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Sutherland and the Kcav Country. 

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Sutherland and the Kcav Country. 







Rev. Adaa Gunn, a. a. 
John A\ac k a y. 



W I I 

**I will venture to say that in the whole of this island there exists not 
a more intelligent population connected with the labouring &vd 
industrial interests, than the population of the County of Sutherland." 
— Speech in Parliament, by the Right Hon. W. E. Gladstone. 

D E I) I C A T K D 






" S i: T H E R I. A N 1) A N I) R E A V,' 



TTTHILE a great many works have already appeared 
y y bearing more or less remotely on the County of 
Sutherland, only two of these can be said to possess 
much historical value, viz. Sir Robert Gordon's " Earldom 
of Sutherland " and Robert Mackay's " House and Clan of 
Mackay." Copies of these are somewhat scarce, and their 
price puts them beyond the reach of many. The want ot 
such a work as the present has been long felt, and the 
Editors considered it would greatly enhance its value if each 
subject were treated separately by the best authority pro- 
curable. It will be readily understood that a considerable 
time was neces.sar)' in bringing together contributions from a 
variety of authors, and this accounts for the delay in the 
publication of the book. Subscribers, however, have lost 
nothing by the delay, as the volume has greatly exceeded the 
dimensions indicated in the [)rospectus, and contains loo 
pages more than anticipated. 

It was intended at first to include chapters on the Natural 
History and Geology of Sutherland ; but the exigencies of 
space, combined with the recent appearance of exhaustive 
works on these subjects by Mr. Harvie-Brown, of Larbert, 
and Mr. Cadell, of Grange, induced the Editors to depart 
from their original intention. 

The Editors record, with thanks, their indebtedness for 
valuable assistance in the preparation of the work to Mr. 


John Mackay of Hereford, whom all Highlanders recognise 
as one of the best rej^resentatives of their race : to Colonel 
Duncan Menzies of J^lairich, the ])0[)iilar (.^ommanding 
Officer o( the Sutherland \'olunteers : to the Rev. Tames 
Aherigh-Mackay, I). D., the present representative of the 
famous Clan Ahrach of Strathnaver : to Mr. John Munro, 
Hanley: to the late Mr. Thomas Hantock, of \Volverhami)ton : 
to Mr. Henry W'hyte (Kionn), the distinguished Celtic 
scholar: to Dr. Anderson of the Society of Antiiiuaries 
(Scotland), for the use of a number of engravings which 
illustrate the Rev. Robert Mimro's pa])er on the '^Anticjuities"; 
and to Mr. Fred I>o.\, House of Tongue, through whose 
kind assistance several interesting views of the Reay 
country have been secured : and, above all, to the various 
authors of the valuable papers relating to the County which 
api)ear in this volume. 

In ])reparing a list of notable men, the l^ditors found 
that the number of names deserving of notice was so large 
as to |)reclude adetjuate treatment of each. 'I'hey therefore 
resolved to include only those who have kept in close touch 
with the affairs of their native county, a goodly number of 
whom are contributors to this work. 

'The Editors, having now completed their labours, feel 
satisfied that Sutherland men at home and abroad will find 
in these i)a|)ers something to interest them, and possibly to 
add to their knowledge of the i)ast history of their native 
county ; while they also ho|)e that the volume will not be 
without interest to other workers in the Celtic field. 

ADAM (iUNN, \ 

]OHX MACKAY, JJ^^nt-Editors. 



History, to 1560, ----- . . i 

History, 1560- 1800, - - 43 

A Short Treatise on Homespun, 78 

Antiquities, - - - - 87 

Folklore, - - - 116 

Topography, - - 141 

Language, - - 172 

Regiments, 183 

Volunteers, 2(^)0 

Poetry and Music, - - - 283 

Rob Donn, . . . 285 

Religious History before the Reformation, - - - 321 

Religious History of the Rcay Country after the Reformation, ^^2 

Distinguished Men, -------- 367 

List of Illustrations. 

A Glimpse of Strathnaver at Loch Naver, ... 5 

Loch Hope, looking towards Strathmore, . - - r) 

The Field of Bannockburn, from (}illies Hill, - - - 12 

Dunrobin Castle, Seat of the Duke of Sutherland, - - 15 

Kyle of Tongue, - 17 


The Watch Hill, Tongue, 24 

Castle Varrich, Kyle of Tongue, 27 

Strathnaver at Syre, near Rossal, ----- 29 

Mackay (from M'lan's " Clans of the Scottish Highlands "), 35 

Site of Borve Castle, F'arr, 41 

Tombstone on grave of Murchadh Macleod, - - 43 

Ruins of Helmsdale Castle, 45 

The White Banner of the Clan Mackay, - - - 49 

Coat of Arms of the Sutherland family, - - - - 54 

{ Tongue House, the ancient seat of the Mackay Chiefs - 59 

\ Coat of Arms of Donald, first Lord Reay, in Tongue House, 61 

; Corner in Tongue House gardens, 65 

! Kirkiboll Churchyard, Tongue, ----- 68 

Clans Sutherland and Mackay (from "The Queen's Hook "), 74 

Dunrobin Castle, 76 

View and Plan of Rhinavie Cairns, Oi 

Doorway from first to second chamber of long Cairn, - Q2 

North end of Cairn No. 3, - - - 93 

Balblair Blade, 98 

Bronze Anvil, 99 

Bronze Vessels found near Helmsdale, 100, loi 

Torish Necklace, 102 

Eirde House, Erribol (cross section), . . . . 109 

Ancient Gravestone in Farr Churchyard,- - - 111 

Colours of Mackay's Regiment in the service of Holland, 188 

Colours of the Reay Fencibles, 23^ 

Place at Syre, where the Strathnaver men enlisted in 93rd, 236 

The " Thin Red Line " at Balaclava, - - - - 243 

Officer, Sergeant, Piper, and Privates of Sutherland Co.'s 261 

„ Caithness Companies, 263 

Sergeant and Privates of the Caithness Companies, - - 26$ 


Plate Portraits. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sutherland, 

Lord and Lady Reay, 

Rev. Robert Munro, M.A., B.D., F.S.A. Scot., 

The late John Mackay (Ben Reay i, 

General Sir John A. Ewart, K.C.15., 93rd S. H., 

Lieut. -Col. Duncan Mcnzies, 1st S. H. R. Vol., 

John Mackay, C,E., J. P., Hereford, 

Rev. John S. Mackay, Fort Auj^ustus, 

George J. Campbell, Sheriff of the Lews, 

James Macdonald, W.S., Edinburgh, 

Rev. Adam Gunn, M.A., Durness, - 

Donald Matheson, of Achany, 

William Mackay, Provost of Thurso 

Rev. John Murray, Convener of the County, 

Donald Munro, M.E., Manchester, - 

John Mackay, Editor Celtic Monthly^ Glasgow. 

George Murray Campbell, C.E., Siam, 

Rev. James Aberigh-Mackay, D.D., 


To face page i 





















Group of Officers of Battalion, - 

Group of Pipers „ ,, 

Battalion at Invergordon Camp, . . . - 
„ marching past, Jubilee Review, Inverness. 
Colour- Sergeant Robert Mackay, Queen's Prizeman,- 



I i 

List of Subscribers. 

Adam, Frank, Esq., F.S.A., Scot., Sourabaya, Java. 

Anderson, J. L., Esq., Northumberland Street, Edinburgh. 

Ansell, W. J., Esq., Larnacia, Cyprus. 

Bannerman, Hugh, Esq., Southport. 

Bantock, George Granville, Esq, M.D., London. 

Bantock, Thomas, Esq , Wolverhampton. 

Bickley, Thomas, Esq., J. P., Hanlcy. 

Bignold, Arthur, Esq., of Lochrosque, Ross-shire. 

Black, Robert, Esq., Bangkok, Siam. 

Bolton, Mrs., Moor Court, N. Staffordshire. 

Bolton, Miss Beatrice, Moor Court, N. Staffordshire. 

Box, John, Esq , House of Tongue, Sutherland. 

Box, Fred., Esq., Johannesburg, South African Republic. 

Bruce, Alexander, Esq , Clyne House, Pollokshields, Glasgow. 

Burgess, Captain A , Gairloch, Ross-shire. 

Cameron, A. F. H., Esq.. M.D., Camden, Glos. 

Cameron, John, Esq , J. P., E.K-Provost of Kirkintilloch. 

Campbell, A. D., Esq., Komgha, Cape Colony, South Africa. 

Campbell, George J., Esq., Sheriff of the Lews. 

Campbell, John, Esq., Tongue, Sutherland. 

Carmichael, Dr., Tarbert. 

Chaplin's Library, Keswick. 

Chisholm, Kenneth Mackenzie, Esq., M.D., Radcliffe. 

Clarke, G. G., Esq., Eriboll, Sutherland. 

Colquhoun, Sir James, of Colquhoun and Luss, Bart. 

Colquhoun, Lady, Rossdhu, Loch Lomond. 

Cowan, George, Esq., Edinburgh. 

Crerar, Rev. A., Kinlochbervie. 

Cumming, Miss, Secretary, Sutherland Home Industries, Golspie. 

Cunyngham, Miss Ethel A., London, 



i i 


Dennis, Mrs. iVIatilda Mackay, Conneaut Lake, Penn., U.S A i 1 

Ewart, General Sir John Alex., K.C.B., of Craigcleuch. ^ 

Fraser, Alex., Esq., Solicitor, Inverness. > 

Finlayson, Rev. D., Kinlochbervie, Sutherland. n 

Gilmour, James, Esq., Mansion House Road, Paisley. 

Gilmour, William Ewing, Esq., Alexandria. 

Graham, William, Esq., J. P., of North Erines. 

Gray-Buchanan, A. W., Esq., Polmont. 

Gray, George, Esq., J. P., Rutherglen. 

Gunn, A. M., Esq , M.A., Brora, Sutherland. 

Gunn, Alexander, Flsq., Parkhead, C^lasgow. 

Gunn, Lieut, (jilbert, The Royal Scots, Bangalore, India. 

Gunn, Hugh, Esq., Strathy, Sutherland. 

Gunn, John, Esq., Golspie. 

Gunn, William, Esq., StrathpefTcr. 

Harradence, R. W., Esq., Ware, Herts. 

Harvie- Brown, John A., Esq., Larbcrt. 

Hedderwick, J. C. H., Esq., M.P., Higgar. 

Hay, Colin, Esq., Ardbeg, I slay. 

Holmes, W. & R., Booksellers, Glasgow. J 

Hopkinson, J. Garland, Esq., Monaughty, Forres. 

Houston, Major William, Kintradwcll, Sutherland. 

Hunter, John England, Esq., Douglas, Gairloch. : 

Hunter, W. Sutherland, Esq., Kildonan, Pollokshields, Glasgow. *■ 

Joass, Rev. Dr., Golspie. j 

Kemp, Daniel William, Esq, J. P., Trinity, Edinburgh. 

Kerr, Rev. Cathel, Melness, Tongue, Sutherland. 

Leason, George, Esq., J. P., Stoke-on-Trent. 

Lightbody, W., Esq., Nairn. , 

Lindsay, Councillor Andrew, Merchant, (jolspie. 

Littlejohn, Alex., Esq., J- P., D.L., of Invercharron. 

Macandrew, Sir Henry C, Aisthorpe, Inverness. 

Macaulay, A. N., Esq., Solicitor, Golspie. 

Macbean, William M., Esq., New York, U.S.A. 


I - 


Macbeth, John, Esq., Kinbrace, Sutherland. 

MacCoy, Daniel, Esq., Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A. 

Macdonald, Rev. A. J., Killearnan. 

Macdonald, I). S , Esq., M.B., CM , Armadale, Isle of Skye. 

Macdonald, I). T., Esq., J. P., Calumet, Michigan, U.S.A. 

Macdonald, H. L., Esq., of Dunach. 

Macdonald, Allan, Esq., LL. D., Glenarm. Co. Antrim, 

Macdonald, Alexander, Esq., of Balranald and Edenwood. 

Macdonald, Alexander, Esq., Doncaster Street, Glasgow. 

Macdonald, Charles Donald, Esq., Rosario, Argentine Republic. 

Macdonald, George, Esq., Merchant, Lairg. 

Macdonald, Hugh, Esq., B«ilcharn, Lairg. 

Macdonald, Hugh, Esq., Solicitor, Aberdeen. 

Macdonald, James, Esq., W.S., Edinburgh. 

Macdonald, Keith Norman, Esq., M.D., Edinburgh. 

Macdonald, Lachlan, Esq., of Skeabost, Isle of Skye. 

Macdonald, Ranald, Esq., Carloway, Lewis. 

Macfarlane, Malcolm, Esq., Elderslie. 

Macgregor, (ieorge, Esq., Cannon Street, London. 

Mac Ivor, Evander, Factor, Scourie. 

Mackay, Captain A. Leith-Hay, Inverness. 

Mackay, Major A. Y., Grangemouth. 

Mackay, Sheriff it neas J. G., M.A„ LL.D., Edinburgh. 

Mackay, Alexander, Esq., J. P., Holt Manor, Wilts. 

Mackay, Alexander, Esq., St. Andrew Square, Edinburgh. 

Mackay, Alexander, Esq., Bank of Scotland, Thurso. 

Mackay, Alexander, Esq., Hutchison Square, Glasgow. 

Mackay, Alexander, Esq., Bath Street, Glasgow. 

Mackay, Alexander H., Esq., B.A., LL.I)., B.Sc, Minister for 

Education, Nova Scotia. 
Mackay, Andrew, Esq., The Mound, Sutherland. 
Mackay, Colin J., Esq., of Bighouse, Kurnoul, India. 
Mackay, D. J., Esq., Greencroft Gardens, London. 
Mackay, David, Esq., Tain, Ross-shire. 



Mackay, Donald, Esq., J. P., Hraemore, Caithness. 

Mackay, Donald, Esq. (of Ceylon), Hereford. 

Mackay, Donald, Esq., ** Strathnaver," Edinburgh. 

Mackay, Donald, Esq., Bromley, Kent. 

Mackay, Donald, Esq., Helmsdale. 

Mackay, Donald Hugh Petrus, Esq., Amsterdam, Holland. 

Mackay, Duncan, Esq., Siruan, Perthshire. 

Mackay, His Excellency Baron Eneas, late Prime Minister of 

the Netherlands, The Hague, Holland. 
Mackay, Eneas, Esq., Bookseller. Stirling. 
Mackay, Eppe Roelof, Esq., Amsterdam, Holland. 
Mackay, Eric, Esq., Royal Exchange, London. 
Mackay, Mrs. Eric, Cheltenham. 

Mackay, Surgeon-General George, M.I.)., J. P., of Bighouse. 
Mackay, (George, Esq., M.I) , Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh. 
Mackay. George, Esq., Secdhill Road, Paisley. 
Mackay, George J., Esq., J. P., Ex-Mayor of Kendal. 
Mackay, Hector M.. Esq., Town Clerk, Dornoch. 
Mackay, Hugh, Esq., .Spcns Crescent, Perth. 
Mackay, Hugh, Esq., Colerainc, Ireland. 

Mackay, Ian Donald, Esq,, B A., CM., M.B., Knaresborough. 
Mackay, Captain James, Trowbridge, Wilts. 
Mackay, Rev. James, Shrewsbury. 
Mackay, James, Esq., Swansea. 

Mackay, James, Esq., Roxburgh, Otago, New Zealand. 
Mackay, James, Esq., Aberdeen. 
Mackay, James, Esq., George IV. Bridge, Edinburgh. 
Mackay, Rev. James Aberigh, D.I)., Chieftain of Clan Abrach, 
Mackay, James Hay ward, Esq., Primrose Hill, London. 
Mackay, James R., Esq., British Linen Bank House, Edinburgh. 
Mackay, Miss Joan, ** Mackay Institute," Paris, Prance. 
Mackay, John, Esq., C.E., J. P. Hereford. 
Mackay, John, Esq., M.L.M.E., Bangkok, Siam. 
Mackay, John, Esq , Bristol. 


Mackay, John C, Esq., Battlefield Gardens, Langside, Glasgow. 

Mackay, Councillor John, Peterborough. 

Mackay, John, Esq., Gosforth, Ne\vcastle-on-Tyne. 

Mackay, John, Esq., Laidniore, New Zealand. 

Mackay, John, Esq., Baffin Street, Dundee. 

Mackay, John G., Esq., C.C, Portree, Isle of Skye. 

Mackay, John S., Esq., LL.D., Edinburgh Academy. 

Mackay, Joseph, Esq., High Street, Belfast. 

Mackay, Mrs. C. (of Kinlochbervie House), Edinburgh. 

Mackay, Miss, St. Giles, Lincoln. 

Mackay, Mrs. Neil, Rosemarkie, Ross-shire. 

Mackay, Neil, Esq., West 24th Street, New York, U.S.A. 

Mackay, R. A., Esq., Durban, South Africa. 

Mackay, R. Gunn, Esq., Stamford Hill, London. 

Mackay, R. J., Esq., Darlington. 

Mackay, R. Whyte, Esq., Union Street, Aberdeen. 

Mackay, Richard, Escj., Merchant, Durness, Sutherland. 

Mackay, Richard, Esq., M 'Asian Street, Glasgow. 

Mackay, Stewart J., Esq , Conncaut Lake, Penn., U.S.A. 

Mackay, Thomas, Esq., Largs. 

Mackay, Thomas A., Esq., Jiritish Linen Bank House, Inverness. 

Mackay, W. W., Esq., Ex-Provost, Dunoon. 

Mackay Councillor William, Solicitor, Inverness. 

Mackay, William, Esq., i^rovost of Thurso. 

Mackay, William, Esq., Dungannon, Co. Tyrone. 

Mackay, William, Esq., (jarriochmill Road, Glasgow. 

Mackenzie, Alexander, Esq., Bath. 

Mackenzie, Rev. I)., F'arr, Sutherland. 

Mackenzie, Rev. Duncan S. , (iairloch, Ross-shire. 

Mackenzie, Rev. John, (iolspie. 

Mackenzie, John, Esq , Kirn. 

Mackenzie, John, Esq., Town Clerk, Tain. 

Mackenzie, Roderick Eraser, Esq., P'ortrose. 

Mackenzie, SheritT, Dornoch. 

V ■ 



I 1 

Mackenzie, Miss, Durness. . 

Mackenzie, Wm., Esq., Secy., Crofters' Commission, Edinburgh^ i 

Mackey, Edward, Esq., M.D., Brighton. 

Mackey, Robert, Esq., Coleraine, Ireland. 

Mackey, Thomas, Esq., Coleraine, Ireland. 

Mackey, William J., Esq., Londonderry. 

Mackillop, James, Jun., Esq., Polmont. 

Mackinnon, Alexander K., Esq., South Kensington, London. 

Mackintosh, Alexander, Esq., Forfar. 

Mackintosh, Charles Eraser, Esq., of Drummond. 

Mackintosh, D. A. S., Esq., Shettleston. 

Mackintosh, Duncan, Bank of Scotland, Inverness. 

Maclauchlan, J. D., Esq., M.E., Edinburgh. 

Maclean, Alexander Scott, Esq., Bank Street, Greenock. 

Maclean, Charles, Esq., Merchant, Golspie. 

Maclean, Daniel, Jun., Esq., Roxburgh Street, Greenock. 

Maclean, Lieut. Hector F., Younger of Duart, Scots (Guards, 

Macleod, John, Esq., Ardgay, Ross-shire. 

Macleod, Norman, Esq., Bookseller, Edinburgh. 

Macleod, Peter B. H., Esq., M.D., New Deer. 

Macpherson, Alexander, Esq., Provost of Kingussie. 

Macpherson, Donald, Esq., Postmaster, Falkirk. , 

Maitland, Bailie Andrew, Tain. 

Matheson, Dcmald, Esq., J. P., of Achany and the Lews. \ 

Matheson, Hugh Mackay, Esq., J, P., Hampstcad, London. 

Maybrick Library, Oxford. 

Melville, Mullen and Slade, Booksellers, London. 

Menzies, Colonel Duncan, ist Sutherland Rifle Volunteers. ^ 

Menzies & Co., Messrs. John, Booksellers, Glasgow. . j 

Morrison, Captain John, Dunrobin, Golspie. ' 

Morrison, James, Esq., British Linen Coy.'s Bank, Golspie. 

Morrison, Mrs. M. S., Partick, Glasgow. I 

Morrison, Captain William, Edinburgh. , 

Munro, Alexander, Esq., Breadalbane Street, Glasgow. 



Munro, Bailey, Esq., Hope Street, Glasgow. 

Munro, Donald, Esq., M.I.C.E., Manchester. 

Munro, Donald, Esq., Armadale, Mell)ourne, Victoria. 

Munro, Rev. Donald, Ferintosh. 

Munro, George M., Esq., C.-on-M., Manchester. 

Munro, The Hon. James, late Premier of Victoria, Melbourne. 

Munro, John, Esq., Hanley, Staffordshire. 

Munro, Rev. Robert, M.A., B.D., F.S.A., Scot., Old Kilpatrick. 

Murray, Bailie Alexander, J. P., Glasgow. 

Murray, Alexander, Esq., Merchant, Strath Halladale. 

Murray, Rev. John, Convener of the County of Sutherland, Brora. 

Napier, Theodore, Esq., •* Magdala," Essenden, Victoria. 

Nicol, John, Esq., Golspie. 

Noble, Kenneth D., Esq., Helensburgh. 

Patience, James, Esq., Clutha Street, Glasgow. 

Poison, Dr. J. Ronald, Worcester. 

Pratt, Miss Maud, Secy, to the Duchess of Sutherland, Trentham. 

Reay, The Right Hon. Lord, D.C.L., G.C.I.E., G.C.S.I. 

Reay, Lady, Carolside, Berwickshire. 

Reid, Donald, Esq., Struy, Beauly. 

Robson, A. Mackay, Esq., Edinburgh. 

Ross, A., Esq., Leicester. 

Ross, Rev. Henry, LL.D., Lancaster. 

Ross, John M., Esq., Devonshire Gardens, (ilasgow. 

Ross, William George, Esq., Forres. 

Salmond, Rev Dr., Aberdeen. 

Sandison, A. K., Esq., Southampton. 

Scobie, Miss, Keoldale, Durness. 

Scott, Rev. A. B.. Helmsdale. 

Scott. Miss Jean Macfarlane. Sunderland. 

Simpson, Dr. J. B., (lolspie. 

Sinclair, Archibald, Publisher, lo Both well Street, Glasgow 

Sinclair, Rev. Colin, Kirkhill, Inverness-shire. 

Sinclair, Donald, Esq., Stempster, Caithness. 


Sinclair, James, Esq., Fresno City, Cal, U.S.A. 

Sinclair, Rev. A. Maclean, Belfast, Prince Edward Island. 

Smith, Rev. Hunter, Edinburgh. 

Smith, Captain J., Rhiconich Hotel, Sutherland. 

Stewart, Hugh, Esq., Maxwell Street, Partick, (jlasgow. 

Steven, Frank, Esq., Station Hotel, Inverness. 

Sutherland, His Grace the Duke of, Dunrobin Castle. 

Sutherland, Dr. D. C, Brora. 

Sutherland, Dr. L. R., Kcrsland Terrace, Glasgow. 

Sutherland, Ale.xander, Esq., Prestonkirk. 

Sutherland, A. Munro, Esq., Newcastle on-Tyne. 

Sutherland, Benjamin John, Esq., Ncwcastle-on-Tyne. 

Sutherland, Charles H., Esq., Montreal, Canada. 

Sutherland, Charles J., Esq., M.D., South Shields. 

Sutherland, (jcorge, Esq., Hatfield, Herts. 

Sutherland, George Miller, Esq., Wick. 

Sutherland, James, Esq., Berriedale, Clapham Common, London. 

Sutherland, John, fcLsq., Stoke-on-Trent. 

Sutherland, John, Esq., Cefu Coed, South Wales. 

Sutherland, John A., Esq., M.I)., Clcckheaton. Yorks. 

Sutherland, Cieorge. Esq., Portskerra, Sutherland. 

Symon, A., Esq., The Mound, (Golspie. 

Thompson, Frederick, Esq., South Street, London. 

Thomson, J.J. P., Esq., C.C., London. 

Tongue Reading Room, Sutherland. 

Tunnicliff, Major, J. P., Hanley. 

Turnbull, Mrs., Durness Hotel, Sutherland. 

Urquhart, R., Esq , Commercial Bank, Douglas, Lanark. 

Waddell. James, Esq., Gallowgate, Glasgow. 

Warrand, Colonel A. J. C, Ryefield, Conon-Bridge. 

Westminster, His (irace the Duke of, Benmore Lodge. 

White, Hon. Montague, Antigu West Indies. 

Whyte, Henry, Esq., 4 Bridge Street, Glasgow. 

Wilson, J. Mackay, Esq., Currygrane, Co. Longford, Ireland. 

Yule, Miss Amy Frances, Tarradale, Ross-shire. 


l.ORh KKAV, D.C.I,., C.r I.K 


century. It is a matter of regret that neither the Scottish, 
nor Irish annalists of this period, record anything of the 
Northern Picts. There is abundant evidence, however, in 
the pages of Adamnan, Columba's biographer, and of Dicuil, 
an Irish Monk, that the Orkneys were converted to the 
Christian faith before the 7th century, and the same may be 
fairly inferred about Caithness and Sutherland. Shortly after 
this the inhabitants were destined to a rude awakening, from 
the Norse pirates on the one hand, and the Dalriadic Scots 
on the other. 

It is indeed impossible to say how early the North Coast 
received occasional visits from the Vikings. They did not, 
however, come to stay, until Orkney was first colonized by 
them, and made the base of operations. The earliest Norse 
settlers there were refugees from Norway, and they did not 
hesitate to make raids upon the mother country as well as 
upon the mainland, and the Western Isles of Scotland. To 
put an end to these plundering expeditions Harold Fairhair, 
King of Norway, in 872, fitted out a large fleet, subdued the 
Orkney Islands and continued his course to the Hebrides, 
which he also subjugated. Orkney was then given to Rogn- 
wald. Earl of Moeri, who was thus the first Earl, and he, in 
less than a year, presented the Earldom to his brother 
Sigurd, uncle of Rolf, the conqueror of Normandy. 

In 875, Sigurd, along with Thorstein the Red, leader of 
the Norse settlers in Ireland, subdued the Northern Counties 
as far south as Moray. The Sagas relate with much detail 
his encounter with Maolbragd, the Celtic mor-mhaor of Ross, 
surnamed Buck-tooth. The Celtic chief challenged him to 
fight with forty men a side on horseback, but the Norse Jarl, 
suspecting treachery, put two men on ^ch horse, and so won 


the victory. It was, however, dearly bought, for as Sigurd 
rode off, with the chieftain's head fastened to his saddle- 
straps, the protruding tooth grazed his foot, and inflicted a 
wound of which he died. He was buried in "iSigurd's Hoch," 
now Siderha (Cyderhall). From this date, until the final 
expulsion of the Norsemen in 1 196, the county of Sutherland 
had little peace. Its position exposed it to perpetual inroads 
from the Norsemen of Caithness on the one hand, and the 
Celts of Moray on the other. The Mor-mhaor of ancient 
Moravia vied with the Scottish Kings in power and influence. 
Again and again this district was overrun by the victorious 
Norse, but native chiefs soon arose after each invasion, and 
kept the foreigners well within the bounds of Caithness. 
The Reay country did not fare so badly in this perpetual 
strife, although the native population was more or less dom- 
inated by the Norse colonies at Durness, Tongue, Farr, and 
Halladale. That sanguinary conflicts took place in this 
remote district is clear alike from the pages of Torfaeus, and 
the Sagas, and the battle-fields along the banks of the Naver, 
and the North Coast, which bear Norse names. But the 
South East part of the County suffered most, as it lay in the 
way of the opposing armies, and to this period must be 
ascribed the construction of such fortifications as remain at 
Loch Brora, and the many walled caves along the coast, such 
as those of Kintradwell, and in the hill face above Dunrobin, 
visited by Pococke and Pennant. 

It was during the fierce and sanguinary warfare carried on 
for centuries between the Norse and the descendants of the 
Northern Picts, that the Scottish kingdom of the Dalriads 
extended its borders, and ultimately obtained complete control 
over all Scotland. As early as the tenth century the Scottish 


Kings claim the right to interfere in matters of this Northern 

Earldom. In 1008, King Malcolm confirms the Earldom 

of Sutherland and Caithness to Sigurd, the Stout, and gives 

him his daughter in marriage. Their son Thorfinn, was 

created Earl at the early age of five, by his grandfather, and 

deputies were appointed to govern his possessions during 

his minority. He became one of the most influential of the 

Norse Earls, and disputed the right of his cousin, King 

Duncan, to the tribute usually paid to the Scottish Kings 

This brought about war, and Moddan, the King's nephew, 

was created Earl of (Caithness, and furnished with an army 

to dispossess his rival. Moddan's army was defeated, and 

King Duncan now resolved to attack Thorfinn by land and 

sea. He himself went with the fleet, and Moddan was sent 

by land with a large army. Thorfinn was again victorious. 

King Duncan made a third attempt to crush this formidable 

vassal. This time the scene of operations was in the district 

of Moray. A great battle was fought, and victory for a time 

was doubtful, but the Norse Earl again prevailed, and the 

country was overrun as far south as Fife. Torfaeus says "his 

vengeance was terrific, destroying whole countries with fire 

and sword." King Duncan was slain either in the battle, or 

by his General, Macbeth, who succeeded him on the throne. 

The Kingdom was divided between himself and Thorfinn, the 

latter receiving the North and Eastern provinces to the Tay. 

He died in 1064, leaving a widow Ingibiorg, who became 

the first wife of Malcolm Ceannmor. 

Thorfinn's successors, however, were not able long to 
keep possession of the Southern districts. On the accession 
of Malcolm Ceannmor to the Scottish throne, one after 
another fell away from their Norse allegiance. His sons 


quarrelled among themselves, and in 1139 Rognald, the son 
of Kol, and Harold, the son of Maddad, Earl of Athol, by 
Margaret, daughter of a Sutherland Norse magnate, obtained 
forcible possession of the Northern Earldom. About 1 187, 
a rival to Harald Maddadson appeared in the person of 
Harald, the younger, grandson of Earl Rognwald. Hostilities 
began afresh, and Harald, the younger, was slain. King 
William the Lion commissioned Reginald of the Isles to levy 
troops, and proceed to the scene of disturbance. A battle 
was fought at Dalharold, Strathnaver, which ended in the 
defeat of Harald Maddadson ; and three deputies were 
appointed to rule in the name of the King of Scots, at 
Tongue, Thurso, and Dunrobin respectively. Shortly after- 
wards, Harald returned from Orkney, whither he had fled, 
and mutilated the Bishop at Scrabster, (who intervened on 
behalf of his countrymen), and ravaged the county with fire 
and sword. This outburst of Norse savagery moved King 
William to come in person to the North, with a large army. 
He had with him a contingent from Galloway, and another 
from Moray, under command of Hugh Freskyn. After 
fining the Earl in 2000 pounds of silver, and separating Reay 
and Sutherland from his jurisdiction, and taking hostages, 
he returned, leaving Hugh Freskyn commander in Sutherland, 
and the chief of the Galloway contingent, Alex. (Mackay) in 
the Reay Country. These respective chiefs were the progenitors 
of the Houses of Sutherland and Mackay. They soon expelled 
the Norsemen, applied themselves to restore and maintain 
order, pacify the country, and consolidate the power and 
influence vested in them by the King of Scotland, whose 
authority was now firmly established in the North. In 1222 
they rendered material assistance to Alexander II., in 


his expedition into Caithness, to punish those implicated in 
the barbarous and tragical burning of Bishop Adam, at 
Brawl. The Mackay chief met the King at Halkirk, and 
the Sutherland contingent led by William De Moravia, Hugh 
Freskyn's son, joined him as he passed through by the coast. 
This gallant young warrior was a constant attendant upon 
William the Lion in his expeditions to quell mutinies in 
Moray and Ross, fomented by the Celtic population in these 
provinces, against the feudal rule of the Norman lords, intro- 
duced by King David and William the Lion himself. He 
also assisted Alexander IL, in quelling a Celtic rebellion 
in Ross, for which he was ennobled and styled, " Dominus 
Sutherlandiae," and in 1228 Alexander created him Earl of 
Sutherland, the first Earl of his race. He died about 1248, 
and his son William succeeded him as 2nd Earl. It was 
during the ist Earl's rule in Sutherland that Bishop Gilbert 
of Moravia, a cousin, reorganised the bishopric of Caithness 
and Sutherland, built the cathedral of Dornoch, divided the 
counties into parishes, provided ministers to officiate in them, 
and made provision for their support, and the maintenance 
of conventual worship in the cathedral. It is said that he 
translated the Psalms of David and the Gospels into Gaelic 
for the benefit of all within his diocese. This eminent 
ecclesiastic was held in the highest esteem by Alexander II. 
He died in 1245, and was afterwards canonized. 

In 1259, the date given by Sir Robert Gordon, was 
fought the battle of Dornoch. Tradition has it that Bishop 
Gilbert, like other ecclesiastics of his time, with his younger 
brother Richard, baron of Skelbo, were first in the fray. 
The Bishop's shield-boarer, as soon as he saw the Norsemen, 
ran away, so that the Bishop had to fight without his shield. 


The incident became a common proverb ever after — "He 
was like the Bishop's lad; when wanted he was not to be 
found." Earl William soon appeared on the scene, and the 
Norsemen were defeated and chased to their ships at the 
Little Ferry. The fight was severe, and among the killed 
was Sir Richard De Moravia of Skelbo. The Earl of Suther- 
land was disarmed by the Norse commander, but finding the 
leg of a horse near him, hurled it at his antagonist and killed 
him. A stone on the battlefield marks the place of his fall 
and interment ; another named the Earl's Cross, was reared 
to commemorate the victory. This was the last raid of the 
Norsemen into Sutherland. If the Bishop took part in this 
battle, its date would probably be 1239, not 1259. 

In 1263, the whole county was thrown into a state of 
great consternation by rumours of a Norwegian invasion. 
Norwegian troops had landed in Caithness, and were levying 
contributions far and near. Watch fires were alight every- 
where, but Haco passed on to Durness, brought his fleet to 
anchor, and sent some men on shore to plunder. The 
people being forewarned, retired into the interior with their 
goods and chattels. Foiled in their expectation of plunder, 
the remorseless invaders destroyed twenty hamlets, and 
demolished a fort on the shore, the ruins of which still 
remain, now called " Sean chaisteal," (old castle). 

On the return of Haco, after the disaster of Largs, he 
put into Loch Erribol for provisions and fresh water. A 
strong party was sent out to forage. The natives were on 
the alert, and drove their cattle and flocks into the inland 
valleys. Some were discovered in GlengoUie, which were 
being driven away when the natives intercepted the Norse- 
men, and after some fighting the plunderers retreated into 

the adjacent valley of Strathmore, Here they were agaia 
intercepted, and all slain except one, who by fleetness of 
foot, escaped to carry his tale of woe to Haco. In memory 
of this event the valley became known as "Urra-Dal," or 
the Dale uport which the Norae leader fell, and in which he 
^was interred. Haco immediately set sail for Orkney. 


The spirited rule of the successors of William the Lion, 

the two Alexanders, caused law and order to prevail in the 
North and the South. The prosperous reign of the last 
Alexander, for thirty-seven years, became the theme of poets. 
Wars, intenial and external, had ceased in the land. Every- 
one enjoyed security. It was the "golden age" in Scotland, 
when every yeoman and every peasant cultivated his fields, 


and tended his flocks in peace and tranquility. The mer- 
chant plied his trade on land and sea without dread or 
apprehension, commerce at home and with foreign countries 
prospered to an extent hitherto unknown or unheard of, 
Scottish ships and merchantmen were known in almost every 
seaf)ort in Europe. 

Sutherland, north and south, shared in this general pros- 
perity. The two chiefs of Sutherland succeeded in moulding 
their heterogeneous followers to their will, and uniting them 
into a compact body of clansmen devoted to their service. 
This wise and conciliating policy had its due reward. The 
chiefs became respected and revered, the clansmen felt 
proud of their chiefs, and acknowledged the kindness shown 
them by complete devotion to their interests in peace or 
war, and the spirit of clanship was in consequence fostered 
to an extent previously unknown. 

Evil days were impending; the disastrous and tragic death 
of Alexander III., in 1286, threw the country into the 
hands of the designing and warlike Edward I. of England. 
The selfish and craven hearted Scots nobility bowed their 
necks to the yoke, and swore fealty to Edward in 1296, 
William, the 2nd Earl of Sutherland, being of the 
number. The Scottish yeomen and peasantry gloomily stood 
aloof anticipating a leader; the rapacity of the English 
soldiery aroused the greatest indignation amongst all classes. 
The leader arose in the person of Wallace, who like another 
Samson, went forth almost singly and slew the " Philistines," 
in almost every encounter. He became a real hero, the 
magic of his name and fame encouraged the middle and 
lower classes of his countrymen, while it terrified the enemy 
far and wide. Emboldened by such rapid successes, the 


bravest of his countrymen soon rallied round the standard of 
freedom and justice, determined, like their leader, to 
free their country from the arrogant oppressions of Edward's 
soldiery. One stronghold after another was captured from 
the invaders, till Scotland, north of the Tay, was set free. 
Then an opportunity presented itself, which was to set free 
the whole south of Scotland by one fell stroke. Edward, 
furious at the rapid progress made by Wallace in capturing 
and expelling his garrisons from so many strongholds through- 
out the country, ordered his Lord Deputy, Warrender, to 
collect all the soldiery of the North of England and South of 
Scotland, and crush the "robber and rebel," Wallace, who 
was at the time besieging Dundee. Wallace immediately 
sent the fier>'-cross into the North Lowlands and Highlands, 
for every chief to come to his aid, with his contingent of 
men. He raised the siege of Dundee, and with the forces 
he had in hand took post on the Ochill hills, behind Dun- 
blane, to watch the movements of the invading army. Here 
came to his aid the Menzies, Murray, and other clans of 
Perthshire and Moray, the yeomen of Eife, Angus, and the 
Mearns, a goodly array; indeed, the Scottish army was mostly 
composed of Highlanders. By dint of strategy and general- 
ship, a glorious victory at Stirling Bridge was achieved by 
Wallace, and Scotland set free. 

The calamitous effects of the envy and jealousy of the 
craven hearted Scottish nobility, at these astounding successes 
being achieved without their aid or countenance, became 
manifest next year at Falkirk, when all of them again bowed 
the knee to Edward, and the independence of Scotland was 
once again lost for a time. Nevertheless, Wallace showed 
the way to attain it; his mantle fell upon Robert Bruce, who, 


following the tactics of Wallace, eventually succeeded in 
giving the " coup de grace " to English arrogance and claim 
of supremacy, on the field of Bannockburn, by the united 
military forces of the Kingdom, amongst whom were the 
chiefs and retainers of Sutherland and Mackay. 

A deep and general panic seized the English after 
Bannockburn. Their wonted energy forsook them. Robert 
Bruce, taking advantage of this dejection, very soon after the 
battle, invaded England three times in 13 14, enriched his 
army, and sent every member of it home laden with spoil. 
These expeditions were continued almost every year, with 
little opposition. In 1323, Bruce personally conducted a 
large army into England, comprising the whole military 
strength of Scotland, from North to South, and meeting the 
King of England, with all the array of his kingdom, at 
Biland Abbey, inflicted upon him a crushing defeat, pursuing 
him to the gates of York. The chiefs of Sutherland dis- 
tinguished themselves at this battle ; the *' Redshanks," 
as the English called the kilted men of the North, proved 
themselves brave warriors. Earl William of Sutherland died 
two years after this great victory. 

In 1333, his son and successor Kenneth, was slain at the 
battle of Halidon Hill, leading the van; many of his men 
fell vnih him. In 1349, Earl William, son of Kenneth, led 
an expedition into England, and on returning captured Rox- 
burgh Castle. This Earl became a great favourite with 
King David, after returning to Scotland from his nine years' 
exile in France, in 1341. 

In 1341-3, this Earl with his men accompanied David 
in his expeditions and invasions into England. David 
rewarded him for his services by giving him his sister, 


Margaret Bruce, in marriage, by whom he had two sons, 
Alexander and John. 

In 1346, David, at the instigation of the King of France, 
who was then hard pressed by Edward III., mustered 
the whole military forces of Scotland, and burst into England, 
ravaging the country as he advanced, right up to Durham. 
The Earl of Sutherland, with the barons and men of the 
North, were in this army. David, although no general, was as 
brave and daring as his uncle, Edward Bruce, but he wholly 
lacked the admirable judgment, prudence, and military skill 
of his great father. After very severe fighting at Neville's 
Cross, he was defeated and taken prisoner, with his brother- 
in-law, the Earl of Sutherland, and several of his nobility 
He attributed his defeat and capture to the Steward of 
Scotland and the Earl of March, commanding the third 
division, retiring from the field without making an effort to 
come to his aid while hard pressed in the centre. This was 
the supposed cause of the bitter enmity he afterwards mani- 
fested towards the Steward, who was his presumptive heir. 
After eleven years' captivity in England he was ransomed, 
his nephew, the young master of Sutherland, being one of 
the hostages for the payment. David, after his return, 
obtained the consent of parliament to disinherit the Steward, 
and elect the young master of Sutherland his heir pre- 
sumptive. He then largely endowed the Earl of Sutherland 
with baronies in various counties, which the Earl afterwards 
reconveyed to noblemen in those districts on promise to 
support the rights granted to his son, against any claims the 
Steward might make upon the demise of the King. The 
young master of Sutherland died in England before the 
King's ransom was paid, and the whole scheme became void 



and of no effect. The Steward succeeded to the throne 

as Robert II. 

During the time of William, fifth Earl of Sutherland, who 
was much in the south engaged in the continual warfare on 
the borders, frequent aggressions were made by Sutherland 
men upon the Mackays, who as frequently retaliated. Upon 
the return of the Sutherland chief, Mackay demanded 
reparation, the Sutherlands being the aggressors. The Earl 
offered to submit their differences to the Lord of the Isles, 
and other noblemen of Ross ; Mackay assented. The 
parties met at Dingwall, and submitted their relative cases to 
arbitration. It would appear that the Mackay chief seemed 
likely to get the best of it. The Earl sought an interview 
with Mackay and his son Donald. In the heat of the dis- 
cussion high words ensued, and the Earl getting very angry 
drew his dagger and mortally stabbed both father and son. 
I Hastily making his escape out of the castle, he rode off to 

I Dunrobin, pursued by the Mackay retainers so closely that 

J it was with some difficulty he succeeded in effecting his 

escape. This was the commencement of the feuds and 
conflicts which lasted for two centuries, between the Suther- 
lands and Mackays. The successor of this Earl arranged 
I the whole dispute afterwards with the successor of the chiefs 

j assassinated at Dingwall, and amity was re-established for a 


The Mackay chief, Angus, who succeeded his father 
Donald, killed at Dingwall in 1370, married a daughter of 
MacLeod of Lewis, by whom he had two sons, Angus Du, 
and Rorie Gallda, (Roderick the foreigner), so called from 
his being by custom reared in Lewis amongst his mother's 
relatives. Their father, having died at an early age, left 





his family and estates in the guardianship of his brother 
Hugh, till his son Angus Du came of age. Hugh was a 
stern man of business, and proved himself worthy of the 
trust reposed in him by his brother. During his guardian- 
ship the mother of the young chief was desirous of having 
some share in the management of affairs, and probably a 
larger allowance than had been allotted to her. Hugh 
declined to accede to her demands. She then complained 
to her brother, MacLeod of Lewis, who came to Tongue 
with a large and select company of his men, with the deter- 
mination of compelling Hugh by entreaty or force, to comply 
with his sister's demands. Finding the guardian inflexible, 
and not a man to be cajoled by fair words, or overawed by 
force, he departed in high dudgeon, and on his way home- 
wards drove off a large number of cattle from Mackay's 
lands. No sooner was this reported than Hugh and his 
brother Neil, getting as many men together as they could, 
went in pursuit of the men of I^wis, whom they overtook in 
Strathoykell. The Mackays immediately attacked the I^wis 
men, and as Sir R. Gordon says, "a terrible battle was 
fought," in which the islanders were annihilated, one only 
escaping to tell the woful tale. Hugh, the guardian, died 
two years after this event, and Neil did not long survive, 
leaving three sons, Thomas, Morgan, and Neil, who played 
an important part in the story of the life of Angus Du. 

Upon the death of his uncle Hugh, the young chief 
assumed the reins of government, well prepared by his 
guardian in all the accomplishments of the period to govern 
and lead men in peace and war. He soon proved himself 
to be no ordinary leader of men. From the associations he 
had formed, and the influence he had acquired in the earlier 


years of his rule, we find him to have been a young man of 
great capacity, attaining within the three northern counties 
an ascendancy second only to the Lord of the Isles, when 
that potentate rebelled against the Regent of Scotland, to 
assert his pretended right to the Earldom of Ross, during 
the long imprisonment of James I. in England. 

The Munro, Ross, and other clans in that Earldom 
were on the side of the Regent, and were not well inclined 
to the Lord of the Isles Instigated probably by the Regent, 
these clans formed a confederacy to resist the pretensions of 
the turbulent Lord of the Isles, who had been plotting with 
the King of England to divide Scotland between them. 
Angus I)u was appealed to for assistance, lieing the most 
powerful of the confederates, he was elected to command in 
chief, and thus became " leader of 4000 men.'' The Lord 
of the Isles, informed of this confederacy, resolved at once 
to force these refractory clans into submission. Collecting 
an army in the I^les, he invaded Ross, and came up to his 
opponents at Dingwall, where after a stubborn conflict he 
defeated them, and took Angus Du prisoner. The defeated 
Ross-shire clans were obliged to submit, and Angus Du was 
confined in Caisteal Tirrim. Situated as he then was, the 
Lord of the Isles was politic enough to pert:eive that the 
friendship of so influential a chief would be a great accession 
of strength to himself, in keeping possession of Ross against 
the wiles of the Regent; he therefore proposed to set him at 
liberty, give him his sister TLli/abeth in marriage, and endow 
them with large grants of land, the superiority of which he 
possessed in right of his wife, the (Countess of Ross. 

An agreement upon these terms was effected. Angus 
Du was liberated, and married the sister of I )onald of the 


Isles and the famous Alistair " Carrach," at Caisteal Tirrim, 
and returned with his wife to Tongue. A charter (14 14-15) 
confirmed to them those lands, on the south west of Suther- 
land, extending from the church lands of Skibo to the 
confines of Assynt, and thence to Lochbroom, and on the 
north coast, the whole of Strath Halladale. 

Angus Du life-rented these lands to his cousins Thomas, 
Morgan, and Neil, the sons of his uncle Neil. To Thomas 
he assigned Strath Halladale, Pulrossie, and Criech to the 
river Shin ; to Morgan, the whole of Strathoykell ; and to Neil 
all the Ross-shire lands. 

Such an extensive acquisition of territory adjoining his 
own patrimonial estates gave the Mackay chief a preponder- 
ance of power and influence much superior to the Earl of 
Sutherland, — anything but agreeable to him — and moreover 
a source of great disquietude, as his own territory was now 
surrounded on three sides by those of the Mackay chief, who 
in reality became ** Angus the absolute" in the county, in 
point of territory and command of men. Thus, Robert 
Earl of Sutherland, became extremely jealous of the martial 
Mackay chief. He was aware he could not openly counter- 
act his influence, but what could not be done by force might 
be accomplished by underhand policy, in fomenting quarrels 
and disturbances in that lawless age. The Earl had willing 
allies in the Murrays in Sutherland, and his own relatives, 
and the Mo watts in Caithness, who begaH to make incursions 
into Strath Halladade. Thomas Mackay accused Mowatt 
of fostering or permitting such raids, and demanded redress. 
Mowatt haughtily refused. Thomas, being some time after- 
ward in Criech, where he generally resided, heard of Mowatt 
having passed southward with a retinue of men ; he pursued 


him, and overtook him near Tain. Redress of the injuries 
complained of was again demanded and refused, swords were 
drawn, Mowatt was slain, and his followers took refuge in 
St Duffus' chapel. The infuriated Mackays pursued them 
and set fire to the chapel. This atrocity was reported to the 
Regent, who declared Thomas Mackay an outlaw, his possess- 
ions, goods, and chattels forfeited, and offered as a reward 
for his apprehension. The difficulty was, who would dare 
do it. Angus Du would not apprehend his own near relative. 
The Earl of Sutherland was not anxious to embroil himself 
with the Mackays, but a fitting instrument was found in 
Angus Murray of Pulrossie, who had two daughters of whom 
Thomas Mackay's brothers, Morgan and Neil were enam- 
oured. Angus Murray consulted the Earl, who promised 
him his protection; he then cajoled the two brothers to assist 
him, promising them his two daughters in marriage, and 
sharing with them their brother's forfeited property. The 
unnatural miscreants assented. Their brother was inveigled 
into Angus Murray's poyt'er, taken to Inverness and there 
executed. Murray and they had their reward, but neither of 
them long enjoyed the fruits of their perfidy. 

Meanwhile, the Caithness folk and friends of Mowatt, 
indignant at one of their lairds being slain by Thomas 
Mackay, made several raids into Strath Halladale, consider- 
ing his forfeited property fair plunder, but continuing them 
too far into Angus Du's own territory in Farr, the redoubt- 
able old chief was provoked to make reprisals. Gathering 
together his men and taking his young son Neil wRh him, 
he marched into Caithness, and at Harpsdale, a few miles 
from Thurso, met the whole forces of Caithness. A furious 
battle soon began, fought out with equal valour, and in the 




end the Caithness men were overthrown with great slaughter; 
many members of the best families in the county fell in this 
engagement. Loud complaints from Caithness reached 
King James I., who a few years previously had returned from 
his captivity in England, and having many more similar com- 
plaints from various quarters of the Highlands, he determined 
to summon all the Highland chiefs to meet him at Inverness, 
(1427). Some of these he ordered to be executed forthwith, 
others he imprisoned, and a few men, amongst whom was 
the Mackay chief, upon their justifying their acts, he forgave 
and released, upon giving their eldest sons as hostages. 
This was a device of James to get the heirs of the Highland 
chiefs into his' possession, and near his court to be educated 
and "civilized" as he himself had been at the English 
court, and so make them better subjects, and more amenable 
to law and order when permitted to return home. The 
Mackay chief gave the King his eldest son and heir, Neil, 
who for a time was imprisoned in the Bass, under the care 
and tutelage of Sir Robert Lauder, a relative. Ever after 
this young chief was nicknamed Neil Wass (Neil of the 

Angus Murray, now in possession of Strath Halladale 
and Criech, still plotted against Angus I)u, whose brother-in- 
law, Donald Lord of the Isles, was now dead, and Alexander 
his successor, and cousin of Angus, under the ban of the 
crown, and his own son and heir prisoner in the Bass, whose 
return was uncertain. He thought it a fitting opportunity to 
carry out his scheme of getting entire possession of the 
Reay country, in which he was encouraged by Robert, Earl 
of Sutherland. He was well aware that his sons-in-law, 
Morgan and Neil Mackay, had incurred the hatred of their 


near relative and chief Angus Du, for the base and unnatural 
part they acted in the apprehension of their brother Thomas, 
and representing to them the old age of their father's 
nephew, the uncertainty of his son's ever returning from the 
Bass, he prevailed upon them to lay claim to the succession, 
and immediate surrender to them of the inheritance which 
was now their right, as nearest heirs. This illegal demand 
Angus Du well knew to be supported by influences of a 
dangerous nature He was now from his years less able to 
lead his men in battle, he also considered that his son and 
heir was a hostage, and that it was imperative upon him to 
keep the King's peace, he therefore offered to surrender to 
his ungrateful cousins some of his territority, reserving to 
himself the district of Kintail, the original patrimony. This 
great concession was declined. 

Angus Murray now persuaded them to enforce their 
demands by the sword. He consulted the Earl of Suther- 
land, who promised him his assistance, or as Sir R. Gordon 
puts it, "they had Earl Robert his attollerance." 

Intelligence reached Angus Du that an invasion of his 
country was in preparation. The aged hero was astonished ; 
he consulted his head men, and his young son Ian Abrach, 
as his clansmen then named him from having been reared by 
his mother's relatives in Lochaber, and still delight to keep 
his name in remembrance as the hero of the clan. The 
resolution come to was, to defend the territory and the honour 
of their chief and clan to the last extremity, or die in their 

The fiery cross was sent through every hamlet, clansmen 
were aroused and prepared to resist the threatened invasion 
to the uttermost. This stern determination of his men 


roused in the old warrior chief much of the animation of his 
younger days. Scouts and spies were sent into Sutherland 
to observe and report upon the movements going on. It 
was soon ascertained that Angus Murray and his coadjutors 
were gathering men from all quarters, and a day had been 
appointed to march into the Reay country to take possession. 
The veteran old chief, like Bruce before his day, now looked out 
for an advantageous position near Tongue, upon which his 
comparatively few men could oppose the superior numbers 
of the invaders in a defensive battle. His practised eye 
soon marked out Druim-na-cupa, two miles south of Tongue, 
on the shortest track to it from the south. There were no 
roads in those days. There was, however, a doubt as to the 
actual route the invaders might choose, and a party was 
posted on the south face of Ben Loyal to watch. From this 
point a view of the whole country round was obtained for 
miles in front and flanks. The approach of the invaders was 
reported inclining to the direct route to Tongue. There was 
no longer any doubt. The Mackay commanders marshalled 
their men in compact order on the upper slopes of Druim- 
na-cupa, sending forward a detachment to the gorge of a pass 
in front, to conceal themselves in a copse on the side of the 
pass and attack the rear of the enemy in coming through 
it. These arrangements made, Ian Abrach and the other 
commanders entreated the aged chief to retire to the top of 
the ridge, where he could survey the impending conflict and 
be out of harm's way. He consented, and relinquished the 
command to his gallant young son. 

The invaders were seen advancing through the pass, in a 
disorderly manner, leaders in front, as if there was no danger 
of opposition. Emerging from the pass, and seeing only a 

! J 


small compact body of Mackays right in front, they thotight 
they were marching to an easy victory. One of the leaders 
shouted, " come on, we shall soon shackle those calves," to 
which another replied, " look out for yourself, the calves 
may jump too high for you to shackle them." 

The van of the invaders rushed across the intervening 
hollow and advanced up the slope to the onset in desultory 
order. They were firmly and fiercely met by Ian Abrach 
and his men. Their front ranks, out of breath, soon bit the 
dust, the next met with no better fate, but still the fight was 
continued, the Sutherland men fighting resolutely as they came 
up. Meanwhile the party in ambush attacked the rear going 
through the pass. So sudden and unexpected was this 
attack that the disorderly resistance made was unavailing, and 
the party of scouts coming up from the rear at nearly the 
same time and falling in on the flanks, this portion of the 
invaders was nearly, if not wholly annihilated. The victors 
in the pass now pushed on to the aid of their countrymen 
fighting the main battle. They fell upon the left rear and 
flank of the enemy, but the Sutherland men still fought on with 
their accustomed bravery. They were, however, outgeneraled, 
their leaders slain, numbers were of no avail, and taken now 
in front, flank, and left rear, the survivors fled away to their 
right up the slopes of the northern end of Ben Loyal, pur- 
sued by the Mackays for some miles, till, it is said, the last 
man of them was slain at Ath-charrie. 

Such was the battle of Druim-na-cupa, the "Bannock- 
burn " of the Reay country, and as momentous to it in its 
results. Sir R. Gordon is obliged to admit in his " Earldom 
of Sutherland," "the memory of this * skirmish* remaineth 
in that country (Reay country) with the posterity to this day,* 




face of the rock beneath Castle Varrich is named in the 
vernacular, " the hidden bed of John Abrach." Sutherland 
had received such a blow by the issue of the battle of Druim- 
na-cupa, that peace was preserved between the two clans for 
a century, till the advent of the Gordons into Sutherland 
The differences of the Mackays in the meantime were with 
the people of Caithness, in which as we shall see they still 
proved their prowess and superiority in fighting. 

After the fighting on the slopes of Druim-na-cupa was 
over, and the whole survivors of the Mackays were in pursuit 
of the flying Sutherland men,, as already noted, Angus Du 
came upon the field to view the slain, wounded, and dying. 
He soon recognised Angus Murray and his own two ungrate- 
ful and unnatural cousins among the slain. While standing 
contemplating the unhappy, though deserved fate that so 
swiftly overtook their vile ingratitude, he was killed by an arrow 
shot by a cowardly Sutherland man lurking in a bush near 
the battlefield. Years after, this assassin was slain by 
William Du, son of John Abrach and grandson of Angus 
Du This important engagement took place about 143 1. 

In consequence of its decisive and signal result John 
Abrach was greatly distinguished in the north. Young as 
he was he governed his clan with a firm and judicious hand, 
and preserved the peace during the absence of his elder 
brother in the Bass. He made himself so much beloved by 
the people that they solicited him to assume the chiefship, 
as it was uncertain whether or not his brother would ever 
return, but the loyal and gallant young man declined all such 
solicitations as derogatory to himself, and to his heroic father, 
and exiled brother kept in durance by the will of the King, 
us a hostage for the maintenance of peace. John Abrach, 



cation given by the people of Caithness, he and his brother 
John Abrach collected their forces and marched into Caith- 
ness to punish them. They left a reserve force at Sandside, 
and went further into the country, gathering a great spoil, 
with which they returned. The Caithness men overtook 
them at Downreay, when a fierce conflict took place. The 
Caithness men had the worst of it and fled, pursued by the 
Mackays to the river Forse, when a large number of Caith- 
ness men w^ere seen speedily marching to the aid of their 
countrymen. The Mackays retired upon their reserve ; 
coming up to them, they again faced their foes and a most 
desperate engagement was began, which ended in the com- 
plete rout of the men of Caithness, who were pursued, with 
great slaughter, for three miles. This event is locally known 
as **The Sandside chase." 

Neil of the Bass died about 1450, and by his wife, a lady 
of the Munro clan, left two sons, Angus and John Roy. 
Angus succeeded his father and lived in peace till about 
1464, when broils broke out in Caithness between the Keiths 
of Ackergill and the clan Gunn. The Gunns prepared for 
war, and many other districts of Caithness espoused their 
cause. The Keith, mistrustful of his own ability to cope 
with the Gunns and their allies, applied to his friend Mackay 
for aid, which was readily granted. Collecting all the men 
he could, he made a forced march of thirty miles through 
Caithness and joined the Keiths. The hostile forces met on 
the moor of Tannach, three miles from Wick, where a most 
desperate engagement ensued, attended with great slaughter 
on each side. At length victory declared itself for the Keiths 
and Mackays, chiefly through the extraordinary prowess of 
a herculean Mackay delighting in the euphonious appellation 


of John Mor-Mac-Ian Riabhaich Mackay, who with a battle- 
axe proportionate to his strength, cut down every opponent 
who came within its reach ; but this decisive battle did not 
terminate the differences between the Keiths and the Gunns. 

Meanwhile peace was maintained between the Sutherlands 
and Mackays, but during the rule of Earl John in Sutherland, 
1455, the MacDonalds of Glengarry to the number of some 
hundreds made an irruption into Sutherland and encamped 
at Skibo. They began to maraud and gather spoil. Before 
they did much harm the Sutherlands and Murrays were upon 
them and defeated them. A year or two afterwards a larger 
party of them penetrated into Sutherland as far as Strath- 
fleet; but the gallant Murrays were not far off They (juickly and 
quietly gathered men enough to give them battle, in which 
the MacDonald marauders were again defeated and chased 
away as far as Bonar. This was the last raid made by the 
MacDonalds into Sutherland in any numbers, but from 
tradition and songs sung by the old inhabitants com- 
memorating smaller marauding incidents in after years, it is 
evident they had been continued. 

About 1475, Angus, the Mackay chief, it is recorded, was 
burnt by the Rosses of Balnagown in the church of Tarbet, 
probably on account of some raids he had made into Eastern 
Ross in conjunction with the MacKenzies, when letters of 
fire and sword enjoined them to proceed against the Earl of 
Ross, Lord of the Isles, who was at the time under the ban 
of the Crown. This murder was avenged a few years after 
by John, the son and successor of Angus, who invaded 
Strathoykell and at AUta-charrish defeated the Rosses of 
Balnagown with great loss, no less than seventeen landed 
proprietors of Ross were killed, and as usual a great booty 







carried away. The Mackays in this battle were led, under 
the command of the chief, by William Du, son of the 
renowned John Abrach. After the battle, an incident 
occurred as to the division of the spoil, which evinced the 
noble spirit and character of the gallant son of a gallant 
father. There was a contingent of Assynt men and another 
of Sutherland men, assisting the Mackays. The Assynt men 
proposed to the Mackay chief to slay the Sutherland men 
that they might not participate in the booty. When William 
Du heard of the infernal proposal he immediately went to 
the Sutherland commander, advised him of it, and asked him 
to stand to his arms and wait for him while he got his own 
contingent ready to come to his protection. This was done 
forthwith. The plot was foiled and the spoil was fairly 
divided. The Assynt men got their share and marched 
away. William Du and the Sutherland men left together for 
their homes to the great satisfaction of both. From this 
incident arose the saying, " Ceartas nan Abrich " (the justice 
of the Abrachs; fair play to all). The date given of this 
event is 1478. 

John Riabhach Mackay died about 1495, ^"^ ^^^ 
succeeded by his brother lye, or Hugh 2nd. He was held 
in great esteem by James 4th, who in 1499 commissioned 
him to apprehend Sutherland of Dilred, for the murder of 
Sir James Dunbar. This commission the Mackay chief per- 
formed to the satisfaction of the King, who by charter, dated 
4th November, 1499, granted him all Sutherland's lands in 
Caithness and Sutherland, Armadile, Strathy, Rynevie, Ken- 
auld, Gollespy, Kilcalmkill, Dilred, &c. The prompt 
execution of this commission recommended him to the spirited 
King for a^more difficult one in 1506, to apprehend Macl^od 


of I-fCwis. This was effected with equal expedition and 
success, and a charter was granted him by the King, of lands 
in Assynt and Ross. 

From 1 43 1, (date of the battle of Druim-na-cupa) to a few 
years after the battle of Flodden, 1 5 1 3, when the death of 
James IV. threw the whole of Scotland into disorder and 
anarchy, there was internal tranquillity and peace in Sutherland, 
with the exception of the MacDonald irruptions. During this 
period the chiefs of Sutherland took little or no part in war 
or politics. They were content to stay at home controlling 
their private affairs, keeping their men in order, and leaving 
the southern nobles to foment and compose their own quarrels, 
and make their periodical raids over the borders with little 
credit to themselves, and less credit to their prowess or 

The advent of the Gordons into Sutherland by the 
marriage of Elizabeth, eldest daughter of John Earl of 
Sutherland, in 1500, with Adam Gordon, second son of the 
Earl of Huntly, had a dire effect on the whole of Sutherland, 
the Reay Country, and Caithness, for more than a century 
after the battle of Flodden. Earl John died in 1508, and 
was succeeded by his son John, the last of the Freskyn race, 
in the male line, a young man of easy disposition, caring little 
for business and leaving all his affairs to the control of others, 
chiefly to Adam Gordon, his brother-in-law, which was very 
galling to the native gentlemen of the county, always jealous of 
the interference of strangers. This young Earl had two half- 
brothers, Alexander and George, whose mother was a daughter 
of Ross of Balnagown, his own mother being a daughter of 
the Lord of the Isles. It was pretended that these two 
brothers were bastards, their father being only handfasted to 







the Balnagown lady. Adam Gordon soon aspired to the 
Earldom, seeing that the young Earl, as he thought, was un- 
fit to govern, and unlikely to marry. Sir Robert Gordon 
says "he begines to lay a foundation to settle that estate 
upon himself and to his successors by the lawes of the King- 
dome, for besyds himself there was Alexander Sutherland, 
thi * bastard ' brother of this Erie John, that pretended some 
right to the Erledome." Alexander was a young man, a 
minor. Adam Gordon took him to Aboyne, induced him to 
renounce all rights to the Earldom, and took legal proceed- 
ings to procure the succession to his wife. 

Meanwhile the disastrous Battle of Flodden took place, 
so fatal to the King, nobility and Kingdom of Scotland. It 
threw the government of the country into the hands of a 
weak Regency, and the control of a turbulent and unscrupu- 
lous oligarchy. This was advantageous to the designs and 
ambitious aspirations of Adam Gordon. Next year, 15 14, 
he procured the Earl, his brother-in-law, to be decerned an 
idiot unfit to rule, and his own wife to be declared his heir 
and successor. Earl John died soon after, and in 15 15 
Adam Gordon became Earl of Sutherland, in right of his 

Now began a century of turmoil, disorder and violence, 
plots, counter-plots and intrigues, feuds, raids, battles, 
spoliations, ravages, mutual hatred and aniniosity, triangular 
fighting between the three principal races in the two counties, 
Sutherlands, Murrays, and Gordons in the south, Mackays 
in the north, and Sinclairs in the east. Well might Sir 
Robert Gordon say "In 15 16 Adam, Earl of Southerland, 
forseing great trubles liklie to fall furth in his countrey, he 
entered in familiaritie and friendship with John Sinckler, 





!»*» , , . 


^^^^^L .,-, 

■he limn wean a Bil lionntl. on wliich lh= .1.111 l.i.k.' 1- .li,i.l.L,<-,!...,i, 
u|lc't feubcr. Tb< doublel, ur ja.:b.;l. i^ ^( >ii^.«e ^<L.lh li, II 

i> itnli MojniMd M pKUliar lo Ibc Clan Aodh. iht bngt uc molnch o 
hide, fnm »bich ihe hair it not nmoved : Ihc twnrd and arg< arc of 



Earl of Catteynes for assisting him against his enemies." To 
cement this familiarity and friendship he gave Caithness a 
charter for *' ten davachs " of land east side of Helmsdale 
river, but says Sir Robert, ** he keipt the lands bot joyned 
afterwards Earle Adam his foes." These two Earles then 
set to work to create d'ssensions amongst the Mackays as 
to the succession on the death of lye, the Mackay chief, in 
15 16. They succeeded for some time in their machinations, 
but the Mackays perceiving that their ruin was intended, 
composed the succession differences entered into an 
alliance with Caithness, and in revenge for Earl Adam's 
treachery, were soon on the " war-path,*' invading Sutherland 
with varying success till 1529, when Donald Mackay, the 
second son of lye and brother of John, succeeded. 

Meanwhile, in 1518, Alexander Sutherland, the rightful 
heir who had been supplanted by Earl Adam, raised a revolt 
against him. "The clans and trybes of the countrie were 
hierupon broken into factions. Alexander had gained a 
great favour among them, he was followed by manie, 
and manteyned by the Earl of Catteynes and Macky." 
Alexander so far succeeded as to cause the Gordons to fly to 
Strathbogie, took the castle of Dunrobin, and for a short 
time kept possession of it. He now married the sister of 
the Mackay chief, and during his absence in Strathnaver a 
party of Gordons sent from Aboyne, assisted by the Murrays, 
retook Dunrobin. Thereupon Alexander invaded Suther- 
land. The Gordons surprised him on the links of Brora, 
defeated his small force, and being taken prisoner, he was 
immediately killed, his head cut off and placed in triumph 
on the highest pinnacle of Dunrobin Castle. The descen- 
dants of this Alexander Sutherland resided afterwards at 


Kilpheder, above Helmsdale, and were noted for generations 
for their great size and strength. The last of them lived in 
Edmburgh during the great law suit for the Earldom in 
1782. It has been said that the guardians of the young 
Countess, in the event of Sutherland of Forse, one of the 
claimants, succeeding in establishing his claim, intended to 
bring him forward as the true heir in the male line. The 
Houhe of Lords having decided in favour of the Countess, 
no more was heard of him, except that the Countess allowed 
him a pension for the rest of his life. 

