and the



Fortrose Cathedral


  Chapter   Title
1. The Rosemarkie Saints
2. The Foundation of the Bishopric
3. The Cathedral Clergy and the Downfall of the Auld Kirk
4. Anarchy in the Black Isle
5. Travail of the New Kirk
6. The Tale of the Charters
7. Municipal Affairs
8. Elections
9. Financial Troubles
10. Mortifications and Mortcloths
11. Early Schools and Schoolmasters

Note - Parentheses in round brackets are those of the writer. Square brackets are used to distinguish parentheses in quoted matter.


1. The Cathedral and Chapter House
2. Plan of the Manses
3. Engraving of the Chanonry, 1696
4. Engraving of the Harbour, Fortrose, 1821
5. Plan of the Burgh of Fortrose, 1963


Up to the time of the Reformation in 1560 and for long after that event both the Chanonry of Ross and Rosemarkie were well-known throughout Scotland, the former as the seat of the medieval Bishops and Canons of Ross, the latter because of its association with the legend of St. Boniface, and both as staging points on the road from Edinburgh via the East coast to the North and West. Neither place is so well-known today and the ancient fame of the Chanonry as a "centre of law, light and learning" has largely passed from popular memory. Although the records of the Bishopric of Ross and of the Cathedral at Fortrose, as the Chanonry is once again known, have long been lost sufficient evidence remains of the existence of the Church courts and of the canonical lawyers who practised in the Chanonry before the Reformation, while after the latter event sheriff courts were held for some time in the Chapter House, now become the Tolbooth, and, during the 17th and 18th centuries, the Registers of Sasines for Inverness, Ross and Cromarty were kept at Fortrose where a busy band of writers who would now be called solicitors found employment in the conduct of the legal business of a great part of the North. The "light" of religion burned, at some periods perhaps only nominally, in the Rosemarkie peninsula from the late 6th century, six hundred years' service by the Pictish or Celtic Church being followed by four centuries during which the Roman Catholic Church built up the structure which, owing to its own folly, was to crash at the Reformation and to be followed by four centuries of Protestantism. The torch of "learning," of education and civilisation was first lit in the early Pictish monastery which stood near the site of the later Cathedral, was transferred to the subsequent Cathedral School and, finally, made available for all who would have it in the burgh schools of the 16th and later centuries.

Of the Pictish period in Rosemarkie, a name which originally applied to practically the whole area of the modern Burgh of Fortrose, very little is certainly known. More is known of the succeeding Catholic period, but, as it happens, this knowledge is confined almost entirely to ecclesiastical affairs and serves but to illustrate the fatal weakness of the contemporary church, The declining years of this period, however, were marked by the rise of the burghs as mercantile and political outposts in a feudal society. The twin burghs of Rosemarkie and the Chanonry appear shortly after the Reformation. United a century later as the burgh of Fortrose they sent a Commissioner to the Estates of Parliament and the Convention of Royal Burghs. In spite of its small size and relative poverty the 17th century burgh of Fortrose was centuries ahead of the countryside around in its possession of a Town Council in full control of its affairs, no matter how that council may have been elected, and obviously still occupied a position of outstanding importance within the County of Ross. Its traders and artisans, its schools and law-courts, served the country around while after the Union of Parliaments in 1707 Fortrose combined with three other northern burghs to send a Member of Parliament to Westminster. Town Council minutes and other surviving documents from the 17th century onwards highlight the passing history of the burgh, recall ways and practices long forgotten and illustrate the slow but steady growth of modern democratic methods and municipal enterprise.

In the following pages an attempt has been made to use the scanty records available, first, to show the transition from Paganism through the Pictish and the unreformed Roman Catholic Churches to early Victorian Protestantism and, second, to illustrate the care of the Post-Reformation Town Councillors and Burgesses of Fortrose and Rosemarkie for the management of their affairs, for the weal of the infant Protestant Church, for the development of education and for the succouring of the poor through Mortifications and other means unknown today. What followed during the later Victorian era and the early XXth century is another story. The future of Fortrose and other small burghs is now obscure under the ominous threat of "Modernisation" of Local Government in Scotland as the result of which the opportunity of personal service, long regarded as the right of the burgesses under their charters and for long practised under the inspiration of their ancient traditions, will be so seriously curtailed as to be derisory.


The word 'Rosemarkie' means the peninsula of the horse burn, the Gaelic Markie Burn, on the south bank of which at its junction with the sea the small town or village of Rosemarkie stands today as it has stood since the Stone Age. The peninsula which thrusts out from the eastern shore of the Black Isle district of Ross and Cromarty between the Moray and Inverness Firths appears on modern maps as Chanonry Peninsula or Ness but its real and original name is Rosemarkie, a name which at one time applied not only to the peninsula but also to the village and to the high ground or raised beach between the latter and Fortrose Bay to the west. Like Rose
markie `Fortrose' also is a Gaelic word denoting the place beneath the promontory, the Gaelic word Ros serving for both peninsula and promontory and more besides. The early Fortrose can have been no more than a cluster of huts on the shore. Records show that the peninsula and the higher ground behind it continued to be known as Rosemarkie until at least the fifteenth century. A royal charter of 1455, for example, exhibits an attempt to distinguish between Rosemarkie village or burgh and Rosemarkie Peninsula. This charter, having created the burgh of Fortrose which had by that time become known also as the Chanonry of Ross, united it to the burgh of `lower Rosemarkie.' A few years before this there is a reference in the Register of the Diocese of Moray to the Chanonry of Rosemarkie suggesting that the old name of the area still lingered in use although for two hundred years the Cathedral and Manses had been known as the Chanonry of Ross.

Modern writers have with too little care followed earlier accounts of the Bishopric of Ross according to which the Bishop's seat was set up in the village of Rosemarkie until, finding the place too small, one of the Bishops removed to Fortrose where he or his successor erected the Cathedral. It would be more correct to regard the Bishop's seat as having been planted somewhere in the wider area known as Rosemarkie rather than in the village of that name. The consequence of this and of the subsequent building of the Cathedral and Manses for its clergy on the bluff above Fortrose Bay was that the village of Rosemarkie was at an early date deprived of the importance it might otherwise have gained from a close association with the bishopric. As a 17th century writer put it, Rosemarkie was "the site of a city whose light was so constantly dimmed by the neighbouring Chanrie that it never rose." Not unnaturally this gave rise to some jealousy which was to endure for centuries and still sometimes flickers up although its cause has long been forgotten and the two places, Fortrose, or the Chanonry of Ross, and Rosemarkie have for three hundred years formed one single burgh.

The oldest surviving native Scottish record was compiled late in the 7th century when Adamnan wrote his Life of St. Columba who in 563 had driven his mission ship ashore on Iona where he helped to set the pattern for the Celtic or Pictish monastic church which was to spread over Alba, the country north of the Forth, and to survive for six centuries. Of the chronicles which must have been kept in the numerous monasteries in Scotland during that long period scarcely anything has survived so that after Adamnan there are for a long time only fragmentary Scottish records. In particular, although there is reason to believe that a monastery was established at Rosemarkie at an early date, nothing is known about it except what can be pieced together from traditions and a late 13th century English chronicle. Even the numerous near contemporary Irish chronicles contain no certain reference to it. The early story of practically all the other Pictish monasteries is equally obscure.

In spite of the loss of its native records the story of Rosemarkie, like that of Scotland generally in these early times, was preserved in tradition, or, more properly, by the ancient lore accumulated in the retentive memories of bards and storytellers and handed down from one generation to another until in later times fragments of it were committed to paper by writers who, it seems, were also able to draw upon ancient records then extant but which have since been lost. Relevant to the story of Rosemarkie are the 14th century Chronicle of Andrew of Wyntoun, the Aberdeen Breviary and Boece's History during the 16th century and the enormous collection of the Acta Sanctorum, the lives of the early saints compiled during the next century by the Jesuit Fathers. Thereafter for two hundred years historians paid little attention to the early history of Scotland until Skene and other 19th century writers took up its study.

Skene wrote that the early church at Rosemarkie was founded by St. Moluag of Lismore and was probably dedicated to him but he gave no authority for the statement. Subsequent writers have followed Skene but neither Wyntoun, the Aberdeen Breviary, Boece, the Acta Santorum nor the Irish Chronicles provide any justification for linking Moluag of Lismore with Rosemarkie. The latter, who seems to have been a Prince of the Church comparable in stature and achievement with St. Columba, whose contemporary and perhaps rival he was, died in 592 and was buried in the monastery he had founded on the island of Lismore. Skene probably confused him with another and later Moluag mentioned by Boece as being a great preacher and a friend and companion of St. Boniface, in whose chapel at Rosemarkie he was buried much more than a century after the time of 1Vloluag of Lismore.

If the climate of the Rosemarkie peninsula was in these early times anything like what it is today one would have expected it to have been the home of a Pictish tribe and a seat of Druidical learning, magic and enterprise. Precisely such a spot would have been the objective of the fervent monks who flocked from Ireland into Scotland at this period in one of the most remarkable and concentrated missionary enterprises of all time. Landing on the coast of Argyle which then stretched north to Lochbroom they made their way through the glens to the shores of the Moray Firth and the North Sea, preaching to the Scots and the Picts the gospel they had learned in the cells of their native Irish monasteries replicas of which they sought to establish wherever opportunity offered. Apart from the natural opposition of the Druids it does not seem that they encountered any violent difficulty so that in no long time their foundations appeared all over Alba. To the achievements of one of these Irish monks, St. Monan, who has been identified by Skene and others with Moinenn the first bishop of the monastery of Clonfert Brenain on the Shannon where he died in 571, insufficient attention seem to have been given. If the site of an ancient chapel can be associated with an early monastery then St. Monan made his landfall in Scotland at Applecross where records speak of his chapel. Thence he may have made his way across country to Evanton where there is another chapel site known by his name and into Sutherland where his presence is commemorated by chapels and ancient fairs. Bishop Forbes' Kalendar of Scottish Saints also identifies a Scottish 1Vionan with the Irish Moinenn and mentions the former in connection with Minnans Fair held at Freswick in Caithness. A chapel of St. Monan also existed somewhere between Tain and Rosemarkie. The Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland show that King James IV in the course of his frequent pilgrimages to the shrine of St. Duthac at Tain sometimes made the return journey via the Chanonry of Ross and Chanonry Ferry. On one such journey he is recorded as having left offerings of 14/- each to the priests of St. Monan and Rosemarkie and 5 to the priests of the Chanonry. The site of this ancient chapel dedicated to St. Monan is now unknown but it seems significant that a curiously shaped piece of land near Rosemarkie still bears the name of Minnies' Crook. In an old Protocol Book of William Lauder, Town Clerk of Rosemarkie, and in the Cartulary of that old burgh the name of the field in question was variously spelled Mynnance and Minnonies Cruik about the year 1616. Considering the identification made elsewhere of Minnin or Minning with Monan it seems reasonable to suppose that the field known today as Minnies' Crook, in shape recalling the head of a staff or bishop's crozier, commemorates St. Monan whose chapel cannot have been far away and was certainly in existence during the early 16th century. If this was the case then St. Monan may have been the founder of the Pictish monastery at Rosemarkie which has wrongly been ascribed to St. Moluag of Lismore.

The probable existence of an early monastery at Rosemarkie is to be inferred from a statement in the English Chronicle of Henry of Silgrave (1272) to the effect that when the first known bishop of Ross appeared early in the 12th century there was at Rosemarkie a foundation of Culdees, the order of monks who during the 8th century sought to revive and restore the Pictish monastic system which, as the later Roman Catholic Church in Scotland and elsewhere was to do, had fallen on evil days. The general inference from the Silgrave account is that Culdee foundations were to be looked for on or near the sites of earlier Pictish monasteries, so that the existence of a Culdee College at Rosemarkie in the 12th century would support the somewhat meagre tradition of the establishment centuries before of a Pictish monastery in an area where all the circumstances and environment called for one. The existence of this early monastery at Rosemarkie is supported by the story of Boniface, Patron Saint of Rosemarkie, who, after what may have been a momentous but unsuccessful effort to win Alba for the Roman Catholic Church, ended his days in retreat at Rosemarkie, a fact which would mark out that place as being already hallowed by Christian associations.

The actual facts of the Boniface story are obscure. There has always been a suspicion that he was a fictitious character built up by the medieval Catholic Church to create and foster the illusion that Christianity was first brought to Scotland by the direct work of Rome. The Aberdeen Breviary (1509) printed for the first time what purported to be the current legend about him according to which he was an Israelite, descended from the sister of the Apostles Peter and Andrew, who became a Catholic priest, went to Rome where he was elected Pope, and, having been so commanded in a vision, set out upon a mission to convert the peoples of Northern Europe. In obedience to this divine call he set out from Rome accompanied by a number of bishops, abbesses, priests and many others and after a favourable journey landed at Restennoth on the north shore of the Firth of Tay where the mission praised God "playing the major litany on their stringed instruments." According to the story, Nectan, king of the Picts, who had his capital close by, received the pilgrims with open arms and, together with all his chief men and ministers, was baptized by Boniface who thereafter performed countless miracles, wrote one hundred and fifty books of the Gospels, founded as many temples to God, as many bishops and one thousand priests, and finally in the eighty-fourth year of his age, having converted and baptized in the course of his life 36,000 men and women, passed over to Christ on the 16th day of March. A recent Catholic writer has described the story as a fanciful distortion of facts which is no doubt the case but the facts themselves were not at all improbable in the context of the time. The angelic vision accorded to Boniface may be compared with the statement of the late Pope John XXIII concerning the latest Vatican Council that "the inspiration to call a council together came to us suddenly as we listened to an unexpected voice." The spreading of the Christian faith was a missionary act. The baptism of 36,000 men and women according to the legend was not unusual. While the legend was being created rulers like Charlemagne in Europe were accustomed to conclude victorious wars by insisting that conquered kings and their people submit to instant baptism. Nectan as head of the Pictish Church could be represented as consenting to be `received' in this way into the Roman Catholic Church.

The Acta Sanctorum adds to the story by relating that Boniface built a notable temple at Rosemarkie before the altar of which he was subsequently buried. At Rosemarkie, however, a very different tradition had become accepted. According to a young Jesuit priest, George Thomson, author of a pamphlet on "The Antiquity of the Christian Religion among the Scots" (1594), there existed at that date "a town Rosemarkie where there is a tradition unanimously accepted by the elders of that people that St. Boniface was born there. To his memory were dedicated both the Cathedral in Ross-shire and many other monuments in that county which exist to this day, but because he taught for some period of his life in England he was commonly thought to be English."

In the Acta Sanctorum version Boniface was also given the name Kiritinus, the Latin form of the Irish or Gaelic Curitan, and the nickname Albanus or native of Alba, a nickname which could only have been bestowed during a sojourn outside Alba. He was for long commemorated on the date of his death, 16th March, as, for example, by St. Boniface Fair which for long ages was held at Fortrose on that date and was known far and wide. The Calendars of the Irish Church Saints commemorate a Curitan of their own on the same date but there is nothing but one very doubtful reference in them to suggest that this Curitan may have had any connection with Scotland. It has been left to the XXth century to bring to light more tangible proof of the existence of Boniface or Curitan and to establish his association with Rosemarkie, whether or not he was born there, with an authority similar to that which identifies the Columbas, the Moluags, the Mungos and other well-known Saints with the localities which have claimed them for their own through the centuries.

A few years ago an examination of the writs in the charter chest of the Munros of Foulis in Ross-shire brought to light a writ, No. 12 (Published by Scottish Record Society) dated 1380, by Walter de Lesly, lord of Ross, and Eufme, his spouse, eldest daughter of William late Earl of Ross, granting to the blessed Virgin Mary and St. Boniface, patron of the church of Ross, the whole town or farm of Drum for ever "for the sustenance of one chaplain doing divine worship in the chapel of St. Boniface adjacent to the town of Rosemarkie which is called Cuthyl Curitin according to the ordination of Alexander de Kylquos, then bishop of Ross." This Alexander was bishop from 1371 to 1398. A chapel of St. Boniface is known to have existed as part of the surviving aisle of the Cathedral but it has been held by Mr Chisholm Batten (History of Beauly Priory) that the building of the aisle was not completed until after the death of Walter de Lesly in 1394. The chapel of the deed, if this theory be correct, could therefore not have formed part of the Cathedral in 1380 when the deed was granted but must be looked for elsewhere. In any case the word `Cuthyl' would not have applied to any part of a Cathedral for it is an old Scots word meaning `grove' or `small wood' with the secondary meaning of a `retreat' or `refuge', a meaning which would precisely fit its use in connection with an ecclesiastic who, as the custom was, sought a place where he could obey the Divine command `Be still and know that I am God.' The spelling `Curitin' suggests a clerical notary's attempt to spell `Curitan'. As the legends relate that Curitan or Boniface ended his days at Rosemarkie it would be reasonable to conclude that the description Cuthyl Curitin referred to an old chapel associated with Curitan which in 1380 was still being served by a priest and that the legend had to this extent a foundation in fact. The site of the chapel is now unknown and the name Curitan has not survived locally in any other connection. Modern archaeological methods, however, may yet discover in some neglected grove the site of the ancient chapel where the elders of Rosemarkie were wont to pay their devotions to their patron saint.

The story of Boniface may be rounded off by a reference to him in Wyntoun's Chronicle dated by Bede's account of Nectan. Wyntoun wrote:

Nectan Derly wes then regnand Oure the Peychtis in Scotland In Ros he fownded Rosmarkyne Dat dowyd wes with kynges syne And made wes a place cathedralle Benorth Murraue severale; Quhare Chanownys ar seculare Wndyr Saynt Bonyface lyvand thare.

or, Rosemarkie, north of Moray, endowed by Nectan and his successors, where secular canons lived under the patronage of St. Boniface. Bede, the monk of Jarrow, who wrote one of the earliest histories of England not long after the event, recounts how Nectan came to be `received' into the Church of Rome and places the date at 710. He has, of course, nothing to say of a miraculous descent of a Papal mission on the shores of the Tay but explains that Nectan abandoned the ancient practices of the Pictish Church when, after correspondence with the Abbot of Jarrow, he was satisfied that this was the proper thing to do. Bede does not mention Boniface but, not unnaturally perhaps, later writers and commentators have suggested that the latter may have been the intermediary between Nectan and Jarrow.

Summing up what is known or can be conjectured of the early association of Rosemarkie with the Pictish monastic system there is no evidence to support the frequent assertion that St. Moluag of Lismore founded a monastery there. On the other hand there is some reason to suggest that such a monastery may have been established there by St. Monan who may have been identical with an Irish bishop of Clonfert. As the latter died in 571 he may well have visited Scotland before St. Columba landed on Iona. It may be noted that while the Pictish foundations were self-supporting and observed rules of personal conduct and endeavour similar to those enjoined on the later Catholic monasteries, they were on the other hand, and by contrast with their much later successors, independent of each other and never constituted a national Church any more than the Pictish tribes can be regarded as forming anything like a modern nation. The larger monasteries may have had bishops but the latter were subordinate to the abbots, had no diocesan functions and were required only for the purpose of ordaining monks and consecrating buildings. The monastery was closely associated with the surrounding tribe from whose chief it had obtained its lands and the Pictish was distinguished from the later Catholic system by the complete absence of a hierarchy. Notwithstanding this unorganised ecclesiastical system the missionary work of the early Pictish monks was to spread down the eastern part of England as far as the Thames by the time the Catholic St. Augustine landed in Kent in 597 and to establish an influence among the rude Saxons which was to be amply acknowledged by the Catholic historian Bede.

Long after Monan came the Catholic Curitan or Boniface. It does not seem that his work for the Catholic Church had any lasting effect. The Pictish monastery at Rosemarkie was to be supplanted not by a foundation under Catholic rule but by the Culdees later in the century which Nectan made prominent in Scottish church history. Just as the Pictish monks had fallen from grace so also were the Culdees to lapse from their high ideals but their foundations were to continue in being until with the assistance of later Scottish kings the Catholic Church was finally established in Scotland during the 12th century.

Various explanations might be offered to account for the fact that no one today can point to the site of the early monastery, or of the cell or retreat of Curitan or Boniface, or of the Culdee College, to take these in their chronological order, There may never have been a monastery or college while the association of St. Boniface with Rosemarkie may be pure myth. Alternatively, the Catholic Church during the 12th and succeeding centuries may have succeeded in effacing local traditions concerning the monastery and the college. Equally, the identity of Curitan with Boniface being unknown and his retreat having disappeared before the time of the Reformation, any tradition of it may have been effectively suppressed by the Protestant successors of the Chapter of Ross. Further, there may be some germ of truth in the old story of the replacement of the troublesome Gaelic tribes on the shores of the Moray Firth by people from the south who would be loyal to the Crown and ignorant of the early ecclesiastical history of Rosemarkie although early place names like Cuthyl Curitin remained in use.

All that can be done today is to attempt to reconstruct the past from a knowledge of what is still known to have survived and from consideration of the factors which usually operated in the selection of early ecclesiastical sites. Present day knowledge yields only the site of an ancient chapel on Kincurdy, to the north of and across the Burn from present-day Rosemarkie, and the site of the Cathedral. A deed recorded in the minutes of Fortrose Town Council in 1692 speaks of "the town and lands of Kincurdy with the chapel, chapel-yard, etc." The present Kincurdy House is believed to stand upon the site of this old chapel beside the old road from Cromarty to Rosemarkie. If the gifts of James IV to the priests of St. Monan, Rosemarkie and the Chanonry were recorded in the order in which they were made during the king's journey from Cromarty to the Chanonry then the chapel on Kincurdy might well be the chapel of St. Monan who was also commemorated by the field known as Minnies Crook. This chapel might have been erected upon the site of the early monastery but it may equally have been no more than a later dedication to St. Monan, which would mean that the site of the monastery would have to be looked for elsewhere. Monasteries, like the later Cathedrals, are believed to have been placed on prominent positions where they would be visible from long distances around. It might thus be a sound deduction that the monastery and the later college were located near where the Cathedral was subsequently erected. This possibility is referred to at greater length in the next chapter. The explanation of the chapel on Kincurdy may be that it was the first church of the parish of Rosemarkie and that it was not until the village of Rosemarkie became a burgh that it acquired a church of its own as usually happened in new burghs.


There are no records of the period between St. Monan and the first appearance of the bishopric of Ross six centuries later but the tall Pictish Sculptured Stone standing today in Rosemarkie churchyard, profusely carved on both sides with the symbols characteristic of Pictish art during the 9th and 10th centuries when this and similar stones in the north of Scotland are believed to have been produced, indicates that here as elsewhere the slow march of civilisation was in progress. Incidentally, at some unknown later date the stone disappeared from view to be discovered again early in the 18th century lying at the base of the tower of the parish church then in course of being rebuilt. The story goes that it was then appropriated by the contractor on whose grave it was subsequently placed, to be recovered in after years by local antiquaries who re-erected it in its present position.

During the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries life on the Rosemarkie peninsula must have been hard and dangerous. The Pictish language and customs gave way to those introduced by the Scots from Argyle. Although no reminders of Norse occupation have been discovered here, Viking raids must have taken their toll. Further, the northern regions of the Highlands were involved in the long civil wars between the Gaelic descendants of Malcolm Canmore and his first wife and the family of that king's second marriage to the English princess, Margaret, which was to lead to the gradual Anglicisation of Scotland. Tradition not now wholly accepted has it that the rebellious peoples of the Moray Firth coast were transplanted elsewhere and replaced by strangers from the South, Scots, English, Normans and Flemings from the Low Countries. On the other hand it was for political reasons the policy of the sons of Malcolm Canmore's second marriage to settle southerners in the villages and little burghs which were springing up in the north so that when written records become available for Rosemarkie during the late 16th century surnames and place names in the peninsula are found to be almost entirely non-Gaelic. The disappearance of Gaelic speech and nomenclature was helped by the ingress of the English-speaking priests and their followers from the south who occupied the manses in the Chanonry of Ross and finally and completely changed the character of the area.

Owing to the unexplained disappearance of the records of the Bishopric of Ross and the lack of other early sources of information the date and manner of the foundation of the bishopric are equally uncertain. The first known bishop, Macbeth, appears as a witness to a charter granted by David I about the year 1125. To judge from his name he was a Gael while all his successors bore non-Gaelic names. It has long been thought therefore that David, busily engaged in the establishment of the Catholic Church and the feudal system as instruments of his policy for the pacification of his kingdom and the maintenance of his authority, induced the abbots of Culdee Colleges to fall in with his plans by installing them as the first bishops of the Catholic sees which appear for the first time during his reign. If this was the case then Macbeth could have been the last abbot of the Culdee College at Rosemarkie referred to in Henry of Silgrave's Chronicle. Modern historians, however, have been led by their survey of the scanty knowledge available to question the validity of these assumptions and to suggest that the Catholic Church had established itself in Scotland before the 12th century. Considering the readiness of the northern tribes to rebel against southern domination and remembering their stubborn attachment to their own ancient tribal monasteries it is a little difficult to believe that the Catholic Church had met with much success in its attempts to impose upon the north the foreign ecclesiastical system which the south, more exposed to new thought and influence, may have accepted at an earlier date. The complete lack of records, tradition or knowledge regarding ancient churches in the diocese of Ross, the delay in undertaking the building of its Cathedral and the fact that a century after Macbeth there were still only some half dozen canons, whose status was perhaps little more than nominal, suggest that in Macbeth's time and later the bishopric of Ross existed only on paper and that if he had any diocesan predecessors they had met with as little respect as that Bishop of Caithness who was murdered by his flock a hundred years after Macbeth's appearance.

However these things may be, the fact remains that the first bishop of Ross of whom there is any knowledge was the Gael, Macbeth, who described himself as bishop of Rosemarkie. From this fact it has hitherto been supposed that his episcopal seat was established in the village of that name. The considerations already adduced indicate the fallacy of that assumption. It has been shown that for a long period state records and ecclesiastical documents continued to apply the word Rosemarkie to an area larger than the village of that name. Other instances may be given. An agreement of 1227 between the bishops of Ross and Moray was signed by individuals describing themselves as Robert, Bishop of Ross, Henry, Dean of Rosemarkie, William, Treasurer of Rosemarkie and Robert, Archdeacon of Ross, showing that the title of the bishopric was still unsettled a century after Macbeth's time. Another century later Wyntoun's Chronicle was to recount the burial in the Kirk Cathedral of Rosemarkie, of Andrew de Moravia, Lord of Bothwell and Ormond, the friend and brother-in-law of Robert the Bruce and Regent of Scotland for a while after the death of the latter. This was long after the building of the Cathedral had been commenced. It seems to be clear therefore that the name Rosemarkie was not limited to the village but continued long after the ecclesiastical world of Scotland must have been well aware that the bishop and chapter of Ross had their seat elsewhere than in that village and that the designation of the early bishops was taken not from the village but from the peninsula and the lands behind it.

There are other reasons for rejecting the assumption that the bishop's seat was ever planted in the village. Certain well known factors operated in the choice of sites for Cathedrals and, for that matter, for early churches and monasteries. A typical Pictish monastery comprised a little wooden church, the wattle or stone cells of the monks, the guest house, kitchen and other offices, all enclosed within a cashel or ditch and rampart, while outside would be the land and buildings required for the monks' farming and other operations. This fact, not to mention the prudent precaution of removing the monks as far as possible from the worldly temptations of a village, meant that the site of the monastery of Rosemarkie lay outside the village. The site chosen would be conspicuous and visible from a long distance around. This consideration applied also to the Cathedral which stood upon the bluff overlooking Fortrose Bay and could be seen from miles away. It accounts also for the ring of crosses of which the Cathedral was the focal point - one at Corslet above Rosemarkie to the north, one on the Ness or peninsula to the east, its site still known as the Cross of the Ness, and another at Crosshill near Avoch to the west, where the old road over the Muir from Munlochy came in sight of the Cathedral - all placed where travellers coming in sight of the venerated building fell on their knees to offer thanks for a journey so far safely completed. In the case of the Cross of the Ness the travellers in question had just come ashore from the ferry boat which had taken them across the Firth from Ardersier. A similar cross might have stood on the old road over the hill from Dingwall via Scuddell Ferry where it came in sight of the Cathedral below. If it ever did, it has, like the other crosses, long disappeared leaving not even its name to commemorate it. For all we know, the crosses might have been originally erected to enable devout travellers to venerate the earlier Pictish monastery which may have stood near the site of the later Cathedral.

The Roman Catholic Bishopric is believed to have been co-extensive with the ancient Earldom of Ross. Both came into being as Scotland began to emerge from the Dark Ages. The antiquity of Rosemarkie as an ecclesiastical centre is shown by the fact that Inverness, though the capital of a vast sheriffdom, never attracted the notice of the Church. To the south and east the bishopric of Ross extended into what became the County of Inverness. It included, for example, the modern parish of Kilmorack south of the River Beauly at the ancient Stockfoord of Ross, perhaps because this formed part of the old Earldom. To the east it took in the modern Inverness-shire parish of Ardersier across the Chanonry Ferry, perhaps in both cases because the ancient Earls of Ross may have held both sides of the crossings, in one case of the Beauly River, in the other of the Chanonry Ferry. Originally, however, the bishopric did not extend further west than the central water-shed of Ross until in 1221 the six western parishes of modern Ross-shire were transferred from ancient Argyle to Ross. This was a century after the appearance of Macbeth, bishop of Rosemarkie, who should be regarded as striving to reconcile the devoted followers of the ancient independent monastic system with the new southern idea of a hierarchy dependent upon an all-seeing bishop and a distant Pope.    The Celtic monasteries and the Culdee Colleges may have decayed and fallen far short of the high ideals of their founders but their survival until the 12th century attests some vitality and a strong hold upon the people of Alba in face of the formidable organisation of the Roman Catholic Church which regarded all opposition or non-conformity as heresy. A Protestant may be forgiven for recalling, even in this twentieth century when at least talk of church re-union is in the air, although in the last resort it seems to be possible on Catholic terms only, that, although the doctrines of the Celtic had always been the same as those of the earlier Roman Church and its practices and customs had become the same except to the uncertain extent to which the Culdees may have adhered to the nearly forgotten observances of their early founders, the Celtic Church had never accorded to Rome more than the respect due to the Church of the ancient Capital city of the western world in these early days when, according to the Episcopal Bishop Dowden (The Celtic Church in Scotland) "the bishops of Rome had not put forward the monstrous pretensions to universal jurisdiction that appear in later days nor had the doctrines they inculcated yet taken the unscriptural and un-catholic shapes that some of them assumed in medieval times."

The scattered units of the Celtic Church had gone their own easy way disturbed by neither control nor supervision unless it may have been the occasional constraint of the king. Now in the 12th century the sons of Malcolm Canmore and Margaret of England were to hasten the process which brought the independent native church of Alba into the fold of the world church. The Culdee Colleges at Rosemarkie and elsewhere disappeared and the whole land was divided into dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church. The inherent difficulties of the task of reconciliation, the necessity of persuading southern priests to venture into the wild northern regions and the formidable hazards of recurring civil wars made it impossible for long years to organise more than a `shadow' Chapter of Ross and put the immediate building of a Cathedral of Ross and manses for its clergy out of the question. Nothing in fact is known regarding the construction of the Cathedral. Architectural experts hold that its earliest or oldest part is the undercroft or crypt-like ground floor of the old chapter-house which still stands at the north-eastern end of the building and that the dog-tooth mouldings and pure Early English lancet windows of this building indicate that it was built not later than about 1250 up to which time the styles of architecture commonly employed in Scotland and England were identical. The upper part of the chapter-house and part at least of its southern wall were rebuilt during the 17th century but the courses of the western end of this wall indicate, as also does its location relative to what can be seen of the remaining foundations of the nave, that it formed originally part of the wall of the chancel. In other words the original chapter-house seems to have been built at the same time as the Chancel or eastern part of the Cathedral beyond the Nave. This would not conflict with the possibility that another century or more may have elapsed before the Chancel and Nave were completed for it seems likely that the building went up by slow stages. Sir James Balfour, writing a History of Scotland in the 17th century, says that Robert Bishop of Ross, "who did build Rosemarkie" died in 1270. Notice the long continuation of the old idea regarding the Cathedral of "Rosemarkie." The date of this bishop's election is not quite certain but it took place sometime around 1250 so that, having regard to the architecture of the chapter-house and Sir James Balfour's statement, it may be concluded that the building of the Cathedral was commenced about this time. It would not have been unusual for such a building to have been put up in sections or added to from time to time as funds became available. Master James Fraser's History of the Frasers (the Wardlaw MS), written during the period 1666-1691, states that the building was completed by John Fraser who was Bishop of Ross from 1498 to 1507. If this was the case there cannot have been much to do in view of the short period during which this bishop was in office. The Wardlaw MS statement may merely mean that no more work was done on the interior and fittings after about 1500, when, externally, the Cathedral consisted of nave and chancel with an aisle on the southern side of the nave. In any case, `completion' seems not to be the term to apply to a lopsided cathedral with only one aisle, operations on which came to an end in 1500 while the Reformation in 1560 and the ominous years between these two dates put an end to any idea of further building. Further, the Wardlaw MS account conflicts with the considered view of Chisholm Batten in his history of Beauly Priory already referred to that the aisle was completed by Bishop Bullock who died in 1439. The aisle could hardly have been built before the nave was completed. If this reasoning is correct than the nave would have been built long before 1500.

