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

The MacCullochs in Udale, a Scandal leading to Excommunication and the Cromarty East Church painted panels

text by Dr Jim Mackay; photography as annotated



Rescuing the McCulloch in Udale slab

When we decided to select a post-Reformation slab rich in symbols of mortality to juxtapose with our pre-Reformation medieval ornate crosses, the 1725 McCulloch in Udale slab was first on our list.

The MacCulloch slab is to the right of the door; photo by Andrew Dowsett

Why did we choose this slab? Well, it was subject to ongoing damage where it was located. It was already broken in two but looked capable of being repaired. And it had a superb array of Protestant symbology carved upon it. Kirkmichael at that time was a Scheduled Monument and a case had to be made to Historic Scotland in order to move it inside. Given the evidence of breaks, bumps and bashes the slab was receiving from mowing equipment the case was easily made.

photo by Jim Mackay

photo by Jim Mackay

photo by Jim Mackay

The slab was therefore lifted from its position in the kirkyard at Kirkmichael, joined back together with three stainless steel pins and re-erected beside the door in the nave, standing next to the Kirkmichael Cross itself. It works really well to show the jump from the rich patterns of the Roman Catholic period to the grim reminders of death in Protestant days.

To our surprise, when investigating the dimensions and weight of the sections of the broken slab before relocating, we found that it was not a slab at all – it had been a tablestone which had been lowered by folding its legs underneath its top slab. The folded legs had sunk underground so that the memorial appeared to be a simple slab. We took the opportunity when the slab was taken away to record the legs.

The tablestone supports are dressed on the inside face; photo by Andrew Dowsett

and are ornately finished on the outside face; photo by Andrew Dowsett

measured before relaying; photo by Davine Sutherland

The original slab was lying on the two down-turned table legs and a foundation slab. The table legs are smooth on the back, indicating an expensive, quality memorial. The face on the inside on most Kirkmichael tablestone legs is undressed stone.

We have since found that quite a few other “slabs” in Kirkmichael are in fact lowered tablestones. We don’t know when the exercise was carried out, certainly before the mid-1980s (when photography of the site became more common). We think the Council at some point, alarmed at the risks associated with collapsing tablestones, had lowered those which looked a bit unsteady on their legs. The Kirkmichael Trust has adopted an alternative approach: shifting the tablestone components to one side temporarily, putting in proper foundations, and re-erecting the structure on a more stable footing. At time of writing we have stabilised or re-erected five such tablestones.

Back when we were installing our memorial display in the nave, we had committed to replacing all the slabs we moved inside with new sandstone slabs of the same dimensions, bearing a legend saying where the original could be seen. These new slabs were deposited by Tradstocks on pallets outside the kirkyard, and good Friend of Kirkmichael, farmer James Holm of Easter Ferryton, loaded them onto the Kirkmichael Cartie with his frontloader.

Trust volunteers the pushed each sandstone slab to the correct location within Kirkmichael using the Kirkmichael Cartie, They then physically lifted the slab into position themselves, demonstrating what can be done if you have enough people power!

the slab on the far right, bottom, bearing the number “1”, is the MacCulloch slab replacement; photo by Andrew Dowsett

in somewhat better weather, a few days later, slab number 1 is lowered by James onto the Kirkmichael Cartie, lots of eyes on it to ensure it is sitting absolutely square; photo by Andrew Dowsett

stability is essential for safety when transporting; photo by Andrew Dowsett

many hands are used to move the Cartie, whilst ensuring it is kept stable; photo by Davine Sutherland

Once in situ, lifting poles are attached – this was in the days before our Treasurer had constructed the Kirkmichael Gantry, so person power was our solution; photo by Davine Sutherland

eight people lift the slab up whilst another slips the Cartie out from under, and then the slab is lowered onto the ground; photo by Andrew Dowsett

the volunteers can be proud of how working together they can achieve remarkable results; photo by Andrew Dowsett

and inside the nave, the two styles of “symbols of mortality” slab and medieval ornate cross are much admired; photo by Andrew Dowsett


The Symbols of Mortality

The McCulloch in Udale slab bears the full suite of common Protestant symbols of mortality. We have the dead-bell, rung in front of the funeral procession at your funeral. We have the hourglass, to remind you that your time is running out. And we have the coffin, to show that your time has indeed run out. Below, we have the one-sided spade to cut the turf on your grave and the shovel to throw the soil out of your grave. And in between you have the skull and crossbones to indicate what you turn into when you’re in the grave. A cheerful set of symbols!

