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

The Barnett Family of Resolis Cottage

text: Dr Jim Mackay   photography by Jim except where noted.

This is the story of a couple, James Barnett and Ann Logan, who are commemorated on, unusually, two stones at Kirkmichael. They moved from Kirkton to Resolis Cottage, where the family lived for over 20 years through to the 1870s. Their children included two ministers of the Church of Scotland, one of whom acted as schoolmaster, session clerk and Registrar for Resolis for decades.


Resolis Cottage in the 1950s; photo courtesy of James Holm and Annie Girvan

The two stones at Kirkmichael are a re-used slab and an expensive tablestone, and I imagine the tablestone was commissioned when the children became more established and felt their parents should be honoured more ostentatiously. They lie close to several other Barnett stones, so it can be assumed they are all related, though I have been unable to establish the connections to my satisfaction. I see Barnetts in the area at least as early as 1728, so there is much scope for further research!




Hugh Barnett (c1754–1841+), wright at the mill of Poyntzfield, and Helen Maclean

Our story therefore starts with James’s father, Hugh Barnet, wright at the mill of Poyntzfield, who lived in the Birks. We can estimate his birth year from the age he provided in the testimony quoted below. He married Helen Maclean not long before 1780. There is no record of their marriage (this was in the bad days when the neglectful Reverend Robert Arthur was in charge of the registers) but as they had children baptised from 22 December 1780 through to 12 August 1796, they probably married earlier in 1780. They had children Margaret (1780), Hugh (1782), James (1786), Janet (1789), another Janet (1792) and David (1796). Our interest lies in James, but it should be noted that several of the other siblings are known also to be buried in Kirkmichael, including Hugh (died 1859 in Balliskelly, a pauper and single), David (died 1860 in the Birks, a house carpenter and married) and Margaret (died 1875 in Resolis Cottage aged 95, a pauper and a former agricultural labourer and single).

We have, surprisingly, testimony from Hugh Barnett the wright, for he provided evidence in the legal proceedings when the Mulbuy Common was being broken up amongst the estates, a shocking process which worked to the disadvantage long-term of all the poor tenants called upon to give evidence.


The former mill buildings at Poyntzfield Mills


The Mulbuy

Hugh was quizzed on 16 September 1816:

HUGH BARNET, wright at the mill of Poyntzfield, aged 60 years, who, being solemnly sworn, &c. depones, That he has known the estate of Poyntzfield for more than fifty years. And depones, That the boundaries of the claimant's exclusive property are as follows: Beginning on the east, it bounds with the estate of Udoll; on the south, it is divided from the Milbuy by a dike more than forty years old, ending at the Chanonry road, and from that point, and where it is intersected by the Inverness road, north-west till it comes to the wood of Brae, where it joins the estate of Braelangwell, and by the southern dike of the wood of Brae till it join the estate of Newhall. / Depones, That the sheep park and wood of Brae have been enclosed for more than forty years past, and never saw the cattle or people from any other estate within the said boundary. Depones, That the tenants on the estate of Poyntzfield went generally, and beyond the said boundary, to the Millbuy for firing, turf, and heather, without interruption, as far east and west as they pleased.

Hugh’s testimony went on for much longer, and he was even re-called to go into detail on one matter, so clearly his evidence was key to the interests of the laird of Poyntzfield.

James Barnett (1786–1859), the grieve at Kirkton, and Ann Logan (c1788–1845)

Son James appears as the overseer or grieve at Kirkton in 1816, in the baptism record of daughter Helen. It is quite a jump for the son of a mill-wright on the Estate of Poyntzfield to become grieve of a prosperous farm on the neighbouring estate of Newhall. The grieve supervised the daily work of the agricultural labourers on the farm. The assumption has to be that James was a very able fellow.

I note from the 1831 militia records that James Barnett was deaf

Kirktown James Barnet overseer >30 deaf 4 ch Exd

How severe the deafness was I do not know. The risk of being balloted to serve generated an extraordinary range of physical challenges suffered by the men of Resolis.


