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

The Scott and Campbell families of Auchmartin, Cullicudden and Newmills

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


The Scott family and the Parish of Resolis

Of the 19 baptism records in Ross and Cromarty up to the year 1800 of children surnamed Scott, only four were not in the Parish of Resolis. And of those four, one was to a couple who had just moved out of Resolis into the Parish of Alness! You can see how closely Scott as a family is associated with Resolis. Kirkmichael has been the family’s burial ground for 300 years.

There are still members of the family resident in the parish, although this Story will not intrude on more modern branches of the Scotts.

The earliest date associated with the family of Scott of Auchmartin is 1727, the date on a slab in Kirkmichael. Dates on these old slabs more often commemorate when a lair or slab was purchased than a vital record. The family was associated with this farm of Auchmartin, beside Balblair, for two generations and then returned to Auchmartin when a Campbell married a Scott daughter and took over the farm. The name of Auchmartin suggests an association with the old church at St Martins five miles to the west – Ach is Gaelic for a field, and perhaps the land at Auchmartin was owned by the church at one time.

The four (or more accurately three and a half) Scott memorials; photo by Jim Mackay

Memorial to the first Alexander Scott of Auchmartin and his two wives; photo by Andrew Dowsett

The inscription and the date on the memorial to the second Alexander Scott of Auchmartin and his spouse Isobel Maclean; photos by Jim Mackay


Alexander Scott tenant in Auchmartin=1. Kathrin Davidson=2. Jannet Simson

The first paper record of the Scotts in Auchmartin comes in the marriage register:

7 July 1750 Donald Urquhart tenent in Wester Balblair & Jannet Scot daughter to Alexr Scot tenent in Achmartins

This was the first in a series of records of the children of Alexander Scott tenant in Auchmartin being married, usually to those in the same social stratum of farming tenants, substantial citizens:

5 Dec 1755 Thomas Urquhart son to Robert Urquhart tenent in Knocktoback & Ann Scot daughter to Alexander Scot tenent in Achmartains
9 Jul 1756 Alexander Scot son to Alexr Scot tenent in Achmartins & Isobel McLean daughter to David McLean tenent in Brea deceast
1 Jul 1758 John Scot son to Alexander Scot tenent in Achmartins & Kathraine Simson daughter to Alexander Simson tennent in Cullicuden
9 Jul 1762 Thomas Fraser son to Thomas Fraser taxman in Balblair & Kathraine Scot daughter to Alexr Scot tenent Achmartins

The baptism record for Resolis has not survived before the 1750s, so this later marriage record acts as a substitute, indicating that the children of the first Alexander Scott of Auchmartin were born in the 1720s and 1730s.

There are two whole slabs, a half slab and a substantial headstone in a tight group of Scott stones in Kirkmichael. The complete slabs are well buried and the half slab actually supports the headstone so the information on the family was hard to come by. However, the more southerly complete slab (spotted in blue in the group above) reads:


We cannot be sure to which of the two wives the children listed above were born. It is tempting to think that Kathrin Davidson, the first wife, died about 1727 and this stimulated Alexander to obtain lair and slab. This would suggest that the children marrying in the 1750s, such as son Alexander in 1756, would have been born to his second wife, Jannet Simson, but we have as yet no confirmatory evidence.

In 1736, an Alexander Scot Tennant in Bellblair acted for Sir William Gordon of Invergordon in implementing a sasine relating to the land of Bog Farness in the Barony of Cromarty, as in the sasine extract given below. Was this a separate tenant of the Newhall Estate, or was this the first Alexander Scott of Auchmartin before he took up the Auchmartin tenancy? Or even just being named Tennant in Bellblair because, as well as Auchmartin, he was tenanting land at adjacent Balblair, just as his son did? This last seems likely and if so indicates a long association of the Scotts with the Gordon family – Sir William Gordon of Invergordon, son Charles Hamilton Gordon of Newhall and grandson William Gordon of Newhall.

Extract from RS38/9/69 recto featuring Alexander Scot in 1736

We have, as can be seen, very little information on the life of this first Alexander Scott of Auchmartin. However, we can do better with his son, the second Alexander Scott of Auchmartin.


Alexander Scott=1756=Isobel Maclean

Eldest son Alexander and his spouse Isobel Maclean took over at Auchmartin, and their children included Margret (1757), Alexander (1759), David (1762), Jannet (1765), Isoble (1767), Anne (1770) and Ann again (1774), with Alexander being recorded as tenant or tacksman in Auchmartin in each case.

This second Alexander also has a slab, immediately to the north of that of his father (spotted in green in the group above):


The slab is a narrow one and this may have contributed to the omission of so many vowels. But only unfamiliarity with the written language can account for the N being reversed!

As mentioned, a simple year like the 1772 in this case on these slabs does not necessarily mean that either person named on the slab actually died in that year.

From the 1750s onwards, Alexander Scott of Auchmartin is well documented in the records. He appears in the Newhall Estate rentals of the period, from 1755 through to 1782. He initially has just Auchmartin but accumulates other tenancies with time. The difficulty is knowing when the subject is father and when it is son.

Alexander Scott also appears in the Judiciall Rentall of Newhall in October 1762, his testimony recorded in the neat handwriting of William Macleay, then acting as Clerk to John Gorry, the estate factor, but who would go on to great things later in life. The deposition is signed by Alexander Scott, and if other examples of handwriting of father and son could be located it would be possible to confirm which of them held the tack.