In 1529 Djnald Mackay succeeded his brother John. 
Peace was maintained by him while Earl Adam lived. Sir 
Robert, contrary to his usual estimate of Mackay chiefs, 
states that he *' was a politic and wise genilcman, a good 
soldier and a valiant captain." This is great praise from Sir 
Robert Gordon. This Mackay chief was in high favour wiih 
James V. When Henry VHI. threatened invasion 
James called out his feudal army. Amongst others Mackay 
came with his contingent, and when at Falaniuir, noble Earls 
and Lords refused to invade England, Lord Maxwell, 
Mackay, and a few more stood by the King. He was 
indignant, he remonstrated, he iin[)lored. All in vain; the 
King, overwhelmed with disap|)ointment and chagrin, dis- 
banded the army. Maxwell, Mackay, and others escorted 
the King to Edinburgh. Some peers and barons, ashamed 
of what hid happened, proposed to collect the loyal part 01 
the army and invade England by the west coast. This was 
agreed to, the army now consisting of only 10,000 men was 
speedily and secretly on the march, accompanied by the 
King as far as Caerlaverock. The army went on and 
encamped on English ground, when the nobles refused to 


proceed any further under the command of Oliver Sinclair. 
While thus discussing and disputing, three hundred English 
horsemen were amongst them full tilt with levelled lances. 
A panic ensued, a rout followed, few were killed, but 
upwards of 1000 men, and some peers and barons, were 
made prisoners. 

Mackay and others on their return from this disgraceful 
affair picked up the King at Caerlaverock, and accompanied 
him to Edinburgh. James, grateful to Mackay for his 
courage and steadfast lo>alty, conferred upon him several 
estates, and within a month died of a broken heart. 

The untimely death of the young King again threw 
Scotland into a regency and disorder. The nobles ran riot, 
and the whole country was convulsed by aristocratic factions, 
each one of them for himself or party, none for the State. 

The Mackay chief on his return, finding that the Suther- 
lands had committed several depredations upon his people 
in his absence, was again on the "war-path," invaded 
Sutherland several times, and though repelled appeared 
again fresh and willing to fight and retaliate. 

The bishop of the diocese, brother of Lennox, was called 
to the south ; before leaving he gave the charge of his lands 
in Caithness to the Earl of Caithness, and of his Sutherland 
lands to Donald, the Mackay chief. This was exceedingly 
irritating to Sutherland, but he was unable to prevent it. 
Caithness took possession of the bishop's seat at Scrabster ; 
Mackay took Skibo by force and placed a garrison in it. In 
the meantime the Earl of Huntly was made " Lieutenant of 
the North;*' Sutherland being his relative applied to him for 
assistance. Unable to encompass their wishes by force they 
resorted to fraud and policy. Hundy advised Sutherland to 


marry the bishop's sister, who was then a young widow, 
which he did. The bishop granted to Sutherland and to his 
son of this marriage all the rents of his lands in Caithness 
and Sutherland. Mackay would not give up Skibo without 
an order from the bishop, not even to Huntly, who sent a 
Captain CuUen to besiege it with some cannon from Leith. 
Upon the appearance of the big guns the Mackay garrison 
marched away to Strathnaver. 

Huntly, now the "Cock o* the North," summoned 
Caithness and Mackay to appear before him. They obeyed. 
Caithness, not having shown any disobedience to Huntly's 
orders, was set at liberty; Mackay, for his disobeying orders, 
was confined in Foulis Castle, but Donald Mac-Ian-Mhor 
Mackay, a Strathnaver man, soon set him at liberty and 
returned with him to his own country. 

Huntly and Sutherland tried all their arts and wiles to injure 
the Mackay chief by misrepresentations to the Regent and 
Parliament. They were successful for a time, but a succeeding 
government redressed the injuries done, and repealed the 
acts obtained by Huntly and Sutherland in their own favour. 

Donald Mackay died about 1550, and was succeeded by 
his son lye or Hugh. This young chief, in his father's life- 
time, was sent in command of a Mackay contingent to 
oppose the English raids on the borders. He was in that 
Highland brigade at the Battle of Pinkie, 1547, who, says 
Buchanan, ** after the Scots army were fleeing, gathered 
themselves in a round body, kept their ranks and returned 
safe home. At first they marched through craggy places 
and inconvenient for the horse, and if they were sometimes 
obliged to descend into the plain, yet the English horsemen 
who followed them durst not attack them.'' 


lye no sooner succeeded his father than his ruin and 
that of his house and clan, was projected at the instance of 
Sutherland and Huntly. They represented that his father 
was illegitimate, and for that and other reasons his estates 
stood escheated to the Crown. Mackay kept possession. 
He was summoned before the Queen Regent, but refused to 
appear, considering it unsafe to place himself in the hands of 
Huntly and Sutherland, who were with Her Majesty. 
In consequence of this refusal the Queen Regent granted a 
commission to the Earl of Sutherland against the Mackay 
chief and his clan. 

Assisted by Huntly, Sutherland raised an overwhelming 
force, and for the first time an Earl of Sutherland ventured 
to invade the Reay country. He marched into Strath naver, 
** sacking and spoiling in all hostile manner,'* and besieged 
the castle of Borve, which after a short siege he took, and 
hanged the commander, Rory Mac-Ian-Mhor. 

Meanwhile the Mackay chief, like a good general, unable 
to cope with his enemy in the field, made a flank march and 
invaded Sutherland into its most fertile parts, defeated the 
Sutherlands who opposed him in the heights of Loth, and 
burnt the church and all who sought refuge within. The 
Earl tried to intercept him, but in vain, and the grand cam- 
paign ended in no result. Shortly after, dreading Huntly's 
overpowering influence, the Mackay chief, after placing his 
country and affairs under the management of John Mor Mac- 
kay, his cousin, went away to Edinburgh, voluntarily gave him- 
self up to the Queen Regent, who was much preposs ssed in his 
favour. Several of the noblemen of her court were also 
favourable to him, such as Lord James, step son of the 
Queen Regent, Argyll, Huntly's bitter foe, Glencairn and 

t I 

: » 




Cassilis. Mackay had disobeyed her commands, and for 
that act of disobedience he must be made to see the error of 
his ways. He was imprisoned, therefore, for a short time, but 
was soon afterwards released, and to please her Majesty he 
offered her his services in the border warfare then going on, 
and likely to become more serious. A command was given 
him. and he acted so gallantly as to acquire some renown, 
for Sir Robert admits that '' he served diverse times in the 
wars upon the borders against the English, in the which 
service he behaved himself valiantly." 

Meanwhile, John Mor Mackay, nothing daunted by past 
events, invaded Sutherland, spoiling and raiding, and burnt 
the chapel of St. Ninian in Navidale. He was surprised in 
his encampment on Garvary water in the early misty morning, 
and suffered a reverse. 

lye Mackay now returned, and established a peace with 
the Earl of Sutherland, which lasted during Earl John's 

^^^^^^L^ HISTORY, Part 
^^^^^^^^^^ Bv Rev. Adam Gl'nn, M.A., Durness. 

^^^^^^^P A tumult broke out soon after lye Mackay's return among 
^^^^H^ the MacLeods of Dumess. Tormot, their chief, was killed 




^^^^^^H by Mackay's orders, and out of revenge for this and other 
^^^^^^H insults, they rebelled ; but the outbreak was soon quelled, 
^^^^H and three of their leaders beheaded. This branch of the 
^^^^^^^ MacLeods was known as "sliochd lain-nihoir," and were a 
^^^^^^H fierce and turbulent race. The Mackays had given Durness 
^^^^^^H to them in consideration of services rendered to the clan 
^^^^^H by the MacLeods of Assynt on several occasions. They 
^^^^^H aided the Mackays at the battle of Tonan-dubh-riabhach 
^^^^H 1517. when lain-mor-mac-lain, a son of the MacLeod of 


Assynt, barely escaped. This lan-mor had a son, Murchadh, 
who was chieftain of the sept in Durness ; he was father of 
Donald, to whom lye's son, Hugh, life-rented the lands of 
Westmoin. His grave may be seen in Balnakil Church, 
Durness ; and traditional tales of his boldness and ferocity 
survive among the inhabitants to the present day. 

It was during lye's chief ship that the Reformation was 
established by Act of Parliament, 1560. John, Earl of 
Sutherland, and ver)' probably lye himself, were unfavourable 
to the cause. The thoroughness of the Reformation in 
Scotland was due entirely to the common people; the 
territorial magnates had no scruples in changing sides, 
whenever their own interests were in danger. Sutherland, 
along with Huntly and Caithness, were devoted to Queen 
Mary and the Popish religion ; but the Earl of Murray, who 
was half-brother to the Queen, and had an eye to the Crown 
for himself, made the country unsafe for them ; so after the 
defeat at Corrichy, and Huntly's death, the Earl of Suther- 
land escaped to Flanders, where he remained until 1565, 
when he was recalled by Mary to take up arms against 
Murray's faction. 

During these troubles, the Mackay chief does not appear 
to have made himself obnoxious to either party. He 
repaired to Inverness in 1562, to meet Queen Mary; and for 
his loyalty on this occasion his crime of 1548 was forgiven him. 
Now was his opportunity of obtaining a renewal of his 
father's charters, but he neglected to do this at the time. 
In less than four years thereafter, young Huntly, cousin of 
the Earl of Sutherland, was gifted by Queen Mary with lye 
Mackay's lands, and parliament ratified this grant. A most 
unnatural conspiracy seems to have been formed against him 

snd his wife were poisoned at Helmsdale, in the house of 
Isobel Sinclair, a cousin of the Earl of Caithness. The latter 
was suspected of being instigator of this crime. 

lye Mackay retained possession of his lands, and the 
successor of Earl John, being yet a minor, fell into the hands 
of Caithness, his h 


This gave lye an opportunity of settling accounts with 
the House of Sutherland. He invaded Sutherland in 1567, 
wasted the barony of Skibo, and burnt the town of Dornoch, 
which was held chiefly by the Murrays. The dissensions of 
the country both in Church and State, were such that no 
redress could be had at the time. The protection of 
Sutherland naturally devolved on Caithness, who had obtained 
the wardship of Alexander Gordon, the young Earl. He 
gave the latter L#ady Barbara Sinclair, his eldest daughter, to 
wife. This was an ill match, the lady was thirty-two years, 
and young Sutherland not fifteen. He subsequently divorced 
her, on the ground of too much familiarity with lye Mackay. 
The Earl gave another of his daughters to the Laird of 
Duffus, and on his death she married Hugh Mackay, lye's 
son, who succeeded his father. Caithness became a great 
power in the North in this way, both by intrigue and alliances. 
Huntly b^an to fear for the safety of his cousin. Earl 
Alexander. Though the young Earl was kindly treated, 
fears were entertained by his friends that Earl George coveted 
Sutherlandshire for himself, and if he could only get Alex- 
ander out of the way, his son would marry Lady Margaret 
Gordon, the young Earl's sister, and succeed to the estates. 
Rumours reached Huntly of the state of matters. The Earl 
of Caithness dwelt at Dunrobin now; the Murrays, Gordons, 
and Gunns had to clear out of the county, as they were ever 
faithful to the House of Sutherland. But in 1569, the 
Murrays secured the person of the young Earl, and placed 
him under Huntly's protection. Earl George, however, clung 
to the wardship, three years of which had yet to run. It 
was possible in that time to do material damage to the 
interests of the House of Sutherland, if no check were placed 



upon his conduct. Huntly accordingly began to make 

friends with Mackay, and to stir him up against Caithness in 

favour of Sutherland. His claims over Mackay*s lands were • 

not enforced. He sold Mackay, for ^£^300 Scots money, his ^ 

heritable right to Strathnaver — retaining only the superiority 

— which he afterwards granted to the Earl of Sutherland. 

This was in 1570. 


Earl George's plans were thus frustrated. He began to 
suspect Mackay and his own son John, of plotting against 
him. The two of them were wiled to Girnigo Castle ; John 
was seized, fettered, and cast into the dungeon, where after 

many years he was famished to death. Mackay made a i 

hasty retreat into Strathnaver, and in less than four months 
thereafter, died, leaving his lands to his son Hugh, then only 
eleven years of age. 

lye was twice married, first to his cousin, daughter of 
Hugh MacLeod of Assynt, by whom he had two sons, 
Donald Mackay of Scourie, and John Beg Mackay ; and 
secondly to Christian Sinclair, cousin of (George, Earl of 
Caithness, by whom he had two sons and three daughters, 
Hugh, who succeeded him, and William Mackay of Big- 
house : Ellenora, his eldest daughter, married Donald Bane 

Macl^od of Assynt, the second married Alexander Suther- J 

land of Berriedale, and the third, Alexander, chief of the clan 
Gunn. The latter was beheaded at Inverness by the Earl of 
Murray, for his audacity in the town of Aberdeen, when as a 
follower of the Earl of Caithness, he refused to yield " the 
top of the street " to Earl Murray and his retainers. 

During Hugh Mackay^s minority, John More, of the 
Abrach clan, managed the estate, but this did not suit the 
Earl of Caithness' designs. The succession belonged to 


Donalrly lye'n eldest »on, and the Abrachs favoured his clainL 
Hut CaithneHH favoured the son of his cousin, and having 
juhtiriary |>ower, declared the sons of lye, by his first wife, 
bastards, their parents l>eing cousins. Accordingly, he 
resolved to remove John Mor from his charge. This he 
accomplished with the aid of the MacI>eods of Durness, who 
seized John and conveyed him to (iirnigo Castle, where he 
soon died. He was succeeded in the management by John 
Heg Mactkay Donald's brother. He was a wise and 
peaceable man, and kept on good terms with Earl George, 
and allowed the heir, Hugh Mackay and his brother William, 
to remain with (Caithness to their no small advantage. About 
1578, Hugh nmrried the daughter of Caithness, widow of the 
l^ird of Duffus. 

'I'he Clan Abrach resented the interference of Caithness, 
and were not satisfied that Donald's claims were fairly con- 
sidered. Neil, their chief, was a man of great personal and 
mental powers, *' bold, crafty, of very good wit, and quick 
resolution," according to Sir Rol)ert Cordon. He began to 
oppose the n\easurcs of (Caithness, and to see justice done to 
Donald, who was reared by the Abrachs. Caithness there- 
upon instigated the MacLeods of Durness to invade Neil 
and spoil his lamls, but they were defeated with loss. Neil 
thereafter attacked the MacLeods of lialnakil, and slew the 
greater \m\yX of them. John Beg, l)eing the nominee of 
Caithness, can\e to their assistance, and although Neil had 
given strict orders to sjwre him, he was accidently slain. 
This crealeil a misunderstanding among members of the clan, 
which ci>ntinued for a long lime, and was injurious to both 
iwrties. The Abrachs joineil issue with the house of Suther- 
land, in order to defeat the designs of Caithness on the Reay 







Country. The Gunns who had always fought in the past 
under the banners of Mackay and Sutherland, transferred 
their allegiance to Caithness, and a deadly feud between 
them and the clan Abrach ensued, which resulted in the 
slaughter of the best fighting men in Sutherland and Caith- 
ness. So long, so deadly, so inveterate was the feud, that 
Gordon draws a veil over "the horrible encounters'* and 
bloodshed betw^een these two tribes. 

In 1583 George, Earl of Caithness, died, and Hugh 
Mackay, his son-in-law, took the management of the Reay 
Country into his own hands. The Earl of Sutherland 
obtained from Huntly the superiority of Strath naver, and the 
heritable sheriffship of Sutherland and Strathnaver. By this 
transaction he looked upon the Mackay chief as his vassal, 
but he proved a refractory one. One of his first acts was to 
go to the assistance of Donald Bane of Assynt, who had 
married his sister, and was engaged meanwhile in making 
war upon Neil Houcheonsone, commander in Assynt, and 
the Earl of Sutherland's follower. The clan Gunn assisted 
Hugh Mackay in this expedition, and it cost them dear, as 
the sequel will show. Sutherland prepared at once to invade 
Strathnaver and Caithness. The now Earl of Caithness was 
George, grandson of the preceding, and a man equally bold 
and unscrupulous. The Earl of Sutherland accused him of 
harbouring the Gunns, and Mackay, of violating his rights 
as his superior. But by the earnest mediation of friends a 
meeting was appointed at Elgin, for repairing the alleged 
wrongs of the Earl of Sutherland. Mackay was not present 
at the meeting. The Earls were reconciled on the under- 
standing that the Gunns should be exterminated, chiefly such 
of them as resided in Caithness. No sooner had Caithness 


returned than he refused to yield them up to the Earl of 
Sutherland, and Mackay was equally loth to betray the sept 
of that clan which resided at Strathy. This duplicity of 
Caithness incensed the Earl of Sutherland. Huntly came 
north to Dunrobin to effect if possible a settlement. Earl 
George was sent for, and he arrived duly, but Hugh Mackay 
refused to put in an appearance, for which he was denounced 
rebel. Two companies of men were dispatched against the 
Gunns in Caithness and the Rcay Country. The Sutherland 
men directed their force against the latter, but on their march 
they fell in with a body of Mackays, under the command of 
the chief's brother, William of Bighouse, who were carrying 
away James Macrory's cattle out of Corrie-Kinloch. A fight 
ensued, and there being only a small contingent of Mackays, 
the Sutherland men pursued them to the bounds of Caith- 
ness. Here the retreating party came upon the Gunns, who 
had assembled to a man to resist the Caithness force. They 
resolved to join issues, and live or die together. The Caith- 
ness host was in sight of them, led by the Earl's brother, 
Henry Sinclair. William Mackay's advice was to turn upon 
the Sutherland men first, who were weary with fighting. But 
the Gunns preferred to attack the Caithness men, being the 
stronger force. Although much inferior in numbers, they 
had the advantage of the hill, and rushing down the slope, 
and reserving their arrows until they were close upon the 
enemy, they completely routed the Caithness force, and slew 
140 of their number. This is known as the ** Conflict of 
Aldgowne," 1586 A.D. Gordon says that the Sutherland 
men who were in the neighbourhood, knew nothing of the 
fight until it was over, and they quietly retreated by night 
with such booty as they captured. Henry Sinclair, the Earl's 


brother, was among the slain. Caithness was highly enraged 
at the issue of this battle, and displeased with the Sutherland 
men for not coming to the rescue. Out of revenge, he 
hanged John Mac-Ian-macRob, chief of the Gunns, whom he 
had allured to Girnigo Castle a short time before the out- 
break of hostilities. 

Thereupon Huntly sent Sir Patrick Gordon of Achindoun 
to reconcile the Earls a second time, and to deal with 
Mackay for harbouring the Gunns. The parties met at Ben 
Grime; Sutherland agreed to invade them first with two 
companies,. *^as the Earl Caithness his forces wer latelie 
overthrowen by them." He prevailed upon the Abrach 
branch, and the MacLeods of Durness to assist him. The 
Sutherland forces were under the leadership of William 
Sutherland, George Gordon, and Hugh Murray of Abercross. 
Hugh Mackay, the chief, recognised the hopelessness of 
affording the Gunns further shelter, and he discharged them 
from his country. The Gunns now set out for the Western 
Isles, but they were ovei taken at Leckmeln, Ross -shire, 
where after a sharp skirmish they were overthrown and 
mostly all slain. Their captain, George Gunn, brother of 
MacRob, saved himself for a time by swimming in a loch 
near by, but being sorely wounded he was finally captured 
and delivered to the Earl of Caithness. After a time he was 
released, and the scattered remnants of the clan found their 
way back to their ancestral homes. Mackay must have 
restored them to their holdings in Strathnaver, for eight 
years afterwards we find James Sinclair of Murkle revenging 
his brother's death, by invading the Strathy Gunns by night 
and slaying some of them. 


Hugh now tried to reconcile the factions of his clan. 
Without the aid of the Abrachs he could not hold his own 
in the vicinity of such men as the Earls of Sutherland and 
Caithness. Therefore to appease them he granted the lands 
of Eddrachillis to Donald, and Bighouse to William Mackay. 
It was a wise policy, but not unattended with danger. This 
Donald quickly invaded Hugh's uncle, the laird of Assynt, 
and he soon found it necessary to escape to Earl George for 
protection, in whose forces he fought against the Mackay 
chief on a subsequent occasion. 

In 1587 the Earls of Caithness and Sutherland were 
again in arms. George Gordon, Garty, intercepted the Earl 
of Caithness' servants on their way to Edinburgh, and cut off 
their horses' tails — an indignity which Caithness felt very 
keenly. He demanded redress of Sutherland, who dis- 
claimed all connection with the offender. War was at once 
declared. The forces met at Helmsdale. Caithness was 
accompanied by Hugh Mackay, and John, Earl of Carrick, 
the Earl of Orkney's brother. Sutherland had on his side 
the laird of Mackintosh, the MacKenzies of Redcastle, the 
MacLeods of Assynt, and the Munros. Mackintosh tried 
hard to prevail on his friend Mackay to desert Caithness, 
but he failed. By the intervention of friends the Earls were 
reconciled, but Mackay was left out of the treaty. He went 
home to his own country grieved at his betrayal by Caith- 
ness, but resolved to own no allegiance to Sutherland. His 
downfall was now plotted between the Earls, but Caithness 
was not hearty in the matter. The upshot was the marriage of 
Hugh, who had recently divorced his Caithness wife, with Lady 
Jane, sister of the Earl of Sutherland, and a fresh combination 
entered into by Mackay and Sutherland against Caithness. 


An occasion was not long wanting for trying issues with 
Earl George. The notorious Gordon was killed by Sinclair 
of Mey. Sutherland complained to the King, obtained a 
commission to apprehend Caithness and imprison him until 
he gave up the offender. Accompanied by Mackay, Mac- 
kintosh, the laird of Fowlis, Assynt and Gilcalm, Rasay, he 
invaded Caithness, and drew up his camp against Girnigo 

\ f^l^JiSi^ 


Castle, where he remained twelve days. The inhabitants of 
Caithness flew in all directions, many were slain, and a great 
booty secured. The town of Wick was burnt with the 
exception of the church, and Caithness was forcwl to come 
to terms, appointing the Earl of Huntly as oversman. The 
date of this invasion is February, 1589, and the occasion is 
remembered as La-na-Creich-mor — the day of the great spoil. 


The invasion was followed by a series of mutual raids 
and skirmishes. The most alarming reprisal was that of the 
laird of Murkle, who, with 3000 men, entered StrathuUy. 
Hugh Mackay happened to be at Dunrobin at the time, and 
he set out with a party of men to make head against them, 
until the Earl of Sutherland arrived with more forces. The 
historian Gordon is loud in the praises of Mackay for his 
bravery on this occasion, but it is a significant fact that his 
bravery was never acknowledged by that partial observer 
until after his alliance with the house of Sutherland. 

The Earl of Huntly mediated between the Earls at 
Elgin and a peace was concluded, but it was of short 
duration. In 1590 Earl George invaded Sutherland with all 
the forces he could muster. Fifteen hundred archers were 
under the command of Donald Mackay of Scourie, who 
fought on the Caithness side, and was the mainstay of the 
Caithness army. Night put an end to the conflict, and on 
the morrow Caithness discovered that Hugh Mackay had 
invaded his territory, burning and wasting to the gates of 
Thurso, and carrying off a large booty. A peace was 
concluded, which lasted until the Earl of Sutherland's death, 
1594. He was succeeded by John, then in his eighteenth 

Earl George was still smarting under his repeated failures, 
and here was a good opportunity to punish the family of 
Sutherland while their leader was a mere stripling. But 
fortunately for the latter the experienced and brave leader of 
the Clan Mackay remained faithful to the young Earl, who 
was his wife's nephew. Caithness tried hard to influence 
Hugh in his own favour, but failed. In 1 598 Earl John set 
out on his travels to the Continent, and during his absence 


the Earl of Caithness signified a wish to hunt in the Reay 
forest. Hugh at once dedined to give him leave, and the 
affair ended at that time in some bragging on either side. 
But in 1 60 1 matters became more serious. Under pretence 
of hunting, the Earl of Caithness convened his forces at Ben 
Griam, Sutherlandshire. Earl John returned, and with the 
aid of his allies encamped within three miles of the Caithness 
host, and proposed to fight on the morrow. There was a 
tradition that at this very spot a battle should be fought 
between the Caithness men and Sutherland and Strathnaver, 
where Sutherland men should have a great loss, Strathnaver 
greater, but Caithness greatest of all. This made the 
Sutherland forces eager for the fray, but the Earl of 
Caithness thought it safer to retreat by night into hi«? own 
country. A cairn was erected on the spot to commemorate 
the event, and it is known as Carn Teichidh — The Flight 

It is pleasant to turn from these warlike operations to 
more amicable events. In the August of 1602, we find the 
Earl of Orkney entertaining a company of the mainland 
magnates in his island castles. These included the Earl of 
Sutherland, the Mackay chief. Sir Robert Gordon, Earl 
John's brother, the laird of Assynt, and others. After a 
fortnight's stay, they returned to Cromarty whence they had 
embarked, highly pleased with their splendid reception. 

Up to this date it was the custom of the Highland chiefs 
to settle by force of arms such differences, and they were not 
few, as occurred among them. But now they adopted the 
modern fashion of lodging complaints with the Privy 
Council, and seeking redress by the aid of the law. By this 
process it happened often that the real offender escaped 


scatheless if he had influential friends at court. Sir Robert 
Gordon, who stayed for the most part in England, proved a 
good friend to the house of Sutherland in this respect, and 
the house of Mackay as frequently failed to obtain redress. 
This gave rise to the Gaelic proverbs, " 'S fe^rr caraid 's a 
chuirt n' a criin 's a sporan," and again, " Is direach agus is 
cam an lagh.'' 

About this time an effort was made by Roderick 
Murray to secure the lands of Bighouse from William 
Mackay, brother- german of the chief. This claim was founded 
on a charter of James I., who granted these lands to Angus 
Murray. The Privy Council decided in favour of Mackay, 
and his right was further confirmed by a charter of James VI. 

The Earl of Caithness frequently harassed his neighbour, 
John Sutherland of Berriedale. The latter, with the aid of the 
Clan Abrach, retaliated, for which he was summoned before 
the Privy Council at Edinburgh. He spurned the summons, 
and betook himself to the hills of the interior, whence he 
made frequent raids on the enemy. Failing to apprehend 
him Caithness raised an action against Hugh Mackay for 
harbouring him, and after a long process Mackay judged it 
prudent to arrest Sutherland, and he handed him over to the 
Earl of Caithness, who imprisoned him in Girnigo Castle. 

Donald Mackay, who was afterwards Sir Donald, and 
latterly Lord Reay, interested himself in the case, and after 
spending Christmas with Lord Caithness he secured Berrie- 
dale's release. This Donald married first Lady Barbara 
MacKenzie when he was twenty years of age, and being of 
an active disposition he began during his father*s lifetime to 
take charge of affairs. He cultivated the friendship of 
Caithness at an early date, a circumstance which lowered 


him in the estimation of his astute uncle, Sir Robert Gordon. 
In 1611 he was commissioned jointly with John Gordon of 
Embo to arrest Arthur Smith, a maker of counterfeit coin, 
who fled to Caithness for protection, and carried on his trade 
in Thurso. Here he was arrested, but not without a scuffle 
with the neighbouring gentlemen, one of whom, John 
Sinclair of Stircoke, was slain. Lord Caithness, then in 
Edinburgh, hearing of his nephew's death, commenced a 
process against the Earl of Sutherland, Mackay, and Sir 
Robert Gordon. A counter prosecution against Caithness 
was instituted by Gordon for seizing Angus Henderson of 
Golval without a commission and imprisoning him in 
Girnigo. The reason of this arrest was that he harboured 
one William Gun, Slrathnaver, who was "wanted" by 
Caithness for cattle-lifting. Gun was arrested in Tain and 
imprisoned in Fowlis Castle. He tried to make his escape 
by leaping from the battlement of the tower, but injured his 
foot and was again captured, and handed to Caithness, who 
imprisoned and fettered him in Girnigo. He managed to 
rid himself of his fetters, and leaping into the sea, swam 
ashore and escaped in the darkness to Golval. Lord 
Berriedale pursued him there, but failing to apprehend him, 
he seized Henderson and lodged him in Girnigo Castle. 
Hence the counter law-suit. Parties were heard for three 
days by the Privy Council, and opinion was much divided. 
The King wrote repeatedly to the Council, urging them to 
advise the parties to come to a mutual agreement. This 
was at length effected, but Caithness felt so sorely over the 
matter that an unseemly scuffle took place on the High 
Street of Edinburgh between himself and Lord Gordon, Sir 
Robert, and Donald Mackay. 

Lady Jane Gordon, his wife, was equally esteemed for her 
piety and worth, notwithstanding that she was a Catholic, 
like her parents before her, who suffered for iheir adherance 
to the Romish faith. Hugh's Protestantism was not very 



In 1626 Donald Mackay, now Sir Donald, finding him- 
self crossed at home, sought and obtained leave of King 
Charles to raise a regiment, and go to assist Count Mansfeldt 
in Germany. He collected a force of 3000 men, and 
embarked them at Cromarty. He was himself detained by 
sickness until the following year, when he followed them. 
Many gentlemen of the north, chiefly out of Sutherland, 
Ross, and Caithness, went with him in the capacity of 
officers. These were of the surname of Mackay, Sinclair, 
Gordon, Munro, and Gunn, and several of them rose to 
distinction in the service of the King of Sweden. It was a 
fortunate matter for the peace of the northern shires that an 
outlet was thus discovered for its warlike and turbulent young 
gentlemen. They gave a good account of themselves in the 
continental wars, and some of them returned to take a lead- 
ing part in the struggles of the home country during the 
killing times. An account of the heroic conduct of Sir 
Donald Mackay's regiment appears elsewhere. It will suffice 
to say here that Sir Donald proved himself an able and 
skilful commander, and for his distinguished services was 
raised to the Peerage by King Charles I. in 1628, on his 
return for fresh recruits. Lord Reay returned to the con- 
tinent with a fresh contingent of troops, and in 1629 
transferred his services to Gustavus Adolphus, King of 
Sweden, who had now undertaken the defence of the 
Protestant cause. The Marquis of Hamilton had also 
obtained leave of His Majesty to raise forces to aid the King 
of Sweden. He was in much favour with the King, and on 
the best terms with Lord Reay. But the latter was informed 
on good authority that Hamilton's real purpose for levying 
forces was to seize ultimately upon the Kingdom of Scotland. 


The loyalty of Reay to the King led him to reveal this plot 
prematurely to Lord Ochiltree. Reay was summoned before 
the King, and revealed as much as came to his knowledge 
of the whole affair. The King had the utmost confidence 
in Hamilton, and after a very informal inquest passed the 
matter over. Lord Reay in consequence incurred the 
hostility of Hamilton and his faction in Scotland. The Privy 
Council, whose members were mostly favourable to the 
House of Hamilton, turned against Reay's interests when- 
ever matters concerning his Lordship's affairs were submitted 
to them. He made himself obnoxious all round, and lost 
heavily on account of his detention in England, pending 
this enquiry. 

In 1632 the young Earl of Sutherland married Lady 
Jane Drummond, only child of the Earl of Perth. This 
was a fortunate alliance in every respect. The lady had 
means to extricate the house of Sutherland out of its 
pecuniary embarrassments. She was also a true Protestant, 
and by her influence the family of Sutherland threw their 
whole weight on the side of the Covenanters during the 
ensuing struggle. Mr. Thomas Hog of Kiltearn gives her a 
high character for piety and ability. 

King Charles made a visit to Scotland in 1 633 — apparently to 
be crowned, but really to pave the way for Episcopacy in Scot- 
land. Among other acts he disjoined Sutherland and the Reay 
country from the sheriffdom of Inverness, forming them into 
one shire; at the same time he erected Dornoch into a 
royal burgh. 

Lord Reay found himself in pecuniary difficulties at this 
time. He had already received some money from Sir 
Robert to equip his regiment for continental service, and 


the latter held the lands of Far, Torrisdale, and others in 
wadset for this consideration. He now threatened Reay 
with law-suits about the lands of Durness, and as the latter 
had few friends in the Privy Council he deemed it prudent 
10 accept the terms offered. A contract was entered into in 
1633, whereby Lord Reay accepted the lands of Durness 
from the Earl in feu for service, and bound himself to 
attend the Earl at Parliaments and Conventions. Various 
other articles injurious to Reay were agreed to. 

The aggressions of the Episcopacy in Scotland came to a 
head in 1637 when the Dean attempted to introduce the liturgy 
into the High Church of Edinburgh, which produced the well- 
known tumult in which Jenny Geddes played a conspicuous 
part. The alarmed Privy Council warned the King of 
serious disturbances if Episcopacy were to be forced on the 
Scottish people, but he was inexorable. Thereupon the 
great bulk of the people of Scotland resolved to maintain 
their civil and religious liberty at all hazards. The Covenant 
was renewed — the National Covenant entered into in 1580, 
and was subscribed by multitudes of all ranks throughout the 
nation. The Earl of Sutherland and Lord Reay both signed 
the Covenant, but the latter was suspected by the Cove- 
nanters, as he was well known to be loyal to the King. 
Huntly, who was the chief enemy of the Covenanters in the 
north, tried hard to gain Sutherland and Lord Reay to his 
side, but he failed. Lord Reay*s son, John, did indeed go 
to Elgin to confer with Hunily, where both were apprehended 
and lodged in Edinburgh Casde. The Master of Reay was 
soon liberated, and subscribed the Covenant, and promised 
to deal with his father to adhere to that party. 

General Leslie was appointed commander of the 
Covenftnt«rs' forces in Scotland, and ihe Viscount of Aboyne 


of ihe King's forces. The latter, however, devolved the 
command on Colonel Gunn, who had lately come out of 
Germany, whither he had gone with Lord Reay, He was 



an experienced officer, and does not seem to have much 
relished the work of fighting ag linst old friends like Reay, 
Sutherland, and the Northern Covenanters. These latter 
erred greatly in giving the command of the Northern 
Counties to Seaforth instead of appointing Reay to the post, 
for undoubtedly he had more military experience than any 
man on the Covenanters' side. His loyalty to Charles was 
likely the reason of passing him over. The consequence 
was that he was never hearty in the service, and latterly 
went to Denmark to command a regiment there, to be out- 
side the reach of both parties. He was, however, recalled, 
when the troubles of Cnarles increased, and was captured at 
the taking of Newcastle, and sent prisoner to the Tolbooth, 
Edinburgh, 1644. In 1645 the victorious Montrose 
liberated the State prisoners, and Lord Reay among the rest. 
After this he came north, and found his eldest son, John, 
Master of Reay, harbouring the Earl of Huntly, and with 
him preventing the men of the Reay country and Caithness 
from taking part with the Covenanters. This half-hearted 
support of the Covenant on the part of Mackay, and 
harbouring of Huntly, was used by Sir Robert afterwards 
against Lord Reay. 

In 1639 Lord Reay found it necessary to obtain a loan 
of money from Mr. John Gray, Dean of Caithness, as he was 
unwilling to put himself in the hands of Sutherland, who was 
thirsting for his lands, and particularly Strathnaver. It 
transpired that this Gray was only a tool in the hands of the 
Earl. In this way the mortgaged lands of Durness fell 
ultimately into the hands of the Earl of Sutherland. Strath- 
naver also fell into the same hands, and for similar 
reasons. But in selling Strathnaver, in 1642, neither Reay 


nor Sutherland took into account that the upper portion was 
the property of the clan Abrach, (Mackays), by the gift of 
Neil Wasse, the chief, and that it was in their possession for 
tii'o centuries. This bred trouble when Sutherlaad sent 
officers to collect the rents. A company of regular troops had 
to be stationed on the strath for preserving order and enforc- 
ing payment. 

Lord Reay's affairs were thus far from prosperous. He 
was unfortunately involved in matrimonial difficulties, having 
divorced Rachel Winterfield, his second wife, a decree which 
the Privv Council reversed, and found him liable in all 
expenses and aliment. He sailed for Denmark for the 
last time in 1648, after making such arrangements as he could 
with the Earl of Sutherland, regarding the money due to the 
latter, and the lands mortgaged. Strathnaver was now lost 
to the Mackays, although Neil Abrach made a stout resist- 
ance to the nefarious arrangement. Lord Reay's losses in 
the Protestant cause abroad, and by his loyalty to his King 
at home, were never refunded. On his death in the following 
year he left his curtailed and burdened estate to the Master, 
now John, Lord Reay. His body was brought to Tongue, 
and laid in the family vault at KirkiboU. He was the most 
distinguished of the Mackay chiefs, a good soldier, and a 
brave general, but too liberal in proportion to his income. 
The historian of the clan Mackay says, "he was not impro- 
perly called Donald Duaghal, for he was indeed a man of 
troubles " 

About this period Sir Robert Gordon, tutor of Sutherland, 
and historian of the family, was the most influential man in the 
north. Notwithstanding the unsettled times, he managed to 
preserve the interests of the family unimpaired. He re- 


mained mostly in England, but made frequent visits to the 
north to (juell disturbances, and make peace between his 
friends. He was unquestionably the preserver of the house 
of Sutherland at a time when other estates often changed 
hands by reason of the changes in the State. He was the 
first to build and repair churches in Sutherland, after the 
Reformation, a work in which he was greatly assisted by 
Dean Gray, minister of Dornoch. He did much also in the 
way of providing maintenance to the ministers of the various 
parishes. On the occasion of one of his visits to the north, 
he was instrumental in bringing to justice several robbers 
who made the Ord of Caithness their habitat. Some of 
them were hanged on a gibbet erected on the Ord, as an 
example to evil doers. The history which he compiled of 
affairs in the north, will always remain the chief authority, 
notwithstanding a natural bias in favour of the house of 
Sutherland. He handed over the estate on a sound financial 
basis to Earl John the seventh, in the year 1630. He became 
Sheriff of Inverness, and Vice-Chamberlain of Scotland, in 
the same year, in room of James Stuart, Duke of Lennox, who, 
with the King's authority, resolved to travel abroad for a time. 
It was after the death of the first Lord Reay, 1649, that 
the struggles of the Covenanters became really intense. 
The Earl of Sutherland proved a faithful friend to the cause, 
but John, Lord Reay, was prevailed upon by his uncles, 
Seaforth and Pluscardin, to join the Royalists. Lord Reay 
came with three hundred able men to join Huntly, but he 
was captured by the Covenanting force at Balvainy, 8th 
May, 1649, and sent as a prisoner to Edinburgh. Many of 
the Mackays were slain, and the remainder sent back under 
Hugh Mackay of Scourie to their own country. 


Next year Montrose landed in Caithness in favour of the 
King, and raised the Caithness men, forcing ministers and 
laymen to sign a bond in his favour. Reay was in prison, 
but Mackay of Scourie, and Mackay of Dirlet and Strathy, 
repaired to the Marquis with assistance. They advised him 
to keep to the interior of the country while passing through 
Sutherland, where cavalry could not act with advantage. 
But he would not be prevailed upon to alter his route. 
They foresaw the result of such rashness, and returned 
apparently for more forces, but they did not interest them- 
selves further in the matter. In the course of the year 
Mackay of Scourie was Colonel of his countrymen, fighting 
on the Covenanters* side. Montrose was defeated by 
Strachan on the borders of Sutherland, and being captured 
by MacLeod of Assynt, into whose lands he wandered, he 
was taken to Edinburgh and executed. The Macl^reods of 
Assynt have been greatly blamed for this act, but without 
much reason. It was one of the causes which led to the 
loss of their estates subsequently. It is cjuite probable that 
MacLeod, without any promise of reward from the Govern- 
ment, would have acted as he did, seeing that his superior, 
the Earl of Sutherland, and his cousin, Munro, were both in 
pursuit of the Marquis. 

In 1651 Charles II. was crowned King at Scone amidst 
great rejoicing. Another regiment of 1000 men from 
Sutherland and Strathnaver — the first in 1650 — was sent to 
the King to Stirling. But Cromwell soon entered Scotland 
at the head of his sectarians, -overthrew the Scottish army, re- 
leased the State prisoners with the exception of Lord Reay, whom 
for a time he kept in durance, but latterly he was released by the 
efforts of his lady, the daughter of Hugh Mackay of Scourie. 


In 1655 an effort was made by the Earl of Glencairn to 
liberate the nation of the English sectaries, in which he was 
joined by Reay —which ended in the capture of Glencairn 
by General Monk. Reay escaped, but his house of Tongue 
was burnt. 

Things had gone into confusion in England on the death 
of Cromwell. The nation was heartily sick of the new order 
of things under Cromwell, and in a fit of revived loyalty the 
King was recalled. The first Scots Parliament was held in 
1661. So glad was the nation to escape from the anarchy 
of the past that they were ready to yield everything to the 
King's creatures. In this famous Parliament the Presbyter- 
ian Government and discipline were overturned, the Cove- 
nants declared unlawful and seditious, the Marquis of Argyle, 
the best patriot in the State, and Mr. (iuthrie, the best in the 
church, were condemned to death. The infamous rescissory 
act was passed, which has been called the "gravestone of 
the Reformation.' 

Caithness, Sutherland, and Reay, were present at this 
Parliament. Sutherland, by taking the oath of allegiance, 
lost in a great measure the credit he gained for his former 
appearances on behalf of Presbyterian liberty. He died in 
1663, and was succeeded by his son. Earl George. 

The Scottish I'arliament was commanded by the King to 
make up the losses of the family of Mackay in the recent 
troubles on account of their loyalty to the King. The com- 
mission appointed valued these losses of father and son at 
60,000 pounds Scots money, but he was never refunded in 
any part of them. It is perhaps not too much to say that no 
family suffered so much for their loyalty as the Mackays did. 
After this date neither the Earl of Sutherland nor Lord 


Reay took much interest in public affairs during the reigns 
of Charles II. and James II. Accordingly their names are 
not to be met with during the fierce persecution of the 
Presbyterians. In the Highland host which was let loose on 
the Covenanters of the south and west of Scotland, there 
were none from Sutherland or the Reay country. On the 
contrary, the county provided shelter to scores of eminent 
persons escaping from the fury of the dragoons. In this way, 
the people of the district were early imbued with the prin- 
ciples of religious freedom and piety. Seaforth and Duffus 
were empowered to put down conventicles in the north, but 
neither of them seems to have been very harsh. The Earl 
of Caithness, however, did not have the same scruples in 
suppressing them within his bounds, the bond which he com- 
pelled the principal persons in that shire to sign being still 

The Revolution of 1 688 added fresh lustre to the name 
of Mackay, and brought that family into a greater promi- 
nence than they had ever secured. When the Prince of 
Orange came to the rescue of the country against the 
tyranny of the Stuarts in the person of James II., he 
devolved the command of his forces in Scotland on General 
Hugh Mackay of Scourie — an officer who had gained great 
experience in the continental wars. The career of this brave 
and pious general suffered a partial eclipse at Killiecrankie, 
but four days after this reverse- he turned the tide of victory in 
his favour. The Privy Council hampered his movements and 
thwarted his plan of compaign, but William had unbounded 
confidence in his ability. In a very short time, by modera- 
tion, diplomacy, and clemency to the vanquished. General 
Mackay pacified the Highland clans, and was afterwards sent 


to Ireland, where he acquired further renown as an able and 
brave officer. As was natural, the Mackays flocked to his 
standard. Five hundred of their best men took the field 
during this period, the Earl of Sutherland furnished some 
men likewise, as also the Munros and (Grants. Among the 
Mackays who held commissions under him were his brother 
James, killed at Killiecrankie, (ieorge and Robert, sons of 
Lord Reay, and his own nephews. Captains William Mackay, 
Kinloch, and Hugh Mackay, Borley. 

The next occasion on which the Sutherland men and 
Mackays rendered service to the Government was during the 
rebellion of 17 15. Many in Caithness favoured the 
Pretender, but John, Earl of Sutherland, and George, Lord 
Reay, were faithful to the house of Hanover. Sutherland 
was in England when the rebellion broke out, but he sailed 
north with all speed, directing arms and ammunition to be 
sent after him. This was done, but the rebels intercepted 
the vessel at Burntisland. Assisted by Lord Reay and 
others, Sutherland pushed on towards Inverness, where he 
was joined by Lovat, who deserted the Pretender. They 
numbered about 1800 in all. Seaforth's army was, however, 
4000 strong, and the Earl of Sutherland judged it hazardous 
to try issues with him with such a small and not well equipped 
force. Retiring northwards before Seaforth he accom- 
plished his object without striking a blow, which object was 
to prevent the junction of the forces of Seaforth with the 
Earl of Mar. Before this was accomplished the Duke of 
Argyle engaged with Mar at Sheriffmuir. Seaforth was too 
late to be of assistance, so he turned northwards to attack 
the Elarl of Sutherland. The latter hearing this marched at 
the head of 800 men, including Mackays, Grants, and 


Munros, to within four miles of his camp. Seaforth there- 
upon laid down his arms, and dissolved his forces, requesting 
these friends of the Gqvernment to use their influence to 
secure his pardon. The Sutherland men and Mackays 
remained at Inverness for some time to disperse bands of 
desperados which committed robberies and other acts of 
violence on the outbreak of hostilities. Captain Hugh 
Mackay was in command of the Reay countrymen. 

The next Jacobite attempt was made in 1745. At this 
time also the loyalists of the north were of great service to 
the Government in overawing the malcontents of Caithness, 
and preventing them, the MacKenzies of Ross, and a large 
party from Orkney, and others from joining the rebel army. 
It was at this time that the Hazard, sloop of war, was sent 
from France with ;^2o,ooo to help Prince Charlie. Being 
discovered in the Moray Firth by the Sheerness man-of-war 
she sailed northward to the Pentland Firth, and along the 
coast to Tongue, where she ran aground on the Melness 
sands. They all landed safely to the number of 200 men, 
William Mackay of Melness* receiving them kindly. 
But old Lord Reay heard of the arrival, notice was 
given to a company of Loudon's troops at I^rg, and 
Daniel Forbes, Lord Reay's factor, with a handful of men 
captured them, not, however, before breaking the boxes 
containing the gold, and throwing it into a lake close by. The 
prisoners were put on board the Sheerness man-of-war, 
which had come so far in pursuit of the French frigate. 

In this rebellion Lovat and Cromarty both joined the 
Pretender — notwithstanding the efforts of Lord President 

• A different version of this incident is given by Colonel Kerr in 
Lyon in Mournings Vol. L, paee 358. See also chapter on 
** Regiments," by Mr. John Mackay {Ben Reay), 




Forbes to prevail upoJi the Highland clans to remain loyal. 
Caithness wa^ full of rebels, who organised themselves into 
companies, but they failed to move out of the county. 
Cromarty attempted to effect a junction with them, but was 
captured by the Sutherlanders and Mackays in the castle of 
Dunrobin, where he threw himself upon tho rit-mtiicv uf ihL- 

Duchess. Through Sutherland's influence his offence was 

George, Lord Reay, died in 1748, and was succeeded by 
his son Donald, who died in 1760. The Earl of Sutherland, 
William, who took an active part in putting down the 
rebellion of '45 died in France in 1748, and was succeeded 
tiy his son William, in 1750. He raised a fencible regiment 
in 1756, during the French scare, of which regiment Hugh 


Mackay of Bighouse was Lieutenant-Colonel. It was dis- 
banded in 1763. The Earl and Countess died at Bath in 
1766, leaving a daughter, Elizabeth, to succeed. She married 
in 1760, George Granville Leveson Gower, Viscount Trent- 
ham. By this time the spirit of feudalism and chivalry had 
subsided, and the clan system came to an end. 

Donald, Lord Reay, was a pious and benevolent noble- 
man, and so was (ieorge, fifth Lord Reay, who succeeded 
him in 1761. He died in 1768, and was buried in Holyrood. 
His brother Hugh succeeded, for whom the Lords of Session 
found it necessary to appoint a tutor to manage his estates. 
Lord Hugh lodged with James Mackay of Skerray, and the 
Mackays of Bighouse managed the Reay estates. He died 
in 1797 and his cousin-german Eric, seventh Lord Reay, 
succeeded. In his time the Reay Fencibles, who dis- 
tinguished themselves in Ireland, were raised. This regiment 
was commanded successively by Colonel Mackay Hugh 
Baillie (grandson of Hugh Mackay, Bighouse), Major John 
Scobie, Lieutenant-Colonels Ross and Colin Campbell. It 
was disbanded, after earning much renown for bravery in the 
field, and good behaviour in camp, in 1802. It was of this 
raiment that General Lake spoke when he was defeated at 
Castlebar, " If I had my brave and honest Reays here, this 
would not have happened." 

Eric, Lord Reay, was the last to own his ancestral estates. 
The property fell into the hands of the Sutherland family, as 
Assynt also did, so that at the present time, practically the 
whole of the county of Sutherland belongs to the noble family 
which bears the name. The title, however, was preserved, and 
the present Lord Reay is not the least illustrious of that 
long line of chiefs which shed lustre on the name of Mackay. 





Her (trace the Duchess of Sutherland. 

Ever since this dying century has passed its prime, and the 
discoveries of the wonderful power of steam, and of 
electricity, have become part of its existence, we have learned 
to associate the centres of the great industries of the world 
with the hideousness, the squalor, the restlessness, the crime, 
which are the natural result of human ascendency, in a 
world that was planned to be Divine. 

Heavily hangs the smoke of countless chimneys over 
the brick and mortar erections that do penance for the 
woods and hilly fields of long ago : pitilessly revolve, madly, 
unceasingly, the countless wheels of a machinery which in 
its iron grasp crushes the art of dead centuries, flinging it 
out to a self-satisfied generation, that to its own crude fancy 
moulds the shapeless wreck, crying " see, see " —triumphant 
as the gutter child over its first mud pie. 

Mr. Arnold White in his volume on "English Democracy" 
says, " the folly and wickedness of those who destroyed the 
spinning jennies, the engines, and the printing machines, at 
the time of their introduction, have been denounced with so 
unanimous a voice that it would be futile to suggest that the 
ignorant peasants, or delirious mechanics, who obeyed the 
first instincts of their nature, were animated by a true sense 


of self-preservation, however careless they may have been of 
the future of the human race." Mr. White reluctantlv 
makes an admission. It was the prophetic spirit of self- 
preservation that had inspired those men, in the intuitive 
knowledge that not all the advantages of affluence and power 
to the minority — ^not the rise of a few poor to riches, a few 
rich to millionaires -not the undeniable freer circulation of 
gold — could compensate for the sufferings of thousands, 
who, tumbling pell mell into our great cities, thirsting for the 
employment scattered broadcast by these marvellous inven- 
tions, had found, all too late, among the curses of their 
half-starved children, the bitter results of such impetuosity 
far out-weighing its blessings. 

Whilst the larger portion of the world looks on in sullen 
indifference at this tottering state of things, there are others, 
tired of cackling speculation over quack remedies, who in 
real earnest have attempted to rescue some of the spoils of 
better days, as they are l>orne along on the flood of time. 
Perhaps foremost in importance among these poor little 
rescues comes the Hand-Spinning and Hand-Loom Weaving 
Industry of the United Kingdom. In England it exists only 
in the tiny oasis which men like John Ruskin, steeped in 
artistic feeling, and thirsting after the old order, have 
established under personal supervision, but in Ireland and 
Scotland the last decade has seen an extraordinary reaction, 
bringing the hand made tweeds and linens again into the 
world of demand, and likely to produce lasting benefit to the 
peasantry of each country. 

The general processes connected with the manufacture of 
cloth are well known, but a few remarks may be permitted 
as to specialities of method, and the following extracts 


from a paper written by the Rev. Dr. Joass of Golspie for 
the Chicago Exhibition will prove of undeniable interest. 

" The wool packets being opened out and roughly sorted 
or stapled according to quality and length of fibre, of which 
there is considerable variety in the same fleece, the wool is 
cleansed from the grease derived from contact with the sheep 
(and the various protective * dipping ' or * bathing ' processes 
to which that animal is in autumn subjected) by steeping in 
a hot liquid. Dried and shaken up and still further * sorted ' 
the wool is then passed through the process of carding 
and combing, to lay its fibres in the sanie direction. This 
is effected by means of a pair of implements like hair- 
brushes, with the handles at the sides, and set with metal 
teeth. It is now nearly ready to be spun into thread. The 
distaff and spindle were, from very early times, used for this 
purpose. The former is a staff, about four feet long, fixed 
in the waist-belt on the left side, or, more commonly, in the 
up-turned outer skirt, which thus forms a pocket in front 
for carrying the clews or balls of thread. To the projecting 
head of the distaff, the wool, previously cross-carded into 
inch-thick cylinders, (in which the fibre has now assumed 
a sort of spiral arrangement) is tied in an open bunch or 
bundle. From this it is fed out by the left hand of the 
spinster to the spindle, held at starting in (and afterwards 
swinging from) the right. This is a rounded piece of wood, 
about a foot long and half an inch in diameter, loaded at the 
lower end by the whorl, which acts as * fly-wheel,' and is 
generally made of stone, often a disc of steatite, about the 
diameter of a bronze penny, and weighing over an ounce 
and a half. Some wool, drawn out from the store on the 
distaff, to which it still remains attached, is twisted into a 


kind of thread and tied to the middle of the spindle, from 
which it passes upwards and is fastened by a simple hitch 
to a notch near the spindle-head. This is then twirled by 
the right hand, and as it spins it twists (as it is allowed 
to drop slowly towards the ground) all the wool up to the 
distaff, the hands regulating the speed and further supply, 
and thus determining the thickness of the thread. From 
time to time the thread is coiled around the shaft of the 
spindle into a ball, and a new hitch made till the clew is 
large enough to be slipped off and a new one begun. 

From the number of whorls found in connection with 
prehistoric remains in Sutherland their use must be very 
ancient, yet the spindle is still to be seen at work on the 
hillsides of Assynt, in the north west of this county, 
employed for its original purpose of spinning. On the east 
coast it is used occasionally for twining together different 
colours of thread, all the spinning being done by the well 
known spinning wheel. 

The next process is dyeing, and whether this is done *in 
the wool' or *in the thread ' there is a final treatment in an 
ammoniacal liquid, called by the Highlanders 'fual,' which 
removes the last traces of oleaginous matter and prepares 
the wool for receiving and retaining the dye. The securing 
of uniformity of tint or shade has hitherto presented some 
difficulty, and this is partly due to the imperfection of the 
apparatus in common use, and to the usual habit of measur- 
ing the dyeing material merely by the handful. 

Mineral dyes are now mostly used instead of those of 
vegetable origin. A list of the latter, some of which are in 
local use, is here given as collected from various sources of 







k. C 

















O J3 




















U»U J 

.S 2 

3 W 


^^ C 

•- $i S 

« £ 3 
O »- t) 

•S 'o .y 

c c c 

<5 3-Cj 

C x !/: .S 

_ 3 3 3 O 

» O u. ;s 1-3 1-3 ;^ 






C 3 

.5 o 

.5 — ; «2 «« 


S S e« C 

i-i k. >.( k. -. u rr 




= o £ 

5 "^ ^y 3 C rt 









w E 

w 3 


























The dyed thread, washed in salt water if blue, or in fresh 
if of any other colour, is next woven into a web either at 
the cottage hand-loom or a small cloth mill driven by water 
power. The next process is that of * felting ' or thickening, 
called *waulking' in the north, probably from its being 
chiefly effected by the feet. The microscopic projections 
on the fibre interlock when the web is beaten wet, and as 
the * waulk-mill ' is apt to overdo the work, turning out a 
texture hard, stiff* and heavy, the old process is still preserved 
in the west Highlands of Inverness and Ross, and in some 
parts of Sutherland, and secures a fabric soft, supple, and 
suflftciently dense to be wind and weather proof. The follow- 
ing description by A. Ross, LL.D., late Provost of Inver- 
ness, is taken from a paper read before the Gaelic Society 
there in 1885. 

" In the Highland districts women make use of their 
feet to produce the same result, (felting), and a picturesque 
sight it is to see a dozen or more Highland lassies set around 
in two rows facing each other. The web of cloth is passed 
round in a damp state, each one pressing it and pitching it 
with a dash to her next neighbour, and so the cloth is 
handled (? footed), pushed, crushed, and welded as to become 
close and even in texture. The process is slow and tedious, 
but the ladies know how to beguile the time, and the song 
is passed round, each one taking up the verse in turn, and 
all joining in the chorus. The eff*ect is very peculiar and 
often very pleasing, and the waulking songs are very popular 
in all the collections. 

" I have on various occasions " he continues, " watched 
the waulking process, but seldom in recent years. It is often 
the occasion of a little boisterous merriment and practical 


joking, for, should a membKir of the male sex be found 
prowling near by, he is, if caught, unceremoniously thrust 
into the centre of the circle and tossed with the web till, 
bruised with the rough usage and blackened with the dye, 
he is glad to make his escape from the hands of the furies." 

While to this method of * felting ' the web, something of 
the softness of the genuine * homespun ' is due, it is also 
worthy of mention that the longer stapled wools are less 
liable to become matted and hard under the thickening 
process, of whatever kind, than those which are of shorter 
fibre. Now it is only with the longer fibred wool that the 
Highland wheel can work. Its very imperfection then as 
an implement, or rather machine, becomes of advantage as a 
guarantee of durability as well as of comfort in connexion 
with the work which it turns out, for whereas the mill can 
use up almost any sort of wool, however short in the fibre 
and inferior in quality, the wheel can only use the best and 
this is, in the end, the cheapest." 

A transition time, through which several of the northern 
counties had already pissed, fell upon Sutherland about the 
first quarter of this century. For a long time previous the 
people were content to be clothed in their native home- 
spun, and the demand occupied the time of the thrifty 
housewife and the female members of the household, when 
the closing year brought relief from the more pressing 
labours of the croft or the farm. The opening up of the 
county by roads and the influx of apparently cheaper and 
finer fabrics introduced a change of taste and the old home- 
industries flagged. 

There was reason to fear that this would come to be 
regarded as but an eddy which attended the stream of 


progress, and that the check to fireside winter-work, though 
sad, was inevitable, and must be endured because of com- 
pensating advantages. It also seemed not improbable that 
it might be set aside as only a woman's question. 

This indeed it has eventually become in the widest sense, 
mainly on account of the kind of sympathetic impulse 
required to initiate a remedial domestic movement, and the 
special skill and careful personal supervision, which, from 
the nature of the work, is needed to encourage and direct 
it. As good, that has once been personally experienced, 
rises again to the surface, even after a tempestuous lifetime 
of evil, so, notwithstanding the contamination of southern 
influence, every year increased appreciation of the artistic 
merits and practical usefulness of their hand made tweeds, 
is returning to the northern people. The thatched, chimney- 
less roof of the cabin, once the only dwelling of the 
industrious weaver, now more often than not shelters his 
sleek cow ; the weaver himself sitting snugly between slates 
above and white-washed walls around, and it is not too 
optimistic to assert that the webs of moss-green, heather-red, 
and sky-blue, peacefully rolled out from his purring loom, 
could, if correct in (juantity, and perfect in quality, be sold 
trebly over, even were the number of weavers doubled 
throughout the county. 

From parish to parish busy committees are forming 
.themselves, for encouragement and communication with the 
market, and while there is no idea of competing with the 
great woollen factories of Bradford, Huddersfield, etc., 
either in pattern or in price, the orders from London trades- 
men for genuine homespun goes on, like the mountain 
stream, torrential in the proper season, and silent at others. 


In common with men — women cyclists and women pedes- 
trians, have discovered its advantage for comfort and 
durability, but is it fantastic to add, that in the touch a^id 
smell of these tweeds there is a quality that enslaves them, 
by its appeal to the nobler sensation of sentiment ? In their 
close proximity, imagination conjures up the scent of autumn 
heather, mingling with the peat smoke from the scattered 
homesteads, curUng out to the wide swell of the Atlantic ; 
the mind's eye pictures the wild hill-tops bathed in the mist 
of a passing shower — the covey of grouse whirring to the 
hollow by the deep swift salmon river — and beyond, in the 
glorious rainbow light of the August sunset, the startled 
listening hinds, motionless against the sky line. Surely 
under such conditions, the Scottish Highlands reveal in 
effect the enchanted summer-land of the world. 



Rev. Robert Munro, b.d., f.r.s.e., f.s.a., Scot. 

If Sutherlandshire may be regarded as geologically repre- 
senting an epitome of the entire formation of the earth's 
structure, so from the view-point of the antiquary it may be 
taken as embracing every sphere of the field covered by 
Scottish archaeology. It is rich, perhaps beyond any county, 
in monuments and remains of prehistoric times. Its natur- 
ally mountainous and isolated position has in great measure 
preserved the memorials and ruins of its past civilization, if 
not from the ravages of time, at least from the more destruct- 
ive agency of human hands. Strongholds and forts, cairns 
and tumuli, monoliths and rude stone circles have been 
invariably respected and left unmolested during all the years. 
Generation after generation has looked upon them as part 
of the soil, has prided itself in them and viewed them 
with more or less veneration, so that to-day, not less than a 
hundred years ago, it is esteemed a kind of sacrilege to 
disturb a primitive grave or to excavate an ancient strong- 

Since the time of the great northern archaeologist 
Thomsen it is usual to study the antiquities of any land as 
passing through the three distinct stages of stone, of bronze, 
and of iron. These stages or periods indicate the successive 
steps in the rise from rudeness to civilization, from a lower 


type of culture to a higher ; and may generally be accepted 
as outlining the course of development through which all the 
higher races have passed. In the antiquities of Sutherland 
examples of the three periods are abundant. As far back as 
history can go we have proof that the use of iron was 
universal in Scotland. The old Caledonian warriors had their 
iron chariots and weapons, and were able to make a formid- 
able stand even against the legions of Rome itself. But, 
further back than this remote age, there is evidence of a time 
more remote still when iron was altogether unknown, and 
when the only metal used in making instruments and 
weapons was bronze. And again, even more distant than 
the bronze period, in the prehistoric distances, there existed 
an era when man had no knowledge of either bronze or iron, 
and when all his tools and weapons were constructed of 
natural materials, such as stone and horn, bone and wood. 
Each of these ages — pointing to successive conditions of 
culture and civilization — must not however be considered 
as in every instance absolutely marked off and defined. The 
stone age may, for example, overlap — in some cases it does 
overlap — the bronze and iron ages, and the bronze age may 
run down far into and alongside of the iron age. These 
exceptions may be admitted ; yet in its widest application the 
** three-age system " has proved itself to be a safe principle 
of classification in archaeology. 

I. — The Stone Age. 

The tools and weapons belonging to the stone age are of 
two kinds : there are those that are rude and unpolished, 
brought to the desired shape by a few rough strokes, and 
showing no marks of smoothing or grinding ; and there are 


Others that manifest great skill in the workmanship, being 
beautifully executed, ground, and polished. The rough 
unpolished implements are found in the older deposits along 
with the bones of extinct animals, and are called Palaeolithic: 
the smooth and more highly polished ones, belonging to a 
more advanced stage and co-eval with the age of bronze, are 
known as Neolithic. 

Mr. Samuel Laing has tried to prove, in his Prehistoric 
Remains of Caithness, that an aboriginal tribe of savage 
cannibals, as little advanced as the men of Abbeville and Les 
Eyzies, lingered on for many centuries in that county. They 
were too rude to have known anything of the later Stone or 
Bronze Periods of Britain, or to have superseded an earlier 
or less civilized race of prior aborigines. If Mr. Laing had 
been able to prove his theory — which he utterly fails to do — 
we might also reasonably look for Palaeolithic man and his 
remains in Sutherland. But, as it is, there is not a single 
trace of him there ; and for that part of it, as far as has yet 
been scientifically ascertained, not a trace of him or of his 
works in the whole of Scotland. 

Naturally then we must begin not with the earlier epoch 
of the Stone age, but with the later or Neolithic epoch. 

The implements of the later Stone Age are almost the 
same in all lands. They consist of axes, hammers, spear- 
heads, knives, daggers, arrow-heads, saws, chisels, borers, 
and the like, made of polished stone or flint. The imple- 
ments found by Mr. Stevenson on Golspie links, and now 
deposited in the Antiquarian Museum, Edinburgh, give a 
good representation of the Sutherland Stone Age weapons. 
The axes and hammers are of the usual type. The arrow- 
heads — beautiful in form and execution — are of the types 


known as barbed and tanged, lozenge and leaf -shaped, and a 
few are of the Irish type, barbed without tang. Yellow and 
brown flint, but more frequently the chert associated with 
the Jurassic deposits on the Golspie coast, which takes a fine 
edge and has the conchoidal fracture of flint, is the material 

Scattered throughout the county there are several sites 
where stone implements were manufactured. There is one 
near Golspie, where scrapers, saws, knives, and fashioned 
flakes used to be found plentifully. Similar sites are at 
Badanloch in Kildonan, at Lairg, near the churchyard, 
at Rogart, near the Dal more rock, and at Dornoch, close to 
the Meikle Ferr>'. 

Arrow-heads are called by the natives ** elf -darts," and 
are popularly believed to be hurled by the fairies in their 
efforts to injure man and beast. Flint hammers and axes 
are not popularly recognised as such ; they are supposed to 
be thunderbolts "that have fallen with the lightning from 
heaven." Various healing and supernatural virtues are 
attributed to them, and it is thought that a house in which 
they are kept cannot be struck by lightning. It is curious 
that these old-world notions, still credited in Sutherland, 
should be current not only in the British Isles, but in almost 
every part of the world that has passed through a Stone Age. 

The erections of the Stone Age that have escaped the 
hand of time are principally commemorative or sepultural. 
Of these perhaps the most distinctive are the huge cham- 
bered cairns, of which there are such good examples in the 
parish of Farr. 

At Rhinavie, about a mile from Bettyhill, there is a 
group of three of these cairns lying in line due north and 


south. The largest is 230 ft. long, 80 ft. wide at the north 
end, and narrowing to about 50 ft. at the other end. It is 
furnished with a tricellular chamber reached by a solidly 
built passage 17 ft. in lenglh, and 2 ft. in height and in 


width. The largest cell is the end one, or that which is 
furthest in. It is 7 ft. in diameter and 8 ft. in height. 
Divided from this by upright stones are two other cells built 
of rude masonry and covered over with large slabs, one of 
which measures 6j4 ft. by 3 ft. The middle cell is 5 ft. in 
length, nearly the same measurement in breadth, and origin- 
ally 6 ft. 10 in. in height. The cell next the entrance is 
scarcely as large as the middle one, but this may be due to 
the fact that the walls have bulged in considerably. Front- 
ing the entrance to this tripartile chamber is an arc of a 
circle composed of large stones varying in height from 3 ft. 
to 7 ft. 10 in., and placed at distances ranging from 10 to 
16 ft. 


The seiotid rairii in tlic group is an oblong heap loo ft. 
in length. It has not been excavated, but it is evidently of 
the same chamliered character as the aljovf. 

The third, or northermost cairn is circular in forni, 60 ft, 
in diameter, with a vertical height of about 1 2 ft. It has a 


chamber in the centre, whose walls are fine granite slabs set 
on end, the spaces between being built with uncemented 
masonry. The chamber is about 7 ft. in diameter, with a 
height of 8 ft. 

A cairn of the same type as the above is situated further 
south, on the other side of Skelpick burn. Its length is 
220 ft. and its breadth from 20 to 30 ft. It contains two 
chambers, the first being 8 ft. by 10 ft., the second 10 ft. by 
12 ft., each being apparently about 8 ft. in height. 

At Piscary, on a hill near Swordly, are four large cairns 
which, though differing somewhat in external appearance 
from those mentioned, have the same well-marked internal 
structure of passages and separate chambers. 

These cairns are in every way analogous to the celebrated 
chambered cairns of Caithness, which have been so fully 
investigated by Dr. Joseph Anderson. They are places of 
sepulture for the dead, who were laid in the cells in a 
recumbent or sitting posture. Sometimes a succession of 
such interments took place in the same cairn, so that it is not 
uncommon to find several skeletons in a single chamber. 
Along with the dead were buried their personal weapons and 
ornaments, evidently in the pathetic hope that they might be 
of service in a future world Earthenware vessels are 
occasionally found in the graves, filled now with earth, but 
originally containing food which it was supposed the dead 
might require in the life beyond. On the floor of some of 
the chambers the bones of the dog, the horse, the ox, the 
swine, and the deer, have been dug up, as if they, the com- 
panions of man's earthly existence, could keep him company 
in his tenancy of the tomb. 

