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

John Mackenzie of Bayfield, Captain of the Prince Kaunitz, his wife, Justina Anderson of Udol,
and the Story of Bayfield in Easter Ross – with its Smugglers’ Tunnel

text by Dr Jim Mackay


This is a brief account of the life of John Mackenzie of Bayfield (c1745–1802), Captain of the Prince Kaunitz, and his wife, Justina Anderson (1759–1797). It includes the story of Bayfield House in Easter Ross, from its construction in 1793 up to the 1900s – including the Smuggler’s Tunnel.

John was the son of the famous Dr Alexander Mackenzie of New Tarbat, whose own story is told here, and Justina was the daughter of Dr William Anderson of Udol, whose family’s story is told here. It was a love match between the children of two respected physicians.

pendant portraits, meaning a pair of portraits intended to be hung together, of lovebirds John Mackenzie of Bayfield and Justina Anderson by the renowned American artist Gilbert Stuart and held by the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, who shared these wonderful pictures on Valentine’s Day 2023!

John Mackenzie of Bayfield has been a shadowy figure about whom virtually nothing has been published. The great American artist Gilbert Stuart painted a pair of matching portraits of John and his wife Justina Anderson, shortly after they married, now held by the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art. He appears a strong, good-looking practical man, she looks very fashionable with the latest chemise á la reine and teased and pomaded hairstyle.

I don’t know when John was born, but I think it would have been in the 1740s in Elgin. I don't know when he married, but it was probably in late 1785 in London. Justina was born in 1759, the daughter of Dr William Anderson of Udol or Udale and Anne Davidson of Tulloch, and they had five children before Justina’s untimely death in 1797.


The Prince Kaunitz

The sole piece of information commonly known about John Mackenzie came from the book Rossiana by Major Harmon Pumphelly Read (Albany, N.Y., 1908). It sets out in a rather indigestible manner how Meikle Kindeace became Bayfield. Bear with me:

44. Duncan Forbes [Ross], third of Kindeace, burgess of Nairn 1726. Charter of resignation and concession of the lands of Meikle Kindeace as heir general of his late father David [Ross], 6th August 1756 (Great Seal). He died – November 1769, having married Jean, daughter of Hugh Rose, thirteenth baron of Kilravock. She died – 1776, leaving,
45. David [Ross], fourth of Kindeace, who died s. p. in 1800, having about 1788 sold the property to John M’Kenzie, Commander of the Prince Kaunitz who changed the name to Bayfield.

East Indiamen in a Gale by Charles Brooking, mid to late 18th century. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

That reference to the Prince Kaunitz has been copied many times since, but never followed up. Where did Read get the information that John Mackenzie had been Commander of the Prince Kaunitz, and what kind of ship was the Prince Kaunitz anyway?

Well, the answers lie in a short-lived trading company, the Austrian Imperial East India Company. Austria at that time was an immensely powerful country. As it was then neutral, ships belonging to it were less likely to be seized by warring countries. In reality, whilst it was endorsed by Emperor Joseph II in Vienna, the Company was principally funded and organised by a financier called Proli in Antwerp and a brilliant but unprincipled ex-British East India Company employee called William Bolts. The Company at the time was called variously the Imperial Asiatic Company of Trieste and Antwerp, the Asiatic Company of Trieste or simply the Trieste Company. It was founded in 1775 and wound up in 1785 (when, and I’m sure it is no coincidence, John Mackenzie retired to marry and buy an estate).

The human Prince de Kaunitz was a high-profile Austrian statesman and ambassador of the time. If you wanted to pretend that your company was Austrian, then it was strategically desirable to name your ship after the most famous current Austrian personality. There were in fact two ships in the company named the Prince Kaunitz, another called Maximilian (after Arch-Duke Maximilian of Austria), a fourth called the Kollowrath (after Austrian Lieutenant-General Kollowrath), a fifth called the City of Vienna and a sixth called simply – the Austrian. You get the picture.

The Company never thrived due to bad luck and infighting, although some individual voyages were highly successful. Trade was mostly between Europe and India, but there was also much engagement with Canton in China (many East Indiamen continued to China from India). Captains or Commanders of ships at this time often had a percentage ownership of the ship themselves, and hence they took a share of the profits. And profits could be enormous. Fortunes were to be made in the trade of commodities I see mentioned in association with Bolts such as salt, silk, opium, furs, tea and even cochineal.

A view of the Canton factories, by William Daniell c1805–1810. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

William Bolts and the Austrian Company suffered from poor communications. The Company had sent out a couple of ships to Canton, one of them being a former French ship called the Superbe, renamed the Prince Kaunitz, with a pretend Austrian Captain and a real French Captain.

William Bolts was in India at the time and needed a quick financial return for the backers of the company so “he acquired the 600-ton Prince de Kaunitz in Bombay which headed for Canton in China with a cargo of pepper and cotton, to pick up tea and silk and take the fastest route back to Livorno [in Italy], where the ship arrived in the spring of 1779. A newspaper article indicates that after selling such large quantities of [Chinese] silk, the price of Italian silk dropped dramatically in order to remain competitive.” (Habsburgs in the Indian Ocean. A Commercial History of the Austrian East India Company and its Colonies and Bases in East Africa, India and China, 1775–1785 by Florian Ambach in Global Histories, Vol. 8, No. 2 (December 2022), pp. 43–62).

As will emerge, this was the Prince Kaunitz captained by John Mackenzie.

Two brothers named Reid from Tain in Easter Ross were involved with the Canton trade and both William Bolts and John Mackenzie. They were John and Andrew Reid, the sons of Bailie John Reid (1725–1779) and Mary Ross (1725–1808), who are commemorated on a tablestone in Tain and would certainly have been acquainted with the Mackenzie family. Each of the sons has his own page on Wikipedia: and They became part of that Anderson/Davidson/Barkly network of inter-related merchants when Andrew’s son William married AEneas Barkly’s daughter Louisa Margaret Barkly.

St Duthus Old churchyard in Tain, where the Reid family is buried with the inscription “This stone is placed here in memory of Baillie John Reid of Tain who departed this life 9th January 1779 and of Mary Ross his wife who departed this life the 25th December 1808”; photo by Jim Mackay

John Reid (1757–1821) by 1779 was in Canton acting as the Austrian Emperor’s Consul, and in 1780 joined forces with Frenchman Julien Bourgogne to form a private trading business in Canton. He was also the agent for the Trieste Company. Andrew Reid (1751–1841) spent some of his early life in India; he made a voyage to Canton as supercargo (i.e. he was a company representative on board to look after the cargo and sell it on arrival) on one of the Austrian Company’s Prince de Kaunitz ships in the later 1770s, the one captained by John Mackenzie.

Andrew Reid

Our knowledge of business with Canton benefits from the letters and observations of a young Swiss, Charles de Constant, who went out on the larger Prince de Kaunitz initially in 1779. A book summarising his letters (Récit de trois voyages à la Chine (1779–1793), Charles-Samuel de Constant, 1939) was published, but I have been unable to locate a copy. Fortunately, his original letters and notes are available on-line from the Bibliothèque de Genève ( but unfortunately the combination of 18th century handwriting and idiomatic French is challenging.

Nevertheless, here is a key passage as copied out by me and translated by my son Gavin’s friend, James Evered. Constant had gone out to Canton on the big Prince de Kaunitz but now a second appears, also associated with the Austrian Company.

Relation du Ier voyage en Chine (1778–1782) […] Charles-Samuel de Constant, folio 29 recto
attainais ou était tout aupres de l’endroit où il avait debarqué. J’appris, chemin faisant, que le vaisseau se nommait Prince de Kaunitz, le capitaine Mackenzie, Ecossais, et lui Reid, du même pays; que la cargaison était une enterprise particulière pour laquelle il avait obtenu une permission de l’empereur Joseph
I reached very near the location where the ship had landed. I learned along the way that the ship is named Prince of Kaunitz, the Captain Mackenzie, Scottish, and Reid from the same country; that the cargo is a special enterprise for which he obtained permission from emperor Joseph

a couple of important passages; I have multiplied the faded originals for readability

If you only knew how much effort went into getting that much from the hundreds of pages of faded handwritten original! But crucially, the young Charles de Constant has confirmed that Mackenzie was indeed captain of the second Imperial ship called the Prince Kaunitz at Canton, that one of the Reid brothers was involved with him, and that their enterprise was authorised by Emperor Joseph II. On the next page, Constant refers to Mr Reid having been supercargo of the small Prince de Kaunitz.

The bigger Prince Kaunitz, the one Charles de Constant had gone out on, sank in 1783 with tremendous loss of life.

Hampshire Chronicle 16 June 1783
By the Dutch Mail which was received on Saturday at the Post-Office, we have intelligence that the Imperial ship the Kaunitz of 1400 tons burthen was lost off the Azores, on its return from St. Domingo to Bourdeaux. The greatest part of the crew, consisting of 100 men, were lost together with 15 passengers, one of whom was Lieutenant Colonel of the legion of Laupin

I understand from other sources that she was wrecked on reefs off Corvo Island, Azores.

The only other reference I see confirming that John Mackenze was Captain of the Prince Kaunitz (and corroboration is always welcome) comes from one tiny snippet in a newspaper, from 1784. First of all we see the Kollowrath and Prince Kaunitz out in the China Seas together:

Aberdeen Press and Journal 14 July 1783
Intelligence from Lloyd’s List, July 1. The Prince of Kaunitz, and Count Colera [this will be the Count Kollowrath], Imperial ships, were spoke with off Pulo Supata [in the China Seas], by the King of Denmark, who arrived in China the 7th of November; and that not having made their passage, they were to go to Malacca [in Malaysia].

and then we see the Captain of the Prince Kaunitz identified:

Caledonian Mercury 2 June 1784
The Pr. Kaunitz, M’Kenzie, and Count Collourath [Count Kollowrath], was to sail from China for Europe about Christmas.

This places Captain John in China in December 1783, about to return home commanding the Prince Kaunitz for the very last time.

The company went bust in 1785, and the ships, including the surviving Prince Kaunitz and the Kollowrath, were sold in Ireland in 1786. And somehow Captain John Mackenzie came out of it with enough money to buy the estate of Meikle Kindeace.

John Reid became a partner in a firm of London brewers called Meux, Reid & Co. of, very appropriately, Liquorpond Street. Andrew joined him and they became very rich men. Andrew Reid is mentioned in John Mackenzie’s will as one of the group of men suitable to become curators of his children, so they must have been very close.


