The history of the family of Kilravock, written by Mr. Hew Rose, parson of Nairn, in 1683-84, is a careful and generally very correct statement of the pedigree of the family, its intermarriages and cadets, – all as vouched by the family charter-chest. But there is little more. The author’s views of his duty are gathered, from some hints for the continuation of his work. “If any public transaction be insert, let it be barelie the res gesta, without prejudiciall or favourable comments, which at one time or other might prove hurtfull, in a nation seldome without faction.” That principle, and his native caution, shut him out from all the interest of public events. The Reformation and the Great Rebellion are alike passed by or noticed “without comments.” But we cannot so readily pardon him for passing his life in this treasury of family papers, where every scrap of writing was preserved, without one remark upon the condition of the people, the state of society, education, morals, industry, agriculture, food, and clothes – all which they seem calculated to illustrate. The world is now aware, as much as Sir Robert Walpole,1 that historians are to be doubted, that State-papers, even Acts of Parliament, may deceive – may be coined for the purpose of deceiving. But these family documents, the private letters, the household accounts, the memoranda scratched in the leaf of an old almanac, reach us without suspicion, and carry conviction about things as important to happiness as wars and treaties.
The reader must bear with the infliction of a very few lines of pedigree. The mere sound of the names teaches something of the population of a country.
The Bysets, of an Anglo-Norman family, were great lords in the north in the time of William the Lion, but the male line there had failed before the tragedy which overwhelmed their southern cousins.2 They were the founders or great benefactors of the Priory of Beaulieu; and from some remaining charters of that monastery, together with the records of the bishopric, we learn something of their possessions and of their descendants. Sir John de Byset, lord of Lovat and Beaufort in the Aird, of Altyre in Moray, of Redcastle and Ardmanoch in the Black Isle, left three daughters his co-heirs. From Mary are descended the Frasers, of the Lovat branch of that name; Cecilia was the wife of a Fenton; and the third, Elizabeth, married Sir Andrew de Bosco, bringing, as her portion apparently, Eddirdouer (or Redcastle) and lands in the Black Isle, including Culcowy, and the estate of Kilravock on the river Nairn. Of this last marriage there were several daughters and a son. Mary, one of the daughters, married Hugh de Rose of Geddes, and brought him as marriage portion the lands of Kilravock and Culcowy. This was about the end of the reign of Alexander III. Indeed, the first crown investiture of the young couple was from John Balliol, whose reign began in 1292.
The conveyancing – all the gifts, resignations, and discharges – which went to transfer the property from the Bysets and to give a secure title to the Roses, form aa large parcel of titles affecting property, and make us personally acquainted with the proprietors of a great part of the Aird, Moray, and Ross, at the end of that period of peace and prosperity which embraced the whole thirteenth century. The parties and the witnesses to these transactions bear such names as De Byset, De Bosco, De Rose, De Graham, De Carrick (was he a Campbell?), De Stirling, De Lovel, Le Chen, De Fenton, De Rait. See how the land must have bristled with Norman and English spears from the sea to the mountains! Not a Celt, not a man called by a patronymic name, is an actor, or named in these deeds, except the great Earls of Ross, showing themselves occasionally out of their Highland fastnesses, whose names of Malcolm and Farquhar sound Gaelic.
Hugh de Rose, the husband of Mary de Bosco, was a Norman too, affecting knightly customs, and dressing by the fashions of the Norman chivalry. From their first settlement, the family used for arms the water bougets of “De Roos,” a very definite and peculiar cognizance used by all that name in England and Normandy. At a very early period, even before we have evidence of their lands being erected into a feudal barony, they took and were allowed the style of Baron, in a manner unusual in Scotland; and in the fifteenth century the family arms appear on the seals of successive lairds of Kilravock, circumscribed – SIGILLUM HUGONIS ROIS BARONIS – the only instance of the kind I have met with in Scotland.
The Roses, by an early marriage with Jonet Chisholm, the heiress of Cantray, and by subsequent acquisitions in Ross-shire and in the valley of the Findhorn, had very considerable territories for many generations. But they never were a leading family, nor were they ambitious of taking a prominent part in the country; and their papers would not have been worth giving to the world for any historical or public interest that attaches to them. They have, however, an interest of another kind. They were from the beginning careful of their muniments, and, later in their history, the charter-room in the old Tower (built in 1460) served as a place of safe deposit for neighbours’ charter-chests as well as for their own.
It has thus happened that the lawyer finds there some of our earliest styles and forms of conveyancing. The extent of Kilravock and Geddes, the property of Hugh de Rose and Mariot his wife, in 1295, is the oldest extent of Scotch lands preserved, and was an object of great interest to the learned lawyers of the last generation. The zealous Protestants of the north also looked to the charter-room with interest, in respect of a certain Papal Bull which was said to prove the Pope’s sacrilegious granting of immunity for sin;3 and also as being the storehouse of the religious correspondence of the persecuted ministers with devout ladies of Kilravock and Lochloy for two generations during the troubles.
Without counting on such attractions, the papers collected at Kilravock give us the usual picture of those ages of violence and misrule, as they affected the rural population and the rural gentry. Fortunately they also show us in later times the marked though slow progress of civilisation. There is to be traced a gradual improvement in the means of life and the comforts of our people from the earliest time when we can draw any information about these matters, and it would seem that no period has been altogether stationary. The first half of the last century was perhaps the least favourable time for tracing such a progress. It was a period of commercial depression in Scotland, and of national despondency. Yet even during that time were silently introduced many of those small changes which are held unworthy the notice of great historians, but which tell more on the happiness of nations than dazzling political events. Let any one reflect on the change in comfort and actual happiness arising from the introduction, into the district we are concerned with, of potatoes, coals, tea, turnpike-roads, bank-notes, planting of timber, flower-gardening, the sports of shooting and angling!
With regard to the subjects – the centre-group of our canvas – one generation passes by after another of these peaceful Barons of Kilravock with scarcely a shade of variety in their individual characters. The revolutions of their country or the empire little affected them. Through changes of government and dynasty – amid Church schisms and Celtic rebellions – they held the even tenor of their way – keeping aloof from faction, shunning the crowd; yet not merely vegetating, nor sunk in stupid indifference. They had gone beyond the secret of the old epicurean –
“Nunc veterum libris nunc somno et inertibus horis
Ducere sollicitae jucunda oblivia vitae.”
They had felt the charms of music, and solaced themselves with “old books and old friends and old wine.” They enjoyed the society of a few neighbours; did their duty to their people; they had their garden to tend, the interest of their woods and fields, the sports of the moorland and the river. If these memorials of their peaceful lives record few events of stirring interest, or of a political or public character, they show more than has been hitherto known of the domestic life of our northern gentry, and mark a progress in cultivation and refinement in their rank fully keeping pace with the remarkable improvement in the physical condition of the commons.
Hugh, the seventh Baron, was the builder of the Tower, the oldest part of the existing mansion of Kilravock. In his time, the Earls of Ross were interposed between the Crown and its vassals in Nairnshire.
One of James I.’s first efforts for restoring civil government, after his return from his English captivity, was to ordain, that “everilk lorde hafande lands beyond the mownth, in the quhilk landis in aulde tymes thare was castells, fortalyces and maner places, big, reparel and reforme thar castells and maners, and dwell in thaim be thaim self or be ane of thare frends, for the gracious governall of their landis in the cuntre whare the lands lyis.” Although we must not attribute too much efficacy to an old (Scotch) Act of Parliament, it is not a little remarkable what a number of Scotch castles date from the half century following that enactment: all of one design too – a stern, square keep, rudely kernellated and surmounted with a cap-house – partially surrounded by a barbican, the “barmkin” of the ensuing charter – affording protection to the inhabitants and their cattle from the hurried inroads of rough-handed neighbours. The Barons of Kilravock obeyed the statute in its fullest intendment. They built their fortalice and manor place, and, for four hundred years, continued to dwell in it “for the gracious governall of their lands by good polising.” The “licence to big a toure of fens” runs thus:-
“Johne of Yle, Erle of Ross ande lord of the Ilis, to all ande sundry to quhais knawlage this our present letteris sall come greting, witte vs to haue gevyn ande grantit, and be thir present letteris gevis ande grantis, our full power ande licence till our luffid cosing, man ande tennand, Huchone de Roos, baron of Kylravok, to fund. big, ande vpmak a toure of fens, with barmkin aned bataling, wpon quhat place of strynth him best likis, within the barony of Kilrawok, without ony contradictioun or demavnd, questioun, or ony obiection to put in contrar of him or his ayris, be vs or our ayris, for the said toure ande barmkyn making, with the bataling, now or in tyme to cum. In witnes hereof, ve haf gert our sele to ther letteris be affixt at Inuernys, the achtend day of Feruar, the yer of Godd a thousand four hundreth sixte yer.”