The semi-circle of standing stones at Rhinavie is of 


interest as showing that as far back as the Stone Age circles 
of this kind were set up to distinguish sepulchral sites. 
Whether originally they served any other purpose we know 
not. At a later time they came to be regarded with super- 
stitious reverence, and religious rites were practiced in 
connection with them. The remarkable chambered cairns 
at Clava, on the Nairn — similar in structure to the Farr 
cairns — are surrounded by circles of erect stones, on some of 
which are cup-markings. These mysterious sculpturings — 
hollow basins carved out of the rock, with sometimes one or 
more incised concentric rings— are common in Sutherland, 
though they have not yet been discovered in connection with 
its chambered cairns. What they are, archaeology has in 
vain tried to solve. They are found not only in Great 
Britain and Ireland, but in different parts of Europe, in 
Palestine, and the Sinaitic Peninsula, in India, North Africa, 
and America. They have been regarded as the blood basins 
of Druidic altars, as emblems of the sun-god, as astronomical 
devices, as symbols of the old Lingam w'orship, and some 
have been prosaic enough to hazard the conjecture that they 
are the maps of a prehistoric civilization, or the marks cut 
out by Neolithic man as he polished his tools and weapons 
on exposed rock-surfaces. All that is indisputable is that 
they are as old as the Stone Age, and that their use has been 
prolonged into Christian times. They are found on isolated 
slabs and earth-fast rocks, on monoliths and megalithic circles, 
dolmens and chambered tumuli, on the lids of cist-vaens, 
and the stone coverings of burial urns, carved on the walls 
of Christian churches, and adorning headstones in rural 
churchyards. Wherever they exist they are held in vener- 
ation. In Scandinavia, Switzerland, and Scotland — where 


they are called "elf -stones," or "stones of the dead" — 
needles, buttons, eggs, and milk are placed in the cups as 
offerings to the souls of the dead. In many lands they are 
supposed to have the power of warding off disease and of 
counteracting sterility. 

Interesting it is, too, in this connection, to notice that 
some of the Suthcrlandshire rocks possess carvings which 
are evidently designed to represent human foot-prints 
Delineations of the naked human foot, scooped out of, or 
incised in the rock are not confined to the British Isles ; 
they are of frec^uent occurrence in Scandinavia, and they are 
known to exist in France and Germany. Herodotus states 
that an impression of the foot of Hercules, two cubits in 
length, existed on a rock beyond the river Tyres in Scythia 
The sacred foot-print of Buddha, on Adam's Peak in Ceylon, 
is well-known, and need only be mentioned. In Scotland 
and Ireland rocks on which such impressions are carved are 
supposed to be coronation or inauguration stones, on which 
Kings and Chieftains took the oath of loyalty to the laws 
and customs of the nation or the clan. To what age these 
notable sculpturings must be assigned cannot yet be made 
out with certainty. They may have an origin dating back to 
Neolithic times, or they may be comparatively recent. Dr. 
Joass, when excavating one of the Sutherland brochs, found 
the impression of two foot-prints on a stone in the entrance 

It would seem as if already in the Stone Age the people 
of Sutherland had atUiined to some measure of culture and 
civilization. They used weapons of stone and urns of clay 
which manifest skilful workmanship and aesthetic taste. They 
possessed the same domestic animals that we possess, they 


pursued the chase, and they fished in the lakes and rivers. 
It is more than likely, too, that they had fixed places of 
abode, or tribal villages ; for it is scarcely possible that the 
people who reared such splendid dwellings for the dead 
should themselves lead a purely nomadic life, without any 
permanent shelter but that of the caves and the rocks. The 
chambered cairns of Strathnaver clearly point not only to 
high religious instincts, and reverence for ancestry, they also 
presuppose an organized society or fellowship which is the 
first necessary step towards civilization. Hard, perhaps, the 
lot of the men of the Stone Age might at times be, but on 
the whole it need have been neither so miserable nor so 
savage as it is sometimes pictured. Their existence was free 
and natural, in no way cramped or confined. They had the 
hills and the valleys, the rivers and the forests, — they lived a 
many-sided, active life, — finding their own food, making 
their own clothes, and weapons and houses, — having also, 
all the while, to hold their own against wild beasts and human 
foes — and from the very exigencies of their environment 
they must physically and mentally have occupied no mean 
place. Higher, to say the least of it, they certainly were, 
both in nature and endowment, than the multitudes in our 
large cities who toil in badly ventilated rooms, who seldom 
enjoy the beneficent light of the sun, or behold the glories 
of earth and sea and sky, and who spend their whole life- 
time in the doing of one little monotonous task that 
paralyses the mind and arrests the true growth of manhood. 

II. — The Bronze Age. 

Bronze finds in Sutherland are much less abundant than 
those of stone, yet they are sufficiently numerous and widely 


boulder, one foot under the present surface. They have 
been described by Dr. Joass in the PrMttdings of the Society 
of Antiijuariti, lol. liii.. {new series, p. 214). Two of them 
are perfortiled in tasteful design, hy small clean cut holes, 
and the rim of one is ornamented in iherron pattern. The 


whole appear to have been beattn into form and lathe -dressed. 
In the same neighbourhood a stone ball of the Bronze Age 
was also picked up. From Kintradwell — a district full of 
many antiquities — we have clippings, waste-jets, and crucibles, 
pointing to the presence here at one time of artificers in 

Amotig the personal ornaments of this period are shale 
beads, bronze pins and buttons, necklaces of jet and bron/.e 
armlets. Beads, pins, and buttons often constitute part of 


the "grave goods" in broiue burials. Dr. Joass found in a 
cist at Torish, near Helmsdale, a necklace of jet in an almost 


perfect condition. Fragments of charcoal, an arrow-head of 
thert, and a spearhead of yellow fiinl, were also found 


among the ejected material. At Upfxit armlets of bronze 
were got in connection with cremated burials. 

'I'he Bronze Age, like the Stone Age, affords no indication 
of the kind of dwellings in which the people lived. 'I'hey 
had, no doubt, houses built of turf or of stone, but all trace 
of them has long since vanished. I'he only structures 
belonging to this far away time are the dwelling-places of the 
dead. Strangely enough these do not manifest such archi- 
tectural skill as the great cairn chambers of the Stone |)eriod, 
nor are they, like those, uniform in shajx; and character. 
Some of them the earliest, as they are the rarest —consist 
of a moderately large cist made of rough slabs op flags in 
which the body was laid unburnt ; others and these con- 
stitute the largest number — consist of a smaller cist in which 
was placed an urn holding the ashes of the cremated body ; 
while a third kind of interment was that of the simple urn, 
with a lid, containing the ashes of the dead, but not enclosed 
by a cist. The cists again were sometimes covered over with 
large heaps of stone, so as to form considerable cairns ; but 
as frecjuently they are found in earth mounds, and hillocks 
of gravel and sand. On the other hand, in many cases of 
the humbler urn burial, the urn was merely laid in a hole in 
the earth. 'I'he grave de|)osits associated with these different 
forms of Bronze Age burial are of the same peculiar type. 
They consist of thin oval blades with tangs, ri vetted triangular 
blades, rings and pins, beads and necklaces of jet, |>olished 
stone weai)ons, arrow-heads and flint knives. 

The external characteristics of the burials of the Bronze 
Age are as well defined as their contents. Their distinctive 
feature is not' the cairn, the mound, the cist, or the urn ; it 
is the enclosure of stones encircling the grave, and marking 


it off from the surrounding area. These enclosures, or 
stone circles, occasionally assume large and impressive 
proportions, as at Stennis and Callernish ; more rarely they 
formed many lines of small stones arranged in parallel or 
irregular rows, like those at Clyth and I^theron, in Caith- 
ness; but wherever they exist, unless in conjunction with 
chambered cairns, they constitute the most distinguishing 
mark of a Bronze Age burial. Of the larger type of stone 
circles there are several interesting examples in Sutherland, 
as at Dal-Harald in Strathnaver, at Abercross, near Morvich, 
at Rosehall and Bonar Bridge. The only instance of the 
many lines and circles of small stones is at Lierabol, 
Kildonan, where they are associated with a group of Bronze 
Age tumuli. 

Monoliths — single pillar stones — the oldest, as well as the 
most recent of stone monuments — are not very numerous. 
One stands in the centre of the Lierabol tumuli, another 
near the Crask road from Loth mill to Kilearnan, and a 
third at Lochan Treathail, Dornoch. Near the two last 
are several hut circles. Monoliths also occur at Strathnaver 
and at Creich, and are said to mark the spot where Scand- 
inavian warriors lie buried. At Farr, near the Piscary 
cairns, there is a long recumbent stone which at one time, in 
all likelihood, occupied the erect position. 

Scattered throughout the county are several groups of 
megaliths, or large stones. From their position and char- 
acter they seem to be the ruins of the tripartite chambers of 
the Stone Age cairns, stripped long ago of their smaller stones 
for building and other purposes. 

The people of the Bronze Age in Sutherland must have 
reached a comparatively high level of culture and civilization 

wmn\ ■ » » *11 


Although no querns or whorls have been found in deposits 
of this period we need have no hesitation in believing that 
agriculture and the art of spinning were then well known. 
The possession of bronze — an alloy of copper and tin, 
present in the proportion of nine parts of copper to one of 
tin — shows that the natives had a system of commerce which 
brought them into contact with the products and enlighten- 
ment of other peoples and nations. The beauty, too, with 
which they fashioned their implements, and the ornament- 
ation with which they decorated their personal effects, their 
weapons, adornments, vessels, and burial urns, indicate that 
they not only mastered the mechanical details of the material 
they worked upon, but that they also possessed feelings of 
culture and refinement of an advanced kind. There are, 
indeed, many facts and indications that go to prove that they 
had more of the comforts, and even luxuries, of life 
than we could think possible at so remote a period. 

III. — The Iron Age. 

Iron, the true beginning of civilization in Europe, must 
have been known in Sutherland at least 1 50 years before the 
Christian era. Sites of ancient iron furnaces are found at 
Loch Unes, I^ch Merkland, l^irg, Golspie Links, Suisgil 
Burn, Durcha, and Altasbeg, near Durcha. Some of these 
may have been in use as far back as the close of the Bronze 
Age. At first the process of manufacture must have been 
primitive enough, and may have been carried on without the 
aid of an artificial blast — the ore being simply calcined or 
roasted in a wood fire exposed to the force of the breei^. 

Implements of iron belonging to the earlier iron period 
are exceedingly rare, owing to the destruction of the metal 


by oxidation. Dagger blades, dirks, spear-heads, and sock- 
eted chisels form part of the contents of the Kintradwell 
and Cairn-liath brochs In the Cairn-liath broch were also 
found two plates of brass, hammer-marked in lines across 
the surface, and a siher fibula of the bow-shaped and 
cruciform type really Celtic in character, though associated 
with the late Roman period. Objects belonging to the later 
Iron Age, which may be said to coincide with the time of 
the Vikings, are not unfrecjuent. Swords and fragments 
of swords and other weapons have been found at Strath- 
halladale, Strathy, Kildonan, and Farr. A curious bronze 
swivel, apparently of the A'iking age, has just been reported 
by Dr. Joass. It is a beautiful and solid piece of workman- 
ship, and was possibly used in helmet decoration or in 
connection with falconry. 

Of more interest, however, than the few relics that have 
come down from the Iron Age are the structures belonging 
to this period -the brochs, the vitrified forts and eirde- 

Brochs are very abundant, there being not fewer than 
sixty throughout the county. Commanding, as they usually 
do, elevated positions along the sides of straths and valleys 
they form attrac:tive and picturesque objects in the landscape. 
Dun Dornadilla and (Visile Cole are the most remarkable in 
the Sutherlandshire group. Dornadilla is 24 feet high, and 
the part of it still standing is built of undressed stones 
without cement or mortar. The outer circumference 
measures 150 feet, the diameter of the inner court is 29 feet, 
and that of the wall 8 feet 8 inches. In the centre of the 
wall, and really dividing it into two concentric walls, there is 
a series of small chambers, like the dingy rooms in a Feudal 


Castle. On the outside there are no windows, and there is 
but one doorway which leads through the breadth of the 
wall to an inner court, or area, exposed to the sky. From 
this court there is access to the chambers on the ground 
floor ; and above these are the remains of a second gallery 
reached by a rough stairway. Cordiner, who visited the 
fort in 1780, mentions that three distinct rows of galleries 
could be traced within the walls, and that he walked up 
and down different stairs from the first to the second storey, 
but that the third storey was partially filled up owing to the 
displacement of the stones. The different rows of apart- 
ments in the heart of the wall are lighted by slits or apertures 
looking into the interior area. Castle Cole, in Strathbrora, 
is even more striking than Dun Dornadilla. It is built on a 
steep eminence, guarded on three sides by hills, and 
defended at the weakest parts by a double row of forti- 
fications made of rude stone masonry. Like the common 
type it also had several galleries in the centre of the wall, 
separated from each other by a flooring of flags or smooth 
stones fitting into the wall. Portions of this fort are still 
about 15 ft. in height. 

These lingular erections — which are peculiar to Scot- 
land, and may have been built as centres of defence against 
the Norsemen — have been carefully investigated by archae- 
ologists. Querns, stone lamps, whetstones and pounders; 
combs, pins, and bone buttons; several instruments of 
bronze, oxidized fragments of iron, and ornaments of silver 
and gold, are among the objects that have been found. 
Besides these manufactured articles there have also been 
discovered parts of the human skeleton, bones of the lower 
animals, and the horns of the rein-deer, then common in the 


I J 

1 08 


north of Scotland. Traces of charred grain have likewise 
been detected, indicating that the occupants of the buildings 
wefe not ignorant of agriculture. 

Vitrified Forts. This is the name given to certain 
stone enclosures whose walls bear traces of having been 
subjected to the action of fire. They are generally situated 
on the flat summits of hills which occupy strong and easily 
defended positions. No lime or cement has been found in 
any of these structures, but all of them present the peculiarity 
of being more or less consolidated by the fusion of the 
rocks of which they are built. At one time they were 
supposed to be limited in their range to Scotland : they are 
now known to exist in Ireland, in Upper Lusatia, Bohemia, 
Silesia and Thuringia, in the provinces on the upper banks 
of the Rhine, and in several parts of France. 

A fairly good example of this unique kind of ancient 
stronghold is Dun Creich. The Dun has a conical top 
approached only from the west side. The east side slopes 
steeply to the sea, and the south is also precipitous 
seaward. The west side is the most open and exposed, and 
has a low rampart, partly laid open where it shows consider- 
able vitri faction — the rocks being solidly fused together. All 
the other sides are naturally protected more or less by their 
steepness. There are traces of a low rampart across 
the east end, a few yards inwards from the edge of the Dun, 
which is also apparently vitrified. In the centre of the Dun 
is a circular hollow, which used to be a well, but which is 
now filled with stones to prevent cattle from falling into it 
The rock of which the vitrified rampart is built is the 
ordinary mica-schist, a rock which could be readily fused in 


the open air by means of a wood fire, the alkali of the wood 
serving in some measure as a flux. 

Earth-houses, or underground dwellings — primitive in 
structure as anything in the Stone Age— are comparatively 
modern, being later than the Roman occupation. The 
Earth-house at Enibol, though smaller than the usual type, 
is 33 ft. in length, 4 ft. in height, and for the greater part o< 
its length only 2 ft. wide, expanding to ^j4 ft. for some 
distance at the extreme end. The sides are built and the 
top roofed over with stones. These singular structures, 


known in some districts as " fairy houses," were no doubt 
used by the natives, in times of stress, as places of conceal- 
ment for their wives and children and goods. The range of 
the type stretches from the south of Scotland to the Shet- 
land Isles. There is also an Irish and a Cornish group with 
some distinct peculiarities of their own. 

IV. — Historical Age. 

Passing from purely Pagan times, and coming down to 
the Christian or historical era, we find many objects of deep 
archaeological interest. 

In the Duke of Sutherland's museum, at Dunrobin, 
there is a stone on the one side of which is a highly finished 
Celtic cross extending the whole length of the stone. The 
limbs and th^ mai;^in are filled with panels of varied ^nc) 







■ i 


: is modern, being built by the second Duke between 1845 

*f and 1851. 

Castle Borve must have been at one lime a formidable 

; i stronghold, .(for picture see page 41). It is built on a 

» promontory jpined to the land by a narrow pass a few feet 

, f in breadth, which had been guarded by a draw bridge. 

^ Beyond the pass there is a large space of ground where the 

ruins of the castle and the guard's houses, and the remains 
f of a trench and wall can still be traced. Beneath the castle 

' in the rock below there is a natural passage 200 ft. in 

length, like a grand arch, which can be traversed by a row- 
boat. The castle was a stronghold of the Norse during the 
; time of their supremacy. There is a tradition that it was 

* built by Thorkel, who agreed to receive no payment if any 

flaw could be found in the work on its completion. When 

J the castle was finished the Viking and his lady expressed 

themselves as satisfied with it, but the north outer wall 
'f could only be examined properly from the sea in a boat 

Meantime the lady contrived to let a black thread hang 

* down the wall from the principal window. When Thorkel 

detected what he took to be a crack in the wall he demanded 

, to be lowered by a rope that he might examine the nature 

^ of the defect. This was done, but the rope was dropped 

from above, and the unfortunate architect was drowned. 

Thorkel is reputed to have lived about the nth century, 
i With the decadence of the Norse power the castle 

became the property of the Mackays of Farr. It was 

destroyed by the Earl of Sutherland in 1551. lye Mackay 
*■ — against whom there were several charges, one being treason 

— was summoned to appear before Queen' Mary at Inverness, 
. ^ut he, not feeling sure of his head, disregarded the com- 


raand. John, Earl of Sutherland, was thereupon commiss- 
ioned to invade Mackay's territory. This he did, and after 
a short siege took Castle Borve, and hanged Rory Mac Ian 
Mhor, its captain. lye in the interval invaded Sutherland, 
and later on distinguished himself in the Border wars 
against the English. 

Caisteal Bharruich — an old square tower of con- 
siderable strength placed on an eminence on the east side 
of the Kyle of Tongue (see page 27) — is stated in the 
Origines Parochiales to have been on one occasion the 
residence of Kali Hundason, who made an effort to conquer 
Scotland on the death of Malcolm II. The invasion in 
which King Kali acted a part, and which proved so dis- 
astrous to the Northmen, took place in the year 1033. It is 
suggested by others that the castle was built in the nth 
century by Bishop Bar, who was the founder of Bar's 
church, at Dornoch, demolished in 1570. 

Not far from Castle Bharruich, on an islet in Loch 
Hacon, are the remains of a building about 30 ft. square, 
with walls nearly 6 ft. in breadth. There is no door or 
window, although the parts of the walls still standing are 
over 6 ft. in height. Tradition says it was built by the wife 
of a Viking as a retreat where she could meet with her 
favoured lover during her husband's absence on the North 
Sea. More probably it was built by Hacon, Earl of Orkney, 
who lived in the beginning of the 12th century, and was 
intended as a shooting rendezvous. This curious and 
interesting erection is called Grianan^ or summer-house. 

Helmsdale Castle, (see page 45) now in ruins, was 
built by the 7th Countess of Sutherland in 1488. It is noted 
as the scene of the murder of the nth Earl of Sutherland 



and his Countess in 1567. The Earl's aunt, Isobel, 
poisoned them while at supper, and would also have poisoned 
heir son, but the draught intended for hira was taken by 
her own son, who died two days afterwards. The instigator 
of this horrible crime was George, Earl of Caithness, who 
soon after became guardian of the young Earl that so 
narrowly escaped the fate of his parents. It was while acting 
in the capacity of guardian that this unscrupulous man is 
said to have destroyed all the Sutherland Charters and 
Papers he could find — an irreparable loss not only to the 
noble house of Sutherland, but also to the history of the 

Ardvreck Castle, the ancient seat of the MacLeods 
of Assynt, occupies a beautifully picturesque position at the 
end of a long rocky peninsula near the head of Loch 
Assynt. It was built about 1590, and is memorable as the 
place where the great Marquis of Montrose was detained on 
his capture in this district. After the fatal rout of Inver- 
charron he and the Earl of KinnouU betook themselves for 
safety to the heights of .A.ssynt. Here they wandered for 
some time, until the Earl, faint and footsore, was not able 
to travel any further, and was left among the mountains to 
perish. Montrose would have also followed his example 
were it not that he chanced to come upon a hut in the hills 
where he was supplied with bread and milk. Meantime 
Neil MacLeod, Laird of Assynt, got a hint of the situation, 
and sent out search-parties everywhere in hope of capturing 
the fugitives. Some of them met with the unfortunate 
Marquis and brought him to Ardvreck. Montrose tried 
hard to obtain his liberty by making all kinds of promises, 
but MacLeod would not be bribed, and handed him over to 



the authorities. He was executed at Edinburgh on the aist 
May, 1650. Close to Ardvreck, on the opposite shore, is 
Calda House, erected about 1660, by Kenneth MacKenzie, 
3rd Earl of Seaforth, and destroyed by fire towards the 
middle of last century. 



To the Folk-lorist the county of Sutherland is peculiarly rich. 
This is partly accounted for by its immense area, which on 
the west borders the stormy Minch, across which must have 
been carried to it many of the \Vest Highland Tales, that 
here found fitting environment, and therefore took root. On 
the north its harbours afforded a shelter for the Vikings and 
their descendants, some of whom, after they had harried 
Orkney and Shetland, came to this county, and with them 
brought their Norse notions ; while the east coast was 
the home of a people of somewhat different origin, who, 
when they first came, could not leave their superstitions 
behind. Again, the inhabitants of the interior who knew 
little of the then more numerous dangers of the surrounding 
seas must have had notions of their own. 

But whatever outside influences may have furnished the 
ancient Sutherlanders with their beliefs, the proverbial and 
peculiarly lively imagination of the Celt, always much influ- 
enced by natural vicissitudes, must have cast its weird 
glamour over the whole. Little wonder it therefore is that 
to them the low-lying brooding mists, the numerous dark 
sullen tarns, the dreary moorland across which flitted the 
"will o' the wisp," should be peopled by creatures having 


peculiar powers, whose favour they would do well to court ; 
and these supposed powers, it has been asserted, not without 
reason, are the remains of a religion anterior to Christianity, 
and which Christianity has not yet rooted out. They are 
now, how^ever, disappearing more (juickly with the decad- 
ence of the ceilidh^ which has in great measure been 
supplanted by the newspapers and books which Sutherlanders 
use so abundantly. 

The superstitions of the various parts of the county differ 
widely, and it is not to be supposed that what follows is 
believed in by all the people, or that any native of the county, 
however superstitious, reckons a tithe of them among his 
beliefs. They are, it must be understood, merely the 
summary of a collection which the writer has been making 
for quite a number of years. 

To all who have given the subject of folk-lore any 
attention it has become apparent that superstitions cling 
round every stage of life, and that nearly all of them are 
connected with a desire to peer into the unknown and 
unknowable future. They begin with a person^s birth and 
end only after his death. 

Following this order we find that the belief is entertained 
in Sutherlandshire, as elsewhere, that a child born on a 
Sabbath will be more fortunate than one born on any of the 
other six days of the week. Although one does not here 
think of * chime hours,' the child born at midnight will grow- 
up to * see things ' hidden from others — to have, in short, 
the gift of second sight. It would be curious to ascertain if 
those who in the Highlands claim this gift were born at this 
hour * when churchyards yawn.' If the little one have a caul 
or thin membrane on the head >vhen born, it will be espec- 



ially lucky, and cannot be drowned while the fortunate hood 
is preserved. At least one Highland clergyman — a Catach — 
now alive, had one such, and his career is eagerly watched by 
those who know of this circumstance in connection with his 
birth. This caul also prevented fairies or evil spirits secretly 
taking the little child away and leaving one of their ow^n in 
its place. Much more firmly believed in is * the evil eye,' to 
the sinister influence of which unbaptised children are much 
exposed. For this, baptism is, of course, reckoned a cure, 
but if for any reason, that is not available for a smitten child, 
then water has to be carried from a running stream over 
which the living and the dead pass (from under a bridge), 
gold and silver coins placed in it, after which it is sprinkled 
on the child in the name of the Trinity. To be effectual, the 
w^ater carrier must speak neither going nor returning — must, 
in witch-doctors' parlance, * carry it dumb.' It is also consid- 
ered lucky and a precursor of rising in the world, that a child, 
after leaving its mother's room for the first time, should go 
up stairs rather than down. History has made this good in 
the case of many Sutherlanders born in one storeyed lowly 
crofters' houses, in which were no stairs to descend, and who, 
in after life, climbed well up into the world. It is still 
believed that it is unsafe to leave a cat in the room in which 
a baby is sleeping, as pussy is thought to be able to choke it. 
If the child be discontented and frequently puts out its 
tongue, it can only be soothed by something which the 
mother longed for but did not get. 

The rite of baptism to >vhich much importance is attached, 
is, it is to be regretted, still entwined with many superstitions. 
Thus, only a * lucky person ' is allowed to accompany the 
parents to the church or rendezvous, carrying with her z, 


piece of bread and cheese, which is given by her, as from 
the child, to the first person met, after the performance of 
the ceremony. When children of different sexes are to be 
baptized at the same time, care is taken that the boy is 
baptized first, for it is thought that if this order be reversed 
the lad will grow up beardless, and the girl on arriving at 
womanhood will, to her grief, be possessed of the hair he 
lacked. To be lucky the child ought to cry when the 
ceremony is being performed, and it is conjectured that this 
has originated in the fact that unclean spirits cried aloud 
w^hen driven out by our Saviour. 

The water sprinkled on the forehead is seldom wiped off, 
and to get something on which the baptismal water has 
fallen is to be possessed of a charm, and a mother some- 
times puts pins in the baby's breast before baptism, so that 
she may have something holy to give away to her friends, 
though even to them she will on no account divulge the 
child's name before baptism. As the child grows up, a gura- 
stick of juniper wood ought to be given it, as that will prevent 
its having toothache at a later age. From this time forward 
until the period has arrived when marriage is to be thought 
of, the youth is liable to no special danger from *evil 
eye,' witches, or fairies, and attention is paid only to those 
precautions which it is necessary all should take. 


Marriage, though certainly regarded as a most important 
step, does not seem in Sutherlandshire to be surrounded by 
the very numerous notions which hold in the southern part 
of the kingdom. Sutherland nigheans have few love "charms" 
and fewer means of ascertaining the form, features, and 


fortunes of their future partners. They are on the whole 
c:ontent to wait. Of the few "charms" there are, most belong, 
it is strange to say, to the vegetable kingdom. Thus they 
know that if the leaves of the elder tree be variegated, a 
wedding is sure to pass that way, and on Hallowe'en maidens 
sometimes still sow hemp as they did in the days of Burns, 
and repeat the words : — 

'* Hemp seed I sow thee, 
My love I do not know thee, 
Whether by land or whether by sea, 
Pray come and harrow this for me," 

and expect to sec the future partner come to do the harrow- 
ing. Much more faith is placed in dreams, and the favourite 
and quickest method of having these is to eat a salt herring 
before going to bed, and if one is to have a lover at all he is 
sure to appear with a drink of water to quench the consequent 
thirst. The years during which a girl still has to remain single 
are best known by counting the cuckoo's notes in Spring. 
When, however, the * contract' or formal betrothal is 
celebrated, the three weeks which intervene before the 
wedding is a time when young men and women may be 
similarly smitten by rubbing shoulders with the bride or 
bridegroom. They attend church on alternate Sabbaths, and 
on the night previous to the wedding there is much hilarity, 
but little forecasting of futurity at the feet washing, only 
when that is over they ought to sleep on different sides of 
running water, and next day it is best that they should not 
meet until they do so before the minister, and it is even 
better to get drenched with rain than to meet a funeral 
procession either going or coming. On leaving the church 

FOT.K LORE. 121 

after the ceremony they should be preceded by a married 
luck-insuring couple. When the house is reached bread is 
thrown over the bride's head, and for this there is a scramble, 
as there also is for the small silver coin which she on that 
day wore in her stocking, and which is always thrown among 
the company after she has retired. The finder of the coin 
is reckoned as pretty sure to be the first of that company to 
give cause for another similar happy gathering. When the 
bride and bridegroom leave home for the first time they 
should not, if possible, go out by the same door. After 
this, they with wonderful quietness and quickness settle down 
to their new life, and while health, wealth and prosperity 
continue, pay less and less heed to auguries and charms. 


But by and by, the dark messenger comes to them as to 
all, and its advent Sutherlanders have, in common with 
nearly all Highlanders, invested with peculiarly painful pre- 
monitions, for they certainly are mindful of their latter end, 
and many are the tokens which recall it to their memories. 
Unusual sights or sounds are readily construed as meaning 
that they are to be *' called." Animals, generally, are assigned 
a sharper vision than human beings in this respect. Thus, a 
cock which persists in crowing more than usual, and 
more especially if it does so at night, is deemed so sure a 
precursor of news of death that it is usual to go to the roost 
to look in what way its head is pointing, for from that 
direction will come the sad news. The unusual howling of 
dogs is another pretty sure omen, and sometimes a dog is 
said to howl with its head pointing in the direction of the 
dying one. When, at night, horses shy without apparent 


cause, they are believed to see something which human eyes 
cannot, and which is thought to be a phantom of a funeral 
which will soon pass that way. Birds —even innocent robins, 
tapping at a window on a winter's morning — denote death, 
no less surely than the demoniacal laughter of an owl in the 
neighbourhood. The sight of a Will o' the Wisp is a sure 
forerunner of death, and the direction in which it goes is 
eagerly watched by the seer. " Corpse candles " are, how- 
ever, a warning to the persons who see them that their time 
has come. Phantom funeral processions were often seen, 
and it was always considered best for the seer to stand aside, 
and let them pass, which they quietly did, but if relief were 
offered, the seer mi^ht expect to be remorselessly trampled 
on by the cortege. In his life of ** The Petty Seer," Mr. 
Maclennan tells the story of Janet Melville, Doll of Brora, 
who once accompanied such a cortfege from Greenhill to Loth, 
a distance of about fivt miles. It seems that Janet, who 
while serving with the minister of Loth, was visiting home at 
The Doll, and returning somewhat late at night saw the 
procession going forward in front of her, and walking quickly, 
caught it. She knew and spoke to several of those in it, but 
received no answer. She heard the man in charge give the 
order for * relief,* when those who bore it on their shoulders 
were changed. She, little thinking what it was, accompanied 
it to the churchyard, saw the coffin lowered into the grave, 
which was duly filled up, and then the whole vanished out 
of her sight. She now became thoroughly frightened, and 
hastened into the manse. A few days afterwards, a funeral 
cortege, composed of the very people she mentioned as 
having seen on that night, reached Loth churchyard, and 
buried a person in the very spot where shq had seen the 


spectre burial take place. Other * foregarfigs ' are numerous 
and awe-inspiring enough, such as Ufe village joiners hearing 
at the dead hour of night phanlbm joiners at coffin-making, 
or even in broad daylight seeing pieces of wood, usually laid 
aside for coffins, being moved by no human hands, but by 
what can only be the ghost of ihe person about to need it. 


The journey from birth to death is very seldom accom- 
plished without much intervening physical suffering, and the 
mass of medical folk lore which preceded the modern book 
lore and * first aids' is believable only when it is remembered 
that for each of the many ills which flesh is heir to there are 
many remedies. For every ill, Sutherlanders believed some- 
thing ought to be dotte, that applications of something ex- 
ternally or internally had to be made — ^just as not long ago a 
woman who scalded her foot, and not knowing exactly what 
to do, besmeared it with marmalade. 

Half a cure is to get the physician to understand the dis- 
ease ; and the method of arriving at the loca/e and nature of a 
disease varies; but two samples of doctoring lately 
practised in the county must be sufficient. Take on three 
consecutive mornings from a place over which the living 
and the dead pass three pebbles which have been 
covered by running water, mark them head, heart, and limbs 
respectively, put them into the fire until hot, let them next be 
placed in a basin of cold water, of which a few mouthfuls 
taken for several mornings will work a cure, no matter 
whether tlie disease be located in head, heart, or heels. But 
even the superstitious seem to believe in specific rather than 
universal remedies, and as there are separate cures for 












separate diseases, it is necessary to be certain of the exact 
ailment before applying the remedy. This is done as follows : 
Take a worsted thread, wind it round a spoon — preferably a 
horn one —name the disease the person is supposed to be 
suffering from, and then pass it three times round the crook, 
watching meanwhile if the thread comes off in the operation. 
If it does, the patient does not suffer from the disease named, 
but if the thread stays on, he does, and as the doctors' books 
say, * then apply the usual remedies.' 

For toothache, which surely bears the bell among diseases, 
no diagnosis is necessary, and, if persistent, it is oftenest 
charmed away by far more gentle means than the dentists* 
forceps. One of these charmers was, until removed by death, 
a weaver who, Silas Marner-like, lived in a lonely cottage, 
and alone, save for the converse he held with some weekly 
sensational newspapers, and visitors who found him an inter- 
esting retailer of old world ways. When a sufferer asked if 
he could cure toothache, he replied with characteristic caution 
" Indeed, some people are saying that I can, but perhaps 
yours is not of the kind that I can cure." On being assured 
that his cure would be tried, he without more ado went to an 
inner sanctum, and in about a quarter of an hour emerged 
with a folded piece of paper, which he said was to be worn for 
seven days underneath the waistcoat and over the heart, but if 
when relief came, the patient told the means by which it 
came, the pain would return. On the paper being opened, the 
following was found written in a very very shaky hand : — 

" Petter was sitting on a marable stone, weping. Jesus came 
by and said, '* What els (ails) ye. Petter answered and said, 
" tuaack (toothache). Jesus answered and said, ** be ye weel 
from that, Petter, and not ye only, but everyone that believe 


V /• 



on me, Petter, may the Lord Jesus Christ bless his own words, 
and to him be all the praze (praise), Amen." 

Evidently, it was long long ago known to dwellers in the 
north that a strong faith is about as powerful as any drug in 
the pharmacopoeia. A small piece of broom — and this 
savours strongly of witchcraft — kept in the mouth for som 
time after a charm has been muttered over it, is also a cure. 
Perhaps chemists can tell whether there be any curative sub- 
stance in it which would make it equally efficacious before 
being thus charmed. Another specific which is known to 
cure toothache is to take a common earthworm, carry it in 
the mouth "dumb" to the next parish, and there bury it. 
This is perhaps a little difficult to do in the Highlands, where 
everybody knows everybody else, and where, if you do not 
pass a remark regarding the weather to everyone you meet, 
you are thought to be very proud, or to entertain them a 
grudge. My informer tells me that she knows of several 
persons who were cured in this way, and among them, her- 
self; only, in order to be unseen, she left home at 3 a.m. One 
scarcely knows, in a case like this, whether to pity most the 
poor worm or the poor patient. 

The belief that the seventh son who is also the seventh 
child of the same father and mother, is a " born doctor," is 
common all over the country, but in the north of Scotland 
the poor fellow is not allowed to prescribe his cures, he must 
act them. And of the many which he is able to perform 
the two following may be taken as fair examples. Anyone 
suffering from a sore back has only to lie prone while this 
doctor walks seven times up and down on it. Should the 
sufferer be unable to bear this trampling it will suffice that the 
doctor step across the patient the same number of times. 









But it is in the case of " King's Evil " that he is most useful. 
To effect a cure the following procedure is necessary : — 

Take before sunrise some water from a well opening 
towards the north. Carry it dumb to the patient's house, 
and with this, the seventh son must in the forenoon, and 
before tasting any food, bathe the diseased part, say a short 
prayer, and spit on the water. This treatment must be 
continued for seven whole weeks, and for all this the poor 
doctor is to expect no fee. But this hydropathic treatment 
is humane when compared with that for fits, which is that a 
live cock of which every feather is black and the legs and 
beak yellow, be buried in the very spot where the fit first 
came on. 

When it is considered that so much good arises from the 
using of the mineral waters of the home and continental 
spas, it is not to be wondered at that sometimes the super- 
stitious should ascribe supernatural powers to them. But 
strangely enough though there are hundreds of lakes in 
Sutherlandshire, only one or two are regarded as possessing 
healing vii tues. The most celebrated of these is Loch Monar 
in Strathnaver, which may work a cure on any morning, but 
is particularly effective on the first day of May. Many 
stories are told as to how this lake acquired its power, but 
the one most generally accepted is as follows : — 

On its banks lived a woman who was possessed of a 
talisman, which, on the payment of a silver coin to its owner, 
gave a sure and speedy recovery to the donor, no matter 
what his or her disease might be. It must have been rather 
an ugly loss to the poor woman that she persistently refused 
to let the talisman do its good work if the donation were 
given by proxy, and to the sceptical this ought to be proof 


enough that she performed no cure for love of gain. But 
the maxim about the powerful being always envied by the 
powerless found no exception in this case, and the poor 
woman was attacked by a veritable scoundrel of the name 
of Gordon, who ** burglariously and feloniously " attempted 
to lighten her of her cherished talisman, and so hard was 
she " put to " that she actually threw it into the lake crying 
"Mo nkr, mo nar" (Anglic^ " for shame, for shame") and 
from that time to this the lake bears the name of Loch Monar. 
Though the talisman was thus lost to sight it became to 
memory dear, for it was soon found that the lake would now 
under rather peculiar conditions do the work of the talisman 
to all, save persons of the name of Gordon ! How his clans- 
men must have execrated him for being foiled by a woman. 
Now for the conditions. The believing patient has to come 
to the lake, bathe, dress, deposit a piece of silver and be out 
of sight of it ere sunrise. Though the coins thus deposited 
were protected by the threat that whosoever took them away 
also took the depositor's disease, very very few coins are now 
to be seen within its margin. 

It is the speciality of at least one woman in Sutherland- 
shire to extract any dust or specks which may have 
accidentally got into a person's eye. She tells that she 
requires to know into which eye the speck has got and what 
the sufferer's name is, that then she proceeds alone either 
before sunrise or after sunset, to a well opening to the north, 
utters a few words of Gaelic, takes a mouthful of the water 
in which when she puts it out again she invariably finds the 
troublesome speck. When asked as to how she got such 
peculiar power, she quite willingly tells that the Gaelic 
words which seem to constitute the charm were told her by 


her father who was an elder in the kirk, aod that he got 
them from an aged woman on her death-bed. This power 
can only be possessed by one person at a time, and to 
propagate it she repeats the charm to one person in her life- 
time, and he in his life-lime to one woman to whom the 
power comes after its former possessor's demise. " Many," 
she always adds, when she has told how it Is done, "would 
not like to be able to do this because I must not take any 
money for doing it, for when my father gave it me, he said, 
" Freely ye have received, freely give." 

It is a pity, that it has to be added that although only 
such specialists have the power of giving good health, yet 
it is believed to be in the power of most malevolent persons 
to give ill-heallh by means of the corp-creadh (clay body). 
For this purpose a clay effigy of the doomed one is made, 
pins are stuck al! over it, and then it is placed under falling 
water which, as it washes the clay away, will in some sym- 
pathetic way as surely sap away the health and means of the 
condemned person. 

Though the methods of effecting cures are legion, few of 
them, such as the wearing of earrings for sore eyes, are 
practised openly, most of them are nowadays preferably 
practised in secret — if possible without the knowledge of a 
second person, as when one suffering from a " sty " secretly 
pulls a single hair from a black cat and rubs it nine times 
over the pustule. 


The examination of a people's folk-lore must be more 
interesting than relics having an antiquarian value only, for 
these beliefs have a double meaning. They not only in 

FOLK LORE. 1 29 

some measure throw a light on how people lived and built 
up their beliefs in the past, but also on the means by which 
they thought, and have managed to get others to think after 
them, that they can divine the future. A few of these 
common in the county may be given. If it be found that any 
of our neighbours have meeting eye-brows they had better 
be avoided as unlucky, whereas if they have closely set 
teeth they may be regarded as greedy, but if they be possessed 
of teeth set widely apart their friendship ought to be culti- 
vated as they are sure to be generous and prosperous. To 
dream about teeth, however, is to foreknow that sorrow of 
some kind is at hand. For oneself coming events cast their 
shadows before in a variety of ways. An itch in the nose, 
usually called a " mermain,*' betokens the early arrival of a 
letter or a stranger ; the turning hot of the left ear shows that 
some one is speaking well of us, while a similar heating of the 
right denotes the reverse, and a loud tingling in the ear is warn- 
ing enough that the sufferer will soon hear of the death of an 
acquaintance. An itching of the right eye betokens joy, an 
itching of the right palm denotes that money will soon be 
placed in it, while an itching of the foot plainly foretells 
that a journey must soon be undertaken. The white specks 
on our finger nails are supposed to have a meaning quite 
s^pait from the cause which gave rise to them. The explan- 
ation in Sutherlandshire is : — 

Thumb, ... ... a gift. 

Forefinger, ... ... a beau. 

Middle, ... ... a friend. 

Third, ... ... a foe. 

Fourth, ... ... a journey. 


morning with any unlucky first foot, of whom the most 
undesirable was a flat-footed, red-haired woman. Even the 
cattle were not forgotten on New V'ear's day, as a good extra 
sheaf of unthrashed corn given to them was supposed to 
insure plenty throughout the coming year. Besides attaching 
importance to the first person met, when beginning a journey, 
it was considered advisable to ask and get a pin from the first 
person rnet, whereas it was extremely unlucky to turn back 
for anything forgotten. When servants set out for another 
situation, it is the proper thing to throw a shoe after them, 
quite as much as to do the same to a newly married couple. 
Perhaps one of the worst superstitions, and one which, for 
the sake of the people, were better dead, is the belief that it 
is extremely unlucky to report a thief, as he might, in conse- 
quence, become mad, but if the thief, being penitent, should 
wish to return the stolen goods, it is safest not to accept 
them. A story is told of a pig, once stolen, of which a part 
was afterwards restored to its owner, with the result that his 
daughter was choked while eating the first piece of it which 
was cooked. As a contrast to this, it is believed that whoever 
perjures himself commits an unpardonable sin, and that a 
suicide is not expected to go to heaven. Of other lost articles 
it is considered lucky to find a pin, and the person who lifts 
it lifts luck, whereas the finding of a knife, however valuable, 
betokens future ill. 

Many other superstitions must have been brought into the 
country at a comparatively recent date, as the ground on 
which they proceed had no existence in the Highlands until 
lately ; thus, the breaking of a looking glass is thought to 
forebode misfortunes, and should a child notice its own 
reflection before it is one year old, it will die before reaching 

FOLK LORE. 1 33 

its prime. Similarly, the divinations of fortunes in tea-cups 
must be another recent superstition. Again, some very 
widely believed superstitions do not hold in this county. 
Very few attribute any importance to the spilling of salt, else 
it would woe betide the women who work at herring curing. 
Recently, however, it has come to the writer's notice that one 
woman spilt salt at an enemy^s door, in the hope of doing 
harm, and harm was done, for a row not yet patched up was the 
result. The beliefs regarding thirteen sitting down at a meal, 
or of crossing one's knife and fork are very seldom heard, 
and few, if any, think anything of passing under a ladder. 
Regarding the moon, the most widely accepted supersti- 
tion here, as elsewhere, is that a change of weather is to be 
anticipated ac each quarter, and that it is lucky to have a 
piece of woollen clot^ or a silver coin in the hand, when first 
the new moon is seen. A later addition to this is that it is 
unlucky to see the moon through glass. 

Though the belief in the power of witches seems at present 
to be dying fast, it is as yet by no means dead At all times 
savage and semi-civilized peoples appear to have believed in 
it, and among African tribes it is still rampant in all its 
horrors. In Bible times, summary measures were adopted 
towards those who professed to have this power, and pre- 
tended to use it to terrify those who were weak-minded, 
and in Mosaic times they were silenced only by the injunction 
in Exodus xxii. i8, ''Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. ' 
Since the Roman Catholic Church, four hundred years ago, 
laid down in its Malleus Makfirarum (Hammer of witches), 
the procedure against witches, until 1772, when the last witch 


was burned at Dornoch for transforming her daughter into a 
pony, and getting her shod by the devil, it is estimated that 
no fewer than thirty thousand persons were put to death for 
this crime in Great Britain. Witches are now, however, by 
a statue of George IV. prosecuted only as rogues and vaga- 
bonds, and very very seldom as such. As elsewhere, those 
who in Sutherland had occult powers attributed to them, 
generally have some peculiarity. If a woman is of a masuline 
type, with say enough hair on her face to make a schoolboy 
envious, and particularly if she lives alone, and preferably in 
a lonely house, or is dumb or dwarfed, and perhaps cunning 
and malevolent, and has prophesied some evil to some 
unfriendly person which has actually come to pass, her 
character as a witch is soon firmly established. Rev. Mr. 
Mac Donald, Reay, tells of a woman who asked a coach 
driver for a Mift' He refused, and she simply said, "Very 
well, I will be in Thurso before you." A mile further on one 
of his horses fell dead, and he had the mortification of seeing 
the professed witch pass him in triumph. No one since then 
will willingly refuse her a drive. 

Witches are reputed to take the form of various animals. 
Sometime ago they were supposed to take the form chiefly of 
black cats. Pennant, in his first Tour to Scotland^ published 
in 1 77 1, says that at that time the belief in witches was dying 
out, and tells that there lived in Thurso a young man who 
was tormented by them in this form. After some lime he 
resolved to give them battle, and got ready his sword. When 
next he was attacked he slashed right and left, and cut off 
what he believed to be a cat's leg. Next day a woman 
appeared who begged him to return her her leg. This he 
did, and he told that he never afterwards was troubled by 

FOLK LORE. 1 35 

witches. To show the absurdity of the man's story, he was 
asked to say in what part the woman would have been 
wounded if the cat*s tail had been cut off. The form they are 
now believed oftenest to assume is that of a hare, and their 
chief avocation seems to be to interfere with cows and their 
produce, and many are the means used to guard against 
their malign influence. They were supposed to have a 
special aversion to the rowan tree, and in many a part of 
Sutherlandshire, where a green spot and a ruined house 
show that once a family lived there, may still be seen stand- 
ing a solitary old rowan, which had doubtless been planted 
for the purpose of keeping witches at a safe distance. They 
also hated iron, and the horse shoe — now an emblem of luck 
— was nailed behind many a byre door to keep them outside. 
But if the owners were shy to show their superstition so 
openly, it was deemed quite as efficacious to keep in the 
house a hare's stomach, as none of them that assumed the 
form of that animal would then come near. If these precautions 
have been taken, and the cows are still found to be without 
milk in the morning, the next most effectual plan is to put a 
crooked silver coin — for other shot is of no avail — into a gun 
and try to shoot the hare. If it is not seen while the gun is 
thus loaded, the bewitched cow should be bled, and in less 
than three months the cow belonging to the witch who milked 
the bled cow will die. Modern dairy teachers explain scien- 
tifically how it happens that * butter will not come,' but in 
Sutherlandshire they sometimes placed a silver coin in the 
bottom of the churn to make it come quickly, as well as to 
prevent the substance being taken away from the cream by 
any sinister influence. Others prefer to let no reputed witch 
have a taste of their milk, as it seems to be necessary that ere 


any witchery can be practised, such a taste is necessary. 
Others again, whose cattle have to be out during the summer 
nights, draw a hair tether all round the field in which the cows 
are grazing, and no hare will then venture into it. 

Fairies are still believed in, and though the means of 
inter-communication between this county and the rest of the 
world must have been for ages limited enough, yet the fairy 
tales current in Sutherland and the Reay country are those 
common to almost the whole race, so that it would seem that 
the tales which originally have been the delight of men in 
the childhood of the world, are now because of their simple 
charm become the delight of childhood. Fairies are repre- 
sented as little men and women dressed in green, living a 
life of jollity in the chamber of the *tullochs,' *brochs' or 
green knolls, of which there are so many in this county. 
They do little harm beyond exchanging their own children 
for those of any of the people around them, though even 
their own do not take kindly to the change, as they contin- 
ually cry in their new homes, and depart only when fire is 
applied to them. As they are represented as already possess- 
ing all things most desired for comfort in this world, it is 
conjectured that it is possible that they, like the Peris of the 
East, may be the descendants of fallen angels, and wish to 
get united to mankind in the hope of retrieving their position. 
One of them is said to have asked a good man, whom she 
saw reading the Bible, whether there was any hope for the 
like of her, to which he replied that he knew of hope being 
held out to all the sons of Adam, and to them only. Another, 
who was asked who she was, is said to have replied, ** I am 

FOLK LORE. 1 37 

not of the seed of Adam or Abraham." This conjecture 
regarding their origin is strengthened by the belief that they 
are unable to steal a baptized child, and * God bless you ' 
said to an unbaptized one is sufficient to save it from them. 
This expression seems to be able to terrify them at any time. 
The story goes that the fairies were long ago tired of crossing 
the Dornoch Frith in their cockle-shell boats, and resolved to 
build a bridge across it. This bridge was to be a work of 
great magnificence, the piers and posts and all the piles were 
to be mounted with pure gold. Unfortunately, a passer by 
lifted up his hands and blessed the workmen. When they 
heard this they disappeared beneath the waves, the sand 
accumulated, and there remains to this day the dangerous 
bar and quicksands of the (iizzen Briggs or Drochaid na Fuath. 
Notwithstinding their supposed descent, all ihe Sutherland 
fairy tales go to show that time was never felt to be passing 
by those who joined the fairy revels in their own homes, and 
a story told by Campbell in his Popular Tales of the West 
Highlands is an excellent specimen of those moat commonly 
retailed, it is as follows : — 

A man, who had just become a father, set off for I.airg 
to have his child's name entered in the session books, and to 
buy a cask of whisky for the christening fete. As they 
returned, weary with their day's walk, they sat down to rest 
at the foot of a hill, near a large hole, from which they were, 
ere long, astonished to hear a sound of piping and dancing. 
The father, feeling very curious, went a few steps into the 
cavern, and disappeared. The story of his fate sounded 
less improbable then than it would now ; but his companion 
was severely animadverted on, and when a week elapsed and 
the baptism was over, and still no signs of the lost one's 


return, he was accused of having murdered his friend. He 
denied it, and again and again repeated the tale of his friend's 
disappearance down the cavern's mouth. He begged a year 
and a day's law to vindicate himself, if possible; and used to 
repair to the fatal spot and call and pray. The term allowed 
him had but one more day to run, and as usual he sat in the 
gloaming by the cavern, when what seemed his friend's 
shadow, passed within it. He went down, heard reel tunes 
and pipes, and suddenly descried the missing man tripping 
merrily with the fairies. He caught him by the sleeve, 
stopped him and pulled him out. " Bless me ! why could 
you not let me finish my reel, Sandy ?" " Bless me," rejoined 
Sandy, " have you not had enough of reeling this last twelve 
month ? " ** Last twelvemonth," cried the other in amaze- 
ment ; nor would he believe the truth concerning himself, 
till he found his wife sitting by the door with a yearling child 
in her arms. 

Though generally harmless, they can also on occasion 
take vengeance, and they are said to have chased a man 
belonging to Rosehall into the sea, and destroyed a new mill 
because the earth for the embankment of the mill dam had 
been dug from the side of their hill. Nothing according to 
common belief seems to annoy them more than interference 
with their houses, and perhaps it is the dread of their venge- 
ance that makes so many labourers diffident co wurk at the 
opening of any of the brochs, when an antiquarian determines 
to examine one. It is related that a land improver once 
began to demolish a broch which stood in his fields. The 
work had been carried on only for a couple of days when the 
cattle began to die, the plague spread, and the demolition of 
the broch was meanwhile stopped. In the course of a week 

FOLK LORE. 1 39 

the farmer's wife had a visit from a little woman, who said 
she wanted a warming. Inquiry as to who she was revealed 
that she was a resident in the neighbouring broch for ages, 
and that the cattle plague was sent on them as a punishment 
for the destruction of her home. Restitution of the stones 
taken away was promised, and the good graces of the little 
wise people could again be won only by the lighting of the 
teine eigin (fire of necessity). Ere this could be effectually 
lighted, every fire in the district must be extinguished, and 
the hearths allowed to grow quite cold. The whole popula- 
tion must then congregate on a small island in the river, 
for water must necessarily be all around them. There, by 
means of two dried sticks, and a considerable amount of 
elbow grease, they managed to get a light. From this, the 
household fires were rekindled, the plague stayed, and glad- 
ness reigned once more in that district. 

Theories galore to account for the origin of the belief 
in fairies have been advanced, but the following is quite as 
plausible as any, and is the one most commonly accepted 
here. Before the Christian era, when the Celts came to 
Scotland, they found a very small limbed section of the 
Picts settled in the north. These, they gradually drove 
further and further into the wilds, where they built the 
numerous underground dwellings which are still in existence. 
But the Picts had greater intelligence than the large limbed 
Celts and gave them so much trouble that the belief soon 
gained ground that they were of supernatural origin. There 
still, indeed, lingers a belief in the deadly efficacy of the 
fairy arrow (saighead sithich)^ the flint heads of which are 
still embedded in the moorlands. If a Celt or any of his 
animate possessions fell dead pierced by such an arrow^ and 


the hand that sent it on its way was nowhere to be seen, 
what more natural than to attribute it to fairies? If the 
Celt lost himself in the depths of ihe forest, it is quite hkely 
that by choice he would have lain down on the dry grassy 
knoll, above an underground dwelh'ng, to await morning, 
and while there might have heard the sounds of music and 
revelry, which could only be inspired by uisgebaigh, which 
word, though now the accepted Gaelic for whisky, really 
means the juice of the birch or heather, from which they 
are reputed to have known how to make a delicious 

Other fairy tales there are, ghost stories, many of them 
gruesome enough, abound, methods by which witches might 
be met are told, explanations are numerous as to how cures 
could be wrought, but we now-a-days can see that whatever 
went beyond the work-a-day world of this ancient people, 
whatever was beyond their immediate ken was relegated to 
what to them was a region of philosophy and theology, at 
which we can afford to smile. It is all the same interesting 
and sometimes exciting to have a run back into the dark, 
and there dimly to understand the primitive thought of our 
far away ancestors, as well as what Ossian sings of as 

" Gathan gr^ine nan LVithcan a dh'aom 
S61a8 banail nan daoine a bh'ann." 

" Sunbeams of the days that were 
Social joys of men of yore." 



Rev. Adam Gunn, m.a. 

The subject of this chapter — the place-names of the 
county — is full of interest, not only to natives, but to 
antiquarians generally. The topographical record of Scot- 
land is being slowly deciphered, notwithstanding the 
difficulties of the task. Of late years a good deal of light 
has been thrown upon the place-names of the Highlands by 
the labours of Captain Thomas, Professor MacKinnon, Mr. 
Alexander MacBain, Inverness, and Mr. John Mackay, 
Hereford. In order to arrive at a satisfactory solution of a 
place-name, the following requisites are necessary :—(^rt^ 
access to the oldest written form of the word, in maps and 
manuscripts. In some instances this alone suffices to give a 
clue to its meaning : (b) acquaintance with the physical 
features of the locality is almost indispensable. Without 
this, all attempts are little better than guess-work : (c) a 
knowledge of Gaelic and Norse, and of the dialectic varieties 
of the former. A good ear, to distinguish the nicer shades 
of pronunciation, according as a consonant happens to be 
flanked by a broad or small vowel, is also necessary. 
This, of course, pre-supposes some acquaintance with Gaelic 
phonetics : (d) last, but not least in importance, is some 
knowledge of the history of the locality, as preserved often 
in the native traditions. In the matter of maps and manu- 


scripts we are fairly well oflfin Sutherland; and quite recently 
the student of place-names has received substantial aid by 
the printing of the Sutherland Charters by Sir William 
Eraser, in The Sutherland Book. 

The oldest map is Ptolemy's, who flourished in the second 
century of our era. His map of Scotland, as a whole, is 
unsatisfactory, for his initial error of placing it at right angles 
to England, produces an element of confusion. The tribes 
occupying Sutherland at this early period are the Caereni to 
the west, the Logi in the south, while the Cornavu occupy 
the northern shores and Caithness. Not a trace of these 
tribes can be discovered in the topographical record. Three 
capes and two rivers are also mentioned ; but critics are not 
agreed as to their locality. The headlands are Verubium, 
Virvedrum, Tarvedum ; the rivers, Ila, and Nabarus. 

The cape-names probably denote the headlands of Caith- 
ness, but the rivers are recognised as the original of lUigh 
and Naver — the Helmsdale river, being in Gaelic Avon- 
Illigh, Nabarus is in some MS.S. Nabaeus ; but almost all 
critics are agreed that the Naver is meant. The root seems 
\oh^ nav — swim; Lat. nav-is\ and Gaelic snamh. Skene 
considers Ila a pre-Celtic word, and points out that // is 
common in Basque topography. An examination of Ptolemy's 
map of Scotland does not yield much information. We may 
gather from its names, however, the fact that a Celtic popula- 
tion occupied Sutherland at the beginning of the Christian 
era, and for some centuries previous to it. These Celts were 
Picts, and formed part of the ancient Caledonians who 
opposed the Roman eagles at a later date. An Iberian or 
Basque population may have preceded them, and were 
probably the aborigines. 


The Norse occupation of Sutherland for some 400 years 
(800-1200 A.D.) is very clearly stamped on the topographical 
record. Nearly one-half of our coast names are Norse; and 
they are by no means confined to the coast, although more 
frequent there. In the Orkneyinga Saga we meet with the 
original form of many of these. Sometimes the Norse scribes 
make use of the Celtic name; but as a rule they gave names 
to the localities they visited, generally describing their 
physical characteristics. As these songs were written during 
the Norse occupation, or shortly thereafter, we may claim 
a very respectable antiquity for many of our Sutherland 

In Bleau*s maps, we meet with the spelling of the word 
as it was 200 years ago; but, unfortunately, the Rev. Timothy 
Pont, minister of Canisby, Caithness, who contributed the 
Sutherland portion, knew no Gaelic, and very little reliance 
can be placed upon his phonetic spelling. This energetic 
clergyman occasionally deviated into the etymology of place- 
names on his own account. About the middle of Strathnaver 
was a small hamlet called Saghair, Englished into Syre. 
Saor is the Gaelic for a wright or carpenter, and of course 
has no connection with the place-name ; but it appears on 
the map as " the wright's field.'* 

Perhaps the most valuable repository of the ancient 
spelling of Sutherland place-names is to be found in the 
Sutherland book, recently printed by Sir William Fraser, 
containing the Sutherland Charters from the twelfth century 
onwards. The large bulk of the names met with here 
belong to the south-eastern portion of the county ; only a 
very few of the names of Assynt and the Reay country occur 
in ancient manuscripts. 


It may be well at the outset to state the different classes 
of place-names which are to be met with in our county. We 
may conveniently range them under five heads — 

1. Remnants of the pre-Celtic speech. That there was a 
race of non-Celtic origin in North Britain is clear, and that 
some traces of these should be preserved in place-names is 
natural. We have already referred to Ila, in Bun-illigh ; 
the probability is that remnants of this pre-Celtic speech enter 
more largely into our topography than is generally admitted. 

2. Old Gaelic words now obsolete. A good example of 
this class is found in Elphin in Assynt. This is a compound 
word, ail (stone), an i fionn (white), and neither word 
is now in use Fionn^ white, occurs frequently in compound 
words, and is often placed before its noun. Foinaven in 
Durness, is probably fiionn-bheinn^ white-hill, so called from 
its appearance when the sun shines on the huge masses of 
rock on its summit. 

3. Norse words. This class is a large one, and they are 
mainly descriptive of physical features. 

4. W^ell known Gaelic names, which may be easily 
explained by the aid of a dictionary, and some knowledge 
of Gaelic. In the following paper, these will be passed over 
where they present no difficulty. 

5. Double names for the same locality — generally a 
Gaelic and a Norse name. Some of these are interesting. 
Tongue^ for example, may be designated in three ways, (i) 
Gaelic Ceann-t-sai/e, Kintail i. e. head of the salt-water. To 
distinguish it from another Kintail in a neighbouring county, 
it was called of old " Kintail a' Mhic-Aoidh." (2) Kirkiboll, 
Norse, the Kirk-town. (3) Tonga^ Norse Tongue — from the 
.slip of land running into the sea at Tongue Ferry. Now all 


of these are applied to the village of Tongue ; but the parish 
name is invariably in the mouths of the older inhabitants 
" Sgire Chinn-taile!^ 

To this class also belongs the county name. Sutherland 
comes from Sudrland, Norse, Southern land. It is curious 
to find this name given to a county which for sixty miles 
borders on the north sea Hut we must remember, that 
when it was so called by the Norsemen, it embraced only 
what is now the south-eastern iK)rtion of Sutherland — a 
district which is still distinguished by its (jaelic name 
Cataobh. Katanes -Caithness - was the name applied to 
the north coast from Cape Wrath to Duncansbay Head. 

The Celtic Caiaobh is an older term, and comes from 
C'atti probably an oblique case of it. This must have been 
a pretty numerous tribe in pre-historic times -having given 
names to Caithness and Sutherland. On Celtic ground the 
root is common. It occurs in (!!aturiges (cath righrean) 
warlike Kings, and in Catu-slogi (Cathsluagh) warlike 
people, and in the proper names Catullus, Cassivellaunus, 
and Cathel. The root is cath^ war, and its prevalence among 
all branches of the Celtic race is significant. 

There is no Ciaelic name for what is now known as 
Sutherland. Cataobh designates only the south-eastern 
portion. Lord Reay's Country, (Gaelic Duthaich-Mhic- 
Aoidh — Mackay's land) and Assynt, (i. - Asint^ were included 
in Sutherland about 1630, when John, XIII. Harl of Suther- 
land surrendered to the King the heritable offices of sheriff 
and coroner of Sutherland for ;^iooo stg., and the King 
added Strathnaver, Strath-halladale, Eddrachillis, Durness, and 
Assynt to the district called Sutherland, and erected the whole 
into a free and .separate sheriffdom. This is how the old 



Norse Sudr land was extended to include the north and 
western portions of the county. When first applied, it exactly 
described its position — south of Caithness, which in Norse 
limes extended along the sea-coast to Cape Wrath. This 
extensive county belongs now almost wholly to the Duke of 
Sutherland. The Macleods of Assynt never prospered after 
the betrayal of Montrose, and the litigation that ensued. The 
property passed for a time into the hands of the Seaforth 
family, but finally came into the possession of the Earl of 
Sutherland. 'I'he other district, which did not originally form 
part of Sutherland, was the Reay country, and it too passed 
into the hands of the Sutherland family in 1829, being bought 
by I^rd Gower for the sum of ;^3oo,ooo. 

In a paper like this it will be impossible to examine all 
the place-names on the survey maps ; and it would be un- 
profitable. Notice will be taken only of such words as present 
some difficulty to an ordinary Gaelic scholar. Beginning with 
the parish of Farr, which now includes the Sutherland jxirt 
of the parish of Reay, we shall work our way westwards along 
the north coast, deviating now and then into the interior of 
the county, along the water courses. We may follow the 
coast as far as Assynt, where we shall turn eastwards by the 
parish of Creich, and strike the sea again at the Kyle of 
Sutherland. From that point we may turn northwards by 
the coast, and complete the circuit. 

Parish of P^arr. 

This extensive jxirish of 267,040 acres is, like ancient 
Gaul, ** divided into three parts " by the rivers Halladale, 
Strathy, and Naver. In olden times, the bulk of the popula- 
tion lived in these three valleys. In the Orkneyinga Sa^a 


they are called the "Dales of Catanes." Of easy access 
from the Orkney islands, we may infer an earlier and a more 
complete Norse occupation, and the topography bears this 
theory out. 

Strath- halladaU comes first in order — a beautiful valley, 
about 14 miles long. Halladale is Norse, hel^adale (holy dale) 
Strath (Gaelic) was prefixed, when the meaning of Norse da/e 
was forgotten, i'his often hap[)ens in place-names. Maenstone 
in Cornwall is " stone-stone " ; the latter stone being added 
when the natives forgot the meaning of Cornish ///rt^//-stone. 
So (laelic Dal hall a dale. The first dal is Gaelic, and we 
can always distinguish the ('eltic dal from its cognate Norse 
dale by its position. In Gaelic , the generic term comes first, 
thus, Dalmore is Gaelic dal, and mor large ; but I^ngdale is 
Norse dale^ long dale, and comes last. Hel^a may very likely 
have been a proper name. 

Forsinard ?Lnd Forsinain. These are made up of Gaelic 
and Norse. Fors is N. a waterfall : ard is G. high, and ain 
G. low, aiue (Uovl\ fhaine, com[). o{ fan down, now obsolete/ 
Rob Donn has 

** An rum x^fhaine tha 'san tir " 
('I'he linvest room in the land). 

Trantle-mor and Trantle-deg. N. here is euphonic, and is 
not heard in Gaelic Traudal. The word is Norse. ** Trow " 
is the lower ground through which a river runs, and dale, 
Norse dalr (trow-dale). We now come to some half-a-dozen 
Gaelic names lower down the strath, viz : 

Croick G. cro^^ the hand, from the natural configuration. 
Dalhalvaig — G. dal^ dale, and sealbha^^ sorrel. 
Kealsey — G. caol^ caolas^ narrow, and / or uidh^ stream. 


Ardachy — (>. ard^ high, achadh^ field. 

Achumore — G. achadhy field, mor, big. 

Cuilftarn — G. CoilUy wood, y^rir/i, alder. 

Kirkton — (}. Baile-na-h-eaglaise^ was the most important 
township on the Halladale. There was a church here in 
Norse times — doubtless of Culdee origin. Here also was the 
consecrated burying-ground for the lower parts of the strath, 
and still used as such. The site of the church may yet be 

GoivaL G. Gai/y stranger, and Imi/e, township. 

The " strangers " were no doubt Norse. Caithness, w^here 
the foreigner came to settle permanently, is Gallaobh to the 
present day. 

Achredigill. Norse, with the exception of ach^ achadh. 

This is the first instance of Norse, giiiy a ravine, which is 
very common in Sutherland ; as a terminal suffix it occurs as 
frequently as dale. Sometimes it is apt to be confounded 
with the oblicjue case of Ciaelic, gea/^ white. Smigel -the 
name of a burn higher up the strath, shows the same 

Bighouse. ( iaelic an Torr^ Norse big hus. There are 
two places of this name on the strath ; and they are interest- 
ing as showing the part which the sinking of the accent plays 
in Gaelic phonetics. In the case of upper Big-house^ the 
first syllable is accented, and with the accent thus sunk upon 
it, it ceases to be used as a compound word, and appears on 
the map as Begas. Its origin forgotten, it is used as a Gaelic 
word. But the lower Bighouse still remains a compound word, 
and it is never called Bighouse in Gaelic, but an Torr^ the 
heap or fortified place, where of old a castle stood to defend 
the entrance to the bay. 

topo(;raphv. 149 

Before cjuitting Strath-hallad;ile, it may be mentioned that 
there are remains of two l*i("tish towers on opposite sides of 
the river, half-way u|) the strath, and also at CiuH-anjhreaca- 
dain or watchhill. These, with the fortification at the mouth 
of the water, were its military defences. From Theiner's 
Monumenta —?i Vatican MS. we learn that the church of 
** Haludal " in 1274 contributed 94 to the Ousades, and a 
similar sum in 1275, this time '' Hclwedale." 

We now come to the north coast, where Norse names 
prevail, \fehich is from X. meh^ sand-bank or links, and 
N. 7'//', a bay, a creek. Portskerra N., /^vV, harbour, and 
sker^ a skerry. Gaelic^ S}:!;eir is borrowed from this word, and 
enters largely into place-names. 

Baligill^ ( f. haile, township, and X. ,;v//, a ravine. The 
burn to the east of the village answers N^orse ^ill ideally. 
There was a ( astle on the edge of the cliff here, separated 
from the mainland by a narrow neck of land ; but there are 
no traditions preserved. Strathy is Ciaelic, strath. The 
termination )• is probably Gaelic /, water, stream. This 
forms the second of the dales opening from the north coast. 
It is about 12 miles in length ; but it was not so densely 
populated as the valleys of the Halladale and Naver. Its 
place-names are partly Celtic and partly Norse. 

Dal-bhaite is the submerged dale, Gaelic baite^ drowned, 
seen in Hadenoch. 

Rhi-ruadh^ Gaelic, red burn. Rhi may be a flowing 
stream, or a declivity. It is very common in the diminutive 
form Rhian. It is cognate with Greek reo. 

Dal-tim^, Norse thin^^ where the parliament met. This 
word on the map appears as Daltine, and the latter part is 
easily mistaken for ieine^ fire. But the phonetics of the 


Gaelic forbid this derivation. Half-way up the glen, it was 
the meeting place of the Norse settlers (compare Dingwall 
for Thing'Vollr), 

Bowset^ Norse, bo and settr : "shelling dwellings " This 
se//r occurs frequently in I^wis as shader. In Sutherland, 
it takes the forms se/ and sai'/e. 

Dalangddk — Norse Zrt«(,''-dale-langdale. 
Bra-rathy Ci. Braigh-rathie^ upper Strathy. 
An t-Seilach — (>. seilach^ willow. 

An uair. This is a name given to one of the tributaries 
of the Strathy river. Its meaning is not quite clear, although 
it has something to do with water. In the native dialect an 
uair is often used for a sudden storm of wind and rain; 
also for a water-spout. Allowing for the dipthongisation, the 
original form should be ur\ and tira is Basque for river, water. 
This is probably a pre-Celtic remnant. 

