The following are the numbers in
the census years :—In 1801, 2633 ; in 1811, 2446 (a reduced number, chiefly
brought about by the absence of many men in the war) ; in 1821, 2786 ; in
1831, 2942 ; in 1841, 3104 ; in 1851, 3280 ; in 1861, 2911 ; in 1871, 2769 ; in
1881, 2437 ; and in 1891, 2035. The steady decrease which has been going on
since 1851, when the population reached the highest point which it ever
touched, is accounted for by the fact that the young men are not now satisfied
with remaining at home as their fathers did, but go out into the world, and
that the young women also leave home to better themselves elsewhere.


While the principal tenants or tacksmen have
since the sixteenth century held their holdings on
formal written leases,1 their sub­tenants were
occupiers-at-will, and whatever rights or privileges
they enjoyed were of a meagre and unsatisfactory
nature. Many of them were descendants of the old
nativi, or serfs,2 and continued till the end of last
century to be dependent on the land­owners and
tacksmen, and to be virtually their servants. They
are still remembered by the name of malanaich
that is, mailers, or payers of mail or small rent, as
distinguished from the tuath—the name applied in
the district of Loch Ness to large farmers ; and
their condition in 1763 is thus described by Mr
William Lorimer, tutor, and latterly secretary, to
Sir James Grant :—“ There are few or no sub­
tenants, strictly speaking, that is, persons who
have some possessions of ground from the prin­
cipal tenants ; but there are many cottagers or
cottars, called also mealers [mailers]. A tenant
has one, two, perhaps three, of these, to whom he
gives the liberty to build a house on his farm. This
house has three couples, with other kinds of wood,
all of which are taken out of the Laird’s woods
without any payment to him. This mealer pays to

1 The oldest agricultural lease now extant of lands in the Parish is one
y the Bishop of Moray to Mackay of Achmonie in 1554 (Appendix C), which
was in 1557 exchanged for a charter (Appendix D). An early specimen of the
Grant leases is given in Appendix C.

2 The Wolf of Badenoch’s nativi, or native slaves, are mentioned in 1389
see p. 45 supra. Among the Wester Bunloit sufferers in the Great Raid
of 1545 was John McGillechrist Mor McinfuttirJohn, son of Big Christopher,
son of the Fuidir, or stranger bondsman.


the tenant yearly a merk [13s 4d Scots, or 1s l1/3d
stg.] for every couple for this house. The mealer
has also a cow, to which the tenant allows a little
grass. He has also a few sheep ; and the tenant, for
this grass, and the liberty of the pasture of the
sheep, causes the cottar or mealer keep his sheep,
and gets other little services from him.” These
mailers were converted into crofters by Sir James,
who had the estate of Urquhart surveyed, and the
holdings re­adjusted, in 1808. To him—the Good
Sir James, as he was called in his own day—the
Parish owes much. From his succession in 1773—
or rather from 1761, when his father (the Ludovick
Grant of The Forty­ Five), entrusted him with the
management of the estate—till his death in 1811,
he never ceased to labour for the improvement of the
lot of his people, employing them in planting, and the
construction of roads, bridges, and river embank­
ments ; encouraging the erection of stone-built
houses, and the cultivation of flax and the potato;
introducing turnips and rye-grass ; and insisting for
the first time on a regular rotation of cropping,
and on good husbandry generally.1 To emigration,
which became common in his time, he strongly
objected, and with the view of keeping the people at
home he founded the villages of Lewistown and
Milton, and attached allotments to them for the
use of artisans and labourers. From the written

1 Flax, oats, barley, and bear, are mentioned as crops in Urquhart in the
sixteenth century. The place-names Shewglie (Seagalaidh), and Lag­an­t­
Seagail in Wester Bunloit, show that rye was grown ; and the name Druim-a’-
Chruithneachd, on the old farm of Shewglie, indicates that wheat was not
unknown. The potato was introduced early in the eighteenth century.


“ Scheme” of Lewistown, still preserved at Castle
Grant, it is evident he expected the village to grow
into a place of some importance.
While the mailer’s lot must always have been
a hard one—the famines which periodically visited
the Parish being specially hard upon them1—the
large tenants, as a rule, enjoyed a rough prosperity,
in spite of the wars and spoliations from which they
frequently suffered. Not only did they grow large
quantities of corn as early at least as the sixteenth
century, but they also, at an earlier period still,
possessed great numbers of cattle, horses, sheep,
goats, and pigs, which found their way in droves to
the south of the Grampians.2 During the summer

