(COUNTY OF INVERNESS, SYNOD OF GLENELG, AND PRESBYTERY
Boundaries, Extent, &c. (circa: 1794)
(submitted by Iain McKenzie)
(continued from cover page)
Etymology -Nothing satisfactory can be determined respecting the etymology of Urquhart; and though the valley, in general, be so styled, there is no particular place or farm called Urquhart. There are two other parishes of the same name, the one in Ross-shire, and the other in Moray. In Gaelic, the general language of the country, Urquhart is pronounced Urchudinn,' and this was formerly distinguished by the name of Urchudin Cill ma Chrotlan, as being the residence of Saint Crossan or Crostan; latterly, it is more frequently styled Urchudin Thiarnna Ghrant, or the Laird of Grant's Urquhart, by much the larger part of the valley having been, for some ages, the property of the family of Grant. But though the etymology of Urquhart be uncertain, it is abundantly evident, that the names of all the places are Gaelic. Cill, in its original acceptation, denoted a cell, or the sequestered habitation of a religious Person ; and from the circumstance, that the people, from reverence to the residence of a saint, buried the dead near his habitation, cill came to signify, in the common language of the people, a churchyard or burial place. There is in the valley of Urquhart two burial places ; the one called Cillmore, or the Great Burial Place; it is at the lower end of the valley, where the, parish-church stands : The other place, still used for sepulture, is at the head of the valley, in Corrimony; it is called Claodh Churdian, which expresses properly the burial place of Curidan. There were anciently two other burial places or cells, called Cillmhichael and Cillsantninian; both these have long been disused as places of interment. These cells and burial places were named from reverential regard to the holy persons or saints by whom they were consecrated.
In the lower end of the valley, on the north side of the Bay of Urquhart,
opposite to the ancient Castle of Urquhart there remains the vestige of
a small religious house, which belonged to the order of the Knights of
the Temple, of St John of Jerusalem ; the place where it stood is still
called the Temple. The order of Templars was created by the Pope,
anno 1128. The Templars greatly increased in numbers, riches, and
power, over Christendom; they were suppressed by Pope Clement the Fifth,
in a council held at Vienna, anno 1312, and their lands were bestowed,
mostly by the respective foreign powers, upon the Knights of St John of
Jerusalem. Wherever there was a religious house erected, as belonging
to the Knights Templars, it is to be presumed, there were some lands annexed
to it. But there is no evidence remaining respecting any Temple-lands
in this parish.
Heritors, and State of the Property and Rents - Sir James Grant of Grant is the principal heritor in this parish. The family of Grant have never had any place of residence in this part of their property, their chief seat having been, since the time of King Robert Bruce, at Castle Grant, in Strathspey. The proprietors of Corrimony were the only heritors descended of the Grant family, who resided in the valley of Urquhart, since the original grant of the lordship of Urquhart, from King James the Fourth to the family of Grant.
It appears, from the 41st act of the 11th Parliament of James the Second, that among many other lands annexed to the Crown, the lordship of Urquhart was then included: “ Item, The House of Innerness and Urquhard, and the lordships of them ; and the lordships of Abernethy, with the watermails of Innerness, together with the baronies of Urquhard, Glenurquhane," &c.
A general dissolution of the annexed lands to the Crown took place in the time of James the Fourth, by an act of Parliament, passed in the 1503, cap. 90. by which it was made lawful “ to his Hienesse to set all his proper lands, both annexed and unannexed, in few ferme, to ony person or persones, as he pleasis," &c. In consequence of this act, three charters of the lordship and baronies of Urquhart passed in favour of John Grant of Freuchie and of his two sons. The barony of St Ninians and Kyle, comprehending the greater part of the lands of Urquhart, and the valley of Strathchluani, lying between Glenmoriston and Glensheal, was granted to John Grant of Freuchie, the chief of the Clan, and the barony of Glenmoriston, comprehending some lands in Urquhart, was granted to his eldest son; and to his younger son was granted the barony of Corrimony, lying in the valley of Urquhart. These charters all bear the same date, in December 1509.