Although the name of Macbeth, the first recorded bishop of Ross, appears about the year 1125 it is not to be supposed that he was able there and then to undertake the organisation of the medieval bishopric with its parochial and cathedral clergy to say nothing of the buildings required in the shape of Cathedral and parish churches and parish and cathedral manses. The times were very unsettled, Scotland was just beginning to emerge from the Dark Ages and to be welded into one nation and law and the rule of law were being slowly and with difficulty introduced. In the North the power of the Norsemen still extended as far south as Dingwall while the tide of civil war was to roll once and again over the ancient and wide province of Moray which stretched from the Spey to the central watershed of Ross. Having regard to the long period of anarchy in the North the new bishops can hardly have been able to tackle their job with some purpose and hope of success until after the final pacification by William the Lion. From the fact that as late as 1235, the Chapter of Ross consisted only of a Dean and Treasurer and four Canons who were said not to be able to afford to reside at the Episcopal seat, it might reasonably be assumed that the Celtic Church in spite of Macbeth's possible advancement had for a long time refused to part with its lands and had resisted its supersession by the Roman organisation and that for a long time circumstances were unfavourable and the means wanting for the establishment of a bishopric on the usual scale. The undercroft, which is said to have been the chapel of St. Nicolas, may well have been the first stone church of the bishopric, built when Celtic resistance was finally overcome or absorbed.

In these earlier times the first diocesan bishops were little more than missionaries endeavouring with the aid of their attendant priests, the nucleus of the later chapters, to bring their wide sees within the influence of the Roman and to eradicate the last weak remnants of the Celtic Church. As it happened the task was to be lightened by the introduction of feudalism into Scotland by the Anglicising kings. Whereas the Celtic lands and church had been organised on a tribal basis, the new feudal system formed at once the foundation for a new order of society and set the pattern for the supersession of the native Celtic by the intruding Roman Church. Further, the new system introduced also the well-established continental custom of building not only castles but also churches on the new feudal estates. Either the estates with their churches became the basis of a new system of parishes in which case the bishops found themselves with a framework of parishes ready to hand, or the latter co-operated with the landowners in setting up parishes. The moral and religious duty of paying tithes or tenths of the produce of the land anciently established on the Continent for the support of the Church had also followed the settlement in Scotland of the new feudal lords brought from England and elsewhere so that the new parishes and their churches were established on a permanent basis, although it is not to be thought that the process went smoothly or was completed in a day or that the strangers themselves met with a hearty welcome. The actual course of events in Ross at this period has not been chronicled, but, from the fact that in 1235 the chapter consisted of only six poorly paid members while twenty years later the Pope sanctioned an increase in their numbers and stipends, it is clear that about this time the bishops must have acquired a rich endowment as well as the patronage of the parish churches however this had come about. From this period the Chanonry of Ross and the Chapter of Ross began to take shape, the former consisting of the infant Cathedral and the wooden manses of the canons rising around it, the latter of the canons themselves in their capacity as Cathedral clergy.

In a country as poor as Scotland then was, the building of a Cathedral was a slow business. Land was more easily come by than was cash, while the accumulation of liquid capital had hardly yet commenced. Popes were to authorise collections for new Cathedrals. Parish priests were to be empowered to offer indulgences, or remissions to repentant sinners of the temporal punishment which might otherwise be visited upon them, to those who would give alms for the proposed works. A like remission from eternal punishment after death might likewise be sought by testators who relied upon handsome legacies for a similar purpose to ease their escape from the dreaded hell-fire. On the other hand, a wealthy bishop might put his hand in his own pocket to speed the work on his own Cathedral. The delay in completing the Cathedral of Ross which may have taken two centuries or more to build indicates the manifold difficulties to be overcome, of which the shortage of cash may not always have been the most formidable. Conditions generally were unfavourable during the long period when Scotland was racked by internal disturbances, particularly in those areas where the king could never be sure that his word would run. The art of building in stone was hardly known in Scotland before the 13th century and little practised. Contracts for the Cathedral at Fortrose had to be made with architects, who were themselves often master masons, and with lodges of masons from the south, perhaps even from abroad, for whose services there was much competition in this age of cathedral and monastery building, resulting in a turnover of labour which entailed delay in completion as did also the frequent changes of bishop. The use of money was at first little known and little was available in an age when as much as possible was paid in kind. The process by which bishops accumulated gold and silver in sufficient quantity must have been painfully slow, for the rents of their benefactors and the income from their own benefices and tithes were payable mostly in kind.

Besides the Cathedral, manses were required for over a score of canons. These were erected along the sides of a square, of which the Cathedral formed the east-west diagonal. The bishop's palace stood at the west end of the Chanonry at the foot of the slope below St. Boniface's Well, looking over the lands still known as the Precincts. His castle or place of refuge in time of danger stood at the east end of the gait or High Street looking down the latter towards the west. The manses of the dignitaries other than the Dean stood on the north side of the High Street while the Dean's residence was situated on the south side of the Cathedral Green with a croft of land stretching to the sea where it was bounded by the Dean's Pot, whatever that may have been. Other dignitaries and some of the minor canons had crofts contiguous to their manses but others had to be content with a now unknown share of the lands between Fortrose and Rosemarkie, the Channon Lands which belonged to the Chapter.

Plan of Cathedral and Manses

According to the Wardlaw MS the Castle and Palace were both completed by Bishop John Fraser at the same time as was the Cathedral, that is, about 1500. Some doubt has already been cast upon the reliability of Master James Fraser as an authority for the date of completion of the Cathedral. The same doubt must attach to his statement regarding the erection of Palace and Castle for it seems more likely that the Castle, at least, had been built as a stronghold long before 1500. His MS also states that Bishop John Fraser saw the `College of Canons' advanced. A plan of Fortrose made in 1861 shows the outline of a building described as `The College' at the north-east corner of the Castleyard behind where the Church of Scotland now stands, but no tradition or knowledge of such a building seems to have survived. The adjoining property of Platcock is, however, described in its titles as being within the bounds of the College of the Chanonry. A building with such a title in a Cathedral city could have been the residence of the vicars-choral or the home and school of the choristers, and, as such, could have been a normal, if somewhat late, addition to the Chanonry. In view of the statement in the MS that Bishop Fraser had a hand in the building of the College, the interesting possibility that this could have been the site of an ancient Culdee College, the memory of which persisted until last century, seems remote. On the other hand, Master James Fraser was writing his history from hearsay about 175 years after the event and is not free from the suspicion of losing no opportunity to magnify the name of Fraser.

In the absence of diocesan and Cathedral records no exact account of the possessions of the Bishops of Ross appears ever to have been made. The Registers of the Great Seal and of the Privy Council, however, sufficiently attest their great extent, ranging from wide lands throughout the Black Isle and Easter Ross to the `bishopric lands' of Applecross on the far west, and including the Chanonry Ferry and various salmon-fishings. There were also other sources of revenue, e.g. "kains and customs" the nature of which can only be guessed at. Some of these latter were no doubt incidental to the feudal tenure by which the bishops held their lands under the Crown. As feudal lords the bishops possessed all the usual feudal rights and privileges including those of holding courts of justice for their vassals and tenants at which the latter would have been required to attend and where they had `to give suit,' that is, be prepared to act in the double capacity of counsellors and jurymen. Even as late as 1574 the Crown is found confirming a charter of 1564 by the Vicar-general of the deceased Catholic Bishop Sinclair which required the grantee and his tenants to come to the courts of the Bishop at the Chanonry of Ross whenever summoned. Perhaps, however, the insertion of such a clause in a charter was becoming by that time merely a formal repetition of words customary in such documents, although it shows that in earlier times the duty must have been a real one. This particular charter called also for an annual money payment and the provision of certain services, including the use of ten horses for three days a year ploughing the bishop's lands, besides attending three courts. For the management and protection of their great estates the bishops appointed Bailies and Constables, offices which tended to become hereditary. In 1610 the Mackenzies of Kintail having by this time acquired all the lands of the bishopric in the Black Isle, subject only to certain feuduties payable to the now Episcopal bishops, the King `of new' constituted Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail to be hereditary constable of the palace and castle of the Chanonry and hereditary bailie of the patrimony of the bishops. The bishop was to pay Mackenzie 100 Scots with six chalders of victual or meal in respect of the office of constable and 40 in respect of the bailieship.

Occasional attempts have been made to assess the value of the Bishopric of which the account in Playfair's 1819 Description of Scotland is typical. According to this the bishopric was worth, in 1562, 504 Scots plus 78 chalders of barley, 7 chalders of oats, 40 cattle, 169 sheep, 132 kids and various poultry and eggs. It is not clear whether this income made up the temporality only, that is, the fruits of the various lordships, or whether it included the spirituality, that is, the tithes of the two parishes of which the bishops were nominally rectors, and various offerings which they may have been entitled to receive from the churches. The probability is that the details were taken from the charters by which the lands were held by vassals and that the income from kains and customs, the Ferry and fishings and the spirituality is not included. As it is, converting the various items into cash at contemporary prices and taking the equivalent of that cash in modern purchasing power, so far as any real comparison of 16th and 20th century values is possible, the income of the bishop in 1562 from the sources mentioned represents something like 8,000 in modern money without any liability for taxation, other than occasional papal and royal exactions. Incomplete as Playfair's estimate may have been, the total of what may have been only part of the temporality is sufficiently large to explain the competition for the bishoprics and other fat benefices. On the other hand the income mentioned was gross and subject to considerable necessary expenses, for example, travelling expenses and the maintenance of a large armed retinue.


The four streets which today enclose the Cathedral Green are those which were bordered by over a score of manses four centuries ago, when Fortrose was known as the Chanonry of Ross. As everything points to the fact that the Chanonry never consisted of more than these streets until recent years it would seem that its inhabitants at the time of the Reformation must have been restricted to the Cathedral clergy and their retainers. Some account of these clergy and of the remarkable story of the medieval -church must therefore be attempted. The loss of the diocesan records of Ross makes a detailed account of its history impossible but sufficient can be gleaned from scattered sources to indicate that the ecclesiastical affairs of the Chanonry differed in no way from those of Scotland as a whole.

The organisation of the Chapter of Ross was commenced about 1235 by the then bishop, Robert I. During the century which had passed since Macbeth appeared as the first known bishop it may be supposed that successive bishops had been engaged in setting up parishes, recruiting priests from the south and, hardest task of all, overcoming the sullen hostility of a people accustomed to other ways and not eager to be tithed. Robert certainly made it his business to procure Papal sanction for an increase in the number of the canons and in their stipends, a first step in the process of constituting a resident chapter of canons to undertake the long daily round of services then considered to be the sole aim and purpose of a Cathedral. Allocations of parishes to canons as their prebends were made either by this bishop or by his successor, Robert II, for, twenty years later, following another petition to the Pope, the latter confirmed the grants and set out practically all that is known from records of the constitution of the Chapter of Ross. The Chapter so formed included, first, the four `Dignitaries' or what might be called the principal office-bearers, the Dean who was chairman and charged with the cure of souls of the Cathedral clergy, the Precentor or Chanter whose duty it was to recruit and train choristers and to arrange the musical parts of the services, the Treasurer who looked after the adornment of the Cathedral, the statues, pictures, vestments, the gold and silver vessels and plate and provided the wine,incense and candles required, and the Chancellor who acted as Secretary and was responsible not only for the custody of the records but also for such education as was available for the choristers and the inferior clergy and candidates for the priesthood. Then there were the lesser Dignitaries, the Archdeacon who was responsible to the bishop for the supervision of the parish churches of the diocese and the sub-Dean and sub-Chanter whose titles explain themselves. The ordinary canons made up the remainder of the Chapter which numbered over a score. While the ordinary canons each enjoyed the revenues of a parish church, each of the dignitaries drew the fruits of two or more parishes. The bishop, as such, was not ex officio a member of the Chapter and, strangely enough, had little or no say in the management of the Cathedral, but here as was the practice elsewhere Bishop Robert had allocated to himself two parishes, Nigg and Tarbat, the income from which he enjoyed and which entitled him to sit in the Chapter as an ordinary canon.

To ensure that the choral parts of the Cathedral services were becomingly performed it was customary for each canon to appoint at his own expense a vicar-choral whose voice was suitable and who could be trained by the sub-Chanter to take part in the services. In addition various Cathedral chaplaincies had been established from time to time for the purpose of saying prayers and performing masses for the souls of their founders or of relatives of the latter. These chaplains, who were maintained by lands set aside for the purpose by the founders, performed their office at small altars set in the Cathedral walls. An exception to this was the chaplain doing duty at the chapel known as Cuthyl Curitin already referred to.   No record remains of the numbers of these chaplains and vicars-choral. Chaplains saying masses must have attained the order of priest but the vicars-choral need have been no more than sub-deacons or deacons. As the whole of the Chanonry was occupied by the manses of the dignitaries and canons accommodation for 'the vicars, chaplains and choristers and for the Cathedral vergers and servants must have been provided in the manses, subject to the possibility of the `College having been used for this purpose. Some of these lower clergy may have served the well-to-do canons in a menial capacity.

While the early manses may have been built of wood they were in time replaced by stone buildings none of which have survived. In fact, if the later manses were of the tower-like type associated with medieval Scottish architecture, then they had largely disappeared by the 17th century for an engraving of the Chanonry made in 1696 represents the town as having a modern appearance. Although no surviving houses furnish any means of estimating the style of life of the medieval Canons it is possible to draw upon the inventory of Adam Colquhoun, Parson of Stobo and a Canon of Glasgow, who died in 1542, for an indication of the wealth and the manner of life of the later Canons. His larder contained salted cattle, salmon, herring, meal, butter, cheese, all in great quantity, while he had also great store of coal (the Ross equivalent would have been peat) and his barns held wheat, oats, bere or barley, peas and hay. Most of this great stock which would sustain the canon for many months would have been received as payment in kind of his rents and tithes, carried into Glasgow at the back end of the year on strings of wagons and pack horses. Similar convoys would have converged on the Chanonry of Ross bearing tribute to bishop and canons from the wide diocese. The Glasgow parson possessed also a horse and two coursing dogs not to mention also two natural sons borne to him by his housekeeper who had been legitimated to ensure that they might inherit their father's estate, perhaps also as a first necessary step towards the priesthood. In all this the parson was typical of his day and his profession and his like would have been found in Ross at any time during the two centuries before the Reformation. There was then no recognised clerical dress but the clergy were, nominally at least, forbidden to wear brightly coloured garments and were supposed to don cassocks when in town. The Glasgow parson, however, wore, or at least owned, a crimson velvet doublet lined with scarlet, with a scarlet waist-coat over a white holland shirt. His lower limbs were covered by hose of black silk bound with silk garters hung with golden tassels. From a silk belt around his waist, also bound with gold tassels, hung a velvet bag with massive gold mountings. On his feet were a pair of velvet shoes while thrown over his shoulders was a rich gown of damask lined with marten sables and fastened in front with a gold button. His costume was completed by a little velvet bonnet sewn with gold and a short sword or whinger gilt with gold. At one time or another he sported a heavy gold chain, a gold cross, a rosary, another gold chain, gold rings and armlets all valued at over 1,000 Scots. Besides serving for personal adornment these trinkets represented his savings or capital as did much of the considerable store of silver vessels in the manse. In his stable, in addition to his horse, there were also his riding-suit and armour, his two-handed sword, archery outfit and collars and leashes for his dogs. If the Glasgow parson was typical of the clergy of the time then the Cathedral Green in the Chanonry of Ross must have presented a cheerful scene on the long summer evenings when the canons relaxed after their by no means arduous duties.

The hierarchy of the medieval Church in Scotland was divided in two horizontally by the social criterion of birth with its accompanying privilege of education. At the top were the prelates, bishops and abbots, and the members of the cathedral chapters, men sufficiently described in many papal letters as `of noble race' which, in practice meant that they were the younger sons of noble families to whom no other career was open, sons of the well-to-do, the illegitimate sons of priests who had forgotten or ignored their vows of celibacy and who, for a consideration, were able to obtain from the Pope dispensation for their irregular conduct which allowed their offspring to qualify for the priesthood. In the monastic schools, in the few grammar-schools of the time and, latterly, in the universities of Scotland and abroad they were able to obtain the education which would have enabled them to sustain their priestly office in a fitting manner. At the bottom of the scale were the chaplains, the parish priests and other inferior clergy of lowly birth whose education and qualifications were only rudimentary and who could hardly hope to aspire to the fat livings held by the more fortunate bishops and canons. One immediate result of the system was the recruitment of the educated prelates and canons to fill offices of state so that it was common to find bishops and canons of Ross serving the Crown as Chancellors, Ambassadors and, latterly, as Judges of the Court of Session, to say nothing of the various other posts in the civil service of the time. This led to the Crown exercising a power of nomination of bishops and canons which the Popes had ultimately to concede as a right. The canons were the rectors of the parish churches in the diocese and drew for their own use the valuable parish tithes besides enjoying the fruits of the lands assigned to them in and about the Chanonry. As Cathedral canons they were exempt from the duty of serving the cure of souls in their parishes. Instead they provided substitutes, poorly educated priests of the lower order referred to, paying them for their work a mere pittance out of the tithes. Further, it was possible for men who were not in holy orders to be appointed prelates and canons. In Ross a notable example of this cynical attitude towards what the modern mind might regard as the necessity for the preparation and training of the clergy was provided by the example of Henry Cockburn who although not even in minor orders had a promise from the Pope of the Bishopric of Ross whenever it should fall vacant, an event which occurred in 1460. The Pope thereupon granted Cockburn, described as having the tonsure only, a faculty or permission to receive successively the minor orders and the orders of sub-deacon, deacon and priest and to receive consecration after taking the oath of fealty. Cockburn was thus enabled to bypass the various orders and jump at one bound from a clerk's desk in St. Andrews to an Episcopal throne in the Chanonry of Ross. Then there is the ribald tale of how Robert Cairncross, a priest in the diocese of Glasgow, blandly found a way past the law which forbade simony or the purchase of benefices. According to this story Cairncross wagered a great sum with James V that he would not be preferred to the first vacant benefice. Shortly afterwards he found himself Abbot of Holyrood. Ten years later he entered into an indenture with the King, whereby he undertook on certain conditions to resign the Abbacy in favour of the latter's nominee while the King for his part undertook to write to Rome recommending him for the bishopric of Ross which was then vacant. The King's influence was successful and his client became bishop of Ross in 1539.

Many instances in Ross of pluralism or the holding of more than one benefice might be quoted. Although the Canon Law specially forbade the simultaneous holding of two cures-of souls, this might be got round by a dispensation from the Pope. A typical example was furnished by Thomas de Grenlaw, a canon of Ross, described as being of noble race, and already holding a parish in the diocese of St. Andrews, who in 1423 supplicated the Pope to dispense him to hold for life another incompatible benefice, notwithstanding he already held canonries in the Cathedrals of Dunkeld, Moray and Ross. A similar and perhaps more extreme case of the same sort was recorded in 1388 when John de Grange, Bishop of Tusculum in Italy, was granted an indult for five years, meaning a faculty or permission notwithstanding the Canon Laws, to visit by deputy even on one and the same day two churches, monasteries or other ecclesiastical places and the parsons thereof in his Archdeaconry of Glasgow, and to receive the due procurations in ready money and the like touching his Archdeaconry of Ross. That is, the Italian bishop of Tusculum held also the Archdeaconries of Glasgow and Ross and was allowed to carry out his duties by deputy in the former case and to receive cash payments in lieu of the hospitality he was entitled to require from the rectors or vicars of the Ross-shire parishes in the course of the visits of superintendence he would never make. Papal disregard of Canon Law, and of what would today be regarded as the interest of the Church committed to their care, was an old story by the time of the Reformation. So common was the trafficking in benefices that the editor of the `Statutes of the Pre-Reformation Church' was compelled to write that "Statutes confess that rectories and other offices of the Church were filled by men who had not received the clerical character. It is acknowledged and bewailed with grief and indignation by the best champions of the church in its conflict with the Reformers that rich livings with the cure of thousands of souls were held by boys, infants even, by men imbecile in mind, hardened in ignorance, old in wickedness and vice."

The medieval Church was therefore a profession, or the source of a lucrative income, rather than a vocation or calling to which men are attracted by some inner compulsion. John Leslie, the last Roman Catholic Bishop of Ross, has left a frank account in his History of Scotland (1578) of how the holders of the greater benefices were recruited. "In the latter days is so come to pass through the counsel of Kings and of the Nobility that all Bishoprics, the greater kirk livings and the fatter benefices, are all most distributed chiefly to noblemen's sons, whom they think most able to supply that office: to wit, who appears to be endowed with the best judgement and to have the counsel most cunning (clever) comelie and cannie, and worthiest authority to serve his charge and if he be feckful (wealthy or powerful) and have grace to correct manners in wicked persons so that the commendation of Justice may be imputed to him." It does not seem to have occurred to the Bishop that spiritual qualifications might have been an advantage, but then he had himself stepped straight from a lawyer's desk, which he did not thereby relinquish, to the bishopric of Ross where, as it happened, he was not required to exercise any ecclesiastical office. From this and from surviving records of other dioceses and individuals and from the evidence of the Statutes of Church Councils prior to the Reformation, which made a half-hearted and unavailing attempt to cure the corruption of the Church, it is possible to look back upon the Chanonry as having been a community of mostly well-born or well-connected men, educated, suave and polished in manner, some with experience in the affairs of state, others lawyers trained in the schools of the Continent, leading somewhat indolent lives in such luxury as the times and their prebends allowed although under a certain constraint to attend Cathedral services. Some may have even been engaged in trading operations, for a large part of the trade of the country is said to have been in the hands of the Church until late in the period. Cardinal Sermoneta, reporting to the Pope from Scotland in 1556, urged that "no secular trade is necessary to obtain them (the clergy) an honest livelihood. Nevertheless many - even prelates and those confirmed in Church dignities - are found, who, not suffering their great mass of gold to lie at home in idleness, are not ashamed to busy themselves hiring farms and estates, and are much occupied in trafficking with cattle, fish, hides and the like, to the dishonour of the clerical order, and even to the scandal and indignation of the seculars." As a great part of the income of the Church during the Roman Catholic period was received in the form of livestock and grain far beyond the personal needs of the clergy, there must have been from the Chanonry, as from other ecclesiastical centres, a steady export of beef, hides, salmon and grain, balanced by the import of sugar, spices, wines, metal, timber and foreign cloths required for the homes of the canons. In the words of the Cardinal lies perhaps the explanation of the fact that the Chanonry of Ross before the Reformation never consisted of more than the manses of the canons. Trade there may have been carried on within the manses or in buildings within their extensive grounds where also artisans may have been employed.

Bishop Leslie had something to say also regarding the spiritual condition of the people, shedding at the same time some further light on the failings of the clergy. "Perchance you ask wherefore then there came so foul a welter in the religion of the kingdom? .... Finally [which was almost the foundation of the whole mischief] the clergy had so neglected the people that, when they were bairns, they were so utterly neglected in catechism, and therin nothing instructed that they might believe. Wherefore, after the people had heard the words of the heretics, then being imbued with no sure Church doctrine, they quickly flocked ready to drink these specious opinions with heart and soul. Another cause was the life of certain ecclesiastical persons, which were seemingly spotted with the stains of greed and voluptuousness and afforded plenteous matter to the ministers and sectaries to tear in pieces the dignity of the church before the eyes of the common folk."

During the early years of the Chanonry life may not have been so luxurious as it became later but for the greater part of three centuries prior to the Reformation the occupants of the manses must have led an increasingly worldly life, enjoying the fruits of the parish kirks and leaving the cure of souls in the latter to their underpaid vicars. To supply the needs of the canons Rosemarkie had perhaps been erected into a burgh in 1216 at the instance of the bishop even before the building of the Cathedral had begun and while the number of the canons was still small. In and around Rosemarkie were situated the cook's croft, the plumber's croft, the dovecot-croft and no doubt others, the names of which have been lost. Later, in 1455, Fortrose "called the Chanonry of Ross" was given to the bishop as a free burgh and united to Rosemarkie, again perhaps in the trading interests of the church. While the buildings of the Chanonry may have been confined to the manses and their pertinents, the place may have been as busy as any larger town. From the outside world came a daily source of interest, churchmen, nobles, soldiers, on their travels across the Chanonry Ferry, seeking rest and refreshment in Palace or Manse according to their quality. To and fro across the Ferry also ventured plodding pedlars or chapmen, carrying the meagre goods which the rural dwellers needed and could afford to buy, not to speak of the more expensive odds and ends which added to the comfort of the parsons and other well-to-do folk, bringing to the latter also news of distant events and places and spreading through the countryside the tale of the splendours of the Chanonry and the latest gossip about the canons garnered at the back doors of the manses and in the ale-shops of Rosemarkie.

Bishop Leslie's explanation of how clerics were recruited for the fatter benefices has already been noticed and may be compared with the strict `trials' which candidates for the later Reformed ministry had to undergo. His remarks on the clerical neglect of the people find their complement in a Statute of the General Provincial Council of the Church in Scotland held in 1552 which set forth that "even in the most populous parishes very few of the parishioners come to Mass or sermon; that, in time of service, jesting and irreverence go on within the church, sports and secular business in the porch and church-yard." Another Statute bewailed that the inferior clergy and prelates for the most part were not sufficiently learned to instruct the people rightly in the Catholic faith and in the things necessary to salvation. It is not surprising therefore that by the dawn of the sixteenth century which heralded the Renaissance the Roman Church had settled so deeply into the ruts into which it had sank, that Archibald Hay, a scholarly and enlightened Scottish monk, addressing a letter of congratulation from a Paris monastery to his kinsman, the notorious Cardinal David Beaton, on the latter's elevation to the Archbishopric of St. Andrews in 1539, felt impelled to write, "I judge it intolerable that an entrance to the Church lies open to all without selection and that some of the entrants bring with them utter ignorance, others a false pretence of knowledge, some a mind corrupted by the greatest sins and trained to commit all the most scandalous excesses, certain of them a studied intention to do harm.... If I proceeded to review the inordinate desire of glory, the incredible cruelty, passion, hate, treachery, the insatiable longing for vengeance, the wicked words and disgraceful actions, all of which rage in the breasts of churchmen, no one would believe that monsters so savage lurked under a human countenance. I will not treat of the riotous living of those who, professing chastity, have invented new kinds of lusts, which I prefer to be left unknown rather than to be told by me.... While these charges cannot be made against all, yet I wish it to be understood that they apply to very many." Sixteenth century morals and customs were not those of today but such a diatribe coming from a Catholic observer points to a state of affairs which shocked people twenty years before the Reformation.

The Scottish kings, while they were not averse from using the Church to provide sinecures for their servants, friends and relatives did from time to time endeavour to correct the lives and morals of the priesthood. In particular they were ready at all times to check ecclesiastical pretensions whether on the part of the Popes or of lesser priests and to treat the Church very much as they did any other of their subjects. Thus when Pope Honorius in 1285 is found rebuking King Alexander III for the "edicts, heavy burdens, great wrongs, exceeding hard-ships and continuous annoyances" inflicted upon the bishops of Moray and Ross and their churches and exhorting that monarch "to bear himself not unworthily to Almighty God through whom Kings reign and princes of the earth rule" it may be concluded that the king had been keeping a tight rein on the pretensions of these bishops. The old Scots historian, George Buchanan, wrote of this period that "the king of Scots had his internal tranquillity disturbed by the arrogance of priests and monks, who, enriched by former kings, began to grow licentious by long repose and to exceed or equal in magnificence the nobility whom already they surpassed in wealth."

The Bishop of Ross whom the Pope was endeavouring in this manner to shield from royal displeasure was Robert de Syvin, who, after being Archdeacon of Ross, had been elected bishop by the Chapter and duly confirmed as such by the Pope in 1275. That the King had been justified in whatever measures he had taken against this Bishop is suggested by the fact that, five years after the Papal letter rebuking Alexander, the Pope granted a mandate to three Scottish prelates to compel Bishop Robert to make full satisfaction to the dean and chapter of Ross who had complained to Rome that he had applied to his own use benefices, tithes, lands and rents belonging to the chapter and their vicars, destroying their houses and sequestrating their prebends and benefices and taking their other property, seizing the goods of rectors and perpetual vicars on their deaths, and the first fruits and the lands and share of fines allotted for the fabric of Ross Cathedral,, depriving vicars, conferring two vicarages in the Cathedral on one person, extorting illegal procurations, (i.e. payment in lieu of hospitality for himself and his retinue during parish visitations) performing service in the church after his entry was forbidden and granting possessions and goods to his kinsmen and friends without consent of the Chapter. The result of the enquiry was to uphold this formidable indictment. The Pope ordered the bishop to make restitution and granted a further mandate to the same three prelates to compel him to disgorge. There seems to have been nothing in Robert de Syvin's earlier career to suggest that he might turn out to be a wolf in sheep's clothing and he had been confirmed in the office of bishop by the Pope only after two searching enquiries, first by two Italian Cardinals into the process of election by the Chapter and later, by two Scottish bishops into his life, morals and honesty. The later complaints of the Chapter not only indicate that his new office had gone to his head but suggest also the extent of the power which an unscrupulous prelate might wield.

There were about thirty Catholic bishops of Ross between the time when Macbeth, the first known of them, appears about 1126 and the death of the last, John Leslie, in 1596. Information about the early holders of the office is scanty and derived mostly from the appearance of their names as witnesses to royal charters or as holders of other benefices. As time passes the sources and volume of information increase and many of the later bishops prior to or at the Reformation, are found to have held high office under the Crown. Much might be written about the illustrious career of William Elphinstone `provided' by the Pope in 1481 to the bishopric, but translated to the bishopric of Aberdeen before he could be consecrated of Ross. During his service in Aberdeen he founded the university of that city and carried out other notable public works. His personal life seems to have been as exceptional as his professional career, being free of the blemishes which sullied the lives of so many ecclesiastics in an age before public opinion on the one hand and high professional standards on the other effectively cleansed church life of the sins and shortcomings of the past. He had indeed endeavoured not only by precept but also by example to reform the clergy and had applied his abilities to the ritual and services of the church, being responsible for the compilation of the Aberdeen Breviary to which reference has already been made in an earlier chapter.

The early life and circumstances of John Leslie, the last of the Roman Catholic bishops of Ross, closely resembled those of Elphinstone, both being lads o' pairts who overcame initial obstacles to rise high in the service of the state, but he seems to have differed greatly in character while his laurels rest somewhat uneasily upon his memory. His career is typical of the priests who rose to high office in the pre-Reformation Church. Descended from a branch of the noble family of Leslie, he was, like Elphinstone, the son of a priest. In accordance with the usual practice of the time he was brought up and provided for by his father who took the early precaution of procuring from the Pope in 1538 a dispensation enabling his son, notwithstanding the defect of his birth, to receive holy orders. The young John was educated at Aberdeen University where he gave early indication of genius. His first post was that of organist and teacher of the city song school. At the age of twenty he became an acolyte in the Cathedral and had thus taken the first step towards the priesthood. At the age of twenty-four and still too young for ordination as a priest he was appointed canon of Aberdeen and Ellon, prebendary of Aberdeen and vicar of Dyce. He was now well on his way. Later he followed the common practice of studying canon and civil law in France, where he took his degrees and later lectured in the schools of law. When old enough for ordination as a priest he became Judge or `Official' of the diocese of Aberdeen and parson of Oyne. He is said to have earned the nick-name `Rome-raker' because he was obliged to travel between Aberdeen and Rome with commissions from and bearing instructions back to the bishop and chapter. Having entered the service of Queen Mary on her return to Scotland, his rise became rapid. He was appointed Professor of Canon Law at King's College, Aberdeen, then a Senator of the College of Justice, a Lord Ordinary and a Privy Councillor, while he received also the Abbey of Lindores in commendam, that is, he was titular abbot drawing the revenues for his own use and supplying a substitute to carry out the duties of the office. In 1566 he was nominated by the Queen to be Bishop of Ross and was admitted to the temporalities of the See, that is, he became entitled to draw the rents and other income. Papal confirmation was deferred until he reached Rome in the course of his subsequent exile in 1575 when he was consecrated by the Pope in person to this office which he was never again to fill, if indeed, as a Catholic, he ever carried out any episcopal duties during the few months he may have been at the Chanonry. When Queen Mary went into exile in England in 1568 Leslie followed and was for a time engaged there treating on the Queen's behalf with the Commissioners of Queen Elizabeth. He also went abroad on her behalf as ambassador but finally found himself in the Tower of London on a charge of plotting to procure Mary's escape. There he remained until he was set free in 1573 and banished from England whence he made his way to the Netherlands, then to France and finally to Rome still in search of influence on behalf of his Queen. Thereafter he held benefices in France, finally retiring to a monastery near Brussels where he died in 1596. Contemporary opinion regarding him was divided and ranged in description from `a time-serving flatterer' to `a man of infinite faithfulness, courage and adroit capability.' There were not wanting those who accused him, perhaps under the threat of torture, of betraying the Queen's secrets. Whatever the truth about his alleged confessions they at least demonstrate that government in those days was no business for a sober, ecclesiastic who would keep his hands free from pitch.

The ecclesiastical storm in Scotland following upon the corruption of the medieval Roman Catholic Church came to a head in 1560 when the Estates of Parliament, assembled perhaps in an unconstitutional manner, passed Acts forbidding the celebration of Mass and the exercise of powers derived by bishops from the Pope. While these Acts were never ratified by Queen Mary she did later legalise by proclamation the prosecution of priests for saying Mass and the making of provision for the Reformed Kirk in various ways. The only immediate outward result in the Chanonry of Ross was the discontinuance of the Mass in any services which may have been held in the Cathedral. The bishop remained in possession of his Castle, Palace and wide lands, the canons in occupation of their manses and the enjoyment of the fruits of their parishes. Indeed the Catholic Chapter of Ross did not finally wither away for a score of years or more. Although mobs were active in many places, despoiling churches of their contents, statues, pictures, vestments, there is no record of any `rabbling' in this manner of the Cathedral in Fortrose. The building itself remained intact and services were resumed in it later on. A reader was employed in the Chanonry after 1560, that is, a man not qualified for, or ordained to, the ministry, but able to read the Bible and certain prayers to a congregation. Readers, and sometimes also, exhorters who were allowed to preach, are to be found in some of the parishes. Mr George Munro, who was appointed Protestant Chancellor in 1571, stated that the "word was aye prechit in" the Cathedral. Of the priests of the Auld Kirk in office at 1560 in Ross only one or two at the most went over to the New Kirk.