1  The famines were sometimes the result of war or spoliation ; sometimes
they were caused by the failure of the crops. The periods of waste which, as
we have seen, occurred in the 15th and 16th centuries, must have had their
corresponding periods of want. There was a scarcity in 1624 ; a long period
of distress from 1689 to 1693, during which the tenants were unable to pay
any rent ; and a famine in 1697, when food was so scarce that The Chisholm
found it impossible to obtain a peck of meal in Inverness, “ neather for gold
or monie in hand,” as his Inverness merchant writes him. A famine and
pestilence followed The Forty-Five and its outrages. In 1732 there was an
entire failure of crop, which was followed by great destitution. To relieve the
distressed, Sir James Grant sent from London to Urquhart, according to a
letter from himself to Grant of Lochletter, “ 10 ton of choice picked potatoes
for seed, 100 bolls of white pease for meal, and 50 bolls Blanesly seed oats.”
The year is still remembered in Urquhart as “ Bliadhna na Peasarach Bana,”
the Year of the White Pease ; and it is still told how people died of want, and
how others managed to subsist on blood taken from living cattle, and on
nettles and other wild herbs.

2 Sir William Fitzwarine, in his letter from Urquhart to Edward the
First, in 1297, acknowledges the King’s “ letter about wool and hides.”
Droves of cattle, sheep, and pigs were sent to Edward at Lochindorb, but
there is no evidence that any of them were sent from Urquhart. In 1502 the
Laird of Grant supplied the Scottish King with “ 69 marts, with skins.” In
1526 Boece (Bellenden’s Translation) writes :—“Beside Lochnes, quhilk is

xiv milis of lenth, and xii of breid, ar mony wild hors ; and, amang thame,


and autumn months the flocks were kept on the higher
moorlands, which were separated from the arable
fields and lower pastures by the extensive head-
dykes whose remains still almost surround the glens,
or, in the warmer days of June, July,and early August,
in the distant shielings, to which a certain number
of the people annually migrated, and which were
the scenes of much innocent mirth and recreation.1
Later in the year they fed on the hitherto preserved
pastures within the head-dykes ; and, after the corn
was secured, on the pasture lands and stubble fields.
With the exception of the milk cows, the cattle were
seldom housed in winter, and in severe seasons many
of them perished before the return of spring.

Before the introduction of coined money into
Scotland in the reign of David the First, tenants
paid their rent in kind—in cattle, sheep, goats, cloth,
corn, cheese, and other produce. It was known in
Gaelic as càin, a word which has come down to our
own day in such expressions as “ kain fowl.” After
David’s time the landlord received his dues partly
in kind—or “ customs,” as it came to be called—and

ar mony martrikis [martens], bevers, quhitredis [weasels], and toddis [foxes] :
the furringis and skinnis of thaim ar coft [bought] with gret price amang
uncouth marchandis.” In 1553 there were 64 “ wild” mares—unbroken, and
kept for breeding purposes—and 18 foals on St Ninian’s (see note 3, p. 114
tupra). Dr Robertson, who visited the Parish in 1804, in connection with his
Report to the Board of Agriculture on the state of agriculture in the County
of Inverness, writes :—“ In Glenmoriston alone, a district of no great extent,
a gentleman of veracity told me there were 900 horses till very lately.”

1 The principal shieling grounds were Corri-Dho, Iararaidh, Uchd-
Reudair, Brae Ruiskich, Glen Coilty, Corribuy, the remote pasturages of
Corrimony, and Ruigh Mhullaich and Ach-Populi on the estate of Achmonie.


partly in money. This dual form of rent was con­
tinued in Urquhart until customs were abolished by
the Good Sir James. He it was, too, who discon­
tinued the “ services” in which for ages the tenants
had been liable. These services were originally
rendered to the King’s representatives in the Castle,
and in later times to the proprietors, or—so far as
those of the estate of Urquhart were concerned—to
the Laird of Grant’s chamberlains as part of their
factorial remuneration. They are thus described by
Mr William Lorimer in 1763, when they were in
full force :—“ The tenants have always been in use
to pay to the Chamberlain bailey darach,1 with
their service to the bailie or factor—one day for
leading his peats, one day for shearing or cutting
down his crop, one day for tilling, one day for
spreading his dung. Every tenant pays this
according to what land he possesses. They pay by
the davach in a rent. Out of every davach he gets
four ploughs to till one day ; 24 shearers out of
every davach to cut his corn, one day ; 24 horses for
a day out of every davach to spread his dung ; and
120 carts for a day out of every davach for drawing
his peats. . . The only service that the tenants
are obliged to pay to the Laird are each of them
two long carriages in the year, if required, from
Urquhart to Strathspey.” In addition to these
rents, customs, and services, the tenant, until the
time of Sir James, was bound to grind his corn at

1 Darach : dark, or darg, a day’s work. Bailie-darg : the free labour to
which the bailie or factor was entitled from the tenants.


the laird’s mills, and to pay the customary mill dues ;1
to pay grassum or entry money when he entered a
holding or began a new lease ; and heriot, when he
succeeded through the death of an ancestor or other
relative. And before the old order of things was
destroyed at Culloden, it was further required of
him that he should at his proprietor’s call change
his ploughshare into a sword, and follow him on his
military adventures and expeditions. This last
obligation was, however, after the advent of the
Grants, generally disregarded by the Macdonalds,
Macmillans, and other septs in Urquhart, who, in
the Stewart “ troubles” that ended with The Forty-
Five, chose to follow their own clan chiefs rather
than their proprietors.