photo by Andrew Dowsett

false colour photogrammetry to bring out the symbols of mortality; image by Andy Hickie

All to remind the living that death is always near, and hence you had better mend your ways! The riband running through the middle always has “Memento mori” (“Remember death”) upon it as a summary of what all the surrounding symbology is leading up to in case it hadn’t sunk in anyway!

photo by Jim Mackay


The Inscription

On tablestones, the inscription practically always starts at the top left corner and proceeds clockwise around the slab until it reaches the top again when it runs in lines down the remainder of the slab.

Thus in this case it reads:

Here lys the body / of ISABEL McCULLOCH spouse of / HUGH McCULLO/CH miller in Udol who died / the 20 day of / February / 1725

The central section rises to form a round-edged panel in relief bearing a shield which might once have had some heraldic symbol which Hugh MacCulloch might have thought he was entitled to, along with his initials and the initials of his two wives, Isabel MacCulloch, memorialised on the perimeter inscription, and Janet Young. On these old stones “I” and “J” are used interchangeably but in this case the “J” for Janet definitely has a longer basal curve.

photo by Jim Mackay

The slab itself is beautifully shaped, with chamfered edging, and that attractive curved raised panel. An expensive stone, a stone which is a statement of the financial security and social position of this tenant family.


The first wife syndrome

Some of our most ornate memorials are those dedicated to wives who died young. The Grant of Ardoch enclosure was dedicated to the first wife of William Grant of Ardoch. Across at Nigg, his brother John had a stunning sarcophagus built to commemorate his first wife, who had died the year before. One of our few tablestones at Kirkmichael to bear a poem bemoans the loss of Jane Urquhart, a young bride (albeit the memorial was erected by her father). And it is interesting to note that in the case of the McCulloch in Udale tablestone, it was the death of his first wife that is mainly commemorated, although Hugh MacCulloch made sure (as they all seem to) that he gets full credit for having erected this splendid memorial.


The MacCullochs in Udale or Udol

And the MacCullochs in Udale were a substantial tenant family; millers and tacksmen, Hugh himself acted as “doer” or agent for the laird, Anderson of Udale. The family crop up in sasines and deeds.

Clearly they were related to the other MacCullochs in the area who were, at various times, merchants in Cromarty, and tenants in Rosefarm, Davidston, Woodside, Achnegarry and other farms between Cromarty and Kirkmichael. Several stories in this series are devoted to them as many of these MacCullochs sought to be buried in Kirkmichael. Frustratingly, I have not been able to link the MacCullochs in Udale with any of the other families, so there is little genealogical content to this particular story. Part of the problem is that there are so few records extant relating to the Estate of Udale compared to neighbouring estates, and I live in hope that some of those records may yet appear.

Of the records that do survive, one set of them actually relates to scandalous behavior which raised such thorny issues that advice was sought from the highest church authority in Scotland, the General Assembly. And they involve genealogy…

The first mention I see of a McCulloch in Udale comes in 1702, and is the only baptism record I note associated with William MacCulloch and Isobel Mackenzie in Udale. For those who do not know the geography of the Black Isle well, Udale is an estate on the western perimeter of the parish of Cromarty, adjacent to the estate of Ardoch (nowadays Poyntzfield) in the united parish of Kirkmichael and Cullicudden (which would later become known as Resolis). All clear? And although Udale is the modern spelling, it was almost always spelled Udol or Udoll in earlier days, reflecting the Norse origins of the name.

Parish of Cromarty Baptisms
1702 … Septr 20 David McCulloch L.S. to Will: McCulloch & Isob. Mckenzie in Udoll

Undoubtedly there would have been other children but they did not make it into the baptism records. One such was Ann. She married in 1712 and hence would probably have been born in the 1680s or early 1690s:

Parish of Cromarty Marriages
1712 … Decemb 30 John McCommie in ye parish of Kirkmichael and Ann McCulloch daughter to William McCulloch in Uddol wer booked in the Session book of Cromarty