Compeared Alexander Scott Tennant in Achmartin who being Solemnly Sworn and Interrogate Depones that he pays yearly for his possession in Achmartin eleven Bolls two firlots victual, with a merk pr. Boll in lieu of Service, one penny pr. Boll in lieu of vicarage Teinds, one Wedder and twelve Hens as pr. Tack, And further depones that he pays for his possession in Wester Ballblair pr. Tack seven Bolls and one firlot victual, one penny pr. Boll in lieu of vicarage teinds, The above Rents conform to and in terms of a Tack produced by the Deponent Entered into betwixt the said Mr Charles Hamilton Gordon and him dated the nineteenth day of October 1754 for the space of Nineteen years from and after the term of Whitsunday said year and which Tack is returned to the Deponent. And further Depones that he possesses without Tack that Croft in Achmartin lately possesst by William Urquhart deceast, And for which the Deponent pays three firlots victual, and one merk Scots in lieu of service, Depones that he also possesses in Wester Ballblair without Tack of Donald Paterso’s late possession, half a Boll farm, one Wedder and six Hens and forty pennies Scots in lieu of service and half penny for victual of said half Boll, Depones that he has one Mailler, Call’d Isabell Grigor a Widow woman, who Shears to him and some other Days Services, for which he gives her ten pecks victual yearly and her meal while at work, that he supports her little House upon his own Expence, and leads her fireing for which she pays the Deponent Two merks and three Hens yearly, Depones that the other mailler Donald Aird Shears to him in return to which the Deponent gives him three firlots and a merk being the Rent of William Urquhart’s Croft abovementioned, Depones that the half Boll of Paterson’s land in Wester Ballblair abovementioned is for that Angle or Spott of Ground at the South East Corner of Robert Rosse’s late possession in Newhall where the Camulty Burn turns Southward, And all is truth as he shall answer to God. [signed] Alexr Scot / Jo: Gorry / Willm MacLeay Clk.

Alexander thus entered into a 19 year tack with the laird, advocate Charles Hamilton Gordon of Newhall, in 1754. I believe Alexander Senior was alive in 1762 (the marriage records of his children in this period do not say “deceast” (and do in one case say “deceast” in relation to the father of the spouse). However, as I say, a comparison of handwriting samples would clarify this.

The lands of Auchmartin and Balblair tenanted by Alexander Scott

You will have noted that Scott had picked up quite a few additional areas of land to Auchmartin, although it is difficult to work out exactly where all of these were located. The area identified as the corner where the Camulty Burn turns Southward can, however, be identified, although even that can be questioned – the burn was re-routed to avoid Newhall House and feed the mill dam for Gordons Mills.

The Camilty Burn turning south at Newhall

I see on the Newhall Rental of 1771 an intriguing note: “Alexr. Scot, Auchmartin (*20 B. Oats to S. J. G.) 113” – the initials “S.J.G.” at this time are likely to be those of Sir John Gordon of Invergordon, the uncle of William Gordon of Newhall. Why there should be a direct rent agreement with Sir John I do not know although Sir John was closely involved with Newhall in the transition of the estate from Charles Hamilton Gordon to Hamilton Gordon’s son William.

The tenancy of Auchmartin, following the demise of Alexander Scott, passed away from the Scotts, although a later connection was re-established when descendant Helen Scott and her husband James Campbell took over. I’m sure this was no coincidence. In the meantime, other tenants of note included John Holm (whose spouse was Isobel Barnet) and is addressed in the Story behind the Stone entitled “H is for Holm” and tacksman Isaac Simpson (whose spouse was Margaret McLean), about whom a story will be written one day.

The third Alexander Scott in this story, Alexander Scott of Cullicudden, is assumed to be the son of Alexander Scott and Isobel Maclean, born in 1759, and various web references give this as an established fact. I have not seen the hard evidence to confirm this. It is very likely, but not definite. His descendants are memorialised on the headstone that sits beside the two Alexander Scott slabs in Kirkmichael. This in itself is strongly suggestive but not proof.

With that caveat in mind, let us look at Alexander Scott, who was a tenant farmer in Cullicudden.


Alexander Scott=1.=Anne Thomson=2.=Helen Urquhart (1772–1857)

He married twice, to Anne Thomson and Helen Urquhart, and had children by both. We can at least confirm it was the same Alexander Scott who married both from a little detective work on signatures which I will set out in due course.

18 Sep 1790 Alexander Scot mealer in Cullicudden & Anne Thomson – Cathrine
28 Jan 1794 Alexander Scott tenant Cullicudden & Anne Thomson – John
6 Sep 1796 Alexr. Scot tenant Cullicudden & Helen Urquhart – Helen
14 Sep 1798 Alexander Scot tenant in Cullicudden & Helen Urquhart – John
23 Apr 1801 Alexander Scott farmer in Cullicudden & Hellen Urquhart – Alexander

I assume from the pattern of baptisms that Anne Thomson must have died in 1794 or 1795 and Alexander re-married soon after her death. Several of his children, and Helen Urquhart herself, survived through to civil registration of deaths and hence are well documented.

Helen’s death certificate identifies her parents:

Helen Scott (widow) (wife of a farmer) 8 Nov 1857 Cullicudden 84 years John Urquhart farmer (deceased) Helen Urquhart maiden name Holm Churchyard of Kirkmichael as certified by William Holm sexton informant John Scott son (present).

Her parents were in fact tenants in St Martins in the parish of Resolis.

The daughter of Alexander Scott, tenant in Cullicudden, and Helen Urquhart, Helen Scott, returned to Auchmartin, while son John continued to farm in Cullicudden. We shall come back to Helen.

And the evidence that confirms that the Alexander Scotts to whom Anne Thomson and Helen Urquhart were married were the one and the same Alexander Scott? It comes from signatures of John Scott on the death certificate of Helen Scott ms Urquhart in 1857, where he signed as informant “John Scott son”, and on the death certificate of Catherine Scott (whose parents were Alexander Scott and Anne Thomson) in 1858 “informant John Scott brother”. It may seem pedantic, but it pays to check every step of the way.