The north of Scotland at this time was in a disturbed if not anarchic condition in which the maintenance of the Queen's peace depended not so much on the authority of the Crown as upon the goodwill and military power of the noblemen and other landowners who were at odds with each other, the Crown and the New Kirk in their efforts to obtain a share of the lands of the Auld Kirk. It is perhaps little to be wondered at that the General Assembly could declare in 1587 not only that the kirks in Ross were everywhere demolished but also that "a ruinous coldness lay amongst all, both gentlemen and commoners, since the Jesuits had liberty to pass through the country." The explanation of this coldness may be partly found in the report to the Pope of the Jesuit, Father Abercrombie (1580), according to which everyone hated the ministers, that is the Protestant clergy, heartily, and wished they were abolished, the chief reasons for this attitude being the immense pride and intolerable haughtiness of the ministers, to say nothing of their lust for power and ambition. "For they try to dominate over the king, the nobles and all ranks, and to govern the whole kingdom. They try not to allow a civil magistrate to do anything of importance without their knowledge and consent and in most towns have succeeded in this aim." The ministers were perhaps too eager to show that the rule of the old Roman could be better carried out by the new Protestant Church without the old Episcopal trappings but the picture was probably overdrawn by a wishful thinker and the reporter may, as his report otherwise suggests, have spent more time in the company of sympathetic lairds and nobles than with the more plebeian burgesses, with the result that he exaggerated the enmity of the former towards the Protestant ministers and kirk and believed that it promised better for his cause. A few of the old Catholic canons were still holding, on at the Chanonry at this time but it would be reasonable to expect that while small numbers of the people were on the one part fervent adherents of the new Protestant faith, and on the other determined to cling to the faith of their fathers, the great mass of the people of Scotland were both indifferent to the Auld Kirk whose priests and hierarchy had forfeited all claims to respect and little touched by the New Kirk whose preachers were still few in number. Not until a new generation, unaccustomed to the old pomp and pageantry, ignorant of the worldly lives of the old priesthood and untouched by the easy sale of indulgences and pardons, began to enter the bare buildings of the New Kirk would the new faith begin to gather adherents whose faith depended upon their own decision and not upon the dictates of Rome. Ten years after this the Commissioners of the General Assembly for Church Extension in the Highlands are said, in passing through Moray, Inverness and Ross, to have found an unexpected avidity for religious instruction and great readiness on the part of the principal proprietors to provide it, although ministers were few and many churches had readers only. Colin, first Earl of Seaforth (about 1620), is said to have built churches in all the parishes of his great estates in Ross. The transitional period from Catholicism to Protestantism must have been very bewildering for many. The subsequent conflict between Presbyterianism and Episcopacy must have been equally trying but, fifty years after Father Abercrombie's report; the people of the Chanonry were queuing to sign the National Covenant.

Here must be noticed the extraordinary state of affairs which obtained in Scotland for many years after the Reformation during which the beneficed men of a Church which one might have thought to have been outlawed were engaged in disposing of its lands and other properties not only with no let or hindrance but, it seems, sometimes on the urging of and with the help of the Crown. In spite of public indignation against the Auld Kirk and its priesthood and although Parliament had legislated against it in 1560, all that had happened was that the Mass was barred and the ecclesiastical powers of prelates were restricted. In spite of this the Auld Kirk remained for the time being in undisputed legal possession of all its vast property and was free to conduct its temporal affairs as if nothing out of the usual had happened. Until the fall and flight of Queen Mary in 1567 there was always the hope of being able to weather the storm. Between Mary's arrival in Scotland and her imprisonment in Lochleven Castle six years later the executive power rested in the hands of a Catholic Queen and the Estates of Parliament, one of which was composed of nobles, another of prelates, so that the Reformers could not of themselves compel the Bishops either to reform or to accept the new Confession of Faith. In particular the Bishops and Canons of Ross were left in the legal ownership of their lands and the manses in the Chanonry. In spite of the Reformation enactments of the Scots Parliament in 1560, Henry Sinclair, the Catholic Dean of Glasgow, was nominated by the Queen to the Bishopric of Ross in 1561 and subsequently confirmed in it by the Pope whose word was thus permitted to run in Scotland to this extent at least. Sinclair was Lord President of the Court of Session and was described by a contemporary as "as cunning and lettered a man as ever there was, of singular intelligence in theology and likewise in laws." John Knox on the other hand, with his usual bluntness, called him "a perfect hypocrite." What is perhaps more remarkable is that after Sinclair's death in 1565 another Catholic, John Leslie, was nominated by the Queen to the vacant bishopric, although papal confirmation in this case did not follow for many years. Other appointments of Catholic priests to lesser benefices within the diocese were made by Mary who had assumed what were previously the powers of patronage of the Bishops of Ross. The Chapter of Ross continued to be called together for many years although our knowledge of this is confined to and is drawn from dispositions of chapter property.

It was not until 1587 that James VI by the Act of Annexation confiscated all church property with the exception of the palaces of bishops and other prelates, the parish manses and glebes, parish teinds and certain other specified property, resuming to the Crown, as he said, what the Crown had formerly given away to its great loss. Until then the bishops and the canons or parish rectors had been disposing of the church properties held by them, as one would think, in trust for the church, a process which had commenced before the Reformation. The temporalities, that is, the lands and properties other than the teinds or tenths of the fruits of the earth, were disposed of either on long lease or by sale. Even the teinds, exacted by canon law for the upkeep of the priests, the church buildings and the poor, were let on lease. Enactments against the feuing of property were ignored. The feuing differed little from an outright sale, the feu charter being granted for "a certain sum of money" usually unspecified and sometimes covered by the cloak of the need of money for church repairs, together with a small feuduty. The great wealth of the church thus rapidly passed into the hands of laymen. The principal beneficiaries, the great nobles and other landowners, had little or no thought of transferring the property of the old to the new kirk which had the greatest difficulty in procuring stipends for its ministers.

Whatever may be thought of these transactions in church property, the history of the years immediately following the Reformation is apt to be bewildering to anyone who thinks of that event as a clearcut division in time and principle between the old and the new kirk. The link with Rome had been severed, certain ritual had been declared illegal, mobs here and there had "rabbled" some churches and monasteries, priests and prelates were disposing of the lands which nominally belonged to them, but the structure of the Auld Kirk remained for a time largely intact and monks, priests and prelates continued to occupy their monasteries, manses and palaces. Some priests went over to the new church and continued to function in their parishes as two or three bishops did in their dioceses on behalf of the Reformed Church, but the ministers of the latter were relatively few in number and at odds with James VI who was attracted by the Episcopal form of church government which as the result of his efforts was to rule in Scotland with intermissions for a full century after the Act of Annexation until it was replaced by Presbyterianism at the Revolution Settlement of 1689.


The Registers of the Privy Council and the Calendar of English State Papers relating to Scotland contain plentiful evidence of the lawlessness of the half century or more succeeding the Reformation. A vivid light upon the state of the Highlands and the Chanonry is also furnished by the correspondence of Bishop Sinclair (1561-1565). He complained of the cost of men to keep, that is, to guard, the house and place or palace of the Chanonry when he was absent in connection with his duties as President of the Court of Session, because his Palace lay in a far Highland country and had been attacked by broken men who held it for nine months. During this decade there was not one local layman capable of maintaining order so that the Regent, Moray, felt compelled to take action. Bishop Leslie, Sinclair's successor, an exile in England, complained to Queen Elizabeth in 1569 that Moray was meddling with his bishopric and threatening to take his house. The Queen wrote to the Regent requesting him to allow the servants and officers of the bishop to collect the profits and rents of the bishopric. In defiance of Elizabeth's wishes Moray proceeded in 1572 to entrust the custody of the Bishop's Castle in the Chanonry to Andrew Munro of Newmore, the king's bailie or custodian and rent collector of the Crown lordship of Ardmeanach which comprised much of the Black Isle. The Castle was to be a base from which to repress "commotion and disturbance caused by rebels." Before this, however, Bishop Leslie, had in 1567, with the consent of the Dean and Chapter of Ross granted to his cousin, Leslie of Balquhan, a feu charter of extensive lands between the Chanonry and the Cromarty Firth. He had also made over the Castle to him. The grant to Balquhan was confirmed the same year by a charter under the Great Seal of the Crown. The consideration or payment made by Balquhan is unknown but there was an annual feuduty as well. The lands changed hands later but always it would seem subject to the feuduties which, in 1622, the then Episcopal Bishop of Ross is found receiving. Notwithstanding the sale of the Castle to Leslie, Munro undertook its custody on the understanding that his expenses would be reimbursed. He was still in possession of it when a new Regent, Morton, presented the temporalities of the bishopric to the Lord High Treasurer, Lord 1Nlethven. The latter seems to have regarded the Castle as part of the temporalities but Munro was in possession and would not budge until his outlays had been repaid. Methven died shortly after this and was succeeded by a minor son to whom a fresh grant of the temporalities, was made. The latter's brother-in-law and tutor, Lord Ruthven, took steps to secure his ward's rights by levying at his own charge fifty harquebusiers whom he sent north to the Chanonry "to join Mackenzie a neighbour there who had already assembled 800 men and environed the place." This seems to be the first mention of the Mackenzies of Kintail in connection with the Chanonry. They had, however, for two centuries been steadily pushing their way eastward from their original gift lands of Kintail. According to Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, a leading lawyer of the late 17th century who must have made himself familiar with the titles to the Seaforth lands when he was helping that family to recover its estates from its creditors, Colin Mackenzie of Kintail had acquired the lands of Allanglach and others in the Black Isle in 1572. As this acquisition brought him within ten miles of the Chanonry he may have felt he now had an excuse to intervene in its affairs. Perhaps also he had come to some private arrangement with Leslie of Balquhan, from whom he was subsequently to purchase the lands which the latter had had some years previously from his kinsman, Bishop Leslie. At any rate he despatched his brother and trouble-shooter, Rorie Mackenzie, to the Chanonry where he took possession of the "steeple." The only factor common to the various conflicting accounts of the affair seems to have been the steeple which must have been a commodious building. Mr George Munro, who had been presented to the Chancellorship of Ross in 1571, complained two years later to the Privy Council that Rorie Mackenzie had "continual residence in the steeple of the Chanonry of Ross which he causit big not only to oppress the country with masterful reif, scorning and daily oppression, but also for suppressing the Word of God, which was aye preachit in the said kirk preceeding his entry thereto which is now become a filthy sty and den of thieves and has masterfully and violently come to the tenants addebtit in payment to the said Mr George's benefice foresaid and reft them of the fruits thereof and kept Mr George out of his vocation." This suggests that the steeple was the tower at the west end of the Cathedral originally constructed as a place of refuge for the clergy in case of attack. Rorie may have strengthened and fortified it but he can hardly have built it, as Mr George suggested. In the end the Munros in the Castle were worsened but how long the process took is not clear. Lord Methven complained to the Privy Council that Colin Mackenzie had taken possession of the Castle in 1578 and would not render it to him. Mackenzie was playing his own game and had already purchased from Balquhan's heir the lands and Castle conveyed away by Bishop Leslie. The lands might be subject to feuduties now payable to Methven, but this was another matter. Mackenzie had the Castle and was to seize the Palace a few months later on the death of Bishop Hepburn. The latter's widow complained that Mackenzie had inhumanly used her husband on his deathbed and on his death had ejected her and her servants from the Palace. Colin and his servants were denounced as rebels and put to the horn. He was also directed to give up the Castle to Methven. However the Castle is upon record again in 1587 when Colin's servants were accused of joining with John Mackenzie of Gairloch in an attack upon James Sinclair, Master of Caithness, in the Chanonry. Colin was denounced for his failure to appear before the Privy Council. Ultimately he found caution to enter before the Council those of his servants responsible for the attack. Three years later he and some other northern lairds were ordered to find caution in 20,000 merks to keep good rule in the country. The Privy Council's attempt to ensure some measure of peace and tranquillity, however, seems to have had little effect for, twenty years later, in 1610, the Council declared that "the chief cause of frequent stouths, reifs murders and slaughters committed within the bounds of Caithness, Sutherland and Ross is reset given to authors of said crimes by the noblemen, barons and gentlemen within the said bounds .... the Lords ordain letters to be directed to Lovat, Kintail, Foulis and others to find caution not to reset within their bounds any notorious thieves, fugitives, etc., for theft and murder under pains of 5,000 merks each." This was one aspect of the bond between clansman and chief.

View of the Chanonry

Harsher measures against Colin Mackenzie were tried with little effect. In 1586 the Privy Council had ordered him to enter in ward in the Castle of Blackness on the Forth, that is, yield himself to custody, for the sake of the quietness and safety of peaceable and good subjects from burnings, reifs and oppression. A few days later he found sureties for 10,000 merks that, on being freed from Blackness, he would repair to Edinburgh and keep ward there till freed. Notwithstanding all this the Kintail family finally found itself in possession of all the lands in the Black Isle which Bishop Leslie had disposed of to Balquhan, when in 1595 the King confirmed a disposition of these lands to Colin's son Kenneth Mackenzie. The Mackenzies had thus achieved their ambition of owning the whole of the southern part of Ross from the Chanonry in the East to Kintail in the West. MS histories of the Mackenzies written long afterwards give conflicting versions of the story. No doubt all the different accounts are variants on the one theme which lost nothing in the telling, whether around family dinner tables or in the cabins and ale-houses of the country-side.

Having thus achieved their land-owning ambitions the Mackenzies settled down to the task of making others keep the peace, as was shown in 1610 not long after the Privy Council proclamation already mentioned, when the Crown confirmed a charter by David Lindsay, Episcopal Bishop of Ross, with consent of the Dean and Chapter, in favour of Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail, of the churchlands in the Black Isle and "because the palace and castle of the bishopric were situated in a northern province of Scotland much frequented by barbarous and savage men so that these buildings could only be maintained not only in war but also in peace at heavy expense" once more constituted Kenneth Mackenzie and his heirs hereditary constables of the palace and castle and bailies of the bishopric. Local conditions in the Chanonry and round about showed the necessity of a strong hand. The country might have `laws' but at a week's distance from Edinburgh men still tended to look after their own and `order' was at a discount. The bailies of Rosemarkie were denounced by the Privy Council on a complaint that, having apprehended a local murderer and committed him to ward in their tolbooth they would neither try him by assize nor enter him before the Justice in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh. A few years later the same bailies were to the fore in quarrels between the people of Rosemarkie and the tenants of Raddery over the hill from Rosemarkie. In these battles for the Moor or Commonty of the Milbuie, from which the parties had been used to draw their peat, each side in turn attacked the other at their work, threatening their lives and casting down their stacks of peat. Even in the village or, as it then was, the burgh of Rosemarkie, peace did not always subsist between the Provost and his bailies. In 1599 the Provost, who was the Laird of Raddery, had come to the assistance of Bailie John Grant, by finding surety in 1,000 with others, that the bailie would not harm John Irving of Kinnock near Rosemarkie, who had been the oppressor of Bishop Hepburn some years before. A few years later Grant was to take part in the attack upon the Provost's tenants at Raddery.

Riotous conduct was not confined to the lairds or to the bailies and comfortable burgesses of Rosemarkie. Protestant ministers could be as high-handed as any of their pre-Reformation fore-runners. The Archdeacon of Ross, Robert Graham, was accused of being involved in a particularly flagrant business in the Chanonry in 1602 when Mr George Munro, Chancellor of Ross, and Donald Thorneton in the Chanonry, in a complaint to the Privy Council called upon over a dozen burgesses there, tailors, saddlers, baxters, weavers, merchants, cordiners and the like, to appear as witnesses in the cause pursued by the complainers against Rorie Mackenzie of Castle Leod (The Tutor of Kintail), brother of Kenneth Mackenzie of Kintail, George Dunbar of Avoch, commissary of Avoch, Robert Graham, Archdeacon of Ross, and others for having come "at night, by way of hamesucken (assaulting a person in his own house) to the said Mr George's house in the Chanonry where (I) by open force and violence .... they broke up the doors of his said house, entered .... took the said complainer and his son furth of their beds in their shirts, dang them with their fists and hilts of their swords in divers parts of their bodies, (II) took Margaret Livingstone, the complainer's spouse out of her naked bed, tore her Sark and shamefully and unmercifully, without pity or compassion, struck her in divers parts of her body, shot her out the house into the close, (III) wounded and mutilated Alexr. Gray, the complainer's servant, (IV) plundered the said Chancellor's house of most of its plenishings, (V) carried off Janet Thorneton, the said Donald's daughter . . . . and still detain her as prisoner." None of the persons cited as witnesses having appeared they were denounced as rebels. There was a further complaint by the same parties to the effect that "the said Donald having committed the education and upbringing of Janet Thorneton his daughter to the said Master George Munro with whom he hoped she might have remained in peace and surety, Rory Mackenzie and the others . . . . had treated and consulted opinions together in the town of Chanonry of Ross for the abduction of the said Janet," as the result of which "the persons mentioned with the addition of Robert Gowan, bailie of Rosemarkie, armed with guns, pistolets and other forbidden weapons .... committed the five forenamed acts of oppression." Rorie Mackenzie, Kenneth Mackenzie of Gilchrist, John Dunbar and Robert Graham, the Archdeacon, appeared in answer to the charge. Janet was not produced and the pursuers, perhaps for lack of witnesses, apparently abandoned the charge of forceful entry and ravishing, reserving action before the criminal court. The Lords of Council held that they had failed in their proof and assoilzied the defenders from the remaining charges while reserving action against them before the Justices for the alleged abduction. Old records having disappeared there is no indication of the outcome, romantic or otherwise. The accused were some of the leading men of the day in Ross, while the Archdeacon, a Protestant minister well up in years, was a colleague of the complaining Chancellor.


For three hundred years after the Reformation the Church in Rosemarkie and the Chanonry was to pass through many vicissitudes. The Presbytery of Chanonry is said to have been in existence in 1593 but any records which may have been kept before 1707 have been lost while the minute books of the Parish Church of Rosemarkie are wanting prior to 1737. The struggling congregation which, alternating between Episcopacy and Presbyterianism, as of course did the congregation at Rosemarkie, existed in the Chanonry up till about 1733 is known mostly through references to it in the minutes of the Presbytery and of the Town Council which not merely took an active interest in it but seems, in fact, to have directed its affairs. Theology does not seem to have played much open part in the Reformation so far as the mass of the people was concerned. Dr Gordon Donaldson, however, has pointed out that there was "a good deal of evidence that reformed worship, usually according to the forms of the (English) Prayer Book, was fairly well established in Scotland by 1560 while Protestant opinion had been formed and accepted." (The Reformation. 1960). As the Scottish people however by tradition and practice had not been encouraged to think for themselves on theological matters in the past they cannot have taken any very assured part in the controversies of the next fifty years. In any case the differences of opinion which emerged after the Reformation related in practice largely to matters of organisation and administration and were skilfully manipulated by James VI to bring the new church under a nominally Episcopal regime in which kirk-sessions and presbyteries figured in an incongruous but apparently not ineffective fashion until the attempt to introduce a Prayer Book on Anglican lines in 1637 led to the National Covenant and the final split between Presbyterianism and Episcopacy.

So far as the Chanonry is concerned we have to do here with the curious history of the transition from a hierarchical and authoritarian Roman Church, living splendidly on the revenues of its wide lands and the tithes of the fruits of the earth, to an incorporation of Protestant congregations whose priests, now styled ministers, existed rather more frugally upon stipends charged on the original tithes. The old diocesan hierarchy in Scotland survived the Reformation for some years although deprived of its original powers and shorn of its functions by the Act of 1560. The result of such a Parliamentary enactment directed against an existing church in modern conditions might be expected to be the immediate supersession of that church, lock, stock and barrel, the liquidation of its assets and its replacement by a new church complete with the necessary staff and organisation. Because, however, of the political and parliamentary privileges of the bishops in 1560 and the extent to which the great nobles who formed another of the Estates of Parliament had already possessed themselves of church lands it was, for the time being at least, impracticable to liquidate the Auld Kirk. Nor could Queen Mary, herself a Roman Catholic, be expected to use her consitutional powers to wreck her own church any more than she could be required to bring down upon herself the enmity of the nobility so many of whom held rich benefices or had obtained feus of church lands and tacks of church teinds, none of which could be impressed with any show of legality, at least by reference to modern ideas of trusteeship. Thus, the bishopric of Ross being vacant in 1560 the Queen nominated Henry Sinclair, Catholic Dean of Glasgow, for election as bishop. After having received papal dispensation in respect of some disqualification under the canon law, Sinclair had been confirmed by the Pope, was duly consecrated and went into residence at the Chanonry. Like other prelates he could not be compelled to accept the new religion with its Confession of Faith and suppression of the Mass, although the use of the latter might be subject to penalties. When he died in 1565 the revenues of the See with its Castle and lands were gifted by the Queen to her cousin and subsequent husband, Henry, Lord Darnley, for his lifetime. Eighteen months later Darnley was dead, but Mary had already nominated another Catholic, John Leslie, to the vacant See. The manner in which the church properties were used by the Crown for its own purposes is illustrated by the fact that, between the death of Sinclair and the royal grant to Darnley, a pension of 600 Scots, equivalent to perhaps about 2,000 in modern sterling purchasing power, payable out of the fruits of Ross had been granted by Mary to John de Busso while a similar pension of 200 had been allotted to Gilbert Douglas.

An attempt was however made to provide for the needs of the new Kirk when in 1561 the Privy Council ordered that one third of the fruits of all benefices should be collected yearly for the needs of the Crown and of the ministers, the holders of the benefices being allowed to keep the balances for their lifetime. Priests who conformed and became ministers of the New Kirk were allowed to keep the `thirds' which otherwise they would have had to pay over. Some were permitted to keep their thirds for other reasons, for example Henry Sinclair, Bishop of Ross, because he was also President of the Court of Session. Subject to this ingenious but feeble and not altogether successful attempt to obtain some money for the support of the new ministers, the old hierarchy and methods continued to exist for the time being. The Queen, until her flight to England in 1567, assumed the power previously shared in practice with the Pope of providing to vacant benefices by way of gift and of confirming presentations by lay patrons and Catholics could be and were still being favoured. An extreme case in Ross was that of the Catholic Master James Thorntoun who in 1565 received from the Crown the Precentorship of Moray with two parish kirks. In addition he had the sub-deanery of Ross supported by the parish kirks of Tain and Edderton besides other similar benefices elsewhere.

At the Reformation the only Ross priest to conform seems to have been Mr John Robertson, parson of Urquhart, no doubt the same priest who had been presented by the Crown to the Treasurership of Ross in 1548. The Fasti, or Roll of post-Reformation ministers, shows him as minister of Fortrose in 1574 and still bearing the title of Treasurer. According to the contemporary Register of Ministers and Readers he had also Cromarty in charge and was assisted by Wm. Hay as Reader at Chanonry and by James Burnet at Cromarty. The same Register, which was compiled during the period 1567-73, shows that by the latter date most parishes in the old diocese of Ross had been provided with ministers or with exhorters. Urquhart and Avoch had fully fledged ministers while Urray is described as having a vicar, Donald Adamson, described elsewhere as sub-Chanter. The odd thing about the situation is that despite all the fierce and uncompromising language of Knox and other Reformers the Chapter of Ross continued to function, at least for some purposes. The names of new Protestant ministers and of old Catholic parsons or canons appear together as signatories to dispositions of church property in deeds where the chapter is described as 'chapterly gathered.'. A characteristic example is to be found in a transcript of one of the Mey and Tarbat Charters in the National Library of Scotland according to which in 1568 the Dean of Ross, Mungo Monypenny, disponed to his relative David Monypenny part of the lands of the Deanery. The deed was signed by the Dean and the Chancellor, both Catholics, by three Catholic parsons of the name of Dunbar, and by three Protestant ministers, viz. Mr John Robertson, the Treasurer, Mr Robert Graham, described as Archdeacon, and by Mr Donald Adamson, the sub-Chanter. The date given in the transcript, 1568, can hardly be correct for the Register of Presentations to Benefices states that Robert Graham was not presented to the Archdeaconry until 1573. On the other hand in that same year the parishioners of Killearnan, which was the Archdeacon's usual parish, were complaining to the General Assembly about him so that he must then have been minister of that parish, however this had been brought about, and may have been anticipating the dignity of Archdeacon.

Mr Robert Graham was, according to "Or and Sable - The Book of the Graemes," a grandson of the first Earl of Montrose. As a second son he had become a Catholic priest and must later have conformed to the new faith. That he enjoyed the confidence of the Assembly of the new Church is indicated by his appointment to be conjunct Commissioner for visiting Caithness and Sutherland. He was a turbulent character who did not get on with his parishioners. In 1573 the latter complained to the Assembly that he was not diligent in visiting and had more offices than he could discharge. The Reformation seems to have taken hold of Killearnan at an early date. When the parishioners complained again some years later that he did not reside in the parish he replied that he had neither manse nor glebe there, that he knew no Gaelic and that the kirk there was served at his expense. There were thus absentee ministers after, as there had been absentee priests before the Reformation. No doubt he had the Archdeacon's Manse in the Chanonry and he had, besides, acquired the small estate of Drynie near North Kessock where his descendants lived for three hundred years. One account says he had been an active participant in the struggle over Chanonry Castle between the Munros and the Mackenzies with whom he sided. On an earlier page he has been seen accused of assisting in the raid on the house of his colleague the Chancellor and the abduction of Janet Thorntoun, although by this time he must have been over seventy years of age.

Some at least of the Protestant ministers who in time came into possession of manses in the Chanonry were not above dilapidating or selling and leasing their benefices. A Protestant Dean, Alexander Urquhart, sold his manse in 1578 to Walter Urquhart, Sheriff of Cromarty. Then he proceeded to lease to Archdeacon Graham the teinds of Kilmuir Wester, the parish in which lay the latter's estate of Drynie, the lease being subsequently confirmed by the Crown. There seems to have been as much anarchy in ecclesiastical as there was in civil affairs in the Black Isle at this time. Retribution, however, caught up with Dean Urquhart in 1585 when he was deprived of his Deanery by the Privy Council for "dilapidating the Deanery so that little remains." Notwithstanding this, Urquhart managed so to obstruct his successor that the latter could not obtain possession although he had paid the King's Treasurer the sum of 500 merks in name of first fruits, another relic of Catholic days. The Privy Council ordained Archdeacon Graham with his assessors to admit the new Dean after trial of his fitness.

Donald Adamson, already mentioned as Protestant sub-Chanter, could also be classed as a dilapidator. As vicar of Urray he enjoyed not merely a stipend but apparently also the whole teinds of the parish. There still exists the deed by which with the consent of the Dean and Chapter of Ross he granted a lease of the teinds in 1581 to Alexander Mackenzie of Fairburn, although it might be also looked upon as a usual method of farming out the teinds for a regular payment. Some of the fourteen signatures of the chapter cannot be reconciled with the Fasti showing that many of the pre-Reformation priests must still have survived in brotherly harmony with the new ministers. This particular document which has found a final resting place in Register House with the Seaforth Family papers, is interesting also because there is still attached to it the seal of the Chapter, in this case the oval version of the seal which thus survived the Reformation as has the round seal once also used by the chapter and which has been in use for three hundred years, somewhat irregularly, as the seal of the Town Council of Fortrose. One might with reason conjecture that the old records of the bishopric had, like the old seals, survived the Reformation to be destroyed perhaps during the troubles of the 1640's when the Burgh Court Books were 'plunderit' as will be shown later.

In 1567 a regular Parliament re-enacted the anti-Catholic legislation of 1560 and gave the ministers a prior charge on the Thirds. The Reformed Church was now legally established. By 1572 plans had been formulated for reconstituting the bishoprics with men of the new kirk, while a statute of the following year provided for the expulsion from their benefices of men who refused to conform and accept the Reformed discipline and sacraments. The new bishops, however, were to have only limited powers under the oversight of the General Assembly and ostensibly were being appointed so that they might plant ministers or readers in vacant charges and provide qualified ministers for the kirks which formerly had belonged in common to the chapters. The scheme was framed in haste and its real object was widely believed to be the provision of men who would hold the office and thus the lands of the bishops merely to enable them to dispose of these lands to their patrons the nobility. These bishops were therefore derisively referred to as "Tulchan" bishops. "The bishop served to cause the bishopric yield commodity to my Lord who procured it for him just as a stuffed calfskin or Tulchan caused a cow to give milk" was a contemporary explanation of the word. The bishop signed away the lands of the bishopric in return for his small portion. There may have been some substance in the charges ' but such practices operated long before and after 1560. The payment of first-fruits is a near example. Another in civil life is to be found as late as 1689 when one, Captain Alex. Ross, "for the love and favour I bear to the Laird of Balnagown my chief who was pleased to nominate me as Captain of his hundred men in the garrison of Brahan .... assign to him the pay due to the said office .... refer myself for what he pleases to bestow on me for my services." McGill. Old Ross-shire.)

Under this scheme, licence was granted in 1574 to the Chapter of Ross to elect a bishop as the result of which Alexander Hepburn, minister of Little Dunkeld, was elected. How the Chapter was made up for this purpose is not known. Notwithstanding the Act of 1573 which contemplated the expulsion of non-conforming priests many of these were still about the Chanonry while John Leslie was still titular bishop with an arm which seems to have reached back into the Chanonry long after he had quitted Scotland. The actual ownership and possession of the church lands of Ross at this time is still somewhat obscure but it seems that, while the Mackenzies and the Munros may have been at each others' throats over the Castle, Hepburn had not only the Palace with the tithes of Nigg and Tarbat, the churches in respect of which the pre-Reformation bishops were Canons of Ross, but also other temporalities as well, for, when he died in 1578, a fresh grant of the temporalities was made to Lord Methven, the grant proceeding on the basis of the old custom or claim to which the Popes had ultimately assented by which during the first eight months of a vacancy in a bishopric the revenues thereof would accrue to the Crown. James VI could be as prodigal as some of his ancestors with church lands and benefices. The Register of Presentations shows that both the spirituality, that is, the tithes, and the temporalities of the bishopric of Ross were granted for 1586/87 to Sir William Stewart, the soldier of fortune who enjoyed the King's confidence at this time, had been prominent in capturing the Gowrie conspirators and had received also the lands of Houston, and, according to one source, is said to have started life as "a cloutter of old shoes."

In addition to the bishop, Ross had at this time a Commissioner also, Mr Donald Munro, whose functions resembled those of a Superintendent appointed to plant kirks and supervise the clergy, work which a bishop under the new conditions might be supposed to do, so that there was really no need for both a bishop and a commissioner in Ross. Donald Munro was the great grandson of one of the Munros of Foulis, had commenced his ecclesiastical career in 1526 as a priest in the Island of Raasay and had been promoted to the Archdeaconry of the Isles in 1549. In that year he made his celebrated Tour of the Isles of which he wrote an account subsequently printed from his MS in 1744 as a "Description of the Western Isles of Scotland." In 1563 he was still being described as Arch-deacon of the Isles but old titles had a habit of sticking and he must have conformed like his relatives of Foulis for he was in that year appointed Commissioner. According to Mackenzie's History of the Munros there was an old tradition that he lived at Castlecraig on the north shore of the Black Isle, whence he crossed by boat on Sundays to preach alternately at his three churches of Kiltearn, Lemlair and Alness.

The Mr George Munro, the Chancellor of Ross, who claimed to have been so grievously assaulted in his manse, was a younger brother of the Andrew Munro of Newmore who was besieged by the Mackenzies in Chanonry Castle and was otherwise known as Munro of Milntown, the senior cadet branch of the Foulis family. The Chancellor's career was typical of that of the younger sons of many landed families after, as before, the Reformation, and demonstrates the exaggeration of Father Abercrombie's report that these families deplored the loss of educational facilities for their sons. Mr George was admitted to the charge of Suddie in Ross immediately after the completion of his studies and was presented with the Chancellorship three years later while still a youth. His son and his grandson both had the gift of chaplaincy revenues from the Crown for their support in the schools. Free or assisted education was thus still available. The Chancellor was also minister of Rosemarkie for a time. His son George was the only member of the Presbytery of Chanonry to sign the National Covenant in 1638.