Now, this is where the scandal commences. William MacCulloch in Udale had a nephew also called William MacCulloch, and the nephew and William’s wife, Isobel Mackenzie, were alleged to be having an affair. This managed to combine the separate offences of adultery and incest. The kirk session records of neither Cromarty nor Resolis have survived for this period, but the case was sufficiently complex and serious to be referred to the Presbytery, who in turn referred it nationally for advice. The first reference to the case I have found is in the the Presbytery records of 1707, although it appears to have been considered earlier in 1705 when Isobel and William had been ordered to keep apart, something which they had not been able to do:

Presbytery records, at Crommerty, 2 April 1707
William McCulloch in Ardoch [parish of Resolis] & Isobel McKenzie in Uddoll [parish of Cromarty] Summoned called compeared, the process was read to them, and they interrogat what further they hade to say thereanent, & being exhorted to confess if they were guilty, They both denied guilt, But that William McCulloch said that he thought it his greatest guilt that he disobeyed the Presbitry in keeping company with the said Isobel Mackenzie after prohibition given him by the Presbitry. Then they being removed the Presbitry entring to consider the whole process, and finding that by Act of the United Presbitries at Alness the 23 of November 1705 The said William hade been appointed to purge himself by Oath before the Congregation of Crommerty, but in regard that a New Scandal broke out agst. him, att that time; it was deferred, which Scandal by tryal was proven by one Wittness, Therefore the presbitry appointed him de Novo to prepare to purge himself by oath & get the coppie of the Oath from Mr George Gordon Minister of Crommerty who is to take his Oath Aprile 20 (The former Act being renewed to that effeir) And further appoint the said Isobel McKenzie to be present at the taking of his Oath, They being called in, This was intimate to them, and the Modr in name of the presbry Sumd ym apud acta to compear at the next presbitry.

Presbytery records, at Kirkmichael, 23 March 1708
William Mackulloch in Teaninich in the parish of Kirkmichall & Isobell Mackenzie in the parish of Cromarty, Sumd to this dyet, called, William Mackulloch compeared, being interrogate why he did not wait on Master George Gordon to prepare him for ane Oath of purgation according to this presbrie’s appointment, Since harvest last. Acknowledged it was his neglect; The sd William being removed the Presbitry considering the Remark of the Synod upon the former appointment as also his wilful neglect of attending Master George Gordon, likewise ane information we hadd of his fall in fornication, in the interim, & now judicially acknowledged by himself, doo refer the affeir to the Synod for advice & he being called in was Summoned apud acta to the next presbitry.

Presbytery records, at Nigg, 7 May 1708
The case of William McCulloch & Isobel McKenzie having been Laid before the Synod, & by them referred to the Assembly for Advice, no action is come as yet.

And this is the letter that had been sent to the Assembly seeking advice, which set out more detail of the case, including the unlikely story of a night William spent sitting on a chair whilst Isobel had a comfy sleep in the bed:

CH1/2/27/4 General Assembly Papers, Main Series 1708
Letter addressed to “Nicol Spence agent for the Church” in Edinburgh
Sir / Our p[res]b[yte]rie must trouble you wt the many other Services ye do us to procure us from the Commission their advice anent Some doubtfull Cases in point of discipline, wherein the Synod appointed us to gett the advice of the Assembly or Commission, the first is relating to William McCulloch & Isobell McKenzie his Uncle’s wife, refered to the pbrie by the Session of Cromarty as being under Scandall of Incest & adultrie togither, both Stiffly denying the pbrie took a considerable time to search as far as possible what grounds there were for the Scandall, they found proven & confest several presumptons, from their too frequent familiar private & unseemly converse together, whereupon the pbrie first prohibited them to converse familiarly or keep company togither, for the future, wt certification they should in that case he holden pro confesso, next appointed the man to purge himself by oath befor the congregation, the ministers takeing pains on him for that end, the pbrie were again informed that the very night after their prohibiting them to keep company together, wt certification, they stayed in a small room together alone the whole night, in a change house, being hereon again convened befor the pbrie they confest that they were togither that night the woman in her bed, & the man Sitting by her, in a chair the whole night, non else in the room and the door being close, one witness deponed he saw the man go into the bed wt the woman he looking through the door to them, they still denying guilt, the pbrie again appointt the man to purge himself by oath, &amnp; while they endeavor to prepare him for it, the Synod reviseing our book find fault that the pbrie did not hold them pro confesso upon their incurring the certification, & appointed us to seek advice in it from the assembly of Commission, while the matter is thus delayed the man removeing to another parochin [i.e. Kirkmichael] falls into fornication wt another woman & most repute him guilty of the other, Querit: shall we yet take his oath or what also shall we do wt ym.
[two other serious cases discussed]
Sir / Your affectionat & humble servant / Monro
Nigg August 5th 1708