Before the Prince Kaunitz

John Mackenzie’s early days are as yet uncovered. As a child he would have resided with his parents, Dr Alexander Mackenzie and Jane Mackenzie, in Elgin in Moray and Milton in Easter Ross, before they settled in New Tarbat House. In Dr Alexander’s long correspondence with his Edinburgh “doer”, David Ross of the G.P.O., the good doctor often mentions his daughters but he makes only one reference to his son. In his letter to David Ross of 26 October 1770 he refers to some money not reaching Ross and adds “the loss of time incurred by the disappointment of your not receiving my money is most distressing, as it endangers not only my own Credit, but risques the loss of Credit & interest to my Son which I regret from my very Soul”.

market cross and green of the ancient droving and milling village of Milton in which Dr Mackenzie resided; photo by Jim Mackay

New Tarbat House, in one wing of which Dr Mackenzie lived for many years

Why would the money not reaching David Ross in 1770 affect his son’s credit and interest to him? A previous letter mentions for whom the money was intended – “let it be drawn in favours of Mr George Fearn Navy Office London Twenty six pounds sterling”.

From the Royal Kalendar for the year 1774, I see that George Fearn was a £50 a year clerk in the foreign accounts section of the Navy Office. The Navy Office was the government office responsible for the civil administration of the Royal Navy at the time. It might have been a personal debt, of course, and there was a Fearn family of standing in Easter Ross, but the payment does suggest that Dr Mackenzie was looking for some advancement for his son in a non-domestic Royal Navy connection. John may even have been in the Royal Navy before becoming involved in the Austrian venture.

A Royal Navy connection already existed as the Doctor’s brother Charles had been on many ships in the Navy. He had served on HMS Severene, HMS Tilbury and HMS Weymouth, and was Midshipman on HMS Newcastle when he wrote his will in 1741(PROB 11/762/18). He then served on HMS Chichester and HMS Neptune and was finally Lieutenant on HMS Dartmouth before dying in 1748. Young John no doubt would have heard of the maritime adventures of his uncle Charles as a boy and may have been fired with enthusiasm to seek a life at sea.

Alternatively, he may have been working for the British Honourable East India Company and been tempted by the vast profits on offer to join the rival concern. John Reid was in 1786 to persuade another HEIC stalwart to join him on a speculative voyage – Captain Charles William Barkley, descendant of the Barkly family buried in Kirkmichael. His ship was originally called the Loudoun but was renamed the Imperial Eagle and boldly sailed on a fur-trading venture under the auspices of the now-defunct Austrian East India Company! On board was Frances Barkley, the first British woman to circumnavigate the world, and her story is superbly told in The Remarkable World of Frances Barkley (Beth Hill and Cathy Converse, second edition 2003).


Meikle Kindeace becomes Bayfield

Having purchased Meikle Kindeace, John Mackenzie renamed his estate Bayfield. The new name was geographically appropriate as it does indeed lie beside the Bay of Nigg but it was a fashion of the period to give English or personal names to replace ancient Gaelic, Norse or Pictish names.

the low-lying, flat Carse of Bayfield from the arable land of Bayfield above, with the raised beach in between; photo by Jim Mackay

In the area there were similar modern names such as Mounteagle, Ankerville, Arabella, Phippsfield and Barbaraville. But it might be that John Mackenzie was trying to distance himself from a “new” Kindeace, in Kilmuir Easter near Invergordon, purchased by the Robertson family of the original Kindeace. Avoidance of confusion may have been an added incentive for John Mackenzie to create Bayfield.

Little Kindeace (now Ankerville) and Meikle Kindeace (now Bayfield) on Roy’s military map of 1747–1755

The renaming was not immediate, as he was called Captain John Mackenzie of Kindeace for several years. I think it likely that upon the building of his new mansion he decided to call it Bayfield House and his estate Bayfield. While it was being built he was residing in Cromarty, as we have:

Caledonian Mercury 6 October 1788
County of Ross Game Duty.
List of Certificates for killing Game…
Mackenzie, John, Esqr of Kindeace, residing at Cromarty

John’s father, Dr Alexander Mackenzie, had also moved to Cromarty from New Tarbat House about 1785, after the Earl of Cromartie’s family had, in 1784, regained their annexed estate of New Tarbat from the government. Father and son must have co-ordinated their movements both to end up in Cromarty at the same time. I imagine the pair of them would be crossing back over to Easter Ross by ferry to go shooting at Bayfield.

It is possible to track the locations and lifestyle of both Dr Alexander and son John from the plethora of tax returns from the period (window tax, male servants tax, female servants tax, inherited house tax, farm horse tax, carriage horse tax, carriage tax, dog tax) relating to Cromarty and Meikle Kindeace or Bayfield. In fact, both Dr Alexander and Captain John appear first in Cromarty in the same year, 1785, living as neighbours, and their entries are adjacent in the returns for the first few years thereafter. But then, in an indication of his affluence, Captain John Mackenzie moved for several years into Cromarty House, with (from the window tax records) its 59 windows.

Cromarty House during a Doors Open Day some years ago; photo by Jim Mackay

I think John may have had the Gaelic, as he is listed as one of the subscribers to a book of Gaelic songs published in 1792 – or perhaps he was related to the author! The book was Orain Ghaidhealach, agus Bhearla air an Eadar-Theangacha by Kenneth Mackenzie. Anyway “Captain John Mackenzie, Cromarty house” and his friend “Walter Ross, Cromarty” were down for a copy each.

Cromarty House had been occupied by the famous Cromarty entrepreneur, George Ross, the Army Agent and M.P., who died on 7 April 1786. In July of that year, Alexander Ross of Cromarty Esqre. (nephew and heir of George Ross and originally named Alexander Gray) became liable for the window tax. But by July 1787, Captain John Mackenzie had moved in and remained there until his new house was built across the Firth in Nigg Parish. In July 1794 he began paying window tax and several other taxes in Bayfield.


Buying Meikle Kindeace

Captain John Mackenzie had been residing in Cromarty for at least a year before Meikle Kindeace came on the market. The advertisements ran from January to June 1787, all with the introductory text:

To be SOLD by public voluntary roup, within the Exchange Coffeehouse in Edinburgh, on Friday the 22d day of June curt.

advertisement in the Caledonian Mercury of 15 June 1787

I presume that it was purchased on behalf of John Mackenzie at the roup on 22 June 1787.

Why did John Mackenzie buy Meikle Kindeace? Well, it was close to where he had grown up at Milton and New Tarbat, and the area was long associated with the Mackenzies. He was descended (and I have Sophie Hodson to thank for showing me the family tree drawn up by Lord Lyon for her ancestor Dr Alexander Mackenzie in 1783), showing his descent from Sir Roderick Mackenzie of Coigach and Margaret daughter of Torquil Macleod of the Lewes. The family of the Earl of Cromartie in New Tarbat were therefore relatives.

Sophie and Rosie Hodson at Kirkmichael with Dr Alexander’s (and their) family tree

The Estate of New Tarbat had been annexed by the government from the third Earl of Cromartie, George Mackenzie, for his coming out in the ’45, but had been regained by his son, Lord Macleod, John Mackenzie. Lord Macleod died childless, so the estate passed to his cousin, Captain Kenneth Mackenzie, who also died without an heir in 1796. But whilst he didn’t have an heir, he did have two natural children. By his will (PROB 11/1291), made in 1796, he appointed “my friends Captain John Mackenzie of Bayfield and George Gun Munro of Pointsfield Esquire to be Tutors and Curators to the said Margaret Hall and Kenneth Edward Mackenzie”.

There was thus a strong Mackenzie family draw to the area. Curiously, Bayfield’s father had long pursued a family debt from the Earl’s family, incurred from medical bills due to Bayfield’s grandfather, Dr Kenneth Mackenzie (–1752), including for such wonderful medicines as “a dose of powdered mummy” (see the story here).

In 2023 descendants Sophie and Rosie Hodson were dining at a Mackenzie event at which the present Earl of Cromartie was present, and I was joking with them to mention to him that medical debt originating in 1715! By the time of Captain John Mackenzie of Bayfield, however, the two family branches were clearly reconciled.

Sophie and Rosie enjoy Indian cuisine in Dingwall with some of their Mackenzie connections, including old Friend of Kirkmichael Jonathan McColl and, behind the poppadoms, the Earl of Cromartie

Bayfield House is Erected

The advertisements had euphemistically declared: “There is a mansion-house and offices on the premises, which may be put into repair at a moderate expence.”

Well, when it is apparent even from the ad that the buildings are run down, you can be pretty sure they were fairly ruinous. John Mackenzie made the decision to build a new home for his family. He spared no expense, constructing a modern, pleasant country mansion.

Helen Myers Meldrum in Kilmuir Easter: The History of a Highland Parish (1935) incorrectly says “About that time there was great activity in the building trade in Kilmuir and the neighbouring district, several substantial buildings, including the present mansion-house of Tarbat, Kindeace House and Bayfield House, in Nigg, being built in the same year, 1798.” This erroneous date was then naturally repeated by Anne Gordon in her excellent publications on the parish of Nigg. For example, she says in The Parish of Nigg (1984) “Bayfield House was built in 1798 of stone blocks and is very definitely Georgian in style.” Other sources have suggested a construction date around 1790. But we can nail down the timing more accurately.

Captain John Mackenzie began paying taxes at Bayfield House in 1794. Not all tax returns have survived, but in July 1794 he paid inhabited house tax, window tax (he now had 28 windows), carriage tax (he had one), carriage and saddle horse tax (he had three horses). There were no entries for him at Kindeace/Bayfield in July 1793 because he was still paying similar taxes in Cromarty House at that time.

He was therefore clearly in occupation of Bayfield House by July 1794 and hence the construction must have been going on during 1793, or perhaps for even longer. But 1793 must be the main year of construction.

the elegant living room on the first floor, the original drawing room of the house

Who designed Bayfield House for John Mackenzie? It was recognised at the time to be the most comfortable home in the north. Anne Gordon in Nigg: A Changing Parish (1977) suggested that the Adam brothers may have had a hand in it:

This house is Georgian in style, and fireplaces and mantels have been found in it (and in Nigg House) that are possibly the work of the Adam brothers, and if not, are faithful copies. The Adam brothers were at one time at Fort George and Robert Adam prepared plans for a new parish church at Cromarty, though they were in fact never used. It seems quite possible that they may have crossed the ferry at Nigg to give advice on such a building at Bayfield.

The last Adam brother died in 1794 and the brothers were active right up to their deaths. As Mackenzie always wanted the best, I would not rule out the possibility of an Adam connection.

the Adam fireplace in the living room, the original drawing room of Bayfield House

The report by Reverend Lewis Rose on the Parish of Nigg in the New Statistical Account says:

Modern Buildings.– The only building worthy of mention is the mansion-house of Bayfield. It was built about forty-five years ago, and no house in the country can exceed it in point of comfort. But it has an awkward appearance, owing to the door fronting the north, and the naked and unimproved appearance of the surrounding grounds. … There are four threshing-mills driven by water, – one at Nigg, one at Bayfield, one at Culiss, and one at Pitcalnie. … Revised September 1836.