In the western end of the valley, the grave of a Danish or Norwegian prince is shewn, it is called Uai Mhoni, that is, the Grave of Moni ; a field, near the margin of which the body was laid, is called Dalmhoni, and the circular valley at the head of the more extended valley of Urquhart, is called Coiramhoni, or the Valley of Moni. There is a beautiful rocky eminence situated in the bottom, near the lower end of the valley, which is called Craigmhoni, or the Craig or Rock of Moni. According to tradition, Moni here sounded his horn, collected his followers, and made resistance against his enemies ; but he was discomfited, pursued up the valley, and was killed at the head of it, and there buried.
In Argyleshire, a tradition is preserved respecting a Norwegian prince of the name of Moni, who came with a considerable number of ships, to that part of the western coast where the Crinan Canal is now carrying on. His followers having disembarked, they penetrated the country, and after having possessed themselves of all the plunder they could collect, in returning to their ships, they were attacked by the inhabitants of the country, by whom Moni and his followers were routed, and many of them killed, and himself, with a few of his followers, were pressed so hard, that they could not regain their ships, but fled northwards, towards Lochaber. The track of country through which he was pursued, in endeavouring to reach his ships, is precisely in the line of the Crinan Canal, and is known at this day by the appellation of the pass of Moni.
According to the tradition of the people in Urquhart, Moni was a Norwegian or Danish prince, for he is always called Moni Mor, mac Ri Lochlinn ; that is, the Great Moni, the son of the King of Lochlin.
Burying Places -There are in Glenmoriston two burying places, called Clachan an Inair, that is, the burial place of the lower part of the valley, where the river Moriston discharges itself into Lochness ; and Clachan Merecheard, which is called after a Saint of the name of Merechard. The name of Clachan, given to burial places, is derived from the word clach, which signifies a stone. Anciently, in Druidical times, places of worship, and also burial places, were rendered remarkable by a great collection of stones, some thrown together in the shape of cairns, others, of a great size, standing on end, in a circular form ; and hence burial places continued to be expressed by the word clachan.
The family of Glenmoriston, of whom Major John Grant, the present proprietor, is the representative, have possessed this part of the parish of Urquhart from the 1548, and was conveyed to John Grant of Culcabock, the ancestor of that family, immediately descended of the family of Grant, by Grant of Ballendalloch, to whom it came, by progress, from the grantee of the Crown, in 1509.
King James the Fourth gave and granted both the castle and lordship of Urquhart, in feu-farm and heritage, for ever, to John Grant of Freuchie, the chief of the Grants, and ancestor to the present Sir James Grant of Grant, Baronet, for his own and his predecessors constant, loyal, and stedfast adherence to his Majesty and his Royal Progenitors, and since then this fort and lands have remained in possession of the family of Grant. For some time before the 1509, the Lairds of Grant were the Crown's Chamberlains over these lands, for keeping the peace in these parts, and had the revenues of these lands as their salary, as the Governors of the Fort or Castle of Urquhart had before them.
Rent -The valued rent of the parish is £ 2219, 5s. Scots, and the real rent, including lands and woods, may be estimated at £ 3ooo Sterling ; but as one of the proprietors has the greater part of his estate in his own possession, and another a considerable farm in his own hands, the rental cannot be accurately known ; but the above computation may be esteemed pretty just. Rents have been tripled within these 30 years, and it is comfortable to reflect, that the situation of the tenantry is ameliorated at the same time. This is owing to greater industry in the people, the advance of the price of produce, the gradual improvement of the country, and the security of property.
As almost every farm has a proportion of grass and pasture, it is difficult to say what may be the average rent of arable land by itself; but some acres in the strath or low part of Urquhart, set as high as 20 s. per acre, without any benefit of pasturage.
Surface and Soil -The surface of the parish is extremely unequal; in general it is a mountainous country, yet consists of a most beautiful variety of hill and dale, rock and wood. Both the Glens of Urquhart and Glenmoriston exhibit to the traveller an uncommon and picturesque view of what is beautiful, grand, and sublime in nature ; at the same time that some of the mountains present great tracts of stone and moss, incapable of cultivation or improvement.
Urquhart is divided into strath and braes and is in general a rich, though not a deep loam, and uncommonly fruitful. It produces abundant crops of white and black oats, bear, and rye. Wheat has also been tried with good success. Green crops, such as potatoes, turnips, clover, and rye-grass, pease, and lint, are also raised to good account where the ground is properly prepared.
The soil of Glenmoriston is very inferior to that of Urquhart, being commonly light and sandy, yet produces good crops of potatoes, black oats, a little white oats, and some bear; sown grasses also succeed pretty well where the ground is properly managed.