Kirkton from Kirkmichael


Kirkton in 1842; note the circular depiction of the chimney for the steam mill

We do have a record of the marriage between James Barnett and Ann Logan – but the Knockbain (united parish of Suddie and Kilmuir Wester) parish register incorrectly records James Barnett as John Barnett, and I initially ignored this record. But the coincidence of surnames, and the date, made me look at it more closely and I was surprised to find it was the correct couple:

1813 … 26 Novemr. John Barnet Servant Kirktown Parish of Resolis and Anne Logan Munlochy this Parish

Extraordinary slip by the clerk. The following year Helen, the first of their nine children, was baptised:

1814 … James Barnet Overseer at Kirktown and his spouse Ann Logan had a child born the 21th and baptized the 22d of Septr named Helen

There are nine children to James and Ann recorded in the baptism register, one of them sadly with the note following her baptism entry: “dead”. That was Ann, in 1830, and they were to name another daughter baptised in 1834 as Ann. In all nine baptisms, from 1814 to 1834, James is called overseer or grieve at Kirkton. In 1841 he is living at Balblair and is described as an agricultural labourer:

James Barnet 55 AL / Ann Logan 54 / John Barnet 18 / Kenneth Barnet 16 / David Barnet 8 / Ann Barnet 6

But by 1851, James has moved into the croft at Resolis that was to be associated with the family for decades. He is recorded at Resolis (i.e. that locality within the parish of Resolis from which the parish received its name)

James Barnett head w 65 crofter of 4 ac C Resolis / Hellen Barnett daur u 34 crofter’s daur C Resolis / Anne Barnett daur u 17 crofter’s daur C Resolis

By this time, you will have noted, he had become widowed, Ann Logan having died in 1845, according to her second gravestone, in her 57th year. That points to her possibly being the daughter of John Logan, shoemaker at Kilmuir (Knockbain), and spouse Anne McLennan, baptised at Knockbain on 26th July 1788, but of course without corroboration that is just hypothesis. Having said that, I notice that one of the witnesses to the baptism was John Logan kirk officer, so the Logans would appear to have had some connetions with the church, just like the Barnetts. This, however, is pure conjecture!

Resolis Cottage

At some point before 1851, James became tenant of a croft at Resolis and occupied the house still known as “Resolis Cottage”. The first mention of the name I have found is when James, son of James Barnett and Ann Logan, and parish schoolmaster, advertised in the Inverness Courier of 4th October 1855 for a substitute teacher, something he was to do in subsequent years as well. I presume this was when he was qualifying to become a minister. You will note the specification for the post included being able to lead the singing of psalms in church in both Gaelic and English!


The advertisement that ran each year to allow James Barnett to study at King’s College.


Resolis Cottage as surveyed in 1872. The Church of Scotland was a short walk down the road opposite Resolis Cottage.

To Teachers. / Wanted, a Substitute, to Teach a Parish School for Five Months, commencing 11th. Nov. next. He must be qualified to give instruction in the ordinary branches of an English Education. It is also indispensable that he be able to Precent in Church both in Gaelic and English. / For further particulars apply to Mr Barnett, Resolis Cottage, by Fortrose. / 2d October 1855.

The name occurs regularly thereafter. Alexander, the enterprising son of James Barnett and Ann Logan, was married on 2nd July 1856. He is given as “Alexr. Barnett 40 Resolis Cottage manager of a whole sale and retail general goods store”.

When James Barnett senior died in 1869, at Resolis Cottage, the entry in the register of deaths was a proliferation of Barnetts:

James Barnett crofter widower of Ann Logan 26 Jun 1869 Resolis Cottage 83 Hugh Barnett house carpenter (d) Helen Barnett ms McLean (d) informant Alexander Barnett son (p) [registered] 1869 June 30th At Resolis James Barnett Registrar

The Valuation Rolls show that Resolis Cottage, although owned by the laird, Shaw-Mackenzie of Newhall, was occupied for years after the death of James Barnett senior by “Reps. James Barnett” i.e. the representatives of James Barnett. James Barnett junior at this time was residing in Resolis Parish Schoolhouse, so the representatives would have been the sisters of James Barnett senior. After the Reverend James Barnett departed Resolis to become minister at Croick in 1871, this Barnett connection with the cottage continued. I see that even in the 1875 Valuation Roll the occupier of the property is given as “James Barnett’s Reps.”