That curious arrangement regarding the door fronting the north has been retained to this day.

front door of Bayfield House; photo by Jim Mackay

The reason why most homes in the area had larger windows and the main door to the south was not just for the aesthetic reason of catching the sunlight – it was to cut down on exposure to the prevailing cold winds from the north. John Mackenzie had captained a ship across most of the oceans of the world and perhaps liked the wind in his face as he came out of his home. With Bayfield, the front door in the central block and the doors in the wings are to the north and the windows are similarly sized on both north and south faces. However, the main front doorway is small compared to the grand entrances of many mansions, and I suspect that that was a compromise with the weather.

south side of Bayfield House; photo by Jim Mackay

north side of Bayfield House; photo by Jim Mackay

The horizontal banding courses, nowadays picked out in white, are a most distinctive and attractive feature.

The B listed building is described in its listing more technically thus:

Circa 1790; large 3-storey, 3-bay house with 2-storey, 2-bay flanking wings. Grey washed coursed rubble with similary treated tooled margins. Centre door in north elevation with secondary entrances in flanking wings. Band course above ground floor and cill band linking large 1st floor windows, both continue on north and south elevations. 12-pane glazing 6-pane in 2nd floor small windows. Moulded eaves cornice; large paired corniced and hipped end stacks; piended slate roofs. Lower flanking wings each with entrance in north elevation; single later gabled dormer breaking through wallhead in north and south elevations; tall end stacks; piended roofs.

photo by Jim Mackay

Of course the mansion house was only the highest profile part of the infrastructure on an estate. There would also be the mains steading, tenants' cottages, perhaps a mill, coachhouse, perhaps kennels, gardener's cottage, walled garden and more.

The Bayfield farm steading lay well away to the north from Bayfield House, about a third of a mile away – Mackenzie clearly did not want to be closely associated with the farming activities. A description of the steading from 1990 may be found on the Highland HER (Historic Environment Record) ( but since that time all the steading itself has been replaced with modern houses. The entry on the HER suggests that the original Meikle Kindeace House may have been incorporated within the steading. There are plans and photographs of Bayfield steading from the 1990s within the Papers of Jane Durham relating to Nigg (Highland Archives HCA/D102/1/39).

photo by Jim Mackay

A few of the older buildings away from the demolished steading itself still survive, and can be seen as you come up the track that joins the road that runs beside Nigg Bay to the parallel road that runs higher up along the ridge.

photo by Jim Mackay

photo by Jim Mackay

Some of these are mentioned by Anne Gordon in Nigg: A Changing Parish (1977):

There is a coach-house near to Bayfield House [about 130 yards east], and a granary near the farm buildings [about 100 yards east]. The latter stands above the raised beach and no one seems certain of its original purpose. It is unlikely to have been a storehouse and does not look like one, but it may have been associated with the old Bayfield mill below, although the last miller’s son does not remember if this is so.

granary close to former Bayfield steading; photo by Jim Mackay

To my eye, it looks exactly like a storehouse! I presume that like most storehouses it was where tenants paid their rent in kind, and their grain along with what was produced on the Mains farm, would be stored until exported to southern markets for cash to the proprietor.

The coach-house nowadays is a workshop behind modern Wemyss House and still retains many of its original features. The four-wheel carriage used by the Mackenzies would have been housed in there with the horses nearby. The Mackenzie postillion (he rode on one of the carriage horses rather than directing them from the carriage itself) was called Alexander Fraser and he moved with the Mackenzies from Cromarty accompanied by his wife Janet McLay and their children.

Christine, Davine and Stuart in front of the Bayfield coach-house; photo by Jim Mackay

The owners of Wemyss House, Christine and Stuart Asher, kindly invited several of us over to take a look at the coach-house. Hinges of the doorway through which the carriage passed can still be seen, although I suspect they must have been changed several times over the centuries. There are foundations of adjacent buildings behind the coach-house, and these are probably remains of stables. Stuart uses the coach-house as a workshop where he restores heritage items such as chairs, tables and sofas for prestigious homes such as Skibo Castle. With lines of traditional tools hung up all around the walls and restoration work in progress it is one of the most appropriate re-uses of an old coach-house to be seen! Upstairs the old loft entrance is still in place.

the front entrance hinges; photos by Davine Sutherland

the entrance in the loft; photo by Jim Mackay

We know that Alexander Fraser was the postillion and his wife was Janet McLay because of the wonderful tax records available for a short period at the end of the eighteenth century. Captain John Mackenzie is listed in Cromarty as having first two, and later three, carriage or saddle horses. The last entry for him at Cromarty is in 1793, and then he appears in 1794 as “John Mckenzie Esquire of Kindeace” with three carriage or saddle horses in the parish of Nigg. And what were these horses pulling? Well, the wheel-carriage tax records for Cromarty are absent, but for the parish of Nigg we have “John Mackenzie Esquire Kindeace” appearing in 1794 with one “Private Carriage with Four Wheels”. It is good to have these tax returns, although I’m sure the good Captain was not too pleased to be paying the many and diverse taxes of the period.

Male servant tax records are very patchy, but in 1789 the Mackenzies in Cromarty had two male servants, one a house servant and one a postillion. And there is one record from 1796 in the parish of Nigg, where “Captn. McKenzie of Bayfield” has a postillion named Alexander Fraser and a gardener named John Stewart.

We can track Alexander Fraser and his wife Janet McLay further through baptisms of their children: in May 1793 they were in Cromarty, in October 1802 “Alexr Fraser servant Bayfield and Janet McLay his Spouse” are in the parish of Nigg and in November 1804 “Alexr. Fraser Driver Kindace had by his Spouse Jannet McLay a Child baptised named Lochart” in the parish of Kilmuir Easter. So Fraser moved from Cromarty to Bayfield with the Mackenzies as postillion, but after the death of John Mackenzie flitted the short distance to the parish of Kilmuir Easter to pick up the post of driving the carriage for Kindeace.

a postillion directing a four-wheeled carriage bearing a rather grand couple – King George VI and Queen Elizabeth

We know less about the gardener, John Stewart, although from the Presbytery of Tain Records (CH2/348/12, 29 March 1810) I see that after John Mackenzie of Bayfield died Stewart became gardener at nearby Nigg House. We can assume his role with the Mackenzies would have been not only to start making Bayfield more decorative but also to cultivate the vegetables for the table. I think that the site for Bayfield House and garden would have been uncultivated land before the Mackenzies took over, being built quite a distance from the old house and steading at Meikle Kindeace, so the gardener would have had to start from scratch.

We know that Captain Mackenzie had a game licence for Bayfield, and in the solitary Dog Tax Roll that has survived (June 1797) he pays tax on one dog, presumably a game dog to retrieve the game he had shot. From the high ground behind the house to the vast expanse of mud-flats on Nigg Bay itself, it would have been a sportsman’s paradise. There would have been deer, hare, pigeons, partridge and countless wildfowl for Mackenzie and friends such as Mackenzie of New Tarbat, Gun Munro of Poyntzfield and Walter Ross of Nigg to enjoy shooting.

Shooting scene. Attribution: Robert Frankland, 1813, published by W.D. Jones, Cambridge; engraver Woodman and Turner

A mill was located below the steading, exploiting the fall of the land. There is a surprisingly large water body called Bayfield Loch on the Hill of Nigg above Bayfield, enlarged with a dam.

Bayfield Loch; photo by Andrew Dowsett

The same water source fed both Culnaha and Bayfield. You can follow the water from Bayfield Loch, down past Culnaha, passing close to Bayfield House and then along to the steading and mill at Bayfield.

mill lade between Bayfield steading and Bayfield House; photo by Jim Mackay

The lade, despite some localised infilling, can be traced throughout its length.


The Smuggler’s Tunnel

Cromarty House servants tunnel leading to Cromarty House, home of Captain Mackenzie for five years; photo by Jim Mackay

You will note that the official listing makes no reference to a tunnel. Lots of old houses are reputed to have a secret tunnel, and some houses actually do have them! Some tunnels aren’t really secret, such as the sizeable ones at Cromarty House and Invermoriston House – they were used to keep the servants’ activities out of view of the laird and his visitors. Captain John Mackenzie himself was resident in Cromarty House for more than five years and would be well aware of the Servants Tunnel.

the surprisingly tall and dry Cromarty House servants tunnel; photo by Jim Mackay

Bayfield’s tunnel seems to have been a genuine secret tunnel. Bayfield House was built near the end of what was called the golden age of smuggling, the 1700s. John Mackenzie of the Prince Kaunitz would not have been one to observe import regulations. However, any smuggler would have had to carry his goods from a ship in the Firth quite a distance by punt due to the shallow waters of the bay. He would then have had to carry those goods over the marsh and low ground to reach the entrance of the tunnel in the raised beach or steep brae below the fields of Bayfield. And once in the tunnel they would be trapped if revenue officers simply guarded both entrances. I can’t really believe that it was truly designed as a smuggler’s tunnel. Perhaps it was intended for reaching the lower road and the shoreline without worrying about the weather or about disturbing crops.

Anne Gordon mentions the Smuggler’s Tunnel several times in Nigg: A Changing Parish (1977):

It was not for nothing that a fine tunnel was built from the raised beach to Kindeace (Bayfield House) coming up in the dining room, and known still as the Smuggler’s Tunnel. It is properly constructed with slab walls and lintel stones and the exit (or entrance) in the house was only closed up this century by the late Mr Alex Mackenzie, Lower Pitcalnie. … A tunnel was built leading from the shore to Bayfield House, possibly for claret smuggling. The entrance from the house was blocked some years ago by Mr. Alec Mackenzie, the carpenter, and now only the mouth of the tunnel can be seen. … A proposal in the 1970s to turn Bayfield House into a country club/Hotel naming it The White Lady after the ghost and using the Smuggler’s Tunnel for access, was approved by the planning committee but came to nothing.

More recent information was provided to me in 2023 by Mrs Helen Campbell of the Nigg Old Trust, whose son Colin farms Carse of Bayfield Farm. She confirmed that it “came up in the house, and was there when Al and Shona Ross lived in part of Bayfield House. It has been closed within the house.” Helen also informed me that the raised beach entrance was in the whins to the side of the waterfall but that it had been blocked years ago as a ewe had got stuck in the tunnel.

Waterfall? Well, the burn from Bayfield Loch, which fed the mill lades for Culnaha and Bayfield steading, flows round Bayfield House and then down to the top of the raised beach. There it drops over sandstone cliffs and ledges, quite spectacularly after a period of rain. It can barely be glimpsed during the growing months, but once the leaves are off the trees then it makes a surprising appearance. The tunnel users would have emerged to the roar of tumbling water and been rewarded with a great view. In November 2023, Andrew Dowsett and I visited the site.

the intrepid Andrew in search of the best shot; photo by Jim Mackay

and rewarded! Bayfield waterfall; photo by Andrew Dowsett

photo by Andrew Dowsett

The whins are very dense on the braeface, but there is an area where a considerable amount of soil seems to have been tipped over the braeface, and this presumably is where the blocked entrance is concealed. It is very difficult to tell with the whins, but we did think there was just a suggestion of a diagonal track towards and then away from the waterfall, dropping steadily all the time, until the bayside road is reached. The earliest ordance survey mapping (surveyed 1872) shows the channelled burn and embankments extending out onto the saltmarsh from this point, but nowadays it serves as the elevated track to the RSPB bird hide.

we think the tunnel once emerged at the point spotted red; photo by Andrew Dowsett


Marriage to Justina Anderson

Captain John Mackenzie married Justina Anderson (1759–1797), the daughter of Dr William Anderson of Udol or Udale (who had died in 1772 or 1773) and Anne Davidson of Tulloch. Justina was residing in London at the time, perhaps in the home of her merchant broker brother William Anderson (1761–1825), or perhaps in the home of her merchant uncle and future M.P. Duncan Davidson (1733–1799).

