The Story behind the Stone – the families, estates and stories of Kirkmichael, Cullicudden, the Black Isle and beyond

The Emigration of Hector Holm (1782–1865) and Catharine Cameron (c.1794–1866)
on the brig Lady Grey from Cromarty in 1841

text: Dr Jim Mackay    photos as given below each image

On Cromarty Links stands a tall stone carved by artist Roger Kindersley commemorating the emigrants who passed from the Highlands of Scotland through Cromarty to the corners of the earth. The central text is a quotation from Hugh Miller, the bicentenary of whose birth was marked by the erection of this stone in 2002, on the sailing of one particular emigration ship in 1831. Around the perimeter is a list of the emigrant ships known to have sailed from Cromarty in the 1830s and 1840s. At the top right is the name of the Lady Grey, on which Hector Holm and his family left Resolis for Pictou in Canada. This is his story.

The Emigration Stone and the South Sutor; photo: Andrew Dowsett

Hector was a carpenter, and, though picking up quite a few pieces of work associated with the kirk buildings in Resolis, had a history of financial problems. He was a younger son of William Holm, a weaver in Burnside of Newhall, and Christian Hossack. Children are recorded to them in the Baptism Register in Resolis from 1776 through to 1793 (Thomas in 1776, Gilbert in 1777, Andrew in 1780, Hector himself in 1782, William in 1788, Christian in 1789, and Anne in 1793). With the last child, the parents were recorded as in Ferryton rather than Burnside.

Hector as a Christian name became very popular in Resolis following the incumbency (1748–1774) of respected minister, the Reverend Hector McPhail.

The prospects of the fourth son of a humble weaver were never going to be rosy, but Hector became a sought-after carpenter. As early as 1812 I see him being called in as an expert:

[Presbytery of Chanonry minutes, meeting at Manse of Kirkmichael & Cullicudden, 31 May 1812]
This Meeting having been appointed for inspecting the Manse &c. of this United Parish, and for determining what is proper to be done thereanent … And it being Asked, whether the Heretors & Minister had called any judicious Workmen to this Meeting? Compeared at their Desire, Adam Urquhart Mason at Cromarty, Donald Simpson Mason at Newhall & Thomas Mackenzie Mason at Balblair: Mr John Joyner, House Carpenter at Cromarty, John Murray Wright at Newhall, John Hosack Wright at Burnside, Donald Allan Wright at Poyntzfield & Hector Holm Wright at Balblair; together with John Ferguson Thatcher. And the oath de fideli being administered to all those workmen; they were appointed to inspect carefully & bring in their Reports in writing, concerning the Sufficiency or Insufficiency of this Manse, both its walls & Roof & the other Subjects, as Set forth in the Minister's petition. Who, having spent some considerable Time, in inspecting & judging thereof, gave in their Report, as follows, viz.

I note he was involved in a substantial piece of work in 1819 – the rebuilding, or perhaps the refurbishment and extension, of the Balblair Ferry Inn:

Account of Monies Expended by Donald Mackenzie Esquire of Newhall Proprietor of the Entailed Estate of Newhall … 1819 / Octr. 18 / To Cash paid Hector Holm House Carpenter for Executing the Wright work of the said Public house of Balblair per accot. and discharge 91.15.6

Balblair Ferry Inn, the carpentry work of which was carried out by Hector Holm; photo: Jim Mackay

The Ferry Inn was one of the subjects of a past Kirkmichael Trust guided tour
photo: Carlann Mackay

And he was used again by the Presbytery in 1822:

[Presbytery of Chanonry minutes, meeting at Manse of Resolis, 1 August 1822]
It was then enquired, if there were any Workmen, in Attendance. Compeared John Hay Mason Maryburgh Dingwall, Hector Holme Carpenter Kirktown, Colin Burges Carpenter Dingwall, Murdoch Morison Carpenter Dingwall, John Fraser Carpenter Dingwall, and Robert Mill Carpenter Fortrose. The Oath de fideli, having been administered, to said Workmen, by Major Munro Justice of Peace– They were directed to proceed to inspect the Church, Manse and several Houses and offices connected, with the Manse, and to give in their Report, as to their state, in writing

He must have married Catherine Cameron around 1812. The marriage register had not been kept up in this period. This was during the shockingly slipshod time of the Reverend Robert Arthur when virtually all marriages went unrecorded. From the various ages she gave in census returns over the years, Catherine’s birth year can be calculated as around 1794 give or take a few years. Children are recorded to them in the baptism register from 1814 through to 1833.