Mountains -The most remarkable mountain in the parish is Mealfuarmhonie, which rises on the west side of Lochness, to the height of 3060 feet above the level of the sea. It is noted for being the first land-mark with mariners after they pass Kinnaird's Head, the entry to the Moray Frith.
Rivers - The largest river in the parish is Moriston, which rises in Glensheal, and, passing through Loch Cluani, falls into Lochness near the House of Major Grant of Glenmoriston, where, a little above its entry into the Loch, it forms a grand cascade. Here there is a salmon-fishing, which, in some seasons, turns to pretty good account ; but, owing to the rock over which the river falls, the fish are prevented from getting up the country, and of course the fishing is much less productive.
Two rivers rise in the hills of Urquhart, the Enneric and Coiltie, and fall into Lochness near each other, a little below the church of Kilmore. In speats or floods some salmon are found in them; but the whole rivers, and also the different burns or rivulets, contain great plenty of trout.
Lakes - Lochness having been described in the Statistical Accounts of some of the neighbouring parishes, and being an object so well known, it is needless to say any thing regarding it here.
The parish contains, (as most Highland countries do), a number of inferior fresh-water lakes, which abound with fish, as trout, pike, &c. Regarding one small lake, near the top of Mealfuarmhonie, a vulgar error has prevailed, that it was unfathomable; but its depth has been ascertained by the minister of the parish and another gentleman, and found to be very inconsiderable.
Loch Meikly, in the middle of the braes of Urquhart, is a beautiful sheet of water, about a mile long, and half a mile broad. The woods, the finely cultivated fields, and mens houses, which surround this lake, form a very picturesque and romantic landscape.
Cascades - cascades or waterfalls, some of which are extremely magnificent, are common in this part of the country. The falls of Moral in Corrimony, and of Divach, near the lower end of the valley, are strikingly awful ; the latter wants nothing but a quantity of water, to make it rival any in the Highlands; the burn falling down the rock from 90 to 100 perpendicular feet. It lies at about a Scots mile south-west of the church.
Woods -There are considerable natural woods, both on Sir James Grant's estate in Urquhart, and in Glenmoriston. They consist of Scots fir, birch, also a variety of hard wood, as oak, ash, elm, &c. besides aldar, roan-tree, poplar, and; several other kinds, which have, from time to time, fetched the proprietors considerable sums of money ; and being convenient for market, and in a very thriving condition, will be still more productive. The seats of the proprietors and some of the gentlemen-farmers, are much embellished by clumps and belts of Scots fir and other trees . And in Ruisgich, on Lochness-side, there is, perhaps, as ,great a variety of trees as in any part of Scotland.
Produce - The produce of this parish is various, consisting of grain, potatoes, lint, hay, timber, black-cattle, sheep, horses, goats, butter and cheese, &c.
Urquhart not only raises grain sufficient for the consumption of the inhabitants, but also sends a considerable quantity of seed-oats and meal to the neighbouring districts. The bear is generally distilled into whisky, but it may be questioned, whether the profit attending this branch of business be not counterbalanced by a degree of idleness and dissipation, with which the distillery of spirits is attended. At the same time, it must be acknowledged, that there is as little of this in the parish as in most situations where whisky is manufactured. Indeed, it is difficult to say how the bear could he disposed of to advantage in any other way than by distillation, as the people are unacquainted with brewing it into beer, and that too many prefer whisky to ale or porter, though this be fortunately wearing out. If manufactured into meal, that meal would scarcely find sale among Highlanders, who never use it when oat-meal can be found. And, of course, bear would give a very inferior price to what is given by distillers. One, and sometimes two licences, for stills of from 30 to 40 gallons each, are taken out for Urquhart, when the quality of the bear is sufficiently good for distillation.
Glenmoriston does now generally supply itself with grain, but exports none; and it is only since the general cultivation of potatoes that it could support itself. In Urquhart there are about 800 milch-cows, and double that number of yell cattle. In Glenmoriston, some more than 500 milchcows, and yell cattle in a larger proportion. From both glens, a considerable quantity of butter and cheese is sold, besides what is confirmed by the inhabitants ; but more from Urquhart, in proportion to the number of milch-cows, than from Glenmoriston. The black cattle are generally of the Highland breed. and good of their kind ; Mr Grant of Corrimony's breed is particularly excellent, and inferior perhaps to none in the Highlands. Most of the farmers keep sheep ; but there are no regular sheep farms, except Corrimony’s, and one in Glenmoriston, both of which turn out well. Among the smaller tenants, the breed of sheep has been much improved, by the purchase of tups and lambs from the sheep countries to the westward. There are scarcely so many horses reared in Urquhart as the farmers require ; from Glenmoriston a good many are sold, besides what the district requires.