Contrary to what is sometimes supposed, the old
Highlander was not always at liberty to take the
free use of the mountains and woods and streams
with which he was surrounded. An old Gaelic
proverb says that a fish from the pool, a tree from
the wood, and a deer from the mountain, are thefts
of which no man ever was ashamed—breac a linne,
maid a coille, ’s fiadh a fireach, meirle as nach
do ghabh duine riamh nàire.
But thefts they
were considered to be notwithstanding, and from
the earliest times efforts were made by the legis-

1 In former times there were mills at Corrimony, for that estate ; at
Milton of Buntait, for Buntait ; at Mill of Tore (“the Mill of Inchbrine”),
Wester Milton (“ the Mill of Cartaly”), and St Ninian’s, for the estates of
Urquhart and Achmonie ; at Easter Milton for Glenmoriston’s lands in Glen-
Urquhart ; and at Invermoriston and Duldreggan for Glenmoriston, Each
township had its own kiln,


lature and landowners to suppress them. The
Scottish enactments against illegal fishing and
hunting and destruction of woods, fill no small
portion of the statute-book from the twelfth century
to the present, and there is evidence that they were
more or less rigorously enforced in the Highlands at
a comparatively early period. In our Parish the
royal forest of Cluny or Cluanie, which embraced the
extensive mountain tracts forming the border­lands
of Glenmoriston and Kintail, were, from as early as
the thirteenth century at least, reserved, nominally
for the King’s pleasure, but really for that of his
representatives in Urquhart Castle. In that wide
preserve no unauthorised person was allowed to hunt
or cut wood under pain of severe punishment, and
in 1573 letters were issued by James the Sixth
protecting it from the inroads of graziers, and
cutters of timber, and peelers of trees.1 The
destruction of the woods in the Loch Ness district
had indeed attracted attention before this, and in
1563 Lord Lovat and the Laird of Grant found it
necessary to obtain from the Earl of Moray, Sheriff
of Inverness, an order prohibiting the cutting and
peeling of trees in the “ woods upon Loucht Ness
and thairabout,” and giving the magistrates of
Inverness power to seize all green timber and bark

1 The Laird of Grant’s charter of 1509 granted to him the office of
forester of the forest of Cluanie, but the property of the forest was reserved by
the King. In time, however, the forest came to be looked upon as the
property of the Lairds, by whom it was made over at an early period, partly
to the Grants of Glenmoriston, and partly to the Mackenzies of Kintail. See
Bond by Sir John Grant to Lord Kintail, dated 21st Dec., 1622—Chiefs of
Grant, III., p. 427.


illegally brought into the town.1 The protection of
the woods was a matter of serious moment, and
numerous regulations on the subject are preserved
in the Grant charter chests.2 Regulations were
also made from time to time for the preservation of
deer and roe ; and such as were guilty of a breach of
them were tried before the baron-bailie, and, on
conviction, severely punished.3

The timber traffic between the Parish and Inver­
ness and other places was always considerable. To
Inverness the trees were floated down the loch and
river. It was probably of Glen-Urquhart oak and
Glenmoriston pine that the “ wonderful ship” was
made which, as the old chronicler, Matthew Paris,
records, the Earl of St Pol and Blois built at
Inverness in 1249 to take himself and his followers
to the Holy Land. In the seventeenth century the
Lairds of Glenmoriston supplied timber for the
repair of Fortrose Cathedral,4 and the re-erection of

1  Chiefs of Grant, III., 128.

2 See for example, Appendix P.

3 See Appendix P. In 1628, the Earl of Seaforth, Lord Lovat, The
Chisholm, Grant of Glenmoriston, and others, bound themselves and their
tenants by solemn writ to protect deer, doe, and roe, the stealing of which
“is appointed to be punished as theft,” and the shooting of which “ is
appointed to be punished with death and escheat of their goods moveable.”—
(Iona Club Transactions, p. 193).