As Justina’s father was dead, it is likely that brother William would have negotiated the contract of marriage.

When exactly did Justina marry Captain John Mackenzie, who would become John Mackenzie of Bayfield? I believe it was soon after April 1785 as she was not married when mentioned in a chatty letter dated 25 April 1785 from Reverend Arthur of Resolis to Gun Munro of Poyntzfield, an in-law: “By a letter from Miss Justina Anderson, Innes is arrived at London & well.” From this, she was at the time single and residing in London. The baptism of their first daughter (and I think their first child) occurred in London on 14 December 1786. So they married, probably, in late 1785 or early 1786, probably in London. Justina would have been in her mid-20s at the time.

It is surprising that there is no mention of their marriage in the press of the time, given that it was a union of two families of standing. The marriages of John’s three sisters (Harriet Ann, Elizabeth Jane and Alexandra) had been announced in the press. There must have been some reason as to why it was kept low-key. The lives of all three sisters had begun to unravel publicly, ending astonishingly in three divorces, and perhaps those scandals explain the low profile of his own marriage.

The American painter Gilbert Stuart (1755–1828; most famous for his portraits of George Washington) was resident in England from 1775 to 1787 and he commanded extremely high prices for his portraits, exceeded only by Gainsborough and Reynolds. The period when he painted John and Justina must then have been about 1786, not long after their marriage, and presumably in London. They were sparing no cost to get what they wanted.

The paintings may be seen in the actual oil on canvas in the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, although they featured digitally in the museum’s Valentine’s Day 2023 Facebook post: “These two love birds, John and Justina (Anderson) Mackenzie can be found in our portrait gallery. These are pendant portraits, two paintings meant to hang together.” The museum gives a date of 1788 for them, but Stuart had moved to Ireland by this time to avoid his creditors, so they must be from a year or two earlier, when, in fact, John and Justina were newly-weds.


The Children of John Mackenzie of Bayfield and Justina Anderson

John and Justina had five children, as named in John’s will but re-ordered here according to calculated years of birth:

Elizabeth (1786–1871) who married merchant John Henry Deffell in 1805
John (born between 1787and 1794, died young between 1797 and1802)
Ann (1788–1880) who did not marry
Jane (named Jean in father’s will) (c1791–1875) who married famous surgeon Dr John Mackintosh of Edinburgh in 1812
William (1795–1869) who married his cousin, another Justina Anderson, in 1822.

Elizabeth would have been the oldest child, born whilst the family were visiting London.

Baptisms St Andrew, Holborn
December 1786 … Elizabeth Daugtr. of John Mackenzie Esqr. & Justina his wife Lambs Conduit Street 14th.

Lambs Conduit Street joins Guilford Street at right angles. I mention this as Guilford Street is where Justina’s brother, merchant William Anderson, later of nearby Russell Square and Highbury Hill, resided. It cannot be coincidence that John and Justina were residing close to her rich brother. William Anderson maintained a close relationship with his Mackenzie relatives, and I see that he is named as one of the two executors of the will (PROB 11/1410/293) of John Mackenzie’s nephew, Captain Alexander Duncan Cameron (–1804).

fountain commemorating Lambs Conduit, situated at the junction of Lambs Conduit Street and Guilford Street. Attribution: R Sones, CC BY-SA 2.0

The later Mackenzie children must have been born up north, mostly in Cromarty whilst the couple were resident in Cromarty House and Bayfield House was a-building. Those who survived through to Census returns (Ann, Jane and William) were all recorded as having been born in Scotland. In one return, Jane confirms she was born in Cromarty. Their baptisms, however, were not recorded in the parish registers of either Cromarty or Nigg and I think it likely that they were baptised at home and their parents were unconcerned about having their names registered in the parish baptism registers.


Life as a Laird

We don’t hear much of John’s activities on the Estate of Bayfield. His activities outside the Estate were those of the typical landowner – active in politics, involved with the church but only in the context of a heritor. Let’s have a look at a few examples…

Initially he appears or is referenced in Church records as Captain John Mackenzie of Kindeace, and I confess I wasn’t sure if this was truly the right man. But his valued rent as set out in the Church records was £404 Scots for Kindeace and later for Bayfield, and the tax records give the valuation of Meikle Kindeace, property of Captain John Mackenzie of Bayfield, as £404 Scots, so it definitely was the right Captain John. It was simply that the name change had not occurred and the original name had lingered.

He was often away, and until Bayfield House was finished his main residence was in Cromarty, so there are several mentions in the Presbytery records (e.g. 15 June 1791) of this nature: “There was no compearance for Captain John McKenzie of Kindeace”. This frequent absence led Reverend Macadam in the First Statistical Account of Nigg, published in 1794, to declare: “There are 9 proprietors in the parish, none of whom reside in it at present.”

But in reality, John Mackenzie of Bayfield was only a few minutes away by a short ferry journey from Cromarty. And he did become resident when his home was built. Thereafter I do see John Mackenzie of Bayfield appear quite often in person. For example, he was present at the Kirk in 1801 when measures to alleviate poverty were being addressed by the heritors.

Nigg Old parish church, the Mackenzies local church; photo by Andrew Dowsett

Nigg Kirk Session Volume CH2/1438/2
At Nigg 27 January 1801 … the following Gentlemen John Cockburn Ross Esqr. of Shandwick, Capt. John McKenzie of Bayfield, Major Walter Ross of Nigg and Mr. John Montgomery for Munro Ross Esqr. of Pitcalnie Archibald Fraser Elder and Mr. William Chhisholm with Mr. Macadam Minister to consider the State of the poor in this Parish. After deliberating for some time on the Subject They in the first place appoint Capt. McKenzie of Bayfield Major Ross of Nigg Mr. Macadam Minister Archibald Fraser Elder and Mr. William Chisholm as a Committee. … Thereafter Mr. Ross of Shandwick in order to begin the Contribution hereby gives for himself Two Bolls Barley to be disposed of by the Committee, Capt. Mackenzie of Bayfield gives Two Bolls for the above purpose…

All the advertisements for Bayfield make much of the fact that the owner was entitled to a vote for the representative in Parliament for the Shire of Ross. At this time the tiny numbers of the electorate meant a single voter could influence a political career. A confidential report on the background of all county voters in Scotland (all 2,662 of them!) and how they were likely to vote was drawn up in 1788 (later published as View of the political state of Scotland in the last century by Sir Charles Elphinstone Adam, 1887). It is amusing to note that “John M’Kenzie of Kindeace” was a totally unknown quantity to the compilers. Other entries have the family and likely political affiliations of voters – but his entry just gives his name and title – like so many later historians, they knew nothing about John Mackenzie.

He performed his civic duties as a juror, albeit the case I have noted was one where the public sympathy was with the accused. In 1792, “The Year of the Sheep” or Bliadhna nan Caorach, there was a trial of Easter Ross residents who had protested against the clearance of families for the more profitable (to the proprietor) concern of rearing sheep. More than 6,000 sheep were driven off by the protestors from land around Ardross. The list of the Assize at the subsequent trial included “John Mackenzie of Kindeace” but we do not know what his views were. Several of the accused were given stinging sentences, but the feeling of the country was so strongly with them that they “somehow” escaped Inverness Tolbooth and were never re-arrested, despite a reward being offered.


Death of Justina Anderson

Justina was to die at the relatively young age of 37 years. It was announced briefly in the press:

The Scots Magazine 1 July 1797
June … 10. Mrs M’Kenzie of Bayfield.

the Mackenzie of Bayfield enclosure at Nigg Old; photo by Andrew Dowsett

photo by Davine Sutherland, torch held by Jim!

There was a much more effusive eulogy on her memorial in the family burial enclosure in Old Nigg burial ground.

Erected by JOHN MACKENZIE Esq. of Bayfield to the memory of his much beloved wife JUSTINA daughter of WILLIAM ANDERSON Esq. of Udoll who departed this life the 10th day of June 1797 aged 37 years.
The most dutiful daughter, and affectionate wife and mother who lived a life of unaffected piety, benevolence and charity and died in the greatest firmness and resignation leaving a disconsolate husband and family to bewail their heavy loss. Beloved by her neighbours and much lamented by the poor.


The effect on the family was devastating. George Gun Munro of Poyntzfield, whose wife was a relative, and who was a neighbour of the Andersons of Udale, wrote to his uncle’s factor, William Taylor of Dornoch:

Geanies 1st. May 1797
Dear Sir, / I am sorry I did not see you at Tain– as I yesterday understood from Mr Barclay you were there Saturday– where I was also– … I am going to Bayfield tell my Uncle that I intended writing him– they are in great Distress in poor Bayfields family- wt. best wishes to every Person I always am Dr. Sir / Yours sincerely &c. / Geo Gun Munro

A couple of months later he actually wrote from Bayfield, but it was about the likely death of another relative.

Bayfield 12th. July 1797.
Dear Sir, / I take the Liberty of troubling you on the present Occasion instead of my Uncle it is on Occasion of poor Mrs. Sinclair's probable Death by this time– & therefore I have to entreat of you to give Directions about the Funeral that the Expences be confined to what is decent at same time on the most frugal & oeconomical plan, in case some triffle can be saved, which I shall consider myself justifiable in bestowing upon Mrs Chadwick & Children should any thing remain– … tell my Uncle I would have written him but that I am in haste to get cross the Ferry house wt. Miss Dunbar…

Poyntzfield, home of John Mackenzie’s friend, George Gun Munro; photo by Andrew Dowsett during Kirkmichael Trust Guided Tour

It suggests that Poyntzfield was using Bayfield House as a comfortable staging house when journeying north from the Black Isle. Nigg Ferry of course was only a few minutes from Bayfield House. It is likely that John Mackenzie had a lot of guests!

With the death of his wife, John’s thoughts turned to his own mortality. He wrote his will a couple of months later, providing his underage children with security and ensuring that his eldest son John would inherit. Sadly, a note to the will states that young John died before his father, so that the only other son William became heir. Later in 1802, the Land Tax Roll records “William Mackenzie of Bayfield” as being liable for £404 Scots for “Meikle Kindeace”.