Well, the case gets kicked around for another couple of years, and eventually the couple were excommunicated. This was a serious matter as, quite apart from the catastrophic spiritual implications, an excommunicated person could not access parochial relief when old or sick. This could be a matter of literally life and death. William therefore was keen to undergo any form of discipline in order to be released from the sentence.

Presbytery Records, at Rosemarkie, 7 March 1710
The Moderator reports that he has intimated publickly the sentence of Excommunication against William McCulloch & Isobel Mackenzie. … William McCulloch desireing to speak with the presbry came in and Signifyed that he was greatly troubled for his being under the sentence of Excommunication acknowledged that his scandalous carriage & Contumacy made him justly incurr the said sentence, and offered to submit himself to any censure the presbry pleased to inflict. The Modr earnestly exhorted him to confess his sin of Incest & adultery wherewith he was charged. To which he answered, That it would be a sin to confess that whereof he was not guilty. He being removed, the presbry considering the intricacy of the affair, referrs it to the Synod for advice.

And the final position I have found came a few weeks later, with the Synod advising that William and Isobel could not be released from the sentence of Excommunication unless they confessed the sin.

Presbytery records, at Nigg, 25 April 1710
The Brethren who were at the Synod reported that haveing sought advice from them anent the case of William McCulloch & Isobell McKenzie it was the Synods judgement that in regard the said persons were excommunicate not for their contumacy & scandalous carriage only but as holden guilty (upon incurring the certification) of incest & adultery they cannot be released from that Sentence but upon confession of the foresaid Sin.

Now, in reality, having read many reports in the Kirk Session and Presbytery records, it was very common for those who were Excommunicated to return to satisfy discipline and have the sentence lifted from them. I imagine that William and Isabell may well have done so, but have not found more about the case.

I note that in 1710 there is a record of a child in the Cromarty baptism record being baptised, the result of an adulterous liaison between a Janet Gallion and one William MacCulloch. I don’t know if this was the same William, but it would seem likely given how few William MacCullochs there were, and given his track record. So one would need to take anything the good William said about his innocence with a pinch of salt.

And what was William’s uncle, William MacCulloch in Udale, up to when these shenanigans were going on? He remains in shadow. Indeed, I would have been tempted to think he might have been deceased by this time, but I felt that the records in that case would have called Isobel William’s “uncle’s widow” rather than William’s “uncle’s wife”. This proved to be the case as I discovered that William features in a sasine as late as 1711. This sasine indicates that William was sufficiently affluent to lend substantial sums of money. It would appear from the sasine that a Colin Mackenzie back in 1697 had borrowed four hundred merks from William MacCulloch in Udale and defaulted in the repayment. William had pursued the cautioners successfully and in consequence the Court of Session had enabled William MacCulloch to obtain three half oxgates of land at Ballicherry in the parish of Kirkmichael and other lands in the parish of Contin and further afield. It is a very long and complex document and my understanding by the end of it is that he gets his money and relinquishes his claim on the land. I would be pleased if any lawyers with an interest in historical documents could examine this case and see if this is the correct interpretation! Here are a few of the more interesting snippets to give you a flavour.