4 The following letter from John Maxwell, Bishop of Ross, to the Laird
of Grant is preserved at Castle Grant :—

“ Burgie, 22 March, 1636.
“ Right Worshipfull Sir,

“ You was pleased of your owne pious disposition, to God’s glorie
and goodness towardis me, without my desert, to promise the helpe of your
men to put that timber which I am to get from Glenmorristoune for the
Cathedral Church of Ross in the water, I have therfore made bold onely to
put you in mynde with the first diligence to cause doe it, for if it be not



the Inverness wooden bridge.1 In 1754 Sir Ludo-
vick Grant was paid £1000 for the oak trees of
Ruiskich, and with the money paid the cost of
erection of the present Castle Grant.2 Between
1758 and 1763 the Laird of Glenmoriston realised
£2000 from his woods.3 In the beginning of the
present century he drew about £800 a year from
them ;4 and throughout the course of the century
the timber trade from both divisions of the Parish
has continued to be an important source of revenue
to laird and labourer.

Although the great bulk of the people have from
a very early period been employed in pastoral and
agricultural pursuits, a certain number have always
found other fields of industry, such as the timber
and bark traffic, and the trade in skins and furs,
which at one time seems to have been considerable.5
Some, too, were millers, armourers, blacksmiths, car­
penters, masons, weavers, shoemakers, or tailors.6
At times attempts were made to start special

tymely done, this sommer is lost, and except I get your helpe the bussines is
to no purpose. So wishing all health and happiness to your selfe, your noble
lady, and hopefull children, I rest, your bounden seruand,

“Jo. Rossen.
“ To the right worschipfull Sir Johne Grant of Freuchie, Knicht.”

1  Mr Fraser-Mackintosh’s Letters of Two Centuries, 76.

2 Lorimer’s MS. of 1763. 3 Ibid.

4 Robertson’s Agriculture in the County of Inverness, 208.

5  See note 2, p. 444 supra.

6 The following trades and occupations are mentioned in the legal pro­
ceedings in connection with the Great Raid of 1545 :—clergyman, clerk,
cleireach (church officer), dempster (the officer of court who pronounced doom),
candych (ceannaich, merchant), gobha (smith, or armourer), dequeyre
(dyker), tailor, shoemaker, forsar (forester), bowman (cow man), and glassen


industries. Lorimer records that about one hundred
and thirty years before his time—that is, about
the year 1630—“ the Laird of Grant being
informed there was a Copper Mine on this estate
[Urquhart], opposite to Pitkerrald, laid out so much
money in digging for it, and in vain, that he was
obliged to sell the lands of Kilminnity, &c., to pay
the debts contracted in this project. Another Laird
after him spent a great deal on an Iron Manufactory
there, yet succeeded as ill.” The Iron Manufactory
and its dams and passages are mentioned in 1634.1
It probably consisted of bloomeries, traces of which
are to be found at Lochnabat. Similar indications
are found at Tornashee and Buntait. The birch
woods of the district were cut down and utilized in
smelting the iron — the ore being brought from
the South, and sent back again in a manufactured
state.2 Lime has been made at Cartaly for ages.3
Before 1756 the housewives of the Parish and their
daughters deftly plied the distaff and spindle, and,
with the assistance of local weavers, made cloth and
linen for themselves and the men of their households.
In that year the Trustees for Manufactories and

1 See foot note, p. 147 supra.

3 See Appendix C for Articles of Agreement between Sir James Grant
nd James Dollas as to lime kilns.

2 In 1769 Sir James Grant employed Mr John Williams, a mining
engineer in the service of the Forfeited Estates Commissioners, and the
author of the first account of the vitrified fort of Craig Phadrick, to prospect
Urquhart and Abriachan for copper, iron, or lead. Williams carefully examined
earth and stream, and found “iron-stone,” “specks of lead,” and “jaspar-
stone,” but not in sufficient quantities to pay working expenses. At Cartaly
about sixteen different minerals, some of them extremely rare, have been
discovered within recent years. The following analyses of ten of them, by


Fisheries in Scotland acquired from Patrick Grant
of Glenmoriston 107 acres of land at Invermoriston,
and erected a linen and woollen factory, which was
for years maintained out of the proceeds of the
Forfeited Estates, giving employment to a number
of people, including about forty women.1 Before
this time there were no spinning wheels in the
Parish ; but the Trustees distributed some among the
people, and in a few years they entirely superseded
the ancient distaff and spindle. In 1791 the factory
was closed, and its site re-conveyed to the proprietor
of Glenmoriston ; and the buildings have ever since
been used as offices in connection with the home

About the time of the establishment of the
factory at Invermoriston, the Laird of Grant erected
a similar, but smaller, building at Kilmichael, and
let it as a linen and woollen factory to Bailie Alex-

Professor Heddle, of St Andrews, taken from the Transactions of the Inver­
ness Field Club, vol. L, p. 180—see also p. 397—may be of interest to
mineralogists :—

1  Pennant’s Tour in Scotland in 1769, p. 181.

2 See Appendix Q for Account of the business done at the Factory in
1764, and Account of the distribution of wheels and reels in 1764-65.


