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

Two Centuries of the McCulloch Family in Resolis

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

The McCulloch family were influential tenants, tacksmen and farmers in the parishes of Resolis (Kirkmichael and Cullicudden) and Cromarty from the 17th through to the 20th centuries. Their many memorials in Kirkmichael include the most ornate tablestones within the kirkyard, and several occupy preferential positions close to the kirk itself. In the photograph below, the colour coded spots will assist navigation within this story. Blue: McCulloch of Woodside. Red: Replacement slab for McCulloch of Udale. Green: Roderick MacFarquhar and Jessie MacCulloch. Purple: another McCulloch of Woodside tablestone. Brown: Generations 1, 2 and 3 of McCulloch of Balblair and Ferryton. Pink: George, Jean and Gilbert McCulloch slab. Just beyond this slab is a re-used medieval slab with a later SH IMcC / 1724 carved upon it. Yellow: Generation 5 – George McCulloch and Jane Holm painted headstone. Teal: Generations 6 and 7 – headstone memorialising the most recent McCullochs.

The McCulloch burial area in Kirkmichael; photo by Jim Mackay

The main family representatives in the 1800s were the farming McCullochs of Ferryton, whose substantial headstones complement the earlier ornate tablestones of their forebears. There were earlier McCullochs in Ferryton, as I see in the “List of Guests Invited to the Funeral of Hugh Munro of Teaninich” dated 17 September 1703 for “Kirkmichell Paroch”:

The Laird off Newhall elder / David Fraser of Main / Wm. Urquhart of Braelangwell / Gilbert Barclay in Ballcherry, and his son / George Macculloch, Ferytoune / Thomas Urquhart, the Laird of Kinbeachie / Mr David Kingtoune in St Martins

I do not have the evidence to link this George McCulloch to the later McCulloch family in Ferryton, although I’m quite sure they would have been related. Similarly, in some cases I cannot identify the precise McCulloch branch of several of the memorials in the main McCulloch burial area in Kirkmichael. They must fit in there somehow but at present the exact relationship is not known. However, most of the memorials in Kirkmichael can indeed be linked to provide a family story stretching over two centuries.

The slab bearing the earliest dates reads:

Here lyes / BARBARA / ROSS Spouse to GEORGE / McULLOCH in Bellblair / who departed this life / the 17 of August 1720 / Her body being still / unite to Christ she / rests from her labour / in hope of a blessed / resurrection until the / judment [sic] of the Great / day
[Below this, in middle:]
[At base:] IMcC [shield enclosing two unidentified shapes] BB
GEORGE MCULLOCH died / in the 75th year of his age / 1786 & his spouse JEAN / MCULLOCH who died / in the 70th year of her age 178[?]8

There are three generations represented on this one slab so let’s start at the top with George and Barbara in Balblair.


Generation 1: George McCulloch and Barbara Ross (–1720)

You’ll gather from the tone of the inscription that the first recorded George was a devout Christian, and in fact he was a leading elder in the Presbytery of Chanonry. The records of the Presbytery at their meeting at “Kirk Michael” on 15 May 1716 read:

Mr Thomas Inglis Reported that his session had nominat George MacCulloch in Balblair Ruling Elder from them to the presbyterie and the said George MacCulloch was present.

We know that George and Barbara were fairly mature by then as their son David had married widow Isobel Davidson the previous year. We find this from the Cromarty Marriage Register, setting out the first marriage of Isobel in 1713 and then her second marriage to David McCulloch in 1715.

AD 1713 Feb: 13 Alexr Hosack in Auchnagarry and Isobel Davidson in the parish of St Martins wer booked
1715 … July 30 David McCulloch son to George McCulloch in Balblair in Kirkmical parish and Isobel Davidson relick to Alexr. Hosack in Auchnagarry wer booked

David and Isobel went on to become the tenants at Achnagarry following Isobel’s first husband’s tenancy there and two children are commemorated in the Cromarty Baptism register.