Goats are nearly extirpated from Urquhart. on account of the hurt that animal does to young trees; but, in the heights of Glenmoriston, goats are pretty generally reared. The number of sheep, and goats, and horses, is not pretended to be calculated.
Animals-There are no wild animals peculiar to the parish. The caper coille, or wild turkey, was seen in Glenmoriston, and in the neighbouring district of Strathglass, 40 years ago, and it is not known that this bird has appeared since, or that it now exists in Britain. There are abundance of red deer, roe, black and red game, the brown and white hare, ptarmigans, &c.
Climate -The climate is, upon the whole, moist, yet wholesome; the people are healthy, and live to a good old age. No epidemical diseases are peculiar to the country. It is to be regretted, that inoculation for the smallpox is not more prevalent, and which is unfortunately owing to religious prejudice.
Occupations, Agriculture, Farms, &c.-The great body of the people live by cultivating the ground, either as tenants, mailers, or servants. There is a sufficiency of artisans for the accommodations of the country, and most of them have a small piece of land, which yields them the comforts of a milch-cow. The farms are generally small, of from £ 5 rent, and even less, to £20 Sterling, though some are considerably higher; and some gentlemen farmers rent from £60 to £100 Sterling a-year. Leases are generally short, but in some instances 19, 30, and even longer leases are granted, with encouragement for inclosing and improvement.
Improvements - On gentlemens farms several handsome houses have been built, the fields inclosed, subdivided, and limed, an approved rotation of cropping followed, grass-seeds sown, and other improvements made, and their example has been followed with spirit and success by some of the common tenants.
The old Scotch plough is most generally in use, but in all well managed farms, the two-horse, or Small's plough, has been introduced. Cart-wheels are now pretty common in Urquhart; but in Glenmoriston, the state of the roads does not admit of them in general use.
Nothing whatever has been of more advantage to this part of the country,
than the general culture of potatoes, which succeed extremely well on every
farm, and form a very great part of the food of the poorer class of people;
and, owing to this, scarcity is hardly known among them.
The proprietors are desirous of promoting improvements, both by premiums and example. Sir James Grant gives rye-grass and clover-seeds to the smaller tenants on his estate gratis, which has greatly encouraged the culture of these most useful plants.
It has been already observed, that lint is raised with success, which is much owing to the liberal encouragement Sir James Grant gives to his people for its culture. His tenants and mailers have lint-seed. for new ground, and has built, at his own expence, a lint-mill for its manufacture. By this well judged liberality, above 100 acres, on Sir James Grant's estate, have been converted from the state of nature into arable field, within these 12 years, Industry has been encouraged among the females, and both sexes exhibit, on Sundays and holy-days, a much improved appearance, from what they were wont to do formerly, by being now dressed in linen of their own growth and manufacture.
Lime has conduced very much to the improvement of Urquhart. There is abundance of limestone on Sir James Grant's estate, and to encourage its use, he not only gives his people quarry-leave free, but is at the expence of quarrying the stones for them. He also gives manufactured lime for new ground, as a premium to the industrious tenant and cottar, at the rate of from 60 to 8 bolls an acre. Lime is much used as a manure by all improvers in farming, but it is to be regretted, that fuel is rather scarce, which enhances the price of lime, it being so high as 2 s. 6 d. and 3 s. the boll of shells, and that boll only making from 2½ to 3 bolls slaked lime, which brings the price to a shilling the boll. The boll measures 96 Scotch pints.
Something more than 20 years ago, Sir James Grant built a small house, in a beautiful situation, in the Strath of Urquhart; but as he resides there but seldom, the house is occupied by the minister, whose manse is in a ruinous state. The House of Corrimony, situated at the head of the glen, is a good commodious lodging, and the place has been much improved by the present proprietor, who has made many inclosures, and otherwise embellished his seat. On the north-west bank of Loch Meikly, and estate of Corrimony, a very neat house has been lately built at Crasgag, now Lakefield, by Captain Grigor Grant, who greatly improved the farm, and decorated the place. On the south side of that lake, are the places of LochIetter and Shogly, on the property of Sir James Grant, but held on long Iease by Mr Grant of Shogly, now of Redcastle, and Mr Grant of Lochletter; these gentlemen built excellent houses on their farms, which they improved considerably.
