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

The McCulloch of Woodside siblings, and Isaac Hood and Adam Hood

text: Dr Jim Mackay    photography as set out below each image

The farmhouse and steading of Woodside in 2019; photo: G.O. Ogle

Usually when you find on a gravestone two sets of initials separated by a heart you are looking at husband and wife. On a unique tablestone at Kirkmichael this is not the case: the initials commemorate a brother and sister, Andrew McCulloch and Catherine McCulloch. The story of the sister is a tragic one: she was the in-between wife of Adam Hood, a man who married three times. His first wife and third wife are commemorated on a grave slab in Chapel Yard, Inverness. But Catherine is not mentioned there. It was left up to her family to record her passing in Kirkmichael.


The Siblings

I imagine the two siblings must have been close for the family to associate their names with a heart. The inscription reads:

Placed here in memory of / ANDREW McCOLLOCH son of the late DONALD McCOLLOCH / Farmer at Woodside who died / September 26th 1815 Also of his / Sister CATHERINE McCOLLOCH / who died May 9th 1817 spouse / to A H [a heart separates the left initials from the right in the following abbreviations] A McC / C McC

The two McCulloch tablestones at Kirmichael; the one memorialising the siblings is the further away with moss temporarily removed; photo by Andrew Dowsett

The worn inscription thrown into relief by the Kirkmichael Lampie at night – you can just about make out the heart between the large initials, centre base; photo by Jim Mackay

There are some smaller letters following and below “to A H” which I read as “HOUS … C … P / TE …” – I presume this is the occupation of A H, and since I know that Adam Hood was a house carpenter I think we can guess what the inscription would have been.

Inscription illuminated from right; photo by Jim Mackay

Some letters become clearer with the illumination moved around a little, now repeat 30 times! photo by Jim Mackay

The McCullochs of Woodside have been immortalised by a story of Hugh Miller, the Cromarty stonemason and writer, called “McCulloch the Mechanician”. A complex tablestone in the line of McCulloch memorials at Kirkmichael has already been the subject of a story in this series dealing with Kenneth McCulloch, Fellow of the Royal Society and inventor extraordinary.

The father of the siblings commemorated on the tablestone which is the subject of this story was, according to the inscription, Donald McCulloch farmer at Woodside. He is fairly easily tracked in the baptism register of Cromarty, not least because he must have asked for a group of his kids – William (1774), twins Andrew and George (1776), and Mary (1778) – to be recorded on the same page. Why would he have done this? Thomas (1781) is recorded on a separate page, but Katharine (1784) and David (1788) are again on the one page. Strange.

Anyway, there we have the two siblings commemorated on the tablestone in Kirkmichael, Andrew (1776–1815) and Catherine (1784–1817), born to Donald McCulloch and Margaret Hood in Woodside. Note that the tablestone says their father Donald McCulloch was “late” when Andrew died, in 1815. I think he had died, in fact, back in 1790, still a relatively young man. Have a look at the inscription on the neighbouring McCulloch of Woodside tablestone:

Here lys the body / of DONALD McCULLOCH some time / taksman in / Wood-side who died the 3 day of / August 1723 / And his spouse / MARY McKENZIE / who died the / 26 day of Janury 1733 / Also their son / WILLIAM McULLOCH / He died Augt 1763 / & his spouse LILLIAS / McKENZIE she died / March 1773 & their / son DONALD / McULLOCH he died / at Woodside the / 6 day of June 1790 / aged 41 years

The inscription on this slab is packed in tightly and Donald was the last to be included on it. On the siblings’ stone, as I say, young Andrew who died in 1815 is referred to as the son of the late Donald Mcculloch farmer at Woodside. I think we can safely assume the two Donald McCullochs of Woodside are the same. We therefore have a family tree derived from the gravestones and the parish register as follows.

Donald McCulloch (–1723)=Mary Mckenzie (–1733)
tacksman in Woodside
William McCulloch (–1763)=Lillias McKenzie (–1773) (the parents of McCulloch the Mechanician)
in Woodside
Donald McCulloch (c1749–1790)=Margaret Hood
farmer at Woodside
Andrew McCulloch (1776–1815)   Catherine McCulloch (1784–1817)=1814=Adam Hood (1764–1837)

The farmstead and fields of Woodside, looking across Udale Bay to Kirkmichael on the left; photo: Jim Mackay

Of the siblings, we know much more about Catherine than we do about Andrew. Her marriage to Adam Hood is recorded in both the Cromarty and Inverness marriage registers.