After Hepburn's death in 1578 the See of Ross remained vacant so far as Protestant holders were concerned until David Lindsay, who had been appointed minister of Leith in 1560 by a Committee of Parliament and had at one time preached eloquently against Episcopacy, was, notwithstanding this, appointed bishop by James VI in 1600 and as such sat in Parliament although still continuing to act as minister of Leith where he lived. He was a younger brother of the ninth Earl of Crawford and had some influence with the King whom he had accompanied to Norway where he had performed the marriage ceremony between James and Anne of Denmark. In 1597 the King had granted him "all and sundry Kains and Customs pertaining to the Bishopric of Ross in consideration of his great and profitable services and the expenses amounting to 2,000 merks spent on his voyage to Denmark at the time of the King's marriage." As the Kains and Customs at that time went to the Crown this is a late example of the latter using the Auld Kirk's patrimony to meet its own debts. At first Lindsay cannot have exercised any episcopal functions other than that of sitting in Parliament but, before his death in 1613, the General Assembly had restored episcopal jurisdiction in the sees. He was succeeded in the bishopric by another Lindsay, Patrick, who had been a minister at Arbroath and, in fact, like his predecessor continued to serve his parish after being appointed to the bishopric. The bishops of this period were probably cautious and moderate men who had been forced by circumstances to keep on good terms both with the Episcopacy-loving King and with the latter's Presbyterian opponents. They had close affinities with the Presbyterian ideal, were not committed to the theory of the divine right of Episcopacy and were torn between loyalty to James who had appointed them and to their landed kinsmen who were their protectors and patrons. The later bishops appointed by Charles I were to be of a different sort, brought up in Episcopacy, and leaning towards the Anglican Church, rather than towards Presbyterianism, typified in the Chanonry by Bishop Maxwell. The status and functions of bishops varied during this period but the battle moved steadily in favour of the efforts of the Crown to establish an Episcopal kirk. Whereas the Act of Annexation of 1587 had transferred all kirk lands and possessions with certain minor exceptions to the Crown as their original owner and donor, an Act of 1606 restored the Estate of the Bishops "to their ancient and accustomed honour, dignities, prerogatives .... livings, lands, teinds, rents .... and annuls the Act of Annexation of the temporalities of benefices." Presumably the lands disponed away by the bishops after the Reformation and prior to the Act of Annexation would not be touched by the new Act. All that the bishops could now get back by it were the lands and such other possessions as had actually passed to the Crown in 1587, including the feuduties which had usually formed part of the consideration for the sale of church lands before 1587, but this aspect of post-Reformation history does not seem to have been studied in any detail. A charter granted by David Lindsay, Bishop of Ross, in 1613, shows what had happened and indicates also the extent of the bishopric lands. The charter narrates that "whereas the lands etc. of Kiltearn have been held of him and his predecessors bishops of Ross as part of the patrimony of the bishopric beyond the memory of man by Robert Munro of Foulis and his predecessors in feufarm and whereas the Act of Annexation of Kirklands to the Crown was rescinded by Act of Parliament of 1606 and the bishops required to re-infeft their former vassals therefore and for certain sums of money and many benefits rendered by said Robert Munro, said bishop grants him said lands and others as formerly to be held in feufarm for 14 merks" (Foulis Writs).

The bishopric of Ross had been severely affected by the 'dilapidations' of Bishop Leslie, for an Act of 1609 provided that "The revenues of the bishopric being greatly diminished partly by pensions granted, partly by setting of feus and tacks, the King grants to Mr David Lindsay, Bishop of Ross, and his successors, the Abbey of Fearn annexed to the Crown in 1587," that is the lands which formerly belonged to the Abbey. The Register of the Privy Council for 1622 contains a list of the subjects in respect of which the Bishop of Ross drew feuduties, extending to some 43 davachs or about 18,000 acres, yielding apparently about 472, a very considerable sum for these days. The Act of 1606 had, however, not been fully effective or had met with opposition in its application. John Maxwell, who succeeded Lindsay in the bishopric and seems to have acted as minister of the Chanonry, is found after his appointment petitioning the Crown for assistance in all actions of law he might have to raise for the recovery of patronages and rents belonging to his bishopric. Charles I had a warm corner for Patrick Lindsay although he had difficulty in finding the cash to express his regard in tangible fashion. Thus he had allowed Lindsay 5,000 for good service to his father James VI and himself but, not having been able to pay this, he directed in 1631 that the bishop should be exempt from taxation until the debt had been met. Two years later he assured the bishop that he would remember the great pains and charges the latter had been to in order to augment the rents of the bishopric of which he had not had time to reap the full benefit.

During the reigns of the two Lindsays as Bishops of Ross there was at least talk about the repair of the Cathedral which had suffered in consequence of the removal of the lead from its roof in 1572, when the Regent of the time had granted to the Lord High Treasurer heritage of "the whole lead wherewith the Cathedral Kirk was covered," the Cathedral being in the King's hands as it was said through forfeiture of Bishop Leslie for treason and "through being of the said cathedral kirk but a monastery to sustain idle bellies." The lead had been replaced by a thatch of heather, for Brodie's Dairy records that the Earl of Seaforth while shooting pigeons in the kirkyard in 1661 set fire to the roof with a spark from his gun, causing a conflagration which spread to the thatched 'roofs of houses nearby. Rumours of the repairs brought to the Bishop a letter from John Carse, a London clergyman, which waxed lyrical on the subject; "My heart rises at the news of a rising Cathedral at Ross; in the words of the Psalmist "The glorious majesty of the Lord our God be upon it; prosper the work, O prosper it." What, if anything, was done is unknown; perhaps as will subsequently appear in connection with a much later appeal for funds, the whole project had fallen through, for in 1620 Lord Kintail, son of the Earl of Seaforth, wrote that the Cathedral was altogether ruinous as would have been also his house of Chanonry but for the great outlays of his father and grand-father. According to the Second Statistical Account it was the aisle which was repaired and preserved by the bishops until it fell into decay "long since" but the anger of the Town Council at the "throwing down" late in the 17th century of what must have been the nave and chancel suggests otherwise.

In 1626 Charles I interested himself in the repair of the Cathedral when he wrote from Windsor to the Bishop of Ross. "Understanding that your Cathedral Church of Ross is so ruinous at this present that neither any divine service can conveniently be performed, nor any ecclesiastical assembly be held therein ... Therefore it is our pleasure that you advise with craftsmen what sum of money will be necessarily requisite for the repairing of the said Cathedral Church and thereafter deal with the able and sufficient men of the said diocese to contribute voluntarily pro rata for payment of the said sum." On the same date the king exhorted the Earl of Seaforth requiring him to "go before other by your good example in contributing really to the said work" and also to settle any legal differences he may have had with the bishop, referring to the trouble the latter was having to recover the possessions restored to him by the Act of Restitution of 1606. Repairs of a kind at least must have been carried out for there seems to be little doubt from Town Council minutes of a later day that a congregation met in the Cathedral at least every second Sunday until the 1680's.

Patrick Lindsay was promoted to be Archbishop of Glasgow in 1633, and was succeeded in Ross by the celebrated John Maxwell by the usual process of election by the Dean and Chapter following upon a royal nomination. Much about the Reformation and the subsequent history of the Church in Scotland must appear strange to the modern Presbyterian accustomed to a different order of affairs but in these early days, of the Reformed Church many exasperated compromises were arrived at or imposed in the long contest between the Presbyterian Reformers on the one hand and, on the other, the Crown bent on maintaining some sort of Episcopal order. Thus, when Maxwell came to the Chanonry, Bishops sat in Parliament and enjoyed part at least of the ancient church endowments while parish ministers maintained a constant struggle for stipends much less than those of pre-Reformation days. On the other hand the Bishops were responsible to their presbyteries of which they were constant moderators and to the General Assembly. The controversy regarding the orders of the clergy did not extend to the order of the service for the church service under Episcopacy did not differ from that used when the Presbyterians were in the ascendant until after the installation of Bishop Maxwell when attempts were made to introduce a liturgical service on the lines of that used in the Church in England. Maxwell is held to have been one of the prime movers in the attempt to require the Scottish Church to use the order of church service known as the Scottish Prayer Book of 1637. For the time being the innovation was to prove as great a failure as the effort of Nectan to force Roman ways on the Pictish Church in 710. The story of the riot in St. Giles is well known. So also is the experience of Bishop Maxwell when he sought to use the new Prayer Book in his Cathedral at Fortrose. Some doubt has been cast on both stories in modern times but, for what it is worth, the Chanonry version has it that, although the bishop had already used the new Prayer Book, northern opponents of it had been so encouraged by the adoption of the National Covenant early in 1638 that on Sunday, 11th March of that year a band of young men described as scholars at the Chanonry entered the Cathedral before service, seized all the copies of the obnoxious book which they could find and carried them off to the Ness in order to consign them to the flames, presumably on the spot where witches and other malefactors had been wont to find a dreadful end. A passing shower however extinguished the fire which they carried with them so that they were reduced to casting the torn books into the sea. Maxwell, it was reported, hurried through the service without the books, then, in great agitation, took horse and fled across the Ferry to the Bishop of Moray at Elgin whence he departed hastily for the court of Charles in England. The latter appointed him ultimately to the bishopric of Tuam in Ireland where he was found dead in his private oratory in 1645, overwhelmed, it was said, by the disasters which had overtaken his sovereign. Later in the year of the bishop's flight, the Presbyterian or Covenanting party having gained the ascendancy in the country, the famous Glasgow Assembly of 1638 dealt with Maxwell and other bishops, deposing and excommunicating them in the course of sweeping away the Episcopal system which had been established by Parliament in 1612. One would think the Assembly dealt rather harshly with the well-intentioned bishop, some of whose alleged offences were no more than the law allowed. The Assembly held that "It was proved that two years ago he was a public reader in his house and Cathedral of the English liturgy; that he was a bower at the altar, a wearer of cope and rochet, a deposer of godly ministers, an admitter of fornicators, a companion of papists, a usual carder on Sunday; yea instead of going to thanksgiving on a communion day that he called for cards to play at the Beast; had often given absolution, consecrated deacons, robbed his vassals of above forty thousand merks, kept fasts every Friday, journeyed usually on Sunday, had been a chief decliner of the Assembly and a prime instrument of all troubles both of Church and State. Of his excommunication no man made question." Wholesale denunciation of this kind is characteristic of all revolutions but there seems to be a great deal also in the point of view. He was excommunicated and declared infamous. Mr Thomas Mackenzie, Archdeacon of Ross, was also deposed at the same Assembly for `many foul crimes, as fornication, drunkenness, marrying of adulterers.

What is perhaps of more interest than the adventures of the unfortunate bishop is the account of the attitude of the people of the Chanonry at this time as contained in the Earl of Rothes, 'Relation concerning the Affairs of the Kirk in Scotland, 1637/38.' He says that the Covenant (that is, the old National Covenant first subscribed in 1580 as a counterblast to Popery and now revived and directed not only against Popish practices but more especially against attempts to introduce the Prayer Book) was generally signed in the North, especially in the burghs, although Mr George Munro was the only minister in the Presbytery of Chanonry to do so. The Earl of Rothes goes on to describe how, Ainslie, the minister of Rosemarkie, having prevailed with his brethren not to sign the Covenant, the people of the Chanonry on 6th May 1638 sought out the Master of Beridale, one of the northern supporters of the Covenant, then on his way homeward, and desired that the Covenant might be read to them. Two of the bailies, being elders, in name of the people earnestly desired Mr George Leslie, minister at Bonar, who had attended the Covenant meetings in Edinburgh, to preach to them that day, read the Covenant and take their oaths and subscriptions. The bells were therefore rung but after the second bell, before nine o' clock, Ainslie slipped into the pulpit and preached to `My Lady Bishop and her family.' "The people were hardly kept by the earnest persuasion of the Master of Beridale and some honest men in the town from pulling him out of the pulpit." Ainslie preached till about noon after which "the whole people repaired to the kirk, when Mr George preached .... a little after the beginning there arose a noise in the kirk, occasioned by a fire that was kindled in a house belonging to the Bishop's tailor .... and some people went forth; among the rest the Bishop's Lady, Mr Ainslie and others of the family. Presently the matter being known, the people sat down, and the Covenant was read out .... and so the people went on and subscribed. Every honest man in the town that could subscribe did so." The Bishop's Lady was Mrs Maxwell who had been left behind with her four daughters when the Bishop fled some months before. One of the daughters, Anne, is later found as a schoolmistress in the Chanonry. As will be seen from subsequent references in the minutes of the Town Council of the Chanonry the Covenanting spirit remained strong there, at least till the Restoration, after which, from other references in later minutes, it seems that the attitude of the Council during the second half of the 17th century could be summed up in the words `a plague on both your houses'. They wanted only to be left in the faith in which they had been brought up, which in the thirties leant strongly to the strict Presbyterian side with no stomach for bishops.

Though bishops may have continued to come and go in the Chanonry, perhaps with intervals, all the evidence concerning the canons suggests that within a short period after 1560 they had disposed of their manses and lands within the Chanonry. The dignitaries continue to appear in records, the Dean, the Precentor, the Treasurer and Chancellor, but these titles simply meant that their holders served as ministers within the parishes which had formerly supported their Catholic predecessors. Laymen took the place of the clerics. Some manses became the town houses of local lairds, others were divided up into small houses and workshops.

During the period between the Reformation and the break with Charles I, when Episcopacy disappeared for the time being, both Rosemarkie and the Chanonry were served, though perhaps not continuously, by ministers or by readers. According to the Fasti George Dunbar was priest at Rosemarkie in 1560 when he conformed, that is, he went over from the old to the new kirk. His name does not, however, appear in the Register of Ministers and Readers (1567-74) while he was certainly in arrear with his Thirds during the same period so that he must be counted among those who remained faithful to the Auld Kirk. In the Chanonry some of Hepburn's successors were said to have ministered to a congregation in the Cathedral whether or not this was a condition of their appointment, but this can only have been true of Maxwell for both the Lindsays retained their earlier parish kirks. In an action raised by the then Bishop before the Commissioners of Teinds in 1670 against the parishioners of Rosemarkie for the union of that parish and the so-called parish of Chanonry the advocate for the parishioners said that Rosemarkie had been a parish since Christianity and had had its own Church and minister abundantly provided, that the parish was numerous and a part of it far distant while Chanrie was always served by the bishop, or his chapter, and that it was more proper to unite it with Avoch on the west. The Lords Commissioners, however, united the kirks of Chanonry and Rosemarkie and appointed the minister of the latter to serve the cure at both kirks per vices, that is, on alternate Sundays. At the same time the Commissioners with the consent of the Bishop of Ross declared the parish of Rosemarkie to be free of, that is, not responsible for, the support of the kirk of the Chanonry and vice versa, a decision which was to have momentous consequences for the heritors of Rosemarkie a century and a half later. It may have been because of this decision that the kirk session of Rosemarkie refused to devote any part of their church collections to the poor of the Chanonry while Mortifications of the time confined their benefits exclusively to the latter. The Fasti after listing a number of men who are said to have been ministers of the parish of Fortrose after the Reformation, mentions that the parish was vacant in 1650 and was united to the parish of Rosemarkie in 1670 as already stated. In fact, however, it does not seem that there was ever a parish of Fortrose. As late as 1639 the provost and bailies of the Chanonry joined with the General Assembly in laying before Parliament a petition that the kirk of the Chanonry be erected into a parish kirk. Parliament expressed its sympathy but no more by passing the petition to the King. Ten years later Parliament had another petition before it from the Provost and Council of the Chanonry praying that their kirk might be declared a parish kirk and provided with a stipend out of the bishopric rents, which were being strictly exacted by the Crown, Episcopacy being by this time out of favour. Parliament this time recommended the Commission for the Plantation of Kirks to consider the matter at the first opportunity but nothing came of it. The real difficulty was the provision of a stipend for a minister. After the departure of Maxwell the revenues of the bishopric went to the Crown. In 1647 James Livingstone received from the King a gift of the lands rents and teinds of the Bishopric of Ross, and seven other dioceses for a space of nineteen years subject to existing stipends and with the right of planting kirks and fixing stipends. Later, Livingstone with the approval of the Estates of Parliament transferred his rights to the Earl of Lindsay and Crawford who was subsequently summoned to appear before the Commissioners of Parliament appointed for the Plantation of Kirks "to hear and see the kirk of the said Chanrie of Ross erected in a parish kirk by itself and a competent and legal provision granted for serving the cure thereat." Nothing came of this move although the Earl of Seaforth interested himself in the matter. It has often been said that after the Reformation the Highlands generally did not take kindly to Presbyterianism, that the people had less difficulty in slipping from Catholicism into Episcopacy than into the stern arms of the Reformers and that the National Covenant found few subscribers in Inverness and Ross. Some account has already been given of the signing of the Covenant in the Chanonry which would seem to show that it was not without friends. In any case the transition from Episcopacy to Presbyterianism in 1638 and back in 1660, involved little or no change in externals apart from the disappearance and reappearance of the shadowy dignitaries, the dean, precentor, etc. That popular conformity or interest in the church was merely outward or nominal is suggested by the editor of the Inverness and Dingwall Presbytery Records for 1645-88. "In Roman Catholic times churches were burnt and the clergy freely robbed. After the Reformation the state of affairs was for generations even worse." Ministers were starving for want of a stipend. Others were robbed or imprisoned for debt. While this might be a true picture of the state of affairs in the rural areas the minutes of the Town Councils suggest that matters were different in the burghs. In 1562 Inverness Town Council resolved that elders and deacons be chosen to punish faults contrary to the Law of God, such as fornication, adultery, drunkenness, slander, etc., and to collect and distribute alms to the poor. Elders and deacons were elected by the Town Council which also fixed the hours of divine service and specified the fines to be imposed for non-attendance. The Town Council of the Chanonry is found acting in the same manner during the 1640's when records become available to show at least an outward zeal for strict religious observance and for procuring a minister. Thus in March 1647 "the council taking seriously to heart the fearful and great profaning of the Lord's Day within this town when many make no constraint before, at the time, and after divine service to go to Kylling (ninepins) bowling penniestane (quoits), or other idle and profane exercise upon the Sabbath day. Therefore they have statuted and ordained that if any councillor be found at any profane or idle exercise such as bowling, cards, dice, penniestane or the like (he is) to pay for the first fault eight pounds and if he fall in a relapse to be discharged of the council and to lose his freedom within the burgh." Lesser penalties were prescribed for those who were not councillors. The minute proceeds, "And that all who shall buy any fish or carries burdens on the Sabbath day" before the end of the "evening service being about five hours at least shall be punished in their persons and goods according to the council's will. And that every master and mistress of every family be answerable for their families that none of them profane the sabbath by going to gather anything in the sea upon the Sabbath day under pain of twenty shillings. And whatever masterless persons shall be found so doing or at any profane pastime, to be punished in their persons thereafter to be stripped naked and banished the town." Such a casual reference conveys in a few words a picture of life in the Chanonry at this time under the sway of the old idea that burgesses alone were of any importance. Further, the inference as to the prevailing method of Sabbath observance is obvious, in particular that the day was not kept by the fisherfolk while ships probably unloaded on the shore and had their cargoes carried up the hill to the merchants' stores, Saturday and Sunday alike. Some years later the Council was fulminating against servants absenting themselves from their masters' houses on the Sabbath night after eight in the evening and going to drink elsewhere.

Then there was the Council's attempt in 1657 to secure a stipend for a minister in the Chanonry out of the Precentor's teinds now possessed by Sir Robert Innes of that ilk. Next year the Council drew up a short leet of ministers to be invited to serve at the Chanonry "...... Mr Murdo Mackenzie minister at Elgin, Mr Thomas Urquhart, minister ... (and three others) ... to be minister at or any of the most condescending and respectable to be minister at Chanry." One of the leet was, or bore the same name as, the famous northern Covenanter Mr John McKillican. About the same time Mrs Janet Davidson or Elder having accused another lady of having called her by an unmentionable word, the culprit having been found guilty was ordained by the Provost and Bailies sitting in court to confess her fault in her own house before the said Janet and any two of the elders and to beg mercy. Some sort of congregation must therefore have existed in the Chanonry.

Other attempts were to be made to ensure the continuance of the Chanonry congregation but without success. From Town Council minutes of the year 1690 it can be gathered that after the Restoration the kirks of Rosemarkie and Chanonry had been served by the same minister, at least since the action in the Court of Teinds in 1670. The Council now complained that Bishop Ramsay, the last Episcopalian Bishop of Ross, "upon his pretended manner seeming to them contrary to all law did order Mr David Angus, minister of the united parishes of Chanorie and Rosemarkie and their pastor, to intimate to the people here after sermon at a certain time past, that there was no more preaching to be here expected during the time proscribed by him, and that therefore the people of Chanorie were to repair to Rosemarkie Kirk to hear sermon as they would be answerable, by which the magistrates and council for themselves and in name of all inhabitants of Chanorie find at least a pretence that their right and decree of Union of both parishes is encroached upon and broken, and their possession of the minister to preach per vices at the kirk of Chanorie put in desuetude notwithstanding of their possession thereof now these eighty years ago or thereby and that Mr George Munro the last incumbent was presented and instituted in these terms conform to the Decree of Union and served here per vices all his time, and that Mr David Angus, the present incumbent, was presented and instituted after the same manner . . . ." The Council, many of whom were elders of the congregation of Chanonry, therefore resolved to call upon Mr Angus to resume his services. The resolution of the Council was afterwards approved by other elders and others of the burgesses who came or were summoned to the Council meeting place for the purpose. Nothing came of this.

Perhaps the disappearance of Episcopacy as the established church under the Revolution settlement at the time and the consequent turmoil were responsible for the lapse of the alternate services but it seems more probable that the immediate cause was the state of the Cathedral. A few years before this incident the Council had canvassed the town and perhaps also the county for promises of contributions towards its repair, but the money had not been collected. In 1688 the Bishop and Synod had asked for the money so that work might proceed but the Council had decided that, while the money should now be collected, it should not be handed over "till first the work be sighted and adjusted by sufficient tradesmen," that is until proper plans and estimates of the cost had been obtained, and also until it was known what other contributions might be expected including what the clergy of Ross had promised. They were resolved not to part with their money "to throw down the church and be then uncertain how or from whom to get money to rebuild and put up the same." The contractors' estimates came to 4,000 merks or 2,666 Scots. In the event, whether or not the town's contribution was collected, nothing was paid over and no more was heard of the matter till early in 1690, George Ross, mason in the Chanonry, was called before the Council and asked if the provost or any of the bailies or the council had ordered him to unroof the Cathedral, to which he answered, "That truly not and never willed that the same should be done till they did see a probable way to put up. the church as likewise declared that it was the Bishop now in Chanonry that ordered and commanded him to unroof the said church .... and got part of payment for his work from the Bishop without the knowledge of the town." It would seem that a new building was contemplated, the old being too far gone or in a dangerous condition, perhaps because of the removal of the steeple referred to in one of the Mackenzie MSS. Anyhow this account from the Council minutes would dispose of the oft-repeated story that Cromwell's troops had destroyed the Cathedral, always excepting the possibility regarding the steeple or tower at the west end of the nave. The earliest reference to the story occurs in the Wardlayr: MS History of the Frasers in which the author states that in his youth he had seen boats bringing material from Fortrose Cathedral for the construction of Inverness Citadel to the orders of General Monk. Then in 1705 Forbes, the author of a work on Church Lands and Tithes, wrote of the Cathedral that it had been demolished at the Reformation but some part of it was afterwards rebuilt. Shortly afterwards H. Mackenzie's MS History of the Mackenzies mentions the steeple which "stood in the Cathedral of Chanonry very magnificent till it was cast down by the English in 1652 and the stones thereof brought to Inverness to build the Citadel there." Bishop Forbes visiting the Chanonry in 1762 found the Cathedral all in ruins, not one half of it then standing and that which remained had only the arched roof, upon which was long grass. He did not lay the blame at the door of Cromwell but did say that "the Bishop's Palace was razed to the ground by the Cromwellian adorers to build a fort for their idol at Inverness." We may gather that if Cromwell's men had laid a hand upon the Cathedral the Bishop would have had something to say about it. According to the Second Statistical Account of Rosemarkie Parish (1843) the tradition current in the burgh had it that the greater part of the Cathedral together with the Bishop's Palace was pulled down in Cromwell's time to provide stones for the Citadel. Traditions lose nothing by being picturesque and there may have been some basis for this one in the removal of the trees and the steeple. Neglect, however, perhaps before and certainly after the Reformation, and the stripping of the lead from the roof must have contributed to the decay which led Bishop Ramsay to have the nave and chancel pulled down before someone was hurt. If the steeple, referred to in the Mackenzie MS and in complaints to the Privy Council, was the square tower which seems to have formed an integral part of the western end of the nave, as the remaining foundations indicate, and if it was demolished as the Mackenzie MS says, then its removal would have seriously weakened the whole structure unless a new gable had been built on its site. If it had been solidly built without many windows to withstand attack as was usually the case with such buildings then its stone would have been useful for the Citadel. The New Statistical Account says that the aisle was preserved and repaired by some of the bishops after the Reformation as a place for public worship, while Bishop Forbes wrote that the pulpit, old and shattered, was still standing in it.

The Town Council did not cease its efforts "to procure a maintenance for a minister to serve the cure at Fortrose" notwithstanding the ruined condition of the Cathedral. The Scots Parliament lent a favourable ear to the petitions of the Chanonry as it had done fifty years before but with as little effect. A petition of 1695 ran "Since this happy Revolution and abolishing of Episcopacy their church was still vacant and no other fund for maintainance of the parsons serving the cure but the rents of the Bishopric . . . . now pertaining to His Majesty and wholly uplifted by His Majesty's collectors .... they were as sheep almost lost and going astray for want of a shepherd .... and it being most just and reasonable that a part of the bishop's rents should be dedicated to a minister that should preach the gospel to them .... and likewise their church is so ruined and demolished that they durst not enter thereto .... that some part of these rents must be allowed for repairing thereof." The petition was remitted to the committee for the security of the kingdom to consider and report. The latter recommended to His Majesty's grace and favour to allocate a competent stipend and an allowance for the repair of the Cathedral. His Majesty, however, apparently thought otherwise so that but for Dutch William the Cathedral might have been restored and stood to this day.

It is by no means clear whether, like other burghs in the north, notwithstanding the Revolution settlement which replaced Episcopacy by Presbyterianism in Scotland, Fortrose and Rosemarkie continued to adhere strongly to the former church to which they had been accustomed with a short break for a century and which in its hierarchical order, was not so far removed from the church of their ancestors. The Scottish Parliament had in 1690, re-established the Presbyterian Church with its statement in its Claim of Right "that Prelacy and the superiority of any office in the Church above Presbyters- (or ministers) is, and hath been, a great and insupportable grievance and trouble to this nation, and contrary to the inclination and generality of the people .... and therefore ought to be abolished." King William sought to reconcile the two parties but without success. The Presbyterians were determined to oust the Episcopalian ministers but in many places the congregations remained faithful to the `curates' and for long refused Presbyterian replacements. Mr David Angus, already mentioned, was `deprived' at Rosemarkie as an Episcopalian in 1693, after which there seems to have been no minister either at Chanonry or Rosemarkie until a Presbyterian, Mr Hugh Anderson was called to Rosemarkie in 1697. He had been settled in Cromarty in 1656, deprived by the Episcopal interest in 1662 and restored at Cromarty at the Revolution. When the Presbytery met at Rosemarkie to deal with the call to Mr Anderson, several gentlemen from the Chanonry appeared to claim that there was a union between their town and the Parish of Rosemarkie. They therefore wished to take part in the settlement of a minister seeing that he would have the supervision of both places. The people of Rosemarkie, however, resented this interference from their neighbours and declared that the union referred to was a fraud, imposed on them in the time of Prelacy for the the Prelates' use. Mr Anderson having protested that he could not undertake the charge of both places as that would be a task impossible for one minister faithfully to discharge, and the representatives of the Chanonry not being able to produce the documents vouching the union they claimed, the Presbytery found that if any such union as pretended existed, it was in the time of Prelacy and was disadvantageous to the parish of Rosemarkie. They therefore sustained the Parish of Rosemarkie as being distinct from the town of Chanonry but considered it desireable that a minister should be planted in the latter. In view of the terms of the petition from the Chanonry and the interest roused by the proposed settlement of a Presbyterian minister at Rosemarkie it seems that Episcopal sentiment was weaker in the Burgh than it was, for example, in the neighbouring village of Avoch where the people long resisted the introduction of a Presbyterian minister.

Mr Anderson accepted the call and was inducted at Rosemarkie. He went elsewhere in 1698 and was succeeded by Mr George Gordon at a time when the Presbyterian ministers in Ross could be counted on the fingers. Episcopalian feeling in the County was still strong. Notwithstanding the efforts of the gentlemen from the Chanonry to take part in the settlement of Mr Anderson at Rosemarkie, the episcopal interest began to gain control of the Town Council. In 1707 when the Presbytery had to deal in accordance with law with Mr Kenneth Mackenzie, late schoolmaster in the Chanonry who as an Episcopalian had `intruded' at Rosemarkie whence Mr Gordon had recently been transferred to Cromarty, the latter was detailed by the Presbytery "to repair twixt and the next Presbytery to Rosemarkie" there to demand the keys of the Church. It was, however, another two years before another Presbyterian, Mr Robert Findlay, was inducted there. Meantime the Presbytery complained that "Mr George Strachan, pretended Presbyter as having been ordained by the late abdicated Bishop of Moray, had entered into the school of Chanonry and set up a meeting-house in the town." Mr Strachan who must have had the backing of the Town Council, at least as regards the school, remained in Fortrose for some years until succeeded by Mr Alex. Maclennan as Episcopal curate if not also as schoolmaster.

The behaviour of the Town Council at this time was curious. In 1700 it deputed two bailies, a councillor and the town clerk to speak to Mr Rorie Mackenzie and Mr David Angus, the first described as Chanter of Ross the second as minister of Rosemarkie, to obtain a fit person to catechise the people within the burgh and to read to them each Lord's Day within the Cathedral Church, which must be assumed to have been the aisle which still stands. They were prepared to pay over to such a person the income of a Mortification recently set up for that purpose. At the same meeting, however, the same two bailies were instructed to wait also upon the Presbytery of Ross which was soon to meet at Rosemarkie to settle Mr Gordon as minister there. Rorie Mackenzie, who had been Chapter of Ross during the Episcopal period, was the former Episcopal minister at Avoch and a strong opponent of Presbyterianism, while the Episcopalian Mr David Angus had been deprived of his charge at Rosemarkie in 1693 on a charge of not praying for William and Mary and had been charged before the Privy Council with having preached publicly and exercised ministerial functions in his house in the Chanonry and elsewhere without having qualified himself by signing the Presbyterian Confession of Faith and subscribing the Oath of Allegiance to the two monarchs. One of the Bailies deputed to wait upon them was also an Episcopalian. In spite of these Episcopalian feelers, the deputation to the Presbytery was instructed to "hold forth the Condition of this place and the people in it" and to protest that the Presbytery's procedure should take account of the old decree of Union of the kirks of Chanonry and Rosemarkie, and should provide for preaching at the two places alternately as before. It looks as if the Town Council would willingly have seconded King William's efforts to persuade the Presbyterians to some sort of accommodation with the Episcopalians, at least to the extent of receiving into their Church all the Episcopal incumbents who were willing to accept the Presbyterian form of church government and take the oath of Allegiance.

The simultaneous approaches by the Town Council to the dominant and lawful Presbyterian, and to the defeated and now unlawful Episcopal churches in 1700, had no recorded effect but there are references a few years later to church collections in the Chanonry managed by the Town Council. There is nothing, however, to indicate how the services were conducted, whether on the old per vices system with the co-operation of the minister of Rosemarkie or by a reader or other ordained minister. There is no possibility that the council minutes really referred to the Rosemarkie church collections for, in 1696, a Chanonry Church Treasurer was dismissed from office by the Town Council because he had failed to pursue an action against the Treasurer of the parish church at Rosemarkie for one half of the church collections there, which the Town Council thought should be made available for the poor of the Chanonry. Sympathy seems to be due to the Chanonry Treasurer who may reasonably have thought that the Chanonry could hardly have the whole of its own church collections and half of those of Rosemarkie into the bargain. The Council minutes, however, show that the congregation of the Chanonry was being kept together. The next reference recalls the curious approach of 1700 to ministers of different denominations and is even stranger. In 1713 following a petition to Queen Anne regarding a stipend for a minister in the Chanonry to be paid from the rents of the bishopric of Ross, which now belonged to the Crown as they still do to this day, the Town Council resolved to send a similar petition for a maintenance to the Lord Archbishop of York, showing perhaps some faint, long-lingering notion from the far distant days when the Archbishops of York claimed to be the Metropolitans or Archbishops over the Catholic Church in Scotland. The following curious story indicates that at this time the Episcopal and Jacobite elements dominated the Town Council.

The story cannot be told better than in the actual words in which it is narrated in the Presbytery minutes of 1724.

"Memorial and Complaint from the Magistrates and Council of the Burgh of Fortrose and Elders of the Kirk Session of Chanonry. Before the year 1716 Mr Robert Findlay, Minister of the Gospel at Rosemarkie, had little or no respect shown him in the Exercise of his Ministerial Function within any part of the Burgh, It being well known what Management the Burgh was then under, and what Principles, both with respect to Spiritual and Civil matters, were then adopted in the same (meaning Jacobitism and Episcopacy). But in the said year the Government of the place falling in the hands of those who were well affected to the present Establishment (as will subsequently appear) both in Church and State, Mr Robert Findlay took hold of the opportunity to have his ministerial function extended to the town of Chanonry to which before he had no manner of access for the said reasons: In order to this he applies to the Magistrates at the time, and the Reverend Prestery on the Magistrates' Petition to them for that effect, did appoint Mr Robert to Exercise his Ministerial function in the town of Chanonry per vices with the parish of Rosemarkie ay and until the Lord in his Providence Should find out a more convenient supply for that place..... In consequence of this appointment Mr Findlay was established in the place, did preach per vices in the kirk and exercised other parts of his function, had a full session, and tho' at first his auditorys might be thin, which was occasioned by an almost general Inclination among them to Prelacy, yet in a short time his auditorys became as throng as could be expected in the town, he seldom meeting without three or four score, and, often, upwards of a Hundred persons. The session days were duly kept, and Mr Findlay's hands strengthened as much as was in the power of the Magistrates to do, so that from being vilipended, Insulted and Indignities offered to his person, by the regard and countenance of the Magistrates, he became to be respected, and a due regard had to his person and character by most or all of the inhabitants. The Memorialists thought themselves very happy in the above particulars as not only tending to the Glory of God and Interest of the Gospel, but to the uniting of the Inhabitants of the place, then miserably disjointed by Intestine Divisions, and would certainly in time have obtained this end, had Mr Findlay acted his point, as he ought to have done, In which he fail'd, And therefore the Memorialists find themselves obliged to lay Mr Findlay's behaviour in the following particulars before the Reverend Presbytery, to be by them considered and proper Remedies applied."