RS38/7 folio 148 verso Disch; & Renunc. to Murchison & McKenzie
At Fortross [21 July 1711]
Be it kend of men be thir present Letters Me William McCulloch in Udoll with the special advice & consent of John Dallas of Bannans for all right title share & interest he has or can pretend to … Forasmuch as Colline Mackenzie lately in Midshome (& oyrways designed in the obligatione adjudication aftermentioned) as principal, and Ewin Mackenzie of Achnaclerach & John Murchison of Octertire & Master Coline MacKenzie of Muirton As cautioners for him be their bond daitit the ellevint & fourtient days off May Ane thousand six hunder nyntie sevin yeirs, registrat in the commissar. court books of Ross shire ye third day … bind & obleidged yem their aires … and pay to me the sd William McCulloch my aires … soume of Four hunder merks … and whereupon Letters of horning & caption followed at my instance, against them therefore, And thereupon I raised summonds and obtained decreet of adjudication at my instance against the sds Ewen Mackenzie, Coline MacKenzie & John Murchison, before the Lords of Session upon the Sixtient day of Februar ane thousand seivin hunder & nyne yeirs; wherby the sd Lords for the causes therein specifit, adjudged decerned & delivered all and hail the three half oxgaits Lands of Bellacherrie with the croft above ye Loaning possest be Gilbert Barkley, with houses biggings yairds & pertinents yroff lying within the parochin of Kirkmichael & Shirriffdom of Cromartie, pertaining to the sd Coline MacKenzie: And sicklyke all and hail the toun and oxgait lands of Neather Achnaclerach & Dunchellie, & toun and lands [much more in Contin, and further afield].

So William MacCulloch was alive and well and recovering money from old debts in 1711. More recently, I inspected several bundles of the Craigston Castle collection of Urquhart records and I noted within them:

Cromertie Novr 1714 Note of Cows att fothering & where

Will McCulloch In Udall one Cow…

I interpret this to mean that some of the cows attached to that part of the Cromarty Estate being directly managed by the Estate owner had been “farmed out” elsewhere (“fothering” being Scots for the feeding of animals), and Our William was fothering one such cow for the Cromarty Estate on his tenancy in Udale. As these pieces of information come in, our understanding of the life of William MacCulloch in Udale keeps improving. Let’s now move on to look at the life of the only son we know anything about – Hugh.


Hugh MacCulloch in Udale

We know more about Hugh MacCulloch than about his parents William MacCulloch and Isobel Mackenzie. We cannot be certain, of course, that he was their son, but it seems very likely given the customary continuation of a tack from father to son. We first see Hugh on his marriage to his first wife:

Cromarty Marriage Register
1720 …. June 24th Hugh McCulloch and Isabell McCulloch both in this parish were contracted in order to be married

I see the baptism of one child recorded:

Cromarty Baptism Register
1723 … March 19 William MacCulloch lawful son to Hugh MacCulloch in Uddol and [space, but should be Isabell] MacCulloch his spouse was baptised by Mr Geo: Gordon minister witnesses Alexr Mitchell mason in Cromertie and Tho: Hood in Peddistone

The first witness, mason Alexander Mitchel, was married to a Katherine MacCulloch, so I think it is a fair chance that his wife and Hugh MacCulloch were close relatives as the first witness given is often (but not always) connected to the groom rather than the bride.

It was to be a short-lived marriage as we know from the McCulloch slab in Kirkmichael that Isabel died five years later:

Here lys the body / of ISABEL McCULLOCH spouse of / HUGH McCULLO/CH miller in Udol who died / the 20 day of / February / 1725

Hugh must have remarried later in 1725, as there is a record of a baptism to his new wife, Janet Young, whose initials follow those of Isabel McCulloch on the family memorial in Kirkmichael:

Cromarty Baptism Record
1726 … Agust … 25th Hugh L.S. to Hugh MacCullock & Janet Young in Udoll

That is the only definite child we can identify. It is very likely that the following is also the same couple, but with a clerical error giving Kathrin instead of Janet as the mother (I wonder if the clerk substituted Janet and Kathrin for mother and daughter by mistake), but there will remain an element of doubt:

Cromarty Baptism Record
1730 … May 19th Janet L.D. to Hugh McCulloch in Udoll & Kathrin Young

That is all the genealogical information we hold on these MacCullochs in Udale.


Property and financial records

We have already stated that the MacCulloch in Udale memorial in Kirkmichael suggests a family of financial strength. This is confirmed by various deeds and sasines involving Hugh MacCulloch. In the first, Hugh has loaned Andrew Junor of Chappeltown (this is the Cromarty Chappeltown, not the one at Balblair) 520 merks with the security of land in the parish of Cromarty including land in the farm of Navity:

RS38/8 folio 313 verso sasine MacCulloch
At Fortrose [14 Oct 1726] … compeared personally George Edwards mert in Cromarty as Baillie in that pt … also compeared John Uquhart Skipper in Cromarty as Actorney for … Hugh MacCulloch Tenent in Udol upon the Ground of the Lands & others after ment. … made & granted be Mr Andrew Junor of Chappeltown to the sd Hugh MacCulloch whereby the sd Mr Andrew granted him[self] to be justly resting owing & addebted to the sd Hugh the sum of five hundred & twenty merks Scots … in the sd Band in all & hail that his Eight pecks of Land in Navatie wt houses biggings … belonging presently possest be John Donaldson yr, as also in his lands called the Bruich … & sicklike in his Croft of land above Newtown … all lying within the paroch of Cromarty … Wrn on Stampt paper be Alexr Davidson Sherrif Clerk of Cromarty at Cromarty [17 August 1726] before thir witnesses Robert Gordon mert in Cromarty Andrew Junor my son & the sd Alexr Davidson. … in presence of Alexr Urquhart Alexr Wright & Walter Denoon Custom house officers in Cromarty & Kenneth Kemp taylor yr …

Andrew Junor must have come into some money and successfully paid off his debt to Hugh MacCulloch in Udale:

RS38/8 folio 409 recto Dis & Re: Mr Andrew Junor
At Fortrose [27 May 1729] … me George Urquhart of Greenhill … forasmuch as Mr Andrew Junor of Chappletown be his bond of the date [17 August 1726] granted him to be justly resting owing and addebted to Hugh MaCulloch tenant in Udoll the sum of five hundred and twenty merks Scots money which sum he thereby bound and obliged his heirs … in all & heal his eight pecks of land in Navity … as also in his lands called the Bruich … and sicklike his croft of land above Newtown … all laynd within the parochin … of Cromarty … written on stampt paper by Murdo MacRa smith in Cromarty … before these witnesses Roderick Mackenzie of Navity Alexander Davidson Sheriff Clerk of Cromarty John Mitchell merct of Cromarty & the said Murdo MacRa …

I note from the Register of Deeds (RD2/127) that in the early 1730s a merchant, William MacCulloch in Cromarty, became involved with another Cromarty merchant, George Urquhart, and were being pursued for debt by their creditors. I don’t know if this William MacCulloch was a relative of Hugh MacCulloch in Udale or not, but Hugh himself appears in one record, loaning this George Urquhart money.

RD2/127 1732 April 24 B Urquhart to McCulloch
I George Urquhart of Greenhill be the tenor hereof grant me to be justly resting owing and adebted to Hugh McCulloch tenant in Udoll the sum of four hundred merks Scots money whereof I grant the reall receipt holding me yrwith well content satisfied and paid renouncing all exceptions and objections preponable in the Contrairie for ever which sum of four hundred merks money forsaid I Bend and oblidge me my heirs Exers and Succrs to Content and pay to the said Hugh McCulloch his heirs or assignays at the terms following viz– one hundred merks yrof at the term of Whitsunday Jaivii& twenty nine years One hundred merks of the sume at the term of Whitsunday yrafter Jaivii& and thretty one years and the oyr one hundred mks of the same to make up the sd sum of four hundred merks at the term of Whistunday yrafter Jaivii& and thirty two years & wt longer delay with twenty merks money forsaid of expences for each terms faillie and ©rent of the said princpll sum yearly … witnesses Allexr Davidsone sheriff clerk of Cromarty and the said William Davidson & John Haldane tide surveyor there

The very next bond recorded in the Register of Deeds is the same George Urquhart to Reverend Hugh Anderson, the then proprietor of Udale, so Urquhart was borrowing from proprietor and tacksman. I have to say I would have regarded these debts to be high risk. But then, to the lenders, if they did get the money back, they received it with interest; if they didn’t, they got the debtor’s land, so in theory they couldn’t lose.

Being a respectable tenant who could sign documents usually meant that you would be in demand as a witness, and hence we see Hugh MacCulloch act as a witness in a sasine arising from a deed whereby William Anderson obtained Udoll from his uncle Hugh Anderson in 1742 (see the tree below)– “These things were so said and done as above narrated twixt the hours of Ten and twelve fornoon of the day month years of our Lord and Kings Reigne respective above specified in presence of Robert Tulloch wigmaker in Cromarty and Hugh McCulloch Tacksman of Udoll (RS38/10 folios 89 verso, 90 recto, verso). Curiously, within the detailed description of the estate of Udoll within this document, no mention is made of mills, so had the mills ceased by this time? Or were they the subject of separate documents?