Cromarty Marriages
July 26th 1814 Adam Hood House Carpenter in Inverness and Catharine McCulloch at Woodside were contracted
Inverness Marriages
July 1814 29th. Hood Adam Hood Squire Wright Catharine McCulloch married by Mr. Smith at Cromarty

A square-wright, according to the Dictionary of the Scots Language, was a carpenter, specifically one who makes furniture, but given Adam was also at times called wright or house carpenter, I think simply “carpenter” probably best describes his trade. There is a record of one child baptised to Adam and Catharine:

Inverness Baptisms
July 18th 1815 Adam Hood Wright and his Spouse Catharine McCulloch had a child baptized by the Revd. Mr. Alexr. Fraser named Andrew, witnesses George McKenzie and Colin McArthur

And then, tragically, Catherine died, passing away on 9 May 1817. I have been unable to discover what happened to young Andrew, but Adam re-married.


Adam Hood (1764–1837)

Adam Hood is unusual in that he is commemorated on two adjacent gravestones in the same graveyard, Chapel Yard, in Inverness, in connection with his first and third wives. I am indebted to the Highland Family History Society for their transcriptions of the memorials of Chapel Yard for the following.

Small headstone
1793: In memory of Adam HOOD, wright, Inverness, and his spouse Kethren MUNRO & their [children]
Sacred to the memory of Adam HOOD, house carpenter and elder in the Parish of Inverness, born at Cromarty 12th Decr 1764, died at Inverness 11th March 1837; and his wife Catherine Munro, who died Novr. 1812. Erected by his wife Ann Munro 1837. In memory of the above Ann Munro, who died 27th June 1843; also Catherine SLORAH, who died 29th Sepr 1845.

There are three more Hood stones adjacent to these to which we shall return.

If we look at his marriage to Catherine (Kethren) Munro first, they had six children in Inverness, Donald (1793), Ann (1795), Isaac (1798), Margaret (1900), Catherine (Keatherine) (1805) and a second Margaret (1808). The small headstone bearing date 1793 I think must have been erected on the death of Donald, born that year. The second memorial, a slab, was erected by his third wife, Ann Munro, and identifies that his first wife, Catherine Munro, died in 1812. As we know, he married Catherine McCulloch in 1814 but sadly she passed away on 9 May 1817; she isn’t mentioned at all. I shall return to the reason why Ann mentions the first wife but not the second.

Adam married for a third time later that same year, seven months after the death of Catherine Mculloch:

Inverness Marriages 1817
December … 13th Adam Hood wright and Ann Munro

It may seem short notice, but Adam would have been keen to have a mother for his young children. There were to be no children recorded to his third wife. Of course, there may have been and they simply weren’t recorded in the baptism register, but given he was a church elder it seems very unlikely that they would not have been both baptised and recorded as baptised.

Given that he was an elder, almost certainly there will be more information about him in the relevant Kirk Session minutes. The Old High Kirk Session minutes are held digitally by the National Records of Scotland under CH2/720/13 (1750–1824) and CH2/720/14 (1824–1848) and in paper at the Highland Archives Centre in Inverness.

Assorted carpenter’s hand tools

I see occasional mentions of Adam Hood in the press in his tradesman’s capacity, i.e. that of a wright or carpenter. Adam died in 1837, whilst his third wife, who had erected the slab, died in 1843, so survived past the 1841 Census. We can be sure that this is she, as she is present in the family of Robert and Margaret Slorah, and you will note that one of the Slorah family is in fact recorded on the Hood family slab. The connection of course is that Robert’s wife was in fact Margaret Slorah ms Hood, and I think that is why when Ann had the memorial carved for her husband she had the first wife mentioned – because she was living with the daughter of that first union.

1841 Census Return, East side of Church Street, family of Robert Slorah, merchant
Ann Hood [age, rounded] 70 [occupation] Ind [born in county] no

If Ann Hood ms Munro was approximately 70 in 1841, she would have been approximately 46 in 1817 when she married Adam Hood, which makes the lack of children to the couple understandable. I have not attempted to follow the children of the first marriage, between Adam and Catherine Munro, although I note that Margaret Hood married Robert Slorah in 1826, Ann Hood married one Donald Munro in 1827, and Catherine Hood married one Donald Urquhart in 1828.


Adam Hood’s antecedents

We have Adam’s third wife to thank for his vital dates: “Sacred to the memory of Adam HOOD, house carpenter and elder in the Parish of Inverness, born at Cromarty 12th Decr 1764, died at Inverness 11th March 1837.” Well done, Ann!

