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

Urquhart of Mounteagle and Barkly of Mounteagle

text by Dr Jim Mackay   references are to National Records of Scotland unless otherwise stated



This is the story of Mounteagle, a small estate beside Loch Eye in the fertile Easter Ross peninsula, owned in turn by the Urquhart and Barkly families, both closely associated with Kirkmichael in the Black Isle. Parts were known as Easter Little Allan, Eye or Ey, Eaglehill, Midoxgate and Leavalnagown, but it all became the Estate of Mounteagle when purchased in 1726 by John Urquhart, younger brother of Jacobite conspirator and Member of Parliament Colonel Alexander Urquhart of Newhall.

Loch Eye; looking across to the Mounteagle side; photo by Andrew Dowsett


The Newhall Urquharts often feature in this series as the kirk and kirkyard of Kirkmichael lay within the Estate of Newhall. A small family tree of the Urquharts and Barklys of Mounteagle is appended to this story to help readers navigate the families.

John Urquhart of Mounteagle married Mary Macleod of Cambuscurry in 1736. We will follow their oldest son and oldest daughter:

– Their oldest son became Reverend John Urquhart of Mounteagle, Minister of Fearn for 30 years, who married Katherine Houstoun. She was the daughter of the Provost of Fortrose and great grand-daughter of the last Episcopal Minister of Kirkmichael and Cullicudden, Reverend James Houstoun. You would expect Reverend Urquhart to be buried at Fearn Abbey, but no memorial has been located. His widow is buried in the Houstoun family lair in Rosemarkie graveyard.

– Their oldest daughter, Christian Urquhart, married Alexander Barkly, businessman and farmer in Kirkton and Cromarty, and they are buried in Kirkmichael. Their rich London merchant son AEneas Barkly secured Mounteagle and became AEneas Barkly of Mounteagle. His son, Sir Henry Barkly of Mounteagle, sold the estate in 1852 to the Robertson family of Tain.

Just a small aside: historians sometimes confuse Mounteagle, the highest point of the Black Isle, afforested hill ground, with Mounteagle by Loch Eye, rich low-lying farmland in Easter Ross. The confusion perhaps began with the plan provided in Henrietta Tayler’s History of the Family of Urquhart (1946). It highlights locations associated with the Urquharts such as Cromarty, Newhall, Braelangwell, Kinbeachie and – the Black Isle Mounteagle. She goes on to say “Of the Urquharts of Monteagle very little is known.” This Story behind the Stone should at last fill that gap.

Mounteagle in its correct geographical context on First Edition Ordnance Survey mapping, surveyed 1872; I have coloured the mill stream blue – it was the eastern boundary of the Mounteagle Estate. Mounteagle lies in the Shire of Ross; the boundary with the isolated section of the Shire of Cromarty runs down the middle of Loch Eye


The First Urquhart of Mounteagle

John Urquhart of Mounteagle was a younger son of the financially-embarrassed John Urquhart of Newhall and his doughty wife Jean Mackenzie of Redcastle. We don’t know exactly when he was born but as his parents married in 1679 and he was a younger child, probably it was in the mid 1680s. Newhall had been founded a generation earlier by Alexander Urquhart of Kinudie who became the first Urquhart of Newhall and was quite an entrepreneur. But his son John seems to have spent his time fighting off debtors. I have seen many actions seeking to secure debts owed by “John Urquhart younger of Newhall”.

When future M.P. Alexander was wanting to get on, he sought assistance from his uncles George Urquhart of Greenhill and Samuel Urquhart of Bullister rather than from his father. Alexander himself later soared and crashed with the South Sea Bubble. He died bankrupt in 1728 (all the books say 1727, but he signed a document at Cromarty on 24 June 1728 – see RS38/8 folio 376 verso), but somehow had found credit to rebuild Newhall House in 1725. How do we know he rebuilt Newhall House? Because in The Letter-book of Bailie John Steuart of Inverness 1715–1752 (edited by William Mackay, Scottish History Society, Edinburgh, 1915):

Inverness, 31 May 1725.
Mr. Alexr. Wood {Master of the Thistle}.
Your letters for Bamff are forwarded. I was last week at Fort William, and was assured your loading of scleat is redy at Esdale, and have agreed for twenty thousand of you loading for Collonell Urquhart of Newhalls house, so that you are to return to Cromarty road and waite my orders there;

He clearly had visions of regaining his fortunes, and was not the defeated bankrupt that he has been portrayed as. But when he died the Estate of Newhall was sequestrated and passed to the Gordons, relatives and main creditors. A cautioner to one of his sizeable debts was – his younger brother, John Urquhart of Mounteagle.