I imagine the last Barnett connection with Resolis Cottage would have ended with the death of the impoverished sister Margaret in 1875:

Margaret Barnett pauper (formerly agricultural labourer) (single) 11 Feb 1875 Resolis Cottage 95 Hugh Barnett house-carpenter (d) Helen Barnett ms McLean (d) informant Kenneth Barnett nephew Cromarty

Alexander Barnett (1816–1890), merchant in Invergordon, and Johanna Simpson (1829–1903)

I do wonder if in fact Alexander, the merchant, assisted to put at least brother John through university. It is hard to see how father James could have afforded it. As the eldest brother, Alexander perhaps had a feeling of responsibility towards his siblings.

He started out as a grocer in Resolis, and transferred his activity across to Invergordon not long after his marriage to Johanna Simpson in 1856. Invergordon presented far greater commercial opportunities than Resolis!

Johanna was the daughter of the deceased Auchmartin tacksman Isaac Simpson and spouse Margaret Maclean. Isaac had held a substantial holding and Alexander would be expected to provide well for his daughter. Alexander and Johanna were married at Ferryton by none other than the Free Church minister Donald Sage, and how that went down with Church of Scotland brothers John and James I know not! In 1856, feelings were still raw after the Disruption of 1843.

Across the Cromarty Firth in Invergordon, in 1861, Alexander is listed as an Ironmonger, whilst in his household is his nephew, Roderick MacPhail, who is given as grocer’s assistant. Alexander by 1871 had become “Grocer & Wine Mercht” himself, on the High Street, and the household was vastly expanded. Not only did Alexander and Johanna now have four children in house with them, but also they had Alexander’s mother-in-law, the widowed Margaret Simpson and Alexander’s sister-in-law, the widowed Jessie Davidson, and a servant. You might think Invergordon was a profitable place to be for a retailer of alcohol! But alas, the truth was that he had soared too high too quickly. Bankruptcy proceedings were filed in 1872. The evidence suggests he built himself back up as a general merchant thereafter.

Alexander obviously kept in with his minister brothers, as they both officiated at the marriage of his eldest daughter, as reported in the Inverness Courier of 27th July 1888:

At Victoria Hotel, Inverness, on the 25th inst., by the Rev. John Barnett, Kilchoman, assisted by the Rev. James Barnett, Croick, uncles of the bride, Alexander W. Brook, Commission Agent, Invergordon, to Annie M. Logan, elder daughter of Alexander Barnett, Merchant, Invergordon.

Whilst Alexander Barnett had his financial difficulties, son-in-law Alexander Brook went on to become a very successful corn merchant, and there is a substantial monument to him and Annie in Rosskeen Cemetery. It reads:

In Memory / of / ANNIE MARGARET BARNETT, / beloved wife of ALEXANDER W. BROOK, / corn merchant, Invergordon, / died 26th October 1906. / And the above / ALEXANDER W. BROOK, / died 29th December 1939. / Also their daughter / HENRIETTA ROSE / died 21st October 1964



photo by Davine Sutherland

I haven’t followed all the children of Alexander Barnett and Johanna Simpson. I see that at least one emigrated to the then death-trap of the West Indies, as the Ross-shire Journal of 4th February 1898 reported:

At Bridgetown, Barbadoes, West Indies, on Wednesday, 19th ult., James Simpson Barnett, eldest son of the late Alexander Barnett, merchant, Invergorden, aged 35 – deeply regretted.

Alexander himself died intestate, and his widow Johanna initiated the usual inventory to take management of his estate. At this time he was described as “Alexander Barnett, Grocer, and Spirit Merchant, Invergordon” and I note from the inventory that his “Stock in trade” was valued at £57 3 shillings.

The Reverend John Barnett (1824–1895) and Isabella Kyd (1827–1901)

Two brothers, John and James, became ministers. John was born a year earlier than James. An advantage of investigating a minister is the handy little biography in the Fasti, in this case for the Parish of Kilchoman, Presbytery Islay and Jura:

1885 John Barnett, born 1824, third son of John B., farmer, Resolis; educated at Univ. of Glasgow; ord. to Shieldaig in 1857; trans. to Kilbrandon 16th May 1861; trans. to Gaelic Parish, Greenock, 13th Jan. 1876; trans. to Lochalsh 13th March 1878; trans. and adm. [to Kilchoman] 15th June 1885; died 5th Feb. 1895. He marr. 28th May 1858, Isabella (died at Tighnabruaich 26th Dec. 1901), daugh. of Robert Kyd, farmer, and Annie Edmonstone, and had issue – Anne, born 11th Aug. 1863 (marr. [Francis William] Pollard); Isabella, born 14th Sept. 1866; Jane Alexandra, born 11th Feb. 1869.