Cromarty Baptism Register
1719 … Januarie 23d Donald MacCulloch Lawful son to David MacCulloch in Auchnagarrie and Isobel Davidson his spouse was baptized upon the twentie third day of Januarie Jaivii& and nynteen years witnesses Donald MacCulloch Woodside & Thomas Hood Peddistoun
1726 … Aprill 7th Barbra L:D: to David MacCulloch & Isobel Davidson in Achnigarie

The tablestone erected to memorialise David and Isobel in Kirkmichael is a beautifully ornate slab adjacent to the original south wall of the nave in Kirkmichael. It is striking in that instead of the usual “crossbones” two vertical thighbones complement the symbols of mortality. The remnants of the mostly eroded inscription read:

D M / I D / Here lyes the bod/y of DAVID MACULLOCH … / …/ …garrie who died … / …d his spouse / ISOBEL DAVIDSON

McCulloch of Achnagarry tablestone; photo by Jim Mackay



Generation 2: James McCulloch and Barbara Barkly

David’s father, George McCulloch of Balblair, continued as Ruling Elder for several years, and is mentioned in the Presbytery records in 1717, 1718, 1723 and 1724. There is then a gap of several years, and then James McCulloch, son of George and Barbara, and brother of David in Achnagarry, is appointed Ruling Elder in turn. It is reported on 31 December 1728:

Master Thomas Innes reported that the Session of Kirk-michael had chosen James MacCulloch in Balblair Ruling Elder to attend next Synod and all the diets of Presbytery till then. The said James MacCulloch is absent.

To indicate the status of Ruling Elder, laird Alexander Gordon of Ardoch, the brother of Sir William Gordon of Invergordon, had been elected to that position in the years between, and indeed alternated with James McCulloch going forward. It was a prestigious position.

James dwelled in Cromarty as a merchant for some years as a young man before returning to Balblair. When he witnessed a document for Alexander Gordon of Ardoch and Ann Munro his spouse in 1715 he was “James MacCulloch in Easter Balblair” (RS38/7 folio 413 verso). But in a sasine recorded on 17 January 1724, we can see that he had been in Cromarty and back (RS38/8 fol 162 verso, fol 163 recto):

That upon the seventeenth day of January one thousand seven hundred & twenty four years … Compeared yrupon Donald Fraser Carpenter in Cromerty as actorney for & in name & behalf of James McCulloch now in Balblair (designed in the Disposition after narraited Indweller in Cromartie) & Barbara Barkley his Spouse … [and the disposition is dated] at Cromertie the second day of October one thousand seven hundred & eighteen years

He married Barbara Barkly, almost certainly a member of the Barkly family of Ballicherry. We don’t have a copy of their marriage, but we do have one baptism record relating to their children, in Cromarty, in 1720, when Alexander was baptised:

We can tell approximately then that James was in Balblair in 1715, in Cromarty in 1718 and 1720, but back at Balblair in 1724. I wonder if his return to Balblair was perhaps on the death of his father.

I note a further sasine involving James, showing that he had owned property in Cromarty. This is a sasine on disposition by James MacCulloch in Easter Balblair to Sir Wm Gordon of Invergordon, of a Tenement of land lying on the Ness of Cromarty. The Precept which is with consent of Barbara Barkley spouse to the said James MacCulloch is dated 8 December 1726 and the Sasine is dated 9 December 1726.

There are various references to James over the next couple of decades, as would be expected of a man of high standing in the parish. For example:

Presbytery of Chanonry Minutes, Rosemarky, 12 December 1727
The pby having heard and Considered the said Representation and petition did judge The Same Reasonable Therefor did & hereby they do Appoint Alexr Barclay tacksman in Balcherry James McCulloch tacksman in Balblair, and Gilbert McCulloch Tacksman in Miltown Stentmasters

Note the Gilbert McCulloch Tacksman in Miltown (of Rostobrichtie, near current day Gordon’s Mills), whom I suspect will be a third brother to James in Balblair and David in Achnagarry.

Presbytery of Chanonry Minutes, Rosemarkie, 5 May 1741
As to the School of Glenurquhart Mr Inglis reported that he with James McCulloch & Alexander McCommie Ruling Elders in Kirkmichael had according to Appointment inspected the said School, found the same in flourishing condition, & gave it as their opinion that Mr Anderson Teacher of the said school should be duly attested for his skill, faithfullness & diligence; that the said school might be continued which by appointment of the presbytery was accordingly done.