John Scott acts as informant for his mother Helen Urquhart and his sister, born to Anne Thomson, and thereby proves they were both wives of the same Alexander Scott


David Scott (1762–) in Kirkton, Resolis, and Coul, Alness

This story principally concerns the Scotts of Auchmartin, but I shall briefly touch on David Scott of Kirkton as he was one of the more important farmers in the area and was, I assume, the son of the second Alexander Scott of Auchmartin and Isobel Maclean. In the Farm Horse Tax records (E.326/10/1 No. 9), a tax introduced in 1797 but soon abandoned, there were within the parish only four people identified: the lairds of Braelangwell, Poyntzfield and Newhall – and David Scott of Kirkton.

He must have been living beyond his means, though, as be borrowed money from (unfortunately for him) the very hard-headed minister of Resolis, the Reverend Robert Arthur. Arthur took him to court to try to recover his money. David by this time was farming at Coul, in the parish of Alness. We can tell when he relocated, as he and wife Anne Murray had two children baptised in Resolis (John in 1793 and Isobel in 1795) and then one in Alness (Anny in 1798). I found the papers of this case in Foulis Castle, in the records which Hector Munro of Foulis more recently has deposited with the Highland Archives in Inverness. Robert Arthur was pursuing David Scott for his money. One of the documents is signed, or, rather, marked, by one Isobel Maclean, I presume David’s mother (and commemorated on one of the slabs at Kirkmichael). The document is on legally stamped paper, bearing note “Bill Isbell McLean on David Scott 1799”.

[first side]
Pay the within Contents to the Revd Mr Robert Arthur at Resolis
Isobel her IML mark McLean
Newhall 13th July 1799. Recd from David Urqt Esqr of Braelangwell ten pounds twelve shillings and one penny Str on accot. of David Scot by me Robt Arthur
Resolis 23d May 1808. Pay the Ballance of the within Contents to your Sister Ann Scot on her order– Robt. Arthur
£71.9.1½    Resolis March 18th 1799
At or before the term of Martinmas Jaivij and ninety nine years within the Manse of Resolis pay to me or my order the sum of seventy one poinds nine shillings and one penny halfpenny Str for value Received–
To David Scot Tenent in Coul of Teaninich Alness    Isobel her IML mark McLean / Accepts David Scott
26 Feb. 1800 / Retd. for not payt. Witnesses N. U.t W.C. W.R. N.P.

I confess I cannot quite work out what the full story behind this substantial debt was but what you are seeing is laird David Urquhart of Braelangwell partly repaying the debt owed by the Scotts to the minister. A further document is headed “The Heirs of the Revd Robert Arthur in Account Current with the Heirs of Widow Ann Scott Auchmtn.” confirming that these are indeed the Scotts of Auchmartin who were involved. The document is a long account of debts owed to Arthur and includes the debit and credit associated with partial payments of the debt and expenses incurred trying to reccover the debt commencing in 1798 and ending in 1821! That is the year when Robert Arthur died and his heirs took on the task of recovering the debt.

The document includes one section stating:

1799 July To Amount received in part of David Scotts Bill p £71.9.9½ say £10.12.1 and in part of £20 lent Widow Scott pr my Bill to relieve David £14.

This confirms the debt was incurred to relieve financial pressure on David himself. The references to Widow Scott go on to 1812.


John Scott (1798–1870)=1837=Elizabeth McPhail (1813–1890)

Amongst the children of Alexander Scott of Cullicudden and his two wives was John Scott who farmed after his father Alexander at what became known as Dell Farm in Cullicudden. His lineage is confirmed by his death certificate:

John Scott farmer (married to Elizabeth McPhail) died 3 May 1870 at Cullicudden aged 72 parents Alexander Scott farmer (d) Helen Scott ms Urquhart (d) informant John Scott son (present)

John had married Elizabeth McPhail in 1837, as recorded in both Resolis (banns) and Urquhart (the ceremony) marriage registers:

Resolis 10 Feb 1837John Scott in this p. & Elizabeth McPhail in the p. of Urquhart …
Urquhart Feby 28th. John Scott, parish of Resolis, and Betsy Macphail, Dugarry by Revd. Jo. Macdonald.

Only a few of their children had progeny of their own. There were Ann (1838–), John (1840–1904), Donald (1842–1862), David (1844–), Elizabeth (1846–1904), James (1848–1876), William (1851–1929), Evan (1853–1935) and Mary (1856–1856).

Of the children who survived to adulthood:

John married Mary Campbell and is dealt with separately below.
Donald worked on the farm and died a young man, unmarried.
Elizabeth married Murdo Macdonald, crofter in Sheeppark, and their descendants still farm there. “Scott” became a popular middle name with the family.
James was a draper and died a young man, unmarried.
William suffered from mental issues and did not marry.
Evan married Annie Ross and is dealt with separately below.

Elizabeth McPhail died in 1890, at the home of her daughter Elizabeth McDonald, ms Scott:

Elizabeth Scott (widow of John Scott, farmer) died 21 January 1890 at Sheep-park aged 76 parents Alexander McPhail farmer (d) Ann McPhail ms Finlayson (d) informant Murdo McDonald son-in-law (present)

Those pursuing Elisabeth‘s parents will need to beware the “alias” trap which crops up so often in the area – her baptism record is under the name of Mackintosh!