Writing of Hugh, the ninth in descent from Hugh de Rose ad Mary de Bosco, the family historian tells of his warding in the castle of Dumbarton for having seized and imprisoned at Kilravock, William Galbraith, Abbot of Kinloss, when passing from Avoch in Ross to his abbey. We know nothing of the story, and need not at once condemn the Baron for assailing the man of peace. There is no violence alleged beyond detention, even by the Abbey chronicler. We may hope the imprisonment of the Abbot was in the hall, not in the dungeon. The Baron assuredly had a long imprisonment in the king’s prison, where he had to pay a “board” to the keeper; and the discharges of Sir George Stirling of Glorat, “capitane of the castle of Dunbartane,” are carefully treasured at Kilravock. While in durance, the poor captive’s thoughts had turned to his own tower, and he found occupation in making plans for his gardens on the banks of the Nairn. He procured the services of a gardener, a burgess of Paisley, who had perhaps learnt the gentle craft in the Abbey gardens, and who entered into a very formal contract, after this manner:-
At the Castell of Dumberton, 11 June 1536. – Thom Daueson and ane servand man with him is comyn man and servand for all his life to the said Huchon (Hugh Rose), and sall werk and lawbour his yardis, gardingis, orchardis, ayles, heggings, and stankis, and all werkis pertening to ane gardner to do, of the best fassoun may be devisit. He and his man are to have such wages as may sustene them honestlye, as use is to be gevin for sic craftis-men.
The tenth person of our pedigree is known traditionally at Kilravock as the Black Baron. here is what the family historian writes of him:-
“He had seventeen sisters and daughters, all whose portions, mediatly or imediatly, he payed, though there verie portions were a considerable debt. He lived in a verie divided, factious tyme, there falling out then great revolutions in Church and State; Religion changed from Poperie to Protestant, and the Queen layed aside, liveing in exile; yet such was his even, ingenuous, prudentiall cariage, that he wanted not respect from the most eminent of all the parties, as may, in part, be gathered from the short accompts above sett down. He hade troubles from neighbours, which he patientlie caried, and yet knew how discreetlie to resent them, as appears, that a debate being betwixt him and two neighbours, he subscrived – Hucheon Rose of Kilravock, ane honest man, ill guided betwixt them both. This was Ridentem dicere verum.”
But this is not enough. The Black Baron must have been a remarkable character. It will be observed he was at the head of the estate for more than half a century. In the days of his hot blood he fought at Pinkiecleugh, and had to pay a ransom to his captors.4 After that, he is in no more scrapes. Every year then produced a revolution in state; and in the midst of his time came the great revolution of all – the Reformation. All public men were subjected to reverses unprecedented, but the Baron if Kilravock remained unmoved. It is impossible to tell what sentiments he entertained, what party he adhered to; and yet no party attacks him. He was not a mere rustic laird, but a baron, as we shall see, of power and extensive connexions. We generally know a man by his associates. If we find plenty of letters addressed to him, we count on knowing his sentiments; but the Black Baron corresponded with all the leaders of the nation, in all its different phases, and he kept all his correspondence. He lived through the clashing factions of the Lords of the Congregation, and the adherents of the old religion. He saw Mary return to her native kingdom amidst universal joy. He witnessed her marriage with Darnley, and her last marriage; her imprisonment, deposition, escape, her English detention, and her judicial murder. He lived under the Regents Moray, Lennox, and Morton, successively assassinated and executed. His own country and immediate neighbourhood were especially subject to continual convulsions, as Huntly or Moray, the Queen’s party or the King’s, obtained the ascendency – not to mention the usual elements of native disturbance on the Highland border; yet, through all, he lived in peace, attending to his own affairs. He married his sisters and daughters, and built a manor-place beside the narrow old tower. He settled amicably several complicated lines of marches with his neighbours, while Parliament was settling the Reformation. He received friendly communications almost at the same time, from the leaders of the opposite factions, while themselves at open war, and raising the country to fight at Corrichie or Langside. He was justice-depute of the north under Argyll; sheriff-principall of Inverness and constable of its castle by commission from Mary and Darnley; a trusted friend and commissioner for James Earl of Moray, the Regent, and his widow, Dame Annas Keith. We find no taunts against him for lapsarian opinions; no suspicion that he was of “the Vicar of Bray’s” political creed. He seems to have had none. Each party reposed confidence in him, and employed him in the administration of his own district; and in the enormous mass of letters and other documents serving to illustrate his life, we find no information whether the Black Baron was Catholic or Covenanting, – for the Queen or for the King. He survived all those factions, and lived to be summoned by the King to Parliament (1593), when the royal scribe, having addressed him as “Traist Cousing” – the allocution of nobility – the error is inartificially corrected by dashing the pen through Cousing, and substituting Friend.
I will venture to give the historian’s account of the next baron and his wife, his own grandfather and grandmother. He has now the advantage of speaking as an eye-witness:-
“This William Rose of Kilravock was a good and inoffensive man, a lover of peace, one that desired to trouble none, though he was troubled by others. That one trouble with the name of Dunbar, included manie troubles, though he was no ways accessorie to the illegalities of some of his kinsmen which procured it; yet as to that and anie other troubles, he was patiendo victor, God carying him out, though in the way of suffering. He was low of stature; his hair and beard betwext red and yellow, and himself of a fair complexion. Sitting in his chair within the hall of Kilravock, he was taken with ane apoplexie, and after ane years languishing, died in peace, Aprile 8, 1611, aged 66 years. having survived his father but fourteen years, and lived after his mariage 40 years, or thereby.” Next is his wife:-
“This Lilias Hay, Ladie Kilravock, was a daughter of the familie of Delgatie, somtyme verie considerable barrons. She was (as I gather) grand aunt to that Sir William Hay of Delgatie, in whom the family was extinct. He was apprehended, executed, and buried, with James Marques of Montross; and in the year 1661, by order of King and Parliament, taken up with him and reburied, with great magnificence and splendor at the publick charge.
“This Lilias Hay was a woman of a masculine active spirit. She was a mother of good children, and a mother good to her children, keeping somtyms two or mor of her younger sons and their families with her, and yet did good offices to her eldest son and the familie, living with all hospitalitie and fullie. Her stature tall and straight. Her hair full black, yet she of a fair and lovelie countenance. She lived till eightie years of age, retaining perfectlie her judgment, memorie, and senses; her eye being so sharp, that a little before her death, she could read the smallest letter without the help of glasses. Her health, notwithstanding of her long lyfe, was broken – she professing in her last sickness, that though she hade lived so manie years, she never had one fourthnights health sound together. She dyed about the last of April 1632, having lived 21 years a widow (though she had considerable suiters), and after her mariage 61 years.”
Take as a last specimen of Master Hew Rose’s style, as well as a fair enough representation of the manner of man of those Kilravock barons, our author’s summing up of the character of Hugh, the twelfth Baron, 1611-43:
“This Hugh Rose of Kilravock was a person of great reach and solid judgment, though certainly he could not have bein but considerable great, is holpen by ane exacter education. He was a person dexterous, and of good success in reconcileing differs betwixt friends and neighbours, though he was no officious pragmatick medler. He was provident and frugall, given to hospitalitie, friends and strangers being kindlie entertained at his house; nay som of the best qualitie would com to it, leaving their emulations, without hjealousing or being offended at his kindnes shewn to others they were not in good understanding with, his hous being as a comon Inns where all were welcome. When I consider his great hospitalitie (whereof when I was a boy I was partlie ane eye witnes), I must rather referr it to his frugalitie and good management, then to the greatnes of his fortune, which it exceeded. Though he had but one sone, yet was he a father to manie of the younger amongst his relations, keeping diverse of them in his familie, and a person to teach them. He would also, when they were grown up to som years of discretion, take them apart and give them verie sound advise, acquainting them with busines, and how they should behave themselves when they stept upon the stage of the world. He was of good stature and a square bodie, infirm ad somwhat paralytick in the whole right syd, but verie strong in the other. For his garb, it was decent, and yet but homlie. He so attended his affairs, that he was never in Edinburgh but once in all his lyfe. He shunned all pleas of law. A friend of his wrot to him (though he was a lawier himself), that such as went to law had gott their mothers malison.”
Of the thirteenth Baron, who died comparatively young, in 1649, the historian records that “he was very skillful in musick, both vocall and organicall.”
With the accession of the fourteenth Baron, Mr. Hew, the historian, finishes his chronicle. He quotes some verses of Seneca giving the preference to solitude and a private life over greatness and the Court, ending with “these notable verses in Thyeste” –
“Stet quicunque volet potens
Aulae culmine lubrico;
Me dulcis saturet quies,” etc.