James features in a curious protest in 1746. All the tenants of the various estates owned by Sir William Gordon of Invergordon were being pursued in court by John Gorry, who crops up in these stories regularly. He had been appointed by the court as factor of the estates until the family finances were sorted out, and was to continue as factor for the Gordon children thereafter. The tenants were being pursued for back-payment of rents due back to 1742 when Sir William died and they included “Gilbert McCulloch in Kirkmichaell”, “Alexander Holm in BalblairJames McCulloch there” and “John Aird in FerrytownGeorge McCulloch there”. We have here, then, as well as James’ brother Gilbert previously mentioned in Miltown (which was so close to Kirkmichael I take it to be the same tenancy), James’ son George McCulloch in Ferryton who represents the third generation on the family tablestone in Kirkmichael. The three McCullochs along with several others, including Alexander Rose, tenant and post-master at Invergordon (whose gravestone was surprisingly uncovered at Kirkmichael in 2019), protested that if they were pursued in court the tenants en masse would have to abandon their tenancies leaving the land untenanted and waste.

Sir / We under subscribers, being all Tennants on the Estate of InverGordon, have write you this letter in our own name & in name of the other Tennants on Said Estate adhering to us desiring the favour of you, to put an End as Speedily as possible to the Proces now depending before the Lords of Councill & Session, against us, at the Instance of the factor appoint by their Lordships for the arrears of Cropt 1745, and three preceding years, But as the last of these were Lybelled at 7 pound pr Boll, and the first three at Six pound, we must Still Insist for a modification of these prices, otherwise we’ll be greatly hurt, and consequently the Creditors, and therefore we expect, that five pound will be received from us for the arrears of the first three, and Eight merks for the last year pr Boll instead of the Sums Lybelled; this we’ll cheerfully pay & the Creditors will be at no loss, In which case we desire that Mr David Ross formerly Employ’d to agent for us in this affair, may not insist further in it. But if otherwise we must complain of Real hardships put upon us and will End in leaving the Estate a great part thereof Waste, which must end to the loss of all concern’d. Your good offices this way we’ll expect being / Sir Your most humble Servants / Alxr Holm James McCulloch Alexr Rose Donald Rose Geo: McCulloch James IR Ross Gilbert McCulloch

Signatures on the tenants’ protest; photo by Jim Mackay


I suspect that John Gorry, an eminently practical man, perhaps had prompted the tenants to this action. His hands were tied in terms of exercising discretion as he was an appointment of court, but he would have the long-term interests of the estate in mind and would be loath to lose many of the sitting tenants. But it is notable that the men who took this action on behalf of everybody on the Gordon lands included three McCullochs of Resolis.

James was still alive in 1756, when his daughter Barbara married:

Marriage Register, Parish of Reolis, 29 March or April, 1756
Donald Mckenzie son to Donald M. grieve to Culrain in ye p. Roskeen deceast & Barbara McCulloch daughter to James McCulloch tenent in Balblair

We don’t know when James McCulloch and Barbara Barkly died, as the family slab, already quoted, provides only a set of initials:

IMcC [shield enclosing two unidentified shapes] BB

photo by Jim Mackay (back in 1999!)


John McCulloch clearly would not have been entitled to a heraldic shield, but that rarely stopped families who wished to emphasise their importance. What are those two shapes? Discounting a representation of the feet of a three-toed sloth, perhaps they are two towers with three battlements on each? All answers gratefully received. Update: one solution suggested is that each of these shapes is a heart pierced by three passion nails. The Jesuits and some of the Logans, and a Douglas branch, used a heart pierced by three passion nails. The nails are indicative of followers of Jesus the Christ. James, like his father George, had been the Ruling Elder and a religious device to indicate his devotion to Christ would be appropriate. If Barbara Barkly was similarly devout, a shared pattern of two hearts in between their initials, each pierced by passion nails, would be very fitting. There may be other solutions, but this one could well be right!


Generation 3: George McCulloch (c1712–1786) and Jean McCulloch (c1719–1788)

The third generation within the inscription is:

GEORGE MCULLOCH died / in the 75th year of his age / 1786 & his spouse JEAN / MCULLOCH who died / in the 70th year of her age 1788

We are now moving into a period when there is much more information available on Kirkmichael families. George crops up as early as 1734, within GD274/20 (Kinbeachie papers). There is a vellum legal document in faint but clear English of that year and the many witnesses including Alexander Barclay [Barkly] tacksman of Newhall and Alexander Barclay his son and George McCulloch son to James McCulloch in Balblair. I have a note that I came across a similar 1731 vellum A2 document within GD274/20 but alas I did not take details of the witnesses.