1813 … Decr. … 7th Elizabeth, l.d. to Alexr. Mackintosh, or McPhail, Servant Conanside, & to his wife Ann Finlayson

Following her death, there ensued one of those unfortunate sibling law-suits that are so common, between Elizabeth, wife of Murdo Macdonald in Sheeppark, and John, who was farming at the Dell Farm in Cullicudden. Elizabeth won, and John the following year became bankrupt. The Ross-shire Journal of 15th December 1893 summarised the case:

Resolis– Dispute about a £50 Bill.– Sheriff Hill has just issued his interlocutor in a case at the instance of Mrs Elizabeth Macdonald, (as her mother’s executrix), wife of Murdo Macdonald, Sheep Park, Resolis, Invergordon, against her brother, John Scott, farmer, Resolis, for recovery of £52 odds, being the amount of a bill granted by defender’s mother for his accommodation, which was paid by her on maturity, the defence pled being donation. The following is the interlocutor:–
Dingwall, 8th December, 1893. / The Sheriff-Substitute having heard parties’ procurators on the proof and cause, finds (1) that Mrs Scott, mother of the pursuer and defender, died on 21st January, 1890, and that the pursuer, as her executrix dative, duly confirmed, and is now realizing her estate; (2) that in the beginning of November, 1896, Mrs Scott granted for the defender’s accommodation a bill at four months for £52 13s 7d, and said bill was discounted by him at the North of Scotland Bank, Invergordon; (3) that when the said bill fell due in March, 1887, it was renewed, the name of Evan Scott, the brother of defender, being substituted in the renewal for that of Mrs Scott; (4) that this bill was thereafter paid out of the money belonging to Mrs Scott in the deposit receipt; (5) finds that the defender has failed to prove that the said payment was made as a donation to him by Mrs Scott; further, as regards his contra account, finds (6) that defender’s claim for board and lodging for Mrs Scott is withdrawn, and that his claim for pigs supplied to her is restricted to £1; (7) finds it admitted by the defender that during Mrs Scott’s life he had never had any intention of making a charge against her for any of the items in his contra account; therefore (8) finds that he is not entitled to claim payment of them now from her executrix. Decerns agains him in terms of the conclusion made in the petition; finds the defender liable in expenses; allows an account thereof to be lodged in process, and remits the same to the auditor to tax and report…

The subsequent sequestration of John Scott in 1894 can be found in the Edinburgh Gazette and the newspapers of the day. Despite this setback, though, John Scott continued to farm the Dell Farm in Cullicudden.


John Scott (1840–1904)=Mary Campbell (c1847–1919)

Dell Farm is situated in Cullicudden, at the bottom of what is now called Dell Road (at the top of which I reside). An early photograph of the farmhouse and steading shows how completely transformed it became. At one time the buildings for farm workers and livestock were numerous. This early image is fascinating in the detail it provides of farmworkers’ bothies, animal quarters, barns and the farmhouse itself. It was a hamlet in itself. The background shows it definitely is Cullicudden but I confess that the layout is so different from more recent times that I did have a suspicion it might be a neighbouring farmstead!

The farmstead of Scott of Cullicudden; image courtesy of the Scott family

The modern day Dell farmhouse; photo by Jim Mackay

As I say, John Scott went through bankruptcy proceedings in 1894, but somehow succeeded in pulling through. He continued to farm at Dell Farm, where he and his family can be seen in 1901. All of the occupants are given as born in Resolis except Elsie Watson, who was born in Cromarty.

John Scott head mar 61 farmer G&E
Mary Scott wife mar 51 farmer’s wife G&E
John A. Scott son 17 farmer’s son
Margaret A. Scott daur 14 scholar / Elizabeth K. Scott daur 13 scholar / William Scott brother s 50 Infirmities: Imbecile / Elsie Watson servt. s 24 general servant domestic / John Melville serv. s 29 farm servant

John Scott’s obituary in the Ross-shire Journal of 15th January 1904 tells of the shock he had received from the death of his brother-in-law:

Death of Mr John Scott, Cullicudden.– We regret to have to announce the death of Mr John Scott, farmer, Cullicudden, which took place on Saturday after a short illness. It is supposed that he took to heart the sudden death of his brother-in-law, Mr Campbell, merchant, Jemimaville, and in consequence took to his bed, which ended as above. He leaves a wife and family to lament his sad loss. Mr Scott entered upon the farm of Cullicudden on the death of his father several years ago. Much sympathy is felt for his bereaved family.

The effect of the shock is confirmed by his death certificate:

John Scott farmer married to Mary Campbell died 9 January 1904 at Cullicudden Resolis aged 64 parents John Scott farmer (d) Elizabeth Scott ms McPhail (d) Acute Mania as certified by Richd. G Dick M.B. & C.M. informant John A. Scott son (present)

The large, grey granite headstone commemorating John Scott, his wife Mary Campbell and their family stands beside the two Scott slabs at Kirkmichael. And, more surprisingly, it stands on top of half of another Scott slab.

photo by Jim Mackay

[North face] In / loving memory / of / JOHN SCOTT, / farmer Cullicudden / died 9th Jan 1904 / aged 64 years. / Also his wife / MARY CAMPBELL / died 30th Sept 1919, / aged 72 years. / Also their daughter / ELIZABETH CATHERINE / died 6th Jan 1960 / aged 72 years. / Erected by / his wife and family.
[base] Blessed are the dead that / die in the Lord. From hence / forth they rest from their / labours, and their works / do follow them.
[West face] Also / their only son / JOHN ALEXANDER SCOTT / farmer, Cullicudden, / died 19th January / 1945, / in his 62nd year. / And his wife / ISABELLA McCULLOCH / who died at / Jemimaville / on 23rd Nov. 1956 / aged 73 years.

His son, John A. Scott continued with Dell Farm, but as this story is straying too much into the recent past we will stop there.


Evan Scott (1853–1935)=1890=Annie Ross (1863–1952)

Evan Scott is the most documented of the family because he undertook the role of clerk in several contexts such as the School Board. Wisely he himself rarely got involved in the activities he was recording. Evan occupied the holding at Newmills, to the east of the mill, on the north side of the public road, where he also operated a general merchant’s business. And he acted as an enumerator for several census years, so you will often see his name on the Census returns if you are studying the history of the parish.

He married Annie Ross, whose heritage pops up in numerous stories within this series.