Returning again to the coast, and proceeding westwards, 
we come to Rrawl^ (). braighbhaile. Lendnaguilkan^ G. 
Leathad^ slope. The last part is difficult, probably a Gaelicised 
plural of N. gills, 'i'his would suit the natural scenery well ; 
at its south end are numerous gills and gullies. 
Armadale^ Norse armr^ arm of sea and dale. 
Pillaoriscaig, is a sea-side hamlet at the back of Armadale. 
/W/, is G. poll or N. pool, which are cognates. Aoriscaig 
appears again as Ch^erscaig on Loch Shin. In both places 
there is a stream and small bay. Aig is a remnant of vik. 
We are left thus with aoris or overs to account for; and aross 
means a river mouth in Norse (cp. Arisaig, aros-vik). 

Kirtom}\ in Gaelic Ciurstamaidhy accented on first syllable, 
Norse Kj'ors, copse-wood, and Icelandic hwam-r, a. little 
valley. Norse words beginning with h, require a / in Gaelic 

topo(;raphv. 151 

phonetics. Out of holmr and hor-ja^r arise such forms as 
I)un-/ulm and Tbrga-bost. 

Swordly^ Norse Svardr and dak^ sward, dale. 

Farr, There is a village of Farr, and Farr Point. The 
parish took its name from these. (Gaelic and Norse claim the 
word. Norse /rt^r, a ship (Faroe Islands), and Gaelic y^7/>f, 
watching. Although a of Farr is long in English, the Gaelic 
is short, fir. In ancient MS.S. it is always spelled F'ar. On 
the whole a (iaelic derivation is more probable. 

Crask^ G. cross-way. All the Crasks in Sutherland agree 
in this respect that they denote a short pass leading from one 
village to another, or from one parish into another. 

Betty hill. A mo J cm name, so called from Countess 
Elizal)eth, who built an inn there. The Gaelic name is 
Blaranodhar^ the dun field. 

Achina^ G. acliadli^ and atli a ford. ^ 

Inver Naver^ G. mouth of the Navcr. 

Strathtiaver. If we accept Ptolemy's A'^r^/zv/y, as indicat- 
ing the river Naver, the matter is finally settled. In old 
MS.S. it is sometimes Strathnavernia, and often Strathnavern. 
The Norsemen took possession of it early, as was likely from 
its large extent and valual)le arable lands, but the old name 
was probably retained. This, no doubt, is one of the dales 
of which the Norse poet sings when he tells of the extension 
of Earl Sigurd's power "over Scotland, Ross, and Moray, 
Sudrland ?iv\6. the Dales.'' This would be about 980 a.d. ; 
and as Caithness " dales " were occupied 200 years earlier, 
the reference must be to the dales of modern Sutherland. 
It is not likely that they secured possession without a struggle. 
On this beautiful strath are several remains of circular towers, 
and so situated for 24 miles inland, that intelligence could be 


quickly conveyed by signals from the coast to the interior. 
But there was no resisting of the foreign invader, and the 
valley of the Naver records the subjugation of the Celt on 
its tell-tale topographical face. 

Stra'ihnavek Place-names : 

Achmihourin^ i\. achadh and buir^^fiean^ ^*^'^S^i field of 

Apigiii^ Norse ^7//, a deep ravine, is evident. Af^ 

Achchear^arr\\ G. achadh^ field. Kergarry, N. Kjarr^ 
brushwood, and garthr^ field. 

Skelpick^ Ci. sgeilpeach^ shclvy, terraces. 

Rhifail^ (1. r///, declivity,/^//, an enclosure. 

Skail^ N. shieling. 

Dahifia^ G. Dal^ dale, mine^ smooth, Dalmhine. 

Syre (doubtful), CJaelic Sa^hair^ probably N. settr. 

Dalharold^ N., Harold's dale. Some standing stones are 
found here which tradition connects with a conflict fought 
between Harold (Maddadson), and Reginald of the Isles 
(circa 1 198). One of the standing stones is called Clach-an- 
righ, the King's stone. 

AchnesSy G., the waterfall on the Mallart gives name to 
the place ; achadh-an-eas, field of the cascade. 

Achooly G. achadh-choi/ICy field of the wood. 

Grumbeg and grumhmore^ sometimes called in Gaelic 
na grumbaichean^ are probably of (yaelic origin. Grum is a 
variant of drum, a ridge, whence Drumbeg in Assynt. Initial 
g and d are apt to change places, for the reason that in the 
aspirated and oblique cases, they are pronounced similarly, 
dhruim^ ghruim. 

topo(;raphv. 153 

Altnaharra^ N. and (i. <///, burn. Harra, Norse for 
heights- com[)are Harris, so called from its hills. We have 
several such burns in Sutherland, and this derivation suits 
very well their character. 

Mudale^ N. muir, dale. 

Bad-an-t-seobha^^ Ci. bad^ clumps collection, place, and 
seobhag, hawk. 

Parish of Toncjue. 

Its (xaelic name, Kintail, (head of the sea), was the 
district name until 1724, when a separate parish was formed, 
I>arish of Tongue (N. ///«c, a tongue), out of the original 
extensive parish of Durness. The place-names of Tongue 
are a mixture of Norse and (iaelic, the former prevailing. 

Torrisdale^ N. Thors^ dale, cp. Thurso. 

Achtoiiidh^ (1. achadh^ field, tobhta^ a C iaelic loan-word 
from N. toft^ tuft, hillock. 

Skerra\\ N. skerja^ borrowed as (iaelic sgeir. Almost all 
words beginning with sg^ si\ are loan-words in (Gaelic. The 
Celt disliked initial s^^. 'I'he Welshman gets over the diffi- 
culty by prefixing^. 

Scullomie^ N. j^^;/ (cup-shaped), h7vamr^ village. 

LamigOy N. Iamb's goe. 

ColbackVy N. kyie and bakki, sand-banks, so named from 
the sand-banks at the mouth of the Kyle. Norse Kyie 
becomes Keolm Gaelic, cp. Keoldale (Kyle dale). 

Ribigill^ N. rygar-boi, ladies' township. Old spelling 
Rigaboll, by metathesis Ribigill. 

Tongue, N. tonga, tongue. 

Kirkiboll, N. Kirkja-boll, church town. 

Meiness, N. melr, sand-bank, ness, point. 


Skianaidi G. sgiath^ wing, ar.J aifey place ; "the wing of 
the place ** is fully descriptive. 

Talmifi, G. tatamh^ earth and soil, and tnine^ smooth.? 

Fori Vasco. On the ordinance survey maps it is etymolo- 
gised into G. port aft fhasgaidh^ port of shelter. The word 
is more probably Norse, the final goe^ creek, proving its Norse 

Achaninver^ achadhHin-inbhir^ Ci. inbhir^ river-mouth. 

Afoiney G. am moine^ the moss or peat-moss. 

Beinn Thutaigy a hill 1340 feet high. Removing the 
aspiration, the original form is Tuif-aig, Aig is of frequent 
occurrence as a place ending, and generally means small. 
Tnif is from N. fofty knoll. 

LettermorCy G /(?///>, hillside, mor^ great. 

Hyshackie^ N. hiis^ house, bakkiy bank, ridge. 

Ben Loyaly G. leamh and choilly elm-tree. ? 

Parish of Durness. 

Until 1 7 24 this parish extended from Kyle Sku on the 
west to the water of Horgie, thus including modern Tongue, 
Durness, and Eddrachillis. It is divided by arms of the sea 
into three sections, the Moine district, including EriboU ; 
Durness proper, between the Kyle of Durness and Loch 
Eriboll ; and the Parph district, between the Kyle of Durness 
and the Atlantic. Its place-names are mainly of Scandinavian 

DurnesSy N. deer and nes point \ point of the deer. 
Various other derivations have been given, but none suits the 
phonetics but the above. In old MSS. and the Sagas, it is 
always Dyrnes, 


There is a small village, Durtn, which some suppose has 
given name to the parish, but the Gaelic of Durin is an 
Diirinn : d is flanked by a broad vowel, and not by a small 
as in Diuirineas. Besides, the parish name is very old, and 
Durin, only a modern township, comes from G. dubhy black, 
and rinn^ point, or raon^ field. The soil of Durin is different 
from the sandy soil of the neighbouring district. 

Eriboll^ N. eyrr^ pebbly-beach, and boll^ township. 

HopCy river, loch, and ben ; comes from N. Hbp^ a bay, 

Arnaboiiy N. township of the eagle. 

Heilim^ N. holmr^ an islet, often a rock detached from 
the mainland. 

Frcs^^ill^ N. .j;^/*//, a ravine, /rrf^^-rt, noisy. The name may 
have been given from the noise of the sea in the caves in its 
face. One of these is said to extend half a mile inland. 

Polla^ G. poll^ and i, ford. 

lAiidy (i. LeuihiiJy slope. 

Rispondy N. rhisy copsewood, and G. beinn. 

Sath^obe^^ and Stui^ifntorc. N. sand^ and j^ofy bay. 

Duriney see above, under 1 )urness. 

Balnakily G. builty and r///, church. There was a Culdee 
monastery here. From Theiner's monumenta — a Vatican 
MS. — we gather that the church here contributed fourteen 
shiUings and eight pence for the crusades, in the year 1274. 

KeoldaUy N. Kyle and dale. 

Farrid Head, Ordnance survey map etymologises this 
'\n\,o far-out-fuad ! The Gaelic is an fhairid, am /aire aite, 
the watch-place. 

Parph, N. hvarfy receding, a turning away. 

Achimorey G. athadh, field, ///i>r, large. 


Dall^ O. duly dale. 

Kcnvick, Here there is a small bay - - wick^ which 
probably is the last part of the word. On the maps it is 
Cearifhag. The (Jaelic pronunciation is ceathramh-ilg. Car 
is a common prefix, signifying a fortified place, from (Jaelic 
caithir^ a city. We have it in this district in Car-breac^ 
wjiere there does not appear any trace of a fortification. 

Cape Wrath, This it entirely the map-maker's name, 
taken from the (Jaelic parbh. N. hiHirf. P. as an initial 
sound is not Celtic ; hence the Lewisman calls it not am 
Parbh^ but an Cairhh. The hill on which the light-house 
stands is called an dutian, the small fort. If we agree with 
many that Tanked unu in on IHolemy's map represents Cape 
Wrath, and not a Caithness headland we might connect 
tan^e with modern parbh^ the Greek letters / and / being 
easily confounded in the MSS. On this theory, parbh would 
be a pre-Celtic word. 

Parish of Eddrachillis. 

Eddrachillis once formed part of the parish of Durness, 
It was erected into a separate parish in 1724, when Kinloch- 
bervie district was added to ancient Eddrachillis^ eadar-da- 
chaolas, between two Kyles- -Kyles Sku and I^xford. 

It now comprises about 175 scjuare miles. The western 
portion once formed part of the barony of Skelbo, and was 
included in the church lands assigned by Hugh Freskyn, 
ancestor of the Sutherland family, to Gilbert, the Bishop, 
1200 A.D. He again bequeathed it to his brother, Richard 
Moray, of Culbyn ; but the church maintained its claim in 
subsequent times. About 1440, it passed into the family of 
Kinnaird, of Kinnaird, by whom it was disposed in 15 15 to 

topoc;raphy. 157 

John Mackay of Eddrachillis, son of Mackay of Strathnaver, 
the superiority remaining with the Earl of Sutherland. The 
purchase of the Reay Estates restored it to the House of 
Sutherland, after a lapse of 650 years. 

Kinlochbervie^ G. Ceann-loch-buirbhidh^ head of Ix)ch 
Buirve. There is no such loch now as Bervie. But there 
are remains of a burg or fort, on an arm of Loch Inchard, 
whence the name. 

Ashare^ on the maps, Oldshores. There are two Oldshores. 
The old spelling in Privy Seal Record is Aslarmore, Aslarbeg, 
155 1. The (Jaelic pronunciation is Ashar, the first a being 
long. This gave rise to the conjecture that it vs, fas-thire^ as 
opposed to the sterile district of Ceathramh-garbh, rough quarter. 

Sandwoody G. Seanuabhat from Norse sand^ sand, vat^ 
lake, the sandy lake. 

Sinairidh^ (i. seanu^ airidhy old shieling. 

Badcall^ G. bad^ clump, coille^ wood. 

Achreisgiiliy G. ach, field, N. rhis^ coi)se-wood, and gi//, a 

Rhiconich^ (i. r///, declivity or running stream, and coineach, 

Achlighmss^ G. achadh-iuidh-anuisge, wet field. 

Inchard, an arm of sea ; the last part is N fiord, the inc/i, 
suggests G. iftnis, an island or peninsula, but is more likely 
Norse; cp. Icelandic Inties, resting houses. Inchard is one ot 
the best harbours on the coast. 

Lax/ord, N. hiXy salmon, ami fiord, loch. The Gaelic is 
Luisard, a corruption of the Norse. 

Scourie. There is a Scouroe in Arran, which is explained 
by Lytteil as a Norse term meaning Robbers' Hold, or 
Buccaneers' Fort. 


Handa Island^ N. sandy isle. 

Fana^-more^ G. Feannag^ an agricultural term, Eng. lazy 

Tarbaty a common place-name all over the Highlands. 
G. An Tairbeart, The old derivation tarruing-bhat^ drawing- 
boats, must be given up. The characteristic of Scottish 
Tarbats is, that they mostly all form peninsulas. This 
suggests a Norse derivation from bhat^ vatti^ water. 

Badcall-scourie (given above). There are many small 
islands in Badcall bay, all bearing Gaelic names. 

Duart-more^ G. dubk, ard^ height. 

Kyiestrome^ N. Kyle,, and strim^ stream. 

The Principal Hills of Eddrachillis are: — 

Beifine-Leothaidy G. leathad^ slope. 

Beinn-staCy N. stakkr^ abrupt hill. 

Beinn-stroftiy N. as above. 

Beinn-Arkie, N., the latter part being yir//, Norse for hill. 
The first part of the word is possibly N. ark^ from its level top. 

Meall Horn^ Ci. ineall,, eminence, N. horn,, oblique case of 
arn-Ty eagle. 

Meally Rinidhy and Altan-rinidhy G. rinn^ point. 

Sabhaiy beag^ and mor, G. sabhal^ barn. 

Parish of Assynt. 

The parish of Assynt forms the w^estem portion of 
Sutherland. Its extreme length is 36 miles. Tradition has 
it that it once formed the hunting grounds of the Thanes of 
Sutherland, for which it was well adapted from its moun- 
tainous character. From the middle of the 14th century to 
the close of the 1 7th, it belonged to a sept of the Macleods 


of Lewis. The last haron, Neil, the betrayer of Montrose, 
lost the property after a protracted litigation, when it passed 
into the hands of the Seaforth family. In 17 15, the Seaforth 
estates were forfeited to the Crown ; and in 1758, Assynt 
was sold to the Earl of Sutherland, with which family it has 
remained to the present day. 

AssvNT Place-names: 

Assynt. No satisfactory derivation has been given of this 
name. The Norse a-synt^ seen from afar, in reference to its 
mountains, has been suggested ; but the probability lies in 
favour of a Gaelic origin. Ais is an obsolete Ciaelic word for 
hill 'y we have it in aisridh^ a hill, a path. Duncan Ban uses 
asainn in reference to the habitat of the deer : — 

*' 'S i 'n asainn a mhuime 
Tha cumail na ciche 
Ris na laoigh, bhreac bhallach." 

A very large proportion of Assynt names are Gaelic, and 
easily recognisable. The following explain themselves readily 
to the Gaelic student -Inchnadamph (stags' pasture), Culkin 
(back of the head), Badnaban (nun's place), Balchladich 
(sea-side village), Clachtoll {clach^ stone, toll, opening, hole), 
Clashnessie (waterfall), Drumbeg (small ridge), Knockan, 
Culag (small wood, recess), Strathan. The following present 
more difficulty :- - 

Elphin, G. ail, stone, Tnw^fionn, white (both obsolete). 

Ach-melvich, melvich is Norse, mel, sand-bank and vik, 

Oldaney^ N. ey, islantl. 

Raffifiy G. rath, a circle, Vind^onn, white 


Bracklochy G. breaCy trout and loch. 

Soyea^ sheep isle, N. saudhr^ sheep, cp. Soa and Hoan^ the 
latter, in Durness, an oblique case. 

Feliriy G. Feith and //««, marshy, pool. 

Unapooly N. bol often takes this form of pool. Una may 
be a proper name (cp. Ullapool, Olave's town). 

Ardvar, G. ardy high. There is a river, glen, or loch of 
this name. Var may stand for mhara, sea, or bharr^ a top. 
The latter is more likely. Bar^ in Sutherland, mean crops. 

Neddy G. a nest, from its a[)pearance. 

Stoery G. sthry a high steep cliff. 

LetteressiCy G. /?///>, countryside, eas^ cascade. 

Kirkai^y N. church land. There is a village, bay, and 
river of the name. A Culdee establishment was here ; not 
far off is Badinaban, the nun's place. 

Clachtolly i\. oj)ening in a rock. Here, until quite 
recently, were two large boulders, with another on the top of 
them, forming an o|)ening. One piece of the upper stone 
gave way at the French Revolution. It was predicted that 
the structure would entirely collapse on the arrival of some 
other important event ; and the Disruption of the Church in 
1843 saw the prophecy fulfilled ! 

Tralagilly N. TrolPs gii/y giant's ravine. 

Sironchrubie, ( i stroffy nose, chrubie from crubadhy crouch- 
ing, bent. Crubie enters largely into place-names, cp. CrubiUy 
Criiboj^Cy Sliti^ecroo/y etc. 

The MOST important of the Assvnt Hills are : — 

Benmor€y (i. large hill, 3230 feet high. 
Cuinagy a lofty ridge, extending from Unapool and 
terminating in a peak above Loch Assynt. It derives its 


name from the minute peak in which it terminates. G. 
cuinfteagy a narrow-mouthed bucket. 

Suilven (English Sugar-loaf), N. sulr^ stack, cp. Sulasgeir^ 
a rock, about 30 miles off the north coast. 

Canisp. This hill rises to a height of 2780 feet. Can 
is old Gaelic for white ; but the latter part is doubtful. 

The most important Lakes ark : 
Loch Assynt, the largest in the parish. 
Cam Loch, G. cam^ irregular. 
Loch Vaftie, N. vatNy water. 
Skinas/iifiky G. sg/a/Aa/iar/i, winged loch. 
Urigill, N. Utri-gill, further gill. 

Parish of Creich. 

This parish, for thirty-five miles, forms the southern 
boundary of Sutherland, hence the name (}. crkh^ boundary. 
Norse names are not (juite so common here as on the coast, 
but a few do occur, as Spinningdale, Swordale, Migdale, which 
prove the occupancy of the district by the Norseman. 

Migdale^ N. moist, dale, N. mokkr. 

Swordale^ in old charter, Suardell^ N. sward, dale. 

Achtemore, G. large field. 

Rhiancoup, rhian and rian are fre(iuent in place-names. 
The root meaning is reo^ to flow, hence a slope, declivity, or 
running stream. Cop is G. foam, and copag (Scotch) docken. 

Linnside, G. lion, flax, or N. //////, waterside. 

Aihinduichy achadh, field, and davoch^ a measure of land. 

Inveran, CJ. Inver, mouth of river. 

Balblair, G Ifaile, town, blar, field. 

Portnalicky G. port and leac, gen^ lie, rock. 

Drimlea, G. druim, ridge. Hath, grey. 


Limheroy, G. lub, bend, croy, an enclosure, horse-shoe. 

Ospisdak, N. dale, and Osph, a proper name. 

Ardens, CI. ard, high. 

Riisshall, Glen Rossal, elc, Ci. roj, a peninsub. 

Aiiass, G. (ik//, a stream, ihj may be a corruption of uis^. 

Badfliuchy (!, wet place. 

Pulnmit, G. poll, pool, r^j, isthmus, //, water. 

Tulloeh, G. tultuh, a hillock. 

Lanuhan, G. larach, habitation ; gorge. 

Bmiar, G. .^' hhann-a. G. hun-atha, the foot of the ford. 

Basset, N. boseitr, dwelling-place. 

C<ij//f, River, G. CrtJ, swift, /r^A.-, flood. 

I'ARrsH OK Lairg. 

Lairg is an inland parish, about twenty miles from the 
sea, and mountainous in character. There are a great many 
remains of the ancient "dunes" in the district, which point to a 
consideral)le population in olden times. Its place-names are 
nearly all Celtic, as might have been expected. The Norse- 
men did not care to make locations at any great distance 
from the sea. 

Lairg, G. Iftirg, a sloping ground, an eminence. 

Ackadhphris, G. field of the bush, /^cuj, a shrub. 

Baleharn, G. the township of the cairn. 

Balindialish, G. diahiis, a weed, a kind of cabbage. 

Culbuit, G. nil, a recess, or cotlle, wood, huie, yellow. 

Balloan, (;. marshy town.ship, Ihn, a marsh. 

The rhians are numerous (from rhi, slope), Rhianbreck, 
Rhianmuir, Rhimarscaig, Rhinamain, Shinness, N. sunnan, 
nos, southern point. 


Torresboll and Collaboll are also Norse ; but the remain- 
ing are clearly Gaelic, and present no difficulty to a Gaelic 
scholar. Examples —Dalchork^ Tomich^ Suva/, etc. 

Strath TirrVy G. tior^ dry, good soil. 

River Shirty Shinness is said to be sunnan-nos, Norse 
for southernmost point of Sutherland. Shin would thus 
mean souths which is the direction taken by the river. 

River Oykel. We meet with this river in the Saga as 
Ekkia/, Ekkiaisbakki\ possibly, however, the Norsemen used 
the Gaelic name. The root meaning, if Celtic, is high ; 
the river has its source in Benmore, Assynt. W. achel^ ^^ig^j 
cp. Ochill Hills. 

Parish of Dornoch. 

This parish is the most important in the county, from a 
civil and ecclesiastical point of view. The town of Dornoch 
is the only Royal Burgh in the county, being erected in 1628, 
by a charter of Charles 1. It was formerly the seat of the 
Bishops of Dornoch, whose Sec dates from the 12th century. 
The parish, however is not a large one ; its extreme length 
and breadh being fifteen and nine miles respectively. 

A Celtic origin has been assigned to the name Dornoch, 
dorn-eich, horse's hoof. There is a tradition to the effect that 
a certain Earl cf Sutherland, about the middle of the 13th 
century, signalised himself in battle against the Danes, armed 
with the leg of a horse. The arms of the burgh, which con- 
tain the horse shoe gives countenance to this derivation ; but 
it must be given up. In old charters the form Durunach is 
frequent. Dur or Dor from dodar, water, is common in 
place-names ; // belongs to the article, ard, ach^ achadh, a 
field. The fact that the parish is a kind of peninsula favours 
the Celtic origin. 


A new element enters into the topography of East Suther- 
land — the Pictish or Brythonic. All along the north and west 
coasts there is no trace of any dialect of Celtic, save the 
Goidelic ; but it is clear the south-east formed part of Pict- 
land. Here we meet with///, the Pictish equivalent of hailty 
township ; also aber for inver^ river-mouth. Initial / enters 
more frequently into place-names on the east coast, another 
sign of Pictish occupation. 

Pit/our^ Pictish,///, township, ox portion and Welsh /ai/r, 
pasture. The Pictish language is more nearly allied to the 
Welsh than to the Gaelic. There are two ProHcies^ an 
upper and lower; initial/, suggests a Pictish origin. There is 
a Welsh word, Pren^ meaning wood, which may be connected 
with the root-meaning. 

Achavandra^ G. Andrew's field. There was a Bishop 
Andrew at Dornoch, who had his y?!c?r«/// about 1150 a.d. 

Achosnich, G. achy oisneach ; cornered, field. 

Astky N. ashy dale. 

Balvraidy Cj. hailcy bhraigheady height. 

CaatfiorCy G. catha^ a steep ascent, w/V, large. 

ClasnagravCy G. dash^ hollow, nan craoibh^ of trees. 

Clashmorty G. large hollow. 

Emboy N. bo for boll^ township. The natives pronounce 
it Eriboll in Gaelic, which comes from Norse eyrr^ pebbly- 
beach, and bolly town. 

Skeiboy N. shell-town. 

Lednabiricheny G. slope of heights, bir is a point. 

Fleucharey, G. JFlmch, wet ; air id h sheiling. 

Rearquhar^ G. rhi^ declivity ; the last part may be a 
proper name. 

Sirathtolliey G. strath, and toli^ hole, a fissure. 


TorboU, Norse or Gaelic ; torr. a heap, and baile ; or from 
Norse boll^ township. 

Pitgrud}\ Pit, place, and grudie, a common place-name 
in all parts of Sutherland. Grudie is a river in Durness, a 
a place-name in I^irg, N. ^a^jot, stones. 

Parish of Golspie. 

Golspie is a small parish, being only eight miles in length, 
and six in breadth. Here is the residence of the Earls of 
Sutherland, Dunrobin Castle. The ancient name of the 
parish was Culmaily, but in 16 19 the church was transferred 
to (lolspie. 

The parish name is Norse, GiiPsbie, the township of the 
glen. The glen of Golspie is the most striking feature in the 
scener)^ ; and although /is not pronounced in Gaelic Goisbee, 
that is a feature of the Sutherlandshire dialect ; / goes out 
before s ; soillse becomes soise ; feallsa^feasa, etc. 

BackieSy N. bakkt\ banks. 

Badan, Ci. a small location. Halblair, G. Mir, plain. 

Clayside, G. cladh, a raised fence, an enclosure ; the 
name, however, may be a rubbed-down form of N. KUiff 
settr, cliff hamlet. 

Dnimmuie, G. drum, ridge, and ma\:^h, a plain. 

Culmailie, G. r/7/, church, and Maluag, a Culdee saint. 

Morvich, Of frecjuent occurrence in the Highlands. The 
common feature is an extensive plain by the sea-side The 
word is probably Fictish ; W. mor, sea. G. mor-achadh, large 
field, has also been suggested. 

RhiveSy an Englished form of Gaelic, rhidhe, a slope 

Uppaty pronounced oopaid. N. ////, high place. 


Dunrobiriy G. Dttn^ a fort or mote ; and Robin is probably 
a personal name ; who he was is by no means certain. Sir 
Robert Gordon's Earl Robert is proved to be mythical, and 
Gaelic phonetics forbid any connection with Rafu, a Norse 
ruler of considerable influence in Caithness and Sutherland 
in the 12th century. 

Aberscross. This word shows the Brythonic or Pictish 
element in aber^ for Gaelic river, river mouth. Its old spelling 
varies from Aberschoir to Hibberscor and Abbirscross. The 
natives pronounce it Aberscaig ; escaig is from uisge, water. 

Ben^ Vr aggie ^ G. braigh, each, high lands. Some church 
names are also met with here, as Loch-a' -vicar, vicar's loch, 
Kirktown, church town, and Uamh-ghill-Aindreas, Gillander's 

Salachie Burn, G. saiach, muddy. 

Ben Horn, N. hill of the eagle, N. arn-r. 

Loch Lundie, (j. /on, dubh, black morass. 

FarralarriCy G. Fuar-iaraich, cold habitations. 

Parish of Rogart. 

This inland parish forms a square of about ten miles. 
Norse names are few, and there is evidence of a Pictish 
occupation. The parish name presents some difficulty. Its 
Gaelic pronunciation is Raoird, which seems to point to a 
Gaelic origin, Rhi-ard, high slope. But the early charters 
give Roth-gorthe ; and both are well known in Highland 
topography ; roth, a circle, and garth, cultivated land. Care, 
however, must be taken not to confound the Gaelic gart with 
Norse gardr, also meaning an enclosure (Eng. yard). When 
gart\^ prefixed, as Gartymore, it is the Gaelic word; but when 
it CO mes last as in Rogart, it should be Norse. 


Fleet, N. fljot, flooding ; fteetivater is water which over- 
flows ground, in broad Scotch. 

Rossaly G. ros, a promontory, and aii, rock. 

Lan^well, N. lan^dal, has been suggested ; but as it is 
not a dale name, so much as a district name, its root is 
probably Norse, lyngy heather ; which agrees with the native 
pronunciation Lan^aL 

Blarich, G. M/r, plain ; the ich is an affix. 

Miinafua, Vt.'meall-na-fuadh, hill of the spectre. Fiiadh 
is common in place-names, altanna-fuadh in Durness 

Davoch-be^:^, (y. davoch, a measure of land. 

Eden, Ci. aodati, face. 

Pitfure, Fictish ///, Gaelic haikphiiithair, W. paivr, 

Rovie, Treasad\\ Toskary contain doubtful elements, but 
the majority of Rogart names are easily explained with the 
aid of a Gaelic dictionary. The following present no diffi- 
culty : — Achcork (oat-field), Achadhnacaillich (nun's field), 
Achinluachrach (rushy field), Achniiij^arroN (gelding's field), 
Achooan (bothy field), Achvrail (high field), Balchla^^in 
(skull place), Blairmore (large marshy field), CuldraiH 
(bramble- wood), Druifnanairij^eid (silver ridge), Dalrevoch 
(spotted dale), ///r^^/z/wr (meeting field), ///r/zf^n//^*^ (shamrock 
field) Kinnauid {hnrn head), Let fie (half-side), Mttie (plain), 
Morness (large i)lain), Rhelin (running stream), Rhemnsai^ 
(primrose slope), Rhicalmie (Colum's slope), Shenval (old 
town), She ft /one (old meadow), Skia^^ (winged), Tulloch 

There are some place-names here which have been 
explained before, as Grudie (N. i^f'jot, stony), Gntmbk, 
Dainessie, etc. 

1 68 sutherland and the reay country. 

Parish of Clyne. 

The low-lying grounds of this parish along the coast, which 
are extensive and well-cultivated, gave name to the district. 
Clyne comes from (i. cluain^ a meadow, and the oldest 
written form is Clun in Bishop Gilbert's MS. Brora, the 
principal village, is in a fair way of supplanting the old name. 
It is of Norse origin, probably, and means bridge. There is 
also another Norse term brii, ridge, which occurs in Lewis 
Brue ; and Brora may be from Bru — shrath, which agrees 
with the Gaelic pronunciation. Coal was worked at this 
place for three centuries. Lady Jane Gordon, Countess of 
Sutherland, interesting herself in the matter as early as 1573. 
The Norse names are comparatively few ; and the Pictish or 
Brythonic element disappears. The following are easily 
recognisable in Gaelic : Ardochie (high field), Aulicraggie 
(rocky burn), Baduellan (island clump), Cavaig (variant of 
camhan, (a hollow plain) Ciyne/ish {ciuain-iios, meadow- 
garden), Dalchahn (Colum's dale), Doll (dale), Brechin 
(breac-achadh, spotted field), Kilcolmkil (Columba's cell), 
Fascoille (in old maps Ascoil, now Faskally), coille is wood ; 
the first part doubtful ; it may mean the near wood, the 
sheltered wood, or wood on the hill, from old Gaelic ais, hill. 
Gordonbush is modern English, and the Norse element 
appears in the latter parts of Achrimsdale, and Strathskinsdale. 
The parish terminates in the interior of the county in Ben 
Armin- -often Ormin in the maps, for which there is no 
authority. Armunn is Gaelic for a hero ; it is about 2500 
feet high. At Kilcalmkill, there is an ancient cemetery which, 
with the name, marks it as an ecclesiastical residence ; another 
cell, or church, is preserved in Killean (John's cell). On the 


south side of Loch Brora is Craig Bar, a saint to whom the 
church at Dornoch was first dedicated. Kilcalmkil belonged 
for 300 years to the (iordon branch of the Sutherland family, 
the (Jordons of Carrol, from obsolete (Gaelic ail^ a rock, and 
carr^ stone. The Caelic for a (juarry-face is caoireall. A 
very good specimen of the Pictish tower is in this parish, 
situated on the Black- Water. It is called Castle Cole ; and 
part of the walls is still standing, 1 1 feet thick. It was 
doubtless the residence of a Celtic maormor^ and subsecjuently 
of a Norse chieftain ; and the line of watch-towers to the 
coast may still be traced. 

Parish of Loth. 

This place-name is of doubtful origin. Ptolemy, a (Ireek 
writer, who flourished in the last (juarter of the second century, 
places the Lo^^i in south-east Sutherland, and some connect 
Loth with this tribal name. Others, again, look upon it as a 
rubbed down form of loch^ a lake. Within historical times, 
a large part of the low-lying grounds of the parish was under 
water, until about the beginning of the 17th century. A 
direct course was cut out of the solid rock, for the river of 
(lien Loth, and the bed of the lakes was turned into rich 
arable land. The (iaelic pronunciation is Lo. 

Kintradivell^ Caelic Ceann-Tro/hi is from Trollhcna^ 
otherwise Triduana^ a female saint, whose memory is pre- 
served also in Orkney. 

Culgmver, G. goat's wood, or goat's recess, r///, nook. 

Crakni^ (occurs also in Strathnaver), O. craic ViX\i\ croic^ 
means deer's horns ; thus anything extensive or branching, 
as the hand. 

By Rev. Adam Gunn, M.A. 

The natives of Sutherland and the Reay Country are bi- 
lingual. English is spoken very well all over the county ; 
and strangers give us credit for a more pleasing accent than 
our Teutonic neighbours in Caithness. A Sutherlandshire 
youth finds less difficulty in adapting his tongue to English 
sounds than his cousins of Wester Ross and Lewis ; while 
the natives of Sutherland proper are not prepared to yield 
the palm, even to Inverness, in the purity of their English 

So much, however, cannot be advanced in behalf of our 
Gaelic. It is by no means so pure as our geographical 
position might lead one to suppose. Every year sees the 
foreign element in it on the increase, and the area in which 
it is habitually spoken becoming more and more limited. 
Assynt alone can claim to hold its own in regard to purity : 
and even there, corruption has set in. Such a greeting as 
"Tha'n latha beautiful,^' is common all over the Highlands ; 
and various rea.sons may be assigned for the greater amount 
of foreign material in the dialect of Sutherland. 

(i) The Norse occupation, from 900 — 1200, is account- 
able for a good deal of this foreign element. Of course 
all the Gaelic-speaking area of Scotland, with the exception 
of Perthshire, and the heights of Inverness, came more or 


less under this influence ; but a deeper impression has been 
made upon Sutherland by them, than upon any other 
Highland county. The topographical record makes it very 
manifest that the whole county was over-run by them ; and 
weight of numbers alone prevented Sutherland from being 
an P^nglish-speaking county like its neighbour, Caithness. 
As it is, the Norse influence is very marked in the dialect, and 
quite a host of words, in every day use as Oaelic, owe 
their introduction to the Norse occupation. 

(2) The near proximity of Caithness, where the Scandin- 
avian came to stay, explains in some measure, the number of 
Teutonic words in use in our dialect. This is more evident 
on the east and north coasts, where the intercourse between 
Teuton and Celt was close and continuous. It is true that 
hostile feelings between the two races existed until recent 
times ; but the i)roximity was bound to tell on the purity of 
the Gaelic speech. 

(3) Two more recent causes may also be mentioned as 
contributing to this result. The army was the natural 
destination of Sutherland youths in the good old times ; and 
every encouragement was given ta enlist in one or other of 
the Highland Regiments, the Reay Fencibles, and latterly 
in the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders. After long service, 
and mixing with English speaking peoples, these men found 
their way back to their native glens, and brought with them 
a knowledge of English. In this way, such words as " Kiss- 
eag " {or phg (kiss) and comrad {rom comrade, which are now 
looked upon as pure Caelic, came into use. The economic 
changes which took place in the early years of this century 
also had some share in this detereorating process. I^irge 
tracts of land were placed under the management of English 


sp>eaking farmers, who brought their shepherds from the 
borders ; so that in the very heart of Sutherlaiidshire, where 
a hundred years ago not a word of English was spoken, there 
is to-day a congregation of worshippers so entirely English, 
that the native language is but rarely used in the pulpit. 

There are two main dialects of Scottish (Gaelic, a north- 
ern and a southern ; and it used to be matter of keen 
debate in Celtic Societies — where was the best Gaelic 
spoken, at Inverness or Inveraray. Probably no solution 
satisfactory to both parties was ever offered to this problem. 
But from a variety of causes, which need not be enumerated 
here, Argyleshire, or the southern dialect, came to be 
recognised as a sort of standard to which the literary efforts 
of northern authors must conform when they venture into 
print. In this way, there is no good specimen of the 
northern dialect to be seen in print; and the labours of such 
poets as Rob Donn suffer immensely from a well-meaning 
desire on the part of editors and publishers to conform his 
dialect to a supposed literary standard. The dialect of the 
Reay Country bard was far too pronounced to admit of this 
accommodating process ; and the consequence is that his 
songs have lost in print a great deal of the smoothness and 
rhythm which they possess in their native garb. It is too 
late in the day to alter matters now, for the rendering of the 
Bible into the southern dialect has stereot)'ped the standard, 
and Argyllshire peculiarities must be borne with, notwith- 
standing the fact that a considerable portion of them is not 
of native, but of Irish origin. As a set off to this hardship, 
the north countryman has the advantage of knowing the 
southern dialect in print ; he has, therefore, no difficulty in 
understanding the southern ; while a native of Argyll will 


find it next to impossible to follow with intelligence the 
conversation of north countrymen. 

There are three test sounds by means of which we 
classify Gaelic dialects into northern and southern — one 
main and two subordinate, (i) The main peculiarity of the 
northern district is a change of en into ia ; thus to//, ceud, 
hreu^^ meudy deuf^^ feur of the south becomes hial^ dad, miad^ 
dia^y fiar of the northern counties. It should be observed, 
however, that, to begin with, this eu is long by compensation ; 
ceud compensates for a lost n by lengthening the vowel 
(compare I^t. centum). This divergence does not take 
place in the case of eu when it is not arrived at by compen- 
sation ; it stands eu in the north and south, and is 
pronounced similarly, except perhaps in half-a-dozen mono- 
syllables, which have become ia in the north by the force 
of analogy. (2) The northern dialect dislikes a long vowel, 
preferring the use of the dipthongs. Thus, Argyllshire 
tram, heavy, becomes Sutherland troum. Professor Rhys 
calls this habit diphthon^^^isatiim, and thinks it is due to a 
more musical ear. (3) The diphthong ao is opener in the 
south ; the sao^hal of Argyllshire is quite different from the 
attenuated semi of the north. By one or other of these 
test-sounds, the question of a Highlander's residence on 
either side the (kampians is easily settled. 

Sutherlandshire Gaelic belongs of course to the northern 
dialect. But with regard to the main test, eu into ia, the 
Reay country proves an exception. It agrees rather with 
the south, or more properly speaking, introduces a new- 
diphthong. Thus, eu, which ought to become ia, becomes 
ea ; and the following scheme shows how we stand com- 
paratively : — 











I. In words where the dipthong is not flanked by /, as 
the above examples, we follow the southern dialect : breug, 

feur^ nteud, is pronounced in Sutherland exactly as in Argyle, 
with the exception of Assynt and the south-east. 

II. Another peculiarity of our dialect is our partiality for 
the broad a. Southern o becomes a in numberless instances. 
Of course it must be remembered that appears in print often 
in deference to Irish orthography, where it is never used, 
even in Argyle ; thus, focal, cos^ is nowhere on Scottish soil 
so pronounced ; they ^xg: fatal, cas. Sutherlandshire Gaelic, 
however, changes southern o into a in the great majority of 
instances : 



lorg ... 









dorus . . . 



But in a few cases we refuse to accept southern a, and change 
it into o^falt, bainne, trasgadhy becomey^^//, boinne, trosgadh. 

III. The most marked peculiarity of Sutherland Gaelic 
is, perhaps, its fondness for the // sound. We make all our 
participles {adh, amh) end in u ; bagradh, deanamh, becomes 
bagru, dean-u) dot, obair^ do m hail, drola, lobar, are pronounced 
as dul, ubair, dumhail, drula, lubar. 

IV. When we cease to compare ourselves with the south, 
we find three well-defined sub-dialects in Sutherland : 


1. The dialect of Sutherland proper Cataobh, 

2. The Reay country dialect — Duthaich-icaoidh. 

3. The Assynt dialect. 

These are the main sub-dialects ; but a keen ear may 
easily distinguish differences in tone between natives of 
different parts of the same {xirish. The *' twang " of a Port- 
skerra man is quite different from that of Melvich, which is 
not half-a-mile distant. 

("omparing these three sub-dialects then, it will be granted 
that the language of the people of Machair-Chat, as the low- 
lying east coast of Sutherland is called, is less pure than that 
of the Reay Country ; and the dialect of the latter is less 
[)ure than that of Assynt. We may excejH one or two fishing 
communities from this comparison ; for example, Embo, and 
Brora, whose natives can express themselves in fairly good 
idiomatic Ciaelic. The language of Assynt or " jia lamhan 
shuas " as it is distinguished from the North and East, has 
preserved a good deal of its pristine purity. They are easily 
distinguished by a tendency to eclipsis ; and resemble I^wis 
in this respect. An duine, the man, is pronounced an nuine^ 
71 of the article eclipsing d. As already mentioned, they 
conform to the Northern dialect in the case of the ia sound, 
and thus differ from the Reay Country : and on the whole,' 
their command of the language is greater, both as regards 
vocabulary, idioms, and inflections. 

Fhe North coast or Reay (Country man is easily distin- 
guished by his preference for the broad a. To such an 
extent has he carried this tendency that in some districts sin 
is pronounced san ; teine^ teana. \Ve shall by and bye account 
for this preference of « by a greater mixture of Norse blood 
in his veins —the element which evolved into broad Scotch 


in the English speaking counties of the north. Another 
peculiarity of this district is the number of words which have 
taken on permanently the prosthetic f. Eagal^ acain, 
rabhadhy easgain, etc., become feagal, fraghaidh, feasgainn. 
Even aifhne, command, is sometimes yii/M//^, although there 
is danger of confounding it \\\ih fainne^ a ring. The reason 
of so much confusion in our dialects regarding initial/ is, 
that it disappears when aspirated ; it is not sounded in 
oblique cases ; thus fear is in gen. sing, fhir, where fh is 
silent. Consequently, as it disappears in oblique cases, it 
was also dropp>ed in the nom. in many instances. 

Inflections, or case endings, may be said to be disregard- 
ed. The old people, it is true, speak of ceann na circe ; but 
the rising generation are quite satisfied with ceann na cearc, 
" Tha e tional na caorich " is oftener heard than the gram- 
matically correct "M« e tional nan caorach^ A Reay 
Countryman has little regard for case-endings, with the 
exception of the dative plural idA, which he has converted 
into u, 

A very striking feature of the dialect of Sutherland is the 
extent to which it is permeated by foreign material. We 
have mentioned some of the causes that led to this, and 
ascribed a double share to the influence of the Norwegian 
stranger in our midst. 

The influence of Norse on Scottish Gaelic is recognised 
on all hands. Both north and south have borrowed from 
it a good many terms connected with the sea. The Celts 
were not experts in navigation when the Vikings a:|)peared 
upon the scene. It is not likely that they had advanced 
much beyond t/u coracle of St. Columba. Here, then, was 
quite a new vocabulary to them ; and we find that they made 


good use of their opportunities ; they borrowed freely such 
terms as bata^ boat, barc^ bark, seol^ sail, sgiob^ crew, and the 
names for the different parts of a ship. Again, through the 
influence of Norse, the letter / has slipped in between srva 
strath^ stron, strann^ straid. This much is admitted as 
Norse influence on the southern and northern dialects. 
But when we come to the far north, it will be found that the 
Scandinavian has left deeper footprints behind him. This 
is true not only of Sutherland, but also of Lewis. The 
writer recently saw a list of provincial words collected by a 
student, a native of I^wis, in the district of Ness and 
neighbourhood — words which do not appear in any Gaelic 
Dictionary, but most of which could be explained with the 
help of Cleasby's " Icelandic Dictionary," and are undoubt- 
edly remnants of the Norse occupation. The same is true 
of north Sutherland. The effects of the Norwegian occupa- 
tion may be classified as follows : 

1. The preference for the broad a sound already referred 
to, so characteristic of the north coast. The English of 
Caithness is very broad, and is due to the same influence. 

2. The habit of giving their Teutonic value to the letters 
r, d^ r. The deep guttural chd sound of c in mac^ is quite 
unknown in Sutherland. Again, bard is pronounced exactly 
as in English ; whereas in the south d has a broader sound, 
by flattening the tongue between the teeth and roof of the 

3. A very large number of loan-words, which we are 
unjustly accused of borrowing from modern English, but 
which we have really borrowed from Norse ; examples are, 
susdan^ thousand, N. thusund ; preisteadh^ preaching, N. 
priestr ; U)rn for cuis^ deiiig (dealing), bocaidh^ hobgoblin. 


N. bokkU harnaigeadh (inviting to a feast), etc. These and 
a host like them have been in use in Sutherland long before 
modern English had any influence upon the language of the 

4. What may be called the vituperative vocabulary is 
decidedly Norse. Uilbh is one of the most opprobrious 
terms in use, and comes from Norse tilf^ a wolf. Slaucar is 
another, for an "awkward fellow," and s^ammai, all of 
which may be found in Norse. This points to a period in 
our history when the Norse lorded it over the Celtic bondi^ 
and applied to him such epithets in his wrath. They were 
carefully picked up, and being new, were preserved to the 
present day. 

5. The nomenclature of peat-cutting is also Norse. 
One of the Earls of Caithness was called Torf-Einar, turf- 
cutter, being the first, no doubt, to point out the use of peats 
as a substitute for wood. Thus bac (N. bakki), bank, storage 
bassag, torra-sgian (its first half) are all Norse. 

(6) A few agricultural terms may also be mentioned, and 
words connected therewith. When a Sutherland herd calls 
a bull, he says ^^ iuadhi^ timdhi" The Icelandic for a bull 
is tuddiy the usual changes being made on the loan-word, viz., 
diphthongisation and aspiration. The dairymaid's call is 
huskus, huskus ; in Iceland it is kusktis, kushis (root seen 
in Scotch qu-ey). The borrowing was not all on one side. 
The Norsemen who left Scotland on the fall of the Norweg- 
ian power at Largs, and went to Iceland, brought with them 
some Gaelic words, such as caiman, a dove, and tarf^ a bull. 
In driving away cattle by the dog a Reay Country herd makes 
use of a vocable which phonetically spells trrrhu This is 
the word for driving off cattle in Iceland to the present day. 

LAM'.UAGK. l8l 

7. The last class we shall mention is the names for the 
different kinds of fish. A good many are Norse. Lang^ 
ling, cili\:^, cod (N. Keila), geddag, grilse, etc. There is a 
(.'eltic word for cod, viz., trosg^ in Assynt and the south ; 
but the Reay Countryman uses Irosg only as applied to an 
awkward fellow, 

I'he following words are more or less peculiar to the 
( ounty : 

Lopan^ a soft muddy place. 

/, or uidh^ a small stream with green patches on either 
side. It enters very largely into place-names, and is almost 
as common as 

Rhidhe, or rhidhean^ a sloping declivity with a burn at 
bottom. We have an innumerable number of place-names 
beginning with Rhi. 

Riasgan, green patches on a hill-side : hence the place- 
name Riasg. 

Rabhan^ remains of a full tide on the sea shore or banks of 
a river. 

Uar^ a tempest, a waterspout, confluence of waters. 

BaghtJti, ch urch yard. 

Afol/dair, the miller's share : bunndaist^ the weaver's 

Bruthas^ broth ; roftiag Athole brose ; a^ bhuaicneach 
is for small-pox ; na cnuimhean^ for toothache ; an tsiatag^ 
for rheumatism ; trom-al/an, a cold ; an cncatan^ and 
trollaidh in some parts. 

Foit, an expression used when one is suddenly burnt. 
It is an old term, occurring on the margin of one of the 
Oospels in a Continental monastery as ^\)it mo chrob ;'' we 
have preserved it with prosthetic yi Probably this writer of 



the middle ages hailed from Ireland or Scotland, and had 
burnt his finger in snuffing the candle ! 

Troll, pronounced troull, awkward fellow Norse, troll, 
hence Tralt^ll. Norse, Troll's gill. 

By John Mackay (Ben Reay). 

The military history of the Highlands, until a comparatively 
recent date, may be summed up as consisting of a series of 
clan feuds, attacks and reprisals. There were many warriors 
and fighting men, but bands of disciplined and trained 
soldiers, according to modern ideas, were unknown. Men 
were taught how to handle the sword, the battle-axe, and the 
bow, and in later times, the musket. The chief, or territorial 
magnate, who had many dependents, gave orders for the men 
on his estates to gather, and they obeyed : it may have been to 
engage in a foray against a hostile clan, and carry off spoil, or 
to make a raid on the territory of some leader against whom 
the chief had a grudge, or for the more deadly purposes of 
revenge. Our section of country was probably neither better 
nor worse in this respect than other districts. Tradition tells 
us of conflicts with the Danes and other invaders ; and later, 
that Highland chiefs with their followers fought under Bruce 
at Bannockburn, in the memorable battle which secured to 
Scotland her independence ; and also, that during the two 
succeeding centuries they frequently assisted the Scottish 
kings in their wars against England. 

In treating of the Regiments of Sutherland and the Reay 
Country, 1 shall not attempt to give any account of the armed 
bands which rival chiefs brought into the field, when clan 
disputes had to be settled by the sword ; for although clan 
fights were often contests between large numbers of armed 
men, and showed a considerable display of military skill and 


Strategy, the combatants could hardly be called soldiers. 
Clan feuds belong to the historical section of this volume. 

The history of the regiments is of great interest, not only 
from the number of corps which were raised in the two 
districts, but also from the character of the men who composed 
them. It is also unique, inasmuch as the earliest printed 
military record in Great Britain is a narrative of the services 
of a regiment which was raised by the Chief of the Mackays, 
exactly two hundred and seventy years ago, and which served 
with great distinction in the terrible struggle known in history 
as "the thirty years* war." The exploits of the regiment were 
recorded by one of its officers in a volume which was pub- 
lished in London in 1637, under the title of "Monro : his 
Expedition with the Worthy Scots Regiment (called MacKeyes 
Regiment), levied in August, 1626, by Sir Donald MacKey," 
&c. &c.* 

In 1631 the Marquis of Hamilton was authorised to raise 
a regiment of Scots soldiers for service in Germany, and 

* But this was not the first regiment raised in the north of 
Scotland for service abroad. In the year 161 2, Colonel Georjje 
Sinclair, nephew of the Earl of Caithness, raised a body of men in 
his native county to assist the King of Sweden in his wars. His 
ships were driven ashore at Romsdal, in Norway, and he tried to 
make his way across the mountain to Sweden with his men. The 
people seem to have looked upon them as enemies, for they attacked 
the Scots when in a narrow gorge, by hurling large stones down 
upon them, killing the greater part, for only a few escaped. Colonel 
Sinclair was one of the first who fell. On a tablet erected at the 
place are words to this effect, ** Here lies Colonel George Sinclair, 
who with 900 Scotsmen, were dashed to pieces like so many earthen 
pots by the peasants of Lessoe Vaage and Forsa. Berdon Sallatad 
of Ringeboe was their leader." The episode forms the subject of a 
Norwegian ballad, entitled The Afassacre of Kringelen, 


requested the Earl of Sutherland to assist him in recruiting. 
In response to this appeal, Adam Gordon, the Earl's brother, 
offered to go, and to take " with him a number of resolute 
soldiers to serve the King of Sweden.'* 1 have not been able, 
however, to find any record of the services of this company 
of men from Sutherland. 

In 1642 the Earl of Sutherland and Lord Reay raised 
a small force — about 200 men — to assist in quelling a 
rebellion in Ireland. The division of the Royal Army to 
which they were attached was commanded by General 
Robert Munro, w^ho had been Colonel of the Mackay 
regiment when it was in the service of the King of Sweden ; 
and it is highly probable that a portion of these men were 
tried soldiers, who, ten years previously, had fought in 
Germany under *' The Lion of the North." 1 do not know 
of any special service in which they were engaged while 
in Ireland. 

But unrest was thickening over the Kingdom, and 
troubles began between those who had subscribed the 
Covenant, and the adherents of the King. These troubles 
ultimately ended in the execution of King Charles the First, 
and the establishment of the Protectorate under Cromwell. 
All over the kingdom parties were divided, some remained 
true to the cause of royalty, while others declared for the 
Covenant and Cromwell. Among those who favoured the 
cause of the Covenant was the Earl of Sutherland, but 
Lord Reay remained loyal to the King. In 1645, the Earl 
called out 800 of his men to oppose Montrose, and sent 
them south to Inverness. This regiment was reported to 
have been raised at his own cost, but this does not appear 
to be correct, for in response to a petition which he pre- 


sented to the Estates, a warrant was granted to him to 
receive 800 suits of clothes and 800 pairs of shoes for his 
men, and 1600 dollars for his own charges. 

In 1649, shortly after the execution of the King, John 
Lord Reay joined the Earls of Ogilvie and Seaforth with 
"300 able men well provided with arms and necessaries" 
for the army which was being raised in support of Charles 
II., but the combined force, which amounted to not more 
than 900 men, was attacked at Balvainey by General 
Leslie's troops, and after an engagement in which they had 
80 men killed and many wounded, the greater part of them 
were taken prisoners. The men were allowed to return to 
their homes, but the leaders were taken to Edinburgh as 
prisoners. Lord Reay was kept in prison about a year and 
a half. The romantic way in which his escape was effected 
by Lady Reay and a servant, is told in the Clan History 

P- 349-350- 

In 1650 the Earl of Sutherland raised a regiment of 

about 1000 men, for the purpose of opposing Cromwell, and 
marched with them as far as Stirling. But the decisive 
victory gained by Cromwell at Dunbar put an end to the 
struggle, and peace was secured for a time. The Common- 
wealth was established, and Cromwell became ruler of the 

For nearly forty years, that is, during the Commonwealth, 
the Restoration, and up to the abdication of James VII., 
neither the Earl of Sutherland nor Lord Reay took any 
active part in public affairs ; but the troubles which had 
been gathering came to a head in 1688. 

The advent of the Prince of Orange changed the aspect 
of affairs. The persecutions and cruelties which had been 


sanctioned by King James had completely alienated the 
affections of many of the best families who had formerly 
been devoted to his cause ; and in the north, the families of 
Sutherland, Mackay, and Munro, being staunch Protestants, 
were among the first in Scotland to attach themselves to the 
cause of the Prince of Orange. The events which quickly 
followed, viz : the abdication of the King, and the trans- 
ference of the Crown to the Prince and Princess of Orange, as 
King William and Queen Mary, are too well known to be 

When the Prince of Orange landed in England he had 
with him an army of about 14,000 men. The English and 
Scottish divisions were under the command of General Hugh 
Mackay of Scourie, who had for many years held a high 
command in the service of the Netherlands. He was 
appointed Commander in Chief in Scotland, but King 
William was so pressed for troops, that the only men he 
could spare for Scotland were detachments from the three 
regiments which formed the Scottish Brigade, and did not 
number more than 1,100 men. But the General immed- 
iately took steps to get what additional assistance he could 
from those noblemen and others who were favourable to 
the new dynasty. One of his earliest acts was to call upon 
the guardians of his kinsman, the youthful Lord Reay (the 
young Peer was only a boy) to "send without delay 200 
chosen men, under two principal gentlemen of the clan," to 
assist him in his campaign against the forces of King James. 

These were at once sent; then he called for "other 200 
well armed men,*' which he likewise speedily got. At the 

same time he sent instructions to Lord Strathnaver (the 

Earl of Sutherland's son) to levy, with all speed, the regiment 


for which he had received a commission, and " to arm as 
many of the men as he could with such arms as usually 
Highlanders make use of." Lord Strathnaver accompanied 
his men to Inverness, where ** 300 firelocks, with the 
necessary powder, match, and hall,'' were ordered to be 
delivered to him. 

The two Reay Country contingents were commanded by 
Captain William Mackay of Kinloch, and Captain Hugh 
Mackay of Borley. Lord Strathnaver's men were quartered in 
Invernessand Elgin, the Mackays in Inverness and Perthshire, 
(ieneral Mackay wrote at this time "The Highlanders arc 
absolutely the best untrained men in Scotland, and arc 
equal to our new levies, though they are better armed than 
the Highlanders are." 

The country was now plunged into civil war; and the issue 
to be decided was whether Scotland should remain under 
the yoke of the Stuarts, or obtain the freedom the people 
expected to enjoy under the government of the Prince of 

King James's army, commanded by Dundee, and that of 
King William, commanded by Mackay, were soon to bring 
the (juestion to a settlement, although the two commanders 
had not yet brought their forces face to face. Several minor 
engagements, however, between portions of the two armies 
had already taken place. For example, not far from Castle 
(kant, on the 1st May, a s(juadron of dragoons under the 
command of Colonel Livingstone, accompanied by about 200 
Mackays, saw the enemy en( amped on the other side of the 
Spey. Livingstone ordered his men to ford the stream. The 
Highlanders crossed first, followed by the dragoons, who put 
their horses to the spur, whereupon the Mackays outran the 


horse, and got first at the enemy. After a short engagement 
the latter were put to flight, and being pursued, had several 
of their number killed and wounded, and many were taken 

The battle of Killiecrankie was fought on the 27th July, 
1689. The victory remained with King James's army, but 
Dundee having been mortally wounded, the advantage was 
not followed up. Some of King William's troops, as General 
Mackay stated in a letter to the Duke of Hamilton, when 
giving an account of the battle to that nobleman, " behaved 
like the vilest cowards." Mackay's own regiment,* commanded 
by his brother James (who was killed in the battle), was almost 
the only one in his army that showed any gallantry on this 
occasion, for most of the other regiments got into confusion 
and took to flight as soon as Dundee's Highlanders rushed 
at them, claymores in hand. But though the victory was 
with the army which Dundee had commanded, the advantage 
was with Mackay, for by the measures he took, the forces of 
the dethroned King, after a few months, were entirely broken 
up, and the new government was established. A period of 
peace at home now followed the recent troubles, and quietness 
prevailed in the Highlands. 

Neither the Sutherland nor the Reay men appear to have 
been engaged in the battle of Killiecrankie ; and shortly after 
that event most of them returned to their homes ; but one 
company of the Reays, under Captain Hugh Mackay of 
Borley, was left as a garrison in Ruthven Castle, where they 
did duty for several months. 

• Afterwards incorporated in the British Army as the 21st or 
Royal North British Fusiliers, now the Royal Scots Fusiliers. 


But although the new dynasty seemed to be firmly 
established, many families in England and Scotland had a 
longing for the restoration of the exiled Stuarts, and the 
accession of the first of the Hanoverian family (George I.) 
to the Throne, in 17 14, was made the excuse for a Jacobite 
rising. In Scotland this attempt to involve the country in 
civil war was headed by the Earl of Mar, and some other 
adherents of the late King James. They had his son pro- 
claimed as King James VIII., and the chiefs of many of the 
western clans, with their followers flocked to the standard of 

The Earl of Sutherland, who was in the south when the 
rebellion broke out, hastened home as soon as it became 
known, having first arranged that a ship with arms and 
ammunition should be immediately despatched for the use 
of himself. Lord Reay, and others. But the rebels managed 
to seize the vessel, while she lay in Leith roads, and appro- 
priated the stores. On reaching Dunrobin, the Earl, assisted 
by Ix)rd Reay and Ross of Balnagowan, mustered a large 
number of men and marched towards Inverness. Lord 
Strathnaver, who held the rank of colonel, led the centre, 
and Lord Reay and the Karl of Sutherland, the right and 
left wings. A detachment of rebels, led by the Earl of Sea- 
forth, had taken possession of the Highland capital, but 
leaving a strong party to guard the town, Seaforth hastened 
south to join the Earl of Mar. On the 13th NovemlxT, 17 15, 
the battle of SherifTmuir was fought. It was a drawn battle ; 
but it really ended the rebellion, for the Jacobite leaders 
could not again bring their men together. 

After the battle, news reached the rebels that Inverness 
had been beset and taken by some of the loyal clans of the 


north. The force which had accomplished this consisted of 
about 300 men each of Mackays, Munros, Frasers, Forbeses, 
and Rosses. 

The Sutherland and Reay men did not engage in active 
hostilities with any of the Jacobite forces, but were quartered 
in Inverness, and remained there for some time after the 
rebellion had been put down. 

The government now took into consideration the desira- 
bility of arming a number of loyal Highlanders, and admitting 
them to the service of the Crown ; but it was not till 1729 
that they resolved to embody such a corps as part of the 
regular military force of the kingdom. Six Independent 
Companies of Highlanders were accordingly embodied — three 
of 100 men each, and three of 75 men each. The command- 
ing officers of the larger companies were commissioned as 
captains, while those of the smaller companies got commissions 
as captain-lieutenants, and each company had in addition two 
lieutenants and one ensign. One of the small companies was 
commanded by (ieorge Munro, of Culcairn, and as the 
services of the companies were confined to the territories in 
which they had been raised, Munro's company did duty in 
Sutherland and Ross. The services of these companies 
during a period of nine years were so highly satisfactory to 
the Government, that in 1739 it was resolved to raise four 
additional companies, and incorporate the whole into a 
regiment of the line. In this way the famous corps, after- 
wards known as the 42nd Regiment, was established. 

When the Independent Companies were raised, each 
company was dressed in the tartan of its commanding 
officer, and as these tartans were all dark coloured, the 
companies were known as An Freiceadan Dubh — the Black 


Watch, to distinguish them from the regular troops, who, 
from the prevailing colour of their uniforms were known as 
Saighdearan Dear^ — the Red Soldiers. But when the new 
regiment was formed, a special tartan was designed for it, 
and this pattern has ever since been known as the " Forty 
Second." The designation Atn Freiceadan Dubh (at first 
given to the Independent Companies as a nick-name), was 
transferred to the 42nd ; and at the present day this regiment 
is officially known as *' The Black Watch.'* But its history 
does not form a part of our volume, and I have merely 
mentioned the regiment because one of the Independent 
Companies was connected with our county. 

In the Spring of 1745 the Earl of Loudon was authorised 
by the government to raise a regiment in the Highlands. 
He consulted with several of the chiefs and leading men of 
the north, and through their influence recruits came in so 
freely that in a short time about 1200 men were enrolled; 
these were formed into a battalion of 12 companies, and 
designated Loudon's Highlanders. Sutherland and the 
Reay Country contributed their quota, and as representing 
these districts the Hon. Alexander Mackay, son of Lord 
Reay, and John Sutherland, of Forse, were appointed 
captains. When the rebellion broke out the regiment, 
before it had been drilled, was called to the field ; but this 
deficiency was of comparatively little importance, as the 
habits of the people made the change from ordinary to 
military life easy. At the battle of Prestonpans three of the 
companies — ** every man and officer" — were taken prisoners 
by the rebels ! The regiment was disbanded at Perth in 1 748. 

The Earl of Sutherland, desirous of assisting the Govern- 
ment at the time of the rebellion, raised and equipped a 



regiment of militia for the defence of the county. One of 

the captains of this regiment was George Mackay, younger of 

Melness. On the 25th March, 1746, an incident occurred 

in which he took the leading part, which is worth recording. 

A large sum of money had been shipped in France for 

Prince Charles, on board a sloop of war called the Hazard, 

This vessel was discovered by the government man of war 

Sheerness^ and chased from the Moray Frith, along the coast 

to the Kyle of Tongue. The captain of the Hazard, finding 

that he could not escape from the man of war. ran his vessel 

agrouod on the sands below Melness, where the larger vessel 

could not follow. The money, which was in boxes, was 

safely landed, and the crew hoped to be able to march with 

their treasure to Inverness. They expected, also, that the 

country people would befriend them. But Captain Mackay, 

when he learned what had taken place, got together some 

other officers of the militia regiment and about 80 men, and 

attacked those who had landed from the Hazard, After a 

sharp engagement in which five of the Hazard^s men were 

killed, and several wounded, Captain Mackay's company 

took the remainder — 156 in number, mostly Frenchmen — 

prisoners, and secured also the money, amounting to upwards 

of jQi 2,000. The treasure was taken possession of by Lord 

Reay, and sent south by him in the man of war Sheerness, 

as were also the prisoners. The Hazard, at the same lime, 

was taken south as a prize. [See Gentleman' s Magazine for 

May, 1746; and narrative by Colonel Ker, in Lyon in 

Mourning, vol. I., p. 358, published by "Scottish History 

Society," 1895]. 

I do not find that either Lord Reay or Captain Mackay 
received any acknowledgment — not even an expressio n of 


thanks from the government — for this valuable service. The 
account of this affair, given in Robert Mackay's Clan History, 
is entirely misleading. 

The battle of Culloden which was fought about three 
weeks afterwards (on i6th April, 1746), put an end to any 
chance of the Stuarts being again placed on the throne. 

I have given this short historical sketch because during 
the transition period, to some of the leading events of which 
I have made reference, many companies of fighting men 
were raised in the County of Sutherland. The Earls of 
Sutherland, the Lords Reay, and several others were true 
patriots^ and when called upon by Government promptly 
equipped their followers in its support. I regret, however, 
that we have no reliable information as to the numbers, 
exact organization and special services of these companies. 
But during the second half of the last century several 
regiments for temporary service were raised in the county, 
and of these we have some trustworthy particulars — I refer 
to the militia or fencible regiments. There is also one 
regiment of the line, the 93rd (now known as the 2nd 
battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders), identified 
with the county. The rank and file of this regiment when 
embodied consisted almost entirely of men belonging to 
Sutherlandshire, and showed a body of soldiers second to 
none in our military annals for bravery, good conduct, and 

A Sutherland local militia regiment was raised in 1808, 
but I have not been able to ascertain its strength, as there is 
no muster roll either at the War Office, or the Record 
Office, London. In the Record Office, however, there is a 
list of officers — 24 in number — with the dates of their 


commissions ; and if we take the same proportion of men to 
officers that we find in the fencibles, this militia regiment 
must have had a strength of about 600 men. Earl Gower 
was Colonel; Alexander Sutherland, Lieutenant-Colonel; 
Dugald Gilchrist, Major; and Kenneth Mackay, Senior 

The regiment known from 1803 to i860 as The RosSj 
Sutherland and Caithness Militia^ and from i860 to 1881 as 
The Highland Rifle Militia, had a company (the D company) 
composed of men from Sutherland, and officered by gentle- 
men connected with the county. On the introduction of the 
** territorial system " into the British army on the ist July, 
1 88 1, the title of this regiment was changed to the jrd 
battalion Seaforth Highlanders, and there are now few 
Sutherlandshire men in its ranks — the number at present 
[1896] being only 25. Of these 10 are Mackays; while 
Macdonalds, Macleods, Morrisons, Munros, Gunns, and 
Rosses number 2 each; and Mackintosh, Campbell, and 
Docherty i each — all in D company. Private Docherty is 
of Irish descent. 

I now take the regiments in the order in which they 
were embodied. 

I. — Mackav's Regiment. 

This regiment, as has been mentioned, was formed in 
1626. The warrant for raising it was granted by King 
Charles I., who directed that a commission should be given 
to Sir Donald Mackay to allow him to levy and transport 
2000 men, to assist Count Mansfelt in the war which he was 
then prosecuting by the King's direction. The Lords of the 
Council at Edinburgh accordingly granted the requisite 


authority on the i6th March, 1626. Subsequent warrants of 
a similar character were issued to Sir Donald, so that, 
between the years 1626 and 1631, he was empowered to 
raise and equip 8,000 men for service abroad. The war in 
which he was about to take an active part was that which 
was subsequently known in history as the * Thirty Years* JVar,* 
It was begun by the Elector Palatine (husband of the 
Princess Elizabeth Stuart), having accepted the crown of 
Bohemia, which had been offered to him by the Protestants 
of that country. This was not in accordance with the wishes 
of the Emperor of Austria, who at once interfered ; and in a 
short time the whole of Germany became involved in the 

What may be called a pioneer portion of the regiment 
consisting of about 300 men, under the command of Lieut.- 
Colonel James Sinclair,* sailed from Aberdeen for Gliickstadt 
on the Elbe, and arrived at its destination before the main 
body of the regiment embarked. Further detachments 
probably were sent off in the same way. 

But the main body of the regiment (over 2000 men) em- 
barked at Cromarty on the loth October, 1626, and after a 
passage of five days arrived at Gliickstadt. As Sir Donald 
Mackay, owing to sickness, was not able to accompany his 
men, the regiment was under the command of Lieut. -Colonel 
Arthur Forbes (a son of Lord Forbes). On landing, it was 
put into comfortable winter quarters, and remained in the 
** fat and fertile land of Holstein '* for about six months. 