“Which,” he says, “are so well paraphrased in English by the learned Judge Hale that I shall set them down, tho I think the translation (tho very noble) short of the neat and significant conciseness of the originall.” Partaking in his admiration of the English paraphrase, and believing it to be little known, I am induced to print these verses, as singularly applicable to my present subject:-
“Let him that will, ascend the tottering seat
Of courtly grandeur, and become as great
As are his mounting wishes. As for me,
Let sweet repose and rest my portion be.
Give me some mean, obscure recess, a sphere
Out of the road of business, and the fear
Of falling lower, where I sweetly may
My self and dear retirement still enjoy.
Let not my lyfe or name be known unto
The grandees of the tyme, tossed to and fro
With censure and applause; but let my age
Slyde gentlie by, not overthwart the stage
Of pubic actions; unheard, unseen,
And unconcerned as I ne’er had been.
And thus, when I have passed my silent days
In shadie privacie, free from the noise
And bustle of the world, then shall I
A good old innocent plebian dy.”
Hugh Rose, the fourteenth Baron succeeded, an infant, in 1649. From the minute accounts of his tutor, we are able to trace him through his whole education, – at Elgin, “in the house of Mr. George Cumming, merchant and burgess” – at Kilravock – at the parish school of Aldearn. We learn the prices of his clothes – the serge for his cassock, doublet, and stockings, with eight ells of green and scarlet ribbon – the plaiding to be him hois, the boy’s blue bonnet, the expense of his books, the “rudiment with little authors,” the “parts of grammar,” his spurs and gloves, his knives.
In 1656, he went with Mr. William Geddes, his pedagogue formerly, now his “governour,” to King’s College, Aberdeen. We have again minute accounts of his expenses both for journeys and college residence. His books are now Horace, Virgil, Juvenal, and Persius, Buchanan’s Psalms, the Confession of Faith. He has a four-tailed coat and a hat, riding-gear, and there is a charge “for dressing the laird’s bow.” During the same period, his sister Magdalen’s account for dress included “Scottis tabbie,” Franch searge, silver lace, silver and silk ribbons, lupin, etc., and there is an item of thirty shillings “for making Mistress Magdalene’s ryding clothes.” On leaving college, the young Baron contributed 216 merks for the “new work,” and obtained in return a right to “that chamber in the new work in the fyft storie hight thairof, upon the north side of the said new work, with the studie or musee belonging thereto.”
Shaw, the historian of Moray, taking up the discourse of Mr. Hew Rose, tells us of this Baron that he was “a gentleman of a social and peaceable disposition. Though he lived in the reigns of two royal brothers, when hot debates in the Church, and violent attempts in the State to establish an absolute and despotick government, brought about the Revolution, he concerned himself with none of those measures, and lived in the closest friendship with all his neighbours.”
Of his wife, Margaret Innes (married 1662, died 1676), the same historian records that she was “a woman of great prudence and eminent piety. Amidst the severities on account of religion in her day, and practised against those of her sentiments and persuasion, she behaved with moderation and prudence, maintained her principles with unshaken firmness, protected and relieved the distressed as she had opportunity, and yet disturbed not the public peace, nor gave umbrage to the civil government.”
Of this time we have proclamations of Privy-Council against Conventicles, and other evidence of disaffection and persecution. Now, too, I find in the Kilravock colelction a mass of correspondence of a remarkable nature. Some of the letters are addressed to “My Ladie Muirtown;” some to “the much honoured and his verie much respected lady, the Lady Park, these.” Others are without address, probably written to the Lady Kilravock. Most are without the name of the writer, subsribed sometimes, “ye know the hand;” “yours to power;” “read and burn,” with a cipher (L.D.) which seems to stand for Lilias Dunbar; “your reall and constant sympathizer in all your sufferings for Chryst.” Some subscribe their initials; others boldly affix their name – “J. Fraser;” “J. Nimmo;” “Thomas Ross.” There are those still living who cherish the memory of the persecuted religionists of that day; and by the help of one old man but lately dead, who venerated them as the saints and the martyrs of a cause that may slumber but can never die, it might have been possible to identify the writing of these letters, and to trace the history of their authors. But, after some hesitation, I did not judge it right to use those remarkable documents here. They are, for the most part, unconnected with worldly affairs; dealing with the excited feelings of religion in the breast of the writer and his correspondent; mixing unduly, as we are now agreed – but not irreverently – scripture language, sacred things and dread mysteries, with the petty personal concerns of the writer; instinct above all with a high and burning piety, and a recognition of the immediate presence and prompting of the Deity, which, as they are not now admitted into familiar letters or conversation, might expose to sneering and ridicule feelings which all must respect, however we may differ as to their outward shape and dress.
Of the fifteenth baron, the Rev. Lachlan Shaw tells us that he was born at Innes in January 1663, and gives his character and one scene of his life:-
“Having had his education in times of licentiousness and of arbitrary government, he was in his younger years not a little biassed in favour of the high prerogatives of the Crown, and the indefeasible right of the House of Stuart. But, thereafter, upon a more ripe and deliberate thought, he was convinced of the reasonableness, yea, and the necessity of the Revolution, in order to preserve both religion and liberty, and justly to ballance the power of the Sovereign and the liberty of the subject.
“When, in the year 1705, the Treaty of Union was set on foot, Kilravock was a member of that Parliament, and was so attached to the independency and sovereignty of his native countrie, that he could not be brought to agree to an incorporating Union, but joined that party who stood for a federal one; and accordingly he was one of those 82 members who voted against incorporating the two kingdoms into one. Yet in this he was not influenced by a regard to the proscribed family of Stuart; for, at the same time that he reasoned and voted against the proposed Union, he heartily declared and voted for the Protestant Succession in the family of Hanover, well knowing that without this neither religion nor liberty could be preserved. And when the Union was concluded, he was named by that Parliament one of the Commissioners that should represent Scotland in the first Parliament of Great Britain.
“As he thus declared openly for the Protestant Succession, he stood firm and unshaken in his attachment to, and appearances for it; in so much, that when after the accession of King George, a rebellion against the Government broke out in Autumn 1715, and some neighbouring clans, as the MacIntosh’s, Mackenzies, Frasers, etc., took arms and prepared to join the Earl of Mar’s standard, Kilravock stood firm in his loyalty to his Majesty, and against Popery and arbitrary power. He armed a select number of above 200 of his clan, and preserved the peace of that part of the countrie. His house of Kilravock was a sanctuary to all who dreaded any harm from the enemy, and was so well garrisoned, that tho’ the Highlanders made an attack on some other houses, they thought it safest to offer him no disturbance. When the Highlanders had marched south, they left a garrison in the town and castle of Inverness, commanded by Sir John Makenzie of Coul (son-in-law of Kilravock) as Governour. This garrison was a check upon the friends of the Government, and stopped the communication betwixt those of Murray and those of Ross and Sutherland, while it opened a free passage for the enemy to and from the south. Kilravock concerted with John Forbes of Culloden, and with Simon Lord Lovat, who had arrived in the country in the end of October, how to remove that garrison, and to reduce the town, and, with a body of his clan, joined by some of Culloden’s men, Kilravock blocked up all the avenues to the town of Inverness on the east side of the river, as some of the Frasers did on the west side. His blockade would have soon forced and starved the enemy into a surrender; but, impatient of such delays, Arthur Rose,5 brother to Kilravock, a gentleman of a resolute and dareing spirit, proposed to seize the garrison, in the Tolbooth of the town, by stratagem. For this end, he chose a small party of his brother’s men, commanded by Robert Rose, son of Blackhills, and, in the night of the 12th of November 1715, proceeded so far as to enter into the vestibule, on the top of the lower stair. Here, a fellow whom he had for his guide, and who being well known to the men in garrison, promised to get the door opened, called to them to open. They opened the door, and the villain entring, and Arthur Rose close after him with a drawn sword and pistol, he treacherously cried out, An enemy! an enemy! Upon this the guard crouded to the door, shot Mr. Rose through the body with a pair of balls, and so squeezed and crushed his body betwixt the door and the stone wall, that he could not have lived, although he had not received the shot. His own friends carried him off, and he died in a few hours, in the house of Mistress Thomson, in Inverness. This fatal end of a brave and beloved brother provoked Kilravock so much, that he sent a message to the Magistrates of the town and to Sir John Mackenzie, requiring them either to surrender the town and castle, or to evacuate both of the garrisons kept in them, otherwise he would lay the whole town in ashes. The Magistrates and Governour, knowing Kilravock’s resolute spirit, and fearing his resentment, brought all the boats they could find up to the Bridge, and, under the covert of the night (November 13) the Mackenzies evacuated the town and castle, and silently passed over to the Ross side. The Kilravock entered the town, took possession of the castle and Tolbooth, and placed a garrison in them, and was soon after joined by a body of the Frasers, and a battalion of the Grants from Strathspey. Thus was the recovery of that town (which is the key of the Highlands) out of the hands of the enemies of the Government, wholly owing to Kilravock, although others, in a pamphlet soon after, assumed the praise of it. And ’tis observable that this town was reduced by Kilravock on the 13 day of November, the same day on which the battle of Sherifmuir was fought, and on which the rebels in the town of Preston in England surrendered. After this, until the rebellion was fully quelled, Kilravock kept his men in arms, and secured the peace of the countrie around him.