First appearance of John Urquhart of Mounteagle

The first John Urquhart of Mounteagle seems to have maintained a much steadier course in life than his M.P. brother.

I first see him in the records in 1715, simply as a witness to a document whereby his mother, Jean Mackenzie, gave up some rights for the benefit of her son Alexander, to which we will come. He acted as a witness again in 1715 along with none other than Alexander Barkly. This was to a sasine relating to Alexander Gordon of Ardoch (RS38/7/ folio 413, registered at Fortrose 6 January 1716) – “In ye presence of John Urquhart sone to John Urquhart of Newhall Alexander Barclay in Belcherrie”. The daughter of one and the son of the other would marry 45 years later!

I see him taking a more active role in 1716, when he was standing in for elder brother Alexander at a meeting of the Presbytery. It had come to Cullicudden to discuss rebuilding the manse for the minister, Mr Thomas Inglis. The parishes of Kirkmichael and Cullicudden had been unified back in 1662, and the residence of the one minister had continued in Cullicudden but had fallen into disrepair. Brother Alexander at this time would have been in London, having become M.P. for Cromarty-shire the previous year. I include quite a bit of the process due to its local interest.

Presbytery of Chanonry Minutes 1716 17 April 1716, page 259
At Killicuden … The Moderator having acquainted the Presbyterie that the principal design of their meeting this day at this place was for a visitation of the Manse … And then Mr Thomas Inglis minister of this parish reported that he upon the first day of this present Moneth being the Lord’s day did in obedience to the said order immediatly after divin worship in the fornoon intimat from the pulpit to the Heretors of this parish this present meeting of presbyterie and did advertise and warn them to be present thereat that they might assist and concur with the Presbyterie in what should be here concluded as fit to be done with respect to the Manse of this parish And sicklike John Mckgilroy in Killicuden Officer in that part of the presbyterie reported that conform to the presbyteries order he had warned and cited these discreet honest men of the said parish viz. John MckComie in Rosabrightie & Alexr MckLean in Brae As also Donald Watson in Rosmarkie & Andrew Mckenzie in Channonrie Masons, Alexr Clerk at Innerbreakie & James Urqhuart in Milton wrights to be present this day & place to give their advice and assistance in the affair above mentioned And then the Heretors parishoners and tradesmen above named being called There compeared of and for the Heretors Thomas Urqhuart of Kinbeachie for himself and also presented a mandat from Alexr Mckenzie of Belmaduthie Elder impowering the said Kinbeachie to act & do for him as if himself were personally present which being read was sustained, John Urqhuart Brother to Alexander Urqhuart of New-Hall compeired for his said Brother … And the Presbyterie with the unanimous consent of the Heretors, honest men of the parish and tradesmen present hereby do find that in order to build a competent Manse for the Minister, the said dwelling house must be throwen down to the foundation

the Reverend Thomas Inglis/Anne Urquhart heraldic panel highlighted during a guided tour of Cullicudden by the Kirkmichael Trust. Inglis himself was a relation of the Urquharts of Newall and his wife was an Urquhart of Braelangwell, also related to the Urquharts of Newhall; photo by Verity Walker Eley

a lion rampant and “MTI” for Mr Thomas Inglis and three boar heads and “AU” for Anne Urquhart; photo by Jim Mackay

Despite the financial woes of his brother, and being a younger brother, John Urquhart was wealthy enough to buy an estate. How he came by the money is not yet clear. You see different dates for when he came into what he was to call Mounteagle across in Easter Ross, but it is quite clear from the relevant sasine that it was in June 1726.