ander Shaw, of Inverness—the same who managed
the Invermoriston concern. “ The gentlemen’s
wives,” writes Lorimer, in 1763, “ make linen at
home for the use of their families, but sell none.
The tenants both make and sell linen ; but the
greatest part of the yarn spun in Urquhart is sold
to Bailie Shaw, though there are perhaps a dozen
weavers in Urquhart, The Manufactory [at Kil-
michael] is on the decay. Bailie Shaw has dismissed
almost all his servants ; but the spirit of spinning
will remain, and the tenants will sell their yarn at
Inverness, where the merchants will provide them
with seed lint.” Through the good offices of Sir
James Grant, a fresh start was given to the little
establishment, and, although the manufacture of
linen has long ago ceased, it has ever since continued
to flourish in its own small way as a woollen factory.
Ale was brewed by the good wives of our Parish
from very early times, and the brew ­house of Kil-
michael was in the sixteenth century so important
a property that it was specially mentioned in the
grant of Achmonie to the Mackays. For centuries,
probably, it had yielded a valuable revenue to the
Church. During the seventeenth century whisky
began to take the place of ale, and so great did
the demand for the new spirit become that the
leading men in the Parish started small stills on
their own account. “ Shewglie, Lochletter, Corri-
mony, Dulshangie, Peter Mackay in Polmaily, John
Macdonald in Achmonie, and William Macdonald in
Temple,” says Lorimer, “ distill spirits, and all


except Corrimony and John Macdonald use the
Laird’s woods for the distillery. They should not
be allowed to take so much as a rotten stick for this
purpose. Above 150 bolls of bere will be yearly
distilled by these people in spirits, besides what bere
grows on their own farms. If these people will
brew and distill, they should pay something for fire,
of which none should be wood.” The tenants, he
states elsewhere, “ not only distill into aquavita
what barley grows to themselves, but they import
and distill a great deal more.” The result of
stringent revenue laws was to suppress these small
distilleries, and give rise to illegal distillation, and
to a brisk illicit trade which continued till far into
the present century. A licensed brewery was
erected within the century at Lewistown, and
another at Balnain. The latter entirely dis­
appeared years ago. In the former beer and porter
are still sold, but none manufactured.

The industrial progress of the people was in the
past greatly retarded by the want of convenient
means of transit and communication. From earliest
times a “ road” led from Inverness by Dunain and
Caiplich to Upper Drumbuie, where it branched off
into two—one branch running westward to Strath-
glass, Kintail, and Lochalsh, and the other across
the Strath of Urquhart, and on, by Clunemore and
the south-eastern flank of Mealfuarvonie, to Glen-
moriston, Glengarry, and Lochaber. This was the
road by which English and Scottish knights and
soldiers travelled between Inverness and Urquhart


in the days of Edward the First, and which was
taken by many a clan and military expedition in
later times. The Laird of Grant’s charter of 1509
bound him to improve it. It is possible he did
so; but it was never more than a rough track,
sufficient, perhaps, to meet the requirements of the
time—the passage of men and horses and cattle and
sledges. When wheeled carts were introduced about
the middle of last century, better means of com­
munication became necessary ; and to the Good Sir
James belongs the credit of making the first road to
Urquhart fit for wheeled vehicles. It ran along the
shores of Loch Ness, and its course is to some
extent followed by the present highway, which was
engineered by Telford, and constructed by the
Highland Roads and Bridges Commissioners in the
early years of the present century. Sir James
secured the co-operation of the other proprietors in
Urquhart in opening up the country, and the
present roads to Corrimony and other districts are
the result. The first road in Glenmoriston was that
made by General Wade from Fort-Augustus to
Aonach, and on to Kintail and Glenelg. The
present Glenmoriston road, which follows the line of
an older track, was the work of the Roads and
Bridges Commissioners, who also erected the hand­
some bridges which cross the Moriston at Inver-
moriston and Torgoil. We have seen how the Rev.
Robert Monro was, in 1677, unable to attend to his
duties in Glenmoriston for the reason that there was
no bridge on the river, and “no boat to transport


him to his charge.” His flock managed to do
without such conveniences. “ This river, that
divides Glenmoriston into two parts,” writes
Lorimer, “ is so deep in every part as not to be
fordable for men or horses, and, there being no boats
on it, every child from eight years of age learned to
swim. This shows the effects of necessity, by which
many difficult things are rendered very easy.”1

Loch Ness was an important medium of transit
and communication at an early period. We have seen
that it was used for the floating of timber. It was
in one of the coracles of the time that St Columba
sailed against the wind when returning from the
court of the Pictish king. We find “ great boats”
on the Loch in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries. In the latter century Cromwell's soldiers
launched upon it their famous frigate.2 After The
Fifteen General Wade built at Fort-Augustus the
“ Highland Galley,” a vessel of twenty-five or thirty
tons, which, with its successors, continued to run
from end to end of the Loch until the partial opening
of the Caledonian Canal in 1818. In 1822 the first
steamboat passed from sea to sea, and a steamship
traffic was thus started which has now attained
considerable magnitude.