“From that time Kilravock chose to lead a private life, and to take no share in public affairs.”
One of this Baron’s daughters, Mistress Margaret, was sent to Mistress Stratoun’s boarding-school at Edinburgh in 1688-89. The range of education and accomplishment is not very high. The board is £60 (Scots); the young lady pays besides for dancing, singing, and playing on the virginalls; writing, satin seam – which seems to have been kept under a glass – and wax fruits. Nothing for any foreign language. All besides it is hoped Mrs. Stratoun took charge of in person. The girl was married in January 1701 to the young laird of Coul. The account for her marriage finery – floured silk, white Persian taffety, India satin, floured muslin and lace for combing cloth, a mask, a paper of patches – is, for the first time, stated in sterling money, and amount to £55.
I must pass by the minute accounts of housekeeping – importation of wine, coals, tea, an expensive luxury – some improvements in domestic comfort, incidental information of the manner of dress and travelling; but I must not omit that the Baron planted 2000 ash trees in Coulmony, and 1000 in Geddes; and I should give an imperfect notion of the social life of the period, if I did not mention that this gentleman, who deserved the character Shaw gives him, and who was habitually sober, indulged in drinking-bouts, often in the village alehouse, which make men of these degenerate days gasp to read of.6
We do not learn when the foundation of a library was laid at Kilravock, but it is in this laird’s time we find the first accounts of its increase. There are lists of more than 400 volumes added between 1726 and 1728 – mostly classics – from London, from Edinburgh; but some whose prices, marked in guilders and stivers, show they came from Holland, where the laird’s grandson was studying law, as became a Scotch gentleman in those days. It must be owned there is no undue preponderance of law books, but there are many fine classics, and some specimens which still delight the eye that kindles at the imprint of a Stephanus or Aldus.
From 1720 to 1730, there are more of those accounts of girls’ school expenses, which have a singular kind of interest at the distance of a century, when the girl whose childish ball or first play is there recorded, can now be barely remembered, or handed down in tradition, as the grandam of the chimney-corner, of whom it was never suspected that she had “worn a visor and could tell a tale “of youth and gaiety.7
Our guide, Mr. Shaw, excuses himself from giving a character of the sixteenth baron, who lived in his own time, and who was evidently a personal friend. He was no doubt a worthy Baron, and some of his letters show sense and wit. In 1734, he was returned to Parliament for Ross-shire – it is Mr. Shaw who speaks – and he could have been elected again at the beginning of next Parliament, “yet he preferred the pleasures of a private countrie life, before the noise and fatigue of a court and public business.” “His house at Nairn being a convenient winter lodging, he has built a house at Coulmonie, upon the banks of the river Findhorn, and has so beautified that place, with enclosing, planting, building, and other improvements, as to make it a delightful retirement in the summer season. His lady has brought him a beautiful family of children,” etc.
Leaving even the sylvan beauties of Coulmony for the present, I must carry the reader to the old castle of Kilravock, where “Geddes” had established himself on his marriage in 1739.
The wife of the young Baron was Elizabeth Clephane, daughter of Colonel William Clephane, a soldier of fortune, who at his death left his family without other provision than a good education bestowed on one son, a pair of colours in the Dutch service on another, and to all, excellent sense, and a strong feeling of gentle blood, no whit subdued by lowered fortunes. Among the papers of her brothers are notes of their pedigree, asserting a descent on the father’s side from Clephane of Carslogie, Strachan of Bowssie, Strachan of Carmylie, and more remotely from the noble families of Panmure, Airlie, and Forbes; while on the side of their mother, Elizabeth Cramond, daughter of Mr. James Cramond, “a priest of the Episcopal Church of Scotland,” they claimed descent from Cramond of Balhall, Cramond of Auldbar, Ramsay of Bamf, Simmer of Balyordie, and Strachan of Bridgetown. No school learning was wasted on the Coloel’s daughter. “Betty Clephane” wrote a bad hand, and spelt so abominably that it is vain to imitate her manner. But she never fails in sense or feeling.
The friends in the North country with whom Miss Clephane resided were the family of Sutherland, and it was probably at Dunrobin that the young laird of Kilravock lost his liberty. Between his bride and the Countess of Sutherland there existed a warm friendship, expressed on one side in letters of the exaggerated tone of sentiment which was then coming into fashion among young women.
I must not omit one stationary member of the family circle at Kilravock at that time. Lewis, the brother of Geddes – “Mr. Lewis,” as he was commonly called – after feebly attempting to get into business at Bordeaux, lived for a long life at Kilravock, as the kind and ever ready “Will Wimble,” the companion of sport, the homekeeper when others went abroad, the general man of accounts and factotum of an indolent family.
In 1742, the young people spent the winter in Edinburgh, and we find among the expenses a bill for “the price of a chariot, £20 sterling.” Their summer and usual residence was Kilravock, where the young Laird occupied himself with his books and music, or joined his father in his favourite employments of planting and making gardens. Falconry had long been a favourite recreation at Kilravock. The hawk’s feeding-stone and perch is still on the green; but both father and son were smitten also with the new taste for simpler sport, whether on moor and field, or on the streams, that give life and beauty to their dwellings of Coulmony and Kilravock. In these occupations, quiet in the midst of their families, they were found by the storm which swept Scotland in 1745, and the following year.
When Prince Charles Edward rode out from Inverness eastward, to support his party retiring from the fords of Spey before Cumberland’s army, he stopped at the Castle of Kilravock, and was received there with becoming respect. He made himself very agreeable, asked to see the children, kissed each of them, and praised their beauty. Observing a violin, he inquired if the Laird played, begged a tune, and of course was pleased; walked out with the Laird to see his planting operations. “How happy are you, Mr. Rose,” said he, “who can enjoy these peaceful occupations when the country round is so disturbed!” That was on Monday the 14th of April. The following day was the Duke of Cumberland’s birth-day, and he spent it at Kilravock, and lay there that night. He remarked, “You have had my cousin here!” But when the Laird would have apologized for entertaining him, on the ground that he had no means of resistance, the Duke stopped him, and said he had done quite right – that he could not refuse to receive Charles Edward, and receiving him, he must treat him as a Prince. Next day the “cousins” met at Culloden! Such is the tradition of the house.
We know from Shaw the feeling of the family in the great struggle; but, except a few printed broadsides, marking the passing military events, and an “account of forage taken for the use of His Majesty’s troops” – rendered, on oath of the tenants, “by order of his Excellency General Hawley,” amounting to £70, dated 3d May 1746 – we find no records of martial doings of the Barons of Kilravock. In their connexion with their burgh of Nairn – the Baron was then provost of the burgh – they thought proper to make a little more demonstration of Whig feeling. A drinking cup of cocoa-nut, set in silver, still preserved at Kilravock, has the following inscription:-
THIS CUP BELONGS TO THE PROVOST OF NAIRN, 1746, THE YEAR OF OUR DELIVERANCE. A BUMPER TO THE DUKE OF CUMBERLAND!
Of peaceful memorials, we find long and careful lists of fruit-trees for the remodelling of the castle garden. The pears and plums are almost all of French names and kinds, and apparently suggested by the works on gardening of De la Quintinaye. there are a great many cherries and peaches, two nectarines, two apricots, a fig, and a vine; only seven sorts of apples, among which is not found the Oslin, the earliest of all, and the favourite of after generations at Kilvarock. there are accounts, too, for repairs of Kilravock, and for “new rooms” to the house of Coulmony, and a “drawing-room” at Nairn – all the accompaniments of peace and increasing families.
Hugh Rose, the seventeenth Baron, known during his father’s life as “Geddes,” had the sweet temper, and the half-constitutional, half-philosophic indolence of his race. He was not given to writing letters, but he was so genial in society and so beloved, that others wrote to him without much hope of repayment. From a large body of such one-sided correspondence, I have formed my notion of his manner of life and his character. He was a good classical scholar, especially critical in Greek; was consulted constantly by Professor Moor of Glasgow, while editing his great edition of Homer, and received many letters crowded with affected learning, ancient and modern, from Professor Blackwell of Aberdeen. Perhaps it was to please his daughter that he said – as she mentions in one of her letters – that in several passages Pope exceeded Homer, that in the similes he excelled, – and throughout, “the soul of the little bodie,” as he phrased it, “seemed to have catched the fire of the original.” I have before me one sheet of paper which seems to me to embody the character of the man. It is a letter from Brodie, the Lord Lion, M.P. for Moray, merely announcing that he was summoned by Mr. Pelham to attend the choosing of the Speaker. It is written on a sheet of large office paper, and Geddes has made its ample space his scroll-book for a literary effort that was then to be made, and which gave him much unrest. The sheriffship of Ross had been almost hereditary in the family of Kilravock, since its erection into a separate jurisdiction in the seventeenth century; but on the abolition of heritable jurisdictions in 1746, there was a change of circumstances, and the office was to be asked – a dire subject of contemplation for Geddes. The Lion’s foolscap sheet is quite filled with sketches of proposed letters addressed to great friends, in the stiffest style, and written with unconcealed reluctance, to solicit the sheriffship – mixed with little scarps of Greek, written scholarly, with the accents, of which two lines of the Odyssey, with a new termination, form the only complete sentence –
Mηδέ τι μ’ αἰδὀμενος μειλíσσεο μηδ’ ἐλεαίρων,
‘Aλλ’ εὕ μοι κατἀλεξον, τò δὲ Φρἀζεσθαι ἄνωγα.