Slab bearing inscriptions for Generations 1 to 3; photo by Davine Sutherland

Gilbert the Blacksmith; photo by Davine Sutherland

I don’t know when George took up the tenancy of Ferryton. There had been McCullochs in Ferryton earlier (indeed, I have already referred to a previous George McCulloch in Ferryton in 1703). Given Generation 3 George was born about 1712 I imagine it was probably the 1730s when he settled there. Perhaps it was when he married Jean McCulloch, although that date is also not known. However, the Resolis Baptism Register is extant for the period when the children of George McCulloch and Jean McCulloch were baptised. We can therefore see he was clearly settled in Ferryton by the mid 1740s. These are the entries:

Resolis Baptism Register
5 December 1745 George McCulloch tenent Feritoun & Jean McCulloch – Gilbert
8 July 1748 George McCulloch taksman in Ferrytown & Jean McCulloch – James
14 January 1751 George McCulloch tenant Ferrytown & Jean McCulloch – Barbara
26 April 1754 George McCulloch tenant Ferrytown & Jean McCulloch – Lillias
7 September 1757 George McCulloch tenent Feritown & Jean McCulloch – George
14 July 1760 George McCulloch tenent in Feritown & Jean McCulloch – John

You see there just about all the Christian names commonly associated with the McCulloch family!

Boy George, born in 1757, died as a young man and is commemorated on a nearby slab in Kirkmichael, along with his uncle Gilbert and Gilbert’s daughter Jean. This slab confused me for a long time as the ages and dates simply did not make sense, and it came together on the realisation that the same slab was used to commemorate two families. I do wonder if young George had been “farmed out” to Gilbert’s household as so often occurred; I have seen the “adopted” child included on the adopting family’s memorial in these cases.

Here lies the body of / GEORGE McCULLOCH who / died August 8th 1786 / aged 28 years / To the memory of / JEAN McCULLOCH who died / upon the 10th day of April / 1810 aged 27 years And / also GILBERT MCULLOCH who / died 5th day of March 1821 / aged 75 years

Brother Gilbert and his progeny will be the subject of a separate story of blacksmiths and schoolmasters.

I have already mentioned the proceedings by John Gorry against the tenants of the Gordon estates to seek arrears in rent. A closer look reveals more details of the tenancies of father James at Balblair, son George at Ferryton.and son Gilbert at Kirkmichael:

Summons Gorry Agt. Mackenzie &c. Tennents of Invergordon … 1746 …
… Our Lovite, John Gorry, Factor appointed by the Lords of our Councill and Session Upon The Estate, which pertained to the deceased Sir William Gordon of InverGordon Barronet; Conform to Letter and Act of Factor Thereannent dated [29 Jan 1745] the said John Gorry Pursuer, as factor foresaid, is authorised and impowered to uplift the Rents and Profites of the said Estate of InverGordon and which have fallen due Since the decease of the said Sir William Gordon, which happened on the [blank] day of June [1742] &hellip that where the severall tenants and Possessors of the said Estate of InverGordon are resting, owing, and adebted the severall quantitys of victual and sums of money under written, due and payable Furth of their respective possessions …
Item Gilbert McCulloch In Kirkmichaell of Eight Bolls five pecks two lippies victual as arrears of Cropt Jaiviii& and fourty four years, with five Bolls two firlots and three pecks of Cropt Jaivii& and fourty five years and of Two pounds sixteen shillings one penny half penny sterling of money rents…
Balblair … Item James McCulloch there of Eleven bolls one firlot two pecks three lippies victual cropt foresaid with eleven shillings & eleven pence sterling money rents
Ferrytown … Item George McCulloch there of five bolls two firlots two pecks victuall cropt forsaid with three pounds nine shillings two pence and one third sterling money rent

You can see that George’s arrears were the least in the family.

In 1765, the rental of George McCulloch of Ferryton was set out along with all other tenants in an “Extract of Proceedings of Amending of the Commissioners of Supply” dated September 1765 (SC24/21/7). This was all part of machinations pertaining to the forthcoming election.

5to. Ferrytown
George McCulloch Twenty four Bolls two Firlots victuall one pound nine Shillings and three pence two twelfths of a penny Sterling of Money Rent one Wedder and one half wedder and Twenty four hens

George’s tenancy was more substantial than most other tenants on that part of the estate which fell within the shire of Cromarty (the forthcoming election battle was to be over that constituency).

George McCulloch of Balblair was thus a significant tenant, financially more secure than most. He had a substantial family, although I have not attempted to track their destinies. However, let us follow the tenancy of Ferryton down the family a little further. From the family memorial, we know that George died in 1786 and Jean in 1788.