The Memorial then goes on to specify Mr Findlay's shortcomings, incidentally proving itself a valuable source of information about the burgh:-

"Primo. Mr Robert, Its true, did for some short time after the Presbytery's Act, keep his appointments in Chanonry per vices, But soon fell off from this method, and instead of one in a fortnight, he preached only there most times, once in the month, Thereafter, of his own accord took a greater latitude and served them only once in the quarter or half year, And ever since the appointment was placed on him by the Presbytery, he in eight years time only Catechised the place but thrice, and visited the families but twice, and in all things assumed to himself a power to act in an arbitrary way without service or concurrence of the other members of the session (an early assertion of the equality between minister and elders).

Second. By his omitting the Diets of preaching, the days appointed for keeping of session were entirely neglected (the session was accustomed to meet to hear reports on the morals of the community), and thereby Delinquency not orderly censured, But the Session was oft-times put off by Mr Findlay and adjourned by him at pleasure, without the knowledge of the other members, and without any colourable reason only at his pleasure, some trifling reasons were inserted in the minutes, which the rest of the session never quarrelled, as never judging he would make it a practice.

Third. (This concerned a young woman sentenced to be censured before the congregation of Chanonry where the scandal occurred but with whom Mr Findlay dealt at Rosemarkie).

Fourth. The Community in general and the office-bearers in particular of the Burgh have too much reason to challenge Mr Findlay for his indiscreet, unguarded and im-prudent treatment of both in the Pulpit, his most modest Epithet of the Town of Chanonry is to call it Sodom, the people upon the matter, Atheists, their children young Atheists, and that the curse of God is upon the place, with many more vile Expressions not worth the naming, But more particularly he treats the Magistrates of the Burgh out of Pulpit with the utmost contempt both in their persons and characters, taxing them in the administration of their office and Civil Authority and vents his passion against them for not putting the laws in execution according to his caprice, tho' unwarrantable in itself, And this both against Magistrates and Community is almost his constant practice. But more especially he takes hold of the opportunity when he sees his Auditorys in the time of the herring fishing throng'd with strangers from the four Corners of the Nation, and this he does with such passion, that at the same time he exposes himself to the wonder and surprise, yea oft-times laughter and ridicule of his Auditory But exposes as much as in him lies the Magistrates to the Contempt of the Inhabitants, to the weakening of their authority, and leaves a very bad impression .... on the minds of strangers . . . .-The Memorialists cannot conceive what has soured Mr Findlay at the town of Chanonry. Its certain the Magistrates have given all Countenance and Encouragement in their power, having [when he did not think the kirk a proper place for preaching] appropriated their very Council-house for that end, removed the pulpit and desks out of the Kirk thither .... but after all this was done he now deserts the place. It seems he had some private views in obtaining the Presbytery appointment to preach at Chanonry, its certain, at the time it was obtained, his decree of Modification and Locality (which settled a stipend and adjusted it among the heritors) of his stipend was depending before the Lords and the appointment is no sooner laid on him than he Extracted the Decree and made use of it as one of the strongest arguments for obtaining an increase to his stipend, and having attained his end so far, he would now endeavour to evade and frustrate the design of his appointment."

The Presbytery ordered a copy of the Memorial to be given to Mr Findlay so that he could at the next diet reply to the complaint against him. The matter dragged on through Presbytery and Synod, without much result other than a recommendation to the minister to ensure that his conduct towards the Memorialists and the whole of his people, be prudent and ministerial so that no ground of complaint might be found against him in the future. The Rosemarkie Session had presented a petition to the Presbytery and to the Synod, praying that their minister might be liberated from the duty of preaching at the Chanonry. The Synod agreed to ask for the assistance of the General Assembly, in obtaining part of the bishopric rents to support a minister at the Chanonry but again without avail. The Assembly suggested that Mr Findlay should preach at Rosemarkie on Sundays and at the Chanonry on a week-day. By the time of Mr Findlay's death in 1733 the services in the Chanonry had ceased, perhaps because of the lack of a suitable building, or, it may be, because the minister of Rosemarkie was unwilling to continue them.

The evidence of the Council minutes, which, by the way, do not record the long complaint against Mr Findlay, is that by 1720 the church buildings, which in the light of the Presbytery minutes, must have been the aisle of the Cathedral, were ruinous and in danger of falling and most inconvenient in winter time. The Council therefore agreed that their own meeting place could with little trouble or cost be made available for this purpose and duly appropriated it for the use of the congregation until a more convenient place could be got. This council meeting place at that time does not seem to have been the Tolbooth, which was the old chapter house with the old chapel beneath used as a prison, because when three years later the upper Tolbooth was stated to be slated and fit for divine service, they "did appoint and appropriate the upper Tolbooth for the place of preaching and divine service in this town, and for that end ordained all the inhabitants to furnish erect and provide themselves in seats .... at the sight and direction of magistrates and council." This would have been at about the time of complaint against Mr Findlay in the course of which it was stated that the pulpit and desks had been removed from the Cathedral to the place provided for services. Evidently the connection between the congregation and the Town Council was very close. The case prepared for the Town Council and others in 1879 in connection with a dispute regarding their liability for a share of the cost of repairs to the church and manse in Rosemarkie includes a statement that, when the Rev. Alexander Wood was inducted to the parish of Rosemarkie in 1734 the services in the Chanonry had already ceased, that the magistrates and inhabitants of the Chanonry had petitioned the Presbytery to be allowed to attend divine worship at Rosemarkie and that matters were so arranged. Incidentally, the Rosemarkie congregation had troubles of its own at this period. Presbytery records show that the Kirk of Rosemarkie was in a ruinous condition in 1733 and that its roof was thatched with heather. Repairs were carried out at a cost of 1,909-13-4 Scots. This was no doubt the time when the Sculptured Stone already referred to was discovered. In 1708 there had been no manse for Mr Findlay. The Presbytery had therefore summoned the heritors and local tradesmen to meet them on the site chosen for a new manse. Three tradesmen who attended, after being sworn in, were instructed to consult together as to the cost of a new building to the Presbytery's specification. The latter accepted their offer on the spot and instructed the heritors to raise the necessary funds among them. Whatever the reason, the Magistrates of Fortrose, as administrators of lands mortified for the poor, failed to meet their obligation and had to be sued for their share of the cost. Less than twenty years later Findlay's successor, Mr Wood, complained that his manse and offices were ruinous and not habitable, so that the contractors of 1708 cannot have made a good job of the work entrusted to them. The repairs had included covering the roof with divots.

For the next hundred years harmony seems to have marked the ecclesiastical arrangements of the Chanonry and Rosemarkie. In 1753 the session of Rosemarkie agreed to help Mr Smith, recently settled as schoolmaster in the Chanonry, by making him Precentor and Session Clerk "because his funds are small." He was to get 12 per annum as Precentor and 24 as Session Clerk plus emoluments and casualties, that is, fees for registering baptisms etc. Bailie Bremner of the Chanonry was appointed Church Treasurer of Rosemarkie in the same year. The manse and church at Rosemarkie were repaired from time to time at the cost of the heritors of the parish including those in the old Chanonry. By 1821 however, a new church and a few years later a new manse had become necessary. Everything seemed to be in order for the apportionment of the costs of the new buildings among the heritors when someone in the Chanonry fired a bombshell, the Decree of Union of 1670 was invoked, the Chanonry heritors claimed that they had been exempted by the terms of the decree from bearing any share of the cost of a church at Rosemarkie, the opinion of counsel was to be taken and, in the end, the Chanonry heritors went free. Apparently the dispute never reached the Law Courts where the decision might well have gone against the Chanonry for the decree of 1670 had merely united the kirks of the two places. It had not set up a parish of Chanonry so that the heritors in the latter continued to be in the parish of Rosemarkie and therefore responsible for their share of church costs. One result of the dispute was that the unfortunate contractors had to lie out of the balance of the sums due to them for some thirty years. The whole cost of the new church fell upon the heritors outwith the Chanonry and, in fact, upon the larger of these, for the minor heritors, the owners of small properties in Rosemarkie, failed to meet their obligations.

A few years after this, the people of the Chanonry built a church for themselves. Having failed in an attempt to secure a site on the Cathedral Green they settled for part of the old Sub-chanter's manse in the Rottenrow and there, with the help of a fund of 1,800 merks or 1,200 Scots mortified by Bailie Forbes in 1699 for the maintenance of a minister in the Chanonry, they put up a church which continued in use until the Union of the Churches of 1929, after which the building was acquired by the Town Council for use as a Town Hall. It seems now that in a few years time, the wheel will have come full circle and the churches of Rosemarkie and the Chanonry will be united again under one minister. Whether the services will be again held per vices or alternately in the two places remains to be seen. It may be that, like Mr David Angus three hundred years ago, the minister of the combined charge will be found resident in the Chanonry although not in one of the old pre-Reformation manses.


Knowledge of the early history of the parish and village of Rosemarkie is altogether wanting and the names and estates of local landowners in the early period are unknown. Up to about the year 1200, the area was in a continuous state of turmoil. It is possible that the Scottish kings, following the custom of the times, had replaced the native Celtic chiefs by Anglo-Normans as still surviving local surnames suggest. The early burghs of Scotland were mainly situated on the coastal plains and were formed and colonized to a large extent by incomers to Scotland, Saxons, Danes, Normans, Flemings, men attracted by trading opportunities or perhaps imported by the kings to replace rebellious villagers. The incomers spoke no Gaelic but a northern version of the English of the time, and, as strangers bound by a common interest and for mutual protection in a Gaelic speaking and hostile country-side, tended to keep together. Gaelic as the dominant speech must have disappeared from the Rosemarkie peninsula at a very early stage in its settlement by foreign adventurers and sailors on the one part, and by imported churchmen on the other.

Modern Rosemarkie lies on the site of a stone-age settlement as might be expected from its favourable climate and position. In the year 1904 a young plumber, James Wilson, while digging a trench for a drain near the Manse of Rosemarkie, uncovered a stone cist containing the usual remains of a skeleton and an urn. The same young man digging again near the middle of the High Street of Rosemarkie came upon a layer of ashes below which was a hoard of short pieces of deer horn evidently prepared for conversion into primitive tools. Mounds containing scallop shells, remains of a stone age dinner, are also said to have been found. There is thus reason to suppose that the site of the present Rosemarkie has been continuously inhabited from very early times although its recorded history cannot be said to commence until the 16th century, when charters and other documents and references appear. The municipal history of Rosemarkie and the Chanonry up to 1661 is to be gleaned from these charters, from references in the Register o the Privy Council and from a few other surviving documents. Six charters are known of which five still exist, or are recorded. There may have been another, the earliest of them all, but the evidence for it is scanty and uncertain.

1. There is a tenuous tradition or belief that Alexander II granted its first charter to Rosemarkie in 1216. The actual charter is not now extant, nor does any copy or record of it exist in the State Registers, where copies of later missing charters are to be found. If granted, it must have been one of the earliest burgh charters but it is not beyond possibility that although Rosemarkie was created a burgh at this time, yet no charter was ever issued. It is referred to in subsequent charters, while an Inventory of the Records and Writs of the Burgh of Fortrose in 1719 shows that the documents included 'lane attested double (or copy) of ane other old charter by King Alexander of Scots to the purpose therin" the attestation being by Adam Dunbar, Notary Public. A notary of that name appears elsewhere in 1599. A similar inventory made in 1788 does not include this document but a letter from a Fortrose bailie to Mr James Grant W.S. Edinburgh, in 1807 in connection with a dispute between the Burgh and Mackenzie of Flowerburn regarding their respective lands and rights refers to "several important papers belonging to the Town, I think, in the hands of Wm. Inglis, W.S., consisting of Charters etc. but, particularly, a charter of Alex. II King of Scotland in favour of Rosemarkie in which all our boundaries and privileges are laid down." After that the trail ends.

Subsequent charters refer to Rosemarkie as having been created a "free" burgh by Alexander and confirm it in the possession and enjoyment of all the rights and privileges which any other free burgh had or might have. (None of them however specify which of the three Alexanders, Kings of Scots, was the grantor). Burgh privileges were not granted without some particular reason and other types of burghs emerged especially in later times. In this case the only apparent reason seems to have been the fact that the seat of the bishop of Ross had been established there or in the very near vicinity. Just as a later bishop secured a charter for the Chanonry "for the increase of the libertie of the church" so it may be that the bishop of 1216 had interested himself in procuring a charter for Rosemarkie at that time. The activities of artisans and merchants were confined at that time to the burghs and the burgh of Inverness enjoyed a monopoly of trade and manufacture throughout the sheriffdom of Inverness which extended from the Grampians to the Pentland Firth. Just as the Bishop of Moray complained to the Pope that his first seat at Spynie was too solitary, so that his canons were obliged to travel a distance to obtain provisions, so the bishops of Ross, busy with the foundation and establishment of the diocese and with the provision of accommodation for their clergy and cathedral, must have found their dependence upon Inverness intolerable. The clerical community was growing, while into it was pouring every year a steady and increasing stream of livestock, grain and other produce of the land received in payment of rents and tithes, and providing a basis for trade. In any case the Crown had other reasons than the encouragement of trade for granting the special privileges enjoyed by the burghs. At a time when national government was in its infancy and when royal attempts to introduce and enforce law and order were apt to meet with resistance the Crown eagerly sought opportunities of delegating its powers to men upon whose loyalty it could rely. Hence the trading privileges and personal liberties conferred upon burghs and burgesses can be seen as the means of creating communities of free men whose interests lay with the Crown rather than with the turbulent nobles and their serfs. Nor was it an accident that Episcopal seats became burghs. The Church had an interest in the preservation of peace apart altogether from the advantage which the presence of traders on its doorstep brought to an ecclesiastical community.

The early burgh with its burgesses constituted an idea which was at total variance with the social conditions of Scotland in early times. The burgess was a free man. He had no lord other than the king from whom he held the toft or rood of land in the burgh which was the hallmark of his free condition. He had the valuable privilege of being judged in the Burgh Courts by his peers and his own magistrates except on the four pleas reserved to the Crown, treason, rape, murder and arson. Within the burgh and sometimes within a wider area outside, granted by the king's charter, as in the case of Inverness, the burgesses had the sole right of carrying on trade, foreign and domestic. People living outside burghs and non-burgesses were forbidden to offer anything for sale except at the market cross of some burgh so that the merchants there might buy and the king's customs be paid. In return, the royal burghs were liable to contribute aids and taxation to the Exchequer. The liberty of the burgess was not merely his personal freedom as contrasting with the servile state of the rural dwellers but his freedom to trade within the liberties of the burgh. As time went on the trading and manufacturing monopolies of the burghs came under attack, not only from unfreemen who sought to evade the laws but also from burghs of regality, those dependent on a bishop, perhaps, rather than on the king, and of barony, those created by barons for their own estates. Not only did the royal burghs lose trade in this way, but they suspected that their burgesses were called upon to bear a higher share of national taxation than their competitors in the upstart burghs.

The characteristic outward feature of a royal burgh is said to be the division of its area into parallel, contiguous strips on either side of a main street as in the case of Rosemarkie, but this seems to be a natural arrangement found in villages also. These strips or `burgh roods' extending to about a rood or quarter acre each in size constituted the qualification of the burgesses, each of whom held a rood direct from the king on which he was to provide his house and garden and in respect of which he was to pay the king a rent of five silver pennies. The silver penny was the universal coin of the early period, and can hardly be related in any way to the modern penny. The rents of the roods lying on either side of the king's highway together with the fines of the burgh courts and the tolls or petty customs on goods brought into the burgh for sale were collected by the king's officers in the burghs. Up to the beginning of the 14th century these officers were generally called prepositi (whence our `provost') or ballivi (bailies). As the burghs owed their existence and privileges to the king, upon whom they also depended for protection, the latter's resident representatives were more than mere collectors of revenues. While the new burghs were finding their feet the royal officers directed their affairs, conveyed the king's will to them and presided or at least advised at their courts or town meetings. As Town Councils began to develop it became the practice to grant to the burgesses in their corporate capacity short leases of the king's revenues by which, in consideration of a reddendo or annual payment to the Crown, they acquired the right to collect and retain for their collective use the rents of the roods, the fines and the customs. As a consequence the king ceased to appoint prepositi and ballivi and these officials began to be elected by the burgesses themselves at the Court or Town Meeting known as the Michaelmas Head Court. In 1684 the burgh maills or rents of the roods in Rosemarkie yielded about 11 Scots, the petty customs were let for 120 Scots, but no information is available regarding the amount derived from fines, although it must have been considerable. In respect of these ancient sources of revenue the burgh (being the Chanonry and Rosemarkie now united) was paying to the Exchequer the sum of 3 Scots, thus illustrating both the depreciation in the value of money since the time of Alexander II, and the great increase in trade during the same period. The payment of 3 can be traced back to the beginning of the 17th century. There is some ground for thinking that there was an old liability for this payment although no trace can be found of earlier payments in the Exchequer Accounts. Possibly the Exchequer had been careless or dilatory so that it was not until 1610 that the Lords Auditors discovered the lapse and ordered Rosemarkie to renew its infeftment, that is, take out a new charter, and to have inserted therin a particular rate of duty to be paid, in this case 3 Scots. In later times this was converted to sterling, at the rate of twelve pounds Scots to one pound sterling. The equivalent was thus five shillings sterling, a sum which, together with a corporation duty of fifteen shillings imposed by Parliament in the time of William IV, making in all 1, is still paid to the Crown Receiver as Burgh Maills.

The burgesses might also own land either privately or in common outside the area of the roods, such additional land constituting the `royalty' of the burgh. It is very doubtful if any grant of 1216 gave Rosemarkie an area beyond the burgh where exclusive trading and other privileges might be enjoyed but the place certainly had a considerable royalty which is now the possession of the modern burgh of Fortrose. The antiquity of the burgh status of Rosemarkie, whether granted by Alexander II or not, is illustrated by the fact that the properties on the ancient roods are burgage holdings, derived direct from the Crown as superior. The annual payments of feu-duties seem to have lapsed well over a century ago, perhaps because when converted into sterling they were so small as not to be worth collecting. The Protocol Book of William Lauder, Town Clerk of Rosemarkie, however, shows that in 1616 John Watson sold to his brother James a tenement in Rosemarkie held of the king in free burgage but subject to payment to the king or to the bailies of Rosemarkie of burgh maills, or rent, of twenty pence Scots money. So also Alexander Watson grants to his son Andrew the front part of his tenement for the usual payment to the king or bailies together with a wild goose on the entry of each heir.

Consideration of the name Rosemarkie and of the history of the burgh roods, of the royalty both within and outside the burgh boundaries and of the Channon lands between Fortrose and Rosemarkie which at one time belonged to the Church, suggests that the church lands were carved out of the possessions of ancient Rosemarkie. Since the Royalty or Common Good of the present burgh was not bestowed upon it by any of its Crown charters, it must be a possession of immemorial antiquity, suggesting that it derives from the time when some Pictish tribe occupied the area of the Ness and the lands behind it up to and over the top of the hill above the present Rosemarkie and Fortrose. To some Irish missionary like S. Monan the tribe may, during the sixth century have granted the lands where Fortrose now stands, for the maintenance of the monastery he founded. During the 12th century these lands passed into the possession of the medieval Catholic Church which built upon part of them the Cathedral and Manses and utilised the remainder for the benefit of the parsons and chaplains. About the same period the Crown granted to the bishop the right of Ferry and Salmon Fishing at the Ness, so that the Ness came to be regarded in time as a purtenance of the Chanonry rather than part of the old Rosemarkie which it was originally. Next, the village of Rosemarkie became a burgh, the remainder of its old lands became its royalty. After the Act of Annexation of 1587, the Crown claimed the Channon lands though there may be some doubt as to whether this claim legally extended to the Cathedral and manses. A century later the Crown bestowed these lands upon Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, near Fortrose, the Bluidy Mackenzie of Covenanting times, who then as superior became entitled to the rents and duties of the lands. This superiority later passed through several hands until recently, by gift, it became the property of the Town Council of Fortrose, so that the wheel has come full circle, and the community of the modern burgh of Fortrose now including Rosemarkie, is once again through its Town Council superior of practically all the lands once held by its Pictish forebears or predecessors, although in some cases the superiority has become so nominal as to have been forgotten.

Confirmation of Rosemarkie's early burghal status may perhaps follow from the fact that the Abbey of Arbroath possessed a toft within it. The Abbey had been founded by William the Lion in 1178 with a charter according to which the king granted it a toft in each. of his present and future burghs but the Abbey Register does not record the granting of the individual tofts. It does however show that in 1529 the Abbey sent its agent, John Anderson, to inspect its property in the northern burghs including Rosemarkie and Cromarty. Subject to the possibility that the Abbey may have acquired a toft in Rosemarkie in other ways this seems to afford some confirmation that the place was a royal burgh from an early date. Tofts in burghs were granted to abbots and other prelates to enable them to find accommodation when accompanying the kings on their frequent travels or progresses through the kingdom. Another indication of the same sort that Rosemarkie had burgh status is to be found in the fact that the Knights of St. John possessed a croft there, the Temple Croft, occupied by Martin Davidson in 1611 when it was disponed by Lord Torpichen, then owner of the Templars' lands in Scotland. The Knights Templar had in old days possessed such tenements in every royal burgh. On their suppression in 1312 their properties passed to the Knights of St. John. When this Order was dissolved at the Reformation its wide lands fell into the possession of Lord Torpichen who proceeded to liquidate them as has been seen in the case of Rosemarkie.

II. The next, and oldest extant, charter seems also to have been due to the efforts of the bishop of the day, in this case Thomas de Tulloch, who in 1455 procured from James II a charter for Fortrose, by then known as the Chanonry of Ross. Its terms were rather ambiguous. "We, (i.e. James II) mindful of Divine Grace and for the singular favour, zeal and love which We bear towards the Reverend Father in Christ, Thomas, Bishop of Ross, and for the increase of the `liberty' of the church, have granted .... heritably and for ever to the said Thomas and his successors, bishops of the said church, that they, the tenants and inhabitants of the town of Fortrose, called the Chanonry, in which is situated the said church of Ross, have, hold and possess for ever in all time to come the said town of Fortrose, in free burgh and as freely with all and sundry privileges, liberties and customs as the burgh of lower Rosemarkie (Rosmarky inferior) is infeft with the like liberties etc..... which town of Fortrose We have annexed incorporated and united for ever .... to the said burgh of Rosemarkie." The term 'liberties' means here as already mentioned trading rights rather than freedom of the person.

By this time the building of the Cathedral must have been in a fair way to completion while the manses of the canons must have been in existence for a long time, the whole forming a compact community of well-to-do clergy with a high standard of living and under a constant obligation to offer hospitality to passing travellers. The satisfaction of the needs of the canons and their households and of the vicars and lesser clergy could have called for the erection of the new community into a burgh with trading rights and privileges otherwise it is a little difficult to understand why a charter should have been thought necessary. The dean and chapter already governed the Chanonry which for centuries, was never to include more than the Cathedral and the manses so that any trading which took place must have been carried on within the premises of the canons. On the other hand the drafters of the charter remembered that the Chanonry had been erected within the ancient bounds of `Rosemarkie' and therefore saw fit to annex it to the older burgh which they called `lower Rosemarkie'. The burgh of Inverness took exception to this, as it did to later charters, for in the same year James wrote to that burgh "Letters in favour of the burgh of Inverness that Chanoun called Forte la Rose and Rosmarkin, that her gift shall not be prejudicial to the gift of the burgh of Inverness of their liberty (i.e. trading area) granted of old before." (Fraser Mackintosh. Invernessiana).

This charter did not make Fortrose a separate Royal burgh. For the reasons already noted very little required to be or was granted. However, it was to be regarded as a start. Fortrose in a later century was to be granted a full fledged charter while Rosemarkie for its part was not to forget the annexation. The effect of the wording of the 1455 charter and of the ecclesiastical nature of the community may have been to give the enlarged burgh of Rosemarkie the character of a bishop's burgh, although this would conflict with its earlier erection as a royal burgh in 1216 if this had actually taken place. The account of later charters, however, will show that new charters often paid scant attention to the terms of earlier erections. That Rosemarkie may have been a bishop's burgh was emphasised a century later when the Queen Regent referred to it as a burgh of regality. In this character as the property of the bishops of Ross both Rosemarkie and Chanonry lost their burgh status on the passing of the Act of Annexation of 1587 which transferred such property back to the Crown which had originally bestowed it. A burgh of regality was constituted by a grant conferred by the Crown upon a Lord of Regality who then possessed exclusive criminal jurisdiction within its bounds. So far as Rosemarkie was concerned there is no evidence beyond the implication of the Queen Regent's letter to indicate that it was constituted a burgh of regality either by the supposed charter of 1216 or by a subsequent amending grant. The privileges of a burgh of regality were of a more limited nature than those of a royal burgh because the lord or superior could retain in his own hands as much control as he desired while its trading rights would have been restricted to its own bounds as seems to have been the case with Rosemarkie. Such burghs were not entitled to engage in foreign trade and were not members of the Convention of Royal Burghs. The latter found, in fact, in 1580, on the complaint of the burgh of Inverness, that neither Rosemarkie nor the Chanonry were free burghs or enrolled in the Convention. The very fact of the complaint, however, indicates that the two places regarded themselves as burghs and there are indications that Rosemarkie, at least, had a Council in 1580. In the case of a burgh of regality the rents of the tofts would be paid to the bishop who would no doubt go on collecting this income on his own doorstep so that no question of compounding with a Town Council would arise. The fact that the Rosemarkie tofts were described as being burgage holdings in 1616 does not conflict with an earlier regality status because a charter of 1592 constituted Rosemarkie a burgh to be held in free burgage. It would be possible to stretch the case for or against Rosemarkie's early charter too far. Not all early burghs survived. Circumstances had to be turned to account by the enterprise of the burgesses to ensure success, prosperity and continued existence. Only the existence of a community of well-to-do Churchmen favoured either Rosemarkie or the Chanonry. Otherwise there was little to suggest the possible growth of a prosperous town. The interior of the Black Isle was a waste ringed by a fertile coastal strip. It was a source of peat and other fuel but not of trade the right to which was claimed in any case by Inverness. What fishermen there were brought in barely sufficient fish for the town's own needs. There can have been no export of fish apart from some surplus salmon. There may have been some export of hides, salted meat and grain at Martinmas when the canons received their rents but this trade may well have been in the hands of the canons themselves. Judging by the description of Rosemarkie in 1661, a fair assumption would be that the place never justified the hopes of the bishop or whoever persuaded Alexander to grant it a charter in 1216, if indeed he did, and that its municipal life never developed, so that its original charter was forgotten or ignored.

Up till 1552 Rosemarkie had had no market cross, market day or annual fairs such as characterized other burghs, or at least these had never been officially granted by the Crown. In that year, however, the Bishop of Ross, David Paniter, took the matter up with the Queen Regent who sent him a letter rectifying the omission. This is the letter which referred to Rosemarkie as having been infeft and created of old a free burgh of regality. It also empowered the bailies to collect the customs of the fairs and to pay the same over to the bishop. The following year the Crown issued a letter of instructions to prepare a charter for Rosemarkie erecting it into a burgh of barony, the burgh rents of which were to be paid to the bishops. Perhaps owing to the ecclesiastical troubles of the time no further progress was made with the granting of a charter. The odd thing about this letter of instructions to prepare a charter was that it ignored not only any charter by which Alexander may have constituted Rosemarkie a royal burgh, but more strangely still the letter of the previous year in which the place was referred to as a burgh of regality. However this may have been, Rosemarkie is on record as being a burgh in 1581 when the Scots Parliament appointed a commission to deal with matters for which Parliamentary time had not been available, among the matters mentioned as being remitted to the commission being a "supplication" or petition from the burgh of Rosemarkie. The Act of Annexation of the Kirk lands in 1587 terminated the interests of bishops in their burghs, whether of regality or barony, and enacted that these should in future hold from the Crown while retaining all their former privileges. During the immediately following years many of the old Scots towns were rechartered as royal burghs not only with their ancient rights and privileges but also with what were coming to be recognised as more valuable, the right of self-government by provost, bailies and councillors drawn from the burgesses themselves. In this manner the Chanonry of Ross received its first charter as an independent royal burgh.

III. With the Reformation of 1560 the Auld Kirk disappeared as a factor in the life of Scotland. In the Chanonry the manses were disposed of. Additional buildings began to appear around and about them, and trade and industry sought ways and channels which were no longer laid down by the Chapter. In consequence of this, and of the Act of Annexation, it does not seem strange that in 1590 James VI granted a charter to the Provost, Bailies, Councillors and Community of the Burgh of Fortrose, moved as he said "by good reasons and considerations not only for the advantage and benefit of our foresaid burgh .... but also for the profit and convenience of others of our lieges in the vicinity . . . . and continually resorting to it." The charter gave power to elect a Town Council, conferred the right of buying and selling, and of levying the usual custom dues and fixed market and fair days. In its terms the charter referred to Fortrose only, recalled that James II had in 1455 made and erected the Town and Lands of Fortrose "now and of old known as the Chanonry of Ross" into a free burgh but altogether ignored the fact that it had by the earlier charter been annexed to Rosemarkie. There was thus a violent contradiction in terms between the charters of 1455 and 1590, the former annexing Fortrose to Rosemarkie although it did not say that it was henceforth to be known as Rosemarkie, as did a later charter, while the 1590 charter gave Fortrose the rights of a free burgh without any mention of its prior union with Rosemarkie, thus altogether superseding the charter of James II. Inverness burgh complained in 1596 to the Convention of Burghs that "the erection of Chanonry in a free burgh had been purchased by Mackenzie."

It may therefore be assumed that on this occasion Mackenzie of Kintail, who had recently acquired the possessions of the former bishops in the area, had been at work to procure from the king's officers, ignorant perhaps of geography and history, a charter for the little town which lay outside his Castle of Chanonry. The issue of the charter was signified to all concerned and the rights given by it were formally conferred upon the community by the ancient procedure of Giving Sasine, customary in the case of the disposition of heritable property. The Crown as donor issued a Precept of Sasine by which it appointed one or more bailies, as they were called, to represent it, summarised the terms of the charter and instructed its bailies to give Sasine to the representatives of the Town Council. The actual Precept of Sasine has been lost but the Instrument of Sasine which recorded the ceremony is still in existence and shows that at eight o'clock in the morning of 1st September 1590 the King's representative or bailie, William Thomson of Rosemarkie of all places, appeared within the Kirkyard of the Cathedral Kirk of Ross in presence of Martin Logan, M.A., Notary Public, with certain other named witnesses and went through the final stage in the charter process by giving sasine or possession of the new burgh to John Irving of Kynnock on behalf of the remanentcouncillors and community of the burgh whereupon Irving called upon the Notary to record for posterity in an Instrument of Sasine all that had taken place. Two years later James VI granted a charter to Rosemarkie which, on the face of it, nullified all that had been granted to the Chanonry.

IV. On 4th November 1592 King James granted a Charter of Confirmation to Rosemarkie which recalled the charter of 1455 whereby Fortrose called the Chanonry of Ross was erected into a free burgh and united to the burgh of lower Rosemarkie, confirmed the same, decerned and ordained that the burgh of Rosemarkie and the town of Fortrose (no word now of the Fortrose charter of 1590), united and annexed to it, be held and reputed a free burgh and went on to confer on the enlarged burgh of Rosemarkie the fuller powers already granted to Fortrose two years earlier, including a Town Council, the rights of buying and selling, of holding courts, of having a market cross (already granted by the King's grandmother in 1552), and a market day on the Sabbath (or Saturday) with two free fairs annually, and finally repeated that the town of Fortrose was to be annexed to, and incorporated with, the burgh of Rosemarkie, so that it might be one burgh in all time coming to be known as the burgh of Rosemarkie and that the inhabitants of Fortrose were to be governed by the provost, bailies and councillors of Rosemarkie. A completer victory for Rosemarkie could hardly be imagined. One might think the King had deliberately rubbed salt into the wounds of the burgesses of the Chanonry when he appointed as his bailie for the Giving of Sasine a burgess of Fortrose, the same John Irving who had officiated on behalf of the Chanonry two years earlier at the same ceremony. He was, however, conjoined as Bailie with a burgess of Rosemarkie and Sasine was duly given at the market cross of Rosemarkie before witnesses who included the same William Thomson who had given Sasine to Fortrose in 1590. Apparently both sasines were conducted in a friendly and harmonious spirit. It would seem from this charter that Rosemarkie had already a provost and bailies and had successfully impugned the right of Fortrose to break loose from the bonds of the charter of 1455 which had united the two places.

V. and VI. Two subsequent charters of confirmation were granted to Rosemarkie in 1612 and 1641 which confirmed all previous charters and all the rights and privileges granted to the burgh, of new united and annexed the town of Fortrose to it, and enacted that the inhabitants of the former were to be governed by the provost, bailies and councillors of Rosemarkie.

The latter provision might be thought superfluous on the ground that there could not be two town councils in one burgh. There were, however, two such councils for, although Fortrose and Rosemarkie were nominally united by the four charters of 1455, 1592, 1612 and 1641, Fortrose, or the Chanonry of Ross as it was usually called, seems to have maintained its separate way and its own council right up to the final union of 1661, when it emerged as the dominant partner. Alongside the apparent contradictions between the Fortrose and Rosemarkie charters might be noted the conflicts between both the latter and the Inverness charters. In 1641, for example, Charles I not only ratified the charters of Inverness but also granted that burgh the privilege of "lifting receiving and collecting the burrow maills and duties and small customs of all towns and villages within the sheriffdom of Inverness especially of Tain Rosemarkie and Chanrie." It seems to have been a case of the left hand not knowing what the right was up to.

In spite of the several grants to Rosemarkie and the repeated attempts to annex the Chanonry the latter had, at least after the Reformation, a Town Council of its own. The terms of the charters of 1590 and 1592 indicate that both places had councils at these dates while it has been seen that Rosemarkie had some sort of Council in 1581. References to the bailies of Rosemarkie have already been noted during the 1590's. The minutes of the Town Council of Chanonry for a period of about ten years after 1647 have survived.