I note that according to the Fasti John attended the University of Glasgow whilst brother James attended King’s College, Aberdeen. However, I cannot find John in the Glasgow student rolls, whereas in the King’s College Rolls for the period 1843 to 1847 I see Johannes (Latin for John) Barnett, Resolis with the abbreviation “b” indicating he attended at least his first year here. Similarly, his brother is recorded for 1855 to 1859 as Jacobus (Latin for James) Barnett, Resolis, with abbreviations showing he attended four years here. I think therefore that the Fasti must be at least partly in error.


His brother James had John appointed as “Assistant Registrar” in 1856, whilst he himself was away at college. I see him referred to as such in the registers through 1856, prior to his first appointment to the parish of Shieldaig in 1857.

He married in 1858 Isabella Kyd, born in Ceres, Fife, to a farming couple. Her mother came to reside with the Minister’s family in later life.

The family must have been used to upheavals. John in his life moved from Resolis Cottage, to Shieldaig, to Kilbrandon, to Greenock, to Lochalsh and finally to Kilchoman. And it was at the manse there that he suddenly passed away, as recorded in the Edinburgh Evening News of 11th February 1895:

At Kilchoman Manse, Islay, suddenly, the Rev. John Barnett, minister of the parish. Friends please accept this (the only) intimation.

The Reverend James Barnett (1825–1888)

Again, the Fasti. This is what it says regarding James Barnet and the Parish of Croick, on the northern edge of Ross and Cromarty:

1871 JAMES BARNETT, born Resolis, 1825, son of James B., farmer, and Ann Logan; educated at King&rsqip?s College, Aberdeen; pres. by Queen Victoria 24th June, and ord. 21st Sept. 1871; died unmarr. 25th Aug. 1888.

As we have seen, James was a mature student at King’s College, attending for four years within the period 1855 to 1859. Each year he would advertise for a stand-in teacher for five months whilst he would be away at Aberdeen for the Divinity Session. Similarly, in the statutory birth, marriage and death registers for this period the individual records would be signed by an Assistant Registrar (one year this was John, his brother).

What the Fasti doesn’t reveal of course is any detail of his life before he became a minister. Or answer how his father, a simple Black Isle crofter, could afford to send not one but two of his sons to college! Many schoolmasters were qualified to be ministers and were simply biding their time for the right opportunity to arise to be presented to a parish. And they usually augmented their salary and influence by becoming the Session Clerk within their parish. And so it was with James Barnett.

We can follow his progression.

At the Church of Kirkmichael and Cullicudden the Seventeenth day of July, one thousand eight hundred and fifty four years. … Thereafter, the Session, considering that the office of Session Clerk became vacant by the induction of the Rev. John McLennan to the Church of Tomintoul, former Schoolmaster of this Parish, appointed Mr. James Barnett to that office; and the oath de fidelis was administered to him.

Following the introduction of civil registration within Scotland in 1855 he added to his roles through a natural progression (minutes of the Parochial Board of Resolis):

A Communication, dated 26 Octr. 1854, from the Sheriff Clerk of the County of Cromarty, in regard to the appointment of a Registrar for the Parish of Resolis, under the Act 17 & 18 Vict. Cap. 80 for the “Registration of Births, Deaths & Marriages” was laid before the Meeting, when Mr. James Barnett, the Parish Schoolmaster, and present Session Clerk, was in terms of Section 8 of said Act, appointed to the Office of Registrar of the Parish of Resolis.

When James was short of a witness, he would ask his father to sign a document, so there are examples of the signatures of both father and son to be found in the archives, as below (and apologies for the appalling quality of the image – access to our own registration data is expensive, and the images simply awful).