Generation 4: John McCulloch (–1812) and Janet Holm

Now, the next McCulloch in Ferryton, John McCulloch, I assume is the son of George McCulloch and Jean McCulloch who was born in 1760. I am lacking in hard proof. But it is a logical and strong assumption, awaiting confirmation. The first evidence of his presence as a farmer at Ferryton comes indirectly, in an earlier marriage record relating to a farm servant at Ferryton in 1787:

Resolis Marriage Register
22 August 1787 John Holm servant to John McCulloch at Ferrytown & Mary Fraser – Andrew

There is no record of John McCulloch’s subsequent marriage to Janet Holm (the marriage register was not kept for many years in this period), but their children were baptised in 1796 (Jean), 1797 (Helen), 1799 (George), 1802 (Lilly), 1804 (Jane), 1806 (William), 1810 (Barbara) and 1812 (John). That final baptism is a sad one:

Resolis Baptism Register
baptised 18 October 1812 Jannet Holm widow of the deceased John McCulloch farmer Ferrytown – John born 16 October

It must have been tough on poor Janet to lose her husband during her pregnancy. Her husband had featured in the 1798 Militia List of adult males aged between 15 and 60 years:


John McCulloch Farmer 4 horses 1 large cart 4 small carts

and similarly in the Consolidated Tax (E.326/15/7 – Parish Kirkmichael & Cullicudden) of the same year:

An Assessment made upon the several Inhabitants of the Parish of Kirkmichael & Cullicudden pursuant to the consolidating Acts of Parliament, passed 38 Geo. III. Cap. xl. and xli. for levying the several Duties under mentioned, from the 6th April 1798 to 5th April 1799 by Alexr. Manson Surveyor.

John MacCulloch Farmer Ferrytown 3 – 18 – 2 – 1 – 6

That translates into John owning three work horses or mules, and hence owing 18 shillings horse tax, although he also had two exempt horses, presumably used for social purposes. When window tax of half a crown was added on, it meant he had to pay a consolidated tax of one pound and sixpence.

You will note some disparity between the two returns in the same year!

John’s rental is included within “Copy Scheme in Valuation of Teinds of the Lands belonging to Donald McKenzie Esq. of Newhall in the United parishes of Kirkmichael & Cullicudden” dated 29 June 1808:

… Ferrytown … Part thereof, possessed by John McCulloch 16 Bolls 2 Firlots Meal, 8 Bolls Barley, £2.8.9

From John onwards, the family line is clear. John McCulloch died in 1812, but his wife, “Widow McCulloch”, appears in the records for some years afterwards.
Son George (1799–1864) took over the farm, marrying Jane Holm in 1837.
Daughter Jane (1804–1871) married neighbouring Ferryton mailer (a sub-tenant) Donald Holm in 1823 (their son John married one Cursty Jack, the daughter of John Jack and Cursty Nicol, my own great-great-grand-parents!)
Daughter Barbara (1810–1889) married neighbouring Ferryton farmer Thomas Holm in 1838. You can see that the McCulloch and Holm dynasties are much intertwined.

In passing, Thomas Holm and Barbara McCulloch were the great-grandparents of long-time Friend of Kirkmichael James Holm of Easter Ferryton.

We have not (yet) found a memorial at Kirkmichael commemorating John McCulloch and Janet Holm which is surprising given the standing of the family.


Generation 5: George McCulloch (1799–1864) and Jane Holm (1808–1892)

There is a prominent, painted headstone within the McCulloch burial area within Kirkmichael commemorating George McCulloch and Jane Holm of Ferryton.

The two modern McCulloch headstones in Kirkmichael; photos by Andrew Dowsett


The militia records and estate rentals indicate that the farm rental, after John had died, was still held by mother Jean even when son George was recognised as the farmer:

1798 Militia List of adult males aged between 15 and 60 years

John McCulloch Farmer 4 horses 1 large cart 4 small carts

September 1814 Resolis Militia List of adult males aged 17 to 45years

George McCulloch farmer under 30 years old

Newhall Rental 1818
Jean MacCulloch 12 hens, 8 bolls 2 firlots meal, 4 bolls barley and £15 money rent

Account of Meal deposited in the Storehouse of Newhall by Tenants to acct of Rents & arrears & placed to their credit in Factors account for Crop1821 (HRA D32/G1)
Jean MacCulloch Ferrytoun 7 Bolls meal, credited at 18/-, total amount £6.6.-

At some point George became one of the parish Constables, responsible citizens appointed by the County, for in the 1825 and subsequent Militia Lists he is given as:

Militia List for the Parish of Resolis 1825
George McCulloch farmer under 30 years old Constable Exempted

George married Jane Holm, daughter of John Holm ferrier in nearby Alness Ferry and Isabella Fraser, in 1837, and their numerous children were subsequently born at Ferryton. Those recorded in first the Established Church baptism register, then the Free Church baptism register, and then the civil register were John (1838), George (1839), William (1841), James (1842), Janet (1845), Gilbert (1848), Hugh (1850) and Angus (1855).