Death of John Mackenzie of Bayfield

The death of John Mackenzie in 1802 must have been a terrible blow to his family. He was buried in the family enclosure in Nigg Old churchyard. His father hired the best mortcloth from Cromarty Kirk Session, and the Cromarty Kirk Officer was paid five shillings for carrying it across to Nigg (CH2/672/2, 25 January 1803). His death was in all the papers:

True Briton 30 July 1802
On the 14th instant, John Mackenzie, Esq. of Bayfield.

The funeral invitations were sent out by his father from Bayfield, and the one received by neighbour Charles Munro of Meikle Allan may be seen in his family papers at GD71/361. I myself took a note of his father’s own funeral invitation and foolishly forgot to record his son’s.

I’ve said it before, but John’s will (PROB 11/1417/242) is the kind that family historians love:

I John Mackenzie of Bayfield Esquire for the love favour and affection which I have and bear to John Mackenzie my Eldest lawful Son and my other children after mentioned procreated betwixt me and my beloved Spouse the deceast Mrs Justina Anderson … give … in favors of the said John Mackenzie my Eldest lawful son whom failing to William Mackenzie my second son whom failing to Elizabeth Mackenzie my Eldest daughter whom failing to Ann Mackenzie my second daughter, and whom failing to Jean Mackenzie my youngest daughter … [all his land and property] … and under the burden of paying to my said younger children … Six thousand pounds Sterling money to be divided equally among them … I also nominate constitute and appoint
Doctor Alexander Mackenzie physician in Cromarty my father
Alexander Anderson Esquire of Udoll
George Gun Munro Esquire of Poyntzfield
Henry Davidson Esqr of Tulloch
William Anderson and Andrew Reid Esquires Merchants in London and
Walter Ross Factor of Cromarty
to be Tutors and Curators to such of my said children as shall be minors at the time of my death any one of whom accepting or surviving… written on this and the three preceding pages of Stamped paper by the said Walter Ross at Bayfield the Eight day of September one thousand seven hundred and ninety seven years … John Mackenzie the eldest son of the deceased … dying in the life time of the testator

The first four curator nominees survived only a few years after John Mackenzie himself. All seven men were logical choices as curators. Gun Munro was a friend, and his wife Justina Dunbar was a relation of both Davidson of Tulloch and John’s grandmother, Jean Dunbar. Walter Ross was a good friend of John Mackenzie’s father. The others were relatives, except for Andrew Reid who is the most interesting name in the group. We have already seen that he and his brother John Reid had been out in Canton, China, both had sailed on the Prince Kaunitz and both had prospered in London in the brewery business.

The man who did come forward to act as guardian was in fact their uncle, William Anderson of Russell Square.

Captain John Mackenzie had died on 14 July 1802. Within a few months a sale of household furniture and farm stock was being advertised to take place on 30 September.

from the Caledonian Mercury of 6 September 1802

But the estate itself was not sold. It was held in trust for many years for the young William Mackenzie of Bayfield whilst he reached his majority.

Bayfield House being new and well appointed, it would have been in some demand as a country home. And who should first move in, unfortunately, but that disagreeable sociopath Hugh Rose of Glastullich, the future Hugh Rose Ross of Cromarty. He and his young wife, Arabella Phipps, whom he had married in 1799, resided there for several years until Arabella’s untimely death. Many books and websites will tell you that he bought Bayfield but they are wrong – he was merely a tenant in Bayfield House.

Hugh Rose

memorial to Arabella Phipps in Tain Collegiate Church

Arabella Phipps

Arabella I think had been married off to Rose to prevent him from testifying against her father Isaac Phipps in the investigations into their widescale corruption in supplying the forces in the West Indies at the time. Two daughters were born to the Roses in Bayfield House.

Scots Magazine 1 July 1804
June 14. At Bayfield, Ross-shire, the Lady of Hugh Rose, Esq. of Glastulloch, a daughter.
Morning Post 1 February 1806
On the 22d ult. at Bayfield, in Ross-shire, the Lady of Hugh Rose, Esq. of a daughter.

And then Arabella Phipps died suddenly.

Morning Chronicle 21 November 1806
On the 9th instant, at Bayfield, in Ross-shire, Mrs. Rose, wife of Hugh Rose, Esq. and only daughter of Isaac Phipps, Esq. of Beaumont-street, London.

Marinell Ash in This Noble Harbour (1991) states that:

there are a number of local traditions connected with Arabella Phipps Rose. One is that she was murdered by her husband’s discarded West Indian quadroon mistress who came to Easter Ross, concealed herself in the attic of the mansion, and eventually succeeded in pushing Arabella downstairs. Arabella’s tombstone, however, states that “in the act of preparing medicine for the relief of a sick and indigent family [she] suddenly expired on the ninth of November 1806 aged 27”.

I do hope the sudden expiry whilst engaged in a charitable action is true. I suspect, though, that it is a typical piece of Hugh Rose spin.

The West Indian mistress is such an unexpected story that I seriously wonder if there might not be some element of it that arose from an actual incident. Certainly many, if not most, men in Hugh Rose’s position in the West Indies at the time would have had a mistress (and usually several children). The attic is a long tradition, subsequently used in Jane Eyre.

The day after her tragic death, Rose coolly wrote to the lairds of the area, as in the surviving note to Charles Munro of Meikle Allan (GD71/361 again):

Sir / Mrs Rose my wife died here last Night And it is proposed her remains should be interred in the Family Burial place, within the Church of Tain on Friday the 14th. Currt. / It is earnestly requested that you would attend here on that day by Eleven oClock forenoon to pay the last duty by accompanying the Funeral from hence to the place of Interment– / A Dinner will be provided in Tain, and will be ready as soon as the Interment is performed. / I am Sir / Your obedt. Hule. Servt.

the Collegiate Church in Tain where Arabella is buried; photo by Jim Mackay

Arabella Phipps is commemorated by the local names of Arabella, now a small village, and Phippsfield, site of Hugh Rose’s brick and tile works.

The story that her non-existent sister Barbara was the source of the name Barbaraville is incorrect (and the story that the Barbara and Jemima of Barbaraville and Jemimaville on opposing sides of the Cromarty Firth were sisters is incorrect too). Barbara Rose and Jemima Graham would be disappointed that their names have been forgotten.

The story of Arabella’s supposed murder in turn gave rise to a story of a supposed ghost of Bayfield House called “The White Lady”. The power of suggestion is a subtle one – after decades of peace, there was a sighting after the legend had re-surfaced during public engagement in the 1970s for a book about the parish!


The Mackenzie Children Leave Bayfield

The four surviving Mackenzie children varied widely in age. Elizabeth would marry just a few years after the death of her father. William, now William Mackenzie of Bayfield, was just a youngster at the time.


The Bayfield Children – 1. Elizabeth Mackenzie

Elizabeth I assume had moved into Russell Square with her uncle William Anderson. She married in 1805 John Henry Deffell, a business associate in the Anderson/Davidson/Barkly circle, and brother-in-law of Henry Davidson. The witnesses at the marriage were none other than William Anderson and Henry Davidson. Marriages like these kept the money within a tight social group but they played hell with the gene pool.

The Saint James’s Chronicle 20 April 1805
April 18, John Henry Deffell, Esq. of Gower-street, to Miss [Elizabeth] Mackenzie, of Russell-square, eldest daughter of the late John Mackenzie, Esq. of Bayfield, North Britain.

They had at least five children. Mother Elizabeth died at the family home in Chester Place, Regent’s Park, in 1871, and the announcement unusually gave her exact age, indicating she was born in the year 1786.

The Evening Standard 25 September 1871
DEFFELL.– 20th, at 12, Chester-place, Regent’s Park, Elizabeth, widow of John Henry Deffell, Esq., of 38, Upper Harley-street, aged 84 years and 10 months.

The death of her merchant husband had occurred under remarkable circumstances, related in all the newspapers nationally at the time. This is from one of the later accounts.

Durham Chronicle 12 November 1847
A suicide of an extraordinary nature was effected last week in Redcross Street. An old gentleman entered the shop of Mr Batley, a chemist, and asked if Mr Batley was at home; an assistant answered that he was in the counting-house: the applicant said, he would not disturb him: he had known Mr Batley for many years, and he himself was Dr. Randall: he wanted an ounce of hydrocyanic (prussic) acid, and should like to see it before he was served, as the strength of the acid varied so much. The shopman took the stopper out of the bottle, and observed that Dr. Randall would find it quite strong enough: the old gentleman seized the bottle; the shopman struggled to get it back; but the stranger first gave it a jerk, scattering the poison over his face and clothes; and then let go of the bottle. The shopman cried, “You have done for yourself:” the stranger replied, “I wanted, I wanted!” and ran out of the shop. He was found in the neighbourhood, at a baker’s; antidotes were administered; but he died in a quarter of an hour. It appeared at the Coroner’s inquest, that the deceased was Mr John Henry Deffell, a West India merchant, of the age of seventy. It was the shopman’s impression that none of the poison was swallowed by Mr Deffell; he had been killed by the inhalation of the vapour. Mr Southwood, a surgeon, stated that none of the acid was detected in the stomach; and if any had been swallowed the patient could not have lived so long. Witnesses proved that Mr Deffell had recently exhibited great nervous agitation: the mercantile failures, some occurring among his friends and neighbours, had pained him greatly; but, though he had suffered by the depreciation in the prices of the colonial produce, his own affairs were not embarrassed. The verdict was “Temporary insanity.”



The Bayfield Children – 2. Ann Mackenzie

Ann seems to have followed sister Elizabeth around for most of her life. You see her in the Deffell family home in each of the Census returns and, after the death of Elizabeth, in the home of Elizabeth’s unmarried daughter, Charlotte Deffell. Again, Ann’s death notice was unusually precise in terms of her age.

The London Evening Standard 31 December 1880
MACKENZIE– Dec. 14, at 12, Chester-place, Regent’s park, Anne, last surviving child of the late John Mackenzie, of Bayfield, Ross-shire, aged 92 years and 10 months. Kindred and old friends at a distance are begged to accept this announcement in the stead of any other.

Ann had thus been born in 1788. Her niece Charlotte Deffell was her sole executrix.


The Bayfield Children – 3. Jane Mackenzie

Jane, called Jean in her father’s will, married in Scotland. Her husband was a famous doctor and surgeon, in his younger days with the army, and later Surgeon to the Ordnance Department in North Britain and Lecturer on the Principles and Practice of Physic in Edinburgh. He published several medical treatises. He died a relatively young man from typhus fever caught from a patient. His great collection of surgical pathology material is now in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh as the Mackintosh Collection.

Whilst he was highly respected at the time, there was one aspect of his practice which fell out of favour. He was a great enthusiast for bleeding patients suffering from fevers so it is likely that the graveyards of the country are filled with patients of his who died before their time. Add to that his strong belief in phrenology and you do wonder: (“I was formerly not only an unbeliever in Phrenology, but a determined scoffer, and my conversion was slowly produced by the occurrence of individual cases that were accidentally brought before me; and I would now risk all I possess upon the general results drawn from the examination of the heads of one hundred convicts, by qualified persons I could name.”) However, he was an innovator – in 1834, he was the first doctor to use intravenous albumin, and incredibly knowledgeable in the fields of midwifery and fevers.