4 July 1890 at Fortrose after publication according to the Forms of the Free Church of Scotland
Evan Scott, General Merchant (Bachelor) 36 Newmills, Parish of Resolis parents John Scott Farmer (d) Elizabeth Scott ms McPhail (d)
Annie Ross, Assistant Teacher in Newhall Public School (Spinster) 26 Braelangwell, Parish of Resolis parents Hugh Ross Farmer Ann Ross ms Barnett
(signed) Charles Falconer F.C. Minister, Fortrose (signed) M. Campbell witness L.G. Lawson, witness

In the 1891 Census return he and Elizabeth are by themselves in their house at Newmills, he described as “general merchant”, but subsequent returns show a burgeoning family. The house at Newmills had once been the parish schoolhouse, rendered redundant after the opening of the Education Act schools at Cullicudden and Newhall in the 1870s. The building itself had been the subject of an extraordinarily bitter legal dispute in 1883 and 1884 between the School Board and the laird of Newhall, which the Board eventually won at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. The case divided the parish and left the School Board with substantial legal expenses. Evan, of course, was Clerk of the School Board at the time but his voice is not heard in the strident arguments back and forth.

The former school at Newmills; thanks to Angus Bethune for the loan of this old postcard

The one time that Evan speaks up is when his professionalism was attacked. This is from the Ross-shire Journal of 20 March 1885:

Mr Scott here asked to be allowed to read a statement in self-defence as to remarks that had been made at the previous night’s meeting at Cullicudden, and rumours that he believed were in circulation through the parish. The statement proceeded– I am aware some of those present at Cullicudden meeting were under the impression that I have been making mistakes, as clerk to the School Board. I may say that I have heard some remarks passed at the meeting last night, reflecting upon my conduct as officer of the Board; but everybody was so busy speaking that I got no chance to edge in a word in my defence. (Applause.) All I can say with regard to this is that the Education Compulsory Act is entirely discarded by the Board, and they have framed compulsory rules of their own to which I have adhered as the minutes will prove. You would also have heard last night that Newhall school lost £20 of a grant by neglect of the clerk. If those present took notice of the date (1879), I need not explain that I was not in office at the time. I would also like to say a few words with reference to the £40 8s 2d of law expenses. Certain members of the Board say that there are no law expenses paid for this year, and preaching through the country that it is a mistake the clerk has made in his books. Now this is incorrect, as the books and receipts which I have here will show. My cash account and receipts are yearly examined, and certified to be correct by the Board and the accountant of the Education Department, so that I could not make a mistake without the knowledge of the Board. Further, it is evident that I have no control over the bank account as all cheques cashed are crossed by the chairman.

Poor Evan. He had to sit through endless arguments by opinionated residents over the years. There is a wonderful story involving Evan Scott in his role as Clerk to the School Board, which as you will have noted could be the source of extraordinary proceedings. In 1896 the local body of artillery volunteers booked Newhall School for a dance, this being approved by a majority of the School Board. Not too controversial, you might think. But Major Lyon Mackenzie and Kirkton farmer James Craigen who had dissented against the decision were prepared to go to unusual lengths. The Ross-shire of 3 January 1896 takes up the story.

On the day the dance was to have been held, Mr Scott, clerk to the School Board, was dispatched in full haste to Dingwall by the minority of the Board, for the purpose of applying to the Sheriff for interim interdict, and to arrange for having served it upon the majority of the Board. The Clerk, who had secured the services of Mr Duncan Macdonald, messenger-at-arms, soon wended his way to the office of Mr Macritchie, solicitor, where, in a very short time, a petition was drawn out. The pursuers in the petition are Major Lyon Mackenzie and Mr Alexander Craigen, against Dr Lawson, John Roddick, factor, and John Mackay, crofter, Ferryton, and it sought To Interdict the Defenders from carrying into effect or acting upon the resolution alleged to have been carried at a special meeting of the School Board, to the effect “that permission be given to a body of artillery to hold a dance on the evening of December 27th, and to grant interim interdict from allowing said school to be used on that evening for such a purpose.” In the condescendence of the petition it is averred that the action of the majority of the Board is contrary to the usage of all School Boards, the use of schools being entirely restricted to educational, religious, or political purposes. After the signature of the Sheriff was adhibited to the document, both the clerk and the officer drove from the National Hotel, Dingwall, to the place in question. Copies of the petition of interim interdict were then served on the defenders in due time, who, with the exception of Mr Roddick, accepted the document. On the arrival of the officer at the school, the assembly, numbering about fifty couples, Were Simply Awe-Stricken. Rumours were rife among those present as to the diverse feelings among the members of the Board as to the granting of the use of the school, but none of them knew of the actual state of matters till they were warned of the consequences that would result unless they allowed the law to take its course. Victuals of every description were in the school for the refreshment of the assembly, and the company did not disguise their feelings of annoyance and disappointment.

There was however a happy ending for the militia dance:

The officer of the law remained until about midnight, during which no dancing was engaged in. We understand, however, that before the officer was a distance of two miles on his homeward journey, dancing was begun, and kept up with unflagging zeal till an early hour in the morning.

The young class outside Newhall in 1906, 10 years after this story; the dog, Prince, is said to have been a bit of a nipper; image courtesy of the late Mrs Essie Munro, Alness Ferry

There were many, many social evenings in the schools in the years to come. Evan Scott, of course, simply acted as instructed, but he must have been asking himself why he was organising an interdict on behalf of a minority of the Board against the majority of the Board! I remember when I was Chair of the Cullicudden School Board there being some local “issues”, including the prickly subject of sex education, but it was tame stuff compared to this.

The 1901 Census return gives an excellent snapshot of the family of Evan and Annie Scott. Many of the children went on to establish well-remembered families in their own right.