The Valuation Roll of 1871, just prior to his departure for Croick, lists:

Parish Schoolhouse & Garden, Resolis [Proprietor] Revd. James Barnett, Schoolmaster [Occupier] Proprietor

Those researching families in Resolis will be well used to James Barnett’s clear handwriting not only from the registers of births and marriages, but also from the statutory registers of births, marriages and deaths from 1855 to 1871. The scratchy handwriting of some of his successors leads to some regret that he did not remain in Resolis! As it was, there was a protracted period of recruitment. The Inverness Courier first reported on 17th December 1868:

Croick Church.– In consequence of the Rev. Mr Macintyre having been translated from the church of Croick to the parish of Kinloch-Rannoch, steps are being taken to get the presentation from the Crown in favour of Mr James Barnett, preacher of the Gospel, Resolis. Mr Barnett is said to be an excellent English and Gaelic preacher.

James was a qualified minister and living in Resolis, but the Reverend John Mackenzie was in fact the Church of Scotland minister in Resolis at this time. Mackenzie died in September 1870, and in 1871 his replacement the Reverend Robert Cumming Macdougall came into post. It was this year when James Barnett moved to Croick to become the parish minister there, and he worked as Registrar in Resolis right up to September 1871. I do wonder if he had hoped to become the Resolis minister, and when he was passed over for Macdougall took up the offer of Croick. Conjecture, but it seems likely given the dates.

He never married, although obviously officiating at countless weddings, including at the one already quoted when both he and his brother John conducted the marriage of Annie Logan Barnett, daughter of their brother Alexander.

I have been unable to find an obituary for James Barnett but his death was reported far afield. This is from the Dundee Courier of 30th August 1888, not long after he had been officiating at the marriage of his niece:

At Croick Manse, on the 25th Aug., after a short illness, the Rev. James Barnett – deeply regretted. Friends please accept this intimation.

The death certificate shows that his brother, the Reverend John Barnett, was present when he passed away. By means of his will, written back in 1881, James left everything to John.

The other children

Helen (1814–1893) died at Easter Braelangwell, a pauper. She had previously been a domestic servant. I find it surprising that her family were not pursued by the Parochial Board to support her. The Board was very active in seeking support from family with other paupers.

Janet (c1819–1897) married farm servant John McPhail (–1897) in 1843. He at the time was residing at Findon in the neighbouring parish of Ferintosh and Urquhart but soon moved to Dunvornie, where they resided for 30 years, before returning to “Resolis Road” close to where Janet had grown up. They are commemorated by the substantial granite monument partly hidden by the central yews in Kirkmichael, a couple of paces away from the gravestones of her parents.


photo by Andrew Dowsett

The memorial states:

In / loving memory of / our dear parents / JOHN McPHAIL / died at Resolis / 10th Feby 1897, aged 80 years. / And his wife / JANET BARNETT / who also died there / 19th June 1897, aged 78 years. / Their daughter CATHERINE / who also died at Resolis / 7th Feby 1892, aged 41 years. / Also their son JOHN / died at Resolis, 2nd August 1940, aged 79.

Hugh (1820–) became a ploughman, marrying in 1864 local lass Ann Matheson. I have been unable to trace them thereafter, and I do wonder if they perhaps emigrated.

Kenneth (1827–1903) moved to Cromarty, where he initially tried his hand as a shopkeeper, but soon became a master stone mason which trade he followed the rest of his life. He married in 1849 Ann Macdonald. Rather like brothers Alexander and John, his widowed mother-in-law resided with them for many years. When both wife and mother-in-law had passed away, he re-married, in 1874, widow Catherine Moir, born Ross. There were no children from either marriage.

David (1831–) I have simply been unable to track down. He was alive in 1841, in household with his parents, but thereafter he vanishes.

Annie (1833–1921) The youngest daughter, Annie, married from Resolis Cottage, in 1862, the substantial farmer of Wester Cullicudden, Hugh Ross. They went on to have a numerous family. They are commemorated with an attractive, sizeable headstone in Cullicudden kirkyard. That sandstone headstone sadly lies face down in the turf at time of writing (2019). It reads:

In / memory / of / HUGH B. ROSS Cullicudden / born 17th December 1869, / died 17th July 1870 / son of HUGH ROSS, farmer / who died at Ness, Fortrose / 13 April 1895. / His son JAMES, died at Liverpool / 28 May 1895. / His wife ANN BARNETT / died at Jemimaville, 24 April 1921 / and their daughter ISABELLA, / died at Beaufort Road, Inverness, / 16 April 1934.