It is satisfactory to know that his irksome labour was not in vain. His Majesty was pleased to appoint Hugh Rose of Geddes to be sheriff-depute of Ross and Cromarty, with a salary of £250, burdened with the salaries of his substitutes.
The taste for books was scarcely more hereditary at Kilravock than music. Geddes was an enthusiastic musician. His daughter remembered of him – “my delight was to stand behind his chair, and turn the leaves of Pergolesi’s Sabat Mater, or the Passione of Jomelli, while he played the symphonies and the prettiest passages in the songs to me, showed me the various cliffs, the niceties in time, the difference of keys,” etc.
Out of doors, the Baron had occupations as engrossing. His planting, it is true, was on a small scale, as well as his reclaiming of waste land. The taste and knowledge were still in their infancy; but while he gave sparingly of money and labour, he never grudged his own time. His note-books show constant personal superintendence of his work-people, and the greatest care in selection of trees for his orchard and garden, guided by the works of Philip Miller and De la Quintinaye. Then he had a “Mr. May” to teach him the new husbandry; and some faint attempts were made to introduce sown grass, and even red clover – by way of experiment.
His wife does not seem to have been accomplished, but she was most amiable. It was an old practice at Kilravock to take into the house and educate some young kinsmen who required such support. Betty Clephane extended the benevolence in the direction of cousins of her own, gentle born, like herself, but not endowed with world’s goods. Some lads so brought up by her with her own children, and never suffered to feel the pain of dependence, throve in the world, and lived to show their gratitude to their second mother and her children.
The happy household of Kilravock sometimes included the lady’s two bothers, but more frequently only the soldier. The doctor was too much occupied to spend much time at his sister’s northern castle. A word or two do those brothers:-
John Clephane, after studying under Boerhaave, and taking his medical degree at Leyden, supported himself like so many Scotchmen then, by travelling as tutor with young men of rank and fortune. He formed an extensive acquaintance with men of science and literature, both in England and on the Continent. That, he may have owed to the luck of being well introduced. But the impression he made, the friendships he secured and kept through life, the general esteem with which he was regarded, show him to have been no common man. He was, first, tutor to several sons of the Manners family; with them he had made repeated tours on the Continent, and became acquainted with the fluctuating shoals of Englishmen of fortune who then swarmed over Italy and France in search of virtú and distraction. His connexion with the Rutland family continued till 1739. In the following year he made the grand tour as the friend and tutor of Lord Maunsel and Mr. Bouverie. In 1744, he travelled with Lord Montrath; and thus thrown among artists and collectors, he seems to have been held a high authority, and, at any rate, keenly enjoyed the pleasure which the study of art offers. He was a good classical scholar, as befitted the pupil of Boerhaave; and perhaps he owed, in some degree, to the same great master, his enthusiasm for music. With such tastes and accomplishments he found ready access into the best society abroad; and his social temper and real kindness of heart endeared him so, that the acquaintances of the day, is worth preserving, remained friends for life. In this manner his correspondence shows a continued intimacy and interchange of good offices with Lord Deskfoord (1742), Dr. Mead, Murdach Mackenzie, Mr. Dawkins, Mr. Chute, Mr. Whitehead, “crazy St. John,” Mr. Bernard, Mr. Blackwood, Mr. Bouverie, Mr. Grenville, Mr. Ellis, Sir Gregory Page, Mr. Phelps, Sir F. Dashwood, Mr. Turnbull, Sir Horace Mann, and almost all the personages who figure in that part of Walpole’s inimitable letters which treats of art and tourists and collectors abroad. Our collection embraces numerous letters from Domenico Bracci of Florence, who collects medals of middle bronze for him; Camillo Paderni, who promises to select carefully his libri d’ antichitá – sapendo il suo delicato gusto. Dr. Cocchi, the Florentine anatomist, sent him long histories of chemical and medical experiments. From Rome, Born supplied him with books for his own and for Dr. Mead’s collection. Vernet painted for him; and his wife, with Parker her father, were full of expressions of obligation and kindness. Bonnet and Pictet of Geneva, the Marchesa Grimaldi. the Cardinal Albani, the Abbate Bentivoglio, all corresponded with the Doctor, and knew how to value his coorespondence. His warmest admirer and most constant correspondent for many years was Madame de Graffigny.
During these associations and pursuits, he was well known to have kept up the studies suited for rendering him an accomplished physician. In 1746, he received the appointment of physician to the expedition under General St. Clair – that foolish “secret expedition,” one of the playthings of Government in those days – and there began that friendly intercourse with David Hume, and his friends St. Clair, Erskine, Elliot, and others, which terminated only with his life. Hume’s letters to Clephane are the most free, most sparkling, and altogether the most interesting of those published in his collected correspondence (1846), and although the counterparts are lost, they help us in forming an estimate of the friend to whom they were addressed.
On the 29th May, Dr. Mead writes:-
“I will take care of your being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and your name, as the custom is, will be stuck up next week, with the recommendation of myself and two or three more of the members, in order to admission, which cannot be till after three months. I am sure all our Virtuosi will be glad at the adding so worthy a gentleman to our number. All my family join in their best compliments and good wishes to you. Dr. Stacks adds his.”
What a treasure to a man like “Geddes” was such a brother-in-law! The birth of the lady who was afterwards “Mrs. Elizabeth Rose,” is thus announced with fitting flourish:-
FROM GEDDES TO DR. CLEPHANE.
” ‘Ως ᾔδομαι καὶ τέρπομαι καὶ θούλομαι χορεὐσαι! A daughter is born to me, and the mother in health. I have called her Betty after the mother: May she be like her; and the females assure me that it is so much the case, that one may say of her according to the old proverb, – Οὐ παἱς ΚλεΦανης ἀλλ’ ἐκείνη ἀυτᾐ ἐστι. If she turns out really such, some happy man will bless me as oft and as fervently as ever I did your father. But enough; I must not be too extravagant. Your sister and I are much at a loss to know what is become of you of late. Pray relieve us. You should write from every port, and if you make any stay, frequently from the same port. The last letter we had was from Cork, and I have writ to you since. My sons are well. Betty joins me in our best wishes to you, and I still am, dear Sir, your most affectionate Brother,
“KILRAICK, March 14th, 1747.
“Betty was brought to bed on Sunday the eighth current.”
Before this letter reached its destination, the troops under General St. Clair, which had wintered at Cork, had been ordered home; and Dr. Clephane, through the unsolicited attention of Lord Sandwich, was almost immediately appointed one of the Physicians to the Hospital of the British Troops in Flanders, where “camp fever” and “marsh fever” were cutting down the strength of the army more than the guns of Bergen-op-zoom. His new appointment was dated 22d May 1747.
HUME TO DR. CLEPHANE.
“DEAR DOCTOR, – All our projects have failed, and, I believe, for ever. The Secretary-at-War persists in his scruples and delays; and Mr. Roberts, Pelham’s Secretary, says our applications will not succeed. I suppose he speaks in this the sense of his master. Mentor alone is positive we will infallibly succeed. The General goes off for Scotland to-morrow. I set out next week, as fully convinced as Seneca of the vanity of the world, and of the insufficiency of riches to render us happy. I wish you had a little more of the philosophy of that great man, and I a little more of his riches. Perhaps you would rather choose my share, and will reproach me with both dividing and choosing. But such a sentiment is the strongest proof in the world that you want a little more philosophy, and that the division I have assigned you would suit you best.
“The General made… effort for us, and would have made a stronger could he have met with Lord Sandwich, whom he called upon several times, and who is now gone to the country about elections. Your friend Mitchel stands for Aberdeenshire, and, I believe, will carry it. I hope Col. Erskine will also have a seat. I am afraid for Oswald.
“I could have wrote you a fine elaborate letter, which you might have shown as from a wit of your acquaintance; but being afraid that this would deter you from answering, I thought it better to scribble in this careless manner. Pray how do you like your situation in Flanders? Have you got any friends or confidents whom you can be free with in seriis et in jocis, – amici omnium horarum?