1901 Census return Newmills Cottage 5 rooms with one or more windows
Evan Scott head mar 47 grocer shopkeeper
Annie Scott wife mar 37
John E. Scott son 9 / Bessie M. Scott daur 8 / Hugh Scott son 6 / Anna B. Scott daur 4 / Eva B. Scott daur 2 / Jamesina R. Scott daur 4mo

There were four further children: Mary Alice Scott, Charlie Ross Scott (died in infancy), Alexanderina Scott (died as a teenager) and Evan Scott

John E (John Evan Scott) kept on at Newmills; when he married Isabella Macdonald from Jemimaville in 1938 he was described as a market gardener.
Bessie (Elizabeth Macphail Scott) was a domestic servant when she married widowed Arabella farmer John William Watson in 1926.
Hugh established a garage business in Jemimaville which is still going strong; he married Jessie Mackenzie, a schoolteacher in Invergordon, in 1928.
Anna B. (Annie Barnet Scott) became a medical nurse and married commercial traveller John William Martin Paterson in the Grand Hotel, Glasgow, in 1925.
Eva B. (Eva Bella Scott) was a mother’s help when she married in 1926 farmer Thomas Nicol of Tore Farm, near Culbokie; Thomas was of the Culbo Nicol family.
Jamesina R. (Jamesina Ross Scott) was working as a cook in Ayrshire when she married John Nairn Mcdowal Bell in Ayr in 1926.
Mary Alice Scott became a chemist, and married William John McFarquhar of the Cullicudden family of McFarquhar farmers in 1930.
Evan Scott became a motor mechanic and married grocer’s assistant Jessie Meikle in Ayr in 1930.

You will have noted that three of the children married in 1926, so it must have been a busy year for the family! As an update, I have been provided with the wedding photograph from one of those marriages in 1926, that of John Watson to Bessie Scott on 27 July. It is outside the house at Newmills, and I think that is Evan Scott and wife Annie Ross standing behind the bride and groom. The ceremony was presided over by the Reverend Alexr. MacRae Minister of the United Free Church Resolis, not suprisingly given Evan’s strong connections with the UF Church. The bridesmaid was Daisy Munro, Newmills, the aunt of Mrs Sheila Macdonald ms Munro of Avoch who kindly supplied me with this image. Let me know if any other attendees can be identified!

image courtesy of Mrs Sheila Macdonald, Avoch

Evan Scott, the father, was an ardent supporter of the United Free Church, and provided the site for the pre-fabricated iron building that became the UF Church in Resolis. A report in the Ross-shire Journal of 16th April 1920 provides the background:

On Sunday, for the first time, instrumental music accompanied the service of praise at public worship in the Parish of Resolis. This very laudable and educative advance was due to the initiative of the UF Church. Mrs Macdonald, Drumdyre, was organist. The history of this little congregation is somewhat interesting. On its formation after the Union in 1900 it was repeatedly refused a site on Newhall Estate, and it literally flitted from barn to granary, and from the school-room to cart-shed. Eventually it found a meeting place through the kind intervention of Mr Evan Scott on his freehold in Newmills. The congregation has gradually increased until its members are in the region of 200 souls.

The modern reader might not be aware of the antipathy of some to the United Free Church. I have in front of me a page from the Ross-shire of 10th November 1905 reporting on another controversial Resolis School Board meeting where farmer Craigen of Kirkton had not been present at the previous meeting when the School Board granted the use of the local schools Newhall and Cullicudden to the UF for public worship on Sundays. He vehemently challenged their right to do so:

Major Munro [of Poyntzfield] thought it would be ridiculous that the School Board could not decide such a question themselves. There could be no question that the School Board was entitled to give the use of the school for purposes other than purely educational… in the past they had given the use of the school to the Established Church he saw no reason whatever why the use should be withheld from another denomination represented by other ratepayers in the parish…
Mr Craigen – But they don’t all belong to the parish, and it is only the parishoners we are concerned with.
The Chairman – They do, and I call you to order.
Major Munro – Have you any objection to the U.F.s being in the parish?
Mr Craigen – No, not in the parish, but certainly in the school.
Major Munro – Why should Mr Macintyre give his granary?
Mr Craigen – That is for the convenience of Mr Macintyre.

The discussion became heated, with Mr Craigen challenging under standing orders. It is quite clear from the discussion that Craigen, unlike in the militia school dance affair, was opposed to granting a facilty for the UF at all, rather than objecting to the use of the school. The School Board Clerk, who had been quite silent, eventually put an end to it all by reference to a standing order himself:

The Clerk then read a paragraph from the old standing orders to the effect that a member could not dissent to a finding at the previous meeting if he had not been present at the meeting.

And the Clerk who thus so effectually brought the discussion to a close? A certain Mr Scott…

I note that in the Inland Revenue survey in the 19teens there were three properties associated with Evan Scott – his house, his shop and the UF Church itself.

Property: Newmills. / house Owner: JA Shaw Mackenzie of Newhall
Tenant/occupier: Scott, Evan
House materials: stone, clay / Roof material: slate / House description: 6 apartments / Agricultural buildings: wood, zinc: porch
Property: Newmills. / shop Owner: JA Shaw Mackenzie of Newhall
Tenant/occupier: Scott, Evan
Notes: wood, corrugated iron: shop
Property: Free Church. / church, shop Owner: JA Shaw Mackenzie of Newhall
Tenant/occupier: Scott, Evan
Notes: corrugated iron: Free Church

The UF Church was dismantled in the early 1930s and taken to Jemimaville as a garage for Hugh Scott, Evan’s son.

The UF Church at Newmills; photo by Donald Fraser; thanks to Angus Bethune for the loan of this old postcard

and as the garage at Jemimaville; photo by Andrew Dowsett.

The store stood close to the main road, and the sign for the Royal Insurance Company attached to its south end acquired what looked suspiciously like a bullet hole close to centre of the red shield upon it!