Annie’s death certificate reads:

Ann Ross widow of Hugh Ross farmer 24 Apr 1921 Jemimaville 87 James Barnet crofter (d) Ann Barnet ms Logan (d) informant Bessie McPhail Scott grand daughter Newmills Resolis

And finally, in the Resolis Cottage household in 1861 is a six-year-old grandchild of James Barnett and Ann Logan, Ann Barnett, born in Ardclach, Nairn. Her father must have been one of the Barnett brothers. You would think she would be easy to trace but alas I have had no success in this.

The William Barnet, servant in Ardoch, line

Close to the gravestones of James Barnett and Ann Logan are several more Barnett stones. Without doubt there is a family connection between those buried here, but thus far a definite link has not been made.


photo by Davine Sutherland

A small marker states “Erected to keep the place of William Barnet”. Adjacent to it is a slab which has at times been called “the practice stone” as it has so many initials carved into it, in odd locations to avoid areas of spalling stone. However, the key section for us is “WB / KU 1781” which I take to be the couple William Barnet and Katherine Urquhart who are recorded in the marriage register thus:

29 December 1752 William Barnet servant to Ardoch & Kathraine Urquhart daughter to John Urquhart tenent in Balskelly deceast

and whose children are set out in the baptism register thus:

25 Nov 1753 William Barnet servt. Ardoch & Catharin Urqt. – Adam
17 Sep 1756 William Barnet servant in Ardoch & Cathraine Urquhart – John
19 Nov 1759 William Barnet meler Litle Ardoch & Kathraine Urquhart – William
10 Nov 1762 William Barnat servt. Little Ardoch & Kathrine Urquhart – Isobel

Adam undoubtedly would have been named in honour of the then laird of Poyntzfield, or Ardoch as it was then known, Adam Gordon. Adam Barnett continued the pattern when he and his wife Isobel Leitch named a daughter “Justina” in honour of Justina Dunbar, the wife of the then laird of Poyntzfield, George Gun Munro. Some things did not change! One of young Adam’s children, John, married one Jane McDonald and their children, born in Resolis, crop up across the Black Isle in later life. I note that at least one later descendant and spouse were buried in Kirkmichael. The Ross-shire Journal of 24th March 1893 reported:

It is with regret that we also report the death at Struan Court, Dingwall, of Mrs Barnett, wife of Mr Barnett, late of Kindeace farm, Easter Ross. Mrs Barnett had been ailing for some years, indeed ever since she left Kindeace she has been in delicate health. Last year, however, she considerably improved, and hopes were entertained of her full recover, but the improvement was not long maintained, as during the winter months her health again gave way, and she never since rallied. Last week her illness took a serious turn, and the end came rather unexpectedly on Saturday morning. Mrs Barnett, who was a native of Logie-Easter, was a most amiable woman, possessed of many good parts, She will be very much missed by a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, who deeply sympathise with her sorrowing husband and family in their bereavement. The funeral, which was largely attended, took place yesterday to the Kirkmichael burying-ground, in the Black Isle.

Margaret Ross was the wife of John Barnett, farmer of Craigland (Rosemarkie) and Kindeace (Easter Ross), born in Resolis in 1821, son of the aforementioned John Barnett and Jane Macdonald, grandson of Adam Barnett and Isobel Leitch, and great grandson of William Barnett, servant of Ardoch, and Katharine Urquhart. Clearly the Barnetts continued to regard Kirkmichael as their burial ground, even when disperesed. However, despite the proximity of gravestones in Kirkmichael, we have not yet made the definite family linkage between this line of Barnetts and that of James Barnett of Resolis Cottage.

There are several other stones bearing the name “Barnett” or initial “B” within Kirkmichael. For example, a few paces from the James Barnett and Anne Logan stones, there is the John Holm/Isobel Barnet stone discussed in the Story “H is for Holm”. I think this Isobel must certainly be a relative. As we find proven links to James Barnett this Story will be expanded!

 

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