* As there is no reference to this officer or his men in Munro's 
" Expedition," it is probable that on arriving in Holstein, Lieut.- 
Colonel Sinclair at once placed his small force at the disposal of 
Count Mansfelt. . 


In the meantime Count Mansfelt, under whose leadership 
the regiment was intended to serve, died, and it became 
necessary to make other arrangements for its employment. 
Sir Donald thereupon entered into an agreement with the 
King of Denmark to fight under his banner. This was a 
natural step, for the Danish King had embarked in the same 
cause ; and besides, he was uncle to King Charles I. and 
the Princess Elizabeth, and service under him was quite in 
harmony with the feelings of the Scottish soldiers and their 

Sir Donald on recovering from his sickness "tooke 
shipping from Scotland to Holland, and from thence over- 
land " to Holstein, where he joined his regiment in the latter 
part of March, 1627. During the winter the regiment had been 
well exercised and put under good discipline, so that Munro 
when describing it, wrote, " mine eyes did never see a more 
complete regiment for bodies of men and valiant souldiers." 
When first embodied the greater part of the men would 
undoubtedly be from Sir Donald's own territory — the 
Mackay Country — but later, when detachment after detach- 
ment had to be sent out, the ranks were filled up by men 
from all quarters. It is a tradition that Sir Donald's own 
company was composed of gentlemen from Strathnaver. 

Immediately after Sir Donald had joined his regiment, 
orders were given that it should proceed to Itzehoe, to be 
inspected by the King of Denmark, and take the oath of 
fidelity to that sovereign. The regiment was drawn up in 
three divisions " in good order of battaile, all officers being 
placed according to their stations orderly, colours fleeing, 
drummes beating, horses neying, his Majestic comes royally 
forward, salutes the regiment, and is saluted againe with all 


due respect and reverence used at such times ; his Majestie 
having viewed front flancks and reare, the regiment fronting 
alwayes towards his Majestie, who having made a stand, 
ordained the regiment to march by him in divisions, which 
orderly done, and with great respect and reverence, as 
became ; his Majestie being mightily well pleased did praise 
the regiment, that ti^er thereafter 7vas most praiseworthy. 
The colonell and the principall officers having kissed his 
Majesties hand, retired to their former stations ; " and the 
oath having been taken by officers and men, and the articles 
of war read and published, the regiment was marched off by 
companies to its quarters. 

The next day Sir Donald received instructions to take 
seven of his companies across the Elbe, and for about ten 
weeks the regiment, in detachments, was marched from 
place to place till towards the middle of July, when all the 
companies met by arrangement at Hoitzenburg, a pleasantly 
situated town at the junction of the Elbe and the Boitze. 
But to the disappointment of officers and men they were 
not destined to be long together. In a few days orders 
came that the regiment had again to be divided. Sir 
Donald, with Lieut.-Colonel Seton and seven companies, 
got orders to march to Ruppin, while four companies, under 
Major Dunbar, were to remain for the defence of Boitzen- 
burg. It was known that a large force of Austrians under 
Tilly was approaching Denmark, and that one of the columns 
was marching directly upon the town which the Highlanders 
were left to defend. On the third day after the departure 
of Sir Donald with the main portion of the regiment, the 
approach of the enemy was announced. They halted 
within cannon-shot distance, and at once began the siege. 


But Major Dunbar had not been idle. He was well versed 
in the theory and practice of war, and had left nothing 
undone that would enable him to defend his post like a man 
of honour. The small garrison of Highlanders numbered 
only about 800 men, while the attacking force was at least 
10,000 strong. The first night a gallant and successful 
sortie was made under the personal leadership of Dunbar. 
The enemy, determined to be avenged for this, on the 
following day attacked the sconce at all points, but after a 
long and desperate struggle, were beaten off with a loss of 
over 500 men. Fresh troops were pressed forward, and the 
attack was renewed with increased fury, but the enemy were 
again baffled and had to fall back. A third and even more 
desperate attempt was made to carry the sconce. [The 
sconce defended the bridge, and if captured, the enemy's 
cavalry might have crossed the Elbe, and overrun Holstein, 
before the King could have been informed that Boitzenburg 
had fallen.] Storming parties came on in great force, and 
made a most vigorous assault, but the firing of the Highland 
musketeers told again and again with deadly effect. But 
in spite of heavy losses the Austrian soldiers continued to 
press on, and the gaps made in their ranks by the well 
directed fire of the Highlanders were constantly and steadily 
filled up. The loss was not, however, all on the side of the 
enemy, many of the defenders were killed, and a large 
number wounded. After a while the firing of the 
Highlanders suddenly ceased. Their supply of ammunition 
was exhausted ! The Imperialists surprised at the unex- 
pected silence, instinctively guessed the cause, and redoubling 
their efforts made a rush at the walls. The Highlanders, 
for a moment, were at their wits' end ; but tearing the sand 


from the ramparts they threw it in the eyes of their assailants 
as they attempted to scale the walls, and furiously attacking 
them with the butt-ends of their muskets, drove them from 
the sconce. But it was a dreadful struggle. At last the 
storming party fell back, the fire of the artillery ceased and 
Boitzenburg was saved. The enemy had again over 500 
men killed, and a very large number wounded. The High- 
landers had two officers and forty men killed, while many 
were wounded, and ** carried the true marks of their valour 
imprinted in their bodies, for their country's credit." 
Finding Boitzenburg so well defended, the Imperialists 
decided to cross the Elbe at another point. This they 
effected considerably higher up the river. In the meantime 
the King of Denmark had sent orders to Major Dunbar to 
retire from the sconce, bring off his cannon, if he could, and 
blow uj) the bridge. He was then to leave two companies 
of his men at Lauenburg, and retire with the rest to 
Gliickstadt. These orders he carried out. 

This was the first opportunity the Mackay regiment had 
of showing the quality of its men. They gallantly accom- 
plished the hazardous task to which they had been detailed, 
and showed by their deeds that they were truly (as the 
King of Sweden afterwards characterised them) a band of 
Scottish Invincibles. 

The two companies which were left at Lauenburg were 
speedily besieged, and Major Wilson, the officer in command, 
seeing he could not hold his position, asked for a truce to 
arrange terms of surrender. This was granted, and con- 
ditions were agreed upon. These were, that the garrison 
should march out with bag and baggage and drums beating, 
and that they should have a convoy to Gliickstadt. But 


Major Wilson had not been careful as to details. On 
leaving the castle his colours were taken from him, and on 
his complaining of what he considered a breach of faith, 
he was told to read the agreement. He was thus forced to 
march to Gliickstadt without colours. For this oversight 
he was dismissed from the regiment with disgrace, and his 
command given to Captain Duncan Forbes. 

Major Dunbar had no idle time, for the enemy having 
obtained a footing in Holstein, he was ordered, without 
delay, to take his four companies and defend the Castle of 
Bredenberg, which, he was instructed, was not to be 
surrendered on any condition. A large number of people 
had taken refuge in it when the Austrians first entered the 
land, and had carried with them a great amount of treasure. 
Dunbar had only about 400 men to maintain this important 
place, for Boitzenburg and Lauenburg had thinned the 
ranks of his four companies nearly one half. The castle 
was poorly fortified, and Dunbar had just got into it, but 
had scarcely time to get the drawbridge pulled up, when 
Tilly and his forces surrounded the place. A trumpeter 
was at once sent with a summons demanding an instant 
surrender. This, of course, Dunbar refused. The enemy 
immediately began a hot and vigorous siege, which lasted 
without intermission for six days. The defenders resisted 
bravely. At length the enemy's guns made two breaches in 
the walls, and the Imperialists approached the moat. Tilly 
then sent a drummer to the Major to see if he would now 
surrender ; but the answer was that " as long as he had a 
drop of blood in his head, the place would never be given 
up." This answer so incensed Tilly that he swore that 
when he got *' the upper hand they should all die without 


quarter." Shortly after Dunbar's answer had been given, 
the brave man was struck by a musket ball, and instantly 
killed. The other officers would not capitulate, and the 
siege was prosecuted with renewed fury. Officer after 
officer fell, and the enemy having passed the moat, got 
possession of the castle, and a wholesale massacre took 
place. The atrocities committed were brutal in the extreme. 
With the exception of Ensign Lumsden, who escaped almost 
miraculously, every officer and man of the Highland detach- 
ment was either killed while in the discharge of duty, or 
savagely butchered ; while of the country people who had 
taken refuge in the castle, only a few were able to escape 
with their lives from the brutal soldiery. 

The enemy had above looo men killed before they took 
the castle. 

This terrible disaster left only the seven companies of 
the regiment with which Sir Donald Mackay had been 
ordered to march to Ruppin. They were then sent to 
Wismar, and remained there five weeks, waiting for arrange- 
ments to be made to transport the Danish army ; and ships 
arriving from Copenhagen, about 8,000 men, including the 
Highlanders, embarked for Heiligenhaven, where the whole 
force was safely landed. Immediately after landing, orders 
were given to march to Oldenburg, where, it was hoped, the 
Danish forces there, if united with those just landed, might 
be able to defeat Count Tilly, who was known to be advancing 
with an immense army for the purpose of over-running 
Holstein. To the Highlanders was allotted the task of 
defending the Pass, which, by a strange overlook on the part 
of the Danish generals, had been left unfortified. As they 
drew near, the Holsteiners who were on service had all fled 


except their captain. The Pass was thus nearly lost ; but 
Sir Donald hurried forward an officer with a platoon of 
musketeers, " mostly young gentlemen of his own company, " 
to keep possession of the post. This they did ; but being 
hard pressed, and suffering severely from the fire of the 
enemy, "many of them died in the defence of it." The 
first division of the regiment came steadily on, and a sharp 
engagement took place. The pikemen had a hard time of 
it ; for they had to stand two hours exposed to cannon and 
musket shot, so that " their sufferings and hurts were greater 
both among officers and men, than the hurt done to the 
musketeers, for few of their officers escaped unhurt, and 
divers of them were killed." During the engagement a 
barrel of gunpowder exploded, by which Sir Donald was 
burnt in the face, several of his officers wounded, and many 
soldiers were killed. The enemy having seen the explosion, 
tried hard to force the Pass, but their efforts were in vain, 
and they were obliged to retire. The first division had been 
fighting for some hours, when the second division came up, 
and " falling on with man-like courage " the other " fell off 
to refresh themselves." The fighting continued for some 
time with unabated vigour ; but after mid-day the regiment 
was enabled to keep the Pass ** by companies, one company 
relieving another till night . . . and then darkness made 
the service to cease." This engagement lasted from 7 o'clock 
in the morning till about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. By the 
indomitable pluck of the Highlanders the Imperialists were 
kept in check, and the Danish army was saved that day. 
But it was a sad struggle for our brave countrymen ; for in 
the unequal contest they had 3 officers and about 400 men 
killed, and 13 officers were wounded. 


The Duke of Weimar, who was the general in command, 
came to Sir Donald, and after complimenting him and his 
regiment, requested that as they " had done bravely all day 
in being the instruments, under God, of his safety and of his 
army, he would once more request that the regiment might 
hold out the inch, as they had done the span, till it was dark, 
and then they should be relieved, as he was a Christian." 
The fact was, that apparently, out of his whole army, the 
Duke had no other regiment he could trust for the important 
duty of again guarding the Pass. A Council of War had 
decided that it would be hopeless to attempt to stand against 
Tilly's overwhelming forces. It had therefore been resolved 
that the army should retire with all speed to Heiligenhaven, 
get on board the ships there, and sail for Denmark. The 
Duke had insisted that as the Highlanders had behaved so 
heroically, they should have some special mark of favour, 
and as they *' deserved best" that they "should be first 
brought off." Having arranged with Sir Donald that a 
company of Highlanders should keep guard at the Pass, the 
Duke rode off; and then Sir Donald left the camp for 
Heiligenhaven to engage ships for embarking his men. 
The agreement was that as soon as all was quiet on the part 
of the enemy at the Pass, Sir Donald's men were to retire, 
and marching quickly, reach the harbour and embark before 
any other portion of the Danish army. The Pass was guarded, 
and the Duke was as good as his word. 

It was a moonlight night in October, and at 10 o'clock 
the regiment reached Heiligenhaven, and drew up on the 
shore. They had been instructed to wait there for Sir Donald, 
who had gone out to the roadstead to arrange for their 
conveyance. But he found the shipmasters panic-stricken, 


the incessant firing which they had heard during the day 
having so filled them with fi'ight that they could not be 
induced to bring any of their vessels near the shore. So Sir 
Donald had to return disappointed. 

What had been intended to be a quiet and orderly retreat 
had become a hurried and disorderly rout, for as soon as it was 
known that the Highlanders had left the Pass the rest of the 
army, horse and foot, made a rush from the camp to the 
seaboard ; and ere long the cavalry came galloping down 
to the water's edge in the greatest confusion. The officers 
had lost all control over their men, and discipline was at an 
end. The number of fugitives rapidly increased, and soon 
men and horses, pioneers, musketeers, and pikemen, baggage 
and ammunition, were crowded in an unwieldy and unman- 
ageable mass on the pier and shore. 

Sir Donald realised the gravity of the situation. The 
enemy was known to be in pursuit, and there was not a 
moment to be lost. The runaway cavalry, which consisted 
chiefly of German levies in the Danish service, had crowded 
the long pier, and were in the act of seizing the shipping for 
the conveyance of themselves and their horses. Sir Donald 
saw he had only one chance, and ordered his Highlanders to 
clear the pier of the horsemen. *' Pikemen, to the front!'' 
he cried ; and formed in line, eight ranks deep, the whole 
length of the pier, the pikemen in front and musketeers in 
rear, the Highlanders advanced, and charging the horsemen 
forced them over the edges of the pier into the water. But 
the channel was shallow and they escaped drowning. The 
Highlanders then seized upon a ship, and after placing their 
colours and a number of men on board, had it moved a little 
from the shore to prevent its getting aground. This accom- 


plished, the ship's boat was manned with an officer and some 
musketeers, who were sent to force other ships out in the 
roads into their service ; and thus a sufficient number of 
vessels being secured, the regiment was safely embarked. 
It was hard work getting the men shipped. Some of the 
officers toiled all night ferrying the sick and wounded from 
the shore, and the last boatful was just leaving when the 
Imperialists entered Heiligenhaven. But the baggage and 
the horses of the mounted officers had all to be left behind. 
When day broke it was seen that Tilly's army had possession 
of the town ; and the Highlanders from their ships had the 
mortification to witness the surrender of the Duke of Weimar's 
army to the Austrians. They gave themselves up without 
striking a blow. Of the whole of the Duke's army the 
Mackay regiment alone escaped. The German horsemen 
whom the Highlanders had driven from the pier, were 
mercenaries and nothing more, for they at once took service 
under Tilly. "We saw," said Munro, "the enemies army 
drawne up in battell, horse, foot, and cannon, and the 
routed Danish army opposite them. I did see six and thirty 
cornets of horse, being full troupes, without loosing of one 
pistoll, give themselves prisoners in the enemies mercy, 
whereof the most part took service. As also I did see five 
regiments of foote, being forty colours, follow their examples, 
rendering themselves and their colours without losing of one 

Sir Donald with his regiment sailed for Flensburg to 
report what had taken place to the King, and receive further 
orders from his Majesty. The King was much grieved on 
learning of the heavy loss his forces had sustained ; but as he 
was not in a position to enter at once again on the offensive, 


he ordered Sir Donald to proceed to the island of Funnen, 
and there the Highlanders landed. It was only a year since 
they had left Scotland, and six months since they had 
entered on active service, but the struggles in which they 
had been engaged had been of so sanguinary a character, 
that the regiment mustered only about one third of the 
number of men who had embarked at Cromarty on the loth 
October, 1626. It was after landing in Funnen that news 
reached them of the taking of Bredenburg by the Austrians, 
and the massacre of its brave defenders. 

The heavy losses the regiment had sustained became 
matter for serious consideration. Sir Donald called his 
officers together for consultation, and the result of their 
deliberation was that he should at once proceed to Scotland 
and bring over 1000 men to recruit the regiment. A new 
agreement was also made with the King of Denmark to 
continue in his service. Sir Donald, accompanied by seven 
officers (one from each of the remaining companies) accord- 
ingly departed for Scotland ; and Lieut.-Colonel Seton 
having gone to Holland on leave, the regiment was left in 
command of Robert Munro (author of the " Expedition " ), 
who, when news had been received of the death of Major 
Dunbar, had been promoted to the rank of Major. 

During the absence of Sir Donald Mackay the regiment 
took part in various minor battles, but the most important 
service in which it was engaged was the defence of Stralsund, 
one of the cities of the Hanseatic league. This city had 
hitherto remained neutral during the war ; but its vicinity to 
the coasts of Sweden and Denmark, and its noble harbour, 
made its possession of great importance. Wallenstein, the 
j Imperialist general, had declared that he would take it, 



whereupon the citizens sent a message to the King of 
Denmark begging for his assistance, for an Austrian army 
was already in the neighbourhood getting ready to lay siege 
to the town. The King at once promised help, for he knew 
if Stralsund fell into the hands of the Imperialists, the free 
navigation of the Baltic would be lost, and the Danish 
Islands be at the mercy of the conqueror. He selected the 
Mackay regiment for the hazardous duty, "having had 
sufficient proof of its former service ... so that before 
others they were trusted on this occasion." Seven companies 
(or rather portions of seven companies) of the regiment had 
been left in Denmark. Orders were given that they should 
at once proceed to Stralsund, and on the 25th May, 1628, 
three companies under Lieut. -Colonel Seton arrived in the 
harbour, and were at once landed and put on duty. On the 
2()th, Major Munro arrived with the remaining four compan- 
ies, and the worthy major records that no sooner were they 
drawn up in the market-place, than they were sent to the 
Franken Gate *' to relieve the other division which had 
watched three days and three nights together uncome off, 
that being the weakest part of the whole towne, and the only 
poste pursued by the enemy, which our lieutenant-colonell 
made choice of being the most dangerous, for his countrie's 
credit." For six weeks their duty was hard and unremitting, 
neither officer nor soldier being ** suffered to come off his 
watch, neither to dine nor suppe, for their meate was carried 
unto them, to their poste." Night and day they were kept 
at their posts without any respite. They made attempts to 
strengthen their position, but had, so to speak, to work with 
spade in one hand, and pike or musket in the other, for the 

enemy was always on the alert to attack them at any moment. 





The loss of life was heavy on both sides. " Many rose in 
the morning," wrote Munro, ** went not to bed at night : 
and many supped at night sought no breakfast in the 
morning. . . . Some had their heads separated from 
their bodies by the cannon, as happened to one lieutenant 
and thirteene souldiers, that had their fourteene heads shot 
from them by one cannon bullet at once/' On the 26th 
June, Wallenstein, annoyed at the length of the siege, pro- 
ceeded to the camp for the purpose of conducting operations 
himself. After examining the walls he swore he would 
" take the place in three nights though it were hanging with 
iron chains betwixt the earth and the heavens." " But," as 
the historian writes " forgetting to take God on his side, he 
was disappointed." 

Between 10 and 11 o'clock that night the assault was 
made. The Highlanders, knowing that Wallenstein was in 
the camp, were prepared for a more than ordinary attack on 
their position, and when the storming party advanced, upwards 
of a thousand strong, were ready for them. After a 
struggle of an hour and a half, the enemy was driven back. 
But they had reliefs at hand, and a second party, equal in 
number to the first, renewed the attack. The Highlanders 
made short work of them, and these also were driven back. 
And so the night passed on, one storming party succeeding 
another, and meeting the same fate, until morning, when as 
day was breaking a last and desperate effort was made to 
force the Gate. They succeeded so far as to get within the 
outworks, but were beaten back with great slaughter, and 
forced to retire. The enemy had about a thousand men 
killed, and the Highlanders had "neare two hundred, 
besides those who were hurt," The moat was filled with 


the bodies of the slain ; the works were ruined and could 
not be repaired, and this " caused the next nights watch to 
be more dangerous." That night there was again severe 
fighting with great loss of life on both sides. But as soon 
as the morning light shone, the Highlanders armed, some 
** with corslets, headpieces, with half-pikes, morgen-sternes, 
and swords," rushed out "pell mell amongst the enemies, 
and chased them quite out of the workes againe, and 
retiring with credit maintained still the triangle or raveline/'* 
Finding that he could not take the city so easily as he had 
imagined, Wallenstein sent a trumpeter to know if the 
defenders would treat with him upon terms. Lieut-Colonel 
Seton was glad of this offer, and an armistice of 14 days was 
agreed upon to draw up terms and ascertain the views of the 
King of Denmark on the subject. The treaty was just ready 
for signature, when orders came to Seton not to sign it, as 
troops were advancing with all haste for his relief. Shortly 
afterwards Lord Spynie with his regiment entered the town, 
and as he brought what the defenders were much in need of, 
a sufficient " provision of money and ammunition . . the 
treaty was rejected and made voide." At this time also an 

* The sang^uiiiary nature of the strug^g^le, during the six weeks 
in which our regiment was employed in the defence of Stralsund, 
may be more easily imagined than described. Neariy *'five 
hundred good men, besides officers, were killed, and of the remnant 
that escaped, both of officers and soldiers, not one hundred were 
free of wounds, received honourably in defence of the good cause." 
The siege lasted four months in all, and cost the Austrians upwards 
of 12,000 of their best soldiers. Notwithstanding this immense 
sacrifice they were compelled to retire, after spiking their cannon 
and setting fire to their baggage, so as to prevent any booty falling 
into the hands of the defenders. 


agreement was entered into by the Kings of Denmark and 
Sweden by which the defence of Stralsund was undertaken by 
the latter. Sir Alexander Leslie was appointed Governor, and 
the forces employed by the King of Denmark were ordered to 
be withdrawn, and Swedish troops employed in their place. 

The King of Denmark now made an attempt to secure 
for himself the province of Pomerania, and orders were 
given that Mackay's and Spynie's regiments should march 
from Stralsund to Wolgast, and join the Danish army there. 
The remnant of our regiment — it was only a remnant, for it 
was not 400 strong — was led by Captain Thomas Mackenzie, 
his superior officers being all disabled. The King decided 
to attack the Austrians, but his soldiers were no match for 
the Imperialists, and the greater part of his army was 
destroyed without ever coming to a regular engagement. 
Fearing that he might be taken prisoner, he resolved to 
embark for Denmark with the remainder of his troops ; and 
as the enemy was pressing hard, he called upon Captain 
Mackenzie to take his regiment and keep the enemy in 
check, until the routed battalions were all shipped. Our 
regiment, we are told by Munro, ** had got such a name for 
bravery that all the difficult and dangerous work" was 
allotted to it. Mackenzie did as his Majesty desired, and 
then got safely away himself with his soldiers, and sailed for 
Denmark in company with the King's ships. 

On their way they met I^rd Reay,* who had with him 

' ♦ V\Tien home arrang-ing- for the recruits for his regfiment, Sir 

[ Donald Mackay had visited London, and as a mark of appreciation 

* of the services he had rendered in Denmark, the Kinj^ [Charles I.] 

i created him a Peer of Scotland, under the title of Baron Reav of 

■ Reay, by patent dated 20th June, 1628. 



over 1000 recruits for his regiment. Lord Reay's ships 
joined those of the King, and all sailed together for Copen- 
hagen, where they arrived on the 9th of August. Lord 
Reay began at once to reorganise his regiment. Few of the 
band survived who had left Cromarty two years before, and 
the changes and promotions which were necessary in the 
various companies, made the task almost like forming a new 
regiment. When re-formed it consisted of 10 companies 
and numbered about 1500 men, besides officers and super- 
numeraries. This was a great reduction, in every way, 
whenr compared with the strength of the regiment when first 
embodied. Among the promotions I shall only mention 
that of Major Munro, who was appointed Lieut-Colonel, in 
place of Lieut-Colonel Seton. 

The regiment being now thoroughly equipped received a 
month's pay, together with a settlement of all arrears, and as 
a security to Lord Reay for the payment of the money due to 
him, the King of Denmark gave him an "assignation on His 
Majestic of Great Britaine " for jC4S7^ stg* Leaving his 
regiment contented and in good quarters. Lord Reay returned 
to Scotland, taking with him Lieutenant lye Mackay of his 
own company, and Captain John Munro. 

But the services of the regiment under the King of 

* It seems, however, that he had great difficulty in gettinjj^ this 
money — indeed it is doubtful if he everg-ot the whole of it — and the 
payments on account were in small sums. After waiting three 
years he wrote (on 29th March, 1632), " his Majestie oweth me at 
present two thousand five hundred pounds, " and begged that the 
Treasurer be authorised to pay him " the odd five hundred pounds 
to doe my present business . . . I am willing," he added, "not 
to presse the other two thousand pounds till God make an end of 
this triall.' 


Denmark came to an end sooner than had been expected. 
Preliminaries for a treaty of peace between that monarch 
and the Emperor of Austria had been agreed to in May, and in 
August, 1629, the treaty was signed. The terms were rather 
humiliating to the King ; and one of the conditions was that 
the Scottish troops in his service were to quit Germany 
forthwith. Lieut. -Coionel Munro, on behalf of Lord Reay, 
settled for the companies which were under his command ; 
the payment was on a liberal scale, and the King gave orders 
, that shipping should be provided to convey the officers and 

men to Scodand, and also that until the ships were ready to 
sail the regiment should be furnished with free quarters at 

IElsinore. But the regiment did not return to Scotland. 
The war between Denmark and Austria certainly was ended, 

but the great struggle was only entering on its acute stage. 

While the Danes and the Austrians were arranging their treaty 

of peace, Lieut.-Colonel Munro, acting under instructions 
f from Lord Reay, entered into negotiations with the King of 

} Sweden for the services of the regiment ; and the Swedish 

: monarch, who had formed a high opinion of the Scots, was 

t glad to secure the assistance of a corps which had made 

j itself so famous. Conditions, satisfactory to all concerned, 

/ were agreed upon ; and the regiment, immediately after it 

\ had been graciously dismissed by his " Majesty of Denmark 

\ , and honestly rewarded," instead of returning to Scotland, 

{ entered on a new service in which it gained, if that were 

* possible, even greater honours than it had achieved when 

serving the King of Denmark.* 

j * The Administrative Staff of the reg-iment when it entered 

', the service of Sweden (and probably it was the same in that of 

\ Denmark), was composed of 21 members, viz : The Colonel, 




The Strength of the regiment when it entered the Swedish 
service, according to the official Military Lists, was two 
battalions of 1 200 men each. As soon as the arrangements 
were completed, six companies, then at Elsinore, were in 
obedience to orders from Gustavus Adolphus despatched at 
once by Munro to Braunsburg in Prussia, where they 
remained for more than a year without being engaged in 
active service. Lord Reay arrived in Denmark in November, 
and gave instructions that six companies, which had been 
waiting in Holland for orders, should proceed from that 
country to Sweden. He remained in Denmark (where Lieut.- 
Colonel Munro joined him) till February, 1630, when both 
proceeded to Sweden to wait upon the King. His Majesty 
received them very graciously, and immediately after their 
arrival reviewed the six companies, expressing himself as so 
highly satisfied with the condition and discipline of the 
Highlanders, that he "did wish in open presence of the army 
that all his foot were as well disciplined.*^ Lord Reay 
remained in Sweden with this division of his regiment, but 
Munro was directed to proceed to Braunsburg to take 
command of the six companies which were there. 

Lieut. -Colonel, Major, Quarter-M.ister, 2 Chaplains, 4 Surgeons, a 
Rej^iniental Judg^e, an Executioner, and 9 inferior officers (clerks, 
orderlies, &c.). 

The Companies^ of which there were 12, contained each 190 men 
otall ranks, including i Captain, i Lieutenant, 1 Ensign, 1 Armourer, 
I Muster Clerk, and 6 Drummers and Pipers. 

The Pay of all ranks was very high when compared with the 
military allowances of the present day. For example (converting 
the Swedish money of 1630 into the British equivalent of 1890), the 
Colonelhad;{J36o, the Lieut. -Colonel ;{J 160, Major and Captainseach 
;{Jio8, Lieutenants and Ensigns each £^<) los.. Sergeants about £22^ 
and Privates j£8 6s. 3d., all per month. 


It would occupy too much space to give even the briefest 
outline of the various engagements in which the regiment 
took a part while it served under the Swedish flag ; but a few 
of them may be mentioned. The first service was with 
Gustavus Adolphus when he began his great campaign of 
1 630- 1 63 2. The Swedish army, led by the King in person, 
and numbering in all about 13,000 men, landed at Penemiinde 
on the 24th June, 1630. Lord Reay, with the portion of his 
regiment which had remained in Sweden all winter, formed 
a part of this army. About a month after landing Stettin 
was taken. This was effected without bloodshed by Lord 
Reay and his men, on the 26th July. While the drawbridge 
was down Lord Reay secured the gate, whereupon *'the 
Towne garrison retyred from thence within the port, and 
the Scots entering pell mell with them, the port was also 
taken. By this did the King presently enter the Towne, with 
his whole army." The Duke of Pomerania having ihus lost 
his principal city, dismissed his garrison, " who thereupon 
took Oath and Pay for the King's service *' ; and Gustavus, 
on getting into Stettin, appointed a solemn thanksgiving for 
the easy victory which had been gained. The next work was 
the taking of Damm. Hut there was no resistance, and after 
the town had been taken possession of in the name of the 
King of Sweden, Lord Reay and his soldiers returned to 
Stettin. The siege of Colberg, where ** Lord Reay led the 
valiant Scottish men of his owne nation," was the next service 
in which they were engaged. The siege lasted about four 
months, and ended by the garrison (who were without pro- 
visions) capitulating. When the Auslrians quitted the 
post they had defended so well, the Highlanders were under 
arms to receive and salute them when they marched away. 


The battalion which had been sent to Braunsburg, and 
was now under the command of Lieut.-Colonel Munro, got 
orders on the 12th of August to march to PiUau, and there 
embark for Wolgast. Two ships were chartered and started 
on their voyage, Munro with three companions being on 
board one of them — the " Lilly Nichol," while the other 
vessel — the "Hound" took Major Sennot and the remait\ing 
companies. During a gale the vessels got separated ; the 
"Hound" reached her destination in safety, and the soldiers 
on board were sent to Stettin ; but the " Lilly Nichol," after 
various mishaps, was wrecked near Rugenwalde, a town on 
the coast halfway between Stettin and Danzig. All on board 
got safely to land, excepting a sailor and one of the soldiers, 
who attempting to swim ashore were drowned. The only 
articles saved from the wreck were "swords, and pikes, and 
some wet muskets." The town was held by the Austrians, but 
Munro, by a bold stroke, secured both it and the castle for 
the Swedish King. The following is a German version of 
how this was accomplished : 

" The bold and successful attack of the Scottish Colonel 
Munro has a tinge of romance about it. The ship on 
which several companies of M ickay's regiment were being 
conveyed from Prussia, was stranded in the neighbourhood 
of Rugenwalde. The soldiers lost their ammunition and 
baggage, and had only aboit 500 muskets and a few swords 
and pikes for their armament. But the courageous and 
determined Scot did not hesitate on that account to attempt 
to carry out the commission he had undertaken, when he was 
appointed to the command of these men. The governor of 
the castle was secretly a friend of Sweden, and Munro being 
informed of this, requested him to open a back gate for the 




Scots to enter on the following night, when he doubted not 
that he would be able to drive out the Imperialists. Every- 
thing succeeded as was desired, and the town and castle 
were taken. . . . When the King of Sweden was informed 
of the great feat which Munro had accomplished, he said that 
he did not in the least doubt that the favour of God was 
clearly shown by the wonderful way in which this had been 
brought about." 

Munro kept possession of Rugenwalde for nine weeks, 
and then, being relieved by Sir John Hepburn, was instructed 
to take possession of and defend the castle of Schiefelbein. 
This was an important position, and according to the Swedish 
Intelligencer Munro was selected for this work because his 
** men were knowne to be fortunate by their former taking 
of Rugenwaldt, and valiant too by their bravery in other 
services." But I need not lengthen out the story. After the 
taking of Colberg, Lord Reay returned with his men to 
Stettin, and shortly afterwards Munro was ordered to join the 
head quarters with his three companies. When united, the 
regiment, although it consisted of 12 companies, had only 
about 1,200 men, or half its strength. On his way to Stettin, 
Munro met Lord Reay by appointment at Cireifenburg. His 
lx)rdship was proceeding to Great Britain under a new 
commission from the King, not only to raise men to complete 
the ranks of his own regiment, but to raise several new ones 
for the Swedish service. He did not again take any personal 
part in the campaign, but remained in Great Britain, doing 
good service, however, for the King of Sweden by executing 
the commissions with which he had been entrusted. He sent 
over the recruits for his own regiment, bringing it up to its 
full strength ; and raised another regiment of Scots, to which 


he appointed field officers from his own regiment. Other 
regiments in England and in Scotland were likewise raised 
under the authority he held from the King of Sweden ; and 
in addition he secured the services of a regiment which was 
to act as a Body-(iuard to his Majesty.* 

During the latter part of 1630, the plague raged in Stettin. 
According to the Swedish Lists 285 men of our regiment 
were ill of this disease at the end of the year, and " divers 
brave souldiers died." 

In January, 1631, Gustavus Adolphus, "the Lion of the 
North," as he was designated, made preparations for the 
campaign which virtually decided the fate of Germany, and 
the Protestant religion. Lord Reay's regiment had its share 
in the honours of this war, but it got also more than an 
average share of the hard knocks which were given in the 
struggle. Having at this time been reinforced by the recruits 
which his Lordship had sent out from Scotland, it consisted 
of 16 companies (2 battalions), and numbered 2,400 men. 
[In 1631 the K-ing of Sweden had eight Scottish regiments in 
his service, with a total strength of 12,600 men.] Before 
starting on the campaign the K-ing formed what was known 
as The Scots Bri(;ai>e. It consisted of four regiments, and 
from the tartan of the Highlanders, and the colour of the 
doublets and standards of the other regiments, it was com- 
monly called TIu Green Brigade. 

* " Mackay, our countryman, is in great honour," wrote James 
Haird, the Commissary, to his brother, from Edinburgh, 17th 
March, 1631, "and is General over three regiments, and Captain 
of the King of Sweden's Guards, quhilk consist of an hundred horse 
and an hundred foot, and sail be all Scottismen. '[An Account OF 
THE SlRNAMK OF Baird, p. 63, Edinburgh, 1857.I 






^ A movement of the Swedish troops was made towards the 

Oder ; but the Austrian s in great force, under General Tilly, 
were also on the move, and laid seige to New Brandenburg, 
in which about looo of Lord Reay's men, under Lieut -Col. 
Lindsay, and an equal number of Swedes, under General 
Kniphausen, had been left as a garrison. The town was in a 
wretched condition for defence, the walls being in ruins; and 
there were only two small guns as the whole artillery of the 
defenders. Tilly had with him about 22,000 men and 26 
guns, and beset the town on all sides. He summoned the 
garrison to surrender. They refused, and for nine days made 
a desperate and heroic resistance. Worn out, and seeing no 
chance of succour, they at last asked for terms, but Tilly now 
refused to give them any quarter. Then followed the last 
assault, and after a dreadful struggle the town was taken. A 
merciless slaughter was the result. The fury of the Austrians 
was directed chiefly against our countymen ; and on that 
memorable day (26th March, 163 1) over 600 of Lord Reay's 
Highlanders were cut to pieces. Five ofl!icers and a few 
soldiers were taken prisoners ; two officers escaped by leaping 
from the walls, and making their way across country were 
fortunately able to join Munro ; but all the other officers, 
including Lieut. -Colonel Lindsay, were killed.* 

The news of this terrible disaster reached the Scots 
Brigade while the Swedish army was on its way to lay seige 
to Frankfort on the Oder, and filled the w-hole camp with 

* *' Half Lord Reay's Regiment was here massacred almost to 
a man. Lieut. -Colonel Lindsay, who commanded this corps in his 
colonel's absence, was killed in the breach, as were also MoncriefF, 
Keith, and Haydon — ikW Scots." [Harte's Life of Gustavus, Vol. 

I., P- -275 I 


horror, but especially the six companies of the Reays, which 
were under the command of Lieut.-Colonel Munro. This 
Frankfort was a rich and strongly fortified town, and had a 
garrison of about 10,000 men. Lord Reay's and Hepburn's 
regiments took the leading part in the assault* which led to 
the capture of the town. This was on Sunday, the 3rd April, 
1 63 1. There was a desperate resistance, and inch by inch, 
every foot of the way was contested. "Quarter!" cried the 
slowly retreating Austrians. " New Brandenburg I New 
Brandenburg I " shouted the Scottish soldiers. Shoulder to 
shoulder, Highlander and Ix)wlander advanced like moving 
castles, the long pikes levelled in front, while the rear ranks 
of musketeers fired in volleys from behind. It was a dread- 
ful retribution, — 40 officers and about 3000 soldiers of the 
Austrian army were left dead in the streets ; 50 colours were 
taken, and an immense quantity of treasure. 'J'he Swedish 
loss was about 800 men, and of this number 300 belonged 
to the Scots Brigade. No wilful injury was done to the town, 
and as soon as order was restored, the King appointed a day 
of thanksgiving to be observed for the victory. 

Many towns and strongholds fell before the victorious 
Swedish army. In May it rendezvoused in the the neighbour- 
hood of Berlin, and remained in that (juarter till the end of 
July. About the middle of August a large number of recruits, 
sent out by Lord Reay, arrived at Stettin, and under the 
command of Lieut.-Colonel John Munro, joined the regiment 

* Before the attack began, the King^, addressing the Scottish 
leaders said, '* Now, mv valiant Scots, remember vour countrymen 
who were slain at New Brandenburg-." [Harte'« Life of Gustavus, 
Vol. I., p. 279.] 


at Wittenburg. But I shall pass over the services of the regi- 
ment (although it took part in many important engagements) 
until the 7th of September, when the great battle of I^ipzig 
— "the most remarkable battle recorded in history" — was 
fought. The result of the battle was a severe defeat to the 
Austrians, and their retreat from the battlefield was described 
as being like a race for life. Tilly w^as wounded ; but he 
escaped, leaving many of his best officers dead on the field, 
and "full 15,000 of his men were slaine upon the place of 
battle or in the chase." Gustavus had a little over 4,000 
Scottish soldiers in his army on this occasion, and they did 
the bulk of the fighting. Of the Mackay regiment about 1,300 
were present. They formed the leading column, and had 
" the honour of first breaking the Austrian ranks. The 
Imperialists regarded them with terror, calling them the 
invincible old regime ptt^ and the "right hand of Gustavus 
Adolphus." I do not know what loss our regiment sustained, 
but it must have been heavy, for two weeks after the battle 
the strength of the first battalion is returned as 600 strong 
"and 600 wanting." 

The victorious army marched towards the Rhine, and 
before the end of the month all the towns between I^ipzig 
and Wiirzburg had surrendered to the King ; then Frankfort 
on the Maine, Oppenheim and Mayence were taken. The 
last-named, the most strongly fortified city in Germany, 
surrendered after a three days' siege, and redeemed itself 
from pillage by paying a large ransom — 300,000 dollars — 
but our countr)'men did not get any share of the money, and 
Munro made some strong observations thereanent, to the 
effect that the Scots had on many occasions to endure all the 
hard knocks, while to the Swedes and Germans were given all 


the plums. The next important engagement was the battle 
of the Lech, where on the 5th April the famous Austrian 
general, Tilly, was wounded, and died three days afterwards. 
Then the progress of the Swedish army was an uninterrupted 
series of successes, and in a short time the whole of Bavaria, 
as far as the capital, lay open to Gustavus. On the 6th May 
the victorious troops halted before Munich. Lord Reay*s 
Highlanders were the first to enter, and their appearance 
spread terror among the citizens ; but the leading men had 
faith in the magnanimity of the con(iueror, and received 
(iustavus and his army with all due respect. Only the 
Scottish regiments were permitted to have their quarters 
within the walls ; and to the Mackays was entrusted the 
honourable duty of being body-guard to the King during the 
three weeks they were in the Bavarian capital. But Wallen- 
stein, who had succeeded Tilly as Commander-in-chief of the 
Austrian army, was marching towards Nurnberg, and Gustavus 
Adolphus, in order to checkmate him, left Munich and 
proceeded in the same direction. Both armies encamped in 
the neighbourhood of the city. Wallenstein had a force of 
about 60,000 men, and Gustavus, though at first he had 
only about 18,000 men, before the end of July had 
probably nearly as many as Wallenstein. From the 
end of June till the middle of August, the two armies 
lay in sight of each other without coming to a regular 
engagement. It seemed to be a game of masterly in- 
activity on both sides, and the question was — which could 
hold out the longest. Provisions were exhausted, and it was 
impossible to obtain supplies. It was necessary that decisive 
steps should be taken, and on the 22nd of August, the long 
expected battle may be said to have begun. The fighting, 



which continued for three days, was of the most desperate 
character, and ended in a drawn battle. No less than 10,000 
citizens and 20,000 soldiers were left dead in and around the 
devoted city. Both armies remained in their respective 
positions till the 14th September, when Gustavus, leaving 
5,000 men in Niirnberg, retired with the remainder of his 
forces towards the south, and ^Vallenstein, as soon as he 
discovered that Gustavus had marched away, also took his 
departure, marching however towards the north, and burning 
all the villages that were near. 

The heav>' losses sustained by the Scots Brigade had so 
reduced its numbers that the King, at the end of September, 
gave orders that it should go into quarters to rest and wait 
for recruits. On the nth of October he took leave of 
what was left of the gallant Scottish regiments, in view 
of the whole army, and thanked them for their services. 
They never saw their great leader again, for in less than 
a month (on the 6th November, 1632) he was found dead on 
the battlefield of Liitzen.* It is remarkable that the battle 
of Liitzen was the only one in which he had engaged the 
enemy without the mass of his Scottish troops. Several 

* The death of Gustavus Adolphus was a mystery. His body 
was found on the battlefield, and it was reported that no one saw 
him killed. But in the Archives at Marburg- I found a document 
giving a circumstantial account of his murder. The witness of the 
deed had one of his legs shot off shortly before the foul act was 
committed, and was unable to move or render assistance. The 
murderer is believed to have been the Duke of I^Auenburg, who 
had a grudge against the King, and had sworn to be revenged. 
[See article on this subject by the present writer, in The Scottish 
/Review f Vol. XIX., p. 400.] 

THE RKc;iMKNTS. ^25 

Srottish officers, however, were with him, and among those 
who were killed wasC'olonel William Markay (son of Donald 
of Seourie) who had been a cai)tain in Lord Reay's regiment. 
But although the King was slain, victory remained with the 
Swedish army, for Wallenstein was totally defeated, and 
forced to retreat to the mountains of Bohemia. 

There is little more to say regarding the services of the 
Mackay regiment. After the death of (lustavus. Lord 
Reay ceased to take any active interest in it, and in the 
month of December, 1632, his name disappears from the 
Swedish army list. Lieut. -(.'olonel Munro was promoted to 
the rank of ('olonel, and the regiment then became known 
under the name of its commander, as Munro s regiment. 
Munro, desirous of having the regiment made up to its full 
strength, left for Scotland in July, 1633, to procure recruits. 
At this date it numbered only about 240 men ; but recruits 
arriving from lime to time, the ranks got well filled up, and 
within a year it numbered 12 companies with a total strength 
of about 1,800 men. On the 26th August, 1634, the terrible 
battle of Nordlingen was fought. The loss of life was 
dreadful ; and of our regiment, out of its 1,800 men, scarcely 
sufficient were left to form one company. Of the whole 
Scots Brigade not more than 200 men came out of the 
sanguinary conflid. 

After the battle of Xordlingen, the regiment as a separate 
cor|)s, ceased to exist : and the one company to which it had 
been reduced was placed, with the remnants of the other 
Scottish regiments, under the command of Duke Bernard of 
.Saxe Weimar. In the following year an arrangement was 
come to between .Sweden and France, by which the Scottish 
troops were taken into the pay of the latter country. Sir 


John Hepburn, when he resigned his commission in the 
Swedish service,* entered that of France, and it was under him 
(to many of them their old leader) that these troops were to 
serve. A new regiment was organised and named after its 
commander, h Regiment d Hebron -Hepburn's Regiment. 
It represented in its ranks many corps ; the remnant of 
Hepburn's own old regiment, the one remaining company of 
Mackay's Highlanders, all the other Scottish regiments of 
Gustavus, and the Scottish Archer Ouards of the French Kings. 
Probably it was the latter circumstance that led the King of 
France to order that it should take precedence of all other 
regiments in his service. Hepburn was killed at the battle of 
Saverne in 1636, and the regiment then became known as 
U Regiment de Douglas^ from the name of its new colonel. 
It bore this designation till 1678, when it was incorporated in 
the British army as Dumbarton's Regiment^ after its next 
colonel. In 1684 it was designated the Royal Regiment^ and 
is now known as the Royal Scots. It is probably the 
oldest regiment in Europe, and takes precedence of all 
other regiments of the line in the British army. As the " one 
remaining company" of Mackay's regiment formed a part of /^ 
Regiment cT Hebron^ when it was made up in 1635, ^ claim 
that our regiment is now represented by the Royal Scots. f 

From first to last Lord Reay sent over to " the German 
wars" upwards of 10,000 men, and as Munro expressed it. 

* He had qiuirrelled with the King- on some relig-ious question. 
t This regiment has had the following titles : — 

Le Regiment d' Hebron, ... ... ... ... 1633 1636. 

Le Regiment de Douglas, ... 1636 — 1678. 

Dumbarton's Regiment, 1678 — 1684. 


" our noble colonell did engage his estates and adventure his 
person," not with a sordid view of gain, but "for the good cause/' 
To meet the debts he had thus contracted he was obliged to 
sell his lands in Ross-shire and Caithness, then his hereditary 
sheriffship of Strathnaver (this to the Crown for ^1000), and 
last and saddest of all, what was the pride of the Mackay 
country the beautiful and fertile district of Strathnaver. 


Folk of these regiments were raised in the county, and finer 
bodies of men were never brought together in any part of 
the United Kingdom. Three bore the title "Sutherland'' 
Fencibles, and the other was designated the "Reay" 
Fencibles. The services of all the Fencible regiments were 
restricted to militarv duty in Creat Britain and Ireland. 

Thk Si'THEKLANi) Fenciules. 

1. The 1st Sutherland Fenchji.e Re(;iment was 
raised in 1759. William, Earl of Sutherland, was Colonel, 
and the Hon. Hugh Mackay, son of I^rd Reay, Lieutenant- 

Thc Koval Rojfinionl, ... ... ... ... ... 1684 — 1751. 

isi or The Royal Rej^iinent, ... ... 1751 -i8ij. 

I si or Tlio Royal Scots, ... ... ... ... 1812 1821. 

1st or The Royal Regiment, ... ... ... ... 1821 1871. 

1st or The Royal Scots, ... ... 187 1 — 1881. 

The Lothian Regiment — The Royal Scots, 188 1 — 


General Stewart in his " Sketches " gave currency to an 
error when he stated there were " 104 William Mackays in 
this regiment . . . and 17 in one company." The 
Muster-Roll shows that there were in all 211 Mackays, 
including 7 officers, in the regiment ; and out of this number 
16 only had the Christian name William. With a strength 
of 1084 men of all ranks, the leading names were as follows: 
Mackay, 211; Sutherland, 128; Murray, 42; Ross, 34; 
Macleod, 29 ; Macdonald, 29 ; Munro, 28. The clan names 
in the ist and 2nd Regiments were in almost identical 

The Reay Fencibles. 

The Royal \\'arrant for raising this regiment was dated 
24th October, 1794. Colonel Mackay Hugh Baillie, a 
military officer of note and experience, and a near kinsman 
of Hugh, Lord Reay, the then chief of the Mackays, was 
selected to command the regiment, and (ieorge Mackay of 
Handa (afterwards designated of Bighouse) was appointed 
Lieutenant Colonel. The strength of the regiment was 
fixed at 800 men, and a few weeks sufficed to obtain the 
required number. When placed on the Establishment (i8th 
June, 1795) it consisted of 46 officers and 754 non- 
commissioned officers and men, and of these 1 1 officers and 
209 rank and file were Mackays, while 381 had the honour- 
able Gaelic prefix " Mac " to their names. The uniform of 
the regiment was similar to that of the 42nd. Scarlet coat 
with dark blue facings and silver lace, and kilt of Mackay 


The regiment was inspected at Fort (ieorge in March 
1795, ami after fxdug drilled, uniformed, and armed, was 
ordered to Ireland, where the steady conduct and soldierly 
bearing of the men soon attracted the notice of (ienerals 
I^ke and Nugent, commanding in that country. The 
service of the regiment, which had been stationed in Belfast 
and neighbourhood, was of an uneventful and routine 
character until 1798, when the rebellion broke out and 
assumed formidable proportions. The object of the rising 
was to bring about the separation of Ireland from Britain, 
and for this purpose the conspirators had been promised 
substantial aid from France. A day had been fixed when 
Ireland was to rise in arms, but the scheme had been made 
known to the (Government, and many of the leaders were 
arrested. Those who escaped determined that a general 
insurrection should take i)lace, and the 23rd of May was 
fixed upon for that event. It was under these circumstances 
that the Reays were moved from Belfast to Cavan, and 
then to Dublin. The battle of Tara-hill was fought on the 
26th of May, 1798. In this engagement the rebels had a 
force of about 4000 men, while the ( Government had only 
the Reays, less than 800 strong, and two troops of yeomanry. 
The rebels were well posted on the top of the hill, protected 
by old walls and other shelter, which gave them a great 
advantage, but the Reays marched boldly on and gradually 
fought their way uj), when, reaching the top, notwithstanding 
the great odds against them, they furiously charged the 
rebels with the bayonet, tumbling them over at every stroke, 
and eventually dispersed and chased them off the hill. The 
yeomanry then charged the retreating masses, who fled panic 
stricken and in disorder. The loss of the Reays was 30 


killed and a considerable number wounded. The rebels 
had about 500 killed, besides many wounded. It was a 
complete victory, and the battle broke the back of the 
rebellion. After this engagement the Reays marched to 
Dublin, where they met with a hearty reception from the 

But the troubles were not quite ended. On the 22nd 
August a French force of about 1,300 men landed at Killala. 
(General I^ke, hearing of this, hastened with two regiments 
of Irish Militia, the Fraser Fencibles, and some dragoons, to 
resist the advance. The Reays at the same time were ordered 
to Tuam, to keep in check the rebels in the west. General 
Lake encountered the Frenchmen near Castlebar. The French 
began the attack and soon threw the Militia into disorder, 
and they, in retiring, threw the Frasers into disorder, so that the 
whole gave way, and the French soldiers, still advancing, I^ke 
was forced to retire. Overwhelmed with grief at the unsteady 
and cowardly conduc t of the militia (many of whom went 
over to the enemy), he was frequently heard to exclaim, ** If 
I had my brave and honest Reays with me, this would not 
have happened." The Irish insurgents and their French 
auxiliaries had everything in their own hands for a few days, 
and they began an indiscriminate slaughter of the Protestants 
and Loyalists of Castlebar. But I^ke, who had fallen back 
on Tuam, had re-formed his army, and this done, he deter- 
mined to attack the Frenchmen. On this occasion he took 
his " honest Reays " with him. After four days march his 
advance troops got up to and skirmished with the French, 
bringing them to a halt. General I^ike soon afterwards 
appeared with the troops under his immediate command, and 
then all resistance on the part of the Frenchmen ceased : 



they laid down their arms and surrendered unconditionally ; 
and the Reays had the honour of conducting them as 
prisoners of war to Dublin. Few Irish were taken, for when 
they saw the P'renchmen laying down their arms, they threw 
their own away and fled to the hills. This practically ended 
the rebellion, and comi)arative tran(iuility was restored to 
Ireland. The Reays were afterwards quartered in various 
towns for about four years ; and in 1802 the regiment was 
ordered home to Scotland. It embarked at Belfast on the 
loth September, and landing at Stranraer marched to Stirling, 
where, on the 26th of that month, General Baillie gave his 
parting address to the officers and men, paying high compli- 
ments to both, for their loyalty, good discipline, and 
distinguished gallantry. The regiment was disbanded on the 
13th October, 1802. 

One of the sergeants of the Reays became famous among 
"The Men" of Sutherland. This was Joseph Mackay. He 
served with the regiment until it was disbanded, and after- 
wards entered the 1st Foot or Royal Scots, and got a 
commission as Ensign. He was wounded at Waterloo, and 
returning to his native parish, devoted the remainder of his 
life — about 40 years — to evangelistic work in the Highlands. 
Many stories are told of his piety and benevolence : and the 
few old people left in the Reay country still speak with the 
greatest reverence of Ensign Joseph. 

I cannot do better, in bringing this short stor^'of the Reay 
Fencibles to an end, than (juote what Mr. Mackay, 
Hereford, says in the closing part of his account of the 
services of the regiment : "They were an honour to their 
race and to their country, descendants of men who always 
bravely held their own, and defended their territory against 


great odds . . and who remained ever loyal to their 
Sovereigns, and repeatedly performed great services to the 
State. . . . They produced heroes and warriors . 
whose fame will remain in the story of their country, and on 
the Continent of Euroi)e. In Ireland, as has been shown, 
they exhibited many proofs of the valour of their race, and 
eminently manifested that they were the genuine sons of the 
valiant Mackavs of the North." 


The 93rd or Sutherland Highlanders, now known a§ the 
Second Battalion Princess Louise's Argyll and Sutherland 
Highlanders, was, at one time, considered the most High- 
land of the Highland regiments. It was raised on a "Letter 
of Service" granted in May, 1800, to General William 
Wemyss of U'emyss, (the same who had commanded the 
2nd and 3rd regiments of Sutherland Fencibles) and was 
at first known as " General Wemyss' Regiment of Infantry," 
because no number had been assigned to it. The strength 
was fixed at 600 men, but was augmented to 1000, with 

* I am largely indebted to General Sir John Ewart's interesting 
volumes *'The Story of a Soldier's Life" for several of the 
incidents mentioned in this sketch. The various histories of the 
93rd have also been consulted, and I have made free use of 
Colonel Percy Grove's volume, which is the most recently pub<. 
lishcd account of the reeiment. 

In i8(i it ininilnjri^d io4g officers 
1014 were Stols, 18 Knglish, and 17 

A strikin|r [>cculianly in the raising of ihis reginiern, was, 
ihat the original levy was made by a species of consrription, 
and not liy ihe ordinary mude of recruiting. It was in this 


way ; A census having been laken of llie population on the 
estates of the Countess of Sutherland, her apents re<iuested 
that a certain ])roportion of the able bodied sons of the 
tenants .should join the rank.s. as a test of their duty to the 
chief and to the Sovereign. The appeal was »ell responded 
[o, and in a few months the regiment was comjjleted. 


Naturally some of the parents grumbled at the taking away 
of their sons, but the young men themselves never seem to 
have ([uestioned the right thus assumed by their chief over 
their military services. The levy was made up to a con- 
siderable extent of men who had served in the 3rd Sutherland 
Fencibles, which had been disbanded about two years 
previously, and many of the men, as well as the non- 
commissioned officers, were the sons of highly respectable 
farmers. The officers were mostly well known gentlemen 
connected with Sutherland and the adjacent counties. The 
whole body of 600 men, without a single absentee, assembled 
in Inverness in the Month of August, and during their stay 
in the Highland capital they were so orderly and well 
behaved that no place of confinement was recjuired in 
connection with the regiment. In Sej)tember it received its 
number, and was entered in the Army List as the 93rd. In 
this month it also embarked at Fort (ieorge for (luernsey, 
where it was for the first time armed and fully e(|uipped. 
It remained in (iuernsey till September 1802, and was then 
ordered to Scotland to be reduced : but in ( onsecjuence of 
the renewal of war with France, the order for reduction was 
countermanded, and instead of being disbanded, the regi- 
ment was sent to Aberdeen. In February 1803 it was 
removed to Ireland, and in August 1805, it embarked at 
Cork, for the (^ape of (lood Hope. It formed with the 
71st and 72nd regiments, the Highland Brigade which was 
under the command of Brigadier (leneral Ferguson. 

In landing at Table Bay the 93rd lost 35 men by the 
u[)sctting of a boat in the surf. Its first engagement was in 
the battle of I>lue Mountains. This was a decisive victory, 
for the enemy were completely routed with a loss of u[)wards 


of 600 in killed and wounded. The British loss was 16 killed 
and 191 wounded: of this number the 93rd had 2 men killed 
and 5 officers and 53 men wounded. The regiment remained 
8 years at the Cape, when to the general regret of the colony, 
it embarked in 18 14 for England, and arrived at Plymouth on 
the 15th August. Of the 1018 non-commissioned officers 
and men who disembarked, 977 were Scots. During all the 
time the regiment was at the Cape, " the men conducted 
themselves in so sedate and orderly a fashion that 
severe punishment was unnecessary, and so rare was the 
commission of crime that 1 2 and even 1 5 months have been 
known to elapse without a single court martial being assembled 
for the trial of any soldier of the 93rd." 

It had not been many weeks at home until it was again 
ordered on foreign service, and on the T6th September it 
sailed for North America, the United States, at that time, 
being unfortunately at war with Great Britain. The expedi- 
dition, of which they formed a part, had for its object the 
reduction of New Orleans. This was a disastrous and grossly 
mismanaged undertaking ; and "the gallant 93rd lost a larger 
number of officers and men in it, in a few hours, than it did 
throughout the whole of the Indian Mutiny campaign," in 
which it had probably hotter work to do than ever fell to the 
lot of any single regiment. The siege of New Orleans, as it 
was called, was a miserable failure, not on the part of the 
troops, but through the incapacity or want of understanding 
of the general officers; and it is sad to think that neither gain 
nor glory resulted from the dreadful carnage. One illustra- 
tion will suffice. "The 93rd, led by Lieut. -Colonel Dale (he 
was killed in the engagement), were advancing in close 
column towards the centre of the enemy's line, exposed to a 


tremendous fire of grape and musketry, when within 100 
yards of the breastwork they were ordered to a halt In this 
miserable position they had to stand, being neither allowed 
to advance nor retire . . while they were being mowed 
down by the murderous artillery and rifle balls " (ieneral 
I^imbert at last ordered the regiment to retire, but only a 
fragment of the 93rd was left, for 6 officers and 1 20 men 
had been killed (including those who died of their wounds 
the following day) ; and 12 officers and 363 men wounded. 

After this disastrous action it was decided to abandon any 
further attempts on New Orleans. Colonel Groves, in his 
History of the Regiment, says, *• the splendid courage and 
steadiness of the 93rd Highlanders on the 8th January, 1815, 
elicited the admiration, not only of their fellow soldiers, but 
of the enemy : indeed, had all the regiments exhibited 
similar devotion and discipline. New Orleans might never 
have been numbered among IJritish defeats.'* 

Peace being established between Oreat Britain and the 
United States, the troops were shortly afterwards ordered to 
embark and sail for England. The fragment which was left 
of the 93rd arrived at Spithead on the 15th May, 1815, but 

* This great disaster was occasioned by t*lie culpable neglect 
of the Lieut-Colonel of the 44th regiment, to carry out instructions 
which he had received on the previous night, to take his men 
forward witii scaling ladders, for an assault which was intended 
to be made on the enemy's works. The t)3rd had been selected 
for this perilous task. When atlvancing at daybreak, and near 
the breast work, it was discmiMvd that there were no l.'idders, 
the regiment was cilled li> a h;ill. This made their presence 
known to the enemy, who poured merciless showers of grape and 
ritle balls upon the almost defenceless Highlanders, and literally 
mowed them down, as slated above. 


being in too weak a state to take part in the stirring events 
on the Continent, it was ordered to Ireland. 

A second battahon had been added in 18 13. In 1814 it 
embarked for Xewfoundland, under command of Wm 
Wemvss, a son of (leneral VVemvss. After a httle over a 
year's service, the battalion returned home, and on the 24th 
December, 1815, was disbanded at Sunderland, when 30 
sergeants, 23 corporals, 1 1 drummers, and 303 privates were 
drafted to the first battalion. 

The 93rd did not take j)art in any event of importance 
for many years. From Ireland it was sent to the West Indies 
in 1823, and after ten yeais returned to England. In 1838 
it was sent to C'anada, and remained in that colony about ten 
years. Between 1844 and 1848 it was stationed in Montreal 
and Quebec, and I have heard old people, in both towns, speak 
most highly of the regiment, the exemplary conduct of the 
men being warmly praised. On the 27th July, 1848, it 
embarked at Quebec for Leith, where it landed on the 31st 
of August, and was at once sent to Stirling. From Stirling 
it was removed to Edinburgh, where it was stationed one 
year, then in (Glasgow one year, and in 1852 it was sent to 

In 1854, being then stationed in Plymouth, the regiment 
received notice, in conse(|uen( e of the threatening aspect of 
affairs in the East, to hold itself in readiness to embark on 
active service It was then on the peace establishment, and 
in order to bring it up to its proper strength, volunteers were 
called for, when 1 70 fine seasoned soldiers from the 42nd 
and 79th responded to the call. 'I'he regiment sailed for 
Malta on the 22nd February, and landed on the 8th of March. 
The total strength which embarked was 27 officers and 911 


non-comniissionc'd orticers and men. The news of the 
declaration of war with Russia reached Malta on the 4th of 
April, and on the 6th the 93rd sailed for Turkey. 

The services of the 93rd chiring the Crimean war* and 
Indian mutiny are of sucli recent occurrence, that I shall not 
attempt to give an account of these struggles, but merely 
narrate a few incidents in whi(*h the regiment took a promi 
nent part. 

On the i4lh September, 1854, the 93rd landed in the 
Oimea. The 42nd, 79th, and 93rd regiments had been 
formed into the Highland Hrigade, the command of which 
was given to Sir Colin Campbell (afterwards Lord Clyde). 
Six days after landing, the battle of the Alma was fought. 
'I'he Highland IJrigade struck terror into the hearts of the 
Russians. 'I'o their superstitious eyes '' the strange uniforms 

* Tlu* Crinuvui \v;ir bcg'aii in this way. A Russian army havinjc 
entered Turkey and attacked some of the Provinces, Cireat Britain 
and France entered into an alliiince to defend the territory of the 
Sultan, and declared war against Russia. The allies were after- 
wards joined by Sardinia. War was declared on the j8th March, 
1854 ; the strujarji^le lasted about two years ; and peace was 
proclaimed on J9th April, 1856. The vastness of the undertaking 
was not at first realised, and Cireat Hritain beg^t'in by calling' out 
an army of 10,000 men for the strug-jfle ; but this number was soon 
fv>und to be far short o( what would be needed, and it had to 
be aujcmented from time to time, until about 100,000 men were 
embodied, of which number 70,000 were sent to the Crimea. The 
Hritish losses durinjf the campaign were 3,53.1 killed or died of 
their wounds, and 15,782 who succumbed to disease, making' a 
total loss of life of 19,134. 

France sent 309,268 men, and lost 82,133 : while the Russian 
loss was stated to be about 500,000, of whom 90,000 lay buried on 
the ensanguined heights of Sebastopol. 

242 suthkrland and the reav countrv. 

of those bare-kneed troops seemed . terrible ; their 

white waving sporrans were taken for the heads of low horses, 
and they cried to each other that the angel of death had 
departed, and that the demon of death had come." In this 
engagement the 93rd had i officer and 7 rank and file killed, 
and 44 rank and file wounded. 

The conduct of the 93rd at Balaclava has received universal 
praise. This was just a month after the battle of the Alma. 
The regiment was formed in line -that is, front and rear 
rank. " I would not even form them four deep," said Sir 
Colin Campbell, when remonstrated with for not placing them 
so as to be able to throw themselves into a square, when the 
Russian cavalry was galloping towards them. There they 
stood, " that thin red line, tipped with steel," awaiting the 
onslaught of the Russian dragoons, the ground trembling 
beneath their horses' feet, and gathering strength at every 
stride. The Highlanders stood cool as if on parade, until 
their foes were within 600 yards, then down on their knees 
dropped the front rank, and delivered a steady volley. But the 
distance was too great, and though a few saddles were 
emptied, the Russians pressed forward unchecked. On they 
rode till scarcely 200 yards separated them from the intrepid 
Highlanders; then the rear-rank men brought their rifles to 
the present, and over the heads of their comrades poured a 
withering fire into the enemy's masses. Shaken to their very 
centre, the Russian dragoons fell back ; but they made one 
more bid for victory, and encouraged by their leaders, en- 
deavoured to turn the Highlanders' right flank. But they were 
checkmated by the Grenadier company, which received them 
with such a volley that they wheeled about and rushed off to 
seek the shelter of iheir guns. The 93rd is the only Infantry 


regiment in the British army which has the word "Balaclava " 
on its colours. 

During the siege of Sebastopol the 93rd had its full share 
of dangerous and harassing duties. On the 8th September, 
1855, the second grand assault was made, but the stronghold 
was not taken. The Highland Brigade was then moved 
forward to occupy the advanced trenches, so as to be ready 
if the enemy should make a sortie. About midnight, when 
everything was quiet, Lieutenant MacBean left the trenches, 
and approaching the Redan was struck with the idea from 
the stillness which prevailed, that the Russians had deserted 
it. He returned to the trenches, saw Sir Colin Campbell, 
and obtained permission to enter, if he could get 2 officers 
and 20 men to volunteer to accompany him. He got the 
officers and men, and with them entered the Redan, but 
finding the work apparently unoccupied, hastened back to Sir 
Colin with the news. General Ewart, in his " Story of a 
Soldier's Life," gives the following account (he was then a 
Major in the 93rd). He did not know what prompted him, 
but he determined to follow the little party to the Redan ; 
"Just as I arrived they were re-crossing the ditch. . . I at 
once stopped two of the 93rd named Peter Mackay* and 
John White, and asked if they would mind again entering the 

* At the close of the Crimean war, the Emperor of Frtitice 
presented a few miUtary medals to each British regiment which had 
taken part in the campaign. These medals were exclusively for 
non-commissioned officers or privates, the only exception being 
some general officer who had held some special command. [The 
Duke of Cambridge is the only British officer to whom it was 
granted by the Emperor.] To the 93rd nine medals were given, 
and it was a great honour to be selected to be one of the recipients 


Redan. They said " No," so they descended the ditch, and 
scrambled up the other side. All was perfectly quiet, but I 
could not help thinking that possibly some trap was being 
laid, so proceeded cautiously to search whether any Russians 
were lying in ambush . . but the Redan appeared to be 
untenanted." On returning to the advanced trench Major 
Ewart at one e went to Sir Colin Campbell, who was glad to 
receive a confirmation of the report which had been made to 
him by Maclk'an. While they were talking, an Engineer 
officer came up and recjuested that, as the Redan had been 
found deserted, it might be immediately occupied by the 
Highlanders. lUit this the old general declined ; **and the 
wisdom of his refusing was shortly afterwards made manifest 
by a tremendous explosion taking place in the work." A trap 
had been laid by the Russians. Had the place been occupied 
probably all within would have been killed. The evacuation 
of the Redan by the Russians rendered any further assault 
unnecessary. Sebastopol was in possession of the allies, and 
the war was practically at an end. 

While waiting at Varna and Aladja, in July and August, 
for orders, cholera, fever, and dysentry raged in the camp, 
and large numbers of soldiers died, -416 men of the 93rd 
having been in the regimental hospital, and in the Crimea, 

Private Peter Mackay, above-mentioned, was awarded one — ** for 
bravery, and for being- the first man to enter the Redan on the 
night of the 8th September, 1855." The other soldiers of the 
regiment, who, for special acts of bravery, were selected for 
the honour, were : Colour-Sergeant Alexander Knox, Sergeant 
Archibald Crabtree, Sergeant James Kiddie, Lance-Corporal 
William Mackenzie ; and Privates John Leslie, John Forbes, 
James Davidson, and James Cobb, 


during the first winter, the regiment suffered severely. 
" Only those who lived through those dreary days," wrote 
Dr. Munro, ''know what it was to he without proper 
shelter and clothing, and without sufficient food and fuel, 
while cold keen winds blew, and rain and snoA beat down 
upon the earth, converting it into a sea of mud, through 
which we had to wade with half shod feet. . . . The 
tents afforded poor i)rotection against the [)iercing cold, the 
boi.sterous wind, and the rain : and our clothes, of which at 
one time we had not even a change, became so worn and 
filthy" that it was almost imi)ossil3le to wear them. Until 
the 30th November many officers and men had only the 
clothes they had on when they landed on the T4th September. 
The daily dole of salt beef and pork was left untasted, 
because the men would not, or could not eat, or because 
they had no fuel, or did not know how to cook so as to 
make the food palatable. . . The conse(iuence was that 
numbers of them became ill and many died of dysentry. 
It was not till February, 1855, that anything was done to 
remedy this miserable state of affLiirs. The men were then 
hutted, and the health of the regiment materially improved. 
The second winter the health of the men was good, except- 
ing for a short time in December, when cholera reappeared. 
But in March, 1856, peace was proclaimed, and on the i6th 
June the 93rd embarked for I'.ngland. The regiment 
landed at Portsmouth on the 15th July, and proceeded to 
Aldershot, where, on the following day it was reviewed by 
Her Majesty. It was then moved to Dover, and was joined 
there by the depots from Malta and Dundee. 