John and Jane married when he was an army surgeon.

Edinburgh Marriages
Edinburgh September 1812 … 15th. … John McIntosh, Surgeon, Royal Artillery Leith Fort and Miss Jane Mckenzie St Andrew Church Parish Daughter of the late John Mckenzie Esqr. of Bayfield, Ross-shire.

Their children were born wherever the Royal Artillery happened to be stationed. Although they had five children I can locate only two baptisms; the others may have been born abroad.

(i) John Mackintosh
Parish of Leith North Baptisms
John lawful son of John MacIntosh assistant Surgeon in the Royal Artillery & Jean MacKenzie was borth the 11th & baptized the 29th of July 1815 by the Revd. Mr Russell.

John Mackintosh also became a surgeon in the Royal Artillery,but died in 1859 in Fife of consumption. He had married Canadian Emma Cecilia MacNicol ms Wood in Quebec in 1845. She was the Quebec-born widow of Captain Alexander Anthony McNicol of the Royal Scots. John and Emma had one child, a blind boy called Robert, born in 1851 in Woolwich before John left the army on half-pay, and baptised soon afterwards in Princetown, near Dartmoor Prison (and the chaplain at the prison certified the baptism extract). John seems to have set up as a doctor at Lydford, about fifteen miles from Princetown, where he is seen in the “Doctors Cottage” in the 1851 Census. But by 1859 he was residing at “The Cottage, Ferry-Port-on-Craig” when he died. Emma applied to the army for an allowance and the information she submitted (which can be found in WO42/30) facilitated this short summary of her life. She died in Hastings in 1879.

(ii) Williamina Henrietta Mackintosh
Parish of Ardersier Baptisms
Fort George 16th September 1813
Williamina Henrietta Daughter of John McIntosh Esqr. Asst. Surgeon, Royal Artillery and Jane Mackenzie his Wife, was born on 2d September 1813 and baptized this day in presence of James Roy Esqr. Surgeon to the Forces and Miss Elizabeth McGregor

Henrietta is dealt with in more detail later.

(iii) Henry Mackintosh
I am aware of another boy, who became Lieutenant Henry Mackintosh. Henry is the boy found in the household of William Mackenzie and Justina Anderson in 1841, aged 13, born in Scotland, enjoying life in the Home Counties with his uncle and aunt before joining up. He would die out in India:

Saunders’s News-Letter 25 October 1855
On the 5th of August, 1855, at Meyet Meyo, near Prome, Burmah, Lieutenant Henry Mackintosh, of the 53d Madras Native Infantry, aged 28, youngest son of the late Dr. John Mackintosh of Edinburgh.

Dr John Mackintosh was a popular lecturer at the Edinburgh College of Surgeons, and he used his lectures as a basis for his most successful book, Elements of pathology, and practice of physic (Volume 1, 1828), which went into numerous editions.

He seems to have been a fiery character who did not suffer criticism lightly. He gave evidence in a noted trial in Edinburgh in 1827, when Mrs Smith, a farmer’s wife, was accused of poisoning her female servant, pregnant to the son of Mrs Smith. One of the medical witnesses wrote an account of the trial afterwards and drove Dr Mackintosh to distraction by criticising his evidence. He published a fiery paper not only defending himself but attacking his detractor. It is an entertaining read. The Jury, by the way, leaned towards the view that the unfortunate girl had poisoned herself, and returned a verdict of “Not Proven”.


His strangest publication has to be a 32 page statement regarding a social dispute between himself and a Mr Syme in 1832, in which he at great length sets out his side of the story. A generation earlier and it would have been settled with pistols, and indeed Mr Syme seems to have been angling for a duel. But Dr Mackintosh preferred the pen to the pistol and rigorously set out all the facts of the case in his publication to demonstrate his innocence of the charge laid against him (traducing the reputation of young Fanny Willis, a friend of the Mackintosh family and Mr Syme’s sister-in-law). With those clues, I have deduced that Mr Syme was none other than surgeon Dr James Syme, himself a fiery argumentative character – his Wiki entry is here and images of the two adversaries can be seen below.

Dr John Mackintosh. Mezzotint by T. Lupton, 1838, after J. Watson-Gordon. Wellcome Collection. Source: Wellcome Collection.

Dr James Syme (1799–1870) Attribution: John Adamson (1809–1870), Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Have a read of Dr Mackintosh’s wordy defence yourself ( – it certainly shows the nature of the man. I shall copy only one small section as it illustrates clearly the dissipated social life of the good people of Edinburgh.

The tea-drinking affair, out of which the whole matter has arisen is thus explained by Dr. Robertson:– “On the evening of Tuesday 11th September, Mr. Liston and myself, on ringing Dr. Mackintosh’s bell, were met by Mrs. and Miss [this will be Henrietta] Mackintosh, Mrs. Fraser, and Mr. J. Mackintosh, who informed us that Dr. Mackintosh was not at home, and at the same time that they could not receive us, as they were on their way to drink tea with Miss F. Willis, the sister of Mrs. Fraser, but that they had no doubt she would be happy to see us, being acquainted with both, and that we would probably meet Dr. Mackintosh there. We accordingly accompanied Mrs. and Miss Mackintosh, Mrs. Fraser, and Mr. J. Mackintosh, and passed the evening at Miss Willis’s house, where we also met Mr. Fraser, Dr. Mackintosh, Mr. Willis, and others.”

All I can say is, it is just as well it was only tea they were drinking or there might very well have been pistols at dawn.

Just a few years later, Dr. Mackintosh died whilst fighting a more potent enemy, a typhus outbreak. The death of the good doctor was lamented in many newspapers; here are two pieces.

Caledonian Mercury 28 October 1837
Death of Dr Mackintosh.– It is with feelings of the most deep regret that we announce this melancholy event, which occurred this morning, at half-past five o’clock, occasioned by typhus fever, which he was supposed to have caught from a patient. In Dr Mackintosh, who has been thus prematurely cut off almost in the prime of life, we have lost one of the most eminent physicians of the present day. He was not only known as one of the first medical authorities in this city, but his reputation may be said to have extended wherever medical science was cultivated. He was a perfect enthusiast in his profession – his zeal in the elucidation of the mysterious workings of the human system knowing no limits. At the time the cholera raged in this city, he has been known to spend whole days and nights in the hospital, watching the progress and endeavouring to check the virulence of the malady. In him the poor of this city have lost an invaluable friend, for he was one of those who, in the exercise of his profession, knew no distinction between high and low. His loss will excite a deep sensation in the medical world, and we have no doubt his character will be done ample justice to by some one of that profession, in the fearless practice of which he has thus fallen a victim; though, alas, it is now but a melancholy task to record the virtues of one cut off in the midst of a career so devoted to the good of mankind.

Inverness Courier 8 November 1837
The late Dr Mackintosh, Edinburgh, whose death we recorded in our last, was united in marriage, at an early age, to the daughter of the late Captain Mackenzie, R.N. of Bayfield, Ross-shire – a union from which, in the midst of the full measure of the cares and anxieties of this world, he derived all the solace and comfort in life and in death, which domestic affection alone is capable of imparting. His amiable wife survives, with one daughter and four sons, to lament the untimely bereavement of one of the best of husbands and most indulgent of fathers.

We know where he is buried, although I have not found his memorial.

Leith South Parish Burial Register
Calton Burying Grounds November 1837
[date of burial] 3 Mackintosh Dr John, from his house No 31 Albany Street, died 28th October 1837, and is buried in the New Ground, in the centre of his own tomb, at the head [age] 47 [cause] Typhus Fever

New Calton Burial Ground

His death left Ann a widow with several young children. From her will and inventory from many years later I gather that she did receive an annuity of £72 a year from the Edinburgh College of Surgeons Widows fund, and she was also due liferent on their house at no. 31 Albany Street Edinburgh and on other property in Edinburgh. It could have been much worse. She raised some money by selling her late husband’s medical collections.

Eldest daughter Williamina Henrietta married a few years later, unsurprisingly to an army officer, but not your usual active soldier: Charles Bingham was a great administrator and his career path was to rise to the heights of army administration.

Perthshire Courier 18 March 1841
At Edinburgh, on the 13th instant, Charles Bingham, Esq., Royal Artillery, to Henrietta, daughter of the late John Mackintosh Esq., M.D.
Parish of Duddingston Marriages
1841 Bingham & Mackintosh
March 6th. On this day the Banns of marriage between Charles Bingham Esqr. Lieutenant Royal Artillery and Miss Williamina Henrietta Mackintosh daughter of the late John Mackintosh Esqr. M.D. Edinburgh, both residing in Portobello in this Parish, have been three times publicly proclaimed in the parish Church.

Henrietta’s mother, Jane Mackintosh ms Mackenzie, moved to reside with the Binghams. She can be seen in household with them in 1851 at Woolwich, when her birth place is given as “Cromarty N.B.” and age 60. And she can be seen in household with them in 1871 at Woolwich, when her birth place is given as “Scotland” and age 80. These returns confirm her birth year as being about 1791, when her father Captain John Mackenzie was residing in Cromarty House.

In between the 1851 and 1871 Censuses, Henrietta’s husband Charles Bingham had died and his obituary gives a handy biography. You will note that his funeral ranked a royal presence. The obituary does not mention, though, that Henrietta was now in financial difficulties due to her husband’s early death.

Illustrated London News 16 April 1864
Colonel Charles Bingham R.A., Deputy Adjutant-General, who died on the 6th inst., at Brighton, after a short illness, was a scion of the very ancient Saxon family of Bingham, seated first at Sutton Bingham, Somersetshire, and afterwards at Melcombe, in Dorsetshire. He was the third son of Colonel Charles Cox Bingham R.A., by his wife Sarah, daughter of Samuel Hayter, Esq., and was first cousin of the present head and representative of the house, Richard Hippisley Bingham Esq., of Bingham’s Melcombe, in the county of Dorset. He was born in 1815, and, having entered the Army early in life, applied himself more particularly to staff duties, and his industry and knowledge in the details of his branch of the service rendered him a valuable public servant. He, for six years, held the post of Brigade-Major at Woolwich, and was afterwards appointed Assistant Adjutant-General of the Royal Artillery. In April, 1858, he was made Deputy Adjutant-General. He became a Captain in 1843, a Lieutenant-Colonel in 1854, and a Colonel in 1857. Colonel Bingham married, in 1841, Henrietta, daughter of John Mackintosh, Esq., M.D., and leaves, by her, a youthful family. The gallant Colonel was interred on the 12th instant, with military hounours, his Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, Major-General Bloomfield, and many of the officers of the Royal Artillery attending the funeral at Plumstead Church, Kent.

Fortunately Henrietta was awarded a pension.