At all the above places there are good gardens, which, in favourable seasons, yield abundance of excellent fruit.
At the foot of Glenmoriston, on the banks of Lochness, Invermoriston, the seat of Major Grant, is situated. Nature has done a great deal for the place, in the grand and sublime style. The proprietor shews a disposition to cultivate and improve this place as it deserves. There are excellent gardens at Invermoriston, which produce as early and high flavoured fruit as is to be found in any part of the north of Scotland. About 40 years ago, the Trustees feued a piece of ground at Invermoriston, on which they erected buildings for establishing a manufacture of linen-cloth, and instructing the youth of that Glen in industry and the principles of literature. Artisans, as weavers and spinners, with a schoolmaster and mistress or governess, were brought from the Low Country, and the management of the business committed to the deceased Mr Shaw, a very respectable and proper man for the trust. But, after several years trial, without much effect in promoting the purpose intended, the scheme was finally abandoned, and the feu resold to the family of Glenmoriston.
Roads and Bridges -The principal roads which go through Urquhart are,
1. That from Inverness to Fort-Augustus, along the north-west side of Lochness. This road was begun soon after the year I760, but on account of its extreme difficulty, and the narrowness of the funds, was carried on but slowly for many years; however, by dint of perseverance, repeated aids from the county of Inverness, and several liberal subscriptions from the proprietors and other gentlemen connected with the parish, an excellent road is now made through the woods and rocks of Aberiachan, as far as the Strath of Urquhart, where an exceeding good inn has been lately built by Sir James Grant, at 15 miles distance from Inverness, and nearly half way to Fort-Augustus. From Inverness to Drumnadreochid, where the inn is built, carriages of all kinds travel with safety; from thence the road is carried on to Fort-Augustus, but this part of it is not yet sufficiently broad for carriages. The road is continued from Drumnadreochid to Corrimony at the head of the valley of Urquhart: it is fit for carriages, and kept in good repair.
2. Another great road from Beauly to Fort-Augustus passes through Urquhart, and meets the Inverness road at Drumnadreochid.
The road from Inverness to Drumnadreochid was made at a very great expence,
through the rocks of Aberiachan, which in several places required to be
blown and cut with iron tools. This was perhaps one of the greatest
undertakings ever attempted in the Highlands, by a private Society, without
the aid of Government. Two great roads pass through Glenmoriston,
viz. The military road from Fort Augustus to Bernera, which has for
several years past fallen into great disrepair, being totally neglected
The other great road, is that from the foot to the head of Glenmoriston, which, for want of funds, has never yet been completed, but is very passable for travellers on horseback. This parish has to uphold, and keep in repair, above 50 miles of public, besides cross roads ; and the fund for this purpose arises from the commutation of the statute-labour, at 2 s. from each male above 15 years of age, and which amounts to about £50, and an assessment of one penny Sterling in the pound Scots of valued rent, amounting to £ 9 : 4 : 11 : this fund is small, but being managed with great care and economy, does wonders.
The road from lnverness to Glenelg, along the west side of Lochness, has been surveyed by order of Lord Adam Gordon, Commander in Chief in Scotland, and an estimate of the expence made. As this road would open a communication between the eastern and western parts of this county, to the Hebrides, and a part of Ross-shire, it would he a great public benefit, but it is not expected that it will be effected until the return of the blessings of peace.
Antiquities -The Castle of Urquhart, a venerable remnant of antiquity, is now fallen into decay. It stands on a jutting out rock, on the west side of Lochness, 12 Scotch miles from the town of Inverness, and as many from Fort Augustus; a pleasant and romantic situation, commanding a most agreeable view of Lochness, almost from the one end of it at Fort-Augustus, to the other at Bona, and also of the lands, woods, and hills, surrounding the loch on the south, east, and north. The loch washes the east wall of it, and the other three sides were fortified with a strong rampart, a ditch, and drawbridge. Within the walls were buildings and accommodation for 500 or 600 men. This castle was a royal fort, and granted, as above noticed, by King James IV in 1509, with the estate and lordship of Urquhart, to the Laird of Grant, in whose family they still continue. For some time before this grant was made, the Lairds of Grant possessed the castle and lands of Urquhart as the Crown's chamberlains. Abercromby the historian says, that King Edward 1 of England reduced this fort in 1303, and basely put to the sword Alexander Bois the governor and his garrison, who had bravely defended it. In 1334, the same author says, that Robert Lauder, governor of this fort, maintained it against the English, then in the cause of Edward Baliol.