RS38/8 folio 284 verso
That upon the twentieth day of June Jaivii& twenty six years … compeared personally upon the Ground of the Lands & others afterment[ione]d Donald Baine in Ey baillie in yt p[ar]t specially constitut be the Precept of Sasine after insert and also compeared James Ross Tennent in Fearn as actorney for & in name & behalf of John Urquhart Brother german to Colonel Alexander Urquhart of Newhall … Having & holding in his hands a Right & Disposition of the date aftermentioned [the eighteenth day of June Jaivii& & twenty six years] cont[ainin]g therein the Precept of Sasine after m[entione]d made & granted by Charles Ross of Ey to & in favours of the sd John Urquhart whereby & for the onerous Causes therein spec[ifie]d the sd Charles Ross sold annailzied & disponed from him his heirs & successors to & in favours of the sd John Urquhart his Heirs male or assigneys qts[oeve]r heretebly & irredeemably wtout any manner of Reversion redemption or Regress all & haill the Town & Lands of Ey Eaglehill Midoxgate & Leavalnagown wth the princ[ipa]ll dwelling house of Ey office houses adjacent thereto & haill other Houses biggings yeards woods Fishings graseings mosses muirs pairts pendicles & haill universal Pertinents thereof used & wont thereto belonging, all lying wtin the Parish of Fearn & Sherriffdom of Ross Bounded as follows viz. having the Loch of Lochslin at the north, the miln Burn or trink running to the Miln of Fearn at the east, the Lands of Torriedow & Meilderg at the south, and the Lands of Wester Little Allan at the west.

No doubt the name “Eaglehill” suggested to John Urquhart the new name for the lands he had purchased – the Estate of Mounteagle. Note that his lands bounded on the west with “the Lands of Wester Little Allan”. The land he had purchased was in fact at times called Easter Little Allan and that name keeps surfacing. During his life, Charles Ross was often referenced as “Charles Ross of Eye & Easter Little Allan”. If you look at Pont’s map of Easter Ross from the period 1583 to 1601, included later in this story, you will note “E. Ellan” beside the big loch close to where Mounteagle House is now located. As late as 1756, you can see from the “Valuation Book of the Shyre of Ross” (E106/28/1/3) that “John Urquhart of Mounteagle” is listed as holding “Easter Little Allan”. And even in 1852, when Sir Henry Barkly sold Mounteagle, the advertisements say “The Lands and Estate of Easter Allan and others, commonly called Mounteagle”.

Charles Ross did not live long after the sale of his land. In 1727, his widow submitted for probate an inventory of his possessions. He had been factor for AEneas Macleod of Cadboll, to whom he was in serious debt. He had also been acting as factor for Balnagown and in that role had supervised building work at Balnagown Castle and his accounts and vouchers in relation to that activity over 1720/1 may be found in GD129 box 30. MacGill (Old Ross-shire and Scotland, as seen in the Tain and Balnagown documents, 1909) has a letter from him to the Laird of Balnagown advising on different sources of slate, presumably for the Castle. He married a daughter of Rory Macleod of Cambuscurry (according to Northern Notes & Queries, volume iv, 1889, page 110).

Now, I note from an earlier sasine (RS38/7 folio 181) “Elizabeth, daughter of Rorie McLeod of Camuscurrie, and spouse of George Urquhart of Greenhill” – George Urquhart of Greenhill was uncle to John Urquhart of Mounteagle, so there was a connection already there between the MacLeods of Cambuscurrie and the Urquhart family. A few years after John Urquhart had purchased the lands of Eye he would go on to marry a daughter of AEneas Macleod of Cambuscurry. It was a close-knit set of relations, but did have the benefit of keeping money within the same small portion of the population.

On the death of Charles Ross of Eye, an inventory of his possessions was submitted in 1727 by his widow, Margaret Sutherland (who must have been a second wife). Portions of it are given by MacGill, who goes on to hypothesise incorrectly as to when Eye became known as Mounteagle. I think he was right regarding the new name being derived from Eagle Hill, though.