The Cheltenham Chronicle 30 May 1865
The Civil List Pensions. … Mrs. Bingham, widow of Colonel Charles Bingham, of the Royal Artillery, in consideration of her late husband’s long and valuable services, and of the straitened circumstances in which she and her children are left – £150.

Henrietta’s mother, Jane Mackintosh ms Mackenzie, continued to reside with her daughter Henrietta, until she died in 1875. The probate summary helpfully confirms all these details!

Probate Summary 1877 Jane Mackenzie or Mackintosh
Value of Estate, £310, 0s. 6d.
16 November.– Confirmation of Jane Mackenzie or Mackintosh, sometime of Edinburgh, but latterly of Woolwich, County of Kent, widow of Dr John Mackintosh, Surgeon, Edinburgh, who died 16 October 1875, at Woolwich, testate, granted at Edinburgh, to Williamina Henrietta Mackintosh or Bingham, The Cottage, The Common, Woolwich, widow of Colonel Charles Bingham, R.A., her daughter, Executrix nominated in Will or Deed, dated 7 July 1864, and recorded in Court Books of Commissariot of Edinburgh, 13 November 1877.


The Bayfield Children – 4. William Mackenzie of Bayfield

William was the youngest child but as the only surviving son became heir to his father. His gravestone confirms that he was born in September 1795. He would have reached the age of 21 in September 1816. He would then have been able to make his own decisions regarding the future of Bayfield. Walter Ross of Nigg stood in for him at Presbytery of Tain meetings when the Heritors of the Parish of Nigg were called, usually to agree to paying repairs to church or manse. This occurred every few years, and I see Walter Ross fulfilling this function in 1804 “The Heritors of this parish being called upon Compeared … Walter Ross of Nigg for himself, for William Mackenzie of Bayfield Esquire”, 1807 and 1814. But when William came of age, Bayfield was sold.

William had already taken up a military career, had lived most of his life far away from the North of Scotland and presumably had little interest in his family estate. So Bayfield passed away from the family. There is actually nothing in the press about the sale of Bayfield in this period but there is much circumstantial evidence of the sale.

First of all, a great volume of timber was sold in 1819. This could have been William realising some money from the estate before it was sold, but I think it more likely to have been the new owner trying to recoup some of the costs of purchase.

Inverness Courier 11 February 1819
There are to be sold, at Bayfield in Easter Ross, about 2200 FIR TREES, of large size and superior quality. They stand on the edge of the Bay of Nigg, where they can be shipped with great facility.
Apply to the Overseer at Bayfield. (Not to be repeated.)
9th February 1819.

We know it had definitely been sold by March 1820 as there is a reference in the press to William being struck off the roll of electors:

Inverness Courier 23 March 1820
Tain, Tuesday 21st March, 1820. A very numerous meeting of the Freedholders was held here this day... Afterwards, on adjusting the roll, the names of the following gentlemen were ordered to be struck off:–
William Mackenzie, Esq. late of Bayfield.

From his obituary from many years later we know that he had entered the service of the 3rd Light Dragoons in July 1815, became Lieutenant in September 1820 and retired on half-pay in October 1821. I see that his progress was by purchase, no doubt by some of the proceeds of the sale of Bayfield:

The London Gazette 6 April 1816
3d Regiment of Dragoons, Ensign William Mackenzie, from the 78th Foot, to be Cornet [nowadays Second Lieutenant],by purchase, vice Bragge, promoted. Dated March 21, 1816.
The London Gazette 16 September 1820
3d Regiment of Light Dragoons, Cornet William Mackenzie to be Lieutenant, by purchase, vice Finch, who retires. Dated 7th September 1820.

Wikipedia says:

[The King’s Own Dragoons] The regiment returned home in July 1814. The regiment was renamed the 3rd (The King’s Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons in 1818. It served in Ireland between January 1820 and June 1822 and between March 1826 and April 1829.

William therefore would have served only in England and Ireland, having fortunately missed the Napoleonic Wars. He married the year after his retirement on half-pay:

Inverness Courier 5 September 1822
At Hendon, Middlesex, on the 9th ult. Wm. Mackenzie, Esq. of the 3d dragoons, only son of the late John Mackenzie, Esq. of Bayfield, N.B., to Justina, third daughter of William Anderson, Esq. of Russell Square.

Marrying the daughter of his curator, and a first cousin at that, seems a little close to home, but as ever it kept the money within a tight family circle. The married couple moved around a lot, as can be seen from the baptism locations of their six children.

1824 – Parish of St Michael, St Albans, Hertfordshire – William
The English Chronicle Tuesday 4 January 1825
On Friday last [31 December 1824], at St. Alban’s, the lady of William Mackenzie Esq. of a son [William, baptised 27 January 1825 at St Michael’s, St Alban’s to William & Justina “McKeenzie … Gentn.”]
1828 – Parish of Duddingston, Edinburgh – Archibald
Mackenzie Archibald lawful son of William Mackenzie and Justina Anderson his spouse was born at Portobello on the 9th March and baptised on the 19th May following.
1829 – Parish of Bunkle and Preston, near Edinburgh – Henry
Henry son of Mr William MacKenzie Blanerne and Justina Anderson, his wifer, born 27th March and baptized 15th June 1829.
c1831 Scotland – Justina
[from later Census returns, but strange there is no baptism record or newspaper announcement]
1832 – Saint Nicholas, Brighton, Sussex Baptisms (parish register transcription) – Duncan
Mackenzie Duncan, son William & Justina, Preston St, Lieut. 3rd Light Dragoons 28 Dec 1832
1834 – Parish of Duns, near Edinburgh – Caroline
Caroline Mackenzie, lawful daughter of William Mackenzie Esqre, 3d Dragoons, half-pay, and Justina Anderson was born at Dunse on the 17th July 1834 and baptized on the 20th of August following. Witn[esses]: John Wilson Esqr Cocks. / Revd. George Cunningham [The first witness is interesting – John Wilson of Cumledge and Cockburn had married Justina’s sister Caroline Anderson (“of Edinburgh”) the year before. Blanerne, Cumledge and Cockburn are all close together, to the west of Edinburgh.]

Thereafter, they seem to have settled down at Brickfield Cottage in the Parish of Harrow-on-the-Hill, Hendon, Middlesex, where they can be seen in 1841 and 1851. In 1861 they are residing at 12 Grand Parade on the coast at Hastings, but clearly that was a holiday home as William was back in Harrow-on-the-Hill when he died in 1869.

Justina had died back in 1847, but William achieved a good age.

The Dublin Evening Mail 30 August 1869
Lieutenant William Mackenzie, on half-pay, 3rd Light Dragoons, died on Aug. 20, at Harrow-on-the-Hill, aged 74. He entered the service, July 1815; became Lieut., Sept. 1820; and retired on half-pay, Oct. 1821.

His will was proved on 2 November 1869 “by the oaths of Hugh Anderson of 6 Mincing-lane in the City of London Esquire and William Mackenzie of Brighton in the County of Sussex Esquire Archibald Mackenzie of Brighton aforesaid Esquire and the Reverend Henry Mackenzie of Overton in the County of Flint Clerk the sons the Executors”. You can see from this that the Anderson connection was still to the fore as late as 1869. Curiously, his son Duncan was not identified as one of the Executors.

William is buried in St Mary Churchyard, Harrow-on-the-Hill (thanks to Sophie Hodson for the information), and the inscription on his handsome memorial stone reads:

WILLIAM MACKENZIE / Born May1795, Died 20 August 1869. / Being Justified by Faith we have Peace with God / Through our Lord Jesus Christ
[lower] WILLIAM MACKENZIE, eldest son of the above, / Born 31 December 1824, Died 5 Dec 1901.
[opposite side] CAROLINE / Born 17 July 1834, / Died 23 February 1867.
JUSTINA / Born 16th August 1830, / Died 7 November 1886. / Daughters of William Mackenzie. / He that Believeth in Me hath Everlasting Life.

memorial in St Mary Churchyard Harrow-on-the-Hill commemorating William Mackenzie and family, courtesy of


Bayfield and Colin Robertson, and Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone

We have seen that William Mackenzie must have sold Bayfield not long before 1820 as that year he was removed from the electoral roll for the Shire of Ross.

The press reveals who the current owner of the estate was:

Inverness Courier 31 August 1820
Intimation is hereby given, that the Michaelmas Head Court will hold this year within the Ordinary Court Room of Cromarty, on Tuesday the seventeenth day of October next; and that claims of Enrolment have been duly lodged for AEneas Barclay, Esq. of Mounteagle, Merchant in London, and Colin Robertson, Esq. of Bayfield, also Merchant in London.

Colin Robertson (from Dingwall, and uncle of Prime Minister Gladstone) was a merchant residing for a long period on prestigious Russell Square. He was already there in 1811:

Oxford Journal 16 February 1811
At Forres, N.B., on the 28th of January, Mrs Robertson, wife of Colin Robertson, Esq. of Russell-square.

He was still in Russell Square in 1823. Now, Russell Square was also where William Anderson, the curator of William Mackenzie of Bayfield, resided. Colin Robertson and William Anderson were acquainted (they had common Davidson business assocates) and a deal regarding the purchase of Bayfield must have been struck privately.

Although “of Bayfield” in 1820, Colin Robertson did sometimes call himself “of Blackwells” (his father was Dingwall Provost Andrew Robertson of Blackwells). I think perhaps he varied according to when it was strategically desirable to do so. But he was still calling himself “of Bayfield” in 1826. A couple of examples:

Inverness Courier 30 August 1821
The Sheriff Clerk hereby intimates that the Michaelmas Head Court of Ross-shire, holds within the Ordinary Court House of Tain, upon Wednesday the 10th day of October next, and that claims have been lodged with him for –
Colin Robertson of Blackwells, Duncan Davidson, yr. of Tulloch…
Aberdeen Press and Journal 20 December 1826
At No. 38, York Place, London, on the morning of the 5th inst. in the bloom of youth, possessing all the qualities that adorn the female character, after a severe illness, which she bore with great fortitude and pious resignation, Eliza, youngest daughter of Colin Robertson, Esq. of Bayfield, and grand-daughter of the late Mr William Tulloh, Forres.

Robertson owned estates in the West Indies, and was tempted to purchase further estates in Jamaica when wiser heads were offloading them in anticipation of a collapse in value. Perhaps he felt he couldn’t go wrong.

William Gladstone c1835; attribution:William Harold Cubley (1816–1896), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

His house in Russell Square had been host about 1815 to a boy destined to become Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone:

The Life of William Ewart Gladstone, Vol. 1 (John Morley, 1903)
I think it was at this time that in London we were domiciled in Russell Square, in the house of a brother of my mother, Mr. Colin Robertson; and I was vexed and put about by being forbidden to run freely at my own will into and about the streets, as I had done in Liverpool. But the main event was this: we went to a great service of public thanksgiving at Saint Paul’s, and sat in a small gallery annexed to the choir, just over the place where was the Regent, and looking down upon him from behind. I recollect nothing more of the service, nor was I ever present at any public thanksgiving after this in Saint Paul’s, until the service held in that cathedral, under my advice as the prime minister, after the highly dangerous illness of the Prince of Wales.