It was one of the rules of Highland hospitality
that if a traveller asked for bed and board for a
night his request was granted, no questions being
put as to whence he had come or where he was

1 Bridges are mentioned in the Urquhart charter of 1509. Drumna-
drochit (the Ridge of the Bridge) is mentioned as early as 1730, showing that
there was a bridge there before that period.

9 See p. 170 supra.

SOCIAL LIFE IN THE PARISH.                  457

going, or whether he was a friend or foe. But as
travelling became more common, gratuitous enter­
tainment ceased to be entirely relied on, and small
inns or hostelries began to arise. The first estab­
lishment of the kind in our Parish was the brew-
house at Kilmichael, which, as we have seen, was a
place of some consequence in the sixteenth century.
Before 1763 an inn was opened at Drumnadrochit,
which was in that year under lease to James Grant
of Shewglie, who also “ farmed” the brew-house from
Mackay of Achmonie, “ in order to prevent disputes.”
In 1779 Sir James Grant acquired the brew-house
along with the estate of Achmonie, and it ceased to
exist. The change-house of Drumnadrochit con­
tinued to prosper, and it is now a large establish­
ment, and a favourite summer resort.1

After the time of General Wade, and perhaps for
some time before it, there was a small inn at Aonach
in Glenmoriston, which was discontinued many years
ago when the present inn at Torgoil was opened.
At Aonach Samuel Johnson and his friend Boswell
passed a night in 1773. “ Early in the afternoon,”
records the sage, “ we came to Anoch, a village in
Glenmollison [sic] of three huts, one of which is
distinguished by a chimney. Here we were to dine
and lodge, and were conducted through the first
room, that had the chimney, into another lighted by
a small glass window. The landlord attended us
with great civility, and told us what he could give
us to eat and drink. I found some books on a shelf,
among which were a volume or more of Prideaux’s

1 See Appendix R for effusions from the Drumnadrochit Visitors’ Book.


Connection. This I mentioned as something unex­
pected, and perceived that I did not please him. I
praised the propriety of his language, and was
answered that I need not wonder, for he had learned
it by grammar. ... As we came hither early
in the day, we had time sufficient to survey the
place. The house was built, like other huts, of loose
stones, but the part in which we dined and slept was
built with turf and wattled with twigs, which kept
the earth from falling. Near it was a garden of
turnips and a field of potatoes.”1

The Inn of Invermoriston was probably later in
origin than that of Aonach. At Ruiskich a small
change-house was erected during the construction of
Telford’s road ; but it has now been closed.

In 1763, according to Lorimer, the tenants and
mailers lived in turf-roofed houses, the walls of
which were constructed of turf, timber, and wicker
work. It took centuries to arrive at that stage
of comparative perfection. In Lorimer’s time the
lairds had already prohibited the use of timber

1 “ Some time after dinner,” adds Johnson, “ we were surprised by the
entrance of a young woman, not inelegant either in mien or dress, who asked
us whether we would have tea. We found that she was the daughter of our
host, and desired her to make it. Her conversation, like her appearance, was
gentle and pleasing. We knew that the girls of the Highlands were all
gentlewomen, and treated her with great respect, which she received as
customary and due, and was neither elated by it, nor confused, but repaid my
civilities without embarrassment, and told me how much I honoured her
country by coming to survey it. She had been at Inverness to gain the
common female qualifications, and had, like her father, the English pronunci­
ation. I presented her with a book which I happened to have about me, and
should not be pleased to think that she forgets me.” Boswell, in his Journal
of the Tour, states that the host, whose name was M’Queen, was “ out” in The
Forty-Five. The book which Johnson gave to the host’s daughter was
Cocker's Arithmetic, which he had purchased at Inverness.

SOCIAL LIFE IN THE PARISH.                  459

for walls, and the result was that the people
began to build drystone walls, about four or
five feet in height. These in time gave place to
stone-and-lime walls ; and the buildings have grad­
ually improved until the old black houses have now
all but disappeared, and given place to neat, com­
fortable cottages, stone-and-lime built, and roofed
with slate. The dwelling-houses of the lairds and
the houses of Balmacaan, Shewglie, and Lochletter,
were probably stone built as early as the sixteenth
century, and the Castle was a marvel of substantial
mason work as early as the thirteenth. It was
not, however, till the seventeenth century that
turf and heather gave place to slate on the roof of
the residence of the lairds of Glenmoriston ; and
slate was first used by the proprietors of Corrimony
in 1740, when the Old House—the oldest dwelling
now in the Parish—was erected. In 1761 and 1762
the present houses of Lochletter and Shewglie were
respectively built, and covered with slate; and before
the end of the century the Manse, and the houses of
Lakefield, Dulshangie, and Polmaily, were roofed
with the same material.8