The shop at Newmills; image courtesy of the Scott family

Target practice? image courtesy of the Scott family

Evan died in 1935 and Annie in 1952:

Evan Scott merchant (retired) married to Annie Ross died 10 September 1935 Newmills aged 81 parents John Scott farmer (d) Elizabeth Scott ms MacPhail (d) informant John E. Scott son (present)

Annie Scott (widow of Evan Scott merchant) died 11 July 1952 Newmills Balblair Resolis aged 88 parents Hugh Ross farmer (d) Annie Ross ms Barnett (d) informant H. Scott son Jemimaville Poyntzfield Conon Bridge

The memorial stone commemorating Evan Scott and Annie Ross stands in the modern section of Kirkmichael, and is one of two with the “log” effect in the kirkyard popular in the early 1900s, as people turned away from Victorian edifices to memorials bearing symbolism associated with life, death and nature:

photo by Andrew Dowsett

In / loved remembrance / of / CHARLES JOHN SCOTT / died 1903, in infancy. / And / RINA SCOTT / died 21 Feb 1923, in her 17th year. / Also of their father / EVAN SCOTT, Newmills, / died 10. Sep. 1935, in his 82nd year. / Also his wife / ANNIE BARNET ROSS, / died at Newmills / 11 July 1952, in her 89th year. / Also / ISABELLA MACDONALD / died at R.N.I. Inverness / 16 Feb. 1940 aged 26 years / beloved wife of / JOHN E. SCOTT, / who died 23. July 1972 / aged 80 years

The Scott family at Newmills; image courtesy of the Scott family


James Campbell (1796–1861)=1822=Helen Scott (1796–1880)

I mentioned earlier that the Scotts returned to Auchmartin in the shape of Helen, the daughter of Alexander Scott and Helen Urquhart. This occurred when her husband moved from masonry to farming and took over the tenancy of Auchmartin.

They married in Cullicudden:

1 February 1822 James Campbell mason & Helen Scot at Cullicudden both in this parish.

Their subsequent children were born in Cullicudden, all with their parents given as “James Campbell mason at Cullicudden & Helen Scott” – Donald (1822), Helen (1825), Alexander (1828), James and John (1830), William (1832), Robert (1834) and Hugh (1837).

A few years later, they were in Auchmartin:

1841 Census return Auchmartin
James Campbell 55 Farmer
Helen Scott 44
Donald Campbell 18 / Helen Campbell 16 / Alexr Campbell 13 / James Campbell 11 / John Campbell 11 / William Campbell 8 / Robert Campbell 5 / Hugh Campbell 3

The children must have been averse to marrying as, most unusually, all of them are still there, unmarried, in 1851:

1851 Census return AuchmartinJames Campbell head m 54 farmer of 40 acres employing 3 men Kilmure
Helen Campbell wife m 52 Resolis
Donald Campbell son u 27 farm servant Resolis / Helen Campbell daur u 25 housekeeper Resolis / Alexr Campbell son u 23 farm servant Resolis / John Campbell son u 21 farm servant Resolis / James Campbell son u 21 farm servant Resolis / William Campbell son u 19 farm servant Resolis / Robert Campbell son u 17 farm servant Resolis / Hugh Campbell son u 15 farm servant Resolis

William died at Auchmartin in 1855, and a granite headstone was erected to his memory in Kirkmichael:

Erected / to / the memory of / WILLIAM CAMPBELL, / who died 8th Sept. 1855 / aged 18 years. / Also his brothers / JOHN, who died 9th May 1871, / JAMES, who died in New Zealand, / 9th June 1872, aged 41 years. / And their sister / HELEN, who died in Invergordon, / 3rd Feby. 1899 aged 75 years.

As mentioned on William’s stone, James had emigrated to New Zealand, where he was to die in 1872. Alexander had died a young man in 1853. But the remainder of the children were still there, unmarried, in 1861:

The three memorials and overgrown enclosure of Campbell of Auchmartin; photo by Andrew Dowsett

1861 Census return Auchmartin 7 rooms with one or more windows
James Campbell head m 60 farmer of 36 acres, employing 4 lab Kilmuir
Helen Campbell wife m 60 farmer’s wife Resolis
Donald Campbell son u 38 farmer’s son Resolis
Helen Campbell daur u 35 farmer’s daughter ResolisRobert Campbell son u 28 farmer’s son Resolis
Hugh Campbell son u 23 farmer’s son Resolis
Isabella McLennan serv u 18 domestic serv. Knockbain
Hugh Morrison shepherd u 32 shepherd Lochbroom

Father James died a few months later:

James Campbell farmer (married to Helen Scott) died 26 October 1861 Auchmartin aged 65 parents Donald Campbell crofter (deceased) Catherine Campbell m.s. [blank] deceased informant Robert Campbell son (present)

Despite the incompetent son not remembering his paternal grandmother’s surname, I am sure this is the baptism of the correct James Campbell in Kilmuir Easter in 1796:

6th July Dond: Campbell alias McNiel boatman in Portlich had by his spouse Kate Munro a child baptized named James wit[nesses] Dond. Bain & David Tunnach both in do. born 18

Helen survived her husband by many years. She became head of household at Auchmartin:

1871 Census return Auchmartin
Helen Campbell head w 63 farmer of 90 acres 70 arable Resolis
Donald Campbell son u 41 farmer’s son Resolis
Robert Campbell son u 30 do. son Resolis
John Campbell son u 32 do. son Resolis
Hugh Campbell son u 28 do. son Resolis
Helen Ferguson daur w 35 do. daur Resolis

She died at Auchmartin in 1880:

Helen Campbell (Widow of James Campbell Farmer) died 1 March 1880 at Auchmartin aged 85, parents Alexander Scott Farmer (d) & Helen Scott m.s. Urquhart (d), informant Robert Campbell son (present).