“If Cope’s dragoons be in Flanders, pray inquire out the surgeon, Frank Home, and make my compliments to him. and tell him that I recommend him to pay his court to you, and to acquire your friendship. You may say that I think it will be very well worth his while, even though it should cost him some pains both to acquire and to keep it. You may add, that the last is, in my opinion, the most difficult point. Seriously speaking, Frank Home is a very pretty young fellow, and well worth your acquaintance. So pray make him the first advances, in case his modesty should render him backward. Yours,
“LONDON, June 18, 1747.
“To Dr, John Clephane of the British Hospital at Osterhout, Holland.”
In 1748-9, the Doctor had returned from Flanders, and was employed in superintending the military hospital at Ipswich. In a letter of 3d April 1750, written to support his sister under the grief caused by the death of their nephew, Captain Henry Malcolm, he collects the grounds of consolation he had found avail himself, and beseeches her to be comforted for her own, her family’s, her friends’ sake – “and let me add (a little vainly, perhaps), for the sake of a brother whose suit you have never yet rejected, who has been thought to resemble you as much in his manners as in his features, and who only proposes to you the medicine which he himself has taken.” His occupation in the Ipswich hospital was now gone, and later in the same year he had leisure for an excursion to Kilravock, which shall be chronicled in the Appendix XII. In 1752, he took a house in Golden Square, by the counsel of Dr. Mead and other friends, set up as a London Physician, and in a very short time seems to have counted a fair number of people of condition among his patients. He was evidently a thriving and successful man, for he had the honest prudence of his country, and yet, in March 1758, we find a tax collector’s receipt to “Dr. John Clephane, of Golden Square, for £4 for one chariot.” His kindness to his relations increased with his means. In November 1753, “Hugh Rose, Brea’s son,” a young student of medicine, came recommended to his care from Kilravock. This was afterwards the husband of “Mrs. Elizabeth.” In 1755-56, “Hughie Rose,” the eldest of his Kilravock nephews, was sent to school at Enfield near London, under his care, and spent many a happy holiday with the kind, indulgent uncle.
In 1757, Lady Kilravock encloses a letter of her daughter. She says – “My lassie has wrote you, and it so much herself only, that, as I live it surprises me.”
EIZABETH ROSE TO DR. CLEPHANE.
“DEAR UNCLE, – I never wrote you but once, therefore I want to make up my correspondence with you as much as uncle the Major. The recruiting business is going on very well. I made my man out, which will show my good will. We are all here wishing him home. Give my kind compliments to Hughie, and tell him that a line from him would be obliging. So would a letter from uncle to his ever affectionate niece,
“KILRAIK, February 15th, 1757.”
The latest letter of the Doctor’s that is preserved, and one of the latest he can have written, was to his young correspondent at Kilravock. It overflows with affection, and the style is brought somewhat to the level of the little girl’s comprehension. One sentence shows the early attention she bestowed on music:-
DR. CLEPHANE TO ELIZABETH ROSE.
“‘My DEAREST BETSY,… Reading and writing and playing on the spinet is all very well – indeed, extremely well. The two first deserve great application. The spinet, too, has its merit, and has more than the instrument I once proposed for you – the guitarre, or the mandolino, as it is called here by our London ladies. What induced me to recommend it is its portableness, and that methinks music is well as an amusement, but not as a study. However, if you have once made some progress on the spinet or harpsichord, the mandola will be an easy acquisition.’ He makes some remarks upon a letter he had received from her. ‘You say you romp too much with the Malcolms. It seems your mamma chides you sometimes for this, and I take it for granted you endeavour to correct what is perhaps too much… Sliding on the ice you are fond of, it seems. It is a wholesome but a dangerous exercise, especially for your sex, Bessy, whom custom has fettered with coats and petticoats, whereby you may be brought sometimes to some unlucky falls and situations. Consider this, and think how soon it may be proper to abandon this diversion. Cutting paper is an innocent amusement, but unless you come to excel greatly, it will soon prove trifling. Whatsoever you apply yourself to, whether study or amusement, I could wish to see you arrive at a degree of perfection; and with perfection there is hardly anything trifling… I am, most affectionately, my dear Betsy’s
“LONDON, March 10, 1758.”
“You are, in all your letters, to say something of your own health, and of papa and mamma’s; not forgetting Willie, Jock, and the Malcolms.”
There are no more letters of John Clephane’s. Surrounded by friends and dear relatives – on the fair road to fortune and distinction, if not already having achieved them – happy above all in a kindly, cheerful nature – he was induced in an evil hour to take an appointment in the fatal expedition of 1758. He was taken ill, made a will at sea, off La Hogue, leaving his sister, Mrs. Rose, his executrix and sole heir of his little savings; and soon after died. A volume of Medical Observations and Inquiries by a Society of Physicians, presented by Dr. [William] Hunter of London* to the sister of Dr. Clephane, had the following inscription:- “Doctor Hunter presents Mrs. Rose with this work of a Society which had the deepest obligations to Doctor Clephane. His humanity and his love of improvement gave it existence; his knowledge both natural and acquired, gave it life, action, and dignity; his amiable and reconciling temper preserved harmony among the members in every transaction. He lived to see this volume received by the public with applause; and the best apology for what may be published hereafter by the Society, will be, that he lived no longer.”
James Clephane, the Doctor’s brother, an officer of the Scotch troops in the Dutch service, had risen by slow gradations to be senior Captain of Stewart’s regiment, when he was taken at Sluys, and carried prisoner to Dijon in Burgundy (May 1747). His brother had influence to procure his exchange, and he figures in 1750 as “Major in command of Major-General Stewart’s regiment,” in garrison at Tournay. In 1754, he visited his friends in Scotland, at the same time recruiting a little for his regiment. He yielded to the hospitality of the country, had a severe fit of the gout at Kilravock, but on his recovery made up his complement of eight recruits, and with them “sailed for Frogland.” In 1756, his brother, through his military friends in London, effected his exchange into the British army, and paid his debts in Holland; and James Clephane came on his second visit to Kilravock as first Major of Colonel Simon Fraser’s Highland battalion – the conditions of his rank being, that he should raise a company; and, secondly, should serve with his regiment in North America.
By the Baron’s help he recruited 110 or 112 men, “good hearty young fellows,” and sent them to Glasgow in charge of Captain Arthur Rose, Kilravock’s uncle, a lieutenant in the Dutch service, “a most fit person, as being well acquainted with the humours and genius of every one recruit.” He entreats the Doctor to use his influence to get Arthur a lieutenancy “among us,” as he would rather almost go to hell than be obliged to return to Holland.
The Doctor succeeded in his endeavour, and Arthur Rose’s name is found as lieutenant of one of the three additional companies of Lieutenant-Colonel Simon Fraser’s regiment, with instructions for raising his quota of men. dated July 16th, 1757. He writes from Quebec on the 17th July 1760, to his grandnephew, Hugh Rose of Kilravock, announcing his being wounded – “I am sorry I can’t accompany you with the fiddle any more, my left hand being rendered useless… The many battles, sieges, and skirmishes we have had, fell heavier on us than any other regiment; having thirteen officers killed between Luisburg and Quebec, and a great number of men, among whom is poor Sandie Rose of Littletown. But I hope this summer will put an end to any more fighting. I assure you, dear Hugh, my curiosity that way is entirely satisfied… If there is a peace, I hope soon to be with you, and see you kill some muifowl on the muirs about Culmoney, or a fox in the mickle park or birken-ward. I shall grow melancholy if I continue in tis stain, considering the prodigious distance I am from these happy places.” Of Arthur’s subsequent fate we are ignorant.
After the Doctor’s death, the Major wanted the encouragement and support which had hitherto sustained him. He sold out of the army in 1760; and from thenceforward Kilravock was his common residence. He was fondly attached to his sister and her children. The easy social life of the old castle suited him. He kept up a lazy correspondence with a few old brother officers, and devoted some energy to the care and putting out in the world of two grand-nephews, Harry and James Malcolm, the sons of Captain Henry Malcolm, who were bred from children under the kind nursing of good Betty Clephane, and one of whom lived to repay to her and her daughter some part of his obligations. Harry Malcolm went a cadet to India in 1768. Mrs. Rose’s letters speak of him as successively Secretary to the Commander-in-Chief and Adjutant-General at Madras.
In 1761, the accomplished and genial General William Caulfield had succeeded Wade in command in the north, and was now resident at Castle-hill, near Inverness, to which he had given the name of Cradle Hall, from a pleasant invention in lieu of stairs for conveying his guests to the upper floors of his house. Two letters from him show the impression the life at Kilravock made upon a stranger:-
“CRADLE HALL, July 17, 1761
“MY DEAR SIR, – I viewed the Castle Kilraick with greater pleasure than I imagined I ever could be capable of in the absence of your family, who always made us so happy in it. Never give yourself pain about what some pencil-bred critics or imaginary connoisseurs may censure in your alterations – you have made a most decent, comfortable dwelling; and all this family join in their wishes that Lady Kilraick and you may enjoy it in health and happiness as long as your hearts desire. Had we known of a road for carriages (except slide carts) from Dulsie to Culmony, we would have waited on you, though your landlord has never come near me; for his heart is good, and I pardon his faults.”