Cromarty Baptism Register
Decr. 12th. Adam L.S. to Isaac Hood & Anne Forrester 1764

In reality, the entry on the baptism register is squeezed into a tiny gap at the top of the page so that the name “Forrester” is none too clear, but in the context of the other members of the family it is indubitably correct. There were Thomas (1752), Alexander (1755), Andrew (1756), Katharine (1762) and Adam (1764). I include entries for both Thomas and Katharine as they show the movement of Isaac Hood over the period:

Cromarty Baptism Register
1752 … Dec. 6th was born Thomas Lawll. son to Isaac Hood farmer in Meickl Farness and Anne Forrester his wife
1762 … March 24 Katharine L.D. to Isaac Hood and Ann Forrester in Achnagary bap.

Achnagary lies beside Woodside where the McCullochs resided, so we now have an explanation as to why Adam Hood, working in Inverness but hailing from Achnagary married Catherine McCulloch of Woodside. Indeed, there were for a long time McCullochs in Achnagary as well, and one of the most distinctive tablestones in Kirkmichael is that of McCulloch of Achnagary.

Woodside, Achnagary and Farness were farms on the Estate of Cromarty, an Estate that was constantly in flux as the fortunes of the Urquhart proprietors waxed and waned. The factor back in the 1740s and 1750s was John Gorry, who often crops up in these stories as he also acted as factor for the Newhall Estate and other land owned by the Gordon family. In the Urquhart papers held in Craigston Castle there are dozens of documents involving Gorry relating to management of the Cromarty Estate, the movements of tenants between farms and the finances of the tenants. We can see in these that Isaac Hood was both mason and farming tenant, and held land in various locations including Peddieston, Farness and Achnagarry.

Estate document 1750
Sir Invergordon 8d [sic] February 1750
… To Isaac Hood mason in Pedestown …
Estate document 1750
1750 … To Isaac Hood … town & lands of Wester & Meikle Farness as the same is sett off & marched by Kenneth McCulloch in Farnes James May & James Glen servants to the said John Urquhart to be bounded by …
Estate document 1752
Rentall of Lands taken off from Isaac Hoods possession of Farness & Added to Ken: McCulloch 1752 …
Rentall of the Land in the parish of Cromarty bought from Mr. Belshies 1753

E. Farness Isaac Hood 16 Bolls Bear .…
Low do. K. McCulloch 10 Bolls …
Bill of Arrear due by the Tennants … Cropt 1757 and preceedings

Woodside … Willm. McCulloch 27.10.7 7/

Achnagarry Isaac Hood … Widow McCulloch 9.5.3 1/

From these you can see how closely associated the Hoods and the McCullochs were. A most interesting paper (Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries Scotland, 116 (1986), pages 455–472) entitled “The biging on Allertown: a reconstruction of an 18th-century farmhouse and steading in Cromarty” by H Gordon Slade looks at the farms on the Estate of Cromarty, the process of agricultural improvement and the structure of the buildings on one of the farmsteads on the Cromarty Estate. One of the Craigston papers that Slade quotes dates from 1757.

Inventory of the Biging [building] on the Possession of Allertown on Low Farness lately possessed by Kenneth MacCulloch and now let to Hugh MacCulloch and James Glen Comprised at the Desire of Mr John Gorry factor and the said Kenneth MacCulloch by the following Comprizers – Donald Robson, Mason in Cromarty, James Gleig, Smith there, George Simpson, Gardner there, John Keith, Wright there, Thos. Thomson, Tennant in Pedistown, and John Pedison, Tennant in Davidstown, chosen by the said Mr John Gorry. And Isaac Hood, Mason and Farmer in Achnagarry, Donald Sanderson, Wright in Cromarty, Donald Roberston, Smith in Farness, John Watson, Tennant in Bogneelstown by the said Kenneth MacCulloch

Quite a few farmers mentioned there are buried in Kirkmichael! But note that Isaac had been asked by Kenneth McCulloch to be one of his representatives in the evaluation of the farm of Allertown (nowadays Allerton).


Isaac Hood’s Parents

The commonest error found in family histories is assuming a child born with the right name at approximately the right time is the missing link for whom you have been searching. The parents get absorbed into the family tree, other researchers uncritically copy what you’ve done and the error is perpetuated. I’ve seen this happen with Donald Mackenzies, John Munros, Isabel Rosses and other popular Highland names. I say this as it is very tempting to assume that the Isaac Hood who occurs in the following record is our Isaac:

Cromarty Baptism Register
1724 … April 15th Isaac L.S. to Thomas Hood in Peddistoun & Margaret Urquhart his spouse was baptized in face of the Congregation

Our Isaac Hood and Anne Forrester had children baptised from 1752 to 1764. A birth date of 1724 for Isaac would therefore be fine. It is tempting to say therefore that Isaac Hood’s parents were Thomas Hood and Margaret Urquhart, but I shall resist until some confirmation is forthcoming.