Taking a broad line through the series of charters and disregarding technical difficulties and variations the intention of the charter of 1455 whereby the Chanonry was erected into a free burgh and united to the burgh of Rosemarkie seems to have been, in these early days when other statutory means of extending burgh boundaries had not been thought of, to make available to the new and growing ecclesiastical community the same burghal privileges already enjoyed by Rosemarkie and also perhaps to enable the chapter of Ross to bring the older part of the burgh more effectively under control, for it seems to be unlikely that any Town Council would have been allowed to exist in Rosemarkie so near the Chapter whose members constituted the Chanonry and provided the greater part of the trade and employment available for Rosemarkie. Even if the development of Town Councils was a slow business in a small place like Rosemarkie, magistrates may have been selected from leets or lists presented by the community as was the case in Glasgow. With the Reformation in 1560 the position changed. The Chanonry passed into lay hands and gradually turned all its attention to trade and industry in competition with its near neighbour. An acrimonious rivalry developed between the two places. Charter or no charter each place had a Council of its own. Both had tolbooths. Rosemarkie had in addition a market cross. Neither place however was the centre of a flourishing countryside. The income provided by the former occupiers of the manses had largely dried up although some of the loss must have been made good by the presence from time to time of the extensive household and retinues of the Mackenzies, Lords of Kintail and later Earls of Seaforth, who occupied the Castle. This source too came to an end with the troubled times of the reign of Charles I when the second Earl lost a fortune in support of that unhappy monarch and the district suffered from its alternate occupation by opposing forces and other troubles referred to in various records but not clearly specified.

Perhaps it was the experience of the troubled years after 1640 which prompted the two Councils to bury the hatchet, and now make their original union a reality. A draft of an agreement between the Councils to this end has survived. The final agreement, if it was ever concluded, has disappeared and Council minutes and Registers of Deeds at Edinburgh at this period are missing so that a record of it cannot be found. However from later references in the minutes it seems clear that the Earl of Seaforth and Mr George Munro, minister of Rosemarkie, had played active parts in reconciling the ancient rivals with the evident result of the Act, passed by the Scots Parliament in 1661, which finally united the two places as one burgh to be known as Fortrose. Mr George, to give him his contemporary designation, was rewarded by the Town Council in the terms expressed in a minute of 1661, now lost but quoted in a later minute. "Relative to and narrating their Enrolment and favours done by the said Mr George and his friends to them the time foresaid of their erection Did Enact Bind and Oblige them and their successors provost and bailies of the said burgh To warrant, free, relieve, harmless and scaithless keep the said Mr George his heirs successors and their tenants in Chanonry, now titled Fortrose, off all stents, taxations, impositions and other exactions that should be imposed on the said Burgh." Never having much money to dispense, the Council was accustomed to reward helpers in a manner like this, but to exempt tenants also seems to have been carrying generosity too far.

An Act of the first Restoration Scots Parliament having abrogated all acts passed by its predecessors since 1640, the ratification of 1641 in favour of Rosemarkie became null and void and the way was open for any influence which Seaforth and the Chanonry could exert, the result being the Act of 1661 in favour of Fortrose the terms of which have often been quoted. Before looking at these, however, some regard should be paid to the wording of the draft agreement between the Councils. The parties to the agreement were to be the provost and bailies of Rosemarkie on the one part and Seaforth, provost of Chanonry, and his baillies and councillors on the other. The draft narrates that "as both the said parties are most willing and hereby solemnly protest and declare our unanimity and ingenuity to have all hate, jealousies, emulations, grudgings, envies, strifes, debates, questions, differences and other prejudicial thoughts and intentions (which) the saids parties may conceive purpose or intend either of them against others taken away rooted out and prevented And to keep entertain and maintain all unity peace concordance love fellowship correspondence either of them with others as becomes magistrates councillors inhabitants and burgesses of one and the same incorporation in the fear of God," therefore they bound themselves to elect seventeen persons one half from Rosemarkie the other half from Chanonry equally per annum as councillors. This seems to have been an oddly impossible arrangement but it may have contemplated that the Earl of Seaforth would be a more or less permanent provost and that, eight councillors would be elected from Rosemarkie and Chanonry respectively. There were to be a provost and four bailies of whom two would be from each place. It was stipulated that the provost would always be from Chanonry, although a different hand had then or later altered the manuscript to read as from Rosemarkie. The election of Council and Magistrates was to take place at Michaelmas yearly within the Tolbooth of Rosemarkie and the council meetings and courts of law were to be held within the tolbooths of the two places alternately. The burgesses of Rosemarkie were "to make good and thankful payment yearly to the magistrates of the burgh maills and duties due from the burgh of Rosemarkie and the magistrates were to account for these dues to the Exchequer and deliver to the magistrates of Rosemarkie sufficient 'Eques' or discharges thereof." The Eques or Exchequer receipts referred of course to the rents of the Rosemarkie burgage holdings and the payment of the annual composition of 3 Scots formerly due by Rosemarkie alone in respect of these holdings, fines and customs. There had been some discussion as to the number of soldiers who might be quartered upon the inhabitants of each place to "persuade" them to pay their arrears of national taxation but in the end it was left that the magistrates and councillors representing Chanonry bound themselves and the other inhabitants of that place to free and relieve the burgesses and inhabitants of Rosemarkie of "Local or transient quarterings which shall happen to occur." Whatever this may have meant or have been intended to mean it is clear from later minutes that quartering took place more frequently in Rosemarkie than in Chanonry.

VII. The new Scots Parliament which followed the Restoration of the Monarchy passed in 1661 an Act entitled "Ratification in favour of the Burgh of Fortrose of their charters and infeftments." The spirit of the draft agreement was hardly observed for the new Act or Charter went out of its way to paint a picture of Rosemarkie which was perhaps unkind and unnecessary however accurate it may have been. It ran, "Considering that the said burgh of Rosemarkie is now totally decayed and the houses and buildings thereof become altogether ruinous and demolished as also dispeopled there being but some few residenters therein and most of them poor fishermen and that there has been no traffic trade nor merchandising within the said burgh these many years ago nor any Courts kept within the same for the administration of justice therin . . . . nor yet any sure place firmance or tolbooth therein wherein delinquents may be secured .... and that the said burgh of Fortrose formerly erected in a burgh Royal and afterwards incorporated with the old burgh of Rosemarkie as said is Is within a rig length to the same old and ruinous burgh and of a most pleasant stance and situation and of old the Cathedral Seat of the diocese of Ross and a town consisting of many good and considerable buildings and houses and able to afford all kind of accommodation ... as also much given to virtue and daily increasing . . . . in all manner of trade .... the most part of the inhabitants thereof being merchants adventurers shopkeepers baxters shoemakers weavers fleshers fishers and other manufactories and mechanic trades . . . ." and that they have a most sure and strong firmance wardhouse and tolbooth for keeping of prisoners etc .... for all which reasons "our Sovereign Lord with the special consent of his said Estates of Parliament" ratified approved and perpetually confirmed previous charters in favour of Fortrose and enacted that both the towns of Fortrose and Rosemarkie should be in all time coming called the burgh of Fortrose with Provost, Bailies and Council and all the other liberties and freedoms enjoyed by a Royal burgh. This somewhat startling Act or Charter which thus swept the slate clean for a completely new start said nothing regarding the reddendo or service and payment to be made to the Crown in return but the Exchequer was not dismayed by the omission. The previous annual payment made by Rosemarkie, namely, 3 Scots money, continued to be exacted from the new burgh and is being paid to the Crown Receiver to this day.

This Act of the Restoration Parliament thus finally united the two burghs, which henceforth and for some time to come were referred to as the "united burghs of Fortrose and Rosemarkie." One Town Council replaced the two Councils which had formerly functioned in the two tiny but jealously separated burghs but it seems that for a long time care was taken to ensure that Rosemarkie should not have occasion to feel that it had lost anything by the union. Thus two of the four bailies came from Rosemarkie until by the end of the 17th century the number of bailies was reduced to three. It was apparently separately stented or taxed. Occasionally the Council or the Magistrates met within its Tolbooth. At times, however, a note of exasperation can be detected in the minutes, as, for example, when Rosemarkie fell behind with its share of the stent and it was protested that the quartering of troops to enforce payment should be on Rosemarkie alone.


How municipal affairs were managed in the early days of Rosemarkie and the Chanonry there is no means of knowing in spite of the successive charters. Notwithstanding that the two places had burghal status it is certain, particularly after the charter of 1455 annexed the Chanonry to Rosemarkie, that the ultimate control and management of such municipal activities as there might have been was under the direction of the church. If there were lay magistrates before the Reformation then they were nominated by the bishops while the over-riding influence of dean and chapter must have been supreme. In municipal as in ecclesiastical affairs the Reformation of 1560 heralded a great change for the two places notwithstanding that in the North it was followed by a long period of anarchy, as occasional references show, damped down perhaps during the early years of the reign of Charles I but breaking out again during the Montrose period before Cromwell's firm rule brought to the land something like order.

Surviving legal instruments are a fruitful source of information concerning the early days of the old burghs. One of these was granted by a bailie and burgess of the Chanonry of Ross to the Earl of Seaforth in 1640. This seems to be the earliest reference to the Town Council of the Chanonry so far traced. The surviving minutes date back to March 1647 and continue with gaps to 1658. Thereafter there is another gap until the record resumes again with the minutes of the new Council of the burghs of Rosemarkie and Chanonry, now united, as the burgh of Fortrose. From that date the records of the self-perpetuating councils of these times continue with minor gaps until the Municipal Reform Act of 1833 swept them away and replaced them with elected councils of the modern type, after which the minutes are complete.

Engraving of the Harbour, Fortrose, 1821

The gaps in the records were due to a number of causes, the lack of permanent office accommodation, the need for a Town Clerk to demand from his predecessor, or from the heirs of the latter, the Council books and other papers, negligence in securing possession of all the records in such cases and the recurring hazards of times when a virtual state of anarchy obtained. Thus, one of the earliest minutes, that of March 1647, obviously referring to lost records, states that "the court books were plunderit." Later in the same year another minute relates that the kirk door had been "plunderit" also, and that the Council had paid for new bands for it. The explanation of the depredations is to be found in supplications to the Estates of Parliament for compensation. In 1661 a petition by Mr John Grahame, school master in the Chanonry, showed that his predecessors had been in constant possession of, and enjoyed, the manse maills, or the feuduties of the old manses, mortfied to them by the bishop and chapter some time after the Reformation, until 1646 when David Leslie, who commanded the cavalry of the Covenanters against Montrose, came to the burgh and pillaged it, carrying away in the process the Deed of Mortification, since when many of the feuars had refused payment. Brahan Castle and the Chanonry were garrisoned at intervals during this period by the Covenanters. Wishart's memoirs of Montrose show that "Leslie came with nine troops of horse as far as Chanri in February 1649" according to our Calendar and that during his subsequent absence in Athole, where there were rumours of a rising, Mackenzie of Pluscardin, Seaforth's brother, retook the Chanonry for Montrose but had to forsake it when Leslie returned. Another petition by Mr Farquhar McClennan bore that in the year 1646 he had been plundered at the Chanonry of books and other things to the value of 800 merks by the "partie that rose up against Montrose." According to the schoolmaster's account many of the inhabitants joined Montrose while McClennan says that many rose against the Royalist leader. There was thus a violent cleavage of opinion in the Chanonry and its neighbourhood. Notwithstanding the Earl of Rothes' Relation of Events already quoted from, indicating eagerness to sign the National Covenant in 1638, and the puritanical outlook of the Town Council as evidenced in its minutes, here as elsewhere in the north there was a strong episcopal element.

After 1647, owing no doubt to the recurring violence of the time, there is a gap in the records until June 1654 when the preamble to a minute narrates that, "In an unanimous meeting of the inhabitants of the Chanonry of Ross taking to their serious consideration the desolation thereof for lack of magistrates and enormities committed therein (they) have made choice of the persons undernamed to be councillors in the said town Giving them full power to nominate and elect magistrates for ruling of the said Town, Repairing by God's blessing the ruins thereof so far as lies in their power and for ordering of affairs tending to God's glory and the weal of the good town as also for exercising their authority as becometh good magistrates." In theory at that time, a Council never went out of office any more than it does today but the method of ensuring its continuance was different. Every year a proportion of its members might be put off by their fellows and new members chosen or, in modern parlance co-opted by the remaining councillors. On this occasion in 1654 however, there had been a return to the much earlier practice of constituting a council by vote of all the burgesses. It would seem therefore as if the Council in existence in 1647 had lapsed because of the struggles between Montrose and Leslie. The eighteen councillors chosen in the town meeting met forthwith and elected four of their number as bailies. No provost was chosen. George, 2nd Earl of Seaforth, had been provost in 1647 but he was now dead, and his son Kenneth, the 3rd Earl, was somewhere in the West after Glencairn's unsuccessful attempt to raise the North for Charles II, then in exile. In 1656 Alexander Grahame of Drynie, a grandson of the first Protestant Archdeacon of Ross, appears as Provost of the Chanonry. Seaforth was at this time probably a prisoner in Inverness Citadel where he had been lodged for the second time on the threat of a royal invasion. The third Earl was described as one of the most stubborn royalists in Scotland and could expect, on the slightest threat or rumour of a rising, to be picked up and put away where he could do no mischief. It seems likely that after the Restoration he became Provost of the united burghs and held that office for most of the period until his death in 1678 except during a period of residence in Lewis in 1669 when another provost appears and again in 1675, when his son, Lord Kintail, who must have been a mere youth, was elected to the office. The latter became provost again on his father's death and continued in office until he became a Jacobite exile in 1689, with the exception of the year 1680 - 81 when he was Provost of Dingwall and so debarred from holding the same office in Fortrose at the same time. Fortrose appointed no provost for that year. During the exile of the 4th and 5th Earls of Seaforth provosts were often dispensed with either because of the absence of Seaforth or because "none suitable could be found." As councils seem to have been quite content to have been managed by the bailies, some of whom held long continuous periods of office, it would appear that the Provostship was looked upon as of an honorary nature. In fact when the Seaforths were provosts they were rarely recorded as having attended Council meetings but no important step or decision was taken without their advice and consent. During their exile other Mackenzies, cadets of the family of Kintail, acted as provosts, attended few meetings and no doubt were the oracles of their day. In fact the Council lost no opportunity of enlisting the patronage and asking the advice of laird or other magnate who might be of service to the burgh, for example at meetings of Excise and other local Commissioners where the financial liabilities of the Burgh might be concerned, or in the Estates of Parliament, the Convention of Burghs and even at Court for similar reasons. The practice should not be put down altogether to humble obsequiousness. The burgesses of a small remote town had little chance of acquiring and improving a knowledge and experience of affairs such as had the more travelled landowners who might sometimes be able to pull strings on behalf of their humble clients. Great efforts were always made to secure the services of a friend at court, and money was voted in the hope that it might be laid out "to advantage." This explains the extraordinary variety of strangers who were created burgesses in the old days, or, in modern terms, had the freedom of the burgh conferred on them. In these cases it was conferred in anticipation of favours to come rather than in gratitude for services rendered.

Various members of the Mackenzie family supplied provosts for the burgh until the death in 1662 of Kenneth Mackenzie, son of the forfeited 5th Earl, who was known by the courtesy title of Lord Fortrose. After an intermission during part of which Alexander Houston, a native son and dyer in Rosemarkie, held the office for two years, the Munro of Foulis dynasty took over. For half a century this family provided a succession of provosts. As might be expected of absentee councillors whose only interest in the burgh was to secure control of one of the four votes which elected the member of Parliament at Westminster for the Inverness district of burghs their attendance record was distinctly poor. They were supported as councillors by other absentee lairds, some of whom came from as far away as Sutherland. One of these was Andrew Robertson of Blackwells, who was the maternal grandfather of William Ewart Gladstone, the Victorian premier. Andrew Robertson, Provost of Dingwall, had married a Mackenzie of Coul, so that his grandson, Gladstone, like a later Premier, Sir Winston Churchill, could claim kinship with the far-flung Seaforths. The domestic affairs of the burgh during the long period of absentee political provosts and their adherents, received scant attention. Not only did the Council seldom meet but it was not unknown for the `resident' magistrates and councillors to be deputed to look after things, a state of affairs which must have helped to make possible the long period of one man rule at the hands of Roderick MacFarquhar during the first quarter of the 19th century. Some account of this extraordinary period was given by the Commissioners on Municipal Corporations who visited the burgh and reported to Parliament on it in 1835.

According to the Commissioners Fortrose was then an insignificant town with no manufactures and very little trade, while Rosemarkie was merely a fishing village. None of the very ancient charters appeared to be extant, the oldest exhibited being the Sasine of 1590. The books and other papers were in so much confusion that the Commissioners hesitated to go into .specific details. Nothing accurate or certain could be learned either from examining documents or from oral explanations, "the result of a long-continued system of gross mismanagement." On the evening of their arrival the Commissioners were informed by the Town Clerk that neither he nor any other person besides the Provost was at all acquainted with the affairs of the burgh, a statement which the Provost, one George Tulloch, a surgeon, confirmed. From statements made by burgesses to the Commissioners the latter concluded that Fortrose Town Council was the `closest perhaps which existed in Scotland,' that is, it contained a junta which was able to exercise absolute control over the intake of new members in such a manner that the effective control never left their hands. It seemed that MacFarquhar had controlled the junta.

The general result of the Commissioner's examination was the conclusion that for twenty three years the affairs of the burgh had been managed exclusively by Mr Roderick MacFarquhar, who suffered no one to participate with him in power and literally reduced the other councillors and burgesses to nonentities and, that during the period all actual power was vested in MacFarquhar whether he was a simple Councillor, Dean of Guild, Treasurer, Bailie or Provost. MacFarquhar had declared in fact that he considered himself responsible from 1809 onwards for all sums received and paid out on account of the burgh, that he made himself responsible and that there was only one other person in whom he put confidence to do business, one Dempster, an innkeeper, whom he had occasionally used as an assistant. Other points in the report were that there had been misappropriations by MacFarquhar, that he had entered into lawsuits and expended considerable sums without the authority of the Council, that his misrepresentation of some matters, suppression of others and contradictory statements were so gross as to amount to prevarication and that they believed that Mr Dempster, who had left the burgh ten days before their arrival, had been purposefully removed where they could not reach him. A former Councillor complained that he with six others had been turned off the Council because thay had voted against MacFarquhar in relation to the election of an M.P. The Commissioners also reported that the gaol, which was situated under the Council meeting room in the Churchyard, was altogether devoid of every requisite for accommodation or cleanliness, and was obviously unhealthy and so insecure that at the time of their visit the only prisoner in it escaped by removing the earth from under the door.

In November 1833 as the result of the Municipal Reform Act a new form of popular election was introduced and MacFarquhar had the unhappy privilege of presiding at the first meeting of electors when each of the latter handed in a list of fifteen burgesses whom he proposed for election as councillors. MacFarquhar's name did not appear in any of the lists so that he had perforce to bid farewell to his public career, which had lasted for a quarter of a century. The first act of the new Council was to request from him a statement of accounts between himself and past councils. In the result a Submission was entered into between him and the Council, whereby the parties agreed to submit their claims against each other to the arbitration of an Edinburgh accountant who finally reported in 1839, by which time MacFarquhar had become bankrupt. A few days after the issue of the arbiter's award he died. The net result of a prolonged and difficult investigation was that the arbiter found that MacFarquhar owed the Council about 67. In his notes on the accounts the arbiter had this much to say for MacFarquhar, that for a big part of the period at least, the accounts between him and the Council were engrossed in the Minute Book so that the position must have been within the knowledge of the Magistrates, that though the accounts as engrossed were confused and unsatisfactory, there was no ground for fixing upon him an unqualified responsibility for such irregularities which seemed to the arbiter to have arisen from unskilfulness and ignorance of accounts rather than from a purpose to conceal the true state of affairs and that MacFarquhar had all along taken a most active part in the management of the burgh affairs while his "interference in its pecuniary concerns, a duty which seems to have devolved upon him by the desire or at least the consent of the other" members of the Town Council appeared to have been "a source of no small personal trouble and inconvenience to him."

MacFarquhar seems to have been a building contractor and to have acted as factor for properties in the neighbourhood. His character and ability must have attracted and held for a long time the respect and confidence of his townsmen until success went to his head and he over-reached himself, perhaps not so much financially as in holding on to power when he must have known that he was beginning to outstay his welcome, an instance of the saying that all power corrupts.

It would be difficult for a MacFarquhar to operate in a Town Council of the present day, but he was only an extreme example of the defects of the old municipal system under which councils either enjoyed or arrogated to themselves a position and powers unknown today. Thus a minute of 1654 narrates that "the inhabitants of the said Town hath taken upon them the oath of obedience and dutiful respects to the said magistrates and of concurrence with them in all lawful affairs." A little later - "The said day the foresaids magistrates hearing that certain things formerly enacted and committed to the secrecy of the council were divulged contrary to oath and promise therefore of new again they did take the council sworn for secrecy under pain of losing their liberty and freedom and that anyone or more of their number who should be found (i.e. divulging secrets) be reputed infamous and perjured. Likewise the Council, Burgesses and Stallengers then present gave also of new their oaths of dutiful obedience to their magistrates and of concurring with them in all things tending to the glory of God and welfare of the good towne."

Council minutes of the 17th century are worded as if decisions on all matters were taken by the bailies with the consent of the councillors present. Each paragraph embodying a decision or "act" is signed by the bailies present but sometimes also, on what may have been important occasions or issues, by the whole of the councillors present. Occasionally such minutes were subsequently signed also by others who had been absent from the original meeting. The minutes must therefore have been written by the Town Clerk during the progress of the meeting. Having regard to the fact that the annual election of bailies was made for the most part out of the same five or six men during long periods it would seem that either they occupied a pre-eminent position in the Council and the Burgh by virtue of their personal qualities as much as because of municipal experience, or, remembering the case of Roderick MacFarquhar, we may suspect the existence of some kind of caucus, or, it may well be, the Seaforth influence. The manner of their election must seem very singular to modern ideas for at Michaelmas (29th September) every year the three retiring bailies (office was held for one year only) with three others nominated by the Council, were "removed" that is, left the room, while the remainder of the Council deliberated as to which of the six should be bailies for the coming year. This meant that with a Council of fifteen the bailies would be chosen by not more than nine of the Council, often, owing to absences, by a mere half dozen. The bailies appointed were allowed no option in the matter. They were "ordained" to accept office under pain of fine and perhaps also of loss of their freedom as burgesses, a penalty surviving from the very early days of the burghs when new burgesses would take oath to be leal and true to the provost and bailies and to obey the officers. Disobedience was thus regarded as a violation of that oath to be visited with the loss of freedom, that is, of the special privileges of a burgess. The formula of fine and loss of freedom was so often repeated that it may have sounded a mere formality but more than one instance showed the reality of the rule which applied to other offices also. Thus, when Andrew Munro in Rosemarkie, having been appointed a stentmaster in 1692, that is, a member of the committee which decided how the burgh's share of national taxation should be apportioned among the inhabitants, refused to act because he feared the imprecations of the people of Rosemarkie and the effect upon his merchant's business, he was haled before the magistrates, fined forty shillings Scots and told that if he refused again he would be subjected to a heavier fine and the loss of his freedom which in theory at least meant an end to his business.

At the Michaelmas meeting or Head Court were also appointed the other officers of the Council for the following year; a Treasurer who was not merely honorary as is the case today but seems to have acted as Burgh Chamberlain also, receiving and paying out money on behalf of the Council; a Procurator Fiscal who might be a local lawyer but was sometimes a merchant or shoemaker perhaps and might even be a member of Council and on occasion even act as a Burgh Officer; and three Burgh Officers, apparently one for each bailie. The appointment of a Dean of Guild is not always mentioned. Duties in connection with buildings are not referred to, his principal functions being the regulation of trade, the protection of the exclusive rights of the burgesses against encroachment by unfree traders - who would perhaps be called free traders today - the checking of weights and measures and the control of prices. Thus in 1712 it was enacted that each inhabitant should produce his burgess ticket to the Clerk within eight days so that it might be known who had freedom of Gildrie and Burgesship. Those who failed to do so were to be held and reputed stallingers and unfreemen and debarred from the Immunities and Liberties belonging to a burgess.

A curious incident occurred in 1718. One of the ancient duties of a vassal was "to give suit at his lord's court." In burghs the duty was laid on burgesses, that is, they were bound to appear at the Head Courts held thrice yearly, there to advise the magistrates and to act as jurors or in any other capacity required of them. Absence from such a court entailed a fine. At the principal Head Court held at Michaelmas, 1717, Dr Alex. Mackenzie and some others having failed to appear were fined 10 Scots each for their contumacy in not giving their suit and presence. Decree for the fines had been got before the Magistrates by the fiscal, Patrick Hay, who also acted as a Burgh Officer. The Debtors had then raised an action of Suspension and it came out that the fiscal had granted a discharge of the fines "howbeit his instructions to the contrary and an Act of Council subscribed by him to the effect that he would not do anything with respect to his office without the advice of the magistrates and council." The Council was of opinion that he had betrayed his trust and "made breach of the common faith of the Society and therefore disfranchised him of his office of fiscal, Town Officer and Burgess and declared him incapable to bear any office preferment or privilege in the burgh."

The duties of the bailies were not confined to their appearance in council or on the bench. In time of tumult, which was not rare, they were expected, in the absence of a police force, in company with the burgh officers assigned to them, to put a stop to riots and deal summarily with offenders. In 1647 two men from Lewis who had entered the house of a burgess in the Chanonry and there assaulted him were fined for this and, for the further offence of "contemptuously refusing to be commanded to go to prison by the bailies," were ordained to appear in public before the latter, there to confess on their knees the offence done against God and the bailies and faithfully to promise and swear never to commit the like offence again. Fortunately it was not often necessary to conjoin the Deity and the Bailies of Fortrose in this solemn manner. Contempt of Court and the Judiciaries was not however rare. In 1692 two of the bailies complained to the Council that the inhabitants of both towns "or at least most of them" were in the habit of ignoring their lawful commands and, not only that, they gave the bailies "tart and unbeseeming language." The Council accordingly enacted that anyone offering the least refusal or unbeseeming language should be instantly ordered to go to prison and that if the guilty person refused to lodge himself in jail the bailie concerned should call and command the nearest townsman and burgh officers to take the offender to prison. The Council further ordered that this enactment should be published forthwith by the bailies calling the townspeople to the respective tolbooths of Fortrose and Rosemarkie and there intimating the new law to them. In these days it was not considered necessary to take a man into custody on the spot, at least not a burgess. A burgess who refused to lodge himself in prison when so commanded by a bailie was regarded as having broken his burgess oath of obedience to the magistrates and therefore to have committed the terrible crime of perjury. Prisons differentiated in their treatment of offenders. Where conditions allowed burgesses were lodged in an upper part, non-freemen in the laich or low house, while the poorest, perhaps underground, was the thief's hole. In Fortrose the thief's hole is traditionally believed to have been situated on the Cathedral Green just east of the chapter house. The eighteenth century furnishes other demonstrations that the magistrates of Fortrose cherished a proper sense of their own rights, dignity and importance. A letter from the Town Council in 1743 addressed to John Mackenzie of Delvine, W.S., agent for Lord Fortrose and perhaps also for the burgh, describes a raid on the place by men alleged to have been Lord Lovat's. "Upon the 7th curt about 40 or 50 vapouring fellows vaunting themselves to be men of the Lord Lovat's came to this town in full armour and under favour of night surprised and wounded the Town's Jailor, violently entering the prison-house and Releasing three Criminals [their Lord's men, said they] Committed for theft and Depredation after being pursued and taken fang, in hand (i.e. with their booty); And then as if the thing had been nobly done, away they go with the Thieves, brandishing their Swords, Discharging their pieces and making all that foolish and unmanly Parade natural to Lawless and lightminded men." Publication of a report of this incident had apparently been objected to by Lord Lovat ("a certain great man"), the magistrates stated, on grounds, "First that the prison house of Fortrose was not sufficient and again as the thing was not there proved, it should be thought that the Magistrates had charged it on the Lord Lovat out of fear and terror vainly conceived at his name." This was adding insult to injury and moved the eloquent writer to new heights of indignation and wrath. "As for the prison it's known there's hardly a better in the north of Scotland . . . and for Lord Lovat's name being a terror to the magistrates, the guilty mind, the foul and wicked hearts, let them suffer terror, the magistrates of Fortrose know none."

Fair days were an anxious time for the magistrates and those charged with keeping the peace. The records show that it was the practice to warn the burgesses "to carry themselves civilly towards strangers coming to market" or fair, particularly to St. Boniface Fair on 16th March, in order to avoid riots. The popularity of this fair held on the anniversary of St. Boniface's death and no doubt dating back to long before the burgh was formed points to the regard in which the Saint was held in early times. On these days also a Town Guard was enrolled of a number of "pretty fellows" who were enjoined to be in readiness to attend the magistrates in their best armour and with their best weapons. It is not clear whether the guard and their captain were always remunerated. On the other hand anyone refusing to serve rendered himself liable to a fine which was put at one time at 10 Scots. Citizenship had its responsibilities not to mention its possible hazards. The guard was being appointed as late as 1763 when each member received 5/- sterling. Besides keeping the peace the guard was expected to help the Customer in his exactions.

The Customer was a functionary well known in the burghs till late in the 19th century. Mention has already been made of the composition of 3 Scots which the burgh of Rosemarkie, and later the burgh of Fortrose paid to the Crown in respect of the rents of the tofts, the petty customs and the fines of court. Whenever this could be arranged it was the invariable practice of burghs to farm out or let their sources of income, in this case the customs, to an individual, the letting being carried out by public roup to the highest bidder at the Michaelmas Head Court. The successful offerer for the customs was known as the Customer while the money he paid for the privilege of collecting the customs formed the principal source of the Council's revenue for centuries. Trading and therefore the collection of customs took place on the weekly market days and on fair days. In 1684 in order to encourage people to come to their weekly market the Council resolved that this market should be free of customs for three years. There were many roads and byways into Fortrose and Rosemarkie on each of which the Customer had to place a servant early in the morning to prevent goods being slipped in free of custom, a habit of which many Customers complained to the Council. One such complaint in 1698 mentions the commodities which the country folk were in the habit of bringing to market and which were liable to duty, for example, yarn, skins, hides, tallow, green linen, aquavitae, nets and sheets. Butter and cheese were also dutiable. Fines were specified for evasion, one half to go to the injured Customer, the other half to the Town Treasurer, in addition to which offenders were liable to loss of their burghal freedom.

The first recorded lease or tack of the Customs occurs in 1657 when the amount received was 100 merks or 33 6s. 8d. Scots. By the end of the 17th century the price obtained had risen to about 100 Scots. The successful offerer on these and on similar financial occasions had to find a satisfactory Cautioner or Guarantor upon whom the Council could fall back for payment in the event of the Customer's default. Within the market there were practices offensive to the ideas of the day. 'Forestalling', or buying goods before they actually reached the market or before the official time of opening of the market, which might be nine in the forenoon in winter and six in the summer, was particularly struck at by legislation. `Regrating' or buying in quantity with a view to subsequent retail sale at higher prices was also and naturally objected to at a time when cash was always in short supply.

The year 1693 which occurred during a long period of disastrous harvests seems to have found the municipal purse emptier than usual, for the magistrates, following the example of some neighbouring burghs, endeavoured to create and sell for cash a monopoly in snuff making. They, therefore, called before them all the snuff makers in both towns and asked for offers, only to be met with a blank refusal. At this the magistrates 'discharged', that is, forbade five named snuff makers in Fortrose and four in Rosemarkie to make any snuff from tobacco or otherwise or to sell any under pain of fine. After some further opposition the merchants concerned seem to have given in under a threat of imprisonment. The snuff dues were intended to be used to help a local man to build a pier. Snuff at this time may have been in commoner use than tobacco, from the coarser varieties of which it was made by drying before the fire followed by powdering in a small pocket snuff mill.

Besides collecting customs the magistrates were ready to regulate prices. Thus in 1647 with a view to the better serving of the inhabitants the magistrates of the Chanonry appointed three burgesses to attend at the landing of boats on the shore, there to make the price of fish as cheap as possible and to see that no burgess or inhabitant, man or woman, entered any boat to buy fish. The persons appointed were to bid for the fish after which the catch was to be divided proportionately to the families which wished to buy. The purchase of anyone buying otherwise was to be confiscated and given to the poor, but, after all were served, it seems that any surplus could be disposed of freely by the fishermen. A few years later the magistrates ordained that ale should be sold for sixteen pence the pint and aquavitae or whisky for two merks or 1 6s. 8d. Scots. Two cunsters or tasters of beer and ale were authorised to fix the price thereof according to quality. Complaints regarding the quality and measure of bread were also dealt with while the Council on one occasion summoned all the inhabitants to appear with their measures, especially their stoups and elvans (measures of liquid capacity and of length respectively) for checking. Inaccurate measures were to be broken there and then and correct measures marked "with the ordinary Guage." The Dean of Guild was instructed to obtain a full set of Linlithgow measures for use as a standard in the burgh, especially on market days, for checking corn measures.