The red doublets of the pipers were at this time 
exchanged for green. 

THK RK(;iMENTS. 247 

On the 31st January, 1857, the regiment was ordered to 
prepare for immediate embarkation for India, and as its 
strength had just been reduced to a peaee footing, volunteers 
were called for from the 42nd, 72nd, 79th, and 92nd 
regiments: — 201 men promptly responded. Shortly before 
embarkation it was notified that the destination of the 
regiment had been changed to China, but when the trans* 
ports arrived at the Cape of ( iood Hope, they were directed 
to sail for Calcutta, in consequence of a mutiny in the 
Bengal army. The ships reached (Calcutta on the 20th and 
26th September, and no time was lost in sending on the 
regiment in detachments to Cawnpore. The detachment 
which was under the command of Major Ewart was the first 
division of the regiment to reach Cawnpore. Here is what 
he wrote after visiting the scene of the massacre and seeing 
some of the proofs of the atrocities which the rebels had 
committed, " As 1 looked around 1 could almost have cried 
with rage, and when I left the house where this frightful 
crime of unsurpassed brutality had been committed, 1 felt 
that I had become a changed man. All feelings of mercy 
or consideration for the mutineers had left me. I was no 
longer a Christian, and all I wanted was revenge. In the 
Crimea 1 had never wished to kill a Russian, or even tried 
to, but now my one idea was to kill every rebel I should 
come across." 

On the loth November, all the detachments of the 
regiment had arrived in the neighbourhood of Lucknow, Sir 
Colin Campbell had assumed the command on the previous 
day, and on the nth he inspected the entire force (about 
4,000 men), which had been drawn ui) on the i)lains near the 
Alum-bagh. Addressing the 93rd he said, " Ninety-third ! 


We are about to advance to relieve our countrymen and 
countrywomen besieged in the Residency of Lucknow by 
the rebel army. It will be a duty of danger and difficulty, 
but I rely upon you!" To this laconic speech the High- 
landers replied with a loud cheer, which was taken uj) by the 
other regiments, as the brave old general rode along the line. 
Every man was actuated by the same feeling, namely -a 
determination to avenge Cawni)ore, and resc ue the women and 
children in Lucknow. On the 14th the army began its 
approach. The 93rd was the leading regiment in the main 
column. A force of rebels had taken up a position near a 
village to the south of Lucknow, l)ut these having been 
driven off, the 93rd passed into an open si)ace directly opposite 
the Secunder-bagh a palace, with a high-walled loop-holed 
enclosure, about 150 yards scjuare. A breach having been 
made in the walls, the assault was begun l)y the 93rd, 
supported by the 4th Punjab Rifles, and detachments of 
other regiments. " Never," said Sir Colin in his despatch, 
"was there a bolder feat of arms." The greater part of the 
93rd dashed straight at the breach. It was an exciting attack. 
On rushed side by side in generous rivalry, the Sikh and the 
Highlander, the latter straining every nerve in the race, led 
gallantly by their officers. The opening of the breach was 
so small that only one man could enter at a time, but a few 
having gained entrance, they kept the enemy at bay until a 
considerable number of Highlanders and Sikhs had pushed 
in, and then commenced what was probably the sternest and 
bloodiest struggle of the whole campaign. The Sepoys 
made a stubborn resistance, and fought with the courage of 
despair, for they knew that no mercy would be shown to 
them. The carnage was dreadful, over 2000 Sepoys having 


been slain. The 93rd had in this eventful struggle 2 officers 
and 23 men killed, and 7 officers and 61 men wounded. 
Many of the latter died of their wounds, and most of the 
others were permanently disabled. 'I'hat evening an effort 
was made to rapture the Shah Xujjiff. Ikigadier Hope, 
with about 50 men, guided by Sergeant Paton crept cau- 
tiously through some brushwood to a part of the wall which 
the Sergeant had discovered, so injured, that he thought an 
entrance could be effected. One man was pushed through 
the hole, and seeing none of the enemy near, several of the 
others scrambled up and stood on the wall. Ikigadier Hope 
and his small party reached the main gate almost unopposed, 
then threw it o|kmi, and in rushed the 93rd just in time to 
see the rebels in their white dresses gliding away in the 
darkness of the night. Thus ended the desperate struggle 
of the dav, and the relief of the Residencv was ensured. 
A deep silence now reigned over the entire |H)sition, and 
the little army, weary and exhausted by its mighty efforts, 
lay uj)on the hard won battle-ground to rest, and if |K)ssil)le 
to sleep. 

Manv a heroic deed was done that dav. Kwart, Hurr- 
oughs, Stewart, MacHean and other offic ers were ever foremost 
in the fray, setting an example of dauntless courage to their 
men, although no exam|)le was needed. Lieutenant-Colonel 
Ewart slew eight rebels with his own hand, and captured a 
< olour, after receiving two sword-cuts on the right arm and 
hand. The colour belonged to the 2nd Loodiana regiment, 
the only Sikh corps which had mutinied. Private David 
Mackay, of the Orenadier (Company, captured the other 
colour of this corps, and received the Victoria Cross for his 
gallantf)' Eight days afterwards (at C^awnpore), Lieutenant- 


Colonel Ewart was struck by a cannon shot on the left elbow. 
"I was aware," he wrote, "that I had been struck violently 
on the left side, but did not know what had actually taken 
place until 1 looked down and saw the bleeding stump. . . . 
The blow did not knock me down, nor did I feel any 
inclination to fall, but a soldier of the 93rd, named Peter 
Mackay, (the same man who had been with me in the 
Redan, on the night of the 8th September, 1855), ran up at 
once and tied his handkerchief tightly round the stump." 

Although Luck now was relieved there was still much to 
be done. The troops under Sir Colin Campbell and those 
in the Residency, had, as it were, shaken hands, but the 
difficult task remained of getting the women and children out, 
without risking the lives of any of those that still remained. 
The Residency was evacuated during the night of the 22nd 
(November), the women and children were rescued, and the 
regiment moved to the Alum-bagh, and encamped in its old 
position. Sir Colin decided to convey the women and 
children and the wounded to Cawnpore, and selected the 
93rd to be the escort. They started from the Alum-bagh on 
the 27th. A few hours after setting out news reached Sir 
Colin that the mutineers of the Gwalior contingent, in great 
force, were attacking General Windham at Cawnpore. Sir 
Colin immediately decided (though encumbered with the 
women and children and the sick) to push on with all possible 
speed, and by a forced march of about 40 miles, reached the 
Bridge of Boats, opposite Cawnpore, the following evening. 
Early the next morning, by the artillery distracting the 
attention of the enemy, the 93rd were enabled to get across 
the bridge, and the other troops followed. The rebels 
numbered fully 20,000 men, and had about 40 guns ; they 


kept up a continued fire^ but did not venture on an attack. 
On the 3rd December the women and children, and a great 
number of the wounded, were sent off under a strong escort 
to Allahabad, and Sir C^olin, no longer hampered by these 
defenceless ones determined to attack the enemy. On the 
6th, what is known as the battle of Cawnpore was fought. 
The rebels were completely defeated, and retreated during 
the night, but they were (juickly pursued and entirely 
dispersed, leaving a large number of killed and wounded, 
besides losing all their guns, ammunition, and baggage. In 
this engagement the 93rd greatly distinguished itself. 

The British army was now employed in clearing the district 
around Lucknow of the rebels. Uy the end of February, 
1858, the troops destined for the second siege of Lucknow 
were collected. On the 2nd of March a movement was 
made, and on the 9th the Martiniere was carried by the 42nd 
and 93rd. On the i ith the 93rd was selected to storm the 
Kaiser-bagh. The assault was successful, but the regiment 
had two officers and 13 men killed, and two officers and 45 
men wounded. Lieut. MacHean and Pipe-Major MacLeod 
particularly distinguished themselves during the assault. 
Mac Bean killed 1 1 rebels with his own hand, while the Pipe- 
Major was one of the first to get through the breach, and 
when through struck up the regimental gathering, and con- 
tinued playing during the lighting, in places where he was 
l)erfectly exposed. The British had now gained possession 
of Lucknow, and there was no further fighting there after the 
27th. During the operations against the city no regiment was 
more frecjuently employed, or suffered more severely than the 
Sutherland Highlanders, 


On the 6th April the 93rd was brigaded with the 42nd 
and 79th under Adrian Hope. At the unsuccessful attack on 
Fort Rooyah on the 16th, Hope was killed, to the great 
sorrow, not of the 93rd only, but of the whole Highland 
Brigade. The regiment was subsequently j)resent at the 
battle of Bareilly, and other minor affairs, and fully maintained 
the glorious reputation it had earned at Lucknow. In Feb- 
ruary, 1859, the mutiny having been suppressed, the 93rd 
was sent to a station in the Himalayas. During the campaign, 
between September 30, 1857, and December, 31, 1859, the 
regiment lost in killed and died of wounds, 5 officers and 78 
men, and by disease 97 men, and there weie invalided and 
sent to England i officer and 83 men. I have not been able 
to ascertain the actual number wounded. 

The regiment made an unusually long stay in India, for it 
did not return to its native shores until March 25, 1870, when 
it arrived at Leith. After eight years home service it sailed 
for Gibraltar, where it was quartered until April, 188 1. On 
the introduction of the " territorial system " into the British 
army, when numerical titles were abolished, the 93rd was 
linked with the 91st, and became the second battalion of the 
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. In 1892 the battalion 
again proceeded on foreign service, and is now stationed at 
Dalhousie in Bengal. 

Although the "93rd" at present can only be said to have 
a fwminal connection with the county after which it is named 
(for since the time of the Crimean war and the Indian 
mutiny, few Sutherlandshire men have been in the regiment), 
it is to be hoped that some efforts may be made by the 
military authorities to get young men from the county to join 
its ranks, so that it may be what its name implies, the 


Sutherland Hii^hlattders ; for, strange as it may appear, the 
regiment^ under the territorial system, is not allmved to recruit 
in Suther/andshire ! 

" During the 90 odd years of their existence the 
Sutherland Highlanders have been remarkable for their 
gallantry in the field and exix^llent discipline in (juarters, the 
.kindliest feeling has ever existed between officers and men, 
and though the regiment no longer bears its original designa- 
tion, it is still animated by the same spirit which was so 
consj)icuous in the 'auld 93rd. 

1 jj 

While the 93rd was stationed in Edinburgh in 1850, the 
regiment was reviewed in presence of Jung Hahadour, the 
l*rime Minister of Nepaul, who was then on a mission to 
(Ireat Britain. He was delighted with the regiment, esjxicially 
with the pipers, and begged to be allowed to purchase the 
latter to take with him to India. He was disappointed that 
his recjuest c:ould not be entertained, but the reason being 
explained to him, he was satisfied. About a do/en years 
later (after the Indian Mutiny), he, however, got a piper who 
had obtained his discharge from one of the Highland 
regiments. I am not certain, however, whether from the 93rd 
or 78th, but from what 1 was told by the Residency surgeon, 
who was then at Xepaul, 1 am [)retly sure he was a 93rd man. 

Hut Henry Mackay, who was a Pipe-Major of the 93rd, 
and served in the Oimea and the Indian mutiny, on obtaining 
his discharge from the regiment, was taken into the service of 
one of the Indian princes (the Maharajah of Puttiala), and 
held (juite a lucrative appointment. He was treated with 
great liberality, and the Maharajah bestowed a rank upon him 
ecpial to that of Colonel of a regiment. Mackay trained 14 


pipers and a corresponding number of drummers. The 
Maharajah wished to have the pipers dressed in the kilt, but 
Mackay (who could not brook the idea of Indians wearing 
the Highland dress) insisted on trews, and carried his point. 
They were dressed in green cloth tunics and 93rd tartan trews. 

At a conference held at Umballa in 1869, the Maharajah 
attended with a strong force. The official report of the 
conference referred to this force as follows : " In equipment 
and drill it is very fair indeed. It is drilled by a man named 
Mackay, formerly a piper in the 93rd Highlanders. His 
work does him credit. The pipers played uncommonly well." 

After being about six years in the Maharajah^s sen^ice, 
Mackay's health broke down, and he was compelled, greatly 
to his own regret, and of the Maharajah also, to leave India. 
He returned to Scotland, and died in Aberdeen on 22nd 
March, 1893. 

Seven Victoria Crosses were won by the 93rd during the 
Indian Mutiny Campaign, and the regiment received the 
Royal Authority to add " Lucknow " to the battle honours 
already emblazoned on its colours. The recipients of the 
Victoria Cross were : 

Captain William George Drum mono Stewart, for 
distinguished gallantry at Lucknow, i6th 
November, 1857. 
Lieutenant and Adjutant MacBean, for distinguished 
personal bravery in killing with his own hand 
1 1 rebels in the main breach of the Hegum-bagh, 
nth March, 1858. 


Colour-Sergeant James Munro, for devoted gallantry in 
the Secunder-bagh, in having promptly rushed 
to the rescue of Captain E. Welsh, when 
wounded and in danger of his life, whom he 
carried to a place of comparative safety, to 
which place the Sergeant was brought in shortly 
afterwards dangerously wounded, i6th Novem- 
ber, 1857. 

Sergeant J. Patox, for distinguished personal gallantry at 
Lucknow, 1 6th November, 1857. 

I^nce-Corporal John Dunlkv, for being the first man of 
the regiment, who, on i6th November, 1857, 
entered one of the breaches in the Secunder- 
bagh with Captain Burroughs, whom he most 
gallantly supported against superior numbers. 

Private David Mackav, for great personal gallantry in 
capturing an enemy's colour after a most 
obstinate resistance, at the Secunder-bagh on 
1 6th November, 1857, Mackay was afterwards 
severely wounded at the capture of the Shah- 

Private Peter Crant, for great personal gallantry at the 
Secunder-bagh, i6th November, 1857. 


The following officers were promoted from the ranks 
of the 93rd. There may have been others, but 
I have not been able to trace them. 

General William MacBean, V.C. Enlisted in 1835 ; 
promoted to rank of Ensign, nth August, 
1854. Within 20 years thereafter he became 
Lieut.-Colonel commanding the regiment, and 
commanded it 4 years. Retired as Honorary 
Major-General, i6th February, 1878, and died 
about four months afterwards, 

Lieut.-Colonel John Jovner. Promoted as Quarter 
Master, 6th July, 1855, and appointed Pay- 
master, 29th May, 1863. Retired with rank of 

Major William Macdonald. Enlisted in 181 2 ; pro- 
moted to rank of Ensign, and appointed 
Adjutant 23rd August, 1827 ; was Adjutant 21 
years; promoted as Captain, 3rd December, 
1847, ^"^ retired with rank of Major, 1 ith June, 

Major Harry Macleod. Enlisted in 1848 ; promoted 

as Quarter Master, 13th June, 1863. Retired 

with rank of Major, 26th December, 1887. 

Major Macleod is a recipient of the Ravard 

for Distinguished and Meritorious Sennce, 

Captain 1 )onali) Sinclair. Promoted as Quarter Master, 
22n(l March, 1844, and retired with Honorary 
rank of Captain, 6th July, 1855. 


Captain William Morrison. Enlisted in i860 ; pro 
moted as Lieutenant in Army Hospital Corps, 
17th September, 1879; Captain, i7lh December, 
1889, and retired 5th May, 1896. 

Captain Sinclair Forbes. Enlisted in 1864 ; appointed 
Quarter Master, 27th August, 1884 ; and retired 
with rank of Captain, . . , 1895. 

Captain William Mack ay. Enlisted in 1864 ; promoted 
as Lieutenant in Army Hospital Corps, ist 
April, 1876 ; Captain, 1st April, 1886 ; and 
retired 2rst March, 1896. 

Captain John HREiUibR. Enlisted in i860; appointed 
(Quarter Master, 24th September, 1873; Captain, 
24th September, 1883 ; and died in Cilasgow, 
20th October, 1886. 

Lieutenant Rohertson Mackay. Enlisted in 1823. 
While a Sergeant was promoted and transferred 
as Lieutenant to 5th Fusiliers, on 4th September, 
1840, and appointed Adjutant, 8th June, 1843. 
He was shot dead by a private of the latter 
regiment two months afterwards (on the nth 
August). Mackay was a native of Reay. His 
brother. Quarter Master Sergeant Adam Mac- 
kay, also in the 93rd, served through the 
Crimean War, and was offered a Commission, 
but declined. The following extract is from 
the regimental records of the 5th Fusiliers: 

**On the afternoon parade of the iithAug^ust, 1843 
(at Birr), a private .... a sanguinary monster in 
human shape, fell out of the ranks, asking* the permission of 



Hv Quarter-Mastkr James Morrison, Golspie. 

The County of Sutherland did not lag behind the rest of the 
country when, in 1859, the movement for establishing 
volunteer, companies for defence against foreign invasion was 
so heartily entered upon, for, so early as the 6th June of that 
year, a meeting was held within Golspie Inn, " for the purpose 
of organising a corps of volunteers for the defence of the 

The chair on this occasion was occupied by Mr. Charles 
Hood, Inverbrora, and a motion that companies be raised in 
the east coast parishes of Dornoch, Golspie, Clyne, and 
Kildonan, was unanimously adopted, as was also one that 
Lord Stafford (afterwards third Duke of Sutherland) be 
respectfully asked to join the volunteers as commandant. 
Before the meeting separated the following gentlemen 
enrolled themselves, and to them must belong the honour 
of being the originators of the volunteer movement in 
Sutherland, viz : — Charles Hood, Inverbrora, Brora ; Sidney 
Hadwcn, West (iarty. Loth ; Sutherland Murray, Kirkton, 
Golspie; William Houstoun, Kintradwell, Brora; M. C. 
MacHardy, Accountant, Golspie ; John Mackenzie, Golspie 
Mills, Golspie ; John B. Dudgeon, Crakaig, Loth j James 
Lindsay, Ironmonger, Golspie ; Major Charles S. Weston, 
Golspie ; Robert B. Sangster, Banker, Golspie ; Marcus 



'^-^Ac^m ^-J^ 




(iunn, Culgower, Loth ; Donald Gray, Solicitor and Banker, 
Golspie ; Dr. R. K. Soutar, Golspie ; George Dudgeon, 
Crakaig, Loth ; John Grant, Writer, Golspie ; Hugh 
Ferguson, Accountant, Golspie. 

Several other general and committee meetings were held 
during the summer and autumn of 1859, at which matters 
of detail were discussed and progress reported, until at a 
meeting of committee on 17th October, it was intimated that 
the Lord Lieutenant of the county (His Grace the Duke of 
Sutherland) had "accepted the services of the enrolled 
company of the Sutherland Rifle Volunteers, called the 
" Golspie Company," that he had appointed Major Charles 
Samuel Weston (late of the Indian army) Captain of said 
company, and that the company numbered 107 men, but 
would be restricted to 100 "effectives." 

Mr. W. S. Fraser, Dornoch, reported to this meeting that 
he had enrolled the Dornoch Company to the number of 
126, that he had numerous further applicants, but that a 
selection of 100 "effectives " would be made. The meeting 
resolved to ask the Lord Lieutenant to offer the services of 
the Dornoch Company to Her Majesty, and to nominate a 
suitable gentleman for Captain of the same. 

At their meeting of ist November the Committee added 
to their number Messrs. Charles Hood, Inverbrora, and 
George Lawson, Clynelish, who conveyed the pleasing intelli- 
gence that a third company was in process of formation at 
Brora, and that 60 men had been already enrolled, with every 
prospect of increasing the number to 100. 

The selection of a suitable uniform appears to have given 
very considerable troul)lc, hut ultimately, one consisting of 
dark grey tunic and trousers, shako of same colour, with 

mmm^^f^ .1^11 ■ ■ I. ■■ I.I ■■■J.-' .^i "^r 


black horse hair plume in front, and brown leather belts, was 
adopted. The clothing and accoutrements for the three 
companies which had now been raised cost about ;£^i,ooo, 
and of this sum ;£^8oo was subscribed by the Duke of 
Sutherland, while the remaining jQ2oo was made up by the 
volunteers themselves and others in the county friendly to 
the movement. . 

While the choice of a uniform had been exercising the 
minds of the committee, drill had not been neglected. The 
first drill instructor of the coqjs was Colour-Sergeant David 
Ross, from the staff of the Ross-shire Militia at Dingwall, 
who, in October, began to drill the (iolspie and Dornoch 
Companies on each alternate week. In the following year 
two sergeant-instructors were told off by Colonel Ross of the 
militia for drilling the three companies. 

It has already been stated that Major Weston was 
appointed, by the Lord-Lieutenant of the county, Captain of 
the (jolspie C'ompany, while Messrs. Sutherland Murray and 
Joseph Peacock were elected by the volunteers Lieutenant 
and Ensign respectively. Mr. W. S. Fraser, Procurator-Fiscal, 
was appointed first Captain of the Dornoch Company, with 
Sheriff-substitute Thomas Mackenzie as Lieutenant, and Mr. 
Donald Taylor. Sheriff-Clerk, as Ensign. • Brora Company 
had, as its first officers, Charles Hood, Inverbrora, Captain ; 
George Lawson,Clynelish, Lientenant; and John B. Dudgeon, 
Crakaig, Ensign. In 1861 Major Weston was appointed 
Adjutant of the Corps, and was succeeded in the command 
of the Golspie Company by Lieutenant Murray, Ensign 
Peacock becoming Lieutenant, and Mr. James Lindsay, 

The volunteers had not long to wait until an opportunity 









presented itself for parading before their Sovereign. The 
Queen had reviewed some 18,000 English volunteers in Hyde 
Park, on 23rd June, i860, and no sooner was this great event 
over than a strong desire was expressed that she should also 
inspect her Scottish volunteers at Edinburgh. This she most 
graciously consented to do, and the 7th August was fixed as 
the date. Thanks to the generous aid of the Duke of 
Sutherland and Lord Stafford, the three Sutherland Companies 
were enabled to take part in this great national event. The 
companies mustered at Little Ferry at 11 a.m , on Monday, 
6th August, and, after refreshments had been served, they 
embarked, 169 strong, on board the steamer "Heather Bell" 
for Inverness, thence they were conveyed to Edinburgh by 
rail via Aberdeen, and at the Review they formed part of the 
second battalion, third Ikigade of the first Division of Rifles. 
A hearty cheer was accorded them by the spectators as they 
marched past the saluting point. 

The next event of importance in connection with the 
movement was the formation of a fourth company at Rogart. 
The desire to raise a Corps there took practical shape at a 
meeting held in Rogart School, on 13th October, i860, when 
it was unanimously resolved to form a company. Special 
attention was to be exercised that the men enrolled should 
be temperate, and of good moral character. Messrs. John 
Hall, Sciberscross ; Robert B. Sangster^ Banker, Golspie ; 
and George Barclay, Davochbeg; were elected Captain, 
Lieutenant, and Ensign respectively. The Rogart Company 
had, from its commencement, the distinction of adopting 
practically, the uniform of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, 
viz : scarlet doublet, Sutherland tartan kilt and plaid, glen- 
garry bonnet, and white belts, with a plate on the front of 


the shoulder belt bearing the inscription " Duchess (Harriet's) 
Company, Rogart," and it is the boast of the Rogart men 
that their dress, a few years later, became the uniform of the 
whole battalion. 

The War Office, in December, 1863, issued an order 
converting the Sutherland Rifle Volunteer Corps into an 
Administrative Battalion, composed of the four Sutherland 
Companies, and the ist Orkney at Lerwick ; and, later on, 
the ist Caithness (Thurso), 2nd ditto (Wick), and 3rd ditto 
(Halkirk), were added to the battalion. 

The Duke of Sutherland who, as Marquis of Stafford, had 
been appointed commanding officer in 1859, with the rank of 
Major, was in 1864, promoted to the rank of Lieut.-Colonel. 

1863 saw a complete change in the uniform of the three 
grey clad companies, the new dress consisting of scarlet 
Highland doublet, Sutherland tartan trews, diced glengarry 
bonnet, and white belts. This uniform, however, does not 
appear to have given satisfaction to either officers or men, for, 
in 1867, it was put to the vote of the men whether the Corps 
should adopt the full Highland dress or remain in trews, and 
it is almost needless to say that **the kilt" was carried with 
acclamation. The officers, from the Colonel downwards, 
had previously resolved " for the kilt," if the men agreed. 

H.R.H. The Prince of Wales paid his first visit to Dun- 
[^ robin Castle in September, 1866, when he received a 
tremendous ovation, a leading part in which was taken by 
the volunteers. The Dornoch Company formed a guard of 
honour at Clashmore, while Golspie, Clyne, and Rogart 
Companies received him at Dunrobin. His Royal Highness 
was so impressed with the ai)pearance of the volunteers that, 
at the request of the Duke of Sutherland, he consented to 




' 4 


. J 

i %^ ^ 

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■ 1 

, ../-'ir^v^^ 



1 tf 


become Honorary Colonel of the battalion, a rank which he 
still retains. 

A fifth company was added to the strength of the county 
rifles in 1867, at Bonar Bridge. The work of enrolling was 
taken up with enthusiasm, and in a very short time a .strong 
company was raised. At the date of writing (1896), E or 
Bonar Company is the strongest in the battalion. Mr. 
Dugald Gilchrist, of Ospisdale, was appointed Captain ; Mr. 
A. S. Black, Banker, Bonar, Lieutenant ; and Mr. John 
Mackenzie, Creich, Ensign. 

The sergeants of the battalion had an honourable and 
pleasant duty to perform in August, 1871. On the 4th ot 
the month Her Grace the Duchess of Sutherland presented 
a new set of colours to the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, 
then lying in Edinburgh Castle, to replace those which that 
gallant corps had carried through the Indian mutiny. The 
officers of the 93rd resolved, in return for the kindness of the 
Duchess, to hand over their old colours to the custody of 
the Duke, to be kept in Dunrobin Castle, and His Grace 
issued orders that the Sergeants of the Sutherland volunteers 
should proceed to Edinburgh to receive the colours and 
bring them north. When the Duke himself went to Edinburgh 
to be present at the ceremony, he took with him, as a body- 
guard, 20 privates of the Rogart Company, not a man ot 
whom stood less than six feet high. 

On the occasion of Her Majesty*s visit to Dunrobin 
Castle in September, 1872, the volunteers formed a guard of 
honour, and the following reference to them appears in the 
Queen's book — Afore Leaves from the Journal of a Life in the 
High hinds : 


** At six \vc were at Golspie station, where the Duchess 
of Sutherland received us, and where a detachment ot the 
Sutherland •volunteers, who looked very handhome in red 
jackets and Sutherland tartan kilts, were drawn up." 

The next eight years of volunteer existence appear to 
have been comparatively uneventful, but steady progress was 
being made year by year in drill, shooting, and general 

By a War Office order, dated ist June, 1880, the several 
companies composing the Administrative Battalion ceased to 
exist as separate corps, and became lettered companies of a 
new consolidated battalion entitled the ist Sutherland (the 
Sutherland Highland) Rifle Volunteer Corps. The establish- 
ment was fixed at 10 comi)anies and i sub-division (since 
increased to 1 1 companies), with a maximum strength of 1059 
of all ranks. 

In 1 88 1 the greatest event in the history of the Scottish 
volunteers took place. On the 25th August, Her Majesty 
the Queen reviewed over 40,000 Scottish and North of 
England volunteers at Edinburgh. Thanks again to the 
munificence of the Duke of Sutherland, the Sutherland 
men were able to attend this great review with but trifling 
cost to their company funds. The Duke himself took 
command on this occasion, Major Weston, the Adjutant, 
being the only other mounted officer with the corps. 

The total strength of the battalion at the review was 18 
officers and 457 non-commissioned officers and men (including 
a detachment of the Thurso Company), divided into six 
companies, and anyone who had the privilege of seeing the 
battalion marching past, will not readily forget the grand 
physique of the leading company under the command of the 


Marquis of Stafford. To give an idea of the size of the men 
composing this company, it is only necessary to say that the 
height of the centre man was 5 feet 10 inches, while the 
flank men stood each 6 feet 3 inches. 

The position of ihe battalion was third, in the third brigade 
of the first division, the Brigadier being Colonel Duncan 
Macpherson of Cluny, commanding the *' Black Watch." 
The Scotsman^ in describing the march past, said of the 
Sutherland men : 

" But the cheers that were raised were for the *yueen's 
ain men ' , . . and for the Sutherlandshire regiment — a 
regiment that was under the command of the Duke o( 
Sutherland, and which, in their showy scarlet jackets and 
tartan kilts, fairly caught the eye, and almost effaced by 
their impressiveness recollections of what had gone before. 
In this regiment there were, it is true, the same weaknesses 
(distances between companies) as have already been noticed. 
The promise held out by the leading company by their all but 
faultless dressing, was not altogether borne out by those that 
followed; but, on the other hand, taken as a body, they were 
as strong and heavy men as ever stepped in kilts." 

The Times said : 

** Splendid men the Duke's corps are, reminding some 
of the spectators of the 93rd in its Crimean days. They 
marched also as well as they looked.'* 

Major Weston, who had served as Adjutant since 1861, 
retired in 1882, and was succeeded, under the new regulations, 
limiting the tenure of the office to five years, by Major Webber 
Smith, from the first battalion South Staffordshire regiment. 
Major Webber Smith did not complete his term with the 
corps for, on his regiment being ordered for service in the 
Soudan Expedition of 1884, he volunteered for active service 


and was accepted. He was succeeded as Adjutant by Captain 
Francis Maude Reid, 71st H.L.I. Major Reid was, in his 
turn, succeeded by Major H. G. I^ng, ist Seaforlhs, and he, 
on retiring from the army in 1894, was followed by Captain 
Granville C. Feilden, 2nd Seaforths, the present energetic 

The company of rifles at Lerwick formed, as has already 
been mentioned, one of the companies of the Sutherland 
battalion ; but, on account of its isolated posuion, the War 
Office, in 1884, resolved to convert it into a company of 
artillery, and transfer its equipment to Lairg, where a com- 
pany was to be raised. The latter part of this scheme was 
carried through most successfully, and a splendid company 
was enrolled at Lairg, with Messrs. D. Munro, Banker, 
l^irg, and J. R. Campbell, Shinness, as officers. 

The regiment was present at the review of Highland 
volunteers held at Inverness in honour of the Queen's Jubilee, 
on 27th June, 1887, and the following are the remarks of 
the Inverness Courier on its appearance there : 

**Tho Sulherlandshire volunleers were a ma<;nificent 
body of mi*n, all of good size and of splendid physique, and 
as they stepped alonj^^ (790 strong) to the music oi between 30 
and 40 pipers, they elicited the hearty admiration of all. In 
point of physique the Sutherland battalion carried off the palm." 

The Duke of Sutherland handed over the command of 
the regiment in 1882 to Captain the Marquis of Stafford, 
who held it until 1891, when he was succeeded by Major 
Clarence G. Sinclair, Younger of Ulbster. Colonel Sinclair 
retiring in 1893, a petition, signed by every officer and man 
in the regiment, was presented to their former colonel, now 
4th Duke of Sutherland, requesting him to resume the 


command, but as His Grace had, in the interval, become 
colonel of the Staffordshire Yeomanry, and the regulations 
prevented him holding two commissions, he found himself 
unable to comply, much to the regret of all ranks. Major 
Duncan Menzies, Blarich, the present popular and enthusiastic 
commanding officer, was then gazetted Lieutenant-Colonel. 

In 1885 the regiment had its first taste of camp life. A 
battalion camp was formed at Dunrobin on 27th July in this 
year, and lasted for six days. Everything passed off so 
satisfactorily that a second was held on the same ground 
in the beginning of August, 1887. These were the only 
battalion camps held, for a(ter the formation of the volunteer 
force into brigades, the Sutherland battalion joined its 
brigade — the Highland — on the three occasions when it went 
into camp, viz : 189 1, at Fort (jcorge, and 1893 ^"^^ '^95> 
at Invergordon. On the day of the inspection and review at 
Invergordon, in 1895, the regiment numbered on parade 923 
of all ranks, and on all these occasions it has compared most 
favourably, in every respect, with the other corps composing 
the brigade. 

No notice of the Sutherland volunteers would be complete 
without a reference to the two great events of the volunteer 
year in the county, viz : the prize meetings of the Sutherland 
Rifle Association, ar.d the reviews at Dunrobin Castle. 

The Sutherland Rifle Association was founded in 1861, 
and has held its meetings continuously at Dunrobin in the 
autumn of each year ever since. Thanks mainly to the Dukes 
of Sutherland, and other friends of the volunteers in the 
county, it has offered a most attractive prize list every year, 
and its influence on the shooting of the corps has been most 


The volunteer review at Dunrobin Castle has always been 
one of the great events of the eastern portion of the county. 
Started in i860 by the second Duke of Sutherland, reviews 
were held annually in the autumn, down to 1880. In 1881 
the great Edinburgh review took place, and it was deemed 
sufficient demonstration for that year. They were resumed, 
however, in 1882, and have been held since then in 1883, '84, 
'91, and '94. At the review of 1876 the Caithness companies 
first appeared, and created a most favourable impression. 

The ^/{/f^/^ muzzle loading rifle, with which the volunteeis 
were first armed, was exchanged in 1871 for the Snider 
breach-loader, which again gave place in 1885 to the Martini- 
Henry, with which the force is now armed; but there is every 
prospect that 1896 will witness the issue of the new Lee- 
Me (ford rifle. 

Considering the great distance which the Sutherland men 
have to travel to the meetings of the National Rifle Association 
their successes at Wimbledon and Bisley must be regarded 
as highly creditable to their prowess with the rifle. It was 
not till 1873 that a representative of the corps appeared at an 
N R.A. meeting, and up till 1880, only trifling prizes were 
won. Since then members of the Sutherland companies 
have won : The Daily Telegraph Cup ; first prize Grand 
Aggregate (twice); first prize Volunteer Aggregate; Wimbledon 
Cup ; Olympic ; and ten " Queen's " badges ; besides a 
considerable number of substantial, though less important, 
prizes, while representatives have shot five times in the 
Scottish Twenty team for the International Trophy. It was 
in 1883, however, that the crowning glory of the shooting 
world came to the county, when Sergeant Robert Mackay of 
the Dornoch Company carried off* the Queen's Prize. That 


BLEDON, 1883, 


was a great year in the annals of the Dornoch Company, for, 
at the Highland Rifle Association meeting at Inverness, 
their team won the Bannockburn Shield, a trophy open for 
competition to teams of eight men from any volunteer com- 
pany in Scotland. 

Golspie, Dornoch, and Clyne companies organised first 
flute, and then brass bands, shortly after they were raised, 
and these continued until 1883, w^^en it was resolved that 
brass bands should be entirely abolished in the baltalion, 
and a pipe band formed instead. Rogart and Bonar Com- 
panies, it should be mentioned, had pipers from their formation. 
The change has proved eminently successful, the pipers of 
the battahon, consisting usually of 28 or 30 performers (besides 
drummers), forming probably the largest military pipe band 
in the world. The battalion now possesses an ambulance 
corps at Golspie and VV^ick, andacycHst section in Caithness. 
The strength of the whole battalion, as at 31st October, 1895, 
was 1082 of all ranks, 598 being in Sutherland and the 
remainder in Caithness. This is the greatest strength the 
corps has yet attained to. The maximum authorised estab- 
lishment is 1 1 1 1. 

List of noblemen and gentlemen who have held 
commissions in the sutherland rifle volunteers. 

HoN.-CoLONEL. — H.R.H. The Prince of Wales. 

LiEUT.-CoLONELS COMMANDING. — The Duke of Suther- 
land, Marquis of Stafford, Clarence G. Sinclair, Duncan 

Majors. — W. S. Fraser, E. H. Home, J. H. Buik, Earl 
of Cromartie, Clarence G. Sinclair, D. Menzies, R. Robertson, 
D. Sutherland, J. MacKintosh, John Morrison. 


Adjutants. — Major C. S. Weston, Major J. Webber- 
Smith, Major F. M. Reid, Major H. G. Lang, Captain G. 

C. Feilden. 

Chaplains. — Revds. W. MacBeath, D. Grant 

Surgeons. — J. Craven, J. B. Simpson, A. Alexander, 
S. Elliot. 

Quartermasters. — John Blake, James Morrison. 

Sutherland Company Officers. — A. (Golspie) Com- 
pany— C. S. Weston, S. Murray, J. Peacock, J Lindsay, 
A. J. T. Box, R. Wright, W. Murray, John Morrison, H. 
Grant, A. N. MacAulay, T. V. Eykyn. 

B. (Dornoch) Company. — W. S. Fraser, T. MacKenzie, 

D. Taylor, T. Barclay, A. Leslie, R. Macdonald, J. Barclay, 
J. MacKintosh, L Hoyes. 

C. (Clyne) Company. — C. Hood, G. Lawson, J. B. 
Dudgeon, R. Wright, G. R. Lawson, A. J. T. l?ox, G. 
Sutherland, W. J. Dudgeon, R. C. Ross. 

D. (Rogart) Company. — J. Hall, R. B. Sangster, G. 
Barclay, D. Gray, Manjuis of Stafford, Master of Blantyre, 
D. Menzies, G. G. Tait, P. B. Sangster, John Mackay, A. J. 
T. Box, J. Milligan, R. B. Sangster. 

E. (Bonar) Company. — D. Gilchrist, A. S. Black, J. 
MacKenzie, A. Harper. 

F. (Lairg) Company. — D. Munro, J. R. Campbell, J. A. 


Aktili.kky Com fa Nits. 

It will be remembered that at the first meeting in connec- 
tion with the volunteer movement, held at Golspie on 6th 
June, 1859, the gentlemen there assembled resolved to raise 
a company in the parish of Kildonan. This company was 
formed as the ist Sutherland Artillery in March, and was 
formally sworn in in April, i860, — Messrs. George I.X)ch, 
Uppat; William Houstoun, Kintradwell; Robert Rutherford, 
and Dr. Rutherford, Helmsdale; being appointed Captain, 
I St Lieutenant, 2nd Lieutenant, and Surgeon respectively. 

The company did not take part in the Royal review of 
7th August, i860, but was present at the greater one of 25th 
August, 1 88 1. It has always taken a most prominent part in 
the local leviews at Dunrobin, the smart handling of the two 
field guns belonging to the company forming one of the 
chief attractions on these occasions. 

The Helmsdale Company has for years possessed a goodly 
number of first-rate carbine shots, and probably, in this 
respect, it is second to no company in the north. It has also 
taken a good position in gun practice and repository drill, 
and is at present one of the most efficient companies in the 
Caithness Artillery Brigade, of which it forms part. 

In 1867 the late Duke of Sutherland resolved to raise a 
company of artillery volunteers at Golspie, having in view the 
utilization of the splendid physical material existing in the 
young fishermen of that village. A very strong company was 
soon enrolled, and it is worthy of remark that, at its first 
parades, the two flank men stood each fully 6 feet 6 inches 
in height. The Duke*s youngest brother. Lord Ronald 


{ .- 


Leveson Gower, was appointed Captain, and Ensign Donald 
Gray, of the Rogart Rifle Company, ist Lieutenant. 

The company has taken its share, along with its companion 
of the same arm in Hehnsdale, in all the local volunteer 
events, and it has been highly successful in its great gun 
shooting, both locally and at Inverness, where, for some years 
previous to the disruption of the Inverness Artillery Associa- 
tion, it carried off some of the principal prizes. 

Both ihe Helmsdale and Golspie companies have been in 
( camp with their Brigade, and they have sent contingents 

i frequently to the Scottish Artillery camp at Barry. 

The following ark those gentlemen who have 
held commissions in the sutherland artillery 

Companies : — 

Helmsdale Company. — George Loch, W. Houstoun, R. 
Rutherford, Dr. T. H. Rutherford, J. Campbell, J. Paterson, 
David Sutherland, R. R. Hill, Donald Sutherbnd. 

Golspie Company. — Lord Ronald L. (iower, D. Gray, 
C. MacLean, J. MacLeod, O. Ross, \V. Traquair, D. Peters, 
A. Barclay, W. Ross, George M. Ross, H. A. Rye, W. Barnes, 
J. W. Cameron, C. J. Wahab. 


Hy Henry Whyte and Malcolm MacFarlank. 

Not being natives of the county, we cannot pretend to have 
that knowledge of the poetry and music of Sutherland which 
would enable us to submit an exhaustive treatise on the 

Rol) Donn Mackay is the bard of the county, and others 
are mere rushlights compared with him indeed, with the 
exception of the brothers (iordun, he is the only bard in the 
county whose works have been published in a collected form. 
It may be interesting, however, to mention that the late 
Charles Mackay, LL.D., author of "Cheer, Boys, (^heer," 
" There's a good time coming," etc., and perhaps the most 
popular and voluminous song writer of his generation, was 
the son of a Durness man, born on Loch Hope side (Rob 
Donn's native parish); and the mother of (leorge Macdonald, 
the distinguished poet and novelist, was a sister of the Rev. 
Dr. Mackintosh Mackay, the editor and collector of the first 
edition of Rob Donn's poems, published in 1829. Doubt- 
less, these eminent poets derived their poetic tastes from 
their parents, who could hardly fail being influenced by the 
poetry and music of Rob Donn, the bard of their native 
district. In the year 1802 William (iordon, a native of 
Creich,born in 17 70, published a collection of Caelic Hymns.* 
He was in the Reay Fencibles until their being disbanded in 

• See Reid's Bihleotheca Scofa-Celtica pp. 164-165. 


1 798, It was during the time that the regiment in 
Ireland that his little volume was published. When the 
regiment was disbanded, he returned to his native parish, and 
was employed as a teacher o( one of the (iaelic schools. He 
died in i8io. A few of the best oF Gordon's hymns were 
afterwards reprinted in a Collection of Hymns by John 
Munro, Glasgow, in 1819. He also composed an elegy on 
his brother. Peter Gordon, which has been much admired for 
its simplicity of diction and deep pathetic feeling. This 
L' elegy was published in a volume of original poems by his 

^ brother, George Ross Gordon, in 1804. The work contains, 

besides the elegy, a love song by William Gordon, and two 
small pieces of considerable merit by Alexander (jordon, 
another brother, who was a master mason iii Tain. After 
leaving the army George Ross Gordon was successfully 
employed as teacher of a Gaelic School at Morness, The 
elegy on I'eter Ck>rdon will he found in the Teachditirt 
Gatla(h,\o\. I. (1819) page 171. We might also refer to 
the sacred poems of the pious Donald Matheson, who was 
born in 1 7 1 9, in the heights of the parish of Kildonan, where 
he spent his lifetime. He died in 1782. His hymns were 
lirst published about 1816, and a second edition in Tain, 
1825. A number of his best iK>ems and a brief English 
memoir will be found in " Metrical Reliques of the Men in 
ihe Highlands.!" 

During the present century a number of minor poets have 
tuned their Gaelic harps, but we are not aware that any of 

iilttrical Rtliqtifi ef Ihe Men in the Highlands, or Sacred 
Poetry of ihe Norih, with Introduction and Brief Memoirs in English, 
collected and edited by John Rose, Invemesn, 1851. 



them have published a collection of their poems. These 
have been successfully dealt with by the Rev. Adam Ounn, 
in his *• Unpublished Literary Remains of the Reay ('ountry " 
a pai)er read before the (iaelic Society of Inverness in 1889, 
and published in Vol. XVI. of that Society's Transactions. 

Instead of attemptini^ to traverse so wide a county alone, 
we have sought the guidance of those who are familiar with 
its every lake and river, hill and ben, and so led we proceed 
ui)on our musical excursion through this great county. The 
following paper is from the facile pen of Mr. John Mackay, 
Hereford, and he has kindly given us permission to inter- 
polate such songs and airs as shall best illustrate the great 
bard of the Reay country. We may here state that for many 
of the airs we are indebted to a MS. collection left by the 
late John Munro, a native of the county, who resided for 
many years in Cilasgow. We do not deem it necessary to 
give the Ciaelic words of the songs, as these can easily be 
found in anv of the editions of the works of Rob Donn. 


Hv John Mackav, c.k., j.p., Hkkkkord. 

In the olden times the bards were sufficiently provided 
for from within, they had need of little from without. The 
gift of imparting lofty ideas, emotions, and glorious images 
to men, in words and melodies that charmed the ear, and 
fixed themselves inseparably on whatever they might touch, 
of old enraptured the bard, and served the gifted as a rich 
inheritance. At the courts of kings, at the tables of the 
great, under the windows of the fair, the sound of their lays 
was heard, while the ear and the soul were closed to all beside. 



** High placed in hall, welcome guests 
They poured, to lords and ladies gay, 
The unpremeditated lay." 

Robert Mackay, the celebrated (Gaelic bard, whose proper 
name has yielded to the more familiar one of Rob Donn 
(brown Robert), from the colour of his hair and swarthy 
complexion, was born in the winter season of 17 14, as he 
tells us in his exquisite elegy on William, eighthteenth Earl 
of Sutherland, who died at Bath, i6th June, 1766 — 

Rugadh mise anns a' (Iheamhradh 
Measg na beanntaidhean gruaimeach, 

'S mo cheud sealladh do 'n t-saoghal 
Sneachd is gaoth mu mo chluaisibh 


Twas in winter I was born, 
'Midst the wild frowning mountains. 

And what first met my gaze 

Was the snow, and frost-bound fountains. 

The birth-place of Rob Donn, A!!t-na Caillkh (nun's 
burn), at the head of the valley of Strath more, is the centre 
of the most wildly grand and picturesque scenery in the 
Highlands. This Alpine valley lies embosomed in lofty 
hills. Its upper extremity terminates in an assemblage of 
mountains piled together, as if nature in a fanciful mood 
meant to exhibit the rude yet majestic grandeur of its handi- 
work, in assembled mountain and rock, river and cataract, 
glen and corrie. At its lower extremity, and along its eastern 
side, rises Ben Hope, in abrupt and towering magnificence, 
rearing, as it were, its imperial head in the midst of numerous 



kindred mountains around, which seem to show their 
diminished height, as if to do it homage. Beyond this awe- 
inspiring mountain opens at once upon the view the fme 
expanse of Loch Hope, washing the northern base of the 
mountain. The observer is now left to contrast this over- 
powering subhmity with the adjacent wilderness of fell and 
morass, the banks of Loch Hope -decked on each side with 
tufts and groves of the healthy sweet-scented native birch- 
wood —divided by spots of emerald green, images as it were 
of delicate protected innocence, stretching from the shores 
of the lake up to the base of the mountain, as if anxious to 
seek its august and magnificent protection. 

Such is a brief description of the scenery which surrounded 
Rob Donn in his youthful days. If such sublimity of local 
environment can inspire poetic imaginations, or conduce to 
the formation and training of poetic genius, truly the nursery 
of our bard might well lay claim to that merit, " The emblem 
of deeds that were done in its clime." It forms part of the 
parish of I )urness, in the centre of that extensive district of 
the county of Sutherland, which, having been inhabited from 
a period almost beyond the reach of history by the Mackays, 
has always been designated in the native language, Duthaich 
Mhic-Aoidh (the territory of the Mackays), and sometimes 
*' Lord Reay's Country," the chief of the Clan Mackay, and 
will probably be so called for ages to come, although the 
whole of it has passed for the last sixty-six years into the 
hands of the house of Stafford and Sutherland. 

Although Rob I)onn*s talents, even in very early child- 
hood, excited much attention, he never received a jxartide of 
what is too exclusively called education ; he never knew the 
alphabet, but the habit he inherited and learned from his 



Highland mother of oral recitation, enabled him before 
attaining manhood to lay up an amazing amount of poetic 
and other lore, as has from time immemorial constituted the 
intellectual wealth of his countrymen and women, such as the 
Ossianic poetry, and numberless other minstrelsy of his 
native country. His mother was remarkable for her recital 
of these. She died at a very advanced age. An anecdote is 
related of her, evincing a singular instance of heroic fortitude 
at the age of eighty-two. Being out on the hills, some 
distance from home, she had the misfortune to break her leg. 
No way daunted, she bound it up as well as she could, and 
contrived to get home unassisted ; and while enduring the 
operation of setting the fracture, she soothed away the pain 
by softly humming or * crooning" one of her favourite Gaelic 
airs. Robert's mastery of Highland traditions, ballads, and 
orain of all sorts had become extraordinary, and his knowledge 
of Holy Writ was eciually remarkable, and, be it remembered, 
at the time he lived no Gaelic Bible had reached tlie county. 
At a very early ajje the boy poet attracted the attention of 
John Mackay, better known in his own county as laift 
MacEachain (John, the son of Hecrtor), tacksman of Musal, 
an extensive grazing farm in Strathmore, less than two miles 
from Rob's home. Mr. Mackay persuaded his parents to let 
him, young as he was, come into his family. He was put to 
tend calves. His master was not only a grazier but also a 
cattle dealer, a business then followed in the North Highlands 
by comparatively few gentlemen, but those few were gentlemen 
of good birth and breeding, of the highest probity, superior 
attainments and intelligence. Mr. Mackay was one of these, 
liberal minded, upright, gentlemanly, and of a disposition the 
most amiable and benevolent to all around, esj^ecially to his 


poorer neighbours— in short, a man universally respected. 
In this gentleman's family the boy poet remained to the 
period of his marriage. When he advanced in years and 
strength, it became part of his duties to assist in guiding 
droves of Highland cattle to the southern markets and into 
England. Meantime, his witty sayings, his satires, his elegies, 
and above all, his comic and love songs, had begun to make 
him famous, not only in his native glens, but wherever the 
herdsmen and drovers of a thousand hills could carry an 
anecdote or a stanza, after their annual peregrinations to and 
from such scenes as the Falkirk Trysts or Kendal Fairs. 

During this period many anecdotes have been preserved 
of the boy-herd's and the young man's precocity. His 
(juickness of mind, his amazing power of repartee, were 
sources of frequent amusement and astonishment to his 
master, and unceasingly to younger members of the family, 
with whom he became a great favourite. In this estimable 
household the youthful poet experienced the most liberal 
treatment and encouraging kindness, of which he ever 
afterwards retained a lively and grateful recollection. On the 
death of Mr. Mackay our poet composed an elegy to his 
memory, one of his best, which combines an impressive, 
effective description of character with as pure poetic power 
as can be found in any elegiac poetry. We are tempted to 
give a translation of two stanzas of this excellent production. 

" Though there be some who laugh to scorn 
The man of liberal heart and hand, 
This prayer to heaven should be borne 
From all the quarters of the land, 



That that blest day we soon may see 
When man shall love his brother men, 

Nor barter all eternity 

For selfish three score years and ten. 

This stanza reminds us of Burns and his immortal ode, 
** A man's a man for a' that." The next depicts the general 
sadness caused by the demise of his former master and 
friend, Iain MacEachann. 

" Who needs advice must want it now, 

And see the prosperous times depart ; 
All clouded is the poet's brow 

With none to reverence his art. 
None seek to make the sad rejoice- 

And when I ask why joys are fled 
They answer me, with tearful voice, 

* Alas ! is not MacEachainn dead ? ' " 

In the latter years of Rob Donn's service with the 
estimable Mr. Mackay, he was entrusted by his master with 
the chief care of his droves to the southern markets. In 
tliese annual expeditions we cannot doubt that in this capacity 
the young man, with that native sagacity and quick discern- 
ment belonging to the Highlanders and his own genius, acquir- 
ed no small share of that knowledge and insight of character 
and manners which are so apparent in his poetical composi- 
tions. To nature he was greatly indebted ; so was he also to 
the form and structure of that society to which he had access 
at home, yet not a little to the sphe-e of observation that his 
frequent journeying disclosed to a mind singularly acute and 



The following translation is from the pen of the gifted 
Thomas Pattison, author of "The Gaelic Bards.* " 

The Sheiling Song. 

CS trom Uam an uiridh.) 





-fj{.l. I 

: 1, .8. Id : 1, .8, I n :n .r In 

J:n.8|l :l.d'|l :8.n|8 :n.r| 






{.8, Id 

:d .r In 

: 8 .n I r :d .r |n 



i.8 In : 1,. 1, Id :n .r I d : 1|.8| |1| : - 


: li .li In 


: - .8 ,8 1 1 


/.d' |8 :n .r Id :n .r Id :1,.8||1| :- 

•The Gaelic Bards, and Original Poems, by Thomas 
Pattison. Glasgow : Arch. Sinclair, 1890 (second edition). 


Oh I sad is the shelling and gone are its joys ! 
All harsh and unfeeling to me now its noise, 
Since Anna— who warbled as sweet as the merle - 
Forsook me, my honey mouth'd, merry-lipped girl ! 

Heich I how I sigh ; while the hour 

Lazily, lonelily, sadly, goes by I 

I^st week, as I wander'd up past the old trees, 
I mourn'd, while I ponder'd, what changes one sees I 
Just then the fair stranger walk'd by with my dear - 
Dreaming, unthinking, I had wander'd too near. 
Till, " Heich ! " then I cried, when I saw 
The girl, with her lover, draw close. to my side - 

" Anna, the yel low -hair d, dost thou not see 

How thy love unimpaired wearieth me ? 

Twas as strong in my absence, when banish'd from thee — 

As heart-stirring, powerful, deep as you see. 

Heich ! it is now at this time. 

When up like a leafy bow, high doth it climb." 

Then haughtily speaking, she airily said, 
" 'Tis in vain for you seeking to hold up your head : 
There were six wooers sought me while you were away, 
And the absentee surelv deserved less than thev. 

Ha ! ha ! ha I are you ill ? 

But if love seeks to kill you -bah ! small is his skill I " 

Ach I ach ! Now I'm trying my loss to forget — 
With sorrow and sighing, with anger and fret. 
But still that sweet image steals over my heart. 
And still I deem fondly hope need not depart. 
Heich ! and I say that our love, 
Firm as a tower gray, nought can remove. 


So fancy beguiles me, and fills me with glee, 

Hut the carpenter wiles thee, false speaker I from me. 

Vet from love's first affection I never get free : 

Hut the dear known direction my thoughts ever flee. 

Heich I when we strayed far away, 

Where soft shone the summer day through the green 

A young man of such a poetic temperament could not be 
expected to remain long a stranger to the more tender 
susceptibilities of his nature. He early wooed his ** yellow- 
haired Annie " Morrison, but being detained at Crieff in 
( harge of his master's drove for several months longer than 
usual, the fair Annie plighted her troth to a rival and dis- 
appointed her poet-lover. Robert, on his return, finding how 
matters stood, keenly felt the slight, and made it the subject 
of two of his finest love songs, '6* trom ham an airidh, being 
one of them. In these exquisite songs, to original airs 
his passion for the faithless " Anna '' breathes with an 
innocent simple faithfulness, with an ardour and truth of 
poetical recital that no lays of the kind can perhaps surpass. 

Robert recovered from his disappointment, and within a 
few years married Janet Mackay, daughter of a respectable 
farmer in his native parish, a young woman of ready wit, 
much good sense, and of a most amiable disposition, a fit 
heli)-meet for the poet in every way, and he, unlike many of 
the erratic ill-starred sons of genius, ever proved the best, the 
most faithful of husbands, and an equally good, indulgent, 
and dutiful parent to a numerous and respectable family. 

About this time Donald, fourth i^ord Reay, a true- 
hearted chief, claimed for himself the care of the rising bard 


of the clan. 'ITiis nobleman was one of nature's nobility, 
" a stay-at-home " amongst his clan ; genial and kind to all, 
liberal minded and generous, one of the best of chiefs and 
landlords. He personally knew all his tenantry and their 
condition. His constant aim was to elevate the minds, as 
well as assist in increasing the means of his humbler clans- 
men. He never permitted any arrears of rent to be recorded 
in the estate books. He himself attended the annual rent 
collections, and to such of his tenants as were able to pay, 
but not fully prepared, he lent the deficiency, and to such as 
were unable from unforeseen circumstances, he discharged 
the debt, giving them full receipts. This generous conduct 
was never taken advantage of, his people, though compara- 
tively poor, were educated by him to a degree of highminded- 
ness and morality seldom met with elsewhere. This generosity 
and careful attention produced the highest sense of gratitude 
and manliness in the minds of his brave and unsophisticated 
clansmen, evinced in the grand orderly conduct of the first, 
second, and third regiments of Sutherland Fencibles, the 
Reay Fencibles, and the 93rd regiment of the line This 
estimable nobleman, and his co-temporary. Earl William of 
Sutherland, were intimate friends, men of like dispositions. 
They were the last of the grand Highland chiefs of their 
respective clans, adored, idolised by clansmen for their 
conduct, benevolence, and generosity, equally esteemed by 
either clan, and on their demise lamented by both. 

For his own chief, who died in 1761, Rob Donn 
composed a most pathetic elegy, setting forth the virtues of 
his heart and mind, and comparing him with his predecessors 
in the following terms, much weakened by translation into 
English : 


'I'here have been lofty men among tliy sires, 

In mind and wisdom, courage and renown. 
Who in the proud pursuits of their desires 

Have acted Hke the wearers of a crown ! 
Vet far less praise than thee they must receive, 

For Christian grace, and faith, and charity. 
It is less hard to hope than to believe 

That better men will e'er come after thee I 

For Karl William, who died in 1766, Rob, who knew him 
well, composed a most touching elegy, regretting that no 
bard in his own country had a word to say in memory of the 
" High Chief of Dunrobin," but that his own feelings would 
not permit him to be silent on an event so melancholy and 
disastrous to the whole county. The poet in this excellent 
lament depicts, '' in words that burn," the sorrow and sadness 
of the people, descants upon the moral and mental virtues of 
the deceased, his lovely and devoted young spouse, Mary 
Maxwell, and his immediate predecessors ; expatiates upon 
their personal gifts, their genial kindness to all, their hospi- 
tality, their greatness without pride, their love of order, their 
great desire to improve the condition of the tenantry, who 
had no cause of complaint, for " not a penny was exacted 
but they were able to pay,'' and concludes by invoking the 
blessings of Heaven upon their young orphan daughter, left 
to their people as a remembrance of them, and hopes he will 
see or hear of her marriage with a hero (brave man) who will 
follow in the footsteps and habitudes of her ancestors. 

After his marriage Rob I )onn resided on a small out farm, 
belonging to his late employer. He was one of the most 
expert deer stalkers in the country. Being so well known 








for this attainment Lord Reay soon provided him with a 
habitation, house and lands, on the eastern side of Loch 
Erribol, and made him his gamekeeper. His functions were 
not very well defined, but he was to shoot as many deer from 
time to time as his Lordship's family and friends might 
require. This employment was eminently suited to the poet's 
predilections, and everything went on very satisfactorily for 
some years. When the preser\'ation of a separate deer 
forest became necessary, its charge devolved upon another. 
Our bard sometime afterwards was reported of being some- 
what unscrupulous as to the number of deer he shot. The 
accusation was not denied. At this period nothing could 
possibly be imagined more difficult to be understood by 
Highlanders than that there could be any moral evil in killing 
any animal of the chase. In itself it was a pastime and sport 
to which all were more or less trained from boyhood. It 
begets enthusiasm for itself which largely partakes of practical 
poetry in its character, and so wholly suited to all their native 
predilections that its interdiction was considered as an 
assumption of power entirely unwarrantable on the part of 
their superiors. The saying " 'S ioftraic a' mhcirle na feidh " 
(righteous is the theft of deer), became a proverb, and has 
still outlived its literal application over all the Highlands of 
Scotland. Our bard upon this subject exposed himself to the 
visitations of the law, but he always escaped, though 
threatened, for there was scarcely any of the gentlemen of the 
county who would not have gone any length to protect him. 
On one occasion, when rather alarmed, he called upon Mr. 
Mackay of Bighouse to befriend him. Mr. Mackay seemed 
deaf to all Rob's protestations. *' Would you accept of 
security for future good behaviour ? " he asked. " No." 


"Will you not accept of your son, Hugh, as security?" 
added Rob. ** No." He then got up to leave, and before 
turning round to go, exclaimed, "Thanks be to Him who 
refuses not His Son as security for the chief of sinners." 
Robert heard no more of the affair. 

When William, Earl of Sutherland, "the beloved," was 
commissioned by the rrown in 1759 to raise a regiment of 
Fencibles, 1000 strong, so popular was he in Sutherland and 
the Reay country that in nine days 1500 Sutherlands, Mackays, 
and other countrymen, assembled on Dunrobin (ireen to be 
enrolled under the Earl's banner, as Colonel. Urged by 
several of the gentlemen holding commissions in the corps 
to accompany them, Rob, no way loath, joined as a 

The admiration of his talents and genius, joined to his own 
becoming and respectable demeanour, had long previous to 
this time procured him admittance to the society and the 
family circles of all the better and higher classes in the 
county, even to Dunrobin Castle, the apartments of which 
with their paintings and pictures he describes in his Elegy 
for the Earl William, now his colonel. 

In this regiment he was not required, by the consent of 
the officers, to do duty as a soldier, except in a way that left 
him master of his own movements. In one of his rambles 
he was accosted by Major Ross, who had only joined the 
regiment, and asked to what company he belonged. " To 
every company," retorted the bard. The major next de- 
manded his name. The bard's fitting reply was in a stanza 
of four lines, *'I am a Sutherland among the Sutherlands, a 
Gordon among the Gordons, a Gunn among the Gunns, but 
at my own home, a Mackay." He then walked off! The 


major was very angry at this gross breach of military etiquette 
and discipline. This officer shortly after meeting Earl 
William, the colonel, reported the circumstance. The Earl, 
knowing it could be no other than Rob Donn, explained 
to the irate major that the poet was privileged, and that 
when he made his acquaintance he would be still more in- 
clined to forgive him. The bard did not forget the incident ; 
he composed several songs in which he sarcastically rallied 
the major upon his strictness of discipline. In 1763, on 
peace being made with France, the regiment was disbanded, 
and the poet, with every soldier enlisted, returned to their 

Upon his return home, George, fifth Lord Reay, a noble- 
man like his father whom he succeeded in 1761, exemplary, 
pious, of excellent parts and acquirements, exceeded by none 
of his predecessors in the affections of the people, — invested 
his clan bard with an office that more than satisfied his am- 
bition, and carried with it abundant respect in the eyes of his 
fellow-mountaineers. He became Bo-man, or superinten- 
dent of his Lordship's dairy and other cattle on the home 
farm of Balnakill in Durness. His business was to account 
for the safety and increase of the cattle entrusted to his care, 
while his wife superintended the dairy. He was bound by 
agreement to make certain annual returns of dairy 

In this situation he remained for several years, giving the 
greatest satisfaction, till Mackay ofSkibo became manager of 
the estate. It was part of the Bo-man's duty to thresh, or 
assist to thresh out corn for supplying the cattle with fodder 
during the winter months. The bard was not used to the 
exercise of the flail ; he employed servants to do this labori- 


ous work, which he had not previously been asked to do. 
He was informed he must wield the flail or quit. The bard 
chose the latter alternative. It has been rightly supposed 
that this was not the real cause. Rob had sometime previ- 
ously severely animadverted upon the conduct of Lady Reay, 
in a satire, because she had tried to screen a favourite wait- 
ing-maid from the censure of the Church, using all her influ- 
ence with the clergyman for that purpose, and on his refusal, 
threatened him with legal proceedings to compel him. The 
minister was firm. Rob heard of it all and severely satirized 
her Ladyship. This being reported to her, she conceived a 
great dislike to the bard, and prevailed upon Mackay of 
Skibo, on his being appointed estate manager, to find some 
plausible excuse to get rid of the satirist. 

Rob retired to Achmore on the confines of Cape Wrath. 
When Balnakill became the residence of Colonel Hugh 
Mackay, son of his early employer and friend, he was solicited 
to enter his service. The bard assented. The fond associa- 
tions of boyhood and youthful days were not forgotten by 
either, notwithstanding the difference of age, now more 
separated by that of rank. Rob's attachment to the colonel 
was sincere, in fact he was very partial to him and composed 
several songs in his favour ; but even this did not prevent 
the bard, when he considered it due, to make some severe 
strictures upon the colonel and upon his wife's penuriousness. 
These animadversions were borne by the colonel with be- 
coming temper, and at the bard's interment no one felt the 
loss more sincerely than Colonel Mackay. 

The following translation of a song in praise of Hugh 
Mackay, Bighouse, is by Mr. L. MacBean, and appears with 
music in " Songs and Hymns of the Scottish Highlands/' 



■ FOR Hugh Mai 

Oh, sad this voice of woe we hear, 

And gone our cheer and pleasantry ; 
One common grief without relief. 

Has suited on chief and peasantry ; 
In hut or hall or merchant's stall. 

There's none at all speaks cheerfully ; 
Smce thai sad day he went away. 

Naught can we say but tearfully. 

It is not private loss or woe 

Thai makes the blow so rigorous. 

But his sad fate whom none could hate 
With mind so great and vigorous. 


For none could find in heart or mind 

A fault in kind or quality, 
Now he is not, though we forgot, 

Our common lot, mortality. 

Oh, many a man was filled with gloom 

That round thy tomb stood silently ; 
Hearts that were buoyed with hope— now void — 

By death destroyed so violently. 
By clansmen i)rized and idolized, 

His worth disguised humanity. 
But this fell blow, alas ! will show 

There's naught below but vanity. 

He was excelled by none on earth. 

Wit, wisdom, worth, adorning him ; 
But none can fill his place but ill 

Of those who will be mourning him. 
The hearts are wrung of old and young. 

The mourner's tongue is failing him. 
Oh, never m )re shall we deplore 

One man so sore bewailing him I 

Rob continued in the colonel's employ till his wife, now 
feeling the infirmities of age, was no longer able to undergo 
the fatigue of her laborious office. They retired to the 
neighbouring small farm of Naybeg. They had not long 
been there when his excellent wife, whom he tenderly loved, 
died, and whom he did not survive many months. He 
deeply grieved for her loss. His greatest earthly treasure 
was gone. He continued, however, to attend to his usual 
avocations till within a fortnight of his death, which took 


pkce on the 5th August, 1778, at the age of sixty- four. His 
death caused a universal feeling of sadness over the whole 
county. He was honoured with a funeral like that of a 
chief, the highest and lowest of his clan standing side by 
side with tears in their eyes when his body was laid in its 
last home. In 1829 a monument was erected over his re- 
mains at the expense of a number of his devoted clansmen, 
with appropriate inscriptions in Gaelic, English, Greek, and 

His stories of wit and humour were inexhaustible, and 
next to superior intelligence and mental acuteness, formed 
possibly in his every-day character the most conspicuous 
feature. He had ever a correct and delicate feeling of his 
own place in society ; but if any, high or low, superior or 
equal, drew forth the force of his sarcasm upon 
themselves by assuming any undue liberty on their part. It 
was an experiment they seldom desired to repeat. His 
readiness and quickness of repartee frequently discovered 
him where he had previously been unknown 

Rob Donn's moral character was uniformly respectable. 
To those acquainted wiih the moral and religious statistics 
of the bard's native country at that time, it will furnish no 
inconsiderable lest, not only of his morals, but of his strictly 
religious demeanour, that he was chosen a ruling elder of 
the Kirk session of his native parish. In that country such 
an election was never known to be made where the finger of 
scorn could be pointed at a blemish of character. It hardly 
needs be mentioned that his company was courted not only 
by his equals, but still more by his superiors in rank. 