Hector’s House

The baptism records are useful in tracking the movements of Hector and Catherine within the parish: William in 1814 “Balblair” (Hector appeared at Balblair as a wright in the militia list of that year as well), Donald in 1815 “house carpenter Balblair”, Isobel in 1818 “wright Ferrytown”, Hector in 1820 “at Gordon’s Mills”, Christian in 1823 “carpenter at Kirkton“. From then on he is recorded as “house carpenter at Kirkton” for Katharine in 1825, Thomas in 1828, Alexander in 1831 and Elizabeth in 1833.

Whilst Hector lived for some time at Balblair, I believe most of the other addresses he was given related to the same house and land: Whisky Park, at the end of the access road to Gordon’s Mill, close to the main farmhouse at Kirkton and considered part of Kirkton – indeed, sometimes being called Nether Kirkton.

We have a rare snapshot of his activity in 1832. There was much excitement that summer as a baby boy had been left at the door of an Elder, the then farmer in Kirkton, Donald Maclean. The mother was tentatively identified as one Magaret Ewach, a servant maid in Badgrinan in the west end of the parish, who had had an illegitimate child and removed with child Inverness way. A woman of her description on the evening the baby boy had been abandoned had asked for a drink of water when passing the Poyntzfield North Porter’s Lodge. The Session next asked for Hector.

Hector Holm Carpenter at Newhall being engaged repairing the Church was called in & compearing & being interrogated, stated that on the night of Friday the 22d Ultimo & between the hours of Eleven & Twelve o clock having occasion to be up at that late hour attending his Cow who had got sick as he was standing at the end of his house he saw a woman coming very slowly from the westward she evidently carrying something in her arms & which made him notice her more Sharply, that she made a motion as if she intended turning off the road into his house but when She noticed him that She turned off quickly to the road again & proceeded to the eastward, that he Stood looking after her & saw her turn off the road & go up to Kirktown. Hector Holm further stated that he had a conversation with Duncan Munro Pensioner in Jemima Ville who informed him (Hector Holm) that he the said Duncan Munro had crossed the Ferry of Fort George lately that in the boat he saw a woman carrying in her arm an Infant which she suckled that she was a short stout woman of a dark complexion dark hair & was much marked with the small pox, that he did not know her name or hear it mentioned but thinks he should know her by her countenance if he saw her again.

Relative locations of Whisky Park, Kirkmichael, and the road to Kirkton

Note that Hector had been repairing the Church whilst the Kirk Session was meeting next door in the manse, so he was still receiving such commissions. Note also that although he is given as Kirkton, in fact from his evidence his house was somewhat west of the Kirkton road – as previously mentioned, he was in fact living at Whisky Park, located just to the west of the access road to Gordon’s Mill.

Those concerned about the baby will be relieved to know he was well cared for. The session named him Michael Martin after Kirkmichael and St Martins and paid for his upkeep. There are several reasons as to why he may have been placed at the door of an Elder: she had been bullied into giving the name of the father, but had “prevaricated very much in saying who was the father of her child first mentioning one man & then another” and may have been retaliating; she may have been casting aspersions at Maclean or a relative of Maclean; or she may have simply chosen an Elder knowing that the Kirk Session would look after her child.

Hector and wife Catharine were both devout Christians and Hector almost became an Elder himself.

Catharine led the way in becoming a communicant. The Kirk Session minutes “At the church of Resolis the 7th day of March 1835” report:

The Moderator stated that on the present Sacramental Occasion Katherine Cameron wife of Hector Holm Tenant in Kirktown had applied to him to be received into full communion with the Church & that after a conversation with her for some time respecting her knowledge of the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel & the nature of the Lords Supper as a Christian ordinance as well as respecting her own motives personally for desiring to become a partaker of it, he had much cause to be satisfied. Nothing objectionable in her conduct being known to the Session her name was ordered to be added to the Communicants Roll.

And later that year Hector became a communicant himself. “At the Church of Resolis the 16 day of June 1836 years”:

The Moderator Stated that three persons had applied to him for admission to the Lords Table viz Mary Brown wife of George Roy Cameron alias Mckiddy at Resolis, Hector Holm Tenant at Nether Kirktown and Janet Chisolm Dairy Maid at Newhall … The Moderator further stated that from the private conversation he had with Hector Holm he was much satisfied & it being in the knowledge of the members of Session that the life & conversation of the said Hector Holm has for some time back been strictly consistent with his present expressed desire of being a partaker of the ordinance of the supper appointed his name to be added to the Roll of Communicants of this parish & that he should attend this with the parishioners in communion with the Church to receive a token.