So we have Hugh MacCulloch as tacksman of Udoll in the 1730s and 1740s. and miller there – in the 1720s anyway, when the inscription mentioning him as miller was carved at Kirkmichael. He is also recorded in the Urquhart papers in Craigston Castle (NRAS2570) providing information about the feu duties of Udale (which were payable to the Cromarty Estate) in the context of agent for the proprietor:

Hugh McCulloch Taxman in Uddole doer for Mr Hugh Anderson in Uddole being solemnly sworn &c Depones that the yearly feu dutie of sd lands is 4 Bolls Meal & 3 Bolls oat meal & no more, … That he produces severall discharges from sd Sr G & Sr K M & no more …

I confess I had difficulty trying to identify from the documents in this bundle exactly what date was being referred to.

To assist, I have drawn up the (very) simplified line of the Andersons of Udale below. Their genealogy is very convoluted, particularly in some trees you see on the web, but I believe from studying various deeds and sasines that this is sound.

Note that in the tree above, information provided in the usually reliable Parochiales Scoticanae, in the entry for the Parish of Duffus, says “Hugh Anderson of Umbridge Castle”. It should in fact read Bridge Castle, which is near Linlithgow. Now, using this skeleton tree, I assume then that when Hugh MacCulloch is given as “doer for Mr Hugh Anderson in Uddole” this must be referring to Hugh Anderson the minister of Kinnedar (or King Edward, as it morphed into) rather than Hugh Anderson the minister of Cromarty. In the extract given above (“sd Sr G & Sr K M)”, the Sr K M will be Sir Kenneth Mackenzie of Cromarty (who died in 1729) and the Sr G will be Sir George Mackenzie of Cromarty and Grandvel, the proprietor of the Cromarty Estate until he sold it in 1741 back into Urquhart hands. We can see then that Hugh MacCulloch, acting on behalf of Mr Hugh Anderson minister of Kinnedar, was producing as evidence the receipts from Sir George Mackenzie and Sir Kenneth Mackenzie before him to prove that the annual feu duties had been paid. The date must therefore be in the 1730s.

We have just a few appearances of Hugh MacCulloch in Udale thereafter. In the Cromarty Estate records held at Craigston Castle I noted:

1743 Note of Bear Rent on the Estate of Cromartie
Few Bear Sir John Gordon 10:0:0
Mr. Hugh Anderson for Udall 4:0:0
Alex Mitchel Mason 1:0:0
Note of Meal Rent on the Estate of Cromertie

Udol few Hugh McCulloch 3:0:0

For “few” read “feu” as you will note from the Anderson tree I have compiled above that the Reverend Hugh Anderson had obtained Udale on feu contract from the owner of the Cromarty Estate back in 1664.

And finally, in the same Cromarty Estate records I noted:

1746 … From Tenants … Sterling

To Vicarage from Hugh MacCulloch in Uddoll all to account -.9.6

Hugh MacCulloch was therefore still in Udale in 1746, but I have found no later references to either him or his children. And yet, the 1740s are not that long ago, and hence I anticipate that more will arise.


The East Church Pew Panels

And finally, you would expect Hugh MacCulloch, having been responsible for an ornate memorial in Kirkmichael, and as a man of substance, to leave other marks of his presence. And there is one very strikingly ornate design he has indeed left, and it is on his painted pew in the East Church Cromarty.

As part of the wonderful restoration of the East Church, the dirt and layers of varnish were cleaned off by conservators from four panels to the front of a pew. This revealed, from left to right, a Mackenzie coat of arms, a MacCulloch coat of arms, initials H MC embellished with a leafy plant, and the initials K MK with date 1740 and embellished with a large flower. A side panel has a large, bright depiction of the sun.

before being cleaned you can barely see there the artwork on the front panels; photo by Andrew Dowsett

but after cleaning, the four panels are bursting with life; photo by Davine Sutherland

The left hand coat of arms bears the stag’s head with star between the antlers often seen with branches of the Mackenzies (an example can be seen in the Grants of Ardoch enclosure in Kirkmichael, in which a daughter of Mackenzie of Kincraig is buried).