In the bosom of his family, humble yet respectable, he 
was a pattern in happiness and temper. His discipline of 


his children was kindly, more by ridicule than by harshness, 
and thus a family of thirteen were spared to rise around their 
estimable parents, trained to habits of thrift, industry, and 
virtue. The ordinary pastime of their long winter evenings 
was, " the tale and the song," and the parent priest absent or 
present, the whole family exemplified the most sacred line- 
ament of the immortal picture in " The Cottar's Saturday 
Night/' One of the sons enlisted in the 73rd, Lord Mac- 
Leod's Highlanders, now the 71st. At the battle of Porto 
Novo, in Southern India, ist July, 1781, this gallant regiment 
charged the enormous army of Hyder Ali seven times during 
the day. In one of these charges John Donn Mackay came 
out with his bayonet twisted like a corkscrew ; and Sir Hector 
Munro, in his narrative of the battle of Arnee, fought on 
2nd June 1782, states, ** I take the opportunity of commem- 
orating the fall of John Donn Mackay, corporal in MacLeod's 
Highlanders, son of Rob Donn, the bard whose singular 
talent for the beautiful and extemporaneous composition of 
Gaelic poetry was held in such high esteem. This son of 
the bard has frequently revived the spirits of his countrymen 
when drooping in a long march, by singing the humorous 
and lively productions of his father. He was killed by a 
cannon shot, and buried with military honours by his com- 
rades the same evening." 

From his birth to his death, Rob Donn was the celebrated 
bard of the Reay Country. Though there were in that 
magnificent country other bards of less note during his 
time, yet he is the only one of whom we have any record. 
It is therefore no wonder that his countrymen should esteem 
and honour him. There were heroes before the Fingalians 
but Highland poetry has not kept their deeds nor their 


names in remembrance. Bards there may have been in the 
Reay country before Rob Donn, but nothing is known of 
their songs or names. As a bard, Rob Donn stands alone 
in his own country. The Mackay clan were, and still are, 
famous for many excellent qualities. They were, and still are, 
very clannish. It is a lasting credit to the gentry of that 
country that they considered the bard worthy of an honour- 
able position among them. It is also a lasting credit to the 
bard that he never did anything unworthy of his functions 
as a poet to gain or keep that position. Like his contempo- 
rary, Duncan Bkn, and many other Gaelic bards, he had no 
school education ; but we must not suppose that the man 
who could not read in those days was so ignorant as the 
man who cannot read nowadays. It may be doubted if 
there can be found in our day a herd or gamekeeper, how- 
ever well schooled, so intelligent or so well educated as were 
Rob Donn and Duncan B^n. Both these men had extra- 
ordinary natural talents. They had knowledge which in our 
day can only be acquired from books. They had secured a 
culture which books cannot provide. There is no school in 
the Highlands in which Rob Donn could obtain the educa- 
tion he received in Ian MacEachainn's house and amongst 
the gentry of the Mackay country. Not only did those 
ladies and gentlemen know the poetry, the history, the tradi- 
tions, and the customs of the Highlands, but they also pos 
sessed accurate information regarding the government and 
politics of their own day. 

It may be that more praise and distinction have been 
lavished on Rob Donn in his own district than have been 
bestowed upon poets of greater parts. Out of his own 
country, but more particularly among other Highlanders, he 


has not been appreciated as he deserves. There is none of 
our Highland bards — Ossian perhaps excepted — who left so 
many pieces of poetry behind him, and none at all who com- 
posed so many songs ; aud in comparison with our Highland 
bards in general, Rob Donn is notable for the brevity and 
number of his songs. Probably we have not amongst them 
all one who composed so many airs as he did. We have 
none at all who composed songs upon such a variety of sub- 
jects. There is not a chord of the Highland harp which he 
has not touched. His mind may not have been filled with 
the charm, the beauty, and the grandeur of the scenery of his 
country, as were the minds of the three bards who were his 
contemporaries, MacDonald, Buchanan, and Duncan Bkn ; 
but we find on more than one occasion that the glory and 
grandeur of the creation were not hid from his eye or from 
his heart. 

There are two things that helped to diminish Rob Donn's 
fame out of his own district, these are — his language and 
versification. Many of his words are unintelligible to the 
Highlanders of the south and west. Rightly or wrongly, 
little of the Reay country Gaelic, except Rob Bonn's 
compositions, has been published to familiarise the know- 
ledge of that dialect to the ears of other Highlanders, in 
whose vocabulary many words he uses are not found, though 
essentially good Gaelic, met with in dictionaries, and easily 
understood by his own countrymen. This fact, combined 
with the terseness of many of his expressions, may have 
militated adversely against his productions being so well 
accepted in the south as in the north. See his elegy to Ian 
Mhic Raibeart Mhic Neill (Mackay of Mudal), page 150 

Edition 187 1. 



" Corpa calnia, bha fearail, 
Inntinn earbsach, )kii onoir, 
Lamb a dbearbbadh na cbanadb am beul" 

It is of great value to get the productions of a penetrating 
intellect warm from the heart. Rob Donn could not write, 
MacDonald and Bucbanan were school teachers. They wrote 
and published their works. The Rev. Mr. Stewart of Killin 
wrote his songs for Duncan Ban Macinlyre. It is a great 
loss for Rob Uonn's permanent fame that be had not taken 
the same opportunity ; nevertheless, so long as a lale will be 
told, or a song sung in Gaelic, "The Song of Death," 
"Fillan," and the "Oeigan," "Smart John," and the "Grey 
Buck." "MacRory's B reeks," and the "Rispond Family," 
will be a source of instruction and delight to thousands of 
his countrymen in every quarter of the globe. 

The Rispond Family consisted of two brothers who lived 
together in single blessedness. They were mean, sordid 
misers. They had a stock of sheep and cattle on the hills. 
They amassed gold, and, like the man in the parable, hid it 
in the earth, in a spot it is said where from their house win- 
dows they could see its hiding-place. They had a house- 
keeper. In the dead of winter, and late on a Saturday 
night, a poor woman came to their door for shelter, but they 
closed it in her face — an act which at that time, and for at 
least one hundred years subsequent, was in those parts looked 
upon as a heinous crime. Before that night week the three 
were dead — the housekeeper first, and the two brothers 
within a day and a night of each other. The two were 
borne to their last resting-place by the same company of 
men, and laid together in mother earth. The following 



translation is by the late Miss M. M. Scobie, Keoldale, 

The Rispond Family Elegy. 

(MmrbhranM Chloinn Ruspainn,) 

"T ' d£ I n ^B ; n .,r I d .,r : n . n I n .,s : d' .,t 1 1 : -. I 

/. 1^ I d' .n : 8 .,1 I d' .t :d' .1 Is .,n : r .,n Id: -A 

|. 8 Id' .,r' :n' .,r' I d' .,1 : b .lid' .,r' :d' .,t 1 1 : -.1 

/. d' I 8 .,n : 8 . 1 I d' .,t : d' . 1 1 8 jn : r .,n Id:-, 

Quite hale and strong and hearty 

At the opening of the year 
Were the three whom we have buried, 

And now lie so lowly here ; 
Ten days have only passed as yet 

Since the New Year began, — 
Who knows when this dread messenger 

May call for any man ? 


Within the circle of a year 

Were both of these men born ; 
Closest of comrades ever were 

Since days of life's gay morn ; 
Ev'n Death, who heeds not closest bonds, 

No separation made. 
For in the space of one brief day 

He both in silence laid. 

No wrong had they to any done, 

Judging by human ken ; 
But neither had they helped in aught 

Their needy fellow-men ; 
And all that can be said of them 

Is — they were born — survived 
Some years upon this earth— and then 

The hour of death anived. 

But after all that 1 have said. 

The whole of which is true 
(For in this song most faithfully 

Fve told but what I knew), 
I fear you will not heed my words, 

Nor help the needy more 
Than those poor fellows who last week 

Were buried at our door. 

" The Song of Death " is an elegy or Marbhrann u-pon 
Rev. John Munro, Eddrachilis, and Mr. Donald Mackay, 
Schoolmaster, Farr. The translation is by Mr. L, MacBean. 



The Song ok Death. 

{Mat-bhrann. ) 


KET A 9 

..<: 8, Is, : 1, :d |r : - : f 

s :n :d 

- } 




J : 8 In : r : d 1 1, : - : f , I 8| : - : - I d : - 







: n If : n : f Is 

1 : 8 :n |r : - 



:d If :n : f Is 

f n : - : - |8 : - 


# rt>-t,- , 




•r-P ^ 



.<:8 11 :s :n |8 --:n Ir :n :d |r :- 



_ c 





: 8 in : r :d 1 1, : - : f, j s 

I «i 

- Id :- 

O Death ! thou art still a herald of ill, 
Thy grasp, hard and chill, ne'er faileth ; 

Where warriors fight, thou showest thy might, 
To shun thee no flight availeth. 


O Messenger drear, no pity or fear 

Saves peasant or peer before thee ; 
For gold or for gain thou has but disdain, 

And victims in vain deplore thee. 

The babe at its birth, ere sorrow or mirth 

It knows upon earth, thou takest ; 
For the maid to be wed, ere to church she is led, 

An eeriesome bed thou makest. 
If old or if young, if feeble or strong 

In wisdom, or wrong and error ; 
If small or if great, whatever our state. 

We have the same fate of terror. 

O Power, from whom our sorrowful doom 

Of death and the tomb descendeth, 
How happy is he whose confident plea 

On Thy promises free dependeth I 
Our Father, Thou art the widow's sure part, 

Ne*er shall Thy support forsake her ; 
All good is bestowed, all favour is shewed 

By our bountiful God and Maker. 

Rob Donn's mind was, as a poet's mind ever must be, 
clear, keen, susceptible. It was especially lively and quick ; 
but a bard, be his endowments ever so high, never attained 
the highest fame without subjecting his mind to patient study. 
The son of man, with head or hand, never did, or never shall 
do, any deed that shall endure without labour or exertion. 

In personal appearance, Rob Donn was of medium 
stature, strong and well formed, brown-haired, brown-eyed, 
good looking ; the glance of his eye keen and penetrating, 


and the expression of his countenance indicated much 
animation of mind and energy of will. 

Rob Donn*s poetic compositions may be classed into 
four kinds — humourous, satirical, solemn, and descriptive. 
All these severally, with few exceptions, partook of the 
lyrical. To him the artificial part of poetry was unknown. 
He seemed proud of his own power of satire, which was not 
vindictive or rancorous, more calculated to annoy than to 
wound. As a writer of elegies he is more distinguished for 
sober truth than poetical embellishment. He detested 
flattery, and in concluding a lament on the demise of a friend 
he vouches for the truth of the virtues he recorded. His 
most celebrated composition of this description is " Ewen's 
Elegy." The circumstances under which it was composed 
were these : Rob was benighted on a deer stalking exi)edition, 
at the head of Loch Erribol, and took shelter for the night 
in a hut in which dwelt an old man named Ewen, whom he 
found stretched on a pallet, apparently at the point of death. 
Rob had heard that morning of the death of Mr. Pelham, 
Prime Minister of England, 1754. The idea of his death 
called away from the summit of his ambition and worldly 
greatness, contrasted with poor Ewen's condition, invoked the 
bard's muse. Ewen, though unable to converse with the 
poet, had still a quick sense of hearing, and also of pride. 
When the bard went on repeating aloud his composition, 
and came to the last stan/a, the dying man felt so incensed 
that he crept from his pallet of heather, seized a stick and 
aimed a blow at the poet's head, which was dexterously 
avoided. He soon afterwards pacified the frail old man, and 
passed the night peacefully in the hut. The following is a 
specimen of this elegy in an English garb : 


All men, O Death, thy face shall see, 

And all be forced with thee to go ! 
Watchful and ready should we be 

'Twixt Pelham high and Ewen low : 
Thou makest grief in court and hall, 

When at thy touch earth's glories fade ; 
The ragged poor man thou dost call 

For whom no mourning will be made ! 

Friends of my heart ! and shall not this 

Make all our thoughts to Heaven tend ? 
Society a candle is 

That flames away at either end ! 
In Scotland, where*s a humbler man, 

O Ewen than thy father's son ? 
And in all Britain, greater than 

This Pelham — save the King, was none ! 

His elegies are mostly of the solemn. His descriptive 
poems are spirited and true to nature. The Song of Winter is 
one of his best. We subjoin two stanzas : 

Hpw mournful in winter 

The lowing of kine ; 
How lean backed they shiver, 
How draggled their cover. 
How their nostrels run over 

With drippings of brine, 
So craggy and crining 

In the cold frost they pine. 


^ris Hallowmas lime, and 

To mildness farewell I 
lis bristles are low'ring 
With darkness o'erpowering, 
And its waters aye show'ring 

With onset so fell ; 
Seem the kid and the yearling 

As rung their death knell. 

To sum up, it may be said that in the properties of true 
poetic fertility, of wit and humour, when he is playful, eleva- 
tion of sentiment when he is solemn, soundness of moral 
principle and moral feeling when he is serious, we may place 
him as a bard beside the most popular of the minstrels of 
his country, and if we dare not say that he stands the first of 
(jaelic bards, we may say with Mackay of Melness, himself 
a bard, 

With every judge of poet's fame 

Rob Donn's will live a deathless name. 

Songs and Mllodies connectkd with the Countv. 

In addition to the airs interpolated into the biography 
of Rob Donn, we submit the following specimens of 
melodies which he composed to his own songs and laments. 
The county has produced not a few musicians, who have 
given us many pretty melodies and stirring airs. To this 
county we are indebted for the first collection of Gaelic 
vocal music that we possess ; we refer to the Collection of 
the Rev. Patrick MacDonald of Kilmore, Argyll, a son of 
Rev. Murdoch MacDonald, of Durness, whose death Rob 
Donn laments so sorely. This musician was born in Durness 



in 1729, and died in 1824. In 1781 he issued ** A Collec- 
tion of Highland Vocal Airs, never hitherto published, to 
which are added a few of the most lively Country Dances or 
Reels of the North Highlands and Western Isles, and some 
Specimens of Bagpipe Music." The woik contains two 
hundred and twenty specimens of Gaelic music. 

Song and Melody by Rob Donn. 

(Ach ma ni thv hnm^nu.) 

»T /. d Id .,8, : n, .n, I d : t, .d I r .,t| : 8, .t, I r : d . I 

/.t, 1 1, .t| :d .r In :n .r I d 


|1. :-.} 

Lv{ JB .n:d .nls :B.nlr .,t| : s, . t, I r : d . I 


. t, I l,.t. :d .r In :n .r I d 

{.t. I 


1. :-. 

His brother, Joseph MacDonald, was born in Strathnaver 
in 1739, and died in the East Indies about 1762. He 
assisted his brother Patrick in compiling his Collection, and 
left in MS. a Collection of Pipe Music, which was published 
long after his death (1803), by his brother. 

The well-known Queen's piper, Angus Mackay, was 



connected with the county by birth or "parentage. In 1838 
he published a Collection of sixty Pibrochs, which are highly 

A Love-song and Melody by Rob Donn. 

{Thig Ealasaid Mhoraidh 'n uair chromas a ghrian.) 

KiTA.{-d |r •" Jr If :" -f |8 -8 -f I" •- } 

i:d Ir :n :r |f :f :1 Is :- :- |d :- I 

|:d Ir :n :r |f :n :r Is :f :n 

f :- 


J:r Id :1, : 1, |d : 

- :r n :- :- r :- 

/:pu;|d : 1, : 1, |1, :- 

: r Id : 8, : S| I B, : - l 

D.S. and Fine. 

|:r |d :1, : 1, |d :- :r | 

: r I n : - : - | r 

valued — and the work, being now out of print, commands a 
high price. Mackay was accidentally drowned in the river 



Nith in 1859. A nephew of Angus, Donald Mackay, was 
piper to the Prince of Wales, and was allowed to be the best 
piper of his day. He died only a few years ago. Among 
the present exponents of bagpipe music, natives of the 
county occupy a leading place, so long as we have among 

Duke of Sutherland's March. 

^JM^^^^^I ^ ,^jjr.^Jp ^ 

m I . n 1 1„1,.- : l,.,t, I d.,1, : t, .8, | f „8,.- : 8,.,1, | t,.r : d,t,.l,.8 . } 

J I li .,t, : d .,r I n .,r : d . n I r,d.ti,I | : 8| . t, | d .1, : 1, . 

i . t, I d .,r : n .Fjd 1 8 .d : n .r^l t,.r :8.,n |r.d.t,J i :8ul,.t„8 , 1 

/I d .,r in.Tjd |8 .d :n.rjd I r,d.ti7l i: 8, . t, |d . 1, : 1, 

/ . t, I d .,n : l|.d | li.d^r : n .i\d I t,.,r : 8,.t, 1 8,.tj^ : r .d^ti I 

ild ^ : 1, .d |l,.dj;:n .r,d| rAt,.I i: 8. . t. |d .1, : 1, 



US Pipe-Major Robt. Sutherland, Hamilton, and Pipe-Major 
John Mackay, Paisley, 93rd Argyle and Sutherland High- 
landers. Among modern poets and composers, we find 
Mr. Eric Mackay, son of the late Dr. Charles Mackay, 
and Mr. J. Lindsay Mackay of Glasgow. 

Mackay's Slow March. 



Sbtj. d' I d .r : n .f | 8 .n i d.n lr :d |d :-.tal 



l.sid'.l |8.n:d.n|f :r |r : d .r :n .f |b 



I Li5 • ^ I Lid • ^ '^ Ul ' LjL I L1 * HJ! I ^ • ^ Id:-. 

g "lr"fJ=^T?^ ^^^^ 

^ ta| 1 .8 : d' . 1 I s .n :d . ta| 1 :8 |8 :-.ta\ 

i I I / 

i I Ks : d^l I s_£\ : d_^ I ta : r I r : -.tal 1_^ : dU j sjn : cLtal 

1 1 L5 • LI I s_£! • ^ -"^ I LJ] • Li I l1 • !lil I n ; d I d : - 




There is not a collection of Highland music but contains 
several tunes claiming connection with Sutherlandshire. We 
subjoin a list of tunes which are to be found in a work 
published by Messrs. Logan & Co., Inverness, and known as 
Fraser of Knockie's Collection. 

Dornoch Links. 


-fif CnrJrcr i rJJg^ 

i«»|:d|J|B:d |n:r£i|B:d |d:dU|s:d |n: rjnl l:r|r } 

^:rKf|8J:8^|n:i\d|n :8|d':n|f :1 |r :B^|n:d|d 

iVr r^f^f^af ^rr\r^f 

|;b |d':- |B:U|d^•8^|n:l^d|d•:-|8J:fl^n|f:^|r I 

m f-rt!\rrtr^v^=^^m^ 

.J:d' |d':- |B:U|d':8^|n:i\d|f :1 |r :8^|n:d|d} 

Q-rnr r r 

|:t |d':- |8:U|d':B^|n:i\d|d';-|8J:8£!|f:r|r } 

{:t |d':- |8:U|d^B:Lf |n:ivd|f;l |r i^f I n:d |d|| 




Briogais Mhic Ruaraidh — MacRory's breeks. 

Caisteal Dhunrobainn — Dunrobin Castle. 

Mac Aoidh — Lord Reay. 

Mor, nighean a' Ghiobarlain — Marion, the Knab's Daughter. 

Nighean donn a' buain nan dearcag — Maid of Sutherland. 

Rob Donn — Rob Donn Mackay, the Poet. 

Ribhinn Muinn ^ibhinn og — Beauty charming young and fair. 

We cull the following from a collection of pipe music 
published by Wm. Gunn, Glasgow, in 1876. 

WM. gunn's collection of pipe music. 

Am Boc glas — The gray Buck. 

Baintighearna Bhigeis — Lady Bighouse's Reel. 

Baindiuc Chataobh — Duchess of Sutherland's Reel. 

Brigis 'Ic Ruaraidh — MacRory's Breeks. 

Bruachan Mheilinis — Braes of Melness. 

Caileagan Ghaillspidh — Golspie Lasses. 

Caileagan Bhaile-dhuthaich — Tain Lasses. 

Caisteal Dhunrbbainn— Dunrobin Castle. 

Chuireadh mnathan Dhuthaich Tc Aoidh — The Reay 

Country Wives. 
Lingis Dhornaich — Dornoch Links. 
Mac Aoidh 'n oidhche 'rugadh Sebnaid — Birth of Lord 

Reay's Daughter. 
Maraichean Ghaillspidh — Golspie fishermen. 
Morair Mac Aoidh — Lord Rea/s Jig. 
Nighean a'bhodaich a bha'n Eadrachaoilis — The Maid of 

Port Bhunailidh — Helmsdale, a jig. 
Port-siubhal Diuc-Chataobh — Duke of Sutherland's March. 



Port-siubhal Iain 'Ic Eachainn — John Mackay of Skerry's 

favourite quickstep. 
Port mor Iain 'Ic Eachainn— John Mackay of Skerry's 

favourite reel. 

Soiridh 'Ic Coinnich le Cataobh — MacKenzie's farewell to 

Mackenzie's Farewell to Sutherland. 

KKJ f : d I 8, : s, : S| 1 n : - : d I r : n : s | n : r : d I 







/I 8, : 8, : 8| In : -:r Id : 1, : 8, 1 1,: -:d| s,: 8,: s, |n: -:d I 




S^j ^ i jjjr ^ 

i|r:n:8|n:r:d|r:n:8|n:-:r|d :1, :8, |8, :-|| 

>>— - ^ -,-4- 

j : nj Is : - .d : 8 1 n : r : d I 8 : -.d : 8 1 n : r : d i 

11 8: -.d: 8 |n: r:d| n: -: r |r:-:ruf|8:-.d:sln:r:d I 




i|n:8:d|n:r:d|r:n:8|n:-:r|d :1, :S||8, :- 


By Rev. Auam Gunn, M.A., Durness. 


Druiuism was the earliest system of religion in the British 
Isles. Cassar mentions Britain as the seat of the Druids, from 
which it would appear that it attained to its fullest develop- 
ment on British soil. The Druids were priests and legislators, 
judges and teachers ; they also practised medicine and 
soothsaying. As to their tenets, it is now generally admitted 
that they taught the doctrines of the immortality of the soul, 
and of future rewards and punishments. They also practised 
human sacrifice occasionally, and they held the oak (Gr. drus) 
in great reverence. 

The remains of this system are among us to the present 

(i.) Druidic circles are found at the following places in 
the county : at Badnabay in Eddrachillis ; at Corrie in 
Rogart ; at Clachtoll in Assynt ; and between the Mound 
and Morvich in Golspie. A good specimen of a vitrified 
fort is on the hill of Creich, and according to some antiquar- 
ians, these forts mark the sites of Druidic sacrificial rites. 

(2.) Certain words and practices among the natives of 
Sutherland, as elsewhere throughout the Highlands, can be 
explained only by reference to this Sun-worship. The moral 
significance of the Gaelic terms for north and south may be 
cited. Tuathy north, gives an adjective tuathail^ which means 


wrong, morally and physically ; while deas, south, yields 
deiseal, which is right or opportune in every sense. Bealltainn 
and samhuinn, the first of summer and winter respectively, 
and the customs associated with these in certain quarters, 
point in the same direction. The use of Chuhan as the 
native-name for the village where the parish church stands 
(compare Clachan in Farr) is probably to be attributed to a 
lime when people actually worshipped at the stones Certain 
superstitions also may be traced to this era. A boat going 
to sea should turn sunwise if the fishing is to be successful ; 
and in burying the dead, care must be taken to approach the 
grave sunwise. These are doubtless relics of a Pagan age, 
when the sun was an object of worship. This system 
prevailed in the far north until the sixth century of the 
Christian era. 

II. — The CuLDtES. 
It is probable that Christianity entered the south of 
Scotland in the train of the Roman legions. But the 
influence of Rome did not extend to the northern Picts. 
These were found in a state of heathenism when Columba 
came over from Ireland in 563 a.u. After establishing his 
college in lona, he paid a visit to Brude MacMeilchon, King 
of the Picis, whose residence was on the river Ness. 
Adamnan, the saint's biographer, relates the difficulties which 
St. Columba encounlered from the Afagi, meaning, no doubt, 
the Druids. But, in the end, he prevailed, found access to 
the King, and converted him to the Christian faith. The 
way was thus opened up for the spread of the Gospel among 
the Northern Picts, and the Culdees, as Columba's followers 
were called, eagerly undertook the work. Their mt?dus 
t>/^rjni/i seems to have been as follows: — They first selected 


a suitable site — an island by preference — for building their 
bee-hive cells. They next turned attention to agriculture, 
for the establishment must be self-supporting. In this way 
they civilized, as well as Christianized, the rude barbarians. 
Some time would thus be spent in settling themselves in 
their new quarters, and in gaining a knowledge of the dialect. 
In the southern counties, where the Dalriadic colony from 
Ireland had previously settled, they would not require an 
interpreter. In the north it was different ; the Celtic speech 
of Pictland was more nearly allied to the Brythonic than to 
the Goidelic branch, and Columba required an interpreter 
both in his negotiations with King Brude, and in the con- 
version of the Skye Chieftain Art-brannan. 

As was natural, the chief opposition came from the Druid, 
for his influence waned in exact proportion to their success. 
The chief soon discovered that he had little to fear from the 
presence of the Ceiedei, but a good deal to gain. Columba 
look care to secure the favour of the native chieftains at the 
outset ; and so when Cormac and his followers went to the 
Orkney Islands, they brought with them a recommendation 
from the Pictish King to the Orkney regniHox the protection 
of their lives. This accounts for the quiet manner in which 
Culdee settlements were effected in the far north. There is 
no record of any martyrdom, save that of St. Donan, who was 
killed either in Kildonan, Sutherlandshire, or more probably 
in the island of Eigg ; and he fell a victim rather to the 
avarice of a native chieftainess, than to the intolerance of 
the old faith. 

There is hardly a parish in the county which has not 
some relics of Culdeeism. The most popular saint, judging 
from the topographical record, was St. Columba, whose name 


is enshrined on the north coast in Coomb Isle, and in Kil- 
colmkil in central Sutherland. St. Donan, a contemporary 
of Columba, may have laboured in Kildonan, where some 
Irish authorities say he lost his life. Culmaillie, in Golspie, 
and Kilmacholmaig, and other Kills in the county, such as 
Hailenakill, Durness, all point to Culdee worship. Saint Bar, 
the patron saint of Cork, may have preached for a time in 
Dornoch ; for the festival of St. Bar was held as a fair or 
term day down to the sixteenth century. His church existed 
probably in ruins in Robert Gordon's day (circa 1630). Kin- 
tradwell, from St. Triduana, who also figures in Orkney 
dedications, is another saint name of later times ; and the 
inference may safely be made that a Culdee establishment 
existed once upon a time in every parish in the county. 
Towards the close of the ninth century, the people were 
completely civilised. Hamlets sprung up in the vicinity of 
the monasteries, and civilization made rapid progress. It was 
now that that scourge of early Celtic Christianity — the Norse 
invaders — broke loose upon Scottish shores, and for more 
than two centuries enveloped the land in heathen darkness. 
The counties of Caithness and Sutherland came early under 
their sway, owing to the proximity of Orkney. The Culdee 
establishments were plundered, and the ecclesiastics slain ; 
and when, in 1150 a.d., the church was again established in 
the county, it was no longer a Culdee church, but a well- 
organised Romish hierarchy supplanted the primitive Colum- 
ban order and continued until the Reformation, 

III. — Roman Catholicism. 

The story of the gradual decay of the Columban church 
is outside the limits of this paper. As a matter of fact, its 


disappearance in Sutherland was due more to the successive 
Norse invasions, than to the aggressions of the Papal See. 
When the North became more settled, and the Norse Earls 
came under the sway of the Scottish Kings, Romanism had 
made sufficient progress at court to become the recognised 
religion of the land. There is abundant reason, however, to 
conclude that it was regarded by the native Celts of Suther- 
land as a foreign importation. No Celtic name appears 
among the early Bishops of Caithness ; and so hostile were 
the Celts to the new system, that it was found expedient to 
remove the Bishop's residence from Dornoch, the Cathedral 
seat, to Halkirk in the vicinity of Thurso. The Norse Earls 
promised a certain amount of protection to the Saxon 
ecclesiastics, and being now Christianized themselves since 
1000 A.D., they made good their promise to the Scottish Kings 
when it suited themselves. 

The first Bishop in authentic records is Andrew, 1150 
A.D. King David I. — that "sore saint to the Crown " — gave 
him a grant of land, called Hoctor Comon. His diocese was 
co-extensive with the old Earldom, including Sutherland and 
Caithness. He seems to have been a good deal about the 
Court of David, and his name appears in the charters of the 
period. In 1165 he witnesses a charter of Gregory, Bishop 
of Dunkeld. In 11 81 he signs Earl Harold Maddadson's 
grant of one penny to the See of Rome from every inhabited 
house in Caithness. 

The next Bishop was John. He refused to collect 
" Peter's Pence," and got into trouble in consequence. On 
27th May, 1198, Pope Innocent III. enjoins Bjarni of Orkney 
and Reginald Gudadson, King of the Hebrides, to compel 
him on pain of censure. About this time Caithness was taken 


from Earl Harold by William the Lion, and given to 
Reginald; but in 1202 Harold regained possession, and took 
vengeance on the Bishop by cutting out his tongue and eyes. 
He lived until 12 13. The King heard of these things, and 
came north with a great army to ** Eysteindal, where Sudrland 
and Caithness meet." Peace was made on condition of 
getting every fourth penny found on all the land of Caithness. 
The place where they met is not located with certainty ; the 
probable locality is modern Dalharald, not far from Loch 
Naver, which would at that time be the boundary line 
between Katanes and Sudrland. The ** King's Stone," or 
Clach-an-righ, erected there points to this spot as the meeting- 

The third Bishop, Adam, a man of low birih, was con- 
secrated by Malvoisin, bishop of St. Andrews, in 12 13. He 
made a pilgrimage to Rome in 1218. He exacted the 
Church revenues too harshly. " By an old custom a spann 
of butter for every twenty cows was paid to the bishop by the 
husbandmen. He reduced the number of cows first to 15, 
then to 12 and finally to 10, exacting in every case the spann 
of butter." In 1222 the Katanes men complained to Earl 
John, who in vain attempted to induce the Bishop to be 
more moderate. The irate husbandmen assembled at 
Hakirk in Thorsdale (the Bishop's seat at that time), threat- 
ened violence, and notwithstanding the intercession of Rafn, 
King William's iogmadr, burned the Bishop in his own 
kitchen. King Alexander IL took fearful vengeance on the 
leading perpetrators by cutting off the heads of eighteen of 
the murderers. 

The fourth bishop, Gilbert de Moravia, appointed in 1223, 
was by far the ablest and most enlightened representative of 


the Papal See in Sutherland. It was he that built the 
Cathedral church at Dornoch. There was a monastery there 
before 1158, for we find King David stipulating with 
Rognvald for the protection of the Monks of " Durnach in 
Katanes" during the disturbances of Harold Maddadson, 
the Earl of Caithness. Very soon after the appointment of 
Bishop Gilbert,, he set about the task of extending the wor- 
ship of God in his diocese. At his own expense he built a 
cathedral, and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary. He saw this 
structure completed, the glass of which is said to have been 
made at Sytherhaw (Sygurd's Hoch), west from Dornoch. 
Gilbert's Charter of Constitution is still preserved, and pub- 
lished in Sir William Fraser's "Sutherland Book." The 
Chapter, modelled on Elgin and Lincoln, had ten members, 
of whom the Bishop was chief. The Sutherland churches 
were Clyne, Dornoch, Creich, Rogart, Lairg, Farr, Kildonan, 
Durness, Golspie, and Loth. The church of Dyrnes 
(Durness) was bestowed upon the Cathedral to find light and 
incense. From this it is evident that he was a splendid 
organizer. . Several things conspired to make his rule a 
successful one for church development. First, he was a 
native Celt, from the ancient kingdom of Moray — whose 
Celtic Maormors were powerful enough to set the Scottish 
Kings at defiance. His countryman, and probably his 
relative, on the breaking up of the Moray province by King 
Malcolm Canmore, secured possessions in Sutherland. This 
was Hugh Freskyn, the progenitor of the Earls of Sutherland. 
He was liberal in bestowing land upon the Cathedral ; and 
from the fact that Bishop Gilbert, whose will was extant in 
1630, left some territory to his lay brother, Richard de 
Moravia; it would appear that Hugh Freskyn's gifts of land 


were made to Bishop Gilbert personally, and not to the 
Church. At any rate, certain transactions in the assignment 
of Church lands took place about this period, which formed 
a bone of contention for many years between the Church 
and the successors of Freskyn, the Sutherland Earls. Hugh 
Freskyn died in 12 14 and was succeeded by William— the 
first Earl of Sutherland. It was during his time that Gilbert 
flourished as a successful ecclesiastic, builder, and agri- 
culturist. The Bishop's Castle at Scrabster was built by him, 
and he is said to have discovered a mine of gold in Durness 
in the lands belonging to his bishoprick. He died in 1245 
and was subsequently canonized. As late as 1545 John 
Mackay of Strathnaver makes oath to the Earl of Sutherland 
in the Cathedral Church at Dornoch " over the Gospels and 
relics of St. Gilbert.'* 

St. Gilbert was a man of mark, and left his impress on 
the rude generation in which he lived. Before his time only 
one priest ministered in the church at Dornoch, owing, 
he says, to the poverty of the place, and the hostilities of the 
times. But before his death peace and order prevailed in 
his diocese, and the Romish Church had good reason to 
canonize him, for it was to him mainly that Roman Catholi- 
cism owed any measure of popularity which the system ever 
secured in Sutherland. 

He was succeeded by William, the fifth bishop of the 
See, whose signature is adhibited to the document of Alex- 
ander HI. in the defence of the liberties of the Scottish 

Walter de Baltrodin succeeded him. He was a canon of 
Caithness, and his election was not regular, but Pope Urban 
in 1263 offered no objections. 


He was succeeded by Archibald, Archdeacon of Moray, 
in whose time the old dispute about the church lands came 
to a crisis between himself and Earl William, but it was 
amicably settled. About this time a general collection was 
made throughout the diocese in behalf of the Crusaders, 
and it is interesting to discover in Theiner*s Monumenta in 
the Vatican the Sutherland churches which contributed, and 
the amount. Under date 1274 a.d. we find Ascend (Assynt) 
contributing 5s. 4d. ; Haludal, gs. 4d. ; Dyrness (Durness), 
14s. 8d Again in 1275 Helwedale contributes 9s. 4d. ; 
Ra (Reay), 9s. 4d. ; Kildoninave, 2 marcs. The Caithness 
churches which contributed are Olrig, Thurso, Dunnet, 
Canisbay, Hakirk, I^theron. 

Aiati, an Englishman, was the next bishop. He was a 
tool of Edward I. He signed the letter to the King propos- 
ing a marriage between the maid of Norway and young 
Prince Edward. 

Adam, the ninth bishop, was precentor of the church of 
Ross, but he died in a short time, and was succeeded by 
Andrtiv^ Abbot of Cupar, 1273 — ^Z^^- "Because of wars 
imminent in those parts, and dangers of the way, which are 
long and perilous, it is impossible for him to approach the 
Apostolic Seat for consecration; therefore a mandate was 
given to the bishops of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Ross to 
consecrate him." 

Ferquhard, the next bishop, acknowledges in 13 10 
Bruce's title to the crown (1301 — 1328). In 131 2 he 
witnesses the payment of 100 marks sterling by Robert the 
Bruce to the King of Norway for the Hebrides. 

Oi Nicolas and David^ who succeeded him, nothing is 

I . 



Alan was confirmed in 134 1. He was Archdeacon of 
t Aberdeen. 

\.\ Thomas Murray de Fingask^ confirmed in 1342, d. 1360. 

Malcolm succeeded him in 1369. 
» Alexander Afan, 1389, appears by proxy in Perth Synod, 

j 1420. 

Robert Strathbrock^ i444' 

John Innes, dean, 1447. 

Robert was bishop in 1434, and 

William Moodie (1445 — 1460) was still in oflice when, 
in 1469, the Orkney Islands were ceded to the crown of 

I • 

' ♦ Scotland. 




About this date a vacancy occurs for 24 years, when the 
See was governed by Adam Gordon, dean and parson of 
Pettie. John, the ninth Earl of Sutherland (1508 — 15 14), 
who inherited the mental malady of his father, was his con- 
temporary, and his affairs were likewise in the hands of Adam 
( Gordon. 

J Andrew Steivart was the next bishop of Caithness, and 

he acted as Treasurer for the Earl of Sutherland. An idea 
of the income of the Sutherland Earls may be gained from 
the fact that at this time the total income from the Property 
Lands amounted to ;£^i03 4 8 yearly, and from Tenantry 
Lands £\\'] 13 4. 

Andrew Stnvart, son of John, Earl of Atholl, next ruled 
the See. He instigated the Clan Gunn to slay the Laird of 
Duffus. The dean of Caithness, who was the Laird's brother, 
in retaliation, seized the vicar of Far, and imprisoned him at 
Duffus (1518^-1542). 

Robert Steivart was the last administrator of the See. He 
^^s born in 15 16, and ws^s brother of Mathew, Earl of 



Lennox. He was created Earl of March 1579. He died at 
St. Andrews in 1586. The Reformation had taken place 
before this, when he became a Protestant, and gifted away 
much of the rents of the See of Caithness, and the priory 
of St. Andrews. 

The rental of the Sutherland Estates had, by the time 
of John, the tenth Karl (1535 — 1567), amounted to jC666 
13 4. But great difficulty was experienced in securing the 
teinds, and the church lands proved a bone of contention 
still. In 1548 Sir Robert Stewart, the last bishop, got the 
Earls of Sutherland and Caithness, and Mackay of Ear, to 
promise to help him by force to secure the teinds. But the 
end of Roman Catholicism was drawing near. lu 1558 such 
progress did the principles of the Reformation make in the 
North — or the Lutheran heresy^ as the Church dignitaries 
called it — that a congregation of nobles was formed, with the 
Earl of Sutherland as one of them. Earl John was present 
at the Edinburgh ('onvention of 1558 demanding reforms of 
the Queen Regent, and took a prominent part in the work 
of Reformation. It is a pity that the nobles who were so 
eager to adopt the Reformation did not provide for the 
religious instruction of the people on the downfall of the old 
church. They were quite prepared to seize the patrimony of 
the church, but they were reluctant to provide ordinances 
out of the funds which fell into their hands. The rapacity 
of the nobles in thus secularizing the property of the Church 
is a slur upon the Scottish Reformation. When the Papal 
Jurisdiction was overthrown in 1560, the Church was very 
wealthy ; two-thirds of its revenues went to provide for the 
Romish dignitaries while they lived, and the remaining third 
to provide ordinances until more livings became vacant. 


Knox had hoped to apply the revenues of the Church for 
the purposes of educaUon, religion, and the poor ; but in this 
he was frustrated. The territorial magnates— some of whom 
were eager to throw off the Roman yoke — kept a firm hold 
on the revenues ; and when we add to this the difficulty ot 
securing educated men for every vacant parish, there is no 
wonder that for fifty years after the Reformation only the 
most meagre provison was made for the religious instruction 
of the people. 


By Rev. J. S. Mackay, Port- Augustus. 

Chapter II. 

The first minister, so far as can be ascertained, who was 
settled on this coast, was Mr. Alexander Munro, who was 
ordained and inducted to the charge of Durness. He was a 
native of the burgh of Inverness, and the son of a dyer. 
When a young man, he had the privilege of hearing the 
celebrated Mr. Robert Bruce of Edinburgh, who was 
confined for a time, by King James VI., to Inverness. The 
crowds that attended on Mr. Bruce's ministry while there 
were immense. People came in great numbers from Nairn- 
shire and Ross-shire, and even from Sutherlandshire. It was 
by no means uncommon for people from Golspie and the 
districts around to walk all the way to Inverness, and to 
consider their labour and fatigue abundantly repaid if only 
they got within hearing of Mr. Bruce on the Sabbath. The 
Earl and Countess of Sutherland went there, and remained 
for a month under his ministry, and reaped therefrom the 
salvation of their souls. Mr. Alexander Munro was also 
converted under Mr. Bruce's ministry. He gave early 
evidence of the reality of the great change he underwent, by 
living a life of earnest and close communion with God. On 



one occasion, while thus intensely exercised, he thought he 
heard, as it were, a voice urging him to devote himself to the 
lx>rd's service in the work of the ministry. On reflection, he 
attributed this impression to some vain imagination of his 
own heart, as he knew himself to be altogether unqualified, 
and thought himself unsuited for such an office. For a time 
he managed to drive the idea from his mind. But again, on 
two different occasions, the impression returned that he heard 
1 a voice in imploring tones urging him to devote himself to 

I the ministry of ihe gospel. On the last of these occasions 

he was led to understand that the sphere of his labours was 
to be Durness in the Reay country. Regarding all this as a 
call from the Lord, he could no longer decUne. He entered 
the University of Aberdeen ; made very rapid progress in all 
his studies, and was ultimately licensed to preach the gospel. 
Soon therefore the way was opened up for his coming to 
Durness, and he was ordamed and inducted into the charge 
of that parish. Whether he was preceded there by any other 
settled minister it is difficult to say ; but there is a probability 
that the congregation was gathered and formed into a 
Presbyterian charge before his induction. The daLe of his 
ordination is not recorded. He died in 1643. But as Mr. 
Bruce was in Inverness about 1605, and as Mr. Munro's 
family were grown up and some of them married before his 
decease, his induction must have taken place in the early 
years of the century, or some tifty years after the establish- 
ment of the Reformation under Knox. 

On his induction to the charge of Durness, he soon dis- 
covered that the ignorance of the people was the chief 
barrier to his usefulness and success in the work intrusted to 
him. To remedy this, he set about the cultivation of the 


poetic talent, of which he had a considerable share. He 
versified large portions of Scripture in Gaelic ; and composed 
hymns descriptive of creation, the fall, and the work of 
redemption, etc. He gave these to the people, who sang 
them together at their winter evening gatherings and at their 
work during other seasons. He thus inaugurated a mode of 
instruction which was afterwards effectually followed up by 
others, — notably by Mr. John Mackay, tacksman of Taobh- 
beg, Mudale, at the head of Strathnaver. It was hearing the 
Mackay Fencibles recite Mackay of Mudale's hymns that 
first suggested to Dugald Buchanan the composition of his 
own very beautiful Gaelic poems. 

The Lord very graciously countenanced Mr. Munro*s 
labours in the ministry, and made him the honoured means 
whereby a large harvest of souls was gathered in to Christ. 
Notices of this appear in the then Presbytery Records of 
Dingwall, or of Ross. The blessing bestowed upon Durness 
under his ministry extended in some measure to neighbouring 
districts. His hymns were sung in all of them, and long 
after his decease were known as ** Laoidhean Mhaighstir 
Alasdair," — Mr. Alexander's Hymns. It would thus appear 
that God was pleased to make use of human hymns in this 
instance, as He did of those of Luther, for the diffusion ot 
gospel truths among a people who were uneducated and who 
had not the written Word ; and through them gave instruc- 
tion, guidance, comfort, and encouragement to multitudes of 
His people. Highlanders of those days did not esteem 
human hymns to be the objectionable and awfully corrupting 
things they are now supposed to be. 

Mr. Munro was evidently held in high esteem among his 
people, and must have enjoyed the same among county 


families, inasmuch as his daughter Christina married Mr. 
John Mackay of Achness in Strathnaver. This Mr. Mackay 
/' became afterwards Captain of the Clan Macka}', and went by 

the complimentary title of " Lord John," and she by that of 
*i "Baintighearna Cursty," /f. I-ady Christian. He too who 

l'^ was Bishop of Caithness during the ascendency of Prelacy 

in the period immediately following Mr. Munro's death, 
esteemed the influence of his piety to be so great among the 
people, that he thought it would be a great gain to Prelacy 
if he could succeed in getting his son, the Rev. Hugh 
Munro, over to Episcopacy, and made rector of Durness. 
In this he succeeded, but found afterwards that Mr. Hugh, 
who wa'5 really a good man, made but aii indifferent prelatist, 
as is seen from notices in the records of the Bishopric of 

Towards the close of Mr. Alexander Munro's ministry at 
Durness, Mr. George Squair became minister of Edderachilis 
and Kinlocbbervie. It cannot now l>e ascertained what 
provision was made for him in the way of temporalities, 
After the Reformation, the lairds and great men of the period 
laid hold of all the Church lands they could get within their 
power. These and other possessions of the Church were 
taken by some at an earlier, and by others at a later period. 
The extensive possessions of the Church in Assynt were not 
taken possession of by the family there until after the death 
of the last Episcopal minister, a Mr Gray. He died shortly 
before the ordination of Mr. Scobie, the first Presbyterian 
minister of Assynt after the Revolution Settlement. But 
whatever the means may have been whereby Mr. Squair was 
supported, he was appointed as colleague to Mr. Munro at 
the time mentioned. He was a man of God, faithful in all 


that related to his office, and the Lord set His seal very 
manifestly upon his ministry. 

Mr. Munro, as noticed before, died in 1643 a.d., and so 
escaped the times of persecution. Not so Mr. Squair. He 
experienced great hardships and had narrow escapes during 
that bloody period, that has so stamped prelacy with 
indelible disgrace. After labouring successfully and in peace 
for many years in his charge, he was at last pounced upon, 
and hunted over mountain and glen, because of his faithful- 
ness to Presbyterianism, and to the cause of the covenanted 
Reformation in Scotland. He was at this time the only 
Presbyterian minister in the Reay country. Though thus 
alone, and in the midst of many dangers, he nevertheless 
resolved on administering the Lord's Supper to as many of 
the faithful among his people as would venture on meeting 
with him. To do so was considered a greater crime than 
holding conventicles or maintaining field-preachings. He 
therefore went about it very quietly and cautiously, and took 
council with a few godly followers as to where and when it 
should be observed. There are two places in the parish 
where the people were wont to assemble for this purpose, — 
one in Edderachilis proper, named "Larach nam Bord," at 
**Airidh nan Cruithneach," above Scourie ; the other on the 
march between Oldshoremore and Drumnaguy, in Oldshore- 
beg, at a spot between Captain Mackay's house and the 
rising ground to the north. These places, however, were 
not considered in the circumstances safe from interruption. 
They chose, therefoie, a more secluded spot in the neighbour- 
hood of Rhicoinich, at the head of Loch Inchard, and 
between the little hamlet and Loch Garbad. When the 

spot was fixed upon, the few with whom he took counsel 



were enjoined to exercise the greatest prudence in diffusing 
the information, but to give to such as ihey might confide in 
an opportunity of being present. On the Sabbath appointed 
they assembled to the number of five score. These were 
the more devout and faithful in all the hamlets of Edder- 
achilis and Kinlochbervie. They approached the place as if 
by stealth, with feelings greatly agitated, but with hearts 
rising in earnest supplications that the Lord might grant 
them His protection and gracious presence. When they 
came to the place, they found themselves in the centre of a 
glade overgrown with birchwood, and sheltered by wild and 
beetling rocks. The pulpit desk was a birch tree, sawn off 
at a considerable height, and the tables were formed of 
turf covered with green smooth sod. The service was 
opened with singing and prayer, and after reading and a 
short exposition, and again singing, Mr. Squair took for his 
text the words of Thomas when delivered from his unbelief, 
" My Lord, and my God." The whole service was a memo- 
rable one. The Lord was the " shield and the exceeding 
great reward " of His people that day. Not only was there 
no interruption of the service, but all there felt so much of 
the Lord's presence, and their bonds were so loosened, and 
their fears so dispelled, that all, without a single exception, 
felt constrained to say with Thomas, " My Lord, and my 
God,'* and without exception commemorated the dying love 
of their Redeemer. Many years thereafter, at a communion 
season in Badcall, Scourie, during the ministry of Mr. Brodie, 
Mr. Squair's successor, there was also a time of similar 
blessing. Addressing one of the oldest and most godly of 
his elders, Mr. Brodie asked him whether he ever before 
experienced a more impressive season. *' Only once,** said 


the aged patriarch, *'at the memorable communion of Rhic- 
oinich, when Mr. Squair preached with his Bible placed 
before him on the stump of a tree ; and when the five score 
present — of whom I am the last remaining one — sat down at 
the Lord's table, exclaiming * My Lord, and my God.'" It 
was long believed that Obsdale, in the parish of Rosskeen, 
was the only place in the north in which the sacrament of 
the Lord's Supper was administered during the twenty-eight 
years' persecution. It will be seen, however, that the parish 
of Kinlochbervie divides with Rosskeen that honourable 
distinction ; and it is possible there may be other places 
which have a right to a similar claim, although the fact may 
now be buried in oblivion. 

Mr. Squair found himself oftentimes hard pressed. His 
persecutors, whenever they got trace of him, were immedi- 
ately in pursuit. His followers were thus obliged to seek out 
all manner of hidden paths to wait upon him, and all manner 
of secret places wherein he njight minister to them the word 
of life. When pursued on one occasion, and as he was 
passing the hut of one of his people, with his pursuers close 
behind, he saw a girl weeding potatoes, then beginning to 
be raised in lazy beds (or/e(i/i//(ijt,^ii//J as a garden vegetable. 
He knew not whether he might trust her to shield him in 
any way, but he spoke to her, and asked what she was doing. 
" Weeding potatoes," she said. '* And have you," he asked, 
" while so working, any thoughts about the interests of your 
soul?'' " Ves," she said, "while weeding the potatoes I 
am praying the Lord that He may weed the love of sin out 
of my heart." " If that be so,' said Mr. Stjuair, "you will 
try to conceal me from my pursuers, who are close behind, 
and try to abstain from falsehood while shielding me." 


"Come quickly, then," she said, "and lie down in the deep 
furrow between the beds, and let me cover you with the 
weeds." This was scarce accomplished, and she set to work 
again, when the pursuers appeared. They asked her gruffly 
if she saw Mr. Squair pass that way lately. She said she did 
see him not long ago come in the direction they 
themselves came in, and stand where they stood ; and it 
they were active that they were very likely to apprehend him 
before long. They set offiramediately, exulting over tha'r 
prey as if already within their grasp. No sooner were they 
well out of sight than Mr. Squair was liberated from under 
his hiding of weeds, and, after being refreshed with food, he 
set off in the opposite direction, and thus escaped in safety. 
He was at last joined by three godly witnesses from the 
south, who hoped, but in vain, that coming so far north they 
might for a time escape the fury of the enemy. They first 
landed in the parish of Lochbroom, and preached here and 
there as they found opportunity, or a people that could 
understand them, and passed on through Coigeach and 
Assynt till they joined Mr. Squair at Edderachilis. On 
their arrival both he and the faithful among his people 
became bolder in the service of their Master, and those who 
were on the alert to arrest him did not feel themselves suffi- 
ciently strong lo do so. .A. military party was therefore sent, 
by orders of the Bishop of Caithness, under command of an 
officer determined to execute his commission. His instruc- 
tions were to lake Mr. Squair and his companions, alive or 
dead ! He and his friends had no help for it but to fiee for 
protection where they might. The four set off by the passes 
between Foinne bheinne, Kinlochbervie, and Ben Spionn- 
aidh in Durness. Eluding their pursuers, they passed over 


the slopes of Ben Hope, and reached the House of Tongue, 
expecting Lord Reay to afford them shelter and concealment 
for a season. The Mackay, however, influenced by his 
uncles, the Mackenzies of Seaforth and Pluscardine, was 
pledged to the Government, and so could only express his 
sympathy by not apprehending them. He made a show, 
indeed, openly of having apprehended them, but, after 
refreshing them, he secretly ordered them to proceed beyond 
his bounds. They met with similar treatment from the 
Mackays of Strathy and Bighouse. Depressed, wearied, 
and worn out, they now made their way for Ulbster House, 
the residence of the Sinclairs of Ulbster, a family known to 
be favourable to the cause of the Covenanters. Here they 
were kindly received, and concealed for some time in a 
vault or unused place. The fact, however, of the presence 
of suspicious parties in the castle began to be whispered 
about, and Sinclair found that soon he would be unable to 
shield them from the power of the Bishop. Every possible 
means for their safety was anxiously discussed. At last 
Sinclair determined on sending a private and faithful 
messenger to the Earl of Sutherland, requesting him to 
receive and shield these wanderers and sufferers for con- 
science* sake. The Earl and Countess were in great diffi- 
culty about the matter, as they failed in trying to protect 
their own minister, the Rev. John MacCulloch of Golspie. 
If, however, Mr. Squair and his companions could be con- 
veyed to Dunrobin in secrecy, their protection as strangers 
and unknown, and for whom there might be no inquiry in 
that quarter, was possible. On receiving this reply, Sinclair 
embraced the opportunity of calm weather and dark nights, 
and got them conveyed by sea to Dunrobin. He got a 


boat, manned by the best rowers and most faithful men he 
could pick out. They rowed all night, and lay hidden dur- 
ing the day in some of the numerous creeks along the coast. 
They arrived at last at Dunrobin, and delivered up their 
charge to the Earl of Sutherland. They were kindly 
received, but somehow the Earl was suspicious that after all 
they might be spies sent by some of the prelates, or those in 
authority, to ensnare him and other families suspicious of 
being favourable to the cause of Presbyterianism. He com- 
municated his fears to the Countess. She said she would 
soon discover whether or not they were true men. She 
therefore after dinner requested the strangers to conduct a 
private prayer-meeting, and an exercise of thankfulness for 
their preservation so far. During the meeting and through- 
out all the exercises the Lord's gracious presence was so 
manifest, that the suspicions of the Earl, who was present, 
were completely removed, and he immediately set about 
providing for the concealment and safety of his guests. 
There was a cave in Golspie burn, partly, it is said, the work 
of human hands, which was so completely shaded by trees 
and close underwood, so out of the ordinary route of people 
passing, and moreover so dry and roomy, that it was determ- 
ined to make use of it as their hiding-place. Here they lay 
concealed for a long time, amply supplied with all things 
necessary to their possible comfort in such a situation. Nor 
was there any one engaged in conveying their provisions, or 
aware of their presence there, found mean enough to make 
it known. The day ot deliverance, so long prayed for, came 
at last. The deceptive indulgence granted by James II. 
would have set them free ; but whether they embraced that, 
or whether it was known to them, is not said. But so soon 


as they were free, they proceeded to Dunrobin to pour forth 
their hearts in thankfulness for the protection and all the 
other kindnesses they received during the time of their trial. 
They further declared to the Earl and Countess their full 
persuasion — as they believed from God — that there was not 
an inch of the land in the county, and in the hands of the 
Assynt family, and that of the Mackays of Reay, over which 
they were pursued, and from which they were driven, but 
would yet be in the possession of the family of Sutherland. 
This saying of theirs was known all over the country, and 
handed down through the several generations ; and as said, 
so it happened. 

Mr. Squair never returned to Kinlochbervie or Edder- 
achilis. Like many others, the great mental strain and 
bodily sufferings endured told upon his constitution, which 
was so utterly broken down that he was unable to undertake 
the duties of his charge. He went and stayed with one of 
his family. His son is said to have lived and died at 
Dornoch. A daughter was married to a Mr. Munro from 
Ross-shire, who rented a farm that is now embraced in the 
Dunrobin home farm. She was the mother of the godly Mr. 
George Munro, who was the third minister of Farr after the 
Presbytery of Tongue was erected, and one highly honoured 
of God in the work of ingathering of souls to Christ. Mr. 
Munro^s name, and the date of his induction and death, are 
to be seen on the back of his pulpit, which still remains in 
the Farr Church. Mr. Munro was married to a daughter 
of the Rev. John Mackay of Lairg, who was a near 
if not the immediate successor of Mr. Squair in the 
wide district of Durness, Edderachilis, and Tongue. 
He was translated thence to Lairg in 17 14, a.d., and was 


succeeded in Durness by Mr. Brodie, already mentioned. 
We already noticed that Mr. Squair*s health did not permit 
him, after the Revolution Settlement, to return to the scene 
of his former labours on the north coast.. The only minister 
in the Reay country at that time was Mr. Hugh Munro, 
Durness. He was the son of Mr. Alexander Munro, the 
first Presbyterian minister of the country, of whom we have 
already given a short sketch. Mr. Hugh Munro was a man 
of culture, of mild temperament, of decided Christian char- 
acter, and evangelical. He was a graduate of King's College, 
Aberdeen, and was ordained as incumbent of Durness by 
the bishop and clergy of Caithness, at Watten, on the 20th 
January, 1663. 

It is not known under what influences, or motives, he 
was led to conform to Episcopacy ; but it was manifest 
throughout his career that he had done so reluctantly, and 
was ever an indifferent Episcopalian. He was censured 
again and again for his non-attendance on the diocesan 
meetings of the clergy, and did not take the test until 1682. 
He retained his benefice at the Revolution Settlement, and 
continued thereafter sole Presbyterian minister of the Reay 
country until his death in 1698. Tradition, with persistent 
but strange inaccuracy, connects with his name an incident 
that occurred really in connection with his father*s ministry ; 
and as it gives us a vivid glimpse into the social condition 
of the times, and shows to us the lawlessness with which the 
ministers of the gospel were then confronted, it may be of 
interest to relate it briefly here. The district over which the 
minister of those days had oversight being so very extensive, 
he often took up his abode, for months at a time, at its 
either extremity. Mr. Alexander Munro being on one of 


these occasions entertained at Tongue by Sir Donald Mackay, 
— afterwards the first Lord Reay — was called upon in the 
course of duty to visit some district to the west. Such were 
the times, that Lord Reay did not consider even the messen- 
ger of peace safe without an armed attendant. Mr. Munro, 
however, did his work unmolested, until on his return 
journey he came to the river Hope, beside which there lived 
a noted character of that period — a Donald MacLeod, who is 
better known as Donald 'Ic Mhorchaidh 'Ic Ian mhbr. This 
man, now in extreme old age, had been a powerful and law- 
less ruffian, whose hands were stained with the blood of no 
fewer, it is said, than eighteen murders. To us now it seems 
unaccountable, almost inconceivable, that any country or 
condition of society could bear for any time the tyranny of 
such a fiend in their midst. But he was a convenient tool 
in the hands of others, who were equally bloody-minded, 
though they took care not to appear so outwardly. Mr. 
Munro felt it his duty to speak to this lost and lawless 
sinner, if so be he might lead him in his old age to some 
sense of his sin, to repentance, and to the knowledge of the 
Saviour. Instead, however, of this, Donald took deadly 
offence at being so spoken to, and were it not that the 
infirmities of age and the fear of an armed attendant pre- 
vented, he would as readily have shed the blood of the 
evangelist as he did that of his many former victims. 
Donald's two sons — men of physique and spirit akin to his 
own — were absent. On their return, the father charged 
them instantly to follow the minister, and not show face in 
his presence without the heart of him who so insulted him. 
They went in pursuit, but on nearing Mr. Munro they were 
challenged by his attendant, who was armed with a much- 


lock, whereas they had none, so they thought discretion the 
better part of valour. Fearing their father even more than 
the matchlock, they killed a sheep, and took with them its 
heart, which they presented to him instead of the minister's. 
He viewed it attentively, and said, " Ah well ! I always 
thought the Munrofs cowards, but never knew until now 
that they had the heart of a sheep." The tomb of this 
ruffian is to this day an object of interest to all who visit the 
old church of Durness. It is built in a recess of the south 
wall of the church ; and the tradition is that Donald, on 
doing some deed of violence, was taunted that soon his own 
carcase would be thrown into a pit, be covered with sod, 
and trampled upon by the meanest of God's creatures. The 
proud spirit, to avoid this dishonour and indignity, as he 
reckoned it, offered to build that side of the church at his 
own expense, if allowed to make a vault or recess in the wall 
for his coffin, and thus prevent any one from trampling on 
his grave. His offer was accepted, and there he was interr- 
ed. The inscription on his rough tombstone is as follows : — 

" Donald Mhic Mhorchaidh Heir lys 1^ 
V'as il to his friend, var to his f6 
True to his maister in veird and v^. 

D. I M I M I C I 1623." 

As Mr. Hugh Munro died in 1698, in the 59th year of 
his age, and so was not born for some years after Donald 
was dead and buried, the above incident must have occurred, 
as we have said, in connection with his father's ministry, for 
whom the old church of Durness was built in a.d. 16 19. 

From A.D. 1698 until 1707 there is no trace of any 
minister being in the Reay country. This gap of nine long 


years is certified by the notice of a reference to the ('om- 
mission by the General Assembly, March 28, 1704, "to send 
a probationer having Irish (or Ciaehc) to Caithness Presbytery, 
with special eye to Durness.'' Acts of Assembly, 1704. 

At this point, however, the Lord was pleased to raise up 
and send forth as His servant in the ministry, a scion of one 
of the leading families of the country, and one of the ablest 
ministers of the gospel the Reay country has seen. In a.d. 
1707, the Rev. John Mackay, son of Captain William 
Mackay of J^orley, and cousin of (leneral Hugh Mackay who 
fought the battle of Killiecrankie, was ordained and inducted 
as minister of Durness. He was an M.A. of Edinburgh, 
and thereafter studied in Utrecht, Holland. His name has 
been handed down from generation to generation as being 
eminent for his piety, and was as noted for his physical 
prowess as for his learning. He was also a strict and stern 
disciplinarian, such as the times so loudly called for ; and was 
aided in this by the influence he wielded as a member of one 
of the leading families -a chief family of the Clan Mackay — 
the Scourie family. Tradition has handed down several 
stories illustrative of the man, and of his times. The 
ministers of those days oftentimes wielded civil and magis- 
terial authority as well as ecclesiastical and spiritual. But 
their chief work, and most arduous, lay in catechizing the 
people. The (|uestions and answers of the Shorter Catechism 
were enjoined to be repeated in every family on the Sabbath 
evenings, and every member of each family was expected to 
learn them. The minister went to every hamlet, collected 
the people, usually to the largest, most respectable, and most 
convenient house in the district, called each family in rota- 
tion, and the members of each family by name, to repeat 


these answers : and to be examined on their undersiandinj,' 
of the truths they conveyed. These catechizings were the 
principal means of the people being educated in the great 
and leading truths of their salvation ; the means also that 
afTorded the best opportunity of educating their minds and 
consciences in the principles of morality, and of enforcing 
the application of these principles to their every day life and 
conduct. There was a varied interest attached to the pro- 
ceedings of thesi.' meetings that led the people to an attentive 
appreciation of what they were taught, such as could not be 
secured by the mere preaching of the gospel among them ; 
and mighty, indeed, under the blessing of God, was the 
change effected in the minds and manners of the generations 
that followed from the times of the labours of the early 
pioneers of the gospel in the Reay country. In every gener- 
ation, however, perhaps in every district, there would be 
found rude and lawless characters who submitted neither to 
this nor any other mode of instruction ; and, indeed, the 
bringing of the people as a whole under the benign influences 
of the truth, and of the principles of morality, was then, as 
in everj' age, a \ery gradual process. 

The thoroughness of Mr. Mackay's work and character is 
illustrated by many anecdotes lold of him and handed down 
by tradition. Catechising on one occasion, a poor imbecile 
or idiot member of a family examined was not presented 
with the others. Mr. Mackay asked if there was no other 
member of the family. He was told there was, but it was no 
use noticing him, as he was a poor creature without his 
natural faculties. " Call him," said the minister ; " he is one 
of God's creatures, and He is able to convey His own truth 
to his mind, however defective he may be." One of the 


questions asked was, " Have you a soul ?*' ** Xo,'' answered 
the idiot. ** Had vou ever one?" " Ves." ** And what 
has become of it?" asked the minister. **(iod knew that I 
was not able to keep it, that I would only destroy it, so He 
has taken it into His own keeping," was the answer. The 
examination and answers of the poor idiot turned out to be 
the subject of deepest interest in that day's proceedings. At 
another time Mr. Mackay was answered by a rough character 
in such a way as was evidently intended to turn the subject 
into ridicule. A second answer had been giveti in the same 
way ; cjuick as lightning the powerful hand of the minister 
was laid upon the collar of the offender, and a castigation 
administered as would have been done to a child. The 
ridicule was now turned altogether the other way. The 
minister became a hero, and never again did rudeness show 
face in his presence at catechizings. The sternness and im- 
partial character of the dicipline he enforced is illustrated by 
an incident that happened in his own family On account 
of some negligence or other, one day water for Sabbath use 
was not secured on the Saturday. The servant girl, with the 
connivance of her mistress, took the kits to the spring and 
brought in the needed water. The action was observed and 
spoken of by the neighbours. On the minister hearing of it, 
it was laid before the session ; and he retired that they 
might come to an independent finding with respect to the 
dicipline to be exercised and administered. The finding was 
that the servant girl must stand in presence of the congrega- 
tion on the Sabbath, with the water kits one on either side, 
and thus acknowledge the offence and be admonished ; and 
the minister was requested to admonish his wife privately. 
Mr. Mackay was indignant at the [xartiality shown to the 


mistress, so the finding had to be the same for both, and 
Mrs. Mackay had to stand l>cside her servant witii the ii'ts, 
to he admonished. I^t us hope that the minister was char- 
itable and in a lender mood when the admonition was given, 
and that he ajjiwrlioned the guilt impartially 1 Mr. Maekay 
ivas translated to l.airg in A.n. 1714. He was grandfather 
to the late Mr. John Mackay, R<K'kfield, and great-grand- 
father to the late Mr. Sage, Resohs. 

Mr. Mackay, as was noticed, was minislcr of Hurness for 
only seven years— from A. I). 1707 to 1714; but this short 
experience led him lo see how utterly impossible ii was for 
one man to overtake the work of the niinislry throughout so 
wide a district, or exercise any appreciable influence for the 
general good of a people whom he could see only occasion- 
ally, and at long intervals. 'I"he parish was from fifty to 
sixty miles in length, and from ten to twelve miles in breadth, 
and within its bounds were from 3000 to 4000 souls needing 
instruction in Divine things, and indeed in all things that 
pertained to civilized life. Their condiiJon weighed heavily 
upon his mind, and he made strenuous efforts to meet their 
needs by raising "an action for disjunction, modification, 
and locality" of the parish before the Lords of Council and 
Session. But interested parties raised objections to this, 
and, after considerable loss in the way of expenses, he was 
doomed to disappointment and failure. This doubtless 
made his translation to Lairg a welcome relief. In the 
following year, a.d. 1715, Mr. George Brodie, a licentiate of 
the Inverness Presbytery, and connected with the Brodiesof 
Brodie, was ordained as minister of Durness, by the Presby- 
tery of Caithness. Every tradition of him, and written 
notices still extant, show him to have been pre-eminently a 


man of prayer, able and cultured as well, and greatly inter- 
ested in the spiritual instruction and well-being of his people. 
A few years' experience led him also to see that it was alto- 
gether beyond the power of any individual minister to satis- 
factorily overtake the work required. He therefore moved 
in the same direction as Mr. Mackay, but first brought the 
matter before the Presbytery and Assembly of the Church. 
The Assembly acquiesced, and ordained a collection over 
the whole Church, to help to make provision for two addi- 
tional ministers. Authority was also given to Mr. Brodie 
and the Presbytery, and an action raised before the Lords of 
Council and Session at their instance, and that of the Advo- 
cate-Procurator of the Church, for the disjunction of the 
parish into the three parishes of Tongue, Durness, and 
Edderachilis, with the limits of each respectively defined. 
The disjunction was effected in a.d. 1724; and the general 
collection made amounted to ^^1800. Lord Reay, who was 
member of the Assembly at which this was announced, 
undertook, on condition of receiving this money, to erect 
suitable ecclesiastical buildings, assign glebes, and contribute 
so much yearly as stipend to the ministers of the new 
charges. This arrangement being satisfactorily completed, 
Mr. Hrodie elected to move from Durness and become 
minister of the newly erected parish of Edderachilis. Two 
years thereafter, in 1726, Mr. Murdoch MacDonald, a native 
of Fearn, Ross-shire, and graduate of St. Andrews, was 
ordained minister of Durness. Immediately after his ordi- 
nation a Presbytery of Tongue was erected by order of 
Assembly ; and consisted of four parishes, disjoined from 
the Caithness Presbytery, viz. Farr, Tongue, Durness, and 
Edderachilis ; and two disjoined from Dornoch Presbytery- - 


Kildonan and Assynt. In the same year the Caithness 
Presbytery was disjoined from tlic Synod of Orkney, and the 
Dornoch Presbytery from the Synod of Ross ; and the 
three Presbyteries were erected into the Synod of Sutherland 
and Caithness. The parishes of Kildonan and Assynt were 
again restored to the Presbytery uf Dornoch in the year i 727 
and 1736 respectively. 

