The 2nd Statistical Account

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Sir John Sinclair, Baronet of Ulbster in Caithness (Image taken from Raeburn painting) with background of west coast outline

Sir John Sinclair, Baronet of Ulbster in Caithness standing in front of map of Ross and Cromarty

By the Rev. Charles Calder Mackintosh, Minister.

* Drawn up by Mr William Taylor


The population in











(males, 1299; females, 1616)

The decrease during the last five years may be ascribed in part to the ravages of cholera in the village of Inver, where above a third of the inhabitants were swept off in a few weeks. and partly to emigration; while some diminution of trade is thought, besides, to have taken place in the town, in consequence of the non-residence at present of many of the neighbouring proprietors, and perhaps, too, from the number of shops recently opened in the surrounding villages.

However occasioned, it is certain that the value of houses in the town has, within the last few years, fallen nearly a half.

The Population in the town,


Inver village


The country


Of these, there are under  15 years of age,


                             Betwixt  15 and 30


                                           30 and 50


                                           50 and 70


                                    Upwards of 70


For the last seven years, the yearly average of marriages has been 22 or 23, and of births, 71.

There are no insane, fatuous, nor deaf and dumb individuals in the parish; the blind do not, it is believed, at present exceed 2 in number.

Number of illegitimate births in the parish, during last three years, 15; but this includes several cases that were afterwards followed by marriage of the parties.

Besides the burgh itself, there are twelve landowners possessing property above the yearly value of L.50, viz., Hugh Rose Ross of Cromarty; R. B. AEneas Macleod of Cadoll; Hon. Mrs Hay Mackenzie of Cromarty, patroness of the parish; the Duchess of Sutherland; Sir Charles Ross of Balnagown; George Mackenzie Ross of Aldie; Hugh Ross of Knockbreck; Fitzgerald Murray of Pitculzean; Daniel Ross of Hartfield; Donald Kennedy of Bogbain; Malcolm Fraser of North Glashlich; and George Ross of Moorfarm. Only the two last named are permanently resident.

The whole town and parish is at present nearly equally divided between the English and Gaelic languages. The latter is generally spoken in the country and in Inver village, but the former by the higher ranks in the country, and by almost every one in the town. Gaelic has of late rapidly lost ground; in fact, it is rare to find a native of the town, under twenty or thirty years of age, able to speak it with ease, and it is never heard among the children on the streets. In the country the change has not been quite so marked. The number of individuals able to speak Gaelic only, are, in town, 66; in country, 96; English only, in town, 100; in country, 36. If, however, we reckon those who are unable to speak or understand both languages with ease, each of these numbers must be greatly increased.

Character, &c.
There is nothing very remarkable in the habits or character of the people. Their ancient spirit of loyalty has not quite died away, and a tendency to insubordination in any shape is seldom manifested; while the general tone of feeling, we may add, is decidedly towards religion, and though much of this is, doubtless, a habit of thinking transmitted from the generations gone by, yet much, it is believed, may be ascribed to the genuine workings of a living power, actuating individual minds, and through them leavening society in the mass.


The number of acres in the parish, cultivated or uncultivated, has never been ascertained. A great proportion of the lands once belonged to the burgh, most of them have been from time to time feued out at a rent of 6d. per acre, and thus, within the last thirty or forty years, much additional ground has been brought into actual cultivation, and still more planted with thriving fir woods. All these lands were before considered by the inhabitants of the burgh as a common right, so that considerable resistance was made to the first attempts of the magistrates thus to deprive them of their ancient privilege of pasture. For a considerable time back, almost all the available burgh land has in this way been parcelled out, to the extent of 4325 Scotch acres; and except the Morrich Mor (which, as already mentioned, has been recently overblown with sand) together with the quarries and mosses of the hill district, there now remains little or none of the burgh property open to the people, that is not too distant, or too barren to be made use of. The rent of arable land averages about L.1. 1Os. per acre; in different districts, however, varying very considerably. The rate of farm-labour is about 1s. a-day in winter, and 1s. 6d. in summer; the total expense of a farm servant amounts to about L.22 per year. The general duration of leases is nineteen years; only that the fields around the town (being in general cultivated by townsmen, and bringing a higher rent) are let annually, or at very short terms. Agriculture has, of late years, rapidly advanced. The improved systems have been almost universally adopted, and crops are raised, scarcely if at all surpassed in quality, in any district of Scotland. The cultivation of wheat, in particular, has made rapid strides. Twenty or even ten years ago, it was dealt in only by a very few of the larger farmers, while now, there is scarcely a cottar who does not grow some. It has been found to answer well for the soil, and, in accordance with this, has been the quickness of its reception. There have been many improvements of late on the various estates, chiefly in the way of reclaiming waste land, draining, fencing, planting, & irrigation has been practised only in one large field belonging to Mr Ross of Cromarty, and in it (in consequence, it is thought, of the over-purity of the water) the experiment has not been crowned with success. The same proprietor has contributed much to adorn the face of the country, by the tasteful manner in which he conducts his operations, so that beauty as well as profit may be the result.

Those at present wrought are the common property of the burghers, being situated in the hill of Tain. The procuring of the finest white sandstone is attended with no expense but that of quarrying it.

The village of Inver, situated at the eastern extremity of the parish, is the only fishing station, although the town is often supplied, besides, from other quarters. Haddock and flounder are the staple kinds of fish; cod, whiting, skate, are also found in abundance, as is herring in its season. Haddocks sell at the rate of one or two (sometimes even three or four) for 1d. according to the season of the year. No salmon-fishings are carried on. The proprietor of those farther up the frith purchases the burgh’s right to those opposite the town, at an annual rent of L.10. The mussel-scalp is a more profitable source of income, although the proper mode of management is by no means well understood. It is resorted to, yearly, by great numbers of fishermen from the coast of Morayshire, who pay to the burgh at the rate of L.2 per boat for the liberty of removing a cargo of the fish. The revenue hence derived is rather unequal, but averages about L.150.

The only manufactories, properly so called, in the parish, are an iron-foundry, in which the various descriptions of cast-iron ware used in the country round are produced, and a brewery, which supplies the most of the neighbourhood with excellent ale. The burn of Morangie, beside which it is placed, has been remarked by strangers, for the economy of power shewn in the various uses to which it is applied. After irrigating the field above mentioned, it is employed to give motion separately to a sawing, a carding, a grinding, and a dyeing-mill, besides affording water to the brewery; and all within the space of a few hundred yards.

There is no navigation carried on in the parish, except by ships hired for the purpose of carrying coal and lime, for the supply of the inhabitants; by these, fir wood is frequently exported to serve for coal-pit props. All other goods are for the most part shipped and landed at Cromarty or Invergordon, so that we are exposed to the disadvantage of a land carriage of eleven miles.

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