Pan Ross History

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Pan Ross History

Bishop Forbes Journal 1762

The Journal begins on Monday 12 July 1762  when Bishop Forbes left Kinghorn, Fife, and continued through Perthshire and Inverness-shire until he crossed the ferry to the Black Isle, arriving in Fortrose on Monday 19 July 1762, where the extracts begin.

[N.B. The punctuation and spelling are as in the Journal.]

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Monday 19 July -We set up at the House of Kenneth Mathieson, one of the best Taverns I ever was in, and the readiest Service, for, tho' they knew not of our Coming, they had a genteel and plentiful Dinner on Table in a very short Time, with a glass of good Claret at two shill: sterl: per Chopin Bottle; but then I found out that Mathieson imported it himself, so as to pay no Duty.

Fortrose has one of the most charming situations I ever beheld, in view of the Murray-Frith up and down, and of Inverness, at the foot of a rising ground, enlivened with the chearing Rays of the Sun every Day of the year, from the rising up of the same to the going down thereof; whereby it is surrounded, up to the Top of the Hill, with the most fertile Fields which laugh and sing in the verdant and golden Robes of the richest Corns. At Fortrose is the Cathedral of Ross [of Gothic Work], commonly called the Chanonry Church, all in Ruines, not one half of it now standing, and that which remains has only the arched Roof, upon which there is long Grass, so long that it might be mowed down. I was upon the Top of it with the Rev. Mr Ludovick Grant and Mr John Stewart, viewing two pretty Bells, still entire, and which are tolled every night at 8 o'clock. The Pulpit, old and shattered, is still standing in the Church. Around the Church is one of the largest Burying-Grounds I ever saw (1). I then visited the Ground upon which the Bishop's Palace stood of old, (2) a vestige of which is not now to be seen, as it was razed to the Foundation by the Cromwellian Adorers to build a Fort for their Idol at Inverness; a Stone of which is not now standing. There is now, where the Bishop's palace stood, a rich Field of Pease and Beans. Ah! jam seges ubi Troja fuit! This is at the West end of Fortrose, where the palace had around it a fine Glebe, and a full view of Inverness. At the East End of the Town stood of old a fine Castle, a Seat of the Earls of Seafort, now in Ruines. Mr Grant, and his Wife, Mr Stewart, and his Son, and several Ladies sup'd with me at my Lodgings at Mr Mathieson's.

Tuesday, July 20 - Got up between 4 and 5 o'Clock, to take a Walk, and view the agreeable Fields and the spacious far extended Frith, when I met accidentally with one, John Man, who walked along with me, and chatted most agreeably. At eleven o'Clock I confirmed, after Morning Prayer and a short Discourse upon Laying on of Hands, in the House of Mr L. Grant, 29 young and old, who, and those at Inverness, behaved with the utmost Decency and Attention. This same Mr Grant is a rare old Man of 80 years, and yet reads the smallest Print and Writ without Glasses, and walks well, thinking nothing of 13 or 14 miles at a stretch. A goodly Company dined with me at my Lodgings. After Dinner I went to see some of the remarkable Things about the place, attended now by three Clergymen, the Revd. Mr Simon Gray having come over early in the morning from Duffus, in Murrayshire. (3) At the West End of Fortrose, a little up the rising Ground, there is a fine Spring, called St Boniface's Well, which we visited first, and a little west from that we viewed another fine Spring, called the Dovecote Well. From that we returned straight East, and, passing by St Boniface's well, we came to the Doupack-Well, an excellent and most plentiful Spring of the finest and coolest Water, at the East end of the Town; so that Fortrose is one of ye best watered Places in the known World, as a small purling Stream runs from such Well. Then a little farther East still, in a straight Line, we visited Plotcock, a little Farm-town of four or five scattered Houses, with their Barns, Stables, etc. See Hawthornden's History, pag. 74. Then we walked to the Town of Rosemarkie in a delightful Avenue of the finest Corns of all Kinds. Here stands the Parish Church now, Fortrose and Rosemarkie making only one Royal Burgh, and from the latter is derived Rosemarkiensis and Rosemarkensis, the Title of the first Bishop of Ross, which was erected into a See by King David I about the year 1124. See Keith's Catalogue of Scottish Bishops, pag. 109. Rosemarkie is pleasantly situated on a Bay of Inverness Frith. We intended to visit two Gentlemen of the Name of Houston, Baillies of Rosemarkie, but miss'd seeing them, as they were not at Home; and then we turned our Course to the point of the Land down from Rosemarkie by the West Side of the Bay, and footed around the charming natural Walk of verdant Grass, with Fort-George, the Frith etc. still in view.