No. 349, 1727 . . . Inventar of . . . Charles Ross of Eye [now Mounteagle] . . given up by Margaret Sutherland . . relict . . and Hugh Ross, brother . . . in the barne of Eagle hill, ane little leather for hanging of cheese . . . ploughs with their stells [handles] Double hakes . . . In the barne of Eagle hill, 16 slade trames . . . [In No. 266, 1740, we have had “the lands of Eye now called Mounteagle,” showing a change of name between 1727 and 1740, and from above we see it arose from an “Eagle Hill” which was part of the estate. The adjoining loch keeps the old name. …]

There is also reference to Eagle Hill in the 1802 inventory within the Testatment Dative relating to Reverend John Urquhart of Mounteagle. It referred to an area of land, a farmstead in its own right, but there must have been a high area within it from which the name originated.

In my rummagings through old bonds in the National Records of Scotland, I came across one record which demonstrates that John Urquhart was already “of Monteagle” in 1727. In it John Urquhart acts as cautioner for brother Alexander Urquhart who before he died had become indebted to a mason called John Ross in Elgin. I don’t know if Alexander had borrowed the money or if this was from his rebuilding of Newhall House, but he had turned to his uncle George Urquhart of Greenhill and his brother John Urquhart of Mounteagle as cautioners for a substantial sum of money. Following his death later in 1728 after the protestation of the bond, George and John must have felt very exposed. The bond reads thus:

RD3/176/1 … Bond Urquhart to John Ross 1st Janry 1728 (i.e. it was registered on 1 January 1728 as part of the debt recovery process)
Comp[eared] Bruce &c. I Colonel Alexr Urquhart of Newhall be the tenor hereof grant me to be justly resting owing and addebted to John Ross Senior meason in Elgin All & haill the sum of one thousand fourty five pounds twelve shillings Scots money whereof I grant the reall receipt holding me therewith well contented satisfied & payed renuncing all exceptions & objections proponable in the Law to the contrary for ever which sum of one thousand fourty four pounds twelve shills. money forsd I the said Colonel Alexr Urquhart as prnc[ipa]ll. & with & for me George Urquhart of Greenhill and John Urquhart of Monteagle cau[tione]rs. bind and oblige us our heirs Exe[cuto]rs & successors qtsomever con[juct]lly and se[ver]allie to content & pay thankfully to the sd John Ross his heirs or assigneys whatsoever & that at the term of Martinmass next to come Jaivii& and twenty seven years wt @rent of the sd prncll sum from the date of thir presents to the term of payment … In witness whereof we have subt thir presents (written be Wm Davidson writer in Cromerty) dayes & places under written before these witnesses viz to the sub[scrip]tion of the sd Colonel Alexr Urquhart and George Urquhart of Greenhill at Cromerty the 18 day of August Jaivi& and twenty seven years James Baillie wright in Newhall and the sd Wm Davidson & to the subscription of the sd John Urquhart of Monteagle at Newhall the nineteen day of the sd month of August & year forsaid the sd Jas Baillie & Alexr Ross wright in Newhall signed Alexr Urquhart Geo Urquhart caurs John Urquhart caur Wm Davidson witness to Colonell Urquhart of Greenhill subscription Jas Baillie witness thereto Alexr Ross witness to Monteagles subscription Jas Baillie witness thereto

John was thus “of Monteagle” as early as 19 August 1727. I think he probably began using the new name upon the purchase of the lands in June 1726.

John himself was the subject of a protested bill the following year.

RD2/124 Protest Monro Agt. Mackenzie & oyrs
Gentlemen Tayne 20th May 1728 Conjunctly and Se[ver]ally pay to me Simon Ross of Aldie or order at the Term of Martinmass next to come Sixty five pound Sterling money and that at the Laigh coffee house in Edinburgh value received by you from sic sub[scribi]tur Sim. Ross To Collin McKenzie of Kincraig John Urquhart of Monteagle and Roderick Urquhart writer in Edinr. accepts Sic Sub[cribi]tur Co Mckenzie accepts Sic Subtr. John Urquhart accepts Sic Subtr. Rod Urquhart Indorsed pay the Contents of the within bill to David Monro writer in Edinr. or order Sic Subtr. Simon Ros

Why John Urquhart and his two associates should be borrowing the considerable sum of £65 sterling we do not know, and it is alarming that the bill had remained unpaid and had to be protested. He had not long purchased Mounteagle, there was a debt on the land owed by the late Charles Ross to MacLeod of Cadboll that fell on him, and there may have been liabilities relating to the bankruptcy of Alexander Urquhart of Newhall M.P. Perhaps it was not suprising he was slow to repay loans.