The rest is about the purchase of a coach in London, which cost, with arms and supporters handsomely painted, £52, 10s; a new translation of Sappho and Musæus, etc.
At the period of the next letter, the Kilravock family are living for a season in Edinburgh.
TO LADY KILRAVOCK.
“PARK STREET, WESTMINSTER, Jan. 27, 1762.
“Mrs. Caulfield and I sincerely wish dear Lady Kilraick, her Laird, and Major Clephane, joy on their present happiness. I fancy myself in a corner of the room, and looking at you while you enjoy so uncommon a felicity; your whole brood in health and safety around you, and an harmony in every sense among you – hoped for by every family, but possessed by a very few. Our nestlings have found their wings, and fly from us round the globe; sometimes one or another of them perches for a moment among the branches they were bred in, but the noise of drums and boatswain whistles soon force them away. Even our females fly. We therefore most heartily pray for peace, that we may not only join concert but merrily partake of the plenty and cheerful bottle that follow it…
“There is a little bird at my widow whistling a very new and strange tune. On listening attentively, I find the burden of the song is, that Kilraick is delighted with Edinburgh. (Hugh quantum mutatus!) he will construe it for you. Tell him I like Calder’s black hill, opposite your dining-room window, better than Arthur’s Seat; and the turns among the birch woods infinitely better than Hope’s Walks. I know enough to prefer the company of a few honest and sincere friends, and the wholesome food they give me, to the compliments of the Change and coffee-house, or the nicest dishes at Walker’s. For God’s sake, keep yourselves the same sort of people I left you. I ever am, dear Madam, faithfully and affectionately yours,
The last proprietor of the estate whom I am to mention is Mrs. Elizabeth Rose, the daughter of “Geddes” (the seventeenth baron) and Betty Clephane, who succeeded to Kilravock on the early death of her brother, the eighteenth baron, in 1782; married her cousin, Hugh Rose, “Brea’s son,” the heir-male; and, long surviving him, lived till 1815.
If it be difficult to give a just and lively idea of this lady, it is not certainly from any want of written documents of her time. She herself was a great letter-writer, and she preserved a large mass of her correspondence, as well as many copies or drafts of her own letters. She kept a commonplace book of her reading for many years, and she followed what in her days was a very general practice, especially with ladies, that of making copious extracts from the books she read; above all, she kept a journal from the year 1771, till the year of her death – 1815. She generally wrote beforehand, a ‘plan’ of the occupations of each year, month, and week, and at the close of the period, measured the ‘accomplishment’ of her intentions; and she filled volumes with ‘meditations,’ ‘reflexions,’ ‘thoughts,’ on the various trials or mercies of which she was the object. One closely filled volume of these communings with her own heart, begins with – “A review of my past life and errors,” dated Trinity Sunday, 1771.
And yet from all these – with a mass of her handwriting before me that seems too great for the labour of a long life – we do not obtain an adequate idea of this remarkable woman. This is owing chiefly to her having set up a standard of composition which excluded all that was not serious and almost lachrymose. The natural overflowings of an active cheerful mind were rejected as vulgar, and if we were to judge from her letters even to her most familiar friends, as well as from her diary and thousands of self-communings preserved, we should set down for a depressed and care-worn lady – her who was the choice companion, the leader of all cheerful amusements, the humorous story-teller, the clever mimic, the very soul of society.
She was educated with her brothers, and entirely by men. But her father’s learning was not attractive, or he was too indolent to communicate to his daughter and favourite, more of it than a general bad taste for reading. One of her early correspondents was her cousin, Henry Mackenzie, who sent her the proof-sheets of his novels, and wrote poetical inscriptions for her favourite seats at Coulmony. She knew no Greek, and scarcely any Latin or French, but from her youth to old age she read indiscriminately everything of English that came in her way. She was fond of sketching ‘plans of study,’ too, for herself and others; but the books were rather such as she could command, or those recommended by professional littérateurs – Dr. Ketts, Mrs. Chapone, Baron Bielfield, and the rest – than of her own selection. This indiscriminate and voracious reading produced what is perhaps its natural result, in destroying the nice perception of excellence of style. Everything literary – every one connected with literature – was ranked unreasonably high. She was content to admire and to praise as her literary guides directed – generally in the words of those self-constituted judges; and she read with pleasure, apparently with equal pleasure, the brilliant, the eloquent, and the bombastic – the language of genuine feeling, and the sentimentalities of the Minerva press – the highest and the lowest. Her own style of writing was not happy, because it was not natural, and she has scarcely written anything worthy of being preserved for its intrinsic qualities. Still, in a country where there was little learning in either sex, her extensive reading gave her a certain pre-eminence, which she never sacrificed in society by any pedantry or blue-stocking affectations. In conversation she was always animated and natural, full of genuine humour and keen and quick perception of the ludicrous. Without perhaps being a perfect musician, she was something better, and had music to charm wherever she came. She sung the airs of her own country, and she had learnt to take a part in catches and glees to make up the party with her father and brother. The same motive led her to study the violin, which she played admirably, handling it like male artists, supported against her shoulder. The guitar she learned, to humour her dear old Uncle Clephane, and she continued it to delight all her friends. The spinet and guitar were her companions in all her changes of abode and changes of fortune, which she loved to write of, as great and disastrous.
She was enthusiastic and yet steady in her friendships, benevolent, hospitable, kind, and generous beyond her means, religious without parade, it may be somewhat over fond of the society of the clergy merely as such. Conscious of the position she occupied at the head of an ancient and once powerful house, and perhaps over-estimating it, she never was betrayed into haughtiness of manner or unworthy treatment of humble merit. These were her qualities. Her writings hardly assist our wish to know this lady, and we must estimate Mrs. Elizabeth Rose mainly by the impression she made on the society of her own country and time, as it may still be gathered from people of all pursuits and dispositions.
A dozen years ago, when these words were written, there were many still alive who remembered “Lady Kilravock,” and who delighted to recall the memory of her varied accomplishments – her music, her literature, but chiefly her conversation, her goodness, the wisdom and the wit, her genial, generous nature, her influence on society. As the number of such witnesses diminishes, I have looked round for some written testimonies regarding her. This happens to join her name with the names of two remarkable men.
On his Highland expedition (September 1787) Burns came to Kilravock, introduced by Henry Mackenzie, the “Man of Feeling,” Mrs. Elizabeth’s cousin and early correspondent. He had crossed the moors from Dulsie, and descended on the Nairn by General Wade’s road, which crosses the river at Kilravock. The first day he notes in his journal – “Dine at Kilravock – Mrs. Rose, senior, a true chieftain’s wife.” This was Betty Clephane in her old age. Two days later, after having visited Foyers and Inverness, the poet again notes in his journal:- “Thursday. – Came over Culloden Muir; reflections on the field of battle; breakfast at Kilravock; old Mrs. Rose; sterling sense; warm heart; strong passions and honest pride, all in an uncommon degree. Mrs. Rose, junior (this is Mrs. Elizabeth), a little milder than the mother; this, perhaps, owing to her being younger.”
Six months later (February 17, 1788), when Burns had to thank Mrs. Elizabeth for sending him two Gaelic airs, which he had heard sung and liked at Kilravock, he recalls his visit there in that tone of exaggerated feeling which colours so many of his letters:- “I wish I could transcribe or rather transfuse into language the glow of my heart when I read your letter. My ready fancy, with colours more mellow than life itself, painted the beautiful wild scenery of Kilravock; the venerable grandeur of the castle; the spreading woods; the winding river, gladly leaving his unsightly, heathy source, and lingering with apparent delight as he passes the fairy walk at the bottom of the garden… My aged friend, venerable in worth and years, whose loyalty and other virtues will strongly entitle her to the support of the almighty Spirit here, and his peculiar favour in a happier state of existence. You cannot imagine, Madam, how much such feelings delight me; they are my dearest proofs of my own immortality,” etc.
Long afterwards another self-taught man of genius came within the sphere of Mrs. Elizabeth, though perhaps not personally known to her. Hugh Miller tells us:-
“The North had, in the last age, its interesting group of ladies of this type (fond of literature) of whom the central figure might be regarded as the late Mrs. Elizabeth Rose of Kilravock, the correspondent of Burns, and the cousin and associate of Henry Mackenzie, the ‘Man of Feeling.’ Mrs. Rose seems to have been a lady of a singularly fine mind, though a little touched mayhap by the prevailing sentimentalism of the age. The mistress of ‘Harley,’ Miss Walton, might have kept exactly such journals as hers; but the talent which they exhibited was certainly of a high order; and the feeling, though cast in a somewhat artificial mould, was, I doubt not, sincere. Portions of those journals I had an opportunity of perusing when on my visit to my friend Miss Dunbar.”8
Mrs. Elizabeth Rose died in November 1851. She had given minute directions for her funeral. She desired her body might be borne to the family burial-place in the old chapel of Geddes by tenants of the estate, the coffin resting on birch-trees cut from the wood of Kilravock – which was done.