James (1842–1888) and John (1838–1904), according to the family gravestone in Kirkmichael, emigrated to Oregon. From information on the web, John arrived in the States in 1867 and settled as a farmer in Polk County, Oregon, where he married Sabrina Elizabeth Davidson (1848–1916) at the home of her parents in 1872. He is easily traceable on the American census returns. James was still in Ferryton in 1881, an unmarried agricultural labourer, so he must have emigrated to join his brother soon after, for the Kirkmichael family headstone says he died in Oregon in 1888.
Janet or Jessie (1845–1908) married farmer Roderick MacFarquhar in Alness Ferry in 1865. They are commemorated on a headstone near the McCulloch burial area at Kirkmichael.
George (1839–1917) continued the family farm at Ferryton and his life is outlined in the next generation.
William (1840–1893) initially became an apprentice gardener, as I see him in the Beaufort Gardeners Bothy in Kiltarlity, along with several other of the castle apprentice gardeners, in 1861. According to the family headstone he died in London in 1893.
Gilbert (1848–) was working on the family farm at Ferryton in 1871 but thereafter I have not traced him.
Hugh (1850&nash;1929) was at different times entitled a potato merchant and commission agent. He never married. Mother Jane lived with him in her latter years first in a separate house from the main farmhouse at Ferryton, and then at Alness Ferry, in the house to the west of the Shore Road. He is commemorated on the family headstone in Kirkmichael.
Angus (1855–) became a farm labourer, and was working as such in Cullicudden in 1881, but I have not tracked him thereafter.

MacFarquhar descendant Andrew Mowat in front of the MacFarquhar stone, showing the author a book awarded to one of the MacFarquhars whilst in Cullicudden School; photo by Andrew Dowsett


Without the inscription on the headstone, who would have known that two of his sons had emigrated to Oregon? The headstone was erected in 1865, soon after their father’s death, but kept being added to as more members of the family died.

In memory of / GEORGE McCULLOCH / late farmer, Ferrytown, / who departed this life / on the 10th day of October 1864 / in the 64th year of his age. / And of his wife / JANE HOLM, / who died at Ferrytown 17th December 1892 / aged 84 years. / Also their sons / JAMES died in Oregon U.S.A. 1888, / aged 44 years. / WILLIAM died in London 1893, / aged 51 years / JOHN died in Oregon U.S.A. 1904 / aged 66 years. / HUGH McCULLOCH, died at Alness Ferry / 29 November 1929, aged 79 years. / Erected by his sons / JOHN, GEORGE & JAMES McCULLOCH / 1865.

Their death certificates provide all the family details:

George McCulloch farmer (married to Jane Holm) died 10 October 1864 at Ferrytown age 64 parents John McCulloch farmer (deceased) Janet McCulloch m.s. Holm (deceased) . informant John McCulloch son (present)
Jane McCulloch widow of George McCulloch farmer died 17 December 1892 at Ferryton age 84 years parents John Holm farmer (d) Isabella Holm ms Fraser (d) informant Hugh Macculloch son (present)


Generation 6: George McCulloch (1839–1917) and Mary Fraser (1849–1928)

George McCulloch (1839–1917) continued the family farm at Ferryton, marrying Mary Fraser in 1873. She was the daughter of Kenneth Fraser, Toberchurn farmer, and Christina Ross. They had numerous children, carrying the usual McCulloch Christian names, but in 1885 they became more adventurous when “Sabrina Elizabeth Davidson McCulloch” was born. George’s brother John had married Sabrina Elizabeth Davidson in Oregon fifteen years before, and clearly George was honouring his sister-in-law in the States.

George, like other McCullochs, was a solid farming member of the community and would have been, you would think, a prominent man in the community. However, you rarely see his name appear in the social events of the time. He clearly kept his head down and got on with his farming.