Henrietta Tayler in her History of the Family of Urquhart (1946) states (page 252) that John Urquhart of Mounteagle had a sasine of Easter Allen in 1733. She gives no reference details for this sasine and it certainly does not appear in the Particular Register of Sasines. Perhaps she was referring to sasine RS38/8 folio 519, registered 4 May 1731, although it does not specifically mention Easter Allen. It is a Renunciation by Roderick McLeod of Cadboll in favour of David Ross eldest lawful son of the deceased Charles Ross of Eye and John Urquhart of Monteagle. I have mentioned that Charles Ross had been in debt to AEneas MacLeod of Cadboll, and nothing persists longer than a debt. In this case, both parties were now dead, but Roderick MacLeod of Cadboll was following up the debt owed to his father from David Ross eldest lawful son and heir to Charles Ross. Not the most welcome legacy for a son. Some of the debt was due out of the annual rent of “the lands of Ey, Eaglehill, Midoxgate & Leavalegown” and this now fell on “John Urquhart of Mounteagle who purchased the forsd Lands of Ey and oyrs @mentioned wt the pertinents from the sd Deceast Charles Ross which stood affected with the forsd heretable Bond”.

Where John Urquhart found the money I know not, but he cleared the debt with Cadboll. Some undertaking. The Renunciation says that John Urquhart of Mounteagle “has now … made payment to me of the forsd princll sum of [£3,729.11.8] Scots … all which I hold me well content & satisfied renounceing all exceptions in the contrary for now and ever. Therfor witt ye me the said Roderick MacLeod to have acknowledged, as I hereby acknowledge & confess the sds lands of Ey Eaglehill Midoxgate & Leavalegown wt houses [etc.] together wt the sd heretable bond itself & infeftment following yrupon to be lawfully redeemed … by the said John Urquhart from me & my forsaids forever … subscribed by me on this and the five preceeding pages at Cadboll the twenty ninth day of Aprile Jaivii& & thirty one years”

So John Urquhart not only had to buy the land from Charles Ross, but also had to clear the debt to Roderick MacLeod of Cadboll. Land purchase in Scotland could be a complex business.


Was Loch Eye previously known as Loch Slin?

The popular convention is that Loch Slin was a smaller loch than Loch Eye, but in its vicinity. I have seen countless references saying that it is now drained and the name lives on only in the name of Lochslin Farm. However, the historical evidence for this separate loch seems to be very slim.

Back when John Urquhart purchased his lands from Charles Ross, see how their northern boundary was defined: “viz. having the Loch of Lochslin at the north”. And on all the old maps (Pont, Gordon, William Roy’s Military Map, even the Cadboll estate map “Knock’s Du and Chalich” held by Tain Museum), the big loch is called “L: Slynn” or “Loch Slinn” or variants thereof. The convention that Loch Slin was a separate, smaller loch, now drained, seems to conflict with the evidence. I do wonder if the two names of Loch Slin and Loch Eye referred to the same loch, with the name Loch Eye over time winning out. Perhaps the loch name depended upon the importance of the estates in the vicinity of the loch, with the once dominant Vass family of Lochslin being superseded by the Ross family of Eye.

Mounteagle_Pont map c 1583to1601.jpg
from Pont’s mapping c1583 to 1601 courtesy of National Library of Scotland

Gordon’s mapping 1636 to 1652 courtesy of National Library of Scotland


And even in 1852, when Sir Henry Barkly sold Mounteagle, the advertisements say “The Lands and Estate of Easter Allan and others, commonly called Mounteagle … situated in the Parish of Fearn, upon Loch Slin”.

from the Aberdeen Journal of 7 April 1852


The loch, by whatever name it is known as, is a beautiful inland water body, surrounded by woods. There is a jetty on the shore of the loch close to Mounteagle House, the boats launched from which are used by residents for fishing and other receational uses. When the loch levels fell during the dry summer of 1972, ancient structures below the water level were identified which I do not believe have yet been thoroughly researched.

photo by Andrew Dowsett


John Urquhart of Mounteagle was a youner son of Newhall. When Newhall was sold to the Gordons, there was some messy litigation between the Gordons and the mother of John Urquhart of Mounteagle, Jean Mackenzie, which went all the way to the House of Lords. She moved into Mounteagle House with her son but fought hard for her legal rights.