Price of Labour and Provision -The price of labour has increased greatly satisfied with 8d. or 9d. A day, without victuals; but now they are not to be had at less than a shilling: and at piecework a great deal more is made, especially at the manufacture of wood, where 2s. and since the commencement of this war. Till then, labourers were 2s. 6d. Are not unfrequently earned. The wages of unmarried men-servants, formerly, seldom exceeded L.2 Sterling in the half year, with victuals in the family; married servants had generally £ 3 a-year, with fix bolls of meal, at nine stone to the boll, a house, with a cow's grass and fodder, and the liberty of planting as many potatoes as they could procure manure for. Women-servants, from 30s. to 40s. in the year. All these are raised in the proportion, of from a third to a fourth. The price of all kinds of provisions is much the same as in the Inverness markets.
Church, School, &c.-The parish-church, which stands at Kilmore, near the foot of the Strath of Urquhart, was built in 1630, and about 25 years ago completely repaired, and is a decent comfortable place of worship. The minister officiates two Sundays out of three here, and the third at Meikly, six miles up the country, where is also a very good chapel or meeting-house. The duty, in Glenmoriston, is generally done by the missionary minister of Fort- Augustus, in that glen once in three weeks; and where there are two tolerable meeting-houses. Before the establishment of this mission, the minister of Urquhart had to supply every fourth Sunday in Glenmoriston, which made the charge a most troublesome and fatiguing one; but it is now only expected, that he goes thither occasionally, except when there is a vacancy in the mission; in this event, he goes there regularly once a month. But, until Glenmoriston has a missionary entirely to itself, the people cannot be accommodated with the means of religion, having at present sermon only once in the three weeks, though it is admitted, that the schoolmaster and catechist, after noticed, are great aids. Glenmoriston seems a proper station for a society mission. The service is chiefly in Gaelic, the prevailing language of the country; but in Urquhart, especially in the summer months, English is also preached; but seldom in Glenmoriston. Sir James Grant of Grant, Baronet, is patron of the parish, which lies in the presbytery of Abertarf, and Synod of Glenelg. Till the year 1724, that the above Synod and presbytery were erected, Urquhart belonged to the presbytery of Inverness, and synod of Moray, which would be much more convenient for the incumbent than the present arrangement.
The stipend, by decreet in 1796, is £100, and £5 for
communion-elements. The glebe is about six acres of good land.
The manse is ruinous, but the minister resides in a comfortable lodging
of Sir James Grant's, and the heritors allow him £20 a-year
in lieu of a manse.
There are two schools in Urquhart, the parochial, and one supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge. The parochial school is within half-a-mile of the church. The salary is £14 per annum, with a house, the emoluments of precentor and session-clerk, with the quarter-payments from scholars, are about £ 10; total £ 24. - Quarterly payments are, 1s. for reading English; 1s. 6d. for reading and writing; and 2s. when arithmetic is taught. There is no Latin taught.
The Society school is in the Braes of Urquhart; the salary £10, with £4 more to the schoolmaster's wife, as a sewing mistress. Besides these, the country finds them in a house, garden, cow's grass, and fuel, and a little is made of the quarter-payments; but, all put together, the encouragement is greatly too small. The Society intend erecting another school at Bunlcoid, on the south side of Urquhart, as soon as the requisite accommodations are provided, which are in forwardness.
'About 40 scholars attend the parochial school in summer, and 60 in winter ; and 30 the Society school in summer, and 50 in winter; but it is to be regretted, that they are young children, who do not remain long to receive much permanent benefit. In Glenmoriston a Society schoolmaster is employed, with £15 salary, besides the usual accommodations. There are seldom above 30 scholars at this school. The Society Schoolmasters teach Gaelic, and reading the Scriptures in that language, as well as in English.