In Mr. Brodie's action for disjunction, the great difficul- 
ties met with in travelling through the country are referred 
to. and, doivn to about a century later, there was not a single 
yard of good road to be found in it. In this matter there is 
now a great change ; still its natural features make travelling 
now, as then, very tedious and arduous at any time ; and 
during stormy weather it is made an impossibility. As an 
illustration of what it was in the middle of last century, we 
read in Mr. MacDonald's diary that, having on one occasion 
during rough weather to go to a meeting of Presbytery for 
the purpose of translating the minister of Edderachilis to 
Tongue, he became ill, through over fatigue, ere he reached 
the west side of Loch Eriboll, and could proceed no further. 
An express, however, was sent to him from Tongue, saying 
that the corresponding member from Dornoch Presbytery, 
without whom they could not have a quorum, would not 
cross the ferry to the farther side of 1-och Eriboll. The 
Lady Reay, who was deeply interested in the settlement, 
was therefore to send a boat for him, and by " her positive 
orders he must come over all impediments to the Presbytery 
seat." Alarmed at the thought of rounding Whiten Head 
in an open and small boat, he sent the messi^nger back im- 
mediately to stay their coming. Bui during the night the 
ho3X3St\wsd vi'il)\ /father bed and />/<i»kt/s, 3.n^ the boatmen 


had orders to take no refusal, but to wrap the minister in 
these and convey him to the Presbytery ! ** However sur- 
prising," he says, " and disconcerting this command, finding 
the sea so very mild in the morning, I came off early, and 
before twelve o'clock we arrived at Tongue." 

The social condition of the country at the period of its 
history which we have now reached -a.d. 1736, was consid- 
erably modified and improved from what it was at the be- 
ginning of the century. The knowledge of Divine truth 
was spreading among the people, and influencing their 
thoughts and habits socially, -their intelligence was being 
raised, and their moral habits bettered. As yet, however, 
the common people had no opportunity of learning to read ; 
and while this continued, great ignorance must have prevailed 
among them. The gentry, and tacksmen generally, were 
educated men, and some of them well read ; and because of 
the many bonds that bound the people to them, we find that 
the intelligence and character of the several communities 
were very much a reflex of that of their tacksmen, or of the 
families of their chiefs resident among them. About a.d. 
1740, the ministers interested themselves -especially Mr. 
MacDonald of Durness— in establishing schools throughout 
the country, and many years had not passed when the good 
results of these were manifested in improved moral and 
social habits. 

Religiously, the condition of the people was somewhat 
peculiar, and illustrates how slow the growth and gradual the 
development is of the kingdom of heaven among a people. 
A goodly number of men were gathered into the bosom of 
the Church,- men who, throughout the several communities, 
were living witnesses for Christ. Some of these were from 



among the tacksmen — men who had served in the army, and 
were men of breeding and education. But the greater num- 
ber of them, whatever their natural intelligence, were men of 
no education. The difficulty, however, of overtaking the 
religious wants of such wide districts necessitated the making 
use of these men as elders and catechists among the people ; 
but, naturally, in many instances — perhaps with the greater 
number — their zeal outran their knowledge, and they became 
filled with too high an idea of their own importance. The 
Fridays of communion seasons, set apart as it seems from an 
early period as the " Men's " day, became oftentimes the 
occasion of scenes that were anything but edifying. The 
sacrament of the Lord's Supper was at this time observed 
within the bounds of the Presbytery only in one congregation 
in the one year, and going thus the rounds of the congrega- 
tions consecutively. This afforded an opportunity to all the 
leading professors in the country to meet once a year ; and 
on the Friday there was oftentimes an exhibition of all 
manner of rivalries and jealousies, and expression given to all 
kinds of dissatisfaction, whether well-grounded or otherwise. 
Mr. MacDonald's testimony is that "it was ordinary at such 
conventions to start (questions, either frivolous or ill-stated, 
and to allow ignorant people to harangue on them at random, 
perhaps without touching at all, or very superficially, on the 
subject in debate, while the ministers present allowed them, 
without control, correction, or direction, to ramble on in 
their undigested stuff." In some instances, unfortunately, 
the ministers afforded them an occasion of inveighing against 
themselves. This was especially the case with respect to 
him who was minister of Farr from a.d. 1733 to 1753. He 
was a Mr. Skeldock, who was presented to the living 


by Mackay of Slrathy, and translated from Kilnionivaig in 
Lochaber. He was a thorough worldling, and esteemed by 
the people as more of a cattle drainer than a minister. He 
was again and again admonished by his Presbytery and Synod, 
but to no effect. His elders and leading men absented 
themselves from his ministrations, and with them the body 
of the people, and hekl meetings of their own throughout 
the several hamlets in Strathnaver. This secession of the 
people awakened a great interest among themselves, and 
culminated in a religious excitement that became very 

There are conflicting accounts with respect to the char- 
acter of Mr. Skeldock in the latter years of his life. Mr. 
MacDonald in his diary makes mention of him as hopeless ; 
but other accounts speak of his having undergone a great 
and saving change, and that the last yeais of his ministry 
were blessed to not a few. He died in a.d. 1753. 

In 1754, the Synod of Sutherland and Caithness enjoined 
that the sacrament of the Lord's Supper should be observed 
yearly in all the congregations of the J'ongue Presbytery ; 
and to prevent the unseemly occurrences formerly frequent 
on the " Men's ^ day, they recommended the observance of 
the solemnities to be on the same day in all the congrega- 
tions. This, however, was considered impracticable, so it 
was ordained that Scourie and Tongue should observe it on 
the same day ; and then Durness and Farr. This arrange- 
ment is practically that which is still followed. 

After Mr. Skeldock's decease, Mr. George Munro, grand- 
son of Mr. Squair of Edderachilis, was presented to the living 
of Farr. As formerly noticed, the patronage of the parish 
was alternately in the hands of the Earl of Sutherland and 


the Mackays of Strathy. Mr. Munro being the presentee of 
the Sutherland family, he received scant courtesy at the 
hands of the Strathy family. He was, however, an evangel- 
ical preacher, and in the latter years of his ministry a man of 
great piety, of marked power in prayer, and greatly blessed 
of God in his work. He had three preaching stations — 
Achness, in the heights of Strathnaver, Farr, and Strathy. 
A tradition handed down of an incident in his ministry', 
illustrates both the rudeness of the times, and the way in 
which God ever honours the faithful ministers of His gospel. 
When, after his induction, Mr. Munro went to preach at 
Strathy, he was the guest of the Mackay family. The 
younger members of the household, seeing, no doubt, the 
feelings entertained towards him as the presentee of the Earl 
of Sutherland, thought themselves at liberty to play upon 
him one of their practical jokes, — especially so as they saw 
him to be a simple and gentle mannered man. Mr. Munro, 
though considerably fatigued with his Saturday journey, was 
detained from rest until late in the evening. When all was 
quiet, the young men went and built up the outside of the 
window with sod, in such a manner as to exclude the faintest 
streak of light. Being weary, he slept on until late, and then 
lay long awake, waiting, as he thought, for daylight. The 
people assembled and waited for some time, but there was no 
appearance of the minister. One or two of the leading men 
went to the house of Strathy to ascertain whether really he 
had come. The situation was now made plain. Mr. Munro 
hastily prepared himself, and, without breaking his 
fast, went to meet the congregation. Never during his 
ministry, it is said, did he realize so great power in preaching, 
and so much of the Loid's presence It was a day of great 


things — of marked revival in the Church, and of a numerous 
ingathering of souls to Christ. 

A few years before Mr. Munro's death, Mr. William 
Mackenzie was settled at Tongue. His ministry continued 
for the long period of 65 years. He was a man of fine per- 
sonal appearance, evangelical and pious ; and was the father 
and grandfather respectively of Messrs. Hugh and William 
Mackenzie of Disruption fame. His parents had a small 
farm near Tain, and both father and mother were excellent, 
judicious persons, and greatly esteemed for their piety. Their 
home was a favourite resort of the godly during communion 
sea.sons. On one such occasion, the leading stranger present, 
as was then usual, and as in some places still is, was asked to 
conduct family worship. It was equally usual for him who 
did so to ask the most elderly person present, and most 
esteemed for piety, to say what portion of Scripture was to 
be sung and read. On the Monday of this communion Mrs. 
Mackenzie requested that the portion sung should be in the 
sixty-eighth Psalm, where it says, 

*' God's chariots twenty thousand are, 
Thousands of angels strong"," etc. 

After worship was over, and an hour or so spent in private 
prayer and meditation by the many worthies present, the 
hour for public worship came, and, as the guests were 
departing, one aged saint asked her why she requested the 
aforesaid psalm to be sung. ^* Because," she said, " they are 
the chariots that very soon are to conduct you to the eternal 
Presence, where there is fulness of joy, and to His right 
hand, where there are pleasures evermore." He was at the 
moment in good health, but took ill while crossing the Meikle 


Ferry on his way home after service, and died that same 

Mr. Mackenzie was greatly esteemed by the godly people 
of Strathnaver while he was yet a young man ; and an inci- 
dent in his histor)', while connected with Achness, is related 
of him, which shows at once his studious habits, and the 
intelligence and liberality of the worthies of that period. He 
was appointed to preach at Tongue on a certain Sabbath, 
with a view to his being presented with the living. His dis- 
course was fully written, and he sought to engrave its con- 
tents on his mind, as he journeyed on the Sabbath morning 
from Achness to Tongue. When he came to the Ee — or 
ford — between Lochs I^yal and Craggie, the stream proved 
somewhat deep, and the wind boisterous. In crossing, he 
stumbled, and somehow his manuscript slipped out of his 
hand and was carried away. He was in great distress, as he 
had anything but mastered his subject, and his anxiety did 
not help his remembrance of it. As he came near to the 
church, he was met by one of the most eminent of the men, 
who received him kindly. After friendly greetings, he stated 
his trouble to this aged worthy, and told him he felt 
altogether unfit for the services of the day. ** Well, let us 
carry the trouble to a Throne of Cjrace," said the saint of 
<7od. After a short retirement, the old man returned, and 
encouraged him by saying " he felt assured that, as he had 
diligently prepared himself, the Lord would stand by him, 
and that He would not allow him to be put to shame 
although by accident he lost his paper I " And so it was. 
The Lord so enabled him to preach that day, that he became 
endeared to all the excellent in the congregation, and the 
presentation was hailed with delight. But while there were 


a few excellent and eminent for piety among the congrega- 
tion, the great body of the people were ignorant and rude, 
wild and godless in their habits. Especially did their drink- 
ing customs and their Sabbath conduct deeply affect him. 
In those days, and until a comparatively recent period, the 
short English service was inserted in the middle of the 
(laelic. Mr. Mackenzie noticed that many of the (iaelic 
people who retired at the commencement of the English 
service returned at its close in a half-drunken state. On one 
occasion, having a stranger friend with him, he requested 
him to go and observe the doings of those who retired at 
the close of the first (iaelic service. The report was sad in 
the extreme. He was witness to all manner of bargainings 
about cattle, etc., and to the buying and selling and partaking 
of strong drink. On the following Sabbath, when the people 
as usual rose to retire after the Gaelic service, he asked them 
to resume their seats for a little, as he had something to say 
to them. He then made known to them what he had for long 
observed, and that he was aware of their doings while the 
English service proceeded. He exposed the godlessness of 
their conduct, the danger to which they exposed themselves ; 
and urged upon them the duty and nature of a true repent- 
ance and of turning to God for forgiveness, with such deep 
earnestness and tenderness, that many were broken that day, 
and many cast themselves upon the pardoning mercy of God. 
So deep was the impression made, so great the power of God 
in their midst, that it was said that no fewer than thirty souls 
dated their conversion from that exhortation ; and for long 
thereafter there were added to the Church now and again 
such as were the fruits of that revival. 

It was immediately after this period, when so many wer«; 


added to the Church through the labours of Mr. Munro and 
Mr. Mackenzie, that the " men's " meetings, both on Fridays 
of communions and at other times, became so popular, and 
so honoured in the building-up of those who, by the ministry 
of the gospel, were gathered in to Christ. The parishes of 
the Reay country — especially Strathnaver— became noted at 
that time for the number and excellency of its outstanding 
men. Innumerable are the tales and anecdotes and sayings 
concerning them, that discover their genius and piety, and 
the beauty of the spirit they cherished and manifested toward 
one another. At first, indeed, Mr. Mackenzie and some 
others were jealous of the tendency of their meetings, but for 
a period of at least two generations — i.e. for sixty years, from 
1780 until Disruption times -the ministrations of these godly 
men assisted largely both to maintain and extend the influ- 
ence of the gospel throughout the whole country. 

Beyond their ordinary and stated meetings and "readings" 
in outlying hamlets, they for long cherished the beautiful and 
salutary practice of question meetings on the way to and 
from church. As there were only four churches in so wide a 
country, with a few outlying preaching stations that were but 
rarely visited, the distances to and from regular services were 
necessarily long for the greater number of the people. 
Certain halting places on the way, in the different localities, 
became thus gradually recognised as spots where the people 
might rest and refresh their bodies with food, and their .souls 
by starting some Scriptural and edifying question, on which 
the " men " discussed, touching on points doctrinal, experi- 
mental, and practical. On the home journey all had to 
contribute some " note " from the sermon. This tended to 
sustain their attention and deepen their interest in all the 


services of the day, and was oftentimes made instrumental in 
applying the truth with saving power to individual hearts. 

These brief sketches of the religious history of the Reay 
country would be very incomplete without special notice of a 
class of ministers who were signally successful in establishing 
and building up the cause of Christ, in the more isolated 
corners of the district. They were known as ordained 
missionaries. About the year 1760 a.d., or immediately 
thereafter, it was felt that, notwithstanding there being now 
four fullycHjuipped charges in the countr>', and these consti- 
tuting a Presbytery of the Church, still they were inadequate 
to overtake the religious wants of so wide and so populous 
an area. There was need of further help The same need 
was felt in many parts of the Highlands, and recognised by 
the whole Church. It was to supply this want that the 
Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge was instituted ; 
and a special grant assigned from the Royal Bounty. The 
missions created in the Reay county were -Achness in the 
heights of Strathnaver : Melness ; Eriboll ; and Kinlochbervie 
in Edderachilis. In the good providence of God, a succes- 
sion of men, eminent for their piety, and some of them for 
their natural gifts and attainments as well, supplied these 
missions up, we may say, to the time of the Disruption. 
What constituted one mission had two or more preaching 
stations that were supplied Sabbath about. Achness, and 
Achow in the heights of Kildonan were one ; Melness, 
Eriboll, and Kinlochbervie, another. The Achness mission 
was supplied by such men as Mr. Wm. Mackenzie, after- 
wards minister of Tongue, and to whom special reference has 
already been made. Mr. Macgillivray of Lairg ; Mr. David 
Mackenzie of Farr, and Mr. Donald Sage of Resolis, whose 


interesting " Memorabilia " was lately issued from the press. 
The mission of Melness, Eriboll, and Kinlochbervie was not 
less favoured. It had a succession of men acknowledged of 
God, and greatly blessed in their labours, — men such as Mr. 
Robertson, afterwards of Kingussie, and known as the great 
Mr. Robertson ; Mr. Neil M*Br>'de, afterwards of Kilmory, 
Arran ; and Mr. Kennedy, afterwards of Killearnan, and 
father of the late Dr. John Kennedy. 

Shortly after Mr. Robertson was ordained and inducted 
as missionary at Eriboll, it was resolved that the Sacrament 
of the Lord's Supper should, for the first time, be adminis- 
tered there. It was appointed for midsummer. The season 
was oppressivMy hot, and the drought excessive. The 
Eriboll district is naturally of a dry and arid soil, and with 
such a season all the streams, and ponds, and even springs 
were dried up. There was not a drop of drinkable water to 
be got within a great distance of Camus-an-duin — ^'' the bay of 
the fort ^' where the people assembled for worship. When 
the Friday came, which with the Sabbath constitute the 
chief days of a communion season in the north, the day was 
one of scorching and exhaustive heat, but it brought with it 
a great multitude of people, who came from Durness, Kin- 
lochbervie, and Edderachilis on the west ; from both sides of 
Hope, from Melness and Tongue on the east, and from the 
heights of Strathnaver to the south-east. The place of 
meeting was one of great beauty, and the surrounding scenery 
of great grandeur. In front was a beautiful bay ; behind, 
and on each hand, the hills rose to a great height, and 
formed a kind of amphitheatre, their sides being clothed 
with natural birchwood. To the right of the ministers' tent 
there stood the ruins of an old fort. 


It being a first communion in that spot, and a great 
number of eminent men being gathered together, the scene 
was altogether a memorable one ; but especially so because 
of the Lord's presence being so manifestly with them. There 
was no moving away of any of the people from the long 
continued services, though many of them were faint and 
parched with thirst After all the speakers were done, the 
venerable patriarch, eminent for piety, who gave out " the 
(juestion," was called upon to pray. In doing so he evidently 
enjoyed great nearness to the Lord, and the multitude, so 
deeply impressed during the day, were now overpowered and 
their hearts united as one, when they heard him plead that 
as " the Lord gave them so richly that day of the water of 
life to quicken, refresh, and sustain their souls. He might 
now be pleased to send them supplies of earthly water, from 
the heavens above or earth below, to refresh and sustam 
their bodies, as it was the intention of the multitude, though 
fainting for lack of water, to continue with Him still for 
three days, until the solemnities of the communion season 
were brought to a close." After the singing of a psalm and 
pronouncing of the benediction, the people were dismissed, 
and retired to enjoy the homely but unstinted hospitality of 
the district, and in companies to unite again in evening and 
morning prayer-meetings in the several hamlets. 

On Saturday, when the people began to assemble for 
public worship, they observed, to their great amazement and 
deeper joy, a stream of water issuing out from behind the 
tent and among the stones of the gravelly or sandy beach. 
Whether the spring was opened and the water made to gush 
forth as from Horeb of old, or whether there before and 
only now discovered, it matters not ; it was looked upon, and 


for long thereafter named, among the pious as Tohar freag- 
radh urnuigh — ** the spring answer to prayer ; " and it con- 
tinues to this day to refresh and supply the wants of storm- 
beaten sailors, who often, by stress of weather, are driven to 
take shelter in the land-locked bay. 

Mr. Robertson was followed in the mission by Mr. Neil 
M*Bryde, — a man in every way a contrast to Mr. Robertson, 
still one who was greatly honoured in the work of his Master. 
Mr. M*Bryde, unlike Mr. Robertson, was not a man of much 
mental culture or ability ; but like, in that he was of earnest 
spirit and fervent piety. Many of the leading Christian men 
of the Reay country about that time were gentlemen of posi- 
tion. They were educated ; and many of them, having been 
in the army, had travelled and seen a good deal of the world. 
One such in Mr. M^Bryde's mission was Major Mackay of 
EriboU. Major Mackay's daughter was wont to play the 
piano. Such exercise in the home of a leading Christian 
professor was considered by Mr. M^Bryde as sinful and 
scandalous, and, until the practice was put an end to, he 
would not so much as engage in prayer in the family when 
visiting it. Major Mackay told him not to burden his con- 
science with the matter, as he was thankful that the Lord 
enabled him to conduct religious exercises at all requisite 
times, not only in his own household, but in public among 
the people as well. The difference of views and feelings 
with respect to such matters came to a crisis on a New Year's 
eve, when the Major gave an entertainment and dance to all 
his dependents. It was his habit to do this, that he might 
have them all at such a time under his own supervision, and 
save them from congregating in questionable places, where 
some of them were in danger of disgracing themselves with 


drunkenness and riotous conduct. Entertainment he knew 
they must have, and he thought they ought to have it ki a 
harmless and heahhful way, that wouki save them from it in 
a way demoralizing to them. Mr. M*Bryde looked upon it 
differently, and thought the Major was setting others an evil 
example. He denounced the practice in public, and so the 
breach widened. Excellent as Mr. M*Bryde was, and much 
esteemed, still the sympathies of the good people were more 
with the Major than with him. This state of matters, how- 
ever, led regardless characters to play a practical joke on the 
minister that was of a disgraceful kind. Mr. M^Bryde, like 
as Mr. Robertson did, observed the administration of the 
Lord's Supper at Kinlochbervie as was done at Eriboll. 
Everything necessary was not so easily obtained then as now 
He had, therefore, first to take a journey across the Aroin to 
Tongue to get the bread and wine needed. On returning to 
Eriboll, these, together with the communion plate, were 
securely packed in creels, to be slung from a cruban and 
carried on horseback. All was so placed as to be ready for 
an early start next morning. After much fatigue endured, 
Kinlochbervie was reached in due time, and, when the min- 
ister's wants were attended to, they set about all necessary 
preparation for the communion. On unpacking the creels, 
both minister and elders were shocked to find that everything 
had been abstracted, plate, as well as wine, etc., — and their 
weight made up with stones and sod. This must have been 
done during the night before starting from Eriboll, and 
naturally enough —whoever the miscreants that did it — the 
doing of it was attributed to the state of feeling that existed 
between Mr. M*Bryde and Major Mackay. Mr. M*Bryde 
and those congregated for the solemnity, determined, how- 


ever, that the communion should not be deferred. Before 
the Saturday, wine and flour were secured. Mr. M*Bryde him- 
self is said to have baked scones for bread, and stoneware was 
used instead of plate. Though the outward provision was 
thus of the humblest and most primitive kind, still that com- 
munion Sabbath was a day to be remembered, -a day 
whereon the Lord vouchsafed His gracious presence in a 
way that filled the hearts of His people with a feast of good 
things. The people of Kinlochbervie were indignant at what 
was done, as being a slight upon them, as well as upon Mn 
M'Bryde, so they determined to subscribe and present him 
with a new set of communion plate. They entrusted the 
securing of it to a Mr. Robert Mackay, who was called to 
Inverness or Edinburgh, for examination in connection with 
his being appointed as teacher in the district by the Society 
for Propagating (,'hristian Knowledge. He bought the plate, 
and got Mr. M*Bryde's name engraved upon it. But, on his 
return, he found Mr, M*Bryde had left the Reay country to 
enter upon his charge in Arran, and, being gone, the ardour 
of the people cooled, and the collection to defray the 
expenses of the plate was never made. Mr. Mackay there- 
after made a present of the plate to his friend, the Rev. Mr. 
Falconer, Edderachilis, and he in turn to his successor. At 
the Disruption it was the personal property of the Rev. 
George Tulloch, who joined the Free Church, and he in his 
turn left it to the congregation of the Free Church at Scourie, 
and we presume it is still used there at communion seasons. 
Mr. M'Bryde was succeeded by Mr. Kennedy, afterwards of 



JOHN MACKAY, C.E., J.P., Hereford. 

There could be no better plea for the preservation of a 
Highland peasantry than the existence of such families as 
the one to which the subject of this sketch belongs. 

Mr. John Mackay, of Hereford, is a native of Rogart, 
Sutherland, and is the third member of a family of seven 
sons and two daughters, five of whom still survive, 
and are in good positions, four having died in distant 
lands. His father and grandfather were both Johns, 
and locally known as " McNeills," pointing to their 
honourable Abrach descent. His mother, Margaret 
Sutherland, was an ideal housewife. His father was a quiet, 
shrewd man, who at the age of seventeen enlisted into the 
42nd Highlanders in 18 10, and retired from that noble 
regiment upon its return from France in 1818; at the 
Disruption he became an elder of the Free Church. 

Mr. John Mackay was educated entirely in his native 
parish— first under Mr. Gunn, who dared to encourage the 
banned (jaclic even in school hours, and afterwards under 
Mr Fraser. Being naturally clever, he received more than 
a fair share of his teacher's attention, and in addition to 
English and Mathematics, was taught Latin and Greek, in 
which he is still proficient. 

At the age of twenty he resolved to try his fortunes in 
the south. That period, now over fifty years ago, was the 
time of the great railway "boom," and the young Highlander 



sought work in their construction. 'I'all, strong, and 
athletic, with quite a militan- bearing, had he not Tound at 
once congenial employment in the industrial army, he would 
prtjbahly have become a soldier, so fond was he of the 
heroic and martial achievements of his countrymen, as his 
fofefaihers were. Familiar with manual labour, and accus- 
tomed to handle horses, he was offered and accepted 
employment as the driver of a team, but was soon advanced 
to timekeei>er, and then, coming more immediately under 
the notice of his employer, his abilities were recognised, and 
promotion was rapid, -■^t twenty-four years of age he was 
made superintendent of a section of the Ilieppe line, and 
remained in France during jiart of the trying time of the 
Revolution of '48. Returning to England in 1848, he found 
work on the (!reat Northern Railway, and the famous railway 
king — Mr. Krassey — gave him, young as he was, a portion of 
the line to construct as a sub-contractor. Then followed the 
Shrewsburj- and Hereford Railway, the Sambre and Meuse 
Railway, and other extensive engineering works at home and 
abroad, in all of which he earned a well-merited reputation 
for skill in carrying out arduous underLikings and in dealing 
with men. He was, in fact, one of Mr. Hrassey's right-hand 

Arrived at middle life, his warm heart yearned to be 
more helpful to his fellows in the Highlands and elsewhere, 
and amidst the toil and cares incident to a large business he 
still found time to consider carefully any patriotic scheme 
submitted to him. None know this better than the people of 
his native county, where his munificence has been princely. 

In 1883 he gave valuable evidejice before the Napier 
Crofters' Commission on the land question ; in 1890 


the Highlands and Islands Harbour Commission, which 
secured to Sutherland several harbours and piers ; in 
subsequent years he communicated interesting papers to 
the Gaelic Society of Inverness on the " Place-names of 
Sutherland " (vide " Transactions *'). He is a J. P. for 
Herefordshire, an ex-President of the Clan Mackay Society 
and the Highland Association (Comunn Gaidhealach)^ and 
Chieftain of the Gaelic Society of London. 

Mr. Mackay has been appropriately styled a true High- 
lander, and one of nature's noblemen. Long may we have 
him in our midst as a bright incentive for others to follow 
his lofty example. 


Thi subject of our notice was born in the Reay country, and 
was ordained minister of the Free Church at Altnaharra in 
187 1. He took part in several controversies which agitated 
the county, especially the Crofter question ; and to his 
initiative the abolition of Sabbath labour and hiring is mainly 
due. Mr. Mackay wields a facile pen, as is evidenced from 
his interesting contribution to the present work, and his 
knowledge of the past history of the county is not excelled by 
many. He was translated to Fort- Augustus in 1889. 



Rev. ROBERT MUNRO, B.D., F.R.S.E., F.S.A., Scot., 

Old Kilpatrick. 

The Rev. Robert Munro, son of Hugh Munro and Christina 
Mackay, was born at Mudale House, Strathnaver, on 26th 
April, 1853. Educated at Strathy School, and at the University 
of St. Andrew's, where he graduated M.A. and B.D., and at 
the New College, Edinburgh. As a student he had a very 
distinguished career. In 1878 he was appointed minister of 
the Free Church at Old Kilpatrick. Since that time, besides 
devoting himself to the various interests of the parish, he has 
been a diligent student of the great systems of modern 
theological thought since the time of Schleiermacher, of 
philosophy as influenced by Humeand Kant,and of archaeology 
in its different departments. In connection with his researches 
in anthropology and folk-lore he has for several years been 
honoured by the recognition of the principal archaeologists in 
Europe and America, such as Virchow, Montelius, Mortillet, 
Stephens, Rygh, Sir Daniel Wilson and Dr. Joseph Anderson. 
He has contributed papers on theology, philosophy, anthro- 
pology and literature to the EncyclopirdUi Britannica^ The 
Quiver^ British and Foreign Evangelical Revietv, The Journal 
of Speculative Philosophy^ The National Observer^ The Graphic^ 
The Illustrated London Nrivs^ The Celtic Monthly^ etc. In 
virtue of his many literary and scientific attainments he has 
been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, Edinburgh, 
a Fellow of the Society of Anticjuaries of Scotland, and a 
Member of the Royal Literary Fund, London. 

He claims descent from the Munros of Fowlis, and 
the Abrach branch of the Mackays. 

Sheriff ,>J Ihe 



GEORGE J. CAMPBELL, Sheriff of the Lews. 

Sheriff Campbell is a native of Farr, Sutherland, where 
his father, Mr. George Campbell, was a merchant. When but 
a very young lad Mr. Campbell went to Inverness, where he 
served his apprenticeship, afterwards completing his legal 
curriculum in Edinburgh. Returning to Inverness he began 
practice on his own account, and his sterling business and 
personal qualities quickly gained for him universal respect 
and confidence, his business soon becoming one of the most 
important in the town. He identified himself with many of 
the leading agencies for promoting the public good in the 
Highland Capital, having served for a period as a member 
of the Town Council, and in the crisis of 1878-79 he took 
the lead in preventing the liquidation of the Caledonian 
Bank. He was president and director of the Choral 
Union, and held successively the offices of hon. treasurer, 
secretar}', and chieftain of the Gaelic Society of Inverness. 

In volunteer circles the learned Sheriff is well known, having 
risen to be full Colonel of the Highland Volunteer Artillery, 
and receiving the coveted Victoria Decoration for long 
service. As a politician he was a strong supporter of the 
Liberal party, and was agent for Mr. Gilbert Beith when 
returned at last general election. It may be also mentioned 
thAt Mr. Campbell is a Free Churchman, and in 1888, when 
the (ieneral Assembly was held in the Highland Capital, he 
acted with marked efficiency and success as purse-bearer and 
secretary to the venerable Moderator, Rev. Dr. Aird of 
Creich. He has not lost touch with Sutherland, being a life 
member of the county associations of Edinburgh and Glasgow, 


JAMES MACDONALD, W.S., Edinburgh. 

It is not necessary to be born in the Highlands to be a 
Highlander, for (juite a numl>er of those whose names are 
most intimately associated with Sutherland affairs were not 
born in the county. They are Sutherland men by descent. 
There are few names more closely connected with Sutherland 
than that of Mr. James Macdonald, W.S He was born in 
Edinburgh in 1850. His father, Mr. John Macdonald, was 
first general treasurer of the Free Church of Scotland. His 
mother was Grace MacKenzie, daughter of the Rev. David 
MacKenzie of Farr, and through her Mr. Macdonald is the 
eldest representative of the family of the Gordons of 
I^ngdale, Strathnaver. In his youth the subject of our 
sketch spent a good deal of time in his grandfather's manse, 
at Farr, and became greatly attached to the place and the 
people. In 1870 he joined the Sutherland Association 
(Edinburgh), and organized the examination for school prizes 
which was carried on so successfully for a quarter of a cen- 
tury, and is now superceded in favour of a bursary .scheme. 
During the course of these years Mr. Macdonald has been 
president, vice-president, secretary, and* is now treasurer of 
this most useful association, He is also a (Governor of the 
Highland Trust, representing Sutherland and Caithness. 

In his own profession Mr. Macdonald occupies a high 
position. He took a good place as a law student, and became 
a writer to the Signet in 1874. He is a partner of the well 
known firm of Auld <!^ Macdonald, W.S. ; a member of the 
Juridical Society, Custodier of the titles of the Free Church 
of Scotland, Depute Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland, 
and Director of various public companies. 



bio(;raphical notices. 373 

Rev. ADAM (;UNN, M.A., Dltrnkss. 

Strath V lays claim to the distinction of providing more 
young men for the church than all the rest of the Reay 
country. The above, a son of the late Alexander Ciunn and 
(Christina Mackav, is one of a dozen from that district at 
the present time in the ministry. He received his early 
training under Mr. Anderson of Strathy Public School, a 
most successful teacher. After two years in the Grammar 
School, Aberdeen, he proceeded to St. Andrew's University, 
^^he^e in 1881, he gained the first bursary open to general 
competition of the value of ^,100. He had a distinguished 
university career, carrying off several prizes and honours ; 
among others, the first prizes in the classes of English 
Literature, Logic and Metaphysics, and the second prize in 
Moral Philosophy. While prosecuting his theological studies 
at New College, Edinburgh, he took advantage of the (iaelic 
class taught by Professor Mackinnon, Edinburgh University, 
where he gained the second i)rize in the junior, and the first 
prize and medal in the senior division. On receiving license 
to preach from the Presbytery of Tongue in 1888, he was a 
few months thereafter appointed colleague and successor to 
the late Rev. James Ross, Durness, where he has laboured 
since. Mr. (iunn takes a deep interest in the temporal as 
well as spiritual welfare of his people, and has been member 
of the County Council, School Board, and Parochial Board, 
and latterly of the l*arish Council, of which body he is 
now chairman. Besides his contributions to the present 
work he has written many articles to C'eltic magazines, 
including l^ie Celtk Monthly and The TraNsaitiinis of the 
Jnvt'f/iess Gae/u' Sociftv. 



So early as the fifteenth century the ancestors of Mr. 
Matheson were chiefs of no small repute in Sutherland. 
The clan took part in several of the numerous conflicts 
which disturbed the peace of Sutherland during the sixteenth 
century. The present representative of the family, Mr. 
Donald Matheson, was educated at the High School of 
Edinburgh, and spent some time in China as assistant in the 
great mercantile firm of Messrs. Jardine, Matheson & Co. 
On his return to Scotland he married, in 1849, Jane Ellen, 
daughter of Lieut. Horace Petley, R.N. Mr. Matheson has 
devoted himself mainly to mission work in Edinburgh and 
London. On the death of his aunt, Lady Matheson of 
Achany and the Lews, he succeeded to these extensive 
properties. Mr. Matheson has two sons, Duncan, Major of 
the Inniskilling Dragoons, and Donald, minister of the 
Presbyterian Church, Putney, London. 


Among the numerous Sutherlandmen who have settled in 
Glasgow and prospered, mention should be especially made 
of Bailie Alexander Murray, C.A., president of the 
County of Sutherland Association, Glasgow. He was 
born at Rogart, and is a partner in the well known firm 
of CarswcU ^: Murray, C.A. He has occupied a seat at the 
Municipal Board for a number of years, and is acknowledged 
to be one of the ablest and most respected members of the 
City Council. He is deeply interested in County affairs. 


Provost WILLIAM MACKAY, Thurso. 

Provost Mackay was born at Skelpick, Strathnaver, on 21st 
June, 1844. His father Mr. Donald Mackay, was descended 
from a branch of the Mackays of Kinloch, and was one of 
the largest and most successful farmers in the north of 
Scotland. Father and son were joint tenants of the farm of 
Melness, then the largest in Sutherland, part of which was 
held before the clearances by (ieorge Mackay of Hope, a 
relative of the family. The Provost has now given up farming. 

Mr. Mackay 's business connections are among the largest 
in the County. He is agent for the Town and County Bank, 
Thurso, Factor for the Freswick Estates, and the Crown 
Lands of Caithness, and Treasurer for the Caithness County 
Council. In 1 878 he was elected Chief Magistrate of Thurso, 
which office he held for fifteen years, and is now Provost of 
the Hurgh. In politics he is a Liberal Unionist. He is an 
elder in the Free Church of Scotland, and has frequently 
taken part in the proceedings of the (ieneral Assembly. For 
the last thirty years he has been Hon. President of the 
Thurso V. M. C. A. He has been chairman of the Thurso 
Harbour Trust since its formation, and is a J. P. for Caithness. 

Provost Mackay has always evinced a special interest in 
the Clan Mackay Society, of which he is an e.x-President. He 
has acted as treasurer for the large fund raised on behalf of 
the sufferers by the Portskerra and Talmine Fishing Boat 
Disaster some years ago, and his management of this fund 
has given the greatest satisfaction to all concerned. 

He married, in 187 1, the youngest daughter of the late 
Rev. Walter Ross Taylor, 1) 1)., Thurso, and of this marraige 
three sons and three daughters survive. 


Chairman of the Scottish Fishery Board 

Mr. Anous Sutherland was born at Helmsdale in 1848. 
His family had been settled for many generations on the 
strath of Kildonan. He was educated at the Free Church 
school of the parish, where he became a pupil teacher. In 
1868 he entered the Edinburgh Training College, and in 
1872 went to Glasgow University, and four years later became 
one of the mathematical masters at the (Glasgow Academy. 
Mr. Sutherland took a prominent part in the Crofter Agitation 
which some twelve years ago was conducted with such energy 
in all parts of the country. In 1885 he was an unsuccessful 
candidate for the representation of his native county, but in 
the following year was triumphantly returned, and, till his 
recent appointment as Chairman of the Scottish Fishery 
Board, was a prominent and eloquent advocate of the cause 
of the crofter population. He was a member of the Deer 
Forests Commission, and has served on various other 
parliamentary committees. He is a life member of the 
Sutherlandshire associations of (Glasgow and Edinburgh. 
Mr. Sutherland is still a young man, but he has already earned 
for himself a prominent place among the most distinguished 
Sutherlanders of the present day. 


Mr Macleoi) is the son of Mr. John Macleod, Helmsdale, 
where he was born in 1863. He was educated at Glasgow, 
and having studied gold-assaying, helped in working a gold 
mine in N. Wales. Returning to Sutherland he practi.sed as 


surveyor, then went to Inverness in 1888, and established the 
Highland Nnvs, of which he is proprietor As secretary to 
the Highland Land league, Mr. Macleod has taken an active 
part in the land agitation in the Highlands. He was returned 
as member for Sutherlandshire at the last election, prior to 
which he was a member of the Royal Commission on Deer 
Forests Mr. Macleod is a Liberal in politics. 

Convener of the County of SuTHERf.AND. 

There arc many points of resemblance between Sutherland 
and the Island of Lewis. There is the same mixture of 
Celtic and Norse blood in the population ; the same intense 
love of country, and the same high morality. Among other 
common features is the large proportion of young men who 
enter the church as a profession. From the district of Strathy 
alone, on the north coast, there are at the present moment no 
less than eleven ministers in various charges throughout the 
countr)' — a circumstance which cannot be approached in any 
other district except Lewis, which may be said to supply to 
the largest extent the ministry of the Highlands. 

Among other Lewismen labouring on the mainland is the 
subject of our sketch. Born near Stornoway in 1841, Mr. 
Murray received the rudiments of his education in his native 
parish, and thence proceeded to the Edinburgh University, 
where he finished his Arts Curriculum. He received his 
theological training in the New College, Edinburgh, which 
he entered in 1865, and where for four years he held the 
Highland Bursary. Hardly was he licensed to preach when 








Mr. Munro was born at Backies, Golspie, on 6th November, 
1846, and was educated at the local school. In 1865, he 
received an appointment in connection with the Staffordshire 
Collieries of the late Mr. Thomas Bantock, J.F (a distin- 
guished Sutherlander), and he ultimately became (leneral 
Manager of the great Wyrley Collieries. He also held a 
number of public offices in the district. After about eighteen 
years' service he retired in 1884 from the management, and in 
the following year took chirge of the collieries and works of 
the Chesterfield Coal and Iron Co., N. Staffordshire. After- 
wards Mr. Munro started business in Manchester as a Civil 
and Mining Engineer, and has been very successful. He is 
the pioneer of an important mining enterprise in the North 
of Ireland. In 1872 he married Mary, daughter of the late 
Mr. Thomas Greensill, by whom he has two daughters. 

HEW MORRISON, F.S.A., Scot., Edinburgh. 

There are few better known men in Edinburgh to-day than 
Mr. Hew Morrison, the popular chief of the Public Library. 
He is a native of Torrisdale, Parish of Farr, and has had a most 
distinguished career. When the Carnegie Public Library 
was instituted, Mr. Morrison was appointed chief librarian. 
He is well versed in Sutherland traditions and lore, and has 
written a great deal on county matters, including a most in- 
teresting Tourists' (iuide to Sutherland and Caithness, which 
has been long out of print. 


JOHN MACKAY, Editor, Celiic Mosthly, 

Mr. John Mackav was born in Glasgow in 1865, his father, 
I )onald Mackay, being a native of Strathy, in the Reay country, 
and his mother a native of Kintyre. He was educated at 
(rlasgow, and when fifteen years of age entered the employ- 


ment of Messrs. John Hunter ^: Son, Flour Merchants, 
where he now occupies a responsible position. Mr. 
Mackay's sympathies have always been strongly Celtic, and 
when quite a youth he was a constant contributor to the 
Highland press. He is well known as a naturalist, and for 
several years acted as secretary to the Clydesdale Naturalists 
Society. Some ten years ago he became a member of the 
Cilasgow Sutherlandshire Association, of which he was vice- 

To Mr. Mackay is due the credit of conceiving the idea of 
organizing the Clan Mackay Society, and to his able guidance 
and untiring efforts as hon. secretary, that influential society 
owes its present phenomenal success. In 1890, Ix)rd Reay, 
in the name of the clan, presented Mr. Mackay with a 
handsome testimonial " in testimony of their high apprecia- 
tion of his excellent services as hon. secretary." 

It may be perhaps interesting to add that he is treasurer 
of the Gaelic Society of Glasgow; a member of the executive 
of the M6d since its institution ; president of the Glasgow 
Gaelic Musical Association and of the Cowal Shinty Club ; 
chieftain of the Govan Highland Association ; director of 
the ('ounty of Sutherland Association, etc. To Highlanders 
at home and abroad he is best known as Editor and propric 
lor o{ the Celiic Monihl\\ which has earned a popularity and 
circulation that no other Highland magazine has ever enjoyed. 


■^H XL'^<^^|^^Hlii m 


^^^KLl ui. ' ' V Ft.' ^^^ ^1 


iTr imiti 1 


u! V IfiyP^ i 


B^#l ^ 







Mr. CtKOrge Murray Campbeli, is a son of the late 
Kenneth Campbell of Eden, Rogart, and received his early 
education in his native parish. When twenty-three years of 
age he commenced his successful career in India, in connec- 
tion with railway construction. Two years later he went to 
Oylon to take charge of works on the Covernment Railway, 
which he carried to a successful completion. In 1880 he was 
made manager, and given a junior partnership in the contract 
for the construction of two railways in Jamaica, and on the 
lines l>eing opened to traffic in 1885-6 the Governor of the 
Island, Sir Henry Norman, bore flattering testimony to 
Jamaica's indebtedness to Mr. Campbell. For the next few 
years he was employed in surveying and reporting on railway 
schemes in the Ural Mountains, Western Australia, Formosa, 
and the Malay Peninsula. In 1891 his tender for the equip- 
ment of 150 miles of line in Siam, was accepted for 
;;^i, 200,000, and on this work he is now engaged In Nov- 
ember of last year he took the King of Siam over 80 miles 
of the new line, the trip proving most enjoyable to His 
Majesty. One of the principal reasons of Mr. C'ampbell's 
success has been the facility with which he has accjuired the 
native languages,- Hindustani, Tamil, Singalese, Malay, 
and Siamese, thus being able to give his instructions direct. 
This he ascribes to his knowledge of Ciaelic. 

In 1887 Mr. Cam{)bell was married to Lily, third daughter 
of the late Mr. Wm. Haynes, of Hampstead, a most accom- 
plished lady, who has accompanied her husband in all his 
Eastern travels, 



The subject of this brief sketch is chieftain of that gallant 
and powerful branch of the Clan Mackay, which for so many 
centuries inhabited Strathnaver, and were the " wardens " of 
the Mackay country against invasion, a trust which they never 
once betrayed. To them also was entrusted in battle the 
famous White Banner (Bratach Bhan Chlann Aoidh) of the 
clan, so renowned in song and story. The Rev. J. Aberigh- 
Mackay was born at Inverness in 1820, and after taking his 
degree at Aberdeen, he spent seven years in the United 
States, where he married. On his return home he officiated 
at St. John's Chapel, Inverness, for some time. In March, 
1857, accompanied by his wife, he went out to India on the 
Bengal Establishment, and found himself immediately in the 
midst of the turmoil and bloodshed of the Indian Mutiny. 
He was shut up in Cawnpore during the terrible siege, and 
after its relief by Sir Colin Campbell, saw a good deal of 
active service with his regiment, the 9th lancers, his ex- 
periences being related in his " Ix)ndon to Lucknow," 
published in two vols, in i860. Thereafter he officiated 
at Penang, Meerut, Simla, and Calcutta, returning to Britain 
on pension, having served eighteen years. In 1881 his alma 
mater conferred on him the degree of D.D. Since then Dr. 
Mackay has officiated in Paris, America, and Scotland. 

His elder son, James L. Aberigh-Mackay, is Lieut.-Colonel 
of the 8th Bengal Cavalry, and is acknowledged to be one of 
the most brilliant cavalry officers in the British service. His 
younger son, George Robert, was principal of Rajkumar 
College, and died in 1881. His only daughter is married to 
Mr. VV. E Maxwell, C.M.G., Colonial Secretary at Singapore, 


The late JOHN MACKAY, (Ben Reay.) 

Mr. John Mack ay, whose recent death was lamented by 
Highlanders at home and abroad, was one of the most 
enthusiastic of (iaels. He was born at Restalrig, near 
Edinburgh, nearly seventy years ago. When a young man 
he went to Canada, where he spent twenty years, engaged 
chiefly in fruit growing and experimental farming. Here he 
found scope for his military instincts, and was captain of a 
company of Home (luards which he organised during the 
Fenian troubles of 1865-6. He returned to Scotland in 
1875, but since he sold Herriesdale a small estate in Dum- 
fries-shire, he resided in Germany, and latterly at Bridge of 
Allan. He died in Edinburgh on 14th November, 1896. 

Besides his contributions to the Celtic Monthly and various 
other magazines and Transactions Mr. Mackay was the author 
of " An Old Scots Brigade," being a history of the famous 
regiment raised by Donald, first Lord Reay, a full account of 
which is included in the interesting chapter on ** Sutherland 
Regiments " which he contributed to the present work (see 
p. 183). For many years past he was engaged on the pre- 
paration of a new History and ( Jenealogy of the ( 'Ian Mackay, 
which we hoj>e may yet be published. He was the senior 
representative, in the male line, of the Mackays of Melness, 
and took a lively interest in all matters pertaining to his clan, 
and especially to the (!lan Mackay Society, of which he was 
an Honorary Member, a distinction whirh, so far, has only 
been conferred on three meml>ers. 

Mr. Mackay married, in 1877, the younger daughter of the 
Hon. A. Ware, a Judge of the District Court of the United 
States, and has an only child, Ethel Reay, born in 1879. 



The subject of this sketch was born at Glengoulandie, Perth- 
shire. In early life he evinced a liking for farming, and 

I engaged in this avocation for several years with his father, who 

held several large farms. He afterwards went to New Zealand, 
where he remained for a time, and acquired an enlarged 
experience of his profession. He is now tenant of the large 
farm of Blarich in Sutherland, which he conducts with 
marked ability and success. Colonel Menzies has always 
evinced a deep practical interest in all matters relating to the 
Parish of Rogart, and his valuable services in the Parochial 
and School Boards for many years have been deservedly and 
gratefully acknowledged. 

Colonel Menzies is inspired with an intense love for the 

\ Highlands, its people, and indeed everything that is consid- 

ered of good repute in connection with his native land. 

, He is deeply interested in Celtic literature, and passion- 

ately fond of Gaelic music, especially the inspiring notes of 
the piodmAory and every movement intended to preserve the 
best traditions of our race has his sympathy and generous 

The I St Sutherland Highland Rifle Volunteers, which the 
Colonel has the honour to command, is admitted to be 

) one of the finest bodies of men in Her Majesty's service. It 

need hardly be said that the subject of our sketch is extremely 

i popular among the men of his regiment, and this warm feel- 

ing of respect took practical form when the oflficers and men 
of the Rogart Company in July, 1890, presented him with an 

i address, congratulating him on his promotion to the rank of 

Major in the Battalion. 



It would he (juitc impossible, in the liinited space at our 
dis|X)sal, to treat of notable Sutherlanders at any length ; 
indeed, it would re(juire the entire volume to do this interest- 
ing subject the justice it deserves. U*e are not prepared to 
state that Sutherland, in proportion to its population, has 
produced more men of note than any other Highland county, 
but it was only when we commenced to note down the names 
of such as we considered deserving of notice that we realised 
how considerable the list was W'e have already given short 
sketches of a few of these, but there are scores of others 
equally deserving of mention, and to a number of them we 
should like now to briefly refer. 

I'hat excellent institution, " I'he Sutherland Association, 
Edinburgh, instituted 1866,' includes among its meml)ers 
many of the most prominent men of our county. Several have 
l>een already referred to, but we should like to mention one 
who is known to our countrymen in all parts of the world, 
namely, Mr. I). W. Kkmp, J I*. He is not a native of the 
county, but he has written more lM)()ks relating to it than 
perhaps any man living. Of these we might mention PoaKkis 
Tour in ij6o : Notes on Early Iron-Sfneliin^ in Sutherland ; 
The Sutherland Democrat v, etc. ^Ve Ix'lieve he has one or two 
new works on hand of a jxiiticularly interesting nature. He 
is a J.l*. of the county, and has a residence at Altass, Rose- 
hall. Then there is Mr. Ai.kxandkr Mackav, a native of 
Swordly, who for twenty years acted as treasurer to the 


association, and wrote a delightful book, Sketches of Sutherland 
Characters^ which is now out of print. Another most eminent 
member of this association is Mr. Neil J. D. Kennedy, 
advocate, a native of the parish of Creich. He was a 
candidate for the representation of Inverness-shire at last 
election, but being too ill at the time to contest the county 
in person, was defeated by a small majority. Mr. Hugh 
Mack AY Matheson, Banker, London, belongs to the Achany 
family, and occupies a high position in mercantile circles in 
London. The Hon. James Munro, late premier of Victoria, 
was born at Armadale, in the Reay country, and has had a 
most distinguished career. A few years ago Mr. Munro 
gifted ;;^ioo for prizes to the children in Armadale school. 
Mr. Donald Mackay, of Ceylon, was born at Rogart, and 
has spent the greater part of his life in distant lands, engaged 
principally in planting. Like his brother, Mr. John Mackay 
of Hereford, he has been very successful. Among other 
notable Sutherlanders, connected with this association, may 
be mentioned Messrs. Alexander Mackay, LL.l)., Editor 
of the Educational Neivs and late president of the association ; 
J. L. Anderson, of the Commercial Bank (an ex-president); 
Donald Macleod, M.A., Principal of Forfar Academy, and 
a native of Assynt ; Alexander Sutherland, Prestonkirk 
(of Portskerra) ; Donald M.\ckay, " Strathnaver " House., 
a native of Kirtomy, Farr ; Hugh Mackay, M.A., born on 
Melness-side, who has acted for a number of years as 
educational secretary; Captain William Morrison, a 
Durness-man, who rose from the ranks by his own native 
ability; A. Mackay Robson, president, Hugh M. Matheson, 
Alexander Ross Mackay,- who is also assistant secretary 
to the Clan Mackay Society, and others. 


'I'here are two county associations in (Glasgow, where 
there should only be one, hut we hope that l)efore long they 
will amalgamate and form one powerful organization. Mr. 
Alexander Bruce, of Pollokshields, president of the 
" Sutherlandshire Association," is a native of the parish of 
Clyne. As a business man he has been most successful, and 
is principal partner in the firm of Alexander Hruce i^ Co. 
The energy and zeal which he exerts in matters relating to 
the association and his native county, do him credit. He is 
favoured with literary and musical gifts of no common 
order, and frecjuently contributes at the meetings. Messrs. 
Alexander Macdonald, M.A., F. E. I. S., a native of 
Dornoch, and Donald Macleod, born in Assynt, are both 
H. M Inspectors of Schools, and have distinguished them- 
selves in various ways. In addition to these, mention should 
be made of Messrs. Murdo Macleod, ex-president, who also 
belongs to Assynt : John Slmpson (parish of Clyne) ; 
Donald Mackenzie (Oeich), a successful business man, 
and one who is expected before long to occupy a seat at the 
City Council Board ; J. C Mack ay, C.C, Portree, and 
Dr. HuciH Murray, L.R.C.S., of the Cancer Institution. 

" The County of Sutherland Association (Clasgow)," 
includes among its members a number of gentlemen of 
distinction. Among the officials reference should be made 
to .Messrs. Hugh Bannerman, Southport (a native of 
Helmsdale) ; John Munro, Hanley (parish of Creich), 
the proprietor of a large number of flourishing concerns 
in Staff"ordshire, and one who takes a deep interest in 
all matters affecting his native (ounty : Dr. John Cunn 
(Helmsdale), and Dr. (iEORr.k Gordon (Helmsdale), both 


enjoying large practices in Glasgow, and George Mackay 
(Honar Bridge). 

There is a " Sutherlandshire Association " in Edinburgh 
which devotes itself specially to political and social questions, 
and which has done good service. A social gathering is 
held each year, which is largely attended. Its moving spirit 
is Mr. John Macdonald, a gifted native of Helmsdale. 

A Sutherland association was started several years ago in 
I^ndon, of which Mr. Angus H. R. Mackav was secretary, 
but during the past year or two it seenis to have altogether 
disappeared. It does not seem to have been a success. 

Just as we go to press we notice public announcements 
of the formation of a Sutherlandshire Association in 
Inverness ; and a Clan Sutherland Society in Edinburgh. 
We wish them both every success. 

*' The Clan Mackay Society " may be looked upon 
practically as a Sutherland society, for the great bulk of its 
members are either natives or descendants of natives. The 
Clan Mackay had the honour of first banding themselves in 
the south as a society, in 1808, and the present society has 
the largest membership, and is the most energetic and 
influential of all the clan societies. Although only eight years 
old, it has published volumes, instituted a clan bursary, and 
otherwise shown evidence of its desire to do good work. 
Among its members will be found the most eminent persons 
of the name Mackay in all parts of the world, among whom 
may be mentioned Baron /Eneas Mackay, late Prime 
Minister of the Netherlands (of the Scourie branch) ; Sheriff 
.Eneas J. G. Mackay, M.A., LL.D. (of Sandwood); Surgeon- 
General George Mackay, M.l)., J. P. (of Bighouse) ; Mr. 
(iEORGE J. Mackay, Ex-Mayor of Kendal (son of a native 


of Fan); Sir Jamics Mackav, and many other 
distinguished clansmen. 

Apart from the county associations there are many 
Sutherland men at home and abroad who have done credit 
to themselves and the county of their nalivity. Among them 
are politicians and statesmen, merchants, governors, and 
professional men, explorers, missionaries, officers in the 
army and navy, — indeed, they seem to have distinguished 
themselves in every sphere of life, and in every part of the 
globe. Te attempt even to refer to them would occupy a 
great deal more space than we can afford, but there is ample 
- material for a delightful volume, should anyone care to take 
up the subject. 

' \ 




Abrachs, The, a sept of the Mackays, ... 29, 48, 50, 52, 63, 67 
Aldgowne, Conflict of, Gunns defeat the Siiulairs, ... ... ^i 

I I 

Antiquities of Sutherland, 
Artillery Companies, Sutherland, 
A.ssynt, Macleods of^ ... 
,, Place-names ofy 

Dialectic peculiarities of. 

3-% 43 


Bannockburn, Battle of. 

Bards, The minor, 

Bharruich, Castle, 

Biog"raphical Sketches of Notable Sutherlanders 

Births, Superstitions concemini^, 

Borve Castle, .. 

Brochs, Larjj^e number of, ... 

Brodie, Rev. Georg-e, 

Bronze Aj<e, 

Cainis, Chambered, .. 
Campbell, Sir Colin, .. 
Catechising". Diets of, 
Catholicism, Roman, 
Charters, The Sutherland, ... 

,, The Mackay, 
Clyne, The place-names of, 
Columban Missionaries, 
Conventicles, Suppression of. 
Covenanters, The, 
Crimean War, The, ... 

281, 282 

47. 50. S3> 7o» '46 
159, 161 


12, 13 

284, 285 

27, 112 


40, 41, 112 

106, 107 


97, 105 





-'o. 3-2. 38, 44 
168, 169 

-% 3-2-2, 324 


64, 65, 69, 70, 72 

... 2.^ 1 



Creich, Place-names of. 

••• ••• >•• 

161, 162 

Cromarty, Earl of, 

• • • • • t • • 


Cromwell, Oliver, 

• • • • »• • • • 


Culloden, Battle of, 

- ■ • • • • • • • 


Dalriadic Scots, 

• - • • • • • 


David, King of Scotland, 

••■ ••■ ••• 


Death, Superstitions conceminjf. 

•• ••• •<• 


Dialect of Sutherland, The, 

■ • • • • • • • 


Divinations, ... 


... .•• 1 2o 

Doniadilla, Castle of, 

■>• •■* ••• 


Dornoch, Battle of, 

• • • • • • • 

• • • • • ■ M 

,, Place-names of, ... 

• • ■ • ■ • ■ • 

163, 165 

Druidic Circles, 

•■• •■■ ■•• 

Z2l, 322 

Druim-na-cupa, Battle of, ... 

■•• •• ••• 


Drum mond, I^dy Jane, 

■ • • ■ • • • • • 


Dunrobin, Castle of, 

... . . . . 

36, 76, no 


. , . ... ... 


,, Macleods of, 

• • • • • • • • 

• 4348,52 

,, Place-names of, ... 

••• ••• ••• 

154. 156 

Earth-houses, Underground dwel 

linj^s, ... 


Eddrachilis, Place-names of. 


... 150 

Edward I., King of England, 

... . • . • • 

10, II 


>■ ••• ■•• 



... ... ... 

136, 140 

Farr, Sculptured Stone at, ... 

> • • . • • • • 


, , Place-names of. 

. • a • • • 

146, 153 

Felting Cloth, 



Fencibles, The Reay, 


,, Sutherland, 

■ •• ••• ••■ 

227, 230 

Fishermen, Their Superstitions, 




*•• ••• a*. 

116, 140 

Freskyn, Hugh, Ancestor of Sutherland Earls, .. 





• ■ 

• I 




Gaelic, Peculiarities of Sutherland, 
Galloway, Origin of Mackays, 
Gilbert, Bishop of Caithness, 
Golspie, Place-names of, 

,, The Stone of, 
Gordons, Advent of the, 
Gordon, Adam, Karl of, 

,, Georj^e, of Garty, ... 
Lady Jane, ... 
Sir Robert, The Historian, 
Gower, Georjjfe Granville Leveson, 
Gunn, The Clan, 

,, Sir William, Colonel, 

,, Georjje, 

,, William, 

,, John-Mac-Ian-Mac-Rob, 

Halidon Hill, Battle o\\ 
Hamilton, Marquis of, 
Harald Maddadson, Earl, ... 
Harpsdale, Battle of, ... 
Hazard, Sloop of war, Story of the. 
Helmsdale Castle, 
Homespun, Treatise on, 
Huntly, Earl of, 


Iron Age, ... 

Isles, Lord of the, 

Keiths' Conflict with the Gunns, ... 
Kildonan, Place-names of, ... 
Killiecrankie, ... 





1 10 





30* 46, 50' 5> 





«, 9 »»3 


62, 63 



75. »94 

45» i»3 

3«, 39. 40 

• • 




• • • 







INDEX. 393 

La-na-creich-mor, The day of the great spoil, ... 54 

LaifX* Place-names of, 
Lewis, Macleods of, ... 
Loth, Place-names of, 
Loudon, Earl of, 

l^OVo^f ••• ••• ••• 

162, 163 

16 18, 32, 33 

1. 40, 169 

75* »93 

Lucknow, Sutherland Highlanders at, ... ... ... .. 250 

M*Bryde, Rev. Neil, of Eriboll, 364 

MacCuUoch, Rev. John, of Golspie, ... ... ... 341 

Macdonald, Rev. Murdo, of Durness, 351. 353 

Macdonalds of Glengarry, Raids of the, ... ... ... ... 31 

Macdonald, Samuel, *• Big Sam," .. ... 229 

Mackay, Alexander, ist Chief, ... ... ... .. 6 

' lye of Farr, Chief, ... ... ... ... ... 16 

Angus, Chief, ... ... ... ... ... ... 16 

Hugh, his brother, ... ... ... ... ... 18 

Angus Du, Chief, leader of 4,000 men, ... ... 19 

Thomas, Morgan, and Neil, nephews,, ... 20, 21, 27 

Neil of the Bass, Chief, ... ... ... ... -22,30 

John Abrach, ... ... ... <25, 28 

Angus, son of Neil, Chief, ... ... ... 30» 3' 

John, Chief, ... ... ... ... ... ... 31 

lye IL, or Hugh, Chief, favourite of James IV., ... 32 

John, son of lye, chief, ... 36 

Donald, brother of John, Chief, aids James V 37 

lye in., or Hugh, Chief. 39, 40, 42, 44, 47 

John Mor, Cousin of lye, _ ... ... ... 40, 42, 48 

Niel, Chief of Abrach Mackays, 48 

Hugh, Chief, 5o» 5'» 5^* 53* 55- 59 

William, of Bighouse, ... ... ... ... 5i» 53» 57 

Donald, of Scourie, ... .,. ... 53, ^cj 




r '■ 


f i 
' I 



Mackny, Sir Donald, ist Lord Re.iy, 
,, John, 2nd Lord Reay, 
,, Hu^h, of Scourie, Colonel, 
,, John, of Dilred and Strathy, 

Hug-h, of Scourio, GcMicral of King^ William's 

George, 3rd Lord Reay, 
., William, of Melness, 

Donald, 4th Lord Re.iy, ... 

Hugh, of Bighouse, Lieutenant-Colonel, 
,, George, 5th Lord Reay, 
,, Hugh, 6th Lord Reay, ... 

., Eric, 7th Lord Reay, 
,, Donald James, pre.sent Lord Reay, 

Rev. John, of Durness and Lairg, 
,, Robert Donn, the bard of Reay, 

John Donn, .son of Rob Donn, ... 
,, Mack.ay. John of Achness, 
., John MacEachainn, patron of Rob Donn, 
,, Major, of Eriboll, ... 
Mackenzie, Rev. William, of Tongue, 

Maleolm, King of Scotland, ... 
Marriage, Superstitions conceniinf; 

"Men," The, 

Monar, Loch, modern Bethesda, ... 
Munro, Rev. Alexander, 

,, Rev. George, of Farr, 

,, Rev. Hugh, ... 

., of Fowlis, 

,, Regiment of , 
Murkle, Laird of, ... 
Murray, Earl of, 
Murrays of Sutherland, The, 

57, 60 

64, 65. 67, 69. 70 

69 70 


forces, 72 


•• 75 

76, 77* 293 

77, 296, 299 

77. 298 









. 126 




53. 54 


• 44 
20, 22, 46, 57 

1 1** i-fr./\» 

National Covenant, The, 


Naver, Etymolog-y of, 

I, 142 

Neville's Cross, Battle of, 


Nordling-en, Battle of. 


Norse Rule, 

2, 9 

„ Influence on I^n^uage, 


Ordained Missionaries, 


Picts, Northeni, 


Pictish element in Place-names, 


Poetry and Music, 


Privy Council, Proceedings before the, ... 


Queen's Prizeman, Robert Mackay, 

277, 278 

Reay Country, Etymolojf y of, 


., ,, Sale of. 


Reformation, Attitude of Chiefs to the, ... 

44. 7» 

Reg^iments, The, 


Revolution, The, 


Robbers, Ord of Caithness, 


Robertson, Rev. Mr., of EriboU, 


Rogart, Place-names of, ... 


Rosses of Balnagown, .. 

3*. »9» 

Seaforth, Earl of, 


Sigurd, Earl of Orkney, 

... ... ... •» 3 

Sinclair, John, Earl of Caithness, 


Sinclair, George, Earl of Caithness, 

45, 46, 48, 53, 55, 56 

,, John, Master of Caithness, 


„ Henry, „ 


Smith, Arthur, The Coiner, 


Stone Age, The 


„ „ Circle.s, 


' I 

. 1 

, I 






I ■ 

■ < 



Strathnaver, Place-names of, 

Superstitions, ... 

Sutherland. William, ist Earl of, ... 

William, 3rd F!.irl of, ... 

Kenneth, 4th Earl of, 

William, 5th Earl of, ... 

Robert, 6th Earl of, 

John, 7th Earl of, 

Alexander, 8th Earl of, 

John, 9th Earl of, last of Freskyn race, 

John, lothEarlof, 

Alexander, nth Earl of, 

John, 1 2th Earl of, 

John, 13th Earl of, 

George, 14th 

John, 15th Earl of, 

William, i6th Earl of, 

William, 17th Earl of, 

Elizabeth, Countess of^ 
Sutherland Fencibles of 1759, '79, and 93, 

Hig^hlanders (the 93rd), 

John, of Forse, 

John, of Berriedale, 




♦ , 



> » 

I ) 


♦ » 

1 » 




f ) 



Thorfinn, Earl of Sutherland and Caithness, 

Thorstein, the Red, ... 

Victoria Crosses won by Sutherland Highlanders, 

Visit of Northern Chiefs to Orkney, 

Volunteers, The, 

Wallace, Sir William, 

Witchcraft, ... .#. ,.. ,.. 

... 151 

... 117 

.. 7.8 


. . 13 

«3. 14 


... 3 > 

34. 36, 37 

... 34 

•• 44 

... 46 

55» 56, 63 

... 69 

... 71 

••• 73 

... 76 


... 77 

227, 230 

... 235 

... 193 

••• 57 

.-. 354 


... 254 

... 56 



>33» »36 





Mioisters of the Reay Couotry sioce the Reformatioo. 


1567. John Reid, Exhorter. 

16—. Alexander Munro. 

1663. Hu^h Munro. 
1707. John Mackay. 

1726 Murdoch Macdonald. 

1764. John Thomson. 

1 81 2. William Findlater. 


1567. Donald Reid, Reader, 

1574. Ferquhard Reid. 

1664. John Munro 

16 — . Daniel Mackintosh. 

1727. Andrew Robertson. 

'734* John Skeldoch. 

1754. Georg-e Munro. 

1780. James Ding^wall. 

1815. David MacKenzie. 


1727. William Mackay. 

1730. Walter Ross. 

1762. John Mackay. 

1769. William Mackenzie. 

1806. H. M. Mackenzie. 


1726. Georjje Brodie. 

1741. George Mackay. 

1743. William Henderson. 

1744. John Munfx>. 

Eddrachilis. —cont, 

'756' John Mackay. 

1762. Alexander Falconer. 

1803. John Mackenzie. 

1831. George Tulloch. 


1829. David Mackenzie. 
1834. Robert Clarke. 

Melness and Eriboll. 

1794. John Robertson. 

1800. Neil MacBryde. 

1802. John Kennedy. 

1808. VV'illiam Findlater 

1816. Hugh Mackenzie. 

1819. Robert Clarke. 

1829. George Tulloch. 

^^Z'^' Hugh Macleod. 

1838. William Macintyre. 


1828. Angus MacGillivray. 
1842. David Sutherland. 

Ac H NESS Mission. 

1767. William Mackenzie. 

1772. James Dingwall. 

1781. Urquhart. 

1796. George Gordon. 

181 3. David Mackenzie. 

1819. Donald Sage. 


Ministers of the Presbytery of Oomoch since the Reformition. 



William Grav. 


James Smilh. 

Willian. Paip. Papc, I'aip.- 

H.>Kh Rose. 

or Papp. 

G.'orte Rainv. 

John Grav. 






IK ifomu-rl}-) KiLMALut:. 

William Mai-kav. 

Ari-liib.iW Bcmo. 


Ak-itandfr Monro. 

Robert Kirk. 


J,.hn MniL-ulloch. 

John Sullierland. 


Hi.k1i K.i-e. 

John Hclliuiu-. 


W.?..r l.Vn„one. 

John SmlnTland. 



Martin Ma.piiorso.1. 


John Camphi-ll. 

|«I7. Ak-xander Matpher 

■nalJ U.i,'a, 

George Rulhvi'ii. 
Wtlliaxi l.cviii){ston. 
Andrew Aiidi>rsoi<. 
Jamo, H», 
Ali^xander Brodic. 
U'illiain Rose. 
tluKh Sutherland. 
Hugh Ross. 
John R..SS. 
William K.-ith. 



Lairg. — cont. 

1663. David Monroe. 

1668. William Mackay. 

1682. John Dempster. 

1706. John Robertson. 

1 7 14. John Mackay. 

1749. Thomas Mackay. 

1804. Angfus Kennedy 

1817. Duncan MacGilltvray 


1590. Andrew Anderson 

16 — . Hector Munro. 

1656. John Rose. 

1682. Hector Paip. 

1 72 1. Robert Robertson. 

1732. James Gilchrist. 

"739- William Rose. 

1756. Georj^e MacCnlloch. 

Loth. — cont, 

1802. Georj^e Gordon. 

1823. Donald Ross. 


1574. George Sinclair. 

1574. William Gray. 

1590. Thomas Pape. 

1614. John Sutherland. 

1639. George Sutherland. 

1656. Thomas Ross 

1662. William Mackay. 

1683. Walter Ross. 

1725. John Monro. 

1755. Hug-h Sutherland. 

1774. iCneas Macl^od. 

1795. Alexander Urquhart. 

181 3. George Urquhart. 

1822. Donald Ross. 

1823. John Mackenzie. 

Archibald Sinclair, Printer, Glasgow. 


























I • 

^ ( 

i^ L