We have a good snapshot of George’s family, firmly established on the farm, from the 1911 Ferryton Census return, albeit the youngest children had by this time flown the coop. All occupants were born in Resolis.

1911 Census Return, Ferryton, house with five rooms with one or more windows
George McCulloch head married 72 farmer speaks gaelic and English
Mary McCulloch wife married 62 speaks gaelic and English
Christina McCulloch daur single 37
George McCulloch son single 34 son working on farm
Bella McCulloch daur single 28
Sabrina McCulloch daur single 25

George died at Ferryton a few years later, and at Kirkmichael was erected a handsome black granite headstone, topped with an urn, to commemorate the family.

South face] In / loving memory / of / GEORGE McCULLOCH, / farmer, / Ferryton, Resolis, / died 17th October, 1917, / aged 78 years. / Also his wife / MARY FRASER, / died 20th August, 1928, / aged 78 years. / And their youngest son / WILLIAM / who died at Adelaide / Australia / on 27th Nov. 1959 / aged 73.
[Base] Erected by / his widow and family.
[West face] Also his sons / GEORGE McCULLOCH, / farmer, Ferryton, / died 11th Feb 1925, / aged 48 years. / And KENNETH died at / Lancas. Blackburn, / 10th Feb 1925, aged 46 years. / Also their daughter / CHRISTINA, / who died 8th Nov. 1954 / aged 80 years. / And their daughter / JESSIE / who died 17th July 1966 / aged 85 years

Kirkmichael is liberally sprinkled with headstones commemorating the family. Let’s briefly summarise the children.

Christina (1874–1954) did not marry and continued to live on the family farm at Ferryton, taking over after her brother George’s death. She died at Bayview in Jemimaville in 1954, and is commemorated on the family headstone.
Jane (1875–) was present in household in the 1891 census in Ferryton but I have not tracked her thereafter.
George (1876–1925) did not marry and became the farmer at Ferryton until his death in 1925. He is commemorated on the family headstone.
Kenneth (1878–1925). As you will note from the family headstone inscription, George–s brother Kenneth died the day before him, far away in Blackburn, Lancashire. He had been a gardener, and had married his spouse Edith in Blackburn in 1908. I see he must have been living in England in 1903, as it was he who attended on behalf of the McCulloch family the funeral of his uncle, Kenneth Fraser (1853–1903), who had been the poor relief officer for Islington, Liverpool and had served in the Liverpool select vestry for many years (Ross-shire Journal, 7 August 1903).
Mary (1879–1952) married farmer Alex. Munro, son of Newhall blacksmith John Munro and his wife Annie Dawson, in Dingwall in 1917. At that time Alexander was farming at Teachatt near Foulis, parish of Kiltearn. Mary was living at Springfield, parish of Resolis, when she died, a widow, in 1952. She is commemorated on the tall grey granite Munro headstone, topped with an urn, beside the Lady Ardoch tomb in Kirkmichael.
Jessie (1881–1966) also lived on the farm, did not marry, and retired to live with her sisters at Bayview, Jemimaville. She died (in hospital in Inverness) in 1966 and is commemorated on the family headstone.
Isabella (1883–1954) married John Alexander (“John Elec”) Scott of Cullicudden in Dingwall in 1921. They lived in what is now known as the Dell Farmhouse. I regret to say that my father called her a terrible Tartar! A widow, she died in 1956 in Bayview, Jemimaville, the house where several of her sisters lived. She is commemorated on the tall grey granite Scott headstone in Kirkmichael.
Sabrina (1885–1948) married Arthur Grant in Inverness in 1920. She died in Dumfries, in 1948.
William (1888–1959), according to the family headstone, emigrated to Australia, dying at Adelaide in 1959. His headstone in Centennial Park Cemetery, Pasadena, Mitcham City, South Australia reveals his wife was Elizabeth and they had at least one son, appropriately named William George Fraser McCulloch (1917–2000).

memorial to the Scott family, including Isabella Scott ms McCulloch; photo by Jim Mackay

memorial to William and Elizabeth McCulloch in Australia; photo courtesy of

memorial to the Munro family, including Mary Munro ms McCulloch; photo by Jim Mackay


Generation 7: George McCulloch (1876–1925); Christina McCulloch (1874–1954)

The Ferryton connection ended with this generation. The final George McCulloch of Ferryton died, unmarried, at the age of 49 in 1925. He was temporarily living at Southside Road Inverness at his death. His sisters, Christina and Jessie, continued with the farm thereafter – I see that Christina was still farming there in 1936, and it remained in McCulloch ownership through to 1954. Christina and Jessie retired to live in Bayview, Jemimaville.