I ask pardon for dwelling at such length on the character of this lady. She was much spoken of among those with whom I spent my youth; and her papers afterwards coming into my hands, I tried to photograph her – perhaps in too strong a light.
If I have raised the curtain sufficiently, I think my readers must see that the little circle of which we have these glimpses, realized that happiest rural life which the old poets and philosophers dreamt of. They enjoyed the
“Muses, books, and liberty, and rest;
The gardens, fields, and woods,”
without envy of the courtier or the money-maker.
One enjoyment was wanting (and Cowley, whose words I have quoted, omitted it too). I do not find that the most accomplished of the Barons (including those educated abroad) had any feeling or taste for Art, nor is there a single picture of merit or interest at Kilravock, except a Mytens of middling quality. The love of Art had not yet dawned on the grey North. The walls were covered with family pictures of the later generations – nothing old or curious, but the coarse, cheap work of late provincial artists. There were, to be sure, a good many of Strange’s fine engravings glazed, recommended, I suspect, as much by the country of the artist as by his merit.
Friends who have seen this sheet, ask of what religious persuasion were those Roses. I had not intended to bring such matters before the public, but I will give such answer as I can, striving to make it cover two hundred years, – the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
In the first place, let it not be presumed, because I have not dwelt upon such subjects, that those educated, intelligent men and women were indifferent to the most important of all subjects of thought and feeling. Still less must it be supposed that any of the cold philosophy and scepticism of the last of those centuries had found its way int the North.
I cannot say if they were orthodox. That depends so much on the time; and my questioners and I may not agree. But the Roses of those two centuries seem to me to have been Christians in faith and practice; confirmed in their tenets, yet tolerant and charitable; but it was not in their nature to make common talk of the state of their conscience. They had no regret or longing after the ancient Church, nor any morbid fear or rage against it. Indeed, it is surprising (and very suggestive) how rapidly the forms, the ritual, the opinions, the learning, the very nomenclature and phraseology of the Catholic Church, disappeared among us after the Reformation.
They were not Covenanters – one or two ladies perhaps excepted, at that time when persecution drove the wisest mad. They were not even Presbyterians in heart, and never had much respect for kirk-session or higher Church court. In their family and closet they used the English Common-Prayer Book, and they loved that beautiful liturgy, and the memorial division and festivals of the Christian year which the Presbyterian Church repudiates. So thinking, they often found the sermons and argumentative prayers addressed to a northern half-Gaelic audience irksome, as some people still do.
But neither did they deserve to be called Episcopalians. Perhaps they would have preferred an Episcopal church-government, and the decent ordering of service and ritual which belongs to it. While Episcopacy was established by law, they went to church, used the Service-book, and were on good terms of neighbourliness and respect with the successive bishops of their diocese. But they had no enthusiastic zeal for “the Church,” nor believed in the superior efficacy of ordinances ministered by priests deriving their ordination consecutively from the Apostles. After the Revolution, when the Episcopal meeting-house became a school of Toryism, where prayers were said for a Jacobite king, the constitutional barons of Kilravock could no longer follow the surplice and the liturgy, unless haply they took their family to communicate at Elgin at Christmas and Easter.
It was a choice of evils, but it had not occurred to them that the teaching must be rejected because they could not agree in all things with the teacher. They went to their own parish church among their neighbours, and tenants, and servants, joined in its service, respected and associated with its minister; reserving their own opinion on some points of doctrine as well as of form.
The Rev. Lachlan Shaw, the historian of the province of Moray, gives in a single chapter of his MS. a few of the “Branches of Kilravock.” The list might be easily enlarged, either tracing up the branches to the main stem, or working out the connexion downwards; for it is remarkable, and I think peculiar to this pedigree, that all of the name of Rose in Scotland look to Kilravock as their origin. Other families have two or more rival chiefs. The bearers of other noble and gentle names will tell you “The Earl or the Duke is called our chief, but our family is really the chief house.” But ask any Rose of Scotch blood, his descent, and (if you please) his arms, and he will answer that he is sprung of Kilravock and bears the Kilravock water-bougets on his silver spoons. That is, no doubt, owing in a great degree to Mr. Hew Rose’s plain and well vouched history of the race; but it is owing, I think, to some personal qualities that the recognition of chiefship is accompanied by proofs of unusual attachment. Men bearing the name of Rose have crossed the Atlantic to visit the old place, and to express their love for its owners; and a pilgrimage by a Rose to Kilravock and the chapel of Geddes, the birthplace and the burial-place of the family, is as common as it was some years ago, for the “Friends” to visit the little oratory at Ury where Robert Barclay wrote his Apology for the Quakers.
I think few of the scions of the stock of Hugh de Rose and Mary de Bosco have taken root in England, but the family of Kilravock would not willingly have it forgotten that one of those branches transplanted to the south, has produced a scholar and poet like William Stewart Rose, and a soldier like his nephew the Commander-in-Chief in India.
One word of the old place, the cradle of the race. The name of Kilravock indicates the cell or chapel dedicated to some now forgotten saint; and tradition points, alas! to the present dove-cot as the site of that chapel, the ancient rights of which were solemnly ascertained by the verdict of an inquest in the cause litigated between “the Lord Prior of Urquhart and Hugh de Ros of Kilravoc” (the third laird), in 1343. The square keep, built by “Huchone de Roos” (the seventh baron), in 1460, stands finely on a rocky bank overhanging the valley of the Nairn. The buildings of different dates that surround it, the last being that noticed by the Hon. General Caulfield in 1762, though little taste is shown in their architecture, are not without a certain effect from their mass. The castle is embowered in fine old timber – beech, oak, and Scotch fir, mixed with the remains of the native birch forest, and a beautiful undergrowth of juniper. The garden, hung on the rocky bank below the house, is very picturesque. It has been much beautified of late, and the whole place preserved by the present tenant, with an affectionate care worthy of the traces of its early cultivation.
1 It is Coxe who tells us of Horace Walpole, proposing to read History to his father, hoping to cheer him in sickness: “Nay,” said the old Premier, “don’t read History to me, for that, I know, must be false!”
2 In 1242, Patrick Earl of Athol, of the highest blood and kindred of Scotland, and himself a gallant youth, after a great tournament at Haddington, was treacherously murdered, and the “palace” where he slept, in the west end of the High Street, was burned to conceal the manner of his death. The Bysets were generally believed to be the instigators of the murder, for an ancient feud between the houses, and suspicion fell especially on William de Byset, an officer of the Queen’s household, and who had prevailed with the Queen to spend four days at his castle of Aboyne on her journey south from Moray, at the very time when the Haddington tragedy happened. Byset had the support of both sovereigns, the Queen especially offering herself ready to make oath to his innocence; but the friends of the murdered earl were too powerful, and (perhaps) the proofs of guilt too strong. The southern Bysets were banished (exlegantur), and obliged to take a vow to join the crusade, and never to return from the Holy Land. On this condition, apparently, they saved their lands and goods, or were allowed to dispose of them. They seem to have migrated to Ireland – Quorum posteritas Hiberniam inhabitat usque nunc. – Fordun, IX. 59-61.
3 The Bull is one of a common kind, granted in favour of the little chapel of the Roses at Geddes, bestowing on all who should visit it at certain festivals, dispensation from a hundred days of enjoined penance.
4 The captors were John Ker of Werk and two Johnstons; the ransom 100 angels; the cautioners were Pringles of Smailholme, Torwoodlee, and Wowhousbyres. The Baron’s bond of relief and their discharge are both preserved.
5 This was the poor fellow who a few years before had been taken by Algerine pirates, and had but lately been ransomed. He came home in a Turkish dress, and is painted in it at Kilravock.
6 One at the alehouse of the village of Findhorn is thus charged:-
Bill for Kilraick and Colonell Rose, from Tuesday, 12 o’clock, till Thursday, 7 o’clock, afternoon:-
Tuesday, for 23 botles wine, at 1s. 6d. each bottle,
£1 14 6
Wednesday, for 26 botles,
1 19 0
Thursday, for 8 botles,
0 12 0
To 5 d’s sugar,
0 5 0
To 8 pints eall,
0 1 4
0 5 0
To 2 gills Brandie,
0 0 6
To two servants eating,
0 3 0
To their drink, 12 pints eall,
0 2 0
£4 17 9
22 thoughts on “Kilravock Papers, pp.437-490.”