One of the old Burgh officials who has long disappeared from the scene was the Town Drummer whose appointment in Fortrose is first recorded in 1698. As, however, notices were often instructed to be given by tuck of drum it may be assumed, and in fact the minute implies, that the Town had been served by a Drummer at all times although the appointment had not always been mentioned. In this particular instance the Drummer, Patrick Hay, served also as one of the Burgh Officers and appears the following year as Fiscal also, besides having been Customer, so that he must have been a man of parts. His principal and daily duty as Drummer was to beat the drum at four o'clock in the morning and at nine at night for which the "Magistrates conferred on him for his encouragement" the sum of Six Pounds Scots (ten shillings sterling) "outwith and extrinsic to the inhabitants goodwill as before" from which it would appear that the drummer was accustomed to receive gratuities, perhaps Xmas boxes, from a grateful public. Illustrative of the difficult financial position of the Town Council or of its reluctance to pay adequate salaries to its employees is the minute of 1712 which states that "in respect customs are mean and can hardly defray other necessary charges and for other considerations the Magistrates and Council hereby revoke, rescind, pass and annul the act for paying Patrick Hay 6 as Drummer and refer him to the goodwill of the inhabitants conform to use and wont for the future." Six months later, however, either the Council had changed its mind or the drummer had gone on strike as the minutes seem to infer for Hay was "ordered to go round the High Streets of the Town and along them beat the drum each day for the future [Sundays excepted] at the hours of four in the morning and nine at night and for his encouragement in his such services as Drummer and Officer the Magistrates and Council allocate and appropriate to him during service an annuity of 6 Scots money furth of the first and readiest of the mulcts, fines and amerciaments (penalties of court) to be exacted and levied by himself for his own use." The source of payment was of doubtful worth and Patrick had to collect what there was or go without salary. At the same meeting the Council took similar measures for the payment of the bell-ringer who was given the sole privilege of ringing the hand and great bells for burials and of opening graves for which he was allowed 8 Scots payable out of the offertories and collections at church doors "for his encouragement."

Payment of officials was thus often a somewhat haphazard affair and must have been an exasperating matter for the individuals concerned. Unlike kings before them in similar circumstances Councils with empty treasuries could not provide well-paid sinecures of the church for their servants. Salaries fell into arrear and committees had to be appointed to enquire into and clear accounts and fees. The Town Clerk as a lawyer was fortunate in having other sources of income, including a monopoly of writs affecting burgage lands. Others were not so well placed. Thus the fiscal was often allowed one third of the court fines as his salary which thus depended not only upon his ability to enforce payment but even more upon his skill in obtaining convictions. Recourse was had to a similar undignified measure in 1695 when a particular fine was assigned to the Council's Edinburgh agent in part payment of fees and outlays due to him for the very considerable work he undertook at this period in presenting the burgh's numerous petitions for tax relief and financial assistance to the Estates of Parliament and the Convention of Burghs. The agent in question had to raise an action for recovery of the fine. Two years later the dignity of the Council fell surely to its lowest level when it was faced with the necessity of finding 28 Scots due to another agent, Alexander Gair, whose father was a member of the Town Council. In the first place the former Treasurer of the Burgh was ordered to hand over to Gair's father in Fortrose "the seven pounds two shillings two pence current money and partly copper in his hands as Treasurer And likewise the two ounces and five drops clipped money at four shillings Scots per drop sterling money five shillings and sixpence sterling two half crowns and two half cobs all weighing as said is in the whole to fourteen pounds ten shillings and two pence And further the present Treasurer gave up and delivered in council one ounce and thirteen drops broken money and a Silver Spoon at forty pence the drop since no merchant here would expend that price and that extending to four pounds sixteen shillings and eight pence and so accepted of by" the agent's father amounting in all, including the clipped and broken money to 19 6s. 10d The Council ordered the Customer to pay the balance.

The bailies seem to have had a busy time administering justice during the 17th century and after. None of the burgh charters directly conferred upon either the constituent or the united burghs the right of pit and gallows, that is, of drowning female and hanging male criminals, but they bestowed all the rights which might be exercised by any royal burgh, which would include the right of dispensing this sort of justice. The public hangman is often referred to but there is no record of the magistrates passing sentence of death. Cases involving the death or any severe penalty seem to have been reserved for the Sheriff Court which sat in Fortrose at this time. McGill (old ' Ross-shire No. 241) reports a case at Fortrose in 1675 where a thief having stolen 1 1/2 bolls of bear (a kind of barley) from a barn was ordered to be scourged publicly between eleven and twelve of the clock by the executioner from the West end of the town to Culloddons Hill and immediately thereafter to be banished from the shire. Brought before the Sheriff Depute at a later date were Neil Skianach and Duncan and John McGillicallum who were found guilty of stealing bear on the Sabbath Day. Neil was condemned to be brought to the Mercat Cross, to be fixed in the Jougs and have his left cheek burnt with the Tolbooth key by the hand of the hangman, Duncan to have his ear nailed to the Cross and his left shoulder burned with a hot key, John to have his right ear nailed similarly for the space of three hours after which the lap of the ear was to be cut off. All three were in addition ordered to clear out of the shire bag and baggage within forty eight hours under pain of being hanged if found within it again. In 1698 a woman convicted of reset was ordered to be scourged through all the streets of the burgh with forty eight stripes whereof twelve in each street, so that there were then four streets in the burgh, being the four on each side of the Cathedral Green which then extended to the High Street. Then there was the sad case of Margaret Moore in the same year, also recounted by McGill, who was charged at the Sheriff Court in Fortrose with the crime of murdering her own child, adultery and incest. She was sentenced to be taken to the Ness of Fortrose "being the ordinary place of execution and there to be strangled and thereafter hanged to death and further ordained to have her right arm cut off from the elbow and put on a pole on the top of the hill above Fortrose ... which was given for doom." The names Courthill and Gallowhill in Rosemarkie suggest the existence of still earlier courts and dooms but no evidence has survived beyond the names. Hugh Miller in his 'Schools and Schoolmasters' recalls having listened in childhood to stories of executions on gallowhills of burghs and of witchburnings on town links.

Mention has already been made of magistrates' orders to offenders to ward themselves, that is, to lodge themselves in prison until their offences could be investigated and expiated. Imprisonment was a common instrument in many cases of a kind where it is no longer allowed, for example, in the recovery of debt, and sometimes contained pitfalls for the bailies who, on at least two occasions, found themselves at the Assizes defending actions arising out of such imprisonment. In the first case John Miller, glover in Rosemarkie, had been fined the large sum of 100 Scots for causing a riot. The fine being still unpaid four years later, the magistrates caused decree to be extracted for it and thereafter obtained from the Court of Session letters of horning, the procedure of the time for summoning a debtor to pay his debt under pain of being declared a rebel and put to the horn, that is, declared an outlaw. Miller, relying upon an Act of Indemnity granted by Queen Anne shortly before, refused to pay and subsequently found himself in the Tolbooth. Whether or not he actually paid up is not clear but in any case he raised an action at the Inverness Assizes against the magistrates for wrongous imprisonment on the plea that the fine had been remitted by the Act of Indemnity granted after it was imposed. The advocate for the magistrates pled that the Act applied only to fines returnable to the Crown and not to those imposed in local courts. Miller's advocate then threw up the case and judgment was given for the magistrates.

The second case is more illuminating and went against the magistrates. In 1789 William Meason had been imprisoned for debt in the Tolbooth at Fortrose where he was to remain at his own charge until he paid his debt. The following year the creditor in the case raised an action in the Court of Session against the magistrates for payment of the debt by them on the ground that they had in effect made the sanction of imprisonment of no avail because they had allowed the supposed prisoner on repeated occasions "to come furth of the said prison and go about daily during his pretended confinement thro' the said town of Fortrose doing his ordinary business in the same manner as if he had not been incarcerated to the great prejudice of the pursuer." All that the creditor could prove was that the debtor had been frequently seen resting on' the grass outside or walking near the jail usually in company with his jailor. Notwithstanding a plea on behalf of the magistrates that, owing to the unhealthy and unwholesome condition of the prison, the debtor had been allowed out to obtain fresh air otherwise his health would have suffered, the Court held that the magistrates were at fault in not causing the debtor to undergo that close species of confinement which would have made him pay up. Accordingly the Court granted decree against the magistrates.

Municipal administration in these early days was very limited in scope and amounted to little more than the preservation of the privileges conferred on the free burgesses by custom, charter or statute. During the 17th century for example there is no mention at all of road construction or maintenance as a municipal responsibility. In 1702, however, the Town Council is recorded as having taken to "their serious consideration that the street at the west end of the burgh here is likely to fall ruinous in a total decay by the water running to and over it unless prevented and preserved without delay And find the fit way for it is to take gravel and stone from the churchyard which at present being rubbish and hills of many years past prejudicial to the churchyard as is well known And that cast and put down in the great ditch and slapp foresaid at the end of the said street and therewith to fill the same And for that end Did enact statute and ordain hereby that all the inhabitants of both towns that have horses send their horses to carry away the said rubbish to the place foresaid and such as have not horses that by themselves or a sufficient servant in their name come and be present As also have Cabbies (wooden panniers for carrying grain on horseback) spades and shovels for the work ... and that under pain of forty shillings for fine to be paid by each absent. . ." Although there was no word of repairs during the 17th century the state of the streets was a constant source of irritation against which the Council fulminated periodically without much lasting effect. Every street was no more than one long farm yard on which stood the peat and turf stacks, the dunghills, the carts and the sleds of the burgesses most of whom had little patches of land. Of the Churchyard itself it was represented "how unchristianly unhumanly and unworthily the Cathedral Churchyard here was abused . . . by making up dunghills stone cairns and driving of carts and sleds through the same and over the graves of interred Christians, abominable and to be abhorred." The practices complained of were forbidden under pain of fines which were to be divided between the burgh officers and the Kirk Treasurer. The thunders of the Town Council were of no avail and the ancient practices continued into the 19th century. The explanation of course was that the burgh depended for its fuel upon peat and turf which had to be stacked somewhere and would have taken up space within the gardens and tofts which might be put to more productive use, while most houses had one or more horses and cattle and the street was the handiest site for the accumulating dung and the farm carts.

Traffic problems were sometimes dealt with. In 1766 the Council felt it necessary to prohibit riding on horseback, either with or without carts, a practice which caused accidents, especially to children. Contravention of this enactment was to be punished by fine and imprisonment but it hardly seems likely that the burgesses would have tolerated such an interference with an obvious, necessary and ancient mode of progression. The Council was also a law unto itself in another matter. In 1789 it appears that the practice of keeping swine had been to the "real hurt and prejudice of the police of the burgh (whatever this meant) and particularly the digging up of the churchyard which lay open." The keeping of these animals in the Burgh or its suburbs except in close confinement was therefore prohibited. Any found at large were to be killed by the finder and the produce applied for the use of the poor after allowing the killer 2s 6d sterling out of the value.

For three centuries after the Reformation the outward aspect of the burgh changed but little. Some of the bigger houses which had replaced the old manses may have been slated, but some, and all the smaller houses, would have been roofed with turf or thatched with heather. The Cathedral Green was a waste, with weeds growing high among the ruins, grazed by cattle and used indifferently as farm yard and short cut in all directions. The streets were cobbled or calseyed with pebbles, some remains of which can still be seen in the side streets. The cobbles stood up well to the light traffic they had to bear so that it was only once in two hundred years that the residents of Rosemarkie were called upon to repair the highway in front of their properties.

More attention was paid to the water supply than to the streets: Paraphrasing the somewhat archaic language of a minute of Chanonry Town Council of 1647 it appears that earlier Councils had tried to keep the springs and "water-draughts thereof" clean and had appointed water bailies to look after them. In spite of this, clothes, yarn and fish were washed in the wells and conduits from which it would appear that at least runnels had been made to bring the water into the streets. The Council now made an act forbidding such practices. It also forbade the practice of scouring newly spun yarn on the streets and ordered that water for that purpose be carried to the houses, closes or back yards. The great ditch or slapp referred to in a preceding paragraph was probably carved out by the overflow from St. Boniface Well running across the road on its way to the sea.

The first mention of water pipes occurs in 1768 when a carpenter or wright in Rosemarkie, having been employed to make wooden pipes for bringing water into the Town for a "slump" sum, complained on completion of the contract that it had turned out a bad bargain for him. The Council agreed to give him a further reasonable sum. Prices and quantities, however, are not mentioned. Fifty years later, Sir Alexander Munro, who had been provost of the burgh, in consideration of the regard which he bore to the magistrates and council for the liberal support he and his late brother had experienced for a series of years, gave SO sterling to assist in defraying the cost of the water pipes which had recently been laid down. This support possibly had political implications.

The Town Council of the Chanonry took over the Chapter House of the Cathedral as its Tolbooth and meeting place either at the time of the Reformation or, later, it may be, after it had received its charter as a royal burgh in 1590. In fact, if a minute of 1688 is to be believed, the Council had been in possession since the time of Bishop Leslie, that is, since about 1567. Rosemarkie, too, had its Tolbooth, mentioned in the 1661 charter as being in a bad state of repair. The Town Council of the united burghs undertook its repair in 1686 by the simple expedient of requiring that "all those that have lands, roods and tenements held burgage and off the burgh be stented (i.e. taxed) for heather and other necessaries needful to thatch and repair the same sufficiently and for lime to pad and dress the wall; and to mend and help the stair and to pay the workmen" so that this heather-thatched building with, no doubt, the usual outside stair and steeple, probably stood for another century before collapsing.

The Chanonry Chapter House or Tolbooth also required extensive repair before it assumed its present form of the old chapel of St. Nicolas with a meeting room above it which the Town Council occupied until 1939. In 1698 this building and the school of the burgh were in a critical condition. Years before, the Town Council had petitioned the Convention of Royal Burghs for assistance in coping with the losses sustained "by demolishing of their tolbooth and schoolhouse and other desolation in time of the late rebellion" a plea which contrasts somewhat strangely with the statement in the 1661 charter that Fortrose had a "most sure and strong firmance wardhouse and tolbooth for keeping of prisoners. There is nothing to show whether these losses were caused by Leslie's troopers already mentioned or by Cromwell's forces later on when the Citadel at Inverness was built. Nothing having come of this petition the Council tried again in 1698 when the magistrates "having now as before and with God's help concluded to send a Commissioner to represent them and their condition to the next General Convention of the Royal Burghs ... in order thereto did enact in the first place that a letter be written to the Magistrates of the burghs of Inverness and Dingwall inviting them to send one of their number to visit and report to the Convention the condition of the Tolbooth and School of this burgh and how altogether ruinous they are and hopes thereby to obtain from the Convention somewhat towards the repairing of the same." Eventually the Convention made a grant of 200 merks or about 11 sterling which was quite a considerable sum. Two years later help was sought elsewhere when it was enacted that a deputation be sent to ask for the "goodwill" or donations of the people of Inverness and the Black Isle towards the repair of the two buildings because the Burgh was not able to bear the cost thereof unaided. Another deputation was appointed to go through Chanonry and Rosemarkie "to seek the help and goodwill of the inhabitants." The minute, drawn by the Town Clerk, carefully records that the deputation first turned to him and that he gave them a forty-shilling piece. The mason employed for the repair having reported difficulty in obtaining labour. The Council enacted that all the burgesses and others, both of Rosemarkie and Chanonry, should take it in turn to work on the job, Rosemarkie people being assured as a sop that in case the need ever arose the Chanonry burgesses would be despatched to help at Rosemarkie. After deducting the Convention grant and the proceeds of the collections the work did not cost the Burgh very much but it was either not completed or else very badly done because a few years later the Tolbooth is described as wanting a roof. Again deputations were sent out, this time through the whole county. The results are not stated but the affair suggests that the old Chanonry still had a standing and was clothed with an importance in the county which can hardly be appreciated today. It had one of the few schools in the north, much of the legal affairs of the north were conducted there while its old position as seat of the bishops of Ross was still perhaps a potent influence. By 1721 most of the heather thatch had been blown off so that the roof was described as "being in hazard to be lost by storm." The heather was replaced by slates so that two years later the building was described as being a "fit and convenient place for (divine) service."
Fortrose did not escape the effects of the political disturbances of the times. Twice during the reigns of the last of the Stuarts the orderly progress of its affairs was interrupted. In 1686 James VII and II in pursuance of his policy of packing Parliament in order to obtain legislation in favour of Roman Catholics had through his Lord High Chancellor "discharged" or forbidden the election of new magistrates. He is said to have nominated his friends as magistrates elsewhere so that the burgh members of Parliament might support him but this does not seem to have occurred at Fortrose. Four new councillors had been co-opted and a new bailie appointed a few days before receipt of the royal proclamation which took a long time to reach the far north. Now the latter were, so to speak, 'stood down,' as the minute reads, "till his Majesties' pleasure were known ... and in like manner ordained the old and former magistrates and council to sit and act as formerly." At election time the following year a similar proclamation was received and loyally obeyed. Notwithstanding this royal interference with their ancient rights the Council had, or so they minuted, received "with great deal of joy and satisfaction" the Act of the Privy Council "for the solemn and public Thanksgiving to be made for the birth of the most Serene and High-born Prince The Prince and Stewart of Scotland, Prince of Wales, etc." The Council ordained that "the magistrates, councillors and whole burgesses meet in the church yard tomorrow at the knell of the bell or tuck of drum with their best habilements and arms And from thence go to Church together and hear sermon, and after sermon to return in one body under arms to the Cross of Fortrose there to use the solemnity", usual on such occasions, "And statuted and ordained that none be absent under all highest pain."

The replacement of James VII on the throne by William and Mary enabled the Town Councils to resume their accustomed course until the troubles of the '15 caused a new upset. According to the minutes the Michaelmas 1715 election went off smoothly and Dr Alex. Mackenzie of Kinnock had been elected provost. At the Head Court held a few days later the roup of the Customs which should have been held was adjourned and there were no further meetings until June, 1916, when Sir Kenneth Mackenzie of Cromartie was appointed the Commissioner to the next Convention of Royal Burghs and the need for a harbour "was seriously considered." The, following month, however, an Act of the Privy Council for the Kingdom was proclaimed from St. James' Palace "for resettling the magistrates of several Towns in North Britain as may most contribute to restoring of the peace of those Towns," the freedom of election in the latter at Michaelmas, 1715, having been curtailed because the Rebels were in possession. The Act narrated that Fortrose in particular had "lain under the Power and Impression of the Rebels" and went on to order that "a popular Election be made by the Burgesses and Inhabitants resident within, and bearing a share of the common burdens . . . By Poll of Twenty-one persons to choose Common Councillors with power to them to Elect their Office bearers according to the Sett and Constitution of the said Burgh . . . " and it had been remitted to Lord Strathnaver (a son of the Earl of Sutherland), Simon, Lord Lovat and three former bailies of the burgh to call a meeting of burgesses for the purpose. A meeting was duly held at which Alexander Gordon of Ardoch (now Poyntzfield) who had been Mustermaster General of Scotland, and fourteen others were elected councillors. Thereafter the persons elected, having accepted office and "Qualified" themselves by taking the various prescribed oaths, elected Gordon to be provost with the other usual office-bearers. The new Council had to function for some time without its books and records for the former Town Clerk, Alexander Baillie, writer, was described as absent. In any case he had refused to give up the Town's papers and appears to have been in prison where he told a deputation of the Council that his commission as Town Clerk was still valid. Possibly he had joined Dr Mackenzie, the deposed provost, in support of the Rebels, of whom the Earl of Seaforth had been the local leader, and had found himself in jail in consequence, but Dr Mackenzie does not appear to have shared his captivity nor can their names be traced among the Rebels. According to the records of the Convention of Royal Burghs in 1716 the "last election of magistrates of Fortrose was overawed by the Earl of Seaforth and other rebels who would allow none to be on the Town Council but such as favoured the Pretender and none appeared to be more for the Pretender than the present Commissioner and Assessor and that the Assessor was elected Provost to screen the illegality of the election." Then, as still today, the Town Council annually appointed a Commissioner and Assessor to represent it upon the Convention. The latter rejected the Commissioner who was not named but Dr Mackenzie the provost appears to have been the Assessor. If the Commissioner and the Assessor were allowed to appear in Edinburgh in 1916 they cannot have been very seriously implicated in the '15. Dr Mackenzie was descended from a natural son of a former Lord of Kintail and had married into another branch of the Seaforth family.

During the 1720's something seems to have gone wrong with municipal affairs. In 1721 the Populace had been asked to subscribe a petition to the Convention alleging what the Council called "the grossest calumnies against the late annual election." As the Convention was charged with the duty of ensuring that its constituent members observed the Sett or Constitution of their burghs, the Council appointed a Commissioner "to show the world how little shadow of truth" there was in the allegations. Two years later it was stated that payment of the Customs to the Council was in arrears for some years, that the accounts of the mortcloth money (about which the Council already had a scandal on its hands) had not been submitted and that the money raised for slating the Tolbooth had not been accounted for. Then there were accusations that the provost was responsible for the increase of taxation and that he and another councillor had refused to bear any part of the public burdens or of the Schoolmaster's salary. Both these gentlemen were, therefore, put off the Council at the next election. By 1742 the Burgh was "much stressed by quartering" of troops to enforce payment of taxes, no funds were available and the "inhabitants so poor it is impossible to stent them.". The financial stringency also affected the next Provost, Lord Fortrose, who refused to pay any share of the town's national taxation although he still owned much property there.

It is permitted to wonder whether their patron's refusal to pay lessened in any way the burgh's natural loyalty to his house. A short while before this the Council had been in an expansive mood following the birth of a son and heir to his Lordship. A letter to their Edinburgh agent stated that "the Magistrates and Council were so overenjoyed at the happy event that they thought it their duty to Convene My Lord's friends in Town to celebrate ... walked in procession to the most conspicuous part of the Town where after kindling a very large bonfire They themselves and all that were present Drank a health to My Lord and Lady Fortrose as also to the young Lord ... Drums beating, Bells ringing, guns firing and musick playing during the whole time. Thereafter they came to the Cross and repeated the same ... and at night after Serenading the whole town with Bass and Treble violins concluded with Drinking of Loyal healths playing of musick and Illuminations." This letter was undoubtedly penned by the same sparkling hand which was responsible for the description of the affair with Lovat's men.

After 1778 there is a gap in the minutes for twenty-five years so that nothing is known of the burgh except what can be gathered from other scanty sources. One of these is a "Memorial and Query for the Burgesses and Inhabitants of the Royal Burgh of Fortrose" of 1787 preserved among the Seaforth family papers now in Register House at Edinburgh. The Memorial, which bears no signatures, narrates that the ancient charters of the burgh enacted that it should have a provost, bailies and other members of Council requisite for the administration of justice within the same and that a Council meeting in 1711 had prescribed a Sett for regulating the annual elections in time coming which laid down particularly that the number of the council should be restricted to fifteen in all, who should be merchants, traffickers, Burgesses, Inhabitants within the same bearing all portable charges with their neighbours and a part of the public burdens and who could tine and wone in all affairs. It then went on to say "It is believed the Magistracy of this Burgh was conducted in conformity to this Act of Sett for many years and till of late that the family of Seaforth (under whose patronage it had been for more than a century) neglected it, when two Nabobs, one from the West Indies, the other from the East Indies, by unconstitutional means, got their friends and dependants to be Magistrates and Councillors, very few of whom fell under the description of the Act of Sett as entitled to be Magistrates and Councillors insomuch that at present, except two or three, not one of the Magistrates or Councillors of this Burgh are entitled to stand on the roll ... unless their being honorary burgesses gives them a title. The whole resident burgesses and inhabitants who are anxious to have their Magistrates and Councillors within the Town unanimously wish to be advised how to recover their just and legal rights of election and the mode in which they are to proceed." A note on the Memorial by Seaforth says this was answered by an Edinburgh lawyer who said that the Setts of Burghs might be altered by usage but that no usage could justify the putting of non-residents into the offices of Bailie and Dean of Guild, the very nature of which offices required residence as a necessary qualification. He advised that the Sett still stood and what legal steps should be taken. Unfortunately there is nothing to indicate the outcome of this complaint which shows at least that the people of the burgh were beginning to rebel against their council being used as a pawn in the game of politics.


Something has already been said regarding the method of the so-called municipal elections, so different from those of modern times. The method of returning members or commissioners to the Scots, and, later, the British Parliament prior to the Reform Act of 1832 was also fundamentally different, particularly as regards the representation of the royal burghs. The history of Fortrose provides interesting and sometimes piquant illustrations of the procedure.

The earliest reference to the Parliamentary representation of Fortrose seems to occur in 1654 when it formed one of a group of seven northern burghs which combined to send a representative to the Parliament of the Commonwealth in London. In the Scots Restoration Parliament which met in Edinburgh in 1660 Alexander Graham of Drynie, Provost of the Chanonry, attended as representative of both Rosemarkie and the Chanonry. Showing how old names persisted he was described on the Roll of Parliament as the Commissioner for Rosemarkie. As in the case of the parallel application to be enrolled in the Convention of Burghs Inverness objected to the representation of Fortrose in the Estates of Parliament. Graham was, therefore, admitted without prejudice to an action raised in the Court of Session as noted already to determine the matter.

There was then in Scotland nothing similar to the modern Houses of Lords and Commons. For some three hundred years the burghs had formed one of the Estates of Parliament of which the other two were composed respectively of the prelates of the church and the nobles. Attendance at Parliament was a costly and burdensome business so that for this and other reasons a smaller substitute body, known as the Convention of Estates, was frequently summoned and other executive but not, strictly, for legislative purposes. For this reason the Commissioners from Fortrose are described in the minutes sometimes as to Parliament, at other times to the Convention of Estates. When Commissioners were sent to the latter, which was not always, they were usually accredited also to the meetings of the Convention of Burghs. For that matter when they did go to Edinburgh or wherever the Convention of Burghs might be meeting it was always with a view to obtaining financial assistance either by way of direct grant or by means of a reduction in the burgh's share of national taxation. Appeals for grants in aid are no new thing in the Highlands.

Except during the years between 1670 and 1686 Fortrose usually sent a Commissioner to represent it at the meetings of the Estates until the Union of the Parliaments in 1707, after which the royal burghs as such ceased to have individual representation. The further from Edinburgh the greater the burden and expense of representation for which statute had prescribed for the Commissioner an allowance of 5 Scots per day. Fortrose lay at least seven days journey from Edinburgh by the north-about route via Aberdeen so that its Commissioner would have required at least 70 in respect of travelling time alone. In 1692 Thomas Forbes, a writer in Fortrose, was selected by the vote of the Council and "by approbation of the inhabitants" to represent the Burgh at the Convention of Burghs meeting in Dundee "for using his endeavours towards the weal of this place, And for that end that the said Thomas Forbes make ready to take journey [God Lend health] Monday next And for his outrick (or equipment and expense) that he have and get with him 240 Scots at least." This seems a large sum but out of this he had to pay perhaps twelve days travelling expenses, maintenance while in Dundee and Convention or Missive Dues. The Town Council, recognising that his stay and expenses might be uncertain, enacted that the burgh and its inhabitants should be liable to refund any further expenses and disbursements. The key was in the word'`disbursements' which covered what the Council described as "What otherways he may be necessitated to expend and lay out upon contingencies not known how and what way they may occur," in other words he had discretion to leave a little money here and there where it might do the most good for the burgh. Much might be gained by judicious entertaining not to mention more direct methods which today would be frowned upon. The Council then instructed one of the bailies to collect the voluntary contributions said to have been promised by the inhabitants towards their Commissioner's expenses, any deficiency to be made good by way "of stent mainly on the merchants and others that have not been free and forward in their offer." The Council at this time was making desperate efforts to procure a reduction in their share of the taxation imposed on the royal burghs as a body and had no hesitation about imposing what might have been an illegal stent upon those who would not contribute voluntarily. The voluntary collection seems to have been a failure.

To make up the sum immediately required by the Commissioner the Council borrowed 200 merks, sent to Edinburgh for some funds belonging to it in the hands of it's agent there and further, to complete the sum, had to borrow two merks from each councillor. The Commissioner was successful in his mission and was able to report on his return that the Convention had reduced the proportion of Fortrose in the tax roll by two shillings, that is, from five to three shillings per hundred pounds of the tax falling on the burghs which meant a reduction of forty percent in the Burgh's contribution to the Exchequer. Unlike the modern M.P. who, in theory at least, carries out his duties according to his own ideas and views, the 17th century Commissioner, at least in the case of Fortrose, was little better than a walking delegate, receiving, before he left home, strictly detailed written and doubtless further emphatic oral instructions as to how he should act, how far he should go and what threats he should make to abandon the Burgh's charter if relief from the burden of taxation was refused.

With the Union of the Parliaments in 1707 the royal burghs lost their individual representation. Henceforth and until 1832 Inverness, Nairn, Forres and Fortrose were to form a group of burghs combining to send one member to Westminster under conditions which were to be very different from those to which they had been accustomed. Parliament had already begun to nibble away at the Royal prerogative, political parties were emerging and the powerful lever of patronage was to facilitate the control of votes. Fortrose, far away as it was in space and time from London, was to be caught up as a pawn in the ceaseless struggle for power. Control of Town Councils brought a voice in, perhaps control of, the elections to Westminster. Something of this has already been noted in the changing composition of Fortrose Town Council and the influx of non-resident members under the sway of the Munro family. Earlier, however, there had been a blatant and open attempt to rig a Parliamentary election held in 1722. Chambers' Domestic Annals has preserved the story as taken from the Caledonian Mercury, of the election of a member for the County held at Fortrose where the electors gathered for the purpose. "A representative of Ross-shire being to be chosen, there came, the night before to Fortrose, the greatest man of the north, the Earl of Sutherland, heading a large body of armed and mounted retainers, who made a procession round the streets, while an English sloop of war, in friendly alliance with him, came up to the town and fired its guns. Hundreds of Highlanders, his Lordship's retainers, at the same time lounged about. The reason of all this was that the opposition interest was in a decided majority and a defeat of the Whig candidate seemed impending. When the election came on there were 31 barons present, of whom 18 gave their votes for General Sir Charles Ross of Balnagown, the remainder for Capt. Alex. Urquhart of Newhall. Thereupon Lord Sutherland's relative and friend, Sir William Gordon, sheriff of the County, retired with the minority and went through the form of electing their own man notwithstanding a protest from the other candidate. Immediately after this separation, Colin Graham of Drynie, one of the Deputy Lieutenants of the County, came into the courthouse, with his sword in his hand ... with some of the armed Highlanders ... posted at the door, with drawn swords and cocked firelocks, and did require the majority [who remained to finish the election] in the name of the Earl of Sutherland, to remove out of the house, otherwise they must expect worse treatment ... Upon which the barons protested against these violent proceedings, declaring their resolution to remain in the courthouse till the election was finished, though at the hazard of their lives, which they accordingly did."

Other more subtle and less violent methods seem to have been used on other occasions. Lord Fortrose, in a letter to his Edinburgh agent in 1741, writes wearily of the day of his election as member for the Shire: "This day I have carried my election with a good deal of difficulty and expense. You may easily believe I am not in a very proper mood to scribble just now after filling the whole Town drunk." Even when violence had no part in the elections of members to represent the four burghs, there was at least room for intrigue, manoeuvring and bargaining. The members were elected by delegates, one from each burgh, who met for the purpose in each of the burghs in rotation. The attentions of the political parties were therefore directed to securing control of the councils which provided the delegates. Where a Council was active, jealous of its privileges and careful to observe the conditions which entitled burgesses to become Councillors, outside influence could have had little influence upon them. As it was, and if the evidence of the minutes is to be credited, interest in the Town Council of Fortrose waned rather than waxed as the 18th century progressed so that in time outsiders gradually gained control. The latter did not reside in the burgh. Still less were they merchant-traffickers as the Sett of the Burgh prescribed. They may have been created burgesses as a matter of form but the sole reason for their role as Councillors lay in the dominating power of their social position and possibly in other less obvious "considerations" which enabled them to dictate to the councils, which met but seldom, the appointment of the delegates to meet with the delegates of the other three burghs for the purpose of electing their Member of Parliament. The elections proceeded with much formality and indeed with a show of solemnity. As a preliminary the Magistrates of each burgh swore and subscribed the four oaths of Allegiance, Supremacy, Abjuration and Assurance, after which the delegates were appointed and their commissions made out and sealed. Incidentally, the Fortrose commission of 1715 was sealed with the old seal of the Burgh of Rosemarkie. Thereafter the four delegates met, the four burghs taking it in turn to make their tolbooths available for the meetings at which were present only the delegates and the local Town Clerk who acted as Clerk of the Election. The first business was the reading and sustaining, or approving of, the four Commissions which was not always a mere formality. The delegate of the host burgh was then appointed chairman and directed to administer to the clerk that ancient oath de fideli administratione - the oath of faithful administration - which used to be administered to all connected with a Town Council in an official capacity, from the provost down to the burgh officer, but seems to be reserved today for councillors appointed to office. Following this the delegates swore and subscribed the four oaths already mentioned after which the meeting got down to business. As a preliminary the clerk read to the delegates the Act of Parliament regulating the election and the proceedings at the Convention of Burghs in 1708 which laid down the qualifications to be possessed by a Commissioner or Member of Parliament. The delegates then declared that the person nominated to be Member should not have any fees paid to him by the respective burghs but should be responsible for his own expenses. The vote was taken, not secretly, but by each delegate declaring the name of the person he wished to see elected. The names of the intended nominees must usually have been known beforehand to all the delegates who no doubt came prepared to do some hard bargaining. Occasionally the battle was joined even before nominations were made, as in 1807, when the Council minutes show that the Nairn delegate objected to the commission of the Fortrose representative on the ground that the Town Council of Fortrose had not complied with its own sett and therefore could not validly nominate a delegate, for the reason that many of the magistrates and council of Fortrose resided at a distance from the burgh and had no connection with it but for political purposes. The Fortrose delegate for his part retaliated by asserting that the commissions of the delegates from Nairn and Forres were invalid because the Town Clerks of these burghs had not qualified themselves by taking the oaths of loyalty, etc., before making out the commissions of their delegates. The Inverness commission was sustained and in fact the Clerk to the meeting ruled that the three commissions objected to were ex facie valid and must be accepted. In the end Peter Baillie of Dochfour, a Banker and Merchant in Bristol, was elected on the casting vote of the Fortrose delegate. As the latter was preses the election must have been held in Fortrose. If it be wondered how Nairn and Fortrose knew so much about each others affairs, the answer is not only that there was much coming and going between the two places across the Chanonry Ferry but also that the composition of Fortrose Town Council must have been well known and often discussed in the countryside where the art of political wangling must have been well understood.