8 Large sums have been expended by the proprietors of the Parish on
dwelling-houses, offices, roads, &c, within recent years. The late John Charles,
Earl of Seafield, who succeeded in 1853, and died in 1881, did much in the way
of improvements on his Urquhart estate, and his policy was followed by his
son, who died in 1884, and has been continued by his widow, the present pro-
prietrix—with the result that from Whitsunday, 1853, to Whitsunday, 1892,
£36,595 has been expended by the Seafield family on tenants’ holdings on the
Urquhart estate ; £29,171 10s 2d on general estate improvements, including
buildings, fences, roads, and bridges ; £12,547 16s on Balmacaan mansion
house and offices ; and £26,118 6s 4d on woods and plantations—making a total
expenditure of £104,432 12s 6d in thirty-nine years.


The maintenance of law and order was not left
to chance or neglect in the Olden Times. The old
Celtic laws and rules—the most striking features of
which were eric, or compensation for death or
injury, and the right of sanctuary1—prevailed pro­
bably until the fourteenth century, when the feudal
baron courts were established. The domain of
Urquhart and Glenmoriston, with the exception of
Achmonie, was erected into a barony early in the
fourteenth century, and was raised to the dignity of
a lordship a hundred years later. Achmonie—as
well as Abriachan, just outside the Parish—was
situated in the ecclesiastical barony of Spynie,
erected in 1451, and subsequently in the smaller
barony of Kinmylies, within the regality of Spynie.
In 1509 the original barony of Urquhart was
divided into the three new baronies of Urquhart,
Corrimony, and Glenmoriston; and in the next
century Urquhart and Corrimony were embraced in
the regality of Grant. The baron court was pre­
sided over by the baron himself, or, more generally,
by his baron-bailie, or factor, as his deputy. In the
administration of justice, the jurisdiction of the

1 The chapels were sanctuaries for such as sought shelter from the
vengeance of their fellow men until they were brought to a fair trial ;
but the great sanctuary in the Parish was An Abait—The Abbey—
lying between Ballintombuy and Dulchreichard, in Glenmoriston. The
Abbey consisted of an island in the small tarn of Lochan-a’-Chrois—the
Lochlet of the Cross—and the surrounding land extending from Tomchraskie
to Tomnacroich, and from Mam-a’-Chrois to Ruigh-a’-Chrois—bounds said to
have been indicated at one time by crosses. This district was probably the
“Kirk lands” of Glenmoriston, mentioned in 1572. See foot note, p. 117
supra. According to tradition, the Abbey was respected as a sanctuary until
a comparatively recent period.

SOCIAL LIFE IN THE PARISH.                    461

baron or his bailie was absolute and almost
universal. He sentenced to death offenders within
the barony for murder or theft,1 and he fined or
imprisoned them for assaults, for killing deer or
other protected wild animals, or for cutting or
barking trees, or destroying green sward. He made
rules for the regulation of agriculture and trade, and
the protection of growing timber ; and he fixed the
wages of servants and the prices of commodities.
He granted decrees of removing against tenants, and
judgments for rents and other debts ; and generally
decided between man and man on the countless
questions which arose in the past, as they arise in
the present. The tenantry were obliged to attend
his court, which was opened, conducted, and closed
with much pomp and formality. For failure in this
duty they were liable in pecuniary penalties, which,
with the fines paid by criminal offenders, went into
the pocket of the baron. Reference has been made
to the singular manner in which, by the charters of
1509, the lands of Urquhart and Glenmoriston were
divided. The effect on the administration of justice
was very curious before the consolidation of the
scattered fragments which made up the several
baronies. The few persons who inhabited Cluanie,
on the borders of Kintail, and the inhabitants of
Carnoch and Kerrownakeill, on the marches of
Strathglass, were, along with those of the other

1 The places of execution were, Craigmonie in Glen-Urquhart, and
Tomnacroich—the Gibbet Knoll—in Glenmoriston. The descendants of the
last man hanged on Craigmonie are still known in Urquhart.


lands included in the Urquhart barony, subject to
the jurisdiction of the Urquhart court, which sat at
the Castle, or elsewhere within the barony, the more
serious cases among them being, however, sometimes
sent to Castle Grant for trial.1 The inhabitants of
Corrimony, and of the detached Corrimony lands
of Achintemarag, Divach, and Pitkerrald-croy,
received justice, for a time, at Corrimony ; and
those of Glenmoriston and the detached Glen-
moriston possessions of Culnakirk (including Easter
Milton) and Half of Clunemore, in Glenmoriston ;
while the people of Achmonie had to appear at
Spynie or Kinmylies. It has already been related
how the proprietors found it expedient to mitigate
the inconveniences that arose from this arrangement
by readjusting their marches. It is doubtful,
indeed, whether Corrimony offenders had not to
appear before the Urquhart court ever after 1580,