The Committee for managing the Royal Bounty, give £12 to a catechist in this parish ; and both he and the Society schoolmasters are most useful in meeting the people, especially such as are distant from places of worship, particularly on the Lord's Day, when they pray and read with the inhabitants, and instruct them in the principles of religion.
In Glenmoriston there are about 80 Roman Catholics, and a very few in Urquhart ; but they are moderate, and several of them come occasionally to the Established Church. The rest of the inhabitants are Protestants of the Established Church.
The number of inhabitants in the parish of Urquhart, of all ages, are 2355 ; of which, in Urquhart properly so called there are 1710 ; and in Glenmoriston 645. In 1755, the number was 1943 souls ; the increase consequently amounts to 412. The baptisms, at an average, are 80; and the marriages 20, in both districts. The deaths cannot be ascertained, as there are not less than four burial-grounds, at a great distance from each other. The number of marriages and baptisms have increased for several years past, owing to the more regular behaviour of the people, and their being in more comfortable circumstances. A proof of which is, that early marriages are very frequent, and which, naturally, prevent irregularities. Here, it may be observed, that 80 men were raised in 1793, for the First Fencible Regiment; and there are now in the parish two companies of volunteers; one in Urquhart, of 60, and the other in Glenmoriston, of 40 men.
Poor - In Urquhart there are scarcely any travelling poor.
About 30 receive aid from the session funds, which are the ordinary collections
on Sundays, penalties for trespasses, (which are seldom), and the interest
of £100 of inortifications and former savings, amounting, in all,
to about £15 a-year; but out of which the session-clerk and kirk-officer
are paid £ 2 :4 . 6 ; the remainder is divided according to the several
exigencies of the poor.
The Glenmoriston poor beg more generally from home than their neighbours of Urquhart, and they are more in number, in proportion to the inhabitants. Their funds are the interest of about L. 25 of mortification’s and bequests, and the Sunday collections and fines, amounting, at an average, to £3, besides the interest of the above £25.
The funds of each glen are kept separate, and the poor of Urquhart receive nothing from Glenmoriston, nor those of Glenmoriston from Urquhart. In Urquhart, a quarterly collection is usually made for bed-rids, and other great objects in distress, when it is expected that every person will contribute according to their ability. The produce off this makes a part of the aggregate fund; but bed-rids, &-c. get a much larger proportion. In severe seasons, and to objects of great distress, the heritors and other gentlemen are extremely liberal and charitable. In the noted 1782, so much attention was paid to the situation of the necessitous, that few endured, and none suffered by, want. In the severe spring 1795, Sir James Grant ordered 20 guineas to be divided among the poor in this quarter.
Miscellaneous Observations - Before the years 1745 and 1746, this parish was exceedingly exposed to depredations from their neighbours in the West Highlands, who came and took up their cattle and other property without ceremony, for which they made no compensation. Now, by exercise of the laws, and a well governed police, property is as secure as in any part of the island. Formerly, there were no roads, no bridges, no comfortable communication through the parish, and, in short, no attention was paid to any object of police, whether public or private. Now, Urquhart is not more remarkable for its improvement in the external than in the internal parts of police. The heritors and other gentlemen have taken an active concern to promote this laudable purpose. Most of them act as Justices of the Peace, and in this office perform a duty of importance to society in general, and to this district in particular. The improved state of the roads and bridges, has been already taken notice of. It is well worthy of remark, that all civil disputes which may have arisen among the people on Sir James Grant's estate in this parish, have, for 30 years past, been determined by Mr Grant of Lochletter, a gentleman acting in the capacity of baron-bailie,one excepted, in which he declined to judge, being of too criminal a nature for his jurisdiction. Except this single cause, none, during this long period, has gone before the sheriff-court of Inverness, or other tribunal; and the baron-bailie's decisions are equally remarkable for their ability and justice, as for that general satisfaction they give the contending parties. This has not only tended to save the poor people a deal of money, but has crushed, in a great measure, the spirit of litigation, and conduced very much to their civilization.
The inhabitants are attentive to their religious duties, and, upon the whole, sober, industrious, and virtuous.
The country contains all the necessaries, and many of the comforts, of life, in abundance. It has been considerably improved already, and improvement is progressive. The situation of the people becomes daily better, their living and clothing are much meliorated, and by perseverance in the same line of conduct, which at present distinguishes the superior and inferior, their mutual interest and comfort will, under Providence, be still further promoted and increased.
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