My Bill at Fortrose [with Vails] was only £1. 15.4 Sterl., tho' I had several Persons dining and supping with me, with 7 or 8 Dishes of the best meat on the Table at once, and drinking good Claret, white Wine and Punch, besides two Servants and three Horses, as I had hired one Lewis MacGillavrie at Inverness to be our Guide thro' Caithness; and indeed the Servants were very liberal of provisions both for Man and Horse, for they declared they could not have better Corn and Hay in any place whatsoever. We had likewise Fruit after Dinner and Supper, both here and at Inverness, where my Bill, including Drink-money to Servants, was only £2. 12. 6 sterl. for three Days and a half, though most elegantly entertained, and several persons eating and drinking with me in Mrs MacKinnon's, one of the best of Taverns anywhere. In a word, I am persuaded I was not a litter favoured both at Inverness and Fortrose in my Bills of Fare. Lilly MacKinnon, Mrs MacKinnon's Daughter, is a genteel Woman in every respect, and displays a fine Taste in many things, particularly in Shell-Work, and such like Female Amusements.

Wednesday, July 21 - Set off from Fortrose, by 8 o'clock, through Rosemarkie, and came to Raddrie, the House of Leslie of Findrassie, where the Table was spread, and we had a most elegant Breakfast from Miss Alice MacKenzie, Sister-in-law to Findrassie, he being from Home. Raddrie is situated on the South Side of a rising Ground, with a fine and large Bottom below it of a good Moss and a fertile Meadow.

Then we went to Killean, i.e. [wrong, it should be Cella Annae. See page 962 hujus], Cella Joannis, qre, no doubt, a chapel has been of old, tho' no Vestige of one now. Here the Widow Lady of Balmaduthie lives, and had a Table of many good Things spread for a second Breakfast, and it behoved us to taste it. Here some pretty Spots of Wood in View, particularly at the House of Balmaduthie, which is not far from Killean.

From thence to Bennagefield, or Bennetsfield, the House of Mr Mathieson of Do., situated on the Top of a rising Ground in View of the Murray Frith, of Culloden House, with its fine parks [of Deer and Roe], and Plantations of Wood on the other side of Inverness Frith, and of a large country around with the whole Town of Inverness under your Eye. Hard by this place is a pretty narrow Bay, Munlochy, of Inverness-Frith, running up at High Water between two Hills about two miles, into which a Vessel can roll without Masts or Rigging, and be quite safe on Clay and Sand, and land-lock'd. Dined here plentifully and genteely. After Dinner the Lady of the House entertained us with the Harpsechord, improved by a charming Voice. Here we saw a surprizing Instance of the power of Music, or rather a strong proof of a good Ear. Mr Mathieson charitably keeps an Idiot-Boy, then about 14 years old, in his family, who entered the Dining-Room, and danced to the time of every Tune; and when the Lady for a trial, varied the Tune on a sudden, he stop'd short instantly, and listen'd attentively for a little, and then [made] the motion of his body correspondent to the Time. If he happened to know the Tune, he changed his Motion as quickly as the Lady did the Air. She tried him with a Minuet, and, tho' he could not observe the Figure, his motion was surprizingly exact to the Time. Mr Mathieson made me a present of a fine long Staff, with a Head of Two human Faces curiously cut by himself with a Knife. After drinking Tea, we went to Mr MacKenzie's of Suddie, whose Lady - a Daughter of Sr. Alexr. MacKenzie of Coul - is a Blood-Relation of my Wife's, and regreted much that she had not accompanied me to Ross-shire. Here we made our abode all night, and were most kindly and Easily entertained. Suddie is situated on the South Side of a green rising Ground, with fine Corns and Grass, and in view of pretty Spots of Wood. The Church of Suddie is near the House, between which flows a romantic Rivulet through Bushes of wood.