An impressive grey granite headstone was erected within the Campbell enclosure at Kirkmichael:

Erected / to / the memory of / JAMES CAMPBELL, / farmer, Auchmartin, / who died 26th October 1861, / aged 65 years. / Also his wife / HELEN SCOTT, / who died 1st March 1880, / aged 85 years. / And their sons / ALEXANDER, who died 28. April 1853 / aged 25 years. / ROBERT, who died 9. Novr. 1895, / aged 60 years. / Also HUGH CAMPBELL / who died at Balblair, / 10th June, 1909, aged 71 years. / And his wife / JANE URQUHART / who died at Balblair, 19th July 1933 / aged 77 years.

The three headstones in the enclosure form an aesthetically pleasing group, but a question always arises: why was no route into the enclosure provided? It is blocked off from all directions by a high iron railing, and the only way in is through the north railing from which an iron upright has been removed. That surely was not the intention? As a result of its inaccessibility, the vegetation within the enclosure grows unmanaged.

The Campbell family, farmers and merchants, were relatively well-to-do, and hence there are many wills and probative documents associated with the members of the family!


Auchmartin after Helen Scott

With the death of Helen Campbell ms Scott in 1880, the Scott connection with Auchmartin was ended. The Campbell children continued to farm there, and I note they were all at this time recorded as speakers of Gaelic only:

1881 Census return Auchmartin 8 rooms with one or more windows
Donald Campbell head u 50 farmer of 83 acres of which 71 arable employing 2 men 1 girl 1 boy Resolis G
Helen Ferguson sister w 48 do. sister Resolis G
Robert Campbell brother u 40 do. brother Resolis G
Hugh Campbell brother u 38 do. brother Resolis G

In the 1891 census returns, they are recorded as speakers of both Gaelic and English:

1891 Census return Auchmartin 3 [sic] rooms with one or more windows
Donald Campbell head s 64 farmer Resolis GE
Robert Campbell brother s 54 serv Resolis GE
Hugh Campbell brother s 52 serv Resolis GE
Ellen Ferguson servant w 62 housekeeper Resolis GE
Charlott McKenzie servant s 28 general servant (domestic) Parish of Kilmuir Easter

The final of the three stones in the Campbell enclosure commemorates son Donald. He had continued farming at Auchmartin and had never married, although he clearly had a good friend in Charlotte McKenzie. I note that her mother was one Ann Campbell, and her father was the Registrar in Kilmuir Easter, Charles Roderick Mackenzie, and perhaps there was a family relationship there. You will note she had been the domestic servant at Auchmartin in 1891 and she it was who erected his gravestone. A friend indeed.

In / affectionate / remembrance of / DONALD CAMPBELL / farmer, Auchmartin, / who died at Clyde Street, / Invergordon, / 23rd December 1899, / aged 77 years. / A dutiful son / A loving brother / And a sincere friend. / Erected by CHARLOTTE McKENZIE / The Lord is very merciful / and he will be very gracious

The Ross-shire Journal of 29 December 1899 contained in its “Notes from Invergordon”:

The Late Mr Donald Campbell, Auchmartin.– The death took place at Invergordon on Saturday of Mr Donald Campbell, formerly tenant of the farm of Auchmartin, Resolis. Deceased, who was in his 78th year, was esteemed in the Black Isle as a thoroughly straightforward and reliable man, and was regarded as an excellent agriculturist. He had resided at Invergordon for two years. The funeral took place on Tuesday to Kirkmichael burying ground, and the remains were conducted thence by a large number of friends and acquaintances.

The brothers Campbell had continued to farm Auchmartin after the death of their parents, but never married and without children to carry on the farm, it passed out of Campbell hands. In came James Young Ferguson from Ardoch to commence an era of Fergusons of Auchmartin. James Young Ferguson married Annie Munro. They were my grand-parents, and curiously Auchmartin was again operated by several of their unmarried children who remained on the farm until they too passed on.

Auchmartin is currently farmed by good friend of Kirkmichael, James Holm of Ferryton.

Auchmartin in 1948. My father drops in from Alness Ferry on his bike – he and Uncle George are standing in front of the steading; Peter and Margaret Shea from America visit my grandparents, James Young Ferguson and Annie Munro; they are arranged at the front of the farmhouse; and Moss the dog photographed on the same day, on the garden path that runs up to the front door at Auchmartin


Appendix – The Covered Slab

The half-slab (with pink spot in the group photograph) which stands below the substantial headstone erected at Kirkmichael to commemorate John Scott, farmer in Cullicudden, and Mary Campbell bears an inscription. The right edge has been trimmed off along with a bit of the last letter on each line, what remains is badly eroded and there may be more inscription in the section covered by the headstone. Nevertheless through enhancement of an earlier photograph from Helma Reynolds I can now read:


Photograph courtesy of Helma Reynolds

Not that it helped much! I have come across only two references to a Robert Scott within the Resolis records:

14 December 1759 Alexander Munro son to Donald Munro meler in the Whitebog & Mary Scot daughter to Robert Scot meler Balblair

It is unlikely that a humble mealer (who would have not held even a tenancy) would be commemorated by a slab. I have another reference, dated 26 August 1778:

Constables for the Town and Parish of Cromarty & Kirkmichael given instructions:
Alexr Mackay in Brelangwell
Robert Morrison in New Milns
Alexr Mackomy in Teaninich
Robert Scot in Brelangwell
Whom they direct to be sworn in by George Munro of Poyntzfield Esqr one of their numr. Who all being solemnly sworn to a faithfull discharge of their duty (excepting Alexr. Hood in Pedistown Alexr Mackomy and Robert Scot in Brelangwell) and afterwards having had their duty explained to them they were directed to attend here and make their report against the 20th of Octr.…

This Robert Scott in Braelangwell who was appointed as a constable would be more likely to be commemorated by a slab, but I think is too late. I think this Robert Scott may have belonged to a generation earlier than the Scotts of Auchmartin. As ever, we shall update this Story as and when further information becomes available.

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