It would be great if it could be confirmed if these were indeed our Isaac’s parents as there is a super story associated with them. Margaret Urquhart was the daughter of proprietor John Urquhart of Kinbeachie, and there are two very striking tablestones in Rosemarkie kirkyard memorialising Thomas Hood and Margaret Urquhart, and Thomas Hood their son who died aged only 22 in 1730 (this one having strong similarities to the Elphinston tablestone in Kirkmichael).

One of the Hood tablestones in Rosemarkie; photo courtesy of Harry and Joan Clyne

Picture of the other Hood tablestone in Rosemarkie to go in here

Thomas Hood had loaned Margaret’s brother, Thomas Urquhart of Kinbeachie, a substantial sum of money with Kinbeachie as collateral. And in that context, there are two sasines involving Thomas Hood “Tacksman in Peddistoun” (RS38//8 folio 522 and RS38/9 folio 76) and I have a copy of the second. It is the actual transfer in 1736 of ownership of Kinbeachie to Thomas Hood upon the non-payment of the loan by Thomas Urquhart to Thomas Hood.

Watch this space!


Chapel Yard, Inverness

Adam Hood’s two memorials lie beside each other in Chapel Yard. There are three more Hood stones beside them. Again, thanks to the Highland Family History Society for the following inscriptions.

Small slab, under turf
A H – M B : 1831
Erected by Alexander HOOD, baker, Inverness in memory of his beloved wife Ann MACDONALD, who died on 7th Novr. 1855, aged 28 years. She was loved and respected living and mourned and regretted dead. Also their children Alexander and Mary, who both died in infancy; and in memory of the said [Alexander] HOOD [who died 15th. Octr] 1857.
Small slab, under turf
A H – M B : 1831

Given their proximity to Adam Hood’s stones, these families must be related. The following death certificates provide the starting points.

Inverness Register of Deaths
Alexander Hood baker (married) 15 Oct 1857 at Baron Taylors Lane age 33 parents Alexander Hood, house carpenter Mary Hood ms Bremner [cause of death and duration] Intemperance, Poisoned by Whisky. Many Months. Certified by John Wilson M.D. who saw deceased October 16th. buried Chapel Yard of Inverness Certified by John Martin Sexton. Informant Alexr. Hood father of deceased present
Alexander Hood house carpenter (master) (married to Mary Bremner) died 24 May 1876 at 25 Friars Street Inverness age 76 parents Alexander Hood farmer (d) Ann Hood ms [blank] (d) informant Caroline Chisholm daughter present

Clearly then, the poor fellow who died of whisky poisoning (perhaps in sorrow from having lost his wife a couple of years earlier) is the subject of the headstone. And the initials on the two small slabs are those of his parents, carpenter Alexander Hood and Mary Bremner, who had purchased the stones in 1831. Alexander and Mary were married in Cromarty in 1823:

Cromarty marriage register
21 Feby. 1823 Alexander Hood, Wright at Peddiston & Mary Bremner at Davidstown were married

This however does not help us in establishing a link with Adam Hood. The unhelpful daughter who could not recall her paternal grandmother’s maiden name has not helped the situation, as all we know is that the grandfather was Alexander Hood and the grandmother was Ann. However, I note:

Cromarty baptisms
1797 … July 7th Alexander Hood farmer in Peddistown had by his spouse Anne Thomson a child baptised named Alexander – witnesses David Henderson & Thomas Anderson Farmer in Navity born the 3rd Inst.

It is not guaranteed, but it seems very likely that these are the parents of the Alexander Hood who married Mary Bremner, and whose slabs bearing the initials A H – M B lie next to Adam Hood’s in Chapel Yard.

The working theory is that the Alexander Hood who married Anne Thomson was the Alexander born to Isaac Hood and Anne Forrester in 1755. Their son would have moved up to Inverness to work with his uncle Adam in the carpentry business, and the two were buried beside each other in Chapel Yard. However, in the absence of supporting records this can remain only that: a theory.


Finishing touch

The brother and sister linked by a heart on the tablestone at Kirkmichael were two lives cut short. We don’t know much about Andrew McCulloch, who died aged only 39, but we know that Catherine McCulloch, who died aged only 33, had everything to look forward to: her own family, a successful husband, life in the Highland capital, only to have it snatched away by an early death.

I have highlighted heart and initials of Andrew McCulloch and his sister Catherine Hood ms McCulloch as they have largely been lost through erosion and spalling


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