1 The courts were sometimes held at Balmacaan, sometimes at Pitkerrald,
and latterly at Drumnadrochit. There is a field on the holding of Grotaig
called Druim-na-Cuirt—the Ridge of the Court—where probably courts were
held. John Grant of Glenmoriston, chamberlain and baron-bailie for the
Laird of Grant, writes from Balmacaan, in 1624, to the Laird thus :—“Your
virscheip sall resaue [receive] the man that sleue your serwand Donll Pyper
fra the beareris, for I thocht meitter till send him till your selff, nor till gif
him the lawe heir.” Until the beginning of this century, a paid piper was
kept in Urquhart. " There has always,” says Lorimer, “ been a Piper in
Urquhart belonging to the Family of Grant, whose sallary has been constantly
paid by a small portion of oats from each tenant. The tenants want to get
free of this Tax, but it is submitted whether or not it is not better to continue
it, as the Tax is small, and, being in use to be paid, it is not very sensibly felt.
If you let it drop, the Highland Musick is lost, which would be a great loss in
case of a civil or foreign War ; and such Musick is part of the Appendages of
the Dignity of the Family. The commons are much pleased with this Musick,
and the use of it will be a means of popularity amongst some.”

SOCIAL LIFE IN THE PARISH.                  463

when the superiority of Corri-
mony was conveyed to the lairds
of Grant. One result of The
Forty-Five was that the juris­
diction of baron courts was
greatly curtailed by Parliament,
and although they for some time
continued as a shadow of their
old selves, none has for many
years past been held in our
Parish. They left offenders
against the Seventh Command­
ment to the tender mercies of
the church courts, and guilty
persons, clothed in sackloth, and
sitting on the stool of repentance,
were solemnly dealt with in
presence of the congregation.
If meet repentance did not
follow, they were liable to
excommunication. The church
courts, too, until the end of the
seventeenth century, took cog­
nisance of such matters as
divorce, conjugal quarrels, and
slander; and the session admin­
istered the fund for the poor,
which was raised from church

collections, private contributions, and fines paid by

breakers of the moral law.1


1 See Appendix S as to the poor, and wandering “ fools.”


Did space permit some account might be given
of the sports and recreations of our forefathers, and
their customs in connection with births, christenings,
marriages, and deaths, and with Beltane, Halloween,
Christmas, and the New Year. These, however,
did not differ materially from those of the Highlands
generally, regarding which much has been recorded
by other writers. Great changes have taken place
within recent times. The long christening and
marriage rejoicings have been discontinued, and so
have piping and dancing at lykewakes, and
excessive feasting and drinking and consequent
fighting at funerals.1 The ceilidh, with its tales,
and songs, and riddles, and amusements, has given
place to the newspaper, with its serial story and
political and general news. Comfortable houses have
superseded the huts of the past. The tiller of the
soil is no longer satisfied with its bare produce, but
buys large quantities of tea, wheaten bread, and

1 Many stories might be told of fights at funerals, but one will suffice.
A small upright stone by the road­side near Livisie marks the grave of an
old woman who lived and died on the opposite side of the river. After her
funeral crossed the river, the men of the Braes of Glenmoriston proposed that
she should be carried west to Clachan Mheircheird, while the Invermoriston
men insisted that she should be taken east to Clachan Cholumchille. A fight
resulted, and several persons were killed—and then the survivors solved the
question at issue by burying the body where they were. The Urquhart and
Glenmoriston men have always been a fighting race. When they were not
engaged against a common foe they fought among themselves—Urquhart
fought with Glenmoriston, the Braes of Urquhart with the Strath, the upper
district of Glenmoriston with the lower, and the Grants with such as were not
of that name. The old spirit, it must be confessed, has not yet entirely
died out. See Appendix T for papers referring to an amusing feud in 1737
between the Grants and other Urquhart men regarding the marriage of an
Urquhart heiress.

SOCIAL LIFE IN THE PARISH.                465

other stuffs. He no longer tans his own leather, or
makes his own shoes and harness—no longer grows
his own flax, or makes his own linen and cloth. The
old fir candles have given place to paraffin lamps ;
and in the lower districts coal has almost entirely
superseded peat as fuel. Some of the changes
are improvements : others are not. But while we
regret the disappearance of many a kindly custom
and pleasant feature of the past, we must also
acknowledge the greater security of life and property,
and the more liberal measure of knowledge and
prosperity and physical comfort, that belong to the
present. On these points, at least, the rebuke of
the ancient Preacher may still be taken to heart.
“ Say not thou,” said he to the discontented Israel­
ites who looked back to a golden age which had
never existed—“ Say not thou, What is the cause
that the former days were better than these ? for
thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.”


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