Jean Mackenzie (–1740)

Back in 1715, widow Jean Mackenzie was assisting her eldest son Alexander Urquhart by voluntarily restricting what she was entitled to under her contract of marriage. The document by which she restricted her claim on him was much later copied into the Register of Deeds.

RD4/151 27 June 1732 Right of Astriction by Jean Mackenzie Lady Newhal to Capt Alexr Urquhart pr Jo Dingwall
At Newhal the sevent March Jaivii& fifteen … Jean Mckenzie Relict of the deceast John Urquhart of Newhal & Capt Alexr Urquhart her son on the one & oyr parts as follows viz the sd Jean Mckenzie for the love & favour she bears to her sd son hath reducted and hereby reducts the jointure provided to her by her sd husband by the contract of marriage twixt them or by any subsequent deed to the number of six chalders victual [the make-up of the six chalders is set out] the sd Capt. Alexr. Urquhart of Newhal wt the Consent of Sir Wm Gordon of Dalpollie … before wit[nesses]. Mr. Alexr. Gordon of Ardoch John Urquhart broyr german to sd Capt Urquhart Alex Davidson Sheriff Clk of Cromarty & Wm. Davidson …

I believe this was copied into the Register of Deeds as part of the legal proceedings that were going on in this period between Jean and the Gordons who had secured Newhall. The rights she held through her contract of marriage could not be annulled by the transfer of ownership. There seem to have been several cases in the Scottish courts where she at least partly prevailed, and the Gordons and their tenants appealed to the House of Lords. One of the co-appellants was none other than Alexander Barkly tenant in Ballicherry, whose son Alexander would marry Christian Urquhart.

Journals of the House of Lords 8 Geo. II. Vol. XXIV
House of Lords 1735 [page 455]
Sir W. Gordon & al. against Ly. Newhall.
Upon reading the Petition and Appeal of Sir William Gordon Baronet, Alexander Gordon of Ardock, Thomas Forrester, John Urquhart, Hugh Ross, William Macjustice, and James Mackenzie, Tenants in Ardock, John Mackea, Jannett Mackenzie, Hector and George Ferguseons, Tenants in Balleskelly, Alexander Barclay Tenant in Balcherry, William Williamson, John McKedie, and Normand Mackloid; complaining of Part of an Interlocutor of the Lords of Session in Scotland, of the 24th of June 1732, and of an Interlocutor of the 28th of February 1733, and 30th of April 1733, made on the Behalf of the Lady Newhall; and praying “That the same may be reversed; and that such Part of the said Interlocutor of the 24th of June 1732, as is not hereby complained of, may be affirmed:
It is Ordered, That the said Lady Newhall may have a Copy of the said Appeal; and she is hereby required to put in her Answer thereunto, in Writing, on or before Friday the 7th Day of March next … [page 584] After hearing Counsel on Wednesday last as this Day, on the amended Petition and Appeal of [largely as before] … complaining of divers Interlocutors of the Lord Ordinary and Lords of Session in Scotland, made on the Behalf of Jean Mackenzie, Widow of the deceased John Urquhart, of Newhall, and praying, “That the same may be reversed; and that such Part of an Interlocutor of the said Lords, of the 24th of June 1732, as finds that the Pursuer had no Recourse to the House and Gardens of Ardoch; and such Part of the said Interlocutor as repones the Appellant Alexander Gordon to his Oath, as to the Point formerly by the Act referred thereto, may be reversed; and that such Part of the same Interlocutor as is not in the Appeal complained of may be affirmed; and that the Appellants may have such other Relief as to the great Wisdom of the House shall seem just:” As also upon the Answer of the said Jean Mackenzie put in to the said Appeal; and due Consideration had of what was offered on either Side in this Cause:
It is Ordered and Adjudged, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, That the said Petition and Appeal be, and is hereby dismissed this House; and that the several Interlocutors, or Parts thereof, as are therein complained of, be, and are hereby, affirmed: And it is further Ordered, That the said Appellants do pay, or cause to be paid, to the said Respondent, the Sum of Forty Pounds, for her Costs in respect of the said Appeal.