One of the communion cups used by the Resolis established church at the time that Hector Holm took communion;
cup courtesy of Cromarty Courthouse

Resolis Communion Cup, but made for Resolis Free Church in 1843, seven years after Hector became a communicant in the established church;
photo: Jim Mackay;
cup courtesy of Willie and Catriona Gillies

Hector almost took the great step of becoming an Elder in 1840. The Kirk Session minutes of 20 September 1840 report:

The Session having taken into consideration the propriety of adding to the number of elders in this parish, and being persuaded of the good character of William Cameron Tenant in Ferryhouse, James Holm Mason Resolis Alexander Maccombie Blacksmith Newhall, Robert Murray Miller Newmills, Hector Holm Tenant in Kirktown John Fraser tenant Balblair and that these persons are in every way qualified in terms of Act of Assembly 1816 and other acts of the General Assembly which respect the qualifications of elders, they unanimously made choice of said William Cameron James Holm Alexander Maccombie Robert Murray and Hector Holm to be members of this Kirksession and appoint their ordination to take place in presence of the congregation on Sabbath the twenty ninth day of November ensuing

Two major issues arose. First of all, there had been some malicious talk about Hector, and secondly he had been thinking of emigrating. The minutes of 23 November:

The Session having convened for the purpose of hearing any objections against the ordination of Messrs William Cameron, Robert Murray Alexr Maccombie John Fraser James Holm and Hector Holm; the Moderator reported that their edict was duly served. Hector Holm stated that having ascertained that certain prejudices existed in the minds of the people of the east end of the parish against him, which he was conscious that such prejudices were entirely groundless & involved no charge against his moral character or Christian Character, yet considering that he could not usefully hold the office of elder without the consent & concurrence of at least those living in his immediate neighbourhood and as he had not any certain prospect of remaining in the parish for another year therefore tendered his resignation which the Session after due consideration accepted of.

This is the first indication we have of Hector’s intention to emigrate, but it is not surprising as over the years there had been evidence of his having financial problems, and the papers were filled with the enticing opportunities in North America for skilled tradesmen and landsmen. As an experienced carpenter and farmer, how could he go wrong? In reality, the best placed emigrants were those who were not in financial difficulties.

One of the challenges of being a tradesman is to get early payment from your customers to manage your cashflow. The records of Cromarty Sheriff Court show that in 1826 he was chasing at least one payment through the court: “Debt: Hector Holm, Kirktown: Donald Ross, Jemimaville: £4”. And in turn he was being chased in the same court in 1828: “Debt: William Young, writer, Fortrose: Hector Holme, Balblair of Newhall: £5.15.7d”. Now, a writer is just an old name for a solicitor, so I suspect that he had retained a solicitor to recover outstanding debts, and the amount actually recovered had not been enough to pay the lawyer himself.

At some point he had acquired the tenancy of a house in Jemimaville as well, in conjunction with a mason called William Hossack, perhaps a relation of his mother’s (she was a Hossack). In 1830, an Edinburgh Writer to the Signet (a fancy solicitor) was chasing him, presumably on behalf of one of the proprietors: “John MacKenzie, W.S, Edinburgh vs Hector Holm, Kirktown of Newhall and William Hossack, mason, Resolis. Action of removing from property in Jemimaville. Boundaries specified: east, house of Donald Munro, cartwright; west, house and smithy of Alex Munro, innkeeper and blacksmith.”

He was falling behind in his rent to the Newhall Estate. He had a small area of land as well as being a joiner, and in 1831 he was one of a dozen or so tenants being warned out of his croft.

Let’s put his area of land into context, by showing his rental in relation to Donald Maclean, the then tenant of Kirkton, he who had the foundling placed at his door. This is from the Newhall Rental of 1820 (Highland Archive HRA/D32/G1) and he occurs in several later rentals with the same rent:

Extract from 1820 Newhall Rental
Possessions Tenants Names Money rent
Kirktown Donald McLean 260.-.-
do. Whisky park Hector Holm 6.-.-

So when you see that Hector Holm of Whisky Park later is described as having “arrears for Crop 1828 and preceding amounting £30.-.-” you can appreciate that he was in dire straits. Having said that, he was in good company as many of the tenants were in equal or worse circumstances, and lots of tenants who were warned out subsequently managed to pay enough to continue in their tenancy. Note that Whisky Park was clearly considered to be an element of Kirkton, all part of the Newhall Estate. Sometimes it appears as “Nether Kirkton”, as in the Kirk Session Minutes of 6 September 1841 which state in relation to the Roll of Communicants that “Hector Holm tenant at Nether Kirktown emigrated to America”.