Gladstone’s mother was one of the Robertsons of Blackwells in Dingwall (which celebrates the link with Prime Minister Gladstone through the name of Gladstone Avenue). My Dingwall sources have not been able to tell me how Ann Robertson originally of Dingwall met up with John Gladstone, later Sir John Gladstone, merchant in Liverpool. They married in Liverpool in 1800, and the future Prime Minister was born there in 1809.

photo of William Ewart Gladstone in 1861. Attribution: John Jabez Edwin Mayal, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Colin Robertson of Bayfield had made a disastrous financial decision in continuing to invest in plantations. The Gladstones tried to prop up Colin Robertson to avoid the scandal of his bankruptcy, but to no avail. His company was destined to be publicised widely as bankrupt.

Morning Herald 24 September 1828
Colin Robertson, Duncan Davidson Milligan, and Robert Milligan Dalzell, Lime-street-square, merchants, to surrender Oct. 2, 17, Nov. 4, at the Bankrupts’ Court, Basinghall-street. Solicitors, Messrs. Freshfield and Son, New Bank-buildings.

His fall is set out in The Gladstones: A Family Biography 1764–1851 (S. G. Checkland, 2008):

Colin [Robertson]was a partner in House of Milligan, Robertson and Co. In July 1826, in the aftermath of the crash of 1825, they suspended payments. John Gladstone [father of Gladstone the Prime Minister] and Divie [Robertson’s brother] together made loans on the security of Colin’s Jamaica estates in an effort to keep him solvent. In particular they bought up the unsound bills of exchange that Colin and his partner had issued in their extremity. … But Colin was not able to recover. Further heavy blows fell upon him. With property prices collapsed he found it difficult to sell his English [sic] estate of Bayfield without catastrophic loss: it went for £11,000, some £3,000 less than the mortgage. He moved into lodgings. … The urbane and secure uncle Colin who had entertained the Gladstone children at his house in Russell Square, defeated by his many misfortunes, had become a mere shell.

Those difficulties in selling his Scottish estate of Bayfield can be seen in the oft repeated advertisements in the press. The first appears in September 1824, and there is no hint of desperation in it. But Robertson had already had to move from Russell Square to Upper Harley Street, and in 1826 he had moved again, to No. 38 York Place.

Inverness Courier 30 September 1824
The Estate of Bayfield in the Parish of Nigg, affording a Freehold Qualification in the County, and comprising about 300 Acres of very superior arable Land, besides an extensive Plantation of Scotch Fir, upwards of 40 years old. There is a handsome Mansion House on the Property, fit to accommodate a genteel Family, a Coach House, two excellent Stables, and a Garden – consisting of an Acre of Land well inclosed, and stocked with a great variety of Fruit Trees in full bearing. The Square of Offices is modern, extensive and substantial, with Corn and Thrashing Milns attached, and the whole arable Lands are inclosed and subdivided, and having been in the Proprietor’s natural possession for several years, they are now in the highest state of cultivation, and capable of bearing heavy Crops of Corn. The public Burdens are moderate, and it is not probable that, for many years, there will be any demand for building or repairing the Kirk, Manse, or School House.
Bayfield commands a delightful view of the Cromarty Frith, near which it lies; it is only about six miles distant from the Royal Burgh of Tain, and two from Parkhill where there is a Post Office.
Offers for the Property, by private contract, with or without the Superiority, may be addressed to Colin Robertson, Esq. 20, Upper Harley Street, London, or to Mr McRae, at Humberston, by Dingwall, and the Purchaser may have immediate entry, with the whole Stock of Cattle, Horses, &c. and the Crop, as well as some fashionable London made Furniture, by valuation.
29th September, 1824.

The advertisements continued through to 1827 without a successful sale. But then in 1828 the sad truth was revealed in a revised advertisement:

The Edinburgh Evening Courant 19 January 1828
Reduced Upset Price, £11,000 Sterling.
To be Sold by public roup, within the Parliament or New Session House of Edinburgh, under the authority of the Lords of Council and Session, on Wednesday the 6th day of February next, betwixt the hours of two and five o'clock afternoon,
The Estate of Bayfield, in the parish of Nigg, and county of Ross, affording a Freehold Qualification.
The estate, conform to an old plan, consists of about 682 Scots acres, whereof nearly 300 are arable, 200 or thereby planted with Scotch firs, about forty years old, and the remainder in pasture. There is a handsome mansion house…

The advertisement continued as before, but ended with a detailed financial breakdown, indicating how a value of £12,817.1.3 had previously been arrived at and at which the lands were exposed to sale on 21st November “But no offerer having appeared, the Lords, on 28th November, authorised the lands to be exposed at the reduced upset price of £11,000.0.0”.

Colin Robertson, of course, was one of that group of entrepreneurs from the Highlands who were for a time so prosperous that they held prestigious London residences. He would have been well acquainted with the family of AEneas Barkly of Mounteagle and Highbury Grove, and actually contributed one of the “receipts” in the Barkly of Mounteagle recipe book (NLS Acc.9907 item 19) “Receipt given to me by Mr. C Robertson as a preventative of Spasms – Sept 1819”.


Bayfield in More Recent Times – the Humphrey Era

Bayfield was purchased by Robert Mitchell at Parkhill, and the decreet of sale dated 4 March 1828 may be seen in the National Records of Scotland (CS44/146/29). He became known as “Robert Mitchell of Bayfield” and he let out Bayfield House. In his short period there came the terrible cholera epidemic which swept through the region in 1832. He died in 1838, and his nephew and nearest of kin, William Humphrey, originally from Barnyards in Moray, but in Bayfield from at least 1832, took over as proprietor and farmer. He began a Humphrey dynasty in Bayfield that lasted until 1920.

William Humphrey was one of the few proprietors to support the new Free Church following the Disruption in 1843. The parish of Nigg famously had a long and complex history of secession, schism and re-unification both before and after the Disruption. Controversially, one Secession church had been demolished and the stones used in the construction of Shandwick Mansion House in the parish of Logie. But not all lairds were the same. The laird of Pitcalnie, George Ross, leased a site in 1844 to the Free Church congregation for a new church, which became known as the Middle Church (now the Village Hall). But there was no manse for the minister. Humphrey stepped in, becoming very popular in 1848 when:

John o’Groat Journal 18 February 1848
William Humphrey Esq. of Bayfield, has granted about two acres of ground, as a site for a Free manse and garden in the parish of Nigg. The congregation are deeply indebted to Mr Humphrey, and the Free Presbytery of Tain, at their last meeting, resolved to write to him a letter of thanks, for his act of kindness and liberality.

The site he had gifted for the new manse was at the southern extremity of his land. It became known as the Middle Church manse and glebe and was actually initially leased to the Free Church before being left to them. William Humphrey married twice, firstly to Catherine Fraser in 1832 and secondly to Ann Swanson Nicol in 1840, and he had numerous children by both. Following the Disruption, naturally his children were baptised in Nigg Free Church.

William Humphrey of Bayfield

draping ivy lifted off the Humphrey memorial in Nigg Old by Jenny Maruhn and me; photo by Davine Sutherland

William Humphrey died at Bayfield House on 25 July 1866, aged 62, at 7.40 p.m. Extraordinarily his son Robert Humphrey died at Bayfield House on 25 July 1866, aged 32, at 8.50 p.m., just an hour after his father. He had been unwell but died from, according to his death certificate, nervous shock “on hearing his father’s death.”

They are buried in Nigg Old. The ivy-draped Humphrey memorial there reads:

In memory of / WILLIAM HUMPHREY of Bayfield / died 26th July 1866 aged 62 / CATHERINE FRASER, his wife / ROBERT HUMPHREY his son / died 26th July 1866 aged 32 / ANNIE SWANSON NICOL, his wife / died 29th April 1873 / JOHN HUMPHREY / died 23rd December 1920.

It is somewhat out of context, but another son died in an unusual manner.

Inverness Courier 13 December 1907
The late Mr Humphrey of Bayfield.– His many friends in Easter Ross will receive with regret the news of the death of Mr John Fowler Nicoll Humphrey of Bayfield, Nigg. Mr Humphrey, who was a keen sportsman, had gone with a hunting party to Mannhaven, Missouri, a distance of 300 miles from his home. He climbed a tree to watch for deer, and in descending, after having shot one, he slipped and fell a distance of about 20 feet, receiving injuries which terminated fatally. Mr Humphrey was educated at the Tain Royal Academy, and about 30 years ago left this country for Dakota, where he became an extensive farmer at Fort Ransom. He was much esteemed, and his funeral, which took place at Lisbon on the 21st ulto., was largely attended. Mr Humphrey, who was only 53 years of age, was a brother-in-law of Mr W.T. Mactavish, procurator-fiscal, Tain, and is survived by a widow and family.

Following the death of William Humphrey in 1866, the Estate of Bayfield and Bayfield House was leased out by son and heir John Humphrey (1836–1920) to a succession of long-term tenants. The lease was first taken up by farmer and flesher Murdo Mackay, who resided in Bayfield House with wife Helen Wallace and family for many years. In 1871, in household there were Murdo and Helen, their ten children and three servants, so the old house would have been a hubbub of activity once more!

A strange legal dispute known as “the Easter Ross Manure Case” arose in 1888 on the departure of Murdo Mackay from Bayfield and the arrival of Thomas MacCulloch, who was coming in from Ballicherry, close to Kirkmichael. Murdo Mackay was seeking compensation from John Humphrey for the value of 301 cubic yards of manure left by him at his outgo. Evidence of use of manure was provided by the incoming Thomas MacCulloch junior. Mackay and Humphrey agreed at the Court of Session to a compromise, but the costs vastly outweighed the £90 estimated value of the manure. As usual, the only winners were the legal advisers! More information on this manure saga may be found in the Story behind the Stone on the Macculloch family here.

Proprietor John Humphrey never married, and so the long Humphrey association with Bayfield ended on his death at Red House, Lower Pitcalzean, close to Bayfield, in 1920.

Bayfield House was designated a Category B Listed Building on 25 June 1971. It was converted in 1985 to form six apartments and two wing cottages, several of which can be rented as luxury self-catering cottages or apartments.

Bayfield House enclosed by trees; photo by Jim Mackay

But as we are moving into the modern era our story will end at this point. However, just a note to say that nowadays Bayfield House remains externally very much as constructed for Captain John Mackenzie of Bayfield back in 1793. But the once “naked and unimproved appearance of the surrounding grounds” is long gone. It is now surrounded by beautiful mature trees set in a well-cultivated landscape.

that massive tree would have been planted when Captain John Mackenzie built Bayfield House; he and Justina may well have debated where each tree would be placed; photo by Davine Sutherland



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