The right hand coat of arms bears on half the shield the heraldic pattern termed “ermine trellisé gules” by which is meant a red trellis or chequer-board type pattern containing the heraldic symbol suggesting the ermine or stoat. This pattern is associated with many MacCulloch families. The heraldic ermine may also be seen in Kirkmichael, on the coat of arms associated with Anna MacCulloch of Plaids (near Tain) on the Urquhart “doorway” memorial or pediment in the chancel – it bears two of the heraldic ermine symbols. The coat of arms in the East Church is quartered with a coat of arms bearing three fleurs de lis and this could provide a clue to an earlier MacCulloch spouse. The ermine within the trellis have escaped and can be found elsewhere on the shield, on the surrounding timbers and even upon the next panel, confirming the two panels are both MacCulloch panels.

the MacCulloch shield, surround and even the panel on the right are dotted in heraldic ermine; I have inset the shield and a grouping of three ermine to indicate their shape more clearly. There are also three large fleurs de lis on the shield; photo by Andrew Dowsett

ermine heraldry variations, including a real ermine; compare the pattern surrounded by the red ellipse with the ermine on the East Church panels on the left and the pattern surrounded by the blue and green ellipses with the Kirkmichael shield ermine on the right

two ermine on the Anna MacCulloch half of the shield in the chancel at Kirkmichael; photo by Jim Mackay

The next panel bears the initials of none other than our Hugh MacCulloch in Udol, H MC, who, according to the excellent East Church Cromarty A Guide by Caroline Vawdrey and David Alston, rented the pew from 1741. The leafy tree or flowering plant (a rose?)– well you can hypothesise lots of symbolism behind the pattern if you were sure what the pattern actually represents. And, as I say, several ermine have leapt from the neigbouring panel onto this one. You will note that the two panels on the right and two-thirds of the next panel can only be seen to half length, as the bench in front obscures them: we have to wonder what was on those panel sections!

photo by Andrew Dowsett

And finally, the panel bearing K MK and 1740, with embellishments. Who was K MK? One theory is that K MK was Kenneth, the brother of the last Mackenzie laird of the Cromarty Estate, Sir George Mackenzie of Cromarty and Grandvel mentioned earlier in this Story, who sold the Estate in 1741. With the family moving away, Kenneth would no longer need the pew, and the records show that the other pew holder became one Kenneth McFarquhar. I have to say I would find it surprising if the laird’s brother had a smaller panel than a tacksman.

photo by Andrew Dowsett

Who was this Kenneth McFarquhar, and was there any connection with Hugh MacCulloch with whom he would be sharing the pew? Kenneth crops up in the marriage register:

Parish of Cromarty Marriages
1712 … Decemb. 20 Kenneth McFarquhar in Cromarty and Margaret McCulloch in Kirkmichal wer booked

I would be willing to wager that Hugh MacCulloch and this Margaret MacCulloch were closely related, so sharing a pew would be quite understandable. I note that Kenneth McFarquhar is described in 1719 as a “seaman in Cromerty” on the baptism of one of his children, but had obviously settled down in Cromarty as a “vintner” as that is how he is described at later baptisms in 1729 and 1731.

Now, the spelling of Kenneth McFarquhar’s name varied considerably. At the baptisms of his children, these are the spellings used by the Session Clerk:

Cromarty Baptism Record
1719 – Kenneth McForcher and Margaret MacCulloch
1725 – Kenneth MacFarquhar and Margrat MacCulloch
1727 – Kenneth MacFarquhar and Margrat MacCulloch
1729 – Kenneth McKerchar and Margt. McCulloch
1731 – Kenneth McKerchar and Margaret McCulloch

Thus if the Session Clerk had any hand in directing the lettering of the panels, then it could well be that K MK was simply a mis-spelled Kenneth McFarquhar, who after all is known to have rented the pew. It has been suggested to me by our Gaelic expert that the background to this is as so often probably the Gaelic names of those involved. MacFarquhar in Gaelic is MacFhearchair. In Gaelic a lenited F (=F+H, caused by the genitive case, son of …) is silent, so the name is pronounced “Machk Erracher” (all CHs as in Loch). It is at least a tenable theory.

But whoever was responsible for the two outer panels, the two inner ones are definitely both MacCulloch panels, and the one bearing “H MC” represents Hugh MacCulloch miller and tacksman at Udol, and “doer” for the laird of Udol. So Hugh is commemorated both on an ornate tablestone at Kirkmichael and on an ornate panel at East Church, Cromarty.


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