There is one curious rental in 1830 where he is recorded as being in “Ferrytown” with a rental of 6 hens and £16 money. I confess I am at a loss regarding this, as all other references to him in this period show him continuing in Kirkton. Had he secured a loan from a third party? How could a man so far behind in his rent at Whisky Park suddenly take on the lease of a larger area of land a year later? Was it a temporary measure? Or simply an error in the estate records?

He and Catharine were definitely still in Kirkton by the time of the 1841 Census. I don’t know where his elder sons were working, but I note his son Hector as an agricultural labourer a mile away at Newmills.

Hector Holm 58 Farmer / Katharine Cameron 47 / Isabel Holm 21 / Katharine Holm 14 / Thomas Holm 13 / Alexr Holm 10 / Elizabeth Holm 7

Robert Murray 67 Miller / Elizabeth Sutherland 60 / Robert Murray 31 Miller / Jemima Munro 26 / Robert Murray 3 / Jennet Murray 2 / Henrietta Ferguson 13 / Hector Holm 18 AL / Jennet Munro 20 FS

But this was now on the eve of the family’s emigration.

Advertisements had been appearing in the northern papers heralding the golden prospects of those seeking a new life in North America. No mention was made of disease, privation, harsh winters, resistance by indigenous people or hostile settlers of other nations.

No one promoted emigration to North America more strongly than John Sutherland of Wick and Nova Scotia, who had a few years earlier joined forces with Duncan MacLennan in Inverness to provide an emigration service for the North. I confess, having studied Sutherland’s life in detail, I cannot decide if he was a genuine enthusiast or a wholesale confidence trickster. He had lived in North America much of his adult life, and often made trips over and would send back glowing reports of the good life in the promised land. He even crossed with his emigrants on occasion, and was greatly respected in the North, marrying a daughter of Kenneth Macleay of Newmore. Louise Campey argues in her books on emigration from the North that we hear much of the dissatisfied customers, but little from the great majority of satisfied clients, and, after all, the emigration companies depended upon good reports for further custom. There are therefore two sides to the story. However, it is undeniable that the emigration of Hector Holm and family was a trip through Hell.

No doubt Hector had seen the advertisements in the northern papers in May 1841.

Sutherland and Maclennan had three ships leaving, the advertisements said, including the splendid first-class Ship, Lady Grey. Intending Passengers, they said, are requested to give in their names with as little delay as possible, and a list of local commercial contacts were given for convenience.

The advertisement for the Lady Grey

Whilst still in harbour in Cromarty, some of the prospective emigrants from further north provided a frothy eulogy to the Duke of Sutherland, who had helped to fund their journey (John o’Groat Journal, 25 June 1841):

ADVERTISEMENT. / TO THE MOST NOBLE / HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF SUTHERLAND. / The undersigned natives of Sutherland, now on board the Ship “Lady Grey,” of North Shields, in Cromarty, prepared to sail for Pictou and Quebec, North America, cannot leave their native country (perhaps for ever) without tendering to your Grace their sincerest thanks and lasting gratitude for your Grace’s kindness and signal liberality: but more especially for the readiness with which your Grace came forward to aid them in leaving this country, by pecuniary assistance and otherwise. / They are very sensible that it must ever be a source of real pleasure to your Grace how well they may succeed and prosper in the land of their adoption: and have to assure your Grace, that though the connection hitherto between your Grace and themselves, in the capacities of landlord and tenant, be now at an end, they and their posterity shall ever retain the strongest attachment to your Grace and your illustrious family. / They cannot conclude without gratefully acknowledging the handsome and praiseworthy conduct of your Grace’s representative, Mr Gunn of Rhives, and their entire satisfaction with the accommodation procured for them by Messrs Sutherland and M’Lennan, Emigrant Agents, which promise both comfort and safety during their passage to America. / That your Grace may long live to be a blessing to your tenantry, as well as an example of virtue and benevolence to the other nobles of the land, shall ever be the sincere prayer of your Grace’s grateful and humble servants, (Signed) / James M’Pherson, James M’Kenzie, William Bannerman, John M’Kay, John Sutherland, Angus M’Leod, Widow Janet M’Pherson, John Murray, J. Bannerman, weaver, Brora, Alexander Campbell, Mary Mathieson, J. Bannerman, Helmsdale.