Like his father, George kept a low profile. I see (SC24/21/3) that he was a Special Juror of the Cromarty District of Ross and Cromarty along with a few select other solid citizens. And I see that he was a crack-shot:

Ross-shire Journal 5 November 1897
Resolis – Carbine Competition.– The Resolis detachments engaged in their competition on Saturday. The conditions were seven rounds at 200 yards, any position. Prize-list– Sergt. Kemp, 30; Gr. G. Macculloch, 30; Gr. Grigor Kemp, 27; Gr. Jas. Farquhar, 27; Lieut. Roddick, 26; Gr. J. Macdonald, 26; Gr. K. Fraser, 26; Gr. A. Munro, 25; Gr. C. Macfarquhar, 24; Gr. A. Urquhart, 23. Captain Thomson distributed the prize at the close of the competition.

The farm by this time was known as “Mid-Ferryton”. At the time of the sale of Estate of Newhall in 1919 it was described thus:

(3) MID FERRYTON. Stone built House and slated, with Outbuildings. Acreage about 54 acres arable and 10 acres pasture. In the occupation of G. M’Culloch, a small landholder, at the fair rent of £35.

Mid Ferryton in blue in the Newhall Estate plan, before being purchased by the McCullochs; photo by Jim Mackay


In the Valuation Roll of 1925, the owners of Mid Ferryton are given as “The Reps. of the late Geo. Macculloch”, and in the Valuation Roll of 1940 as “Christina and Jessie McCulloch”. Christina and Jessie must have managed the farm well, as I see in the press the stock of “MacCulloch, Ferryton” often commanding high prices at the auction markets in the 1920s and 1930s.

We thus had a George McCulloch first recorded in Ferryton in 1703, and a George McCulloch last recorded in Ferryton in 1925, with other McCullochs like Christina and Jessie extending beyond these dates. It is an extraordinary record of a family’s association with a farm for over two centuries.

On Christina’s death in 1954, Mid Ferryton was sold, and in came Willie and Jesma Matheson – but that’s another story.


Earlier McCullochs

And before Generation 1? It is clear that there were McCullochs present in Resolis before the early 1700s. I see in the Laing Charters a summary of one sasine from 1687:

Sasine given in usual form by delivery of earth and stone for the lands, and a handful of grain for the teinds, by John Urquhart in Milntoun of Newhall, as bailie, 1st, and recorded 20th, December 1687, at Fortrose. Witnesses, George M'Culloch, lawful son of the deceased George M'Culloch, merchant in Fortrose, George M'Culloch in Bellacherrie, Gilbert Barklay there, Colin M'Cra, glover in Fortrose, and William Watson, one of the officers of the commissariot of Ross.

I have examined many sasines relating to the McCullochs of Fortrose, Cromarty and Easter Ross but have not yet found a definitive link between one of these families and the McCullochs of Balblair and Ferryton. Should one be found, then this history could extend much further back!

The story behind other McCulloch slabs in Kirkmichael may be found within this series, including
McCulloch of Udale (a section of this story deals with this family, but a more full story will be forthcoming; this family I am sure is connected to the McCullochs of Resolis, within whose burial ground their ornate burial slab was located until repaired and removed to the nave for safety)
McCulloch of Woodside (including the wonderful story about McCulloch the Mechanician by Hugh Miller; this family must be connected to the Resolis McCullochs but I have not yet found the definitive link)
Anna McCulloch of Plaids (16..–1752), spouse of William Urquhart of Braelangwell (her wall memorial is inside the former chancel; Anna was born in Easter Ross and again I doubt if there is a close connection with the Resolis McCullochs)
William Melville (1828–1896) and Isabella McCulloch (1839–1889) of Resolis (although their memorial is close to the McCulloch burial area in Kirkmichael, I do not believe Isabella McCulloch was connected with the long-established Resolis McCullochs – but back a few generations and who knows?)

The McCulloch of Udale tablestone long before it was repaired and moved inside the nave at Kirkmichael for protection; photo courtesy of Mrs Helma Reynolds

The densely inscribed tablestone (with built-in drainage channels) of the McCullochs of Woodside; photo by Jim Mackay


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