So the Gordons and their tenants had lost their case, and even had costs awarded against them in the highest court in the land. Following this decision, in 1737 Alexander Gordon of Ardoch and Jean Mackenzie agreed a position, set out in a long and complex document copied into the Register of Deeds (RD4/161/2 ). Jean signed this on 2 February 1737 “at Ey” “before these witnesses John Urquhart of Mounteagle [her son] and Colin McKenzie son to Rodrick Mckenzie of ReidCastle”.

You will note that Jean was residing at Eye (Mounteagle) by that time. She tragically was to die in a fire there just three years later. Her triumph in her battle against the powerful Gordon interests had been short-lived.

Caledonian Mercury 28 January 1740
We learn from the Shire of Ross, that last week a Fire broke out in the House of John Urquhart of Monteagle, Esq; which reduced it to ashes, whereby the Lady Dowager his Mother was scorched to Death.
        And that the Ferry betwixt Dornock and Taine, commonly called the Meikle Ferry, is frozen beyond what was ever known or recorded.

It is likely that Jean Mackenzie would have been buried in the churchyard of nearby Fearn Abbey, where grandson Reverend John Urquhart of Mounteagle would serve as minister for thirty years.


John Urquhart of Mounteagle marries Mary MacLeod of Cambuscurry

Any book or websource which mentions John Urquhart of Mounteagle states that he married Mary MacLeod of the Cambuscurry Macleods in 1735. However, their contract of marriage was signed in September 1736, as mentioned in the sasine which put the identified measures into place. If John Urquhart died before Mary MacLeod then two options were presented, one with children which is more limited and one without.

RS38/9 folio 102
… as pro[curato]r & attorney for & in name of Mrs Mary McLeod only Lawfull Daughter to the Deceast AEneas McLeod of Cambuscurry now spouse to John Urquhart of Mounteagle … past with me & the saids witnesses to the ground of the Town & Lands of Eye, Eaglehill, Midoxgate & Leavalgowin Mansion house wt the other houses & pertinents yrto belonging Having & Holding in his hands ane Contract of Marriage made & past twixt the said John Urquhart & Mrs Mary McLeod with the speciall advice & consent of Roderick McLeod of Cadboll her Cousine German and David Ross of Inverchasley her Uncle & David Ross Commissary Clerk of Ross her Curator conform to an act of curatory in his favours dated the [blank] day of November Jaivii& thirty two years on the one & other parts of the date the thirteenth day of September Jaivii& thirty six years containing the precept of Sasine aftermentioned whereby for the causes therin spec[ifie]d the said John Urquhart provided … in favours of himself & the said Mrs Mary McLeod in conjunct fie & liferent for her liferent use … all & haill his Town & Lands of Eye, Eaglehill, Midoxgate & Leavalgowin… The sd Mrs Mary McLeod her Liferent yrof after the said John Urquharts decease to be … viz
That in case she shall survive her said promis’d husband & that ther shall happen to be existing children of the marriage she is to possess & enjoy only yrafter dureing all the days of her lifetime full and compleat free yearly locality of five Chalders furth of all & haill the Town & Lands of Eye & Eaglehill extending in heal to the forsd locality of five Chalders (and three Bolls more aloted for the payment of the Stipends yrof) together with the Customs Services & heal duties & Emoluments of the Same As also the prinll Mansion house of the said Localed Lands & hail other houses biggings …
And in case ther shall be no existing Children of the said marriage that in that case she liferent & enjoy after his said decease his said hail Lands & Estate of Eye Eaglehill Midoxgate & Leavalgowin wt the hail houses biggings …

From the sasine, you can see that Mary MacLeod’s father AEneas MacLeod of Cambuscurry must have died before she came of age, as David Ross the Commissary Clerk had been given a power of Curator back in 1732, and he, Roderick MacLeod of Cadboll her cousin and David Ross of Inverchasley her uncle all gave their consent to her contract of marriage. For those interested in the dynasty of Cambuscurry, Alexander Mackenzie sets out the story in his History of the Macleods (1889). But in summary, Mary’s parents were AEneas Macleod and Janet Mackenzie, and her first cousin was Roderick MacLeod of Cadboll.