Well, I imagine much of this came from the free-flowing pen of John Sutherland, although perhaps there was much goodwill at the start of the trip. It was reported on another page that “The Lady Grey of North Shields, left Scrabster Roads on the 13th Curt. for Pictou and Quebec with 244 passengers, being her full complement, the fourth ship dispatched this season to British North America, by Messrs M’Lennan and Sutherland. On this as on former occasions, we understand that the arrangements for the comfort of the passengers were complete, and in unison with the usual good taste evinced by the agents. In addition, we have much pleasure in informing the public that Messrs. M’L. and S., in the most handsome manner, presented the passengers with a quantity of bonded stores, say, tea, coffee, and sugar, all of which were most gratefully accepted.– Thurso Correspondent.”

The Lady Grey arrived in Pictou on 16 July 1841, and the Journal was able to report to its readers as early as 20 August the good news: “The Lady Grey.– The Rhine, Dymond, of Stockton, which passed through the Pentland Firth on the 17th, 30 days from Pictou, reported having seen the Lady Grey off Cape St George. The friends and relatives will be gratified to learn that they were then all well, and near the port of their destination, as the vessel was seen the same day the Rhine sailed from Pictou.”

The reality was somewhat different. We pick up the story in Immigration to Emigration from Nova Scotia 1839–1851 (Mrs R.G. Flewwelling, 1948). There had been a series of immigration crises along the Nova Scotian coast:

Up in PICTOU, the authorities were having similar trouble. In July of ’41, the brig LADY GREY sailed into PICTOU harbour with typhus spreading among her passengers. Conditions on board were so crowded and uncomfortable that it was decided to move all the passengers ashore, separating the sick from the healthy. The fever spread, and by September 23rd, six patients had died. For two and a half months, PICTOU’S DR. JOHNSTON fought to stamp out the epidemic, and one can imagine the consternation in the town. Two years later a PICTONIAN wrote morbidly of “the green hillocks in the grave yard at CARRIBOO BEACHES” where the typhus victims had been buried.

A partial list of heads of family from the Lady Grey was included in The Pictou Book (George Maclaren, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Hector Publishing, 1954). The list is not from the ship’s list, as you might expect, but from a document prepared by passengers refusing to rejoin the ship after its first port-of-call (Pictou).

1 John F. Simpson / 2 James Allen / 3 John Ross / 4 John Campbell / 5 Hector Holm Junior / 6 Donald Gordon / 7 James Ross / 8 Donald Ross / 9 John McKay / 10 Hugh Fraser / 11 Duncan McDonald / 12 John Bannerman weaver / 13 Alexander McDonald / 14 Robert Ferguson / 15 Donald McKenzie / 16 Donald McLean / 17 Hugh McKay / 18 Hugh Ross / 19 John McLellan / 20 Alexander Sutherland / 21 William McIntosh / 22 John Campbell / 23 William McDonald / 24 Donald Sutherland / 25 Hugh Ross / 26 Angus McLean / 27 Donald Bannerman / 28 John Murray / 29 William Chisholm / 30 Colin McDonald / 31 James McPherson / 32 Hugh Beaton / 33 Robert Lillie / 34 George McKay / 35 John Sutherland / 36 William Bannerman / 37 William Gunn tailor senior / 38 Hugh Murray / 39 Alexander Taylor / 40 Angus McLeod 41 Hector Holm / 42 William Ross / 43 Alexander Campbell

The commentator notes that because there was no hospital in Pictou, the passengers were removed to shore and presumably quarantined, while the ship was cleaned. By 23 September 1841, 26 of the passengers had caught the typhus and six of them died. They were buried in the graveyard at Cariboo Beaches. Doctor Martin, health officer of the port, seems to have also caught the typhus and died. Originally 75 of the passengers were to have disembarked at Pictou with the remainder going on to Quebec. However, 135 of them could not be persuaded to get back on the ship. The passenger list provided is drawn up from a list of those who signed a protest against their treatment during the voyage.

The eagle-eyed will have spotted that just about all who had signed the advertisement before departure praising the on-board accommodation were now signing a petition about how awful it was.