Thursday, July 22nd - Set out from Suddie [at 10 o'clock], taking the Lady in the Chaise with me, who provided Mr John Stewart with a good Mare to ride on, and came to Mr MacKenzie's of Allangrange about 11, where we dined most elegantly, particularly on a Roe, dress'd in three Shapes, viz., in Soop, roasted, and baked, and on a variety of Fruits. This is a most pleasant Seat, with a South Exposure, beautified with Bushes of planting, a Flower-Garden etc. After Dinner, we went to [still in Ardmenach, or the Black Isle] Arpaphily, a mile from Allangrange, to Donald MacRah's House, and there, after prayers and Sermon, about 5 o'clock, confirmed 197 persons, young and old. See my Lists for Inverness, Fortrose, and Arpaphily. Returned to Allangrange, where we abode all Night. Here is an old Chapel in Ruines, the East Gable, where the Altar has been, still standing, with a fine Spring-Well beside it, called St John's Well, by which Saint's name, no doubt, the Chapel has been called. In going to, and returning from, Arpaphily, we had a fine prospect of Munlochy-Bay, upon which we saw two Corn-Milns, which move by Salt-Water. At Arpaphily I had along with me thre Presbyters, viz., Messrs Lud. Grant, John Stewart, and Simon Gray, and a Catechist, Donald MacRah, all of whom speak the Galic purely, and were extremely useful to me, as by far the greatest Number of the People spoke nothing but Galic, there being only 14 or 15 that knew anything at all of English. As many of them had come to Arpaphily at the Distance of several Miles, and had waited for me from eleven o'clock, the Words of our Savious [came into my mind], S. Mark, 8. 2, 3. "I have compassion on the Multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the Way: for divers of them came from far." I therefore ordered ten shill. sterl. to be expended upon Bread and Drink amongst them. Mr Stewart alledged this allowance to be [too] much, and that it might tend to intoxicate them. "What! said I, John, how can such a pittance intoxicate about 300 people, as no fewer are here? I wish it may give every one a mouthful." Upon coming out of Donald MacRah's House, what a pleasure was it [to] see the Multitude (S. Mark 6. 39) sitting upon the Green Grass, and eating their Morsel in the open Air? They no sooner saw us, than they rose up, and made a profound Salute, with many kind Words in Galic, and waving their Bonnets around yr heads.

Friday, July 23 - Set out from Allangrange half after 8 o'clock, and took Breakfast at Tore, the House of ye Widow-Lady of MacKenzie of Kilcoy, and Daughter of Fraser of Inverallochy in Abdshire. Tore is a pleasant Seat on the South Side of a rising Ground, with a Wood of Birch towards the North, besides artificial Planting. It is an excellent new House of 24 Fire-Rooms, including ye wings, and having the best prospect of Munlochy-Bay. There is a Den or Hollow on ye East side of the Birch Wood full of Trees, with a small Rivulet murmuring down the midst of it.

From Tore we went to Kelcoy to Dinner, where Mr MacKenzie, Brother to the late Kelcoy, and commonly called the Tutor of Kelcoy, resides. Here I confirmed three Ladies before Dinner, and was entertained in an easy and hospitable manner. See my Lists of Confirmation. Kelcoy is an old strong Tower and a most amiable Seat, with two Gardens, and the Frith of Bewly, the Head of Inverness-Frith, under your Eye; across which the View terminates on the Woods of Bunchreve, the property of Forbes of Culloden. Bunchreve is a Galic word, and signifies the Root of a Tree. I went round this Castle, and took a minute View of the Outside of its Walls, to try if I could see any Date upon it, as Mr MacKenzie had told me it was reckoned to be very old, and observed to him, that surely it had been once the Property of a Leslie, as I spied on one of the Windows on Top of the North Wall the Ensign Armorial of that name. "Indeed, said he, you are very right; for many years ago, a Leslie possessed this Place, and many people have taken that same Coat of Arms for a Date, but never could make it rightly out, and not one that I know of Ever took it for what it is till now."

 After Dinner, we went from Kelcoy, being now 12 horses in Company. We had not gone far till a Hurricane blew, accompanied with a heavy Fall of Rain, so that those on Horseback had much ado to keep the Saddle, and a Gentleman and a Lady did fall to the Ground, but received no hurt. We came to Ord at 4 o'clock, and by this [time] we were 18 or 20 horses in Company, as several Friends met us there. After prayers and Sermon I confirmed 34 in the Chapel of the late Revd. Mr James Urquhart (3), so artfully situated in an Hollow, that those who travel along the Highway hard by it have no view of it all. We then visited Mr Thomas MacKenzie's of Highfield, where we took up our abode all night. Highfield is a pretty new House in View of Castle-Brahan, the Seat of the Earl of Seafort, which Mr MacKenzie has built upon the most barren Ground of his Estate, and thereby has shown himself to be a Farmer of True Industry and Taste; for he has brought in that moorish, healthy Spot to yield fine Corns and good Hay, some of which I saw mowed down, and excellent it was. On the North Side of his House he has reared up a large Plantation of Firs, at a proper Distance, which are thriving extremely well, and will soon make a Cover from the North Wind. Here Wm. Stewart left us.

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