One result of the enrolment of the new burgh of Fortrose in the Convention of Royal Burghs in 1661 was that it became liable for a share of national taxation. From time to time after the Reformation the Convention of Estates had imposed taxation in the form of a grant to the Crown, a share of which was apportioned among the royal burghs, but as neither Fortrose nor Rosemarkie seems to have been regarded as a royal burgh prior to 1661 the probability is that they escaped taxation except perhaps in the year 1575 when the Chanonry appeared in the Convention list of taxed burghs. In 1667 the Convention of Estates granted what was to become a permanent form of tax, to be long known as the Cess and to be raised and paid as to one sixth by the royal burghs as a whole and as to the balance by the shires. The amount first granted, viz. 72,000 Scots, became the standard monthly amount, year after year. The total amount to be apportioned among the royal burghs was thus 12,000 Scots which was charged out to and recovered from the individual burghs according to their proportion in the `taxt roll.' In later years Fortrose was to make frequent and, it must be said, often successful appeals for a reduction in their proportion, but, to start off with, their proportion was rated at five shillings per 100 of the total payable by the burghs as a whole. The monthly amount to be raised in the burgh of Fortrose was thus 5/- per 100 of 12,000 Scots, or 30, equal to 2 10/- sterling, a small sum to all appearances but one which the burgh immediately said it could not raise. Efforts would have been made to meet this Cess out of the Common Good, whatever that may have been, and out of the Custom money after paying salaries and other expenses. Varying amounts, however, had to be `stented' for every few months on a basis which is far from clear but seemed to depend on estimates of individual incomes made by a committee of stentmasters appointed by the magistrates, not necessarily all councillors but including sometimes others who might have sufficient knowledge of their neighbours' circumstances to be able to determine what the latter should pay. Stenting can hardly have been an easy task or other than invidious as has been noted already in the case of the Rosemarkie merchant who refused to act as a stenter. In a report of the valuation of the Burgh submitted to the Convention of Burghs in 1712 the reporters stated that the cess payable by the Burgh had always been allocated among the inhabitants per head resulting in "paucity of inhabitants much depauperat." A division per head seems to be so unrealistic that suspicion must attach to the report. Significantly enough the Convention of Burghs had at this time relieved the burgh of part of the cess and missive dues payable.

The Cess was never popular and was felt to be a grievous burden, particularly in Rosemarkie. Hardly a year seems to have passed but the Council and Community had to put up with parties of soldiers quartered upon them until arrears of cess were paid. The exact significance of quartering in this connection is not very clear from local evidence but it amounted to billeting a number of soldiers under an N.C.O. or an officer according to the amount of the arrears and apparently also to poinding. The Council always strenuously argued that quartering should be inflicted only upon the `deficients' or those actually in arrear but it is not clear whether this seemingly fair rule was followed. As the burgh as a whole was responsible for the Cess the troops may have selected their own quarters. According to an Act of 1667 the latter seem to have paid for their food at least, at rates fixed by the Commissioners of Supply for the Shire, and there is at least one instance reported in the minutes where the Burgh's Law Agent was instructed to press for payment. There were also occasions when the magistrates actually sent for soldiers in which case the latter must have been quartered upon the 'deficients.'

The charter of 1661 spoke of Rosemarkie as totally decayed and of the Chanonry as daily increasing and flourishing more and more in all manner of trade but by the end of the century the burgh when appealing against tax demands always described itself as without trade of any kind and never likely to have any. If this statement is to be believed there must have been a very complete reversal of fortune since the hopeful days of 1656 when the two places petitioned to be enrolled in the Convention of Burghs. Prior to the Act or Charter of 1661 it does not appear that either Rosemarkie or the Chanonry had been enrolled, with the possible exception of the year 1575 already mentioned. In 1656, however, the two burghs presented a supplication to the Convention setting out that the two were incorporated in one. According to the charters of 1455, 1592 and subsequent confirmations in favour of Rosemarkie they had indeed been so incorporated but, as has been seen, these charters were, in local practice at least, ignored and the two places went their separate ways. The two now ingenuously desired to be enrolled, presumably as one burgh, among Me royal burghs. The privileges of membership, or it may have been the privilege of recognition as a free royal burgh, must have been worth having to induce Rosemarkie and the Chanonry, for so long it would seem at daggers drawn, not merely to achieve an actual union but also to accept liability for a share of national taxation which they had hitherto escaped, unless indeed they had previously been roped in for a share of the assessment on the Shire and now thought that as enrolled burghs their share might be lighter. Owing to opposition from Inverness Burgh the application dragged on for some years until after the Act of 1661 when enrolment was finally granted.

That things did not turn out according to expectation seems to be confirmed by the submission to the Town Council in 1675 of a petition from James Anderson, a merchant in the Chanonry, who declared "that he was of intention to remove with his wife and family from this place and reside elsewhere since there was no trade or traffic whereby he might be the better for his livelihood and that he could not conveniently live without trade and since he was a born child within this incorporation where he now lived these 46 years past and carried charge amongst them for several of these years as magistrate and that he lived without fraud or offence to any during that time Craved that the magistrates might be pleased to give him their testimony both as to his birth in lawful marriage and of his life and conversation amongst them." He got his testimonial and was afterwards created and admitted a burgess and gild brother which goes to show that a non-freeman not only could sometimes carry on business as a merchant but also become a bailie and get away with it.

Thereafter the minutes contain the recurrent theme of bad trade and inability to pay the cess. Pleas for relief were made through their Edinburgh agents or by their own Commissioners to the Convention. Fortrose was not the only burgh to feel the pinch at this time. Complaint of the trade lost to non-royal burghs was general with the result that the Convention of Burghs set up a Committee of enquiry not only to ascertain the extent of the encroachment by the burghs of barony but also to investigate the affairs and condition of the complaining burghs. This was in 1691 when Fortrose reported that it knew of only two burghs of barony, Kilcoy and Redcastle, in which there were "some few retailers of tobacco, salt, soap, iron and such small merchant ware But do not know or can learn where they buy the same and next that these creamers (or peddlers) and merchants do not export to sea nor import therefrom such commodities." The Provosts of Ayr and Dumbarton were appointed by the Convention to visit the northern burghs. Fortrose, on hearing of their arrival in Inverness, figuratively rolled out the red carpet to welcome them and sent a deputation to confer upon them the freedom of the burgh. At the same time a report on the state of the place was prepared by the magistrates and town Clerk for submission to the visitors. "We have no trade by merchandising nor never had that we know or can learn of being but a little village and formerly a kirk town or the bishop and canons seat. The few creamers or shopkeepers therein did not heretofore nor does not now export or import any merchant ware, victual or anything else of whatsoever kind by sea or land, that we know or can hear of except some little salt, iron, dyes, spices and such small commodities that the saids few merchants bring from Inverness, Findhorn and Elgin. Fortrose merchants are not worth more, including shops and goods than 200 stlg and their annual turnover less than this, there being but four of them in number and all the rest are but shoemakers, skinners, weavers, tailors and husbandmen and suchlike poor men. No common good in Chanonry except custom of two markets which some years yields 100 merks, some years less, of which the clerk gets 30 Scots of fee and the schoolmaster 40. If custom money be not sufficient to pay these and the officers' fees the balance, together with the king's cess, is stented upon the inhabitants. The Chanonry had no lands houses or yards held in libero burgagio de regie (or in free burgage of the king) but all holden of the see bishops and canons of Ross when existing and now of their Majesties jure corone (or by Crown right) and who get the whole feuduties and it was ever so since the foundation of the bishopric. Cess, missive dues, etc., stented per capita which as to time past and on account of the heavy burdens thus imposed made 16 or more families remove to the country being broke and the rest like to go that way for the same cause. Some of those now stented live on the charity of the church whereof we are ashamed."

"The old burgh of Rosemarkie has lands held in libero burgagio de regie to the extent of 3 or 400 Scots, highly racked, which valued rent (i.e. because these lands were outwith the burgh) is incorporated with the shire and pays cess to the shire and did so since 1638 this Cess collected majore vi (or by force) which in good Scots terms may be called quartering. No merchants in Rosemarkie but few people such as millers, husbandmen and weavers."

"Burgh debt is 800 Scots if not more and can't stent for it lest the inhabitants run away. Appeal to the royal burghs to ease the proportion of tax roll otherwise there will be no magistracy, the people and inhabitants will run away and no face of a burgh kept up at Fortrose where there is great difficulty to get magistrates under such conditions." As already noted the Burgh's Commissioner, Thomas Forbes, succeeded in obtaining a substantial reduction in the burgh's proportion the following year. The 1690's were years of great dearth when the "living could hardly bury the dead."

As a side-light on the general scarcity of cash it may be recalled that the Countess Isabel of Seaforth is on record as having ordered a ship-load of coal from Kirkcaldy to be paid for by the delivery of grain. Seventeenth century coal seems to have caused as much complaint as that of today for she instructed her agent to "Take care the coals are good. I like not a dead heavy coal that burns not briskly." The old Registers of Deeds throw some light on the trading ventures of the Seaforth family and show that other families could engage in such activities. Thus in 1653 the widow of the 2nd Earl had sold fish to an Edinburgh merchant to the value of 161. A few years later the 3rd Earl entered into a bond to sell to another Edinburgh merchant 274 cattle to the value of 3,288 "good and official money of Scotland," being cows between four and nine years, to be delivered at the port of Inverness where he, the Earl, would have slaughterhouse and killers ready. In 1667 Alexander Graham of Drynie, once provost of Fortrose, entered into a contract with a number of Fortrose burgesses to send a cargo of 480 bolls of bere by ship from the Chanonry to Holland for sale there. These can hardly have been exceptional transactions and suggest that either local enterprise had evaporated by the nineties or that the Council had conveniently forgotten such efforts when it penned its lugubrious report to the Convention.


Grinding poverty was for long the lot of the great mass of the people of Scotland. The unemployed, the able-bodied poor and the work-shies were actively discouraged by a range of penalties, including the gibbet. The sick and the aged poor were until modern times the particular care of the church. In the burghs this care was supplemented by funds provided by mortifications or bequests of lands and cash left by the last will and testament of "Pious donors." This phrase should be accepted as evidence of intent at least, for the donors were in the direct line of these much earlier benefactors, kings and nobles, who bequeathed wide lands to the church for the salvation of their immortal souls and those of their ancestors. A typical 17th century mortification expressed it thus: "for the Glory of God, and blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, One in Essence and three distinct persons." This testator mortified one hundred pounds Scots "for help and support of His (i.e. God's) poor and indigent persons in the Town of the Chanonry of Ross, now called the Burgh of Fortrose, distinct from the old Town and Burgh of Rosemarkie, And for help and maintenance to the Schoolmaster" a like sum, the annual income of each sum to be devoted to the poor and the schoolmaster respectively. Like other mortifications of the time its benefits were to be enjoyed by the poor of the Chanonry only. The trustees were to be Chanonry and not Rosemarkie magistrates, failing whom, a contingency then often talked of, the minister serving the joint cure of the united kirks of Chanonry and Rosemarkie together with the Chanonry eldership. Bearing in mind the terms of the Draft Agreement of 1658 between the Town Councils of Chanonry and Rosemarkie whereby all sources of animosity and ill-feeling between the two places were to be forgotten it is a little disappointing to notice from this and other sources that the crack was perhaps only papered over.

In the same year, 1686, the bishop and chapter of Ross granted a new deed of mortification of the feuduties derived from the manses of their pre-Reformation predecessors, together with the proceeds of the letting of the kirkyard grass, for the benefit of the schoolmaster, the original deed of mortification granted a century before having been lost during the occupation of the Chanonry by David Leslie's cavalry in 1649 as already noted. The feuduties amounted to only a few pence or shillings Scots and ceased to be worth collecting when sterling replaced the old Scots currency. With the taking over of the Cathedral by the Office of Woods and Forests about 1840 the letting of the grass came to an end so that this particular mortification has lapsed. Mortifications granted by a Countess of Seaforth and Alexander Mackenzie of Coull are still being administered, both for the poor of the Chanonry. Why the poor of Rosemarkie should have been excluded from these two mortifications is not very clear. It can hardly have been due to surviving ill-feeling between the two places for these donors were not natives. Coull, like the Countess and other local landowners at the time, may have had a house in the Chanonry and they would all expect to be buried in the Cathedral. Their children attended the local grammar school and the old renown of the place as the seat of the bishops of Ross and a source of "law, light and learning" and its then prestige as the depository of the land records of more than one county no doubt all contributed to the feeling of being burgesses and citizens of a place of some importance.

There were other sources of revenue out of which assistance might be afforded to the needy, the sick and the aged, the chief being the Mortcloth funds. Up to the time of the Reformation it had been the custom to lay the dead before the altar prior to burial, covered with a pall or mortcloth. After this custom had ceased the mortcloth continued in use as a covering for the coffin during the procession from house to grave. The usual practice was for the parish Kirk to own one or more mortcloths which it hired out, and, indeed, the Kirk had, nominally at least, a monopoly recognised by law. However, this may have been Fortrose Town Council as well as Rosemarkie Kirk owned a set of three mortcloths. The mortcloth is referred to in 1656 but not again until 1701 when the Council resolved to invest part of the funds of Coull's Mortification in the purchase of two mortcloths, one of good velvet, the other of good cloth with their necessary furniture as well as lining and fringes. A few years later there were three cloths held in the custody of one of the Councillors who was a squarewright or carpenter. Charges for the use of the mortcloths were fixed according to their quality, with higher charges for their use outside the burgh. Within burgh the charges were to be eight merks or S 6s. 8d. Scots for the velvet, twenty shillings for the larger and fourteen shillings for the smaller cloth pall. From the accounts submitted to the Council it would seem that in three and a half years the hires may have come to about 260 Scots. The custody of the cloths seems to have changed hands every three years. A minute states that the communion linens were to be kept in the same box as the mortcloths together with a little `chest' for holding the money and papers relating to them. Evidently, the Council was closely concerned with church matters. A subsequent fall in income may have been due to competition from the Session of the Parish Church of Rosemarkie whose charges were not so high. In 1751 the charge for the church mortcloth within the burgh was 10/-, considerably less than the Council charge fixed fifty years before. Perhaps the use of mortcloths was on the decline. One of the Church mortcloths is still preserved at Rosemarkie.

The church mortcloth dues were used for relief of the poor and sometimes also to supplement church collections for the precentor's salary and for church repairs. Church collections were also occasionally used to help escaped slaves and sailors who had been captives of the notorious Barbary pirates. Of a different kind were the special collections in Rosemarkie Church in 1724 of 5/4 sterling for the Scots congregation in New York, in 1754 of 2 12s. 1d. sterling for the College in New Jersey and 20 Scots in 1761 for the Presbyterian ministers in America. In view of the destination of these monies one would hesitate to describe them as fore-runners of collections for foreign missions. Collections were also made within the Presbytery at this time for a bridge over the Dee and for piers at Banff and Arbroath.

Mortality had long been in Pre-Reformation times a source of revenue for the Church, but, while mortcloth dues were voluntary payments associated primarily with respect for the dead, the earlier payments made to the parish priests were exactions for administering the burial services of the church. It may seem to the modern mind to have been a pitiful business but by the miserably paid vicars of the tumbling parish churches the dues must have been eagerly grasped, secure in the knowledge that however oppressive the practice may have been to the poor, it was expressly sanctioned and ordained by the laws of the church. Such was the mortuary fee paid to the priest of the parish in which a deceased person resided and in the kirkyard of which he must be buried. The fee or corpse-present consisted of the best animal left by the deceased after the feudal lord had had his pick or in the absence of animals the umaist or uppermost blanket or cover on the bed. Canon law made no allowance for abatement in the case of successive deaths in the family. The author of the "Satire of the Three Estates" (before 1540) puts an account of an extreme instance into the mouth of one of his characters, Pauper, who had been supporting his father and mother, who died within a day or two of each other and were followed in death by his wife. After describing how the landlord had taken the gray mare for his death tax, Pauper proceeds:

The Vicar took the best cow by the head Incontinent, when my father was dead, And when the Vicar heard tell how that my mother Was dead, fra-hand he took to him another

Then Meg, my wife, did mourn, both even and morrow Till at last she died for very sorrow

And when the Vicar heard tell my wife was dead The third cow he cleekit by the head.

The umaist cloth that was of rapploch gray The Vicar bad his clerk bear it away. When all was gone, I might make no debate But with my bairns passed for till beg my meat.

Still another source of revenue from which the poor of the Chanonry may have benefitted was also connected with the last rites. In Scotland the practice died out many years ago but at one time it was customary for the bellman to intimate along the streets the death of a citizen and the day of his funeral. On the latter day also he rang the church bell to call the mourners together. This was the passing bell. The custom was turned to account by Chanonry Town Council in 1656 as the following rather naive minute shows. "Taking to their consideration the great abuse done by ringing of the great bell of the said burgh at every occasion of mortality within the same Have therefore enacted and ordained and by these presents unanimously enact statute and ordain that before ever the same shall be rung for any inhabitant dying within the said burgh the Treasurer shall be first paid of twelve shillings Scots and for every stranger the sum of twenty-four shillings foresaid." Later minutes indicate that this bell hung on the west gable of the surviving aisle of the Cathedral and was also rung at six in the morning and eight at night. This eight o'clock curfew continued to be rung in the burgh until recently.

A small or hand bell was also carried and rung by the bellman at the front of funeral processions, the ringer being remunerated by the "goodwill" of the hirer until 1729 when the Town Council, in view of the "poor and inconsiderable revenue from the Common Good," decided to copy the example of other royal burghs by putting a tax of 6/- Scots on the hand bell on each occasion on which it was so used. The bell in question may have been the old bell still in possession of the Town Council with the date 1630 and the Latin inscription "premisimus non amisimus Chanrie de Ros", which may perhaps be rendered as "Not lost but gone before."


The early Irish missionary who established a monastery on the Rosemarkie peninsula during the sixth century was the undoubted founder of the succession of schools in the Chanonry which in later years at least are known to have acquired widespread local fame for their quality. Although the object of the early monastic schools was to provide the education essential for the monks, study must have often been continued in after life for its own sake, witness the celebrated Latin psalms ascribed to SS. Columba and Columbanus. There is some reason to believe that the supervision of these monastic schools was entrusted to a high dignitary of the Celtic Church and that lands may have been set aside by that church for his support and that of his pupils. Such provision was made by the Roman Catholic Church of later days. The Register of the Archbishopric of Glasgow contains a copy of a letter from the chapter of Sarum or Salisbury Cathedral explaining that the office of Chancellor of a diocese consists in ruling the schools, repairing and correcting books, hearing and determining lessons, keeping the seal of the chapter, preparing charters and reading letters that were to be read in chapter. Supervision of the schools takes pride of place in this catalogue of duties. The Chancellor's school had a monopoly of education, no one else being allowed to teach, at least without a licence from the Chancellor. The same Register contains the copy of a deed or instrument declaring that the chancellor has the right of instituting and deposing the master of the grammar school of Glasgow and of having the care and direction of that school.

A similar provision applied in the See of Moray and no doubt also in the Chanonry, where there is some reason to believe that the practices of Sarum constituted a guide to the new Chapter of Ross. The existence of a 'College' in the Chanonry has already been referred to although no one knows what it implied. The Golden Charter of Inverness [1591] gave that burgh the right of collecting the petty customs of the Colleges of the Chanonry. As it referred also to the Colleges of Tain, Dornoch, Thurso and Wick, the expression at the time may have had a significance other than its modern one. On the other hand, the phrase "the College of the Chanonry" is found locally in old titles as far back the sixteenth century. The "College Yards" of Brechin are said to have been the original site of a Culdee foundation. The word 'college' in its original latin form did not necessarily connote a school but rather a society, guild or incorporation of individuals associated together for some common purpose and living under some corporate discipline and has been applied to Culdee foundations elsewhere. Although the evidence here is so scanty it would be a satisfactory conclusion to any further and possible research to find that the College-of the Chanonry of which so little is known was in fact the site of a Culdee monastery, priory or college which stood here one thousand years ago and where the Culdees-successors perhaps of still earlier monks of the Celtic Church-tended rude altars, succoured the sick and sheltered travellers making their laborious way north. In the absence of any other known, or indeed, likely site here also may have stood the cathedral school of the diocese of Ross where under the supervision of the Chancellor successive generations received sufficient letters to enable them to take minor parts in the Cathedral services either as choir boys or as priests in minor orders or as both and where the lad of parts was prepared for further training in the universities of the Continent and later of his own country. How nearly it missed becoming the site of a northern university may be gathered from one of the earliest acts of Charles I who, after his accession to the throne, wrote to the Bishop of Ross from Windsor on 25th August, 1626, instructing him that "for removing of ignorance and barbarity from the northern and Highland parts of our kingdom that a college be erected at the Chanonry of Ross as a most commodious place for that purpose . . . authorises a voluntary collection and building and to let the king know what the cost of building and the entertainment of masters, regents, professors and poor students will amount to yearly so we may give a helping hand." A similar letter addressed to the Earl of Huntly directed the latter to lend a hand but nothing came of the idea although it does show that even sixty years after the Reformation the Chanonry of Ross was still a place of some standing.

In the absence of records prior to the Reformation we can only speculate as to what schools may have existed in the Chanonry. That there was a grammar school is indicated by an entry in the Register of Presentations to Benefices under date 1574 when a letter was issued under the Great Seal "making mention that the chaplainry of Drummond lands in the diocese of Ross situate in the chapel of St. Boniface vacant by the decease of the late Sir David Reid his Majesty has understood the revenue thereof does not exceed 20 merks and being that his beloved Patrick Dunbar son to George Dunbar of Avoch is of convenient age to enter in the study of grammar Therefore giving the said Chaplainry, etc.... Commanding also the master of the grammar school in the Chanonry of Ross to receive, etc.... the said Patrick."

The grammar school is mentioned again a few years later when in 1580 the Crown granted to Robert Graham, the Archdeacon of Ross, and to his heirs and assignees, the chaplain and stallar lands of the Cathedral for payment to the Crown of a silver penny if asked and to the master of the grammar school of the sum of 20. This suggests that some of these lands had been allocated to the support of the pre-Reformation schools. No schoolmaster is named until 1597, when John McGillichallum, Master of the Grammar School, appears as a witness to a letter of Collation of Robert Munro to be Treasurer of Ross.

Council minutes bear out the statement in one of the MS Histories of the Mackenzies to the effect that Colin, first Earl of Seaforth, who died in 1633, left a salary for the Schoolmaster at the Chanonry. A petition to William, 5th Earl, confirms this and furnishes a roll of 17th century schoolmasters. It bears that Colin, the Earl's great grandfather mortified four thousand merks Scots (2,666 13s. 4d. Scots) for the school and successive schoolmasters of Chanonry, the income thereof to be constantly paid by the Seaforth of the day and that it had been paid since and yearly to Mr Wm. Reid, Mr James Graham, Mr Donald Macrae, Mr Bernard Mackenzie, minister in Cromarty, Mr Kenneth Mackenzie, brother to Kinnock, Mr Kenneth Mackenzie, brother to Gruinard, Mr Robert Dallas, writer in Edinburgh, Mr John Robertson, son to Davochmoluag, Mr Robert Calder and Mr Kenneth Mackenzie, brother to Kinnock. All of these named probably served the school after the Restoration. All the Mackenzies mentioned were descendants of the Seaforth family. Robert Dallas was the son of Hugh Dallas, for long Town Clerk of Fortrose, and was presented to the school by the widowed Countess of Seaforth in 1686. After six years service he changed over to the legal profession in Edinburgh, notwithstanding that on his appointment the Town Council had provided an addition of forty pounds Scots to the salary attached to the post which they declared to be "very mean."

Scattered references to the schools of the Chanonry are to be found from mid-seventeenth century onwards, principally in the minutes of the Town Council, which provided buildings and was not slow to prompt the Seaforth family, as patrons of the school, when vacancies occurred. The grammar school was carried on in various buildings, usually private houses taken over for the purpose, and at one time in the Council meeting room which may or may not have been the Tolbooth and may have served also as kirk for the Chanonry.

The schoolmaster had to look for his remuneration to various sources but behind his employers, the Town Council, stood the Seaforth family and bequest. He also had in his capacity as Precentor and Session Clerk of the Congregation of the Chanonry the "maills" or the feuduties of the manses of the old canons and the sum received for the grazing of the grass on the Cathedral Green which continued to be let until well on in the 19th century. The Kirk was thus also interested in the appointment of the schoolmaster. In spite, however, of the interest of Kirk and Council what would now be called the progress of education followed a slow and devious course for want of money, for lack of permanent buildings and most of all in the absence of a consistent or any policy not to mention what might discreetly be called a certain conflict of views and interest between kirk and council. Acts of Parliament from 1567 onwards had provided that the kirk through one or other agency should pass judgment on the moral and teaching qualifications of schoolmasters. This privilege was to endure until 1863 when another Act of Parliament provided that no master of a burgh school should be subject in any way to a trial of his qualifications, morals and church-membership by the kirk. To some extent the Kirk had been entitled to a say in the appointment of schoolmasters so long as the master acted also as session clerk and precentor and looked to the emoluments of these offices to supplement his paltry salary from the school, but sometimes this led to difficulties so far as the school was concerned, as for instance in 1743, when it appears from the records of the Presbytery of Chanonry that a new master had been appointed without prior consultation with the Kirk. The presbytery summoned him to appear before them at the next diet to undergo trial. The new school-master wrote back that his business did not allow him to attend at that time. The Presbytery then indicted him on what seems to have been a most formidable charge sheet but found in the end that it had let itself in for perhaps more than it had bargained for and had in effect after some years to abandon the case. Mr Grant, the schoolmaster in question, was accused of "several immoralities in Practice and gross errors in Principles." The long list included drinking, gaming, not keeping the Sabbath, using profane language, ridiculing texts of scripture and the habits of pious individuals, whose mode and words in prayer he imitated. Grant gave in long papers in reply explaining that his so-called scoffing was not to be taken seriously and expressing regret. On this first occasion he got off with a rebuke and a warning, but soon after there was another complaint to the effect that he had not subscribed the Confession of Faith, that he neglected Sunday services except for an occasional appearance at a non-juring or Episcopal meeting-house, that he had been disloyal during the late rebellion (the '45) and had encouraged his boys to be disloyal also. On Grant appearing before the Presbytery and being asked if he would subscribe the Confession of Faith he had the temerity, or in the circumstances some might have described it as the impudence, to declare his readiness to subscribe truth wherever he saw it, but in regard he was called, settled and paid as schoolmaster of Fortrose by the Magistrates and Town Council, which was not subject to the Presbytery, he declined the jurisdiction of the courts and protested against their proceedings. On the Presbytery calling upon the Council to dismiss their schoolmaster the latter were compelled to confess the difficulty of obtaining another one. The matter dragged on for years until finally Grant, this time accompanied by the Magistrates, again appeared before the Presbytery. He appears to have been a cynical individual with a plausible manner who contrived to slide out of the charge of disloyalty. He asked to be allowed until the next meeting to subscribe the Confession of Faith and there the matter rested so far as the records show. Schoolmasters were not exempt from the vices of the age. Presbytery records in 1808 accuse the rector of the Academy of drunkenness; the second master had exposed himself to censure for something not mentioned; the third was also accused of inebriety and of sometimes appearing before his scholars in that condition, and also of a more heinous immorality, detailed at large, which was, however, condoned by his marrying his servant-maid.

School curricula were now broadening and a demand was rising for a more liberal and practical course of education than that so long supplied by the burgh grammar schools. Funds were raised locally to found a new Academy where by 1802 according to a Presbytery report the rector taught Latin, Greek and French; Geography and the elements of General History, both ancient and modern, but particularly the history of Great Britain and Ireland; superintended the good order, principles and morals of the whole academy; taught his class daily; prayed with and attended to church the other masters and scholars of the Academy every Sabbath during a course of two sessions of five months each yearly; and had in his class thirteen scholars. The second master taught mathematics, arithmetic, drawing and book-keeping, the elements of Euclid, algebra, navigation, land-surveying and other measurements; also the elements of chemistry and natural philosophy; taught his class daily and attended his scholars to church. The third master taught reading, principles of English grammar and writing, all in the most approved modern style; held the classes daily; and had sixty scholars in his classes daily. The accommodation must have been very cramped. A further appeal for funds was issued in 1810 in the course of which the Directors of the Academy proclaimed that Fortrose, the venerable seat of the bishops of Ross, esteemed by many the Montpelier of Scotland, was perhaps as healthy and happy a situation as any in the kingdom for such an institution. Memories of King Charles' letter of 1626 must surely have persisted. Montpelier in France was the seat of a very ancient university notable for its schools of law and medicine. The response to the appeal seems to have been remarkable, no less a sum than 627 for example having been collected in India through the efforts of a former pupil.

Other subscriptions flowed in. The old Burgh Grammar School was united with the new Academy and its funds applied towards the salaries of teachers. The Administrators of the Forbes' Mortification used some of their considerable funds to assist in the purchase and erection of buildings for the new school, notwithstanding these funds had been left in 1699 for the specific purpose of providing for a stipend for a minister in the Chanonry. Not unnaturally this diversion of the Mortification gave rise to complaint and finally to action in the Court of Session which ordered the fund to be used for its proper purpose so that it became available for the new Quoad Sacra Church. The case roused considerable feeling in the Burgh. One letter to the Inverness Journal in 1834 contrived to give a thumb-nail sketch of the history of the Chanonry combined with a terse statement of the popular mind. "Fortrose was for ... centuries the abode of the learned, and the place where the records of the north of Scotland were kept; ... it has since, however, fallen from its former grandeur. Where a long succession of bishops and clergymen lived and preached ... where the north of Scotland was taught its religious lessons, there is not now a church ... We the good folk of Fortrose had reason to be surprised by . . . the avowed intentions of the Directors (i.e. of the Academy) and Administrators (i.e. of the Mortifications). We consulted an agent . . . and it has been determined to follow the matter out, to plant on the ruins of the once proud towers and domes, wherein was taught the shewy ritual of the Church of Rome, a building figurative of our own pure and more humble establishment," that is, to use the Mortification Funds for the erection of a Protestant Church, an object which was achieved after a few years.

The grammar school had long been patronised by the children of the lairds in the country round about. Miss Bond's "Letters of a Village Governess" (1814) describing her experiences in Fortrose, relates that an old lady, who died there in 1810, had boarded in a house supposed to be three hundred years old, many schoolboys who later generously contributed to the support of her declining years. Miss Bond considered Fortrose to be the first place in the world for the education of boys up to fourteen or fifteen years of age because of local circumstances, i.e. the absence of vice in such a small town, the genteel society where their manners received a polish and the purity of the local speech. She also mentioned that school fees were paid in fresh butter, eggs, whisky, etc., and that at that time there were separate schools for girls and boys.

During the early 17th century at least the Council maintained a girl's school also. In 1657 Anna Maxwell, schoolmistress, was allowed not more than eighteen cartloads of peats, the same to be proportioned among the inhabitants. (Carts in these days were very small affairs). It has been seen that when Bishop Maxwell fled from the Chanonry in 1638 he left his wife and, presumably, his family behind. One of his four daughters was named Anna so that she may have been the schoolmistress in question. Half a century later another school appears on record. In 1713 the Magistrates and Council were considering "the detriments sustained by the Town through want of a musician" and had before them a letter from the wife of one Alex. Munro suggesting that she and her husband should settle in the town and teach music. The Provost, Mr George Mackenzie of Inchcoulter (Balconie) having approved the project and recommended Mrs Munro, the Council ordained that "Alex. Munro, musician in Fortrose and Marjory Henderson his spouse shall have the sole privilege and exclusive of others to teach music, seamstrie and what else they or either of them profess to teach in their schools within the burgh." A house was made habitable for them and given to them free of rent but the venture does not seem to have been a success for three years later the Munros were out of the house to which the burgh school was then transferred.

There is no indication of what happened to the girl's school taught by Anna Maxwell but by 1725 at least there had been for some time no school available for the "education of young women." In that year, the Council, conscious of the need for such a school, resolved to rent a house suitable for the purpose and appointed as mistress of it one Elizabeth Cook, a gentle-woman who had been for a considerable time with a local country family. The salary was to be 20 Scots per annum, but as the town had no common good, one of the Bailies was appointed to gather voluntary contributions to meet it. By 1762 the salary had risen to one hundred merks or 66 Scots and a schoolmistress from Dingwall was appointed to teach plain and coloured seam and other branches of female education.

The schoolmasters had other duties besides teaching Latin and Mathematics. They were expected to act as Registrars of baptisms, marriages and deaths, as Session Clerks and as Precentors. As registrars they were entitled to fees for each entry, at least of baptism so far as the records show, and as usual were left to collect these fees as best they might. One Schoolmaster Registrar had to sue six fathers at one time for eight shillings Scots each as the price of the churching or baptism of their bairns. This Pooh-Bah system, as might be expected, was not always satisfactory. No doubt schoolmasters of a wordly turn of mind took their ecclesiastical duties less seriously than was fitting. In 1709 the Council expressed the view that the Church was suffering from frequent changes of Session-Clerks and lamented that the latter not only "Totally neglect the filling up the respective dates and days of Baptisms and marriages and Distributions of Mortifications formally, But also masterfully detain And in a manner Poind the registers for alleged salaries after they have ceased to be schoolmasters". Accordingly the Council transferred the office of session clerk and, it is to be supposed, of registrar but really the one included the other, from the schoolmaster to the Town Clerk.

Plan of the Burgh of Frotrose