I don’t know whether or not it was some of the passengers from the Lady Grey or from another of the ships of McLennan and Sutherland who returned to Scotland a few months later, but John Sutherland felt compelled to write an extraordinarily long eulogy on emigration in the John O’Groat Journal of 7 January 1842, to try to counter bad press, the top and tail of which are as follows:

EMIGRATION TO NORTH AMERICA. / Sir, / I am led to understand that there are a few individuals who went out last spring to America, and have since returned, and that consequently those opposed to emigration are endeavouring to raise a hue and cry against it. I do not pretend to say what might have induced those persons to return to their native country, where they will be, as formerly, “under the rod of oppression;” but I assert, without fear of contradiction, that they cannot say to their relatives or friends, whether capitalists, farmers, artizans, peasants, or labourers, that, compared with the extent and resources of this country, its population is not already too redundant, or that they see a prospect of developing its resources in such a manner as to ensure remuneration and productive employment to themselves or their families. [and much much more of the same] … of the immense advantages to be derived from emigration. / I am, Sir, your most obedient servant, JOHN SUTHERLAND.

Hector Holm becomes Hector Holmes

I do not know how many of his family went out with Hector and Catherine. Obviously young Hector did as he appears on the petition, and I know at least children Donald, Thomas, and Elizabeth did as well.

That first winter must have been a nightmare. Too late to get any crops in the ground, weak and diseased, survival must have been wholly dependent upon the goodwill of the settlers of Pictou. Hector must have often wished himself and family back in his sheltered farm beside Udale Bay, just along from Kirkmichael.

The family did not stay long in Nova Scotia. By the time of the 1851 Census they were well established a vast distance away, in the settlement of East Zorra, Oxford County, Ontario, between Lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario.

1851 Census Zorra East
Hector Holmes Farmer [born] Scotland [religion] FC Presbyterian [age next birthday] 70
Catharine do. do. do. do. 58
Betsy do. do. do. do. 18
Thomas do. do. do. [residence if outwith limits] Woodstock 22 [Woodstock is also in Oxford County]

He and Catherine were still there ten years later, in a log house, although the children had by now flown the nest:

1861 Census East Zorra
Hector Holmes [profession] yeoman Scotland FP [age next birthday]79 [married or single] m
Catharine Holmes [profession] spinster Scotland FP [age next birthday] 66 [married or single] m

The influence of the incoming Highlanders can still be seen in Oxford County, Ontario

Son Donald (1815–1885) married Christine or Christina Murray (1818–1875). He, his wife, and his parents, are all buried in McTavish Cemetery, in Perth County, just north of where they lived in Oxford County. The gravestone information provides the final data on Hector and Catherine, born so many thousands of miles away from their resting place.

Hector died on 12 October 1865 and Catharine the following year, on 3 July 1866. Their son Donald died 27 December 1885 and his wife, Christina Murray died on 6 October 1875.

The descendants of Hector Holm and Catharine Cameron did not all remain in Canada. I have, for instance, been in communication with Neil and Valerie Kronk from Australia. Neil’s mother was Jean Holmes, third daughter of five girls to Donald Scott Holmes and Louisa Syme. Donald Scott Holmes emigrated to Australia in 1910 aged 22, working his passage from Vancouver, while his family remained at Belmont, Manitoba. Neil visited Kirkmichael in 2015, closing one particular circle.

Hector’s Siblings

And what of Hector’s siblings, born to William Holm the weaver in Burnside of Newhall and Christian Hossack? I don’t know about all of them, but his sister Christian (1789–1869) married Hugh Fraser of Balmuchie, Fearn, had several daughters, and died in Hilltoun, Fearn. Sister Anne (1793–1862) never married and died at her sister’s at Balmuchie, Fearn.

Hector’s eldest brother Thomas (1776–1857) died in Forres, although his history was complicated to unravel as his daughter-in-law in notifying the registrar gave his mother as “Ann” instead of “Christian” Hossack, and later indexers recorded some relatives as “Holines” instead of “Holmes”. It was challenging. However, it turns out he was a sawyer, though he died a pauper, and his family can be picked up in the Forres and Elgin area. Whether or not they continued to liaise with their Canadian relatives I know not.

And there we have it: one example of the thousands of Highland families who decided their fortunes were best served by emigration, sailing out through the Sutors of the Cromarty Firth to seek a new life in North America.

The Emigration Stone; photo: Andrew Dowsett


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