Alexander Barkly and Christian Urquhart, to whom I am about to come, named one of their children AEneas in 1768; Christian’s brother was also called AEneas, and both were presumably in honour of Christian’s grandfather AEneas Macleod; the name would also have helped them to keep in with the important Macleods of Cadboll. Indeed the most famous of the Macleods of the area would be born a few years after AEneas Barkly – Robert Bruce AEneas Macleod of Cadboll M.P. (1764–1844). It would have done AEneas Barkly no harm to have borne the same distinctive first name.

The first daughter to John Urquhart of Mounteagle and Mary Macleod was Christian. I know this as in her marriage contract with Alexander Barkly (in National Library of Scotland Acc.9907 Item 2) she is described as their “eldest” daughter. Thus far I have identified only one other daughter, Jane, about whom more later.

We can calculate Christian Urquhart’s approximate birth year from her death notices published in 1811:

Pilot (London) 18 April 1811
DIED. … On the 8th instant, at Cromarty, Mrs Barkly, aged 74.

We can therefore say that she was born about 1737. Note by the way that some have said this death notice might relate to Elizabeth Robertson, wife of Alexander Barkly in Balcony. She by coincidence also died in 1811 and is also buried in Kirkmichael. But Mrs Elizabeth Barkly ms Robertson had a child in 1802, so could scarcely be 74 in 1811!

Christian Urquhart was thus born about 1737, and was the eldest girl. The eldest boy was brother John, who would become Reverend John Urquhart of Mounteagle. We can similarly calculate his approximate birth year as about 1740. He is recorded as attending Marischal College in Aberdeen 1758 to 1762. The only two death notices I have found to give his age say:

The Monthly Magazine 1 November 1800
At the manse of Fearn, in the 62d year of his age, and the thirtieth of his ministry, the Rev. John Urquhart, of Mount-Eagle, minister of Fearn.

Porcupine 8 November 1800
On the 27th of September, at Fearn Manse, Ross-shire, in the 62d year of his age, and 13th [should be 30th] year of his incumbency, John Urquhart, of Mount Eagle, minister of Fearn.

An age of 61 in 1800 would give a birth year of c1739 which fits with his record of attending Marischal College.

There were other brothers. The implementation of Christian Urquhart’s marriage contract, written in 1769, was to fall on “Angus [AEneas] Urquhart her Second Lawfull Brother or at the Instance of Alexander or Roderick Urquharts her younger Brethren or any one of them”. The wording suggests that my calculated ages of Christian and John may be a little bit out. But in any case, all the children we are aware of who survived to adulthood are: John Urquhart (who became Reverend John Urquhart), AEneas Urquhart (who emigrated to Philadelphia in 1763 and was doing well for himself there until he was imprisoned in 1780 in the American Revolution), Christian Urquhart (who married Alexander Barkly), Jane Urquhart (who married John Hutchison), Alexander and Roderick.

It must have been a dreadful scene when the House of Mounteagle burnt down in January 1740. John’s mother Jean Mackenzie being caught in the fire, young children to rescue, family and staff stumbling out of the blazing house into the frozen countryside.

We do not know if John and Mary re-built the House of Mount Eagle on the same spot or if they started afresh. But it must have been of substantial size for a few years later it is described as the “Castle of Mount Eagle” on Roy’s Military Map.

In 1907 a beautiful new Mounteagle House, designed by famous Tain architects Maitland, was built to the west of the old one. Amazingly, much of the previous house and steading has survived through to modern times. In September 2023, Hilarie Russell showed me, in the company of my daughter Kirsty and cousin Isabel, around the old complex and the walled garden. She and husband Douglas have restored the southern sections of both east and west wings, and the results look superb. The original complex was built in a rectangular shape and this may have triggered the thought within the Roy Military Map surveyors of its defensive possibilities. I include an Appendix of images of the present Mounteagle House and the old Mounteagle House.

the Old House of Mounteagle, built after 1740; photo by Jim Mackay


the modern House of Mounteagle, built in 1907; photo by Jim Mackay


The year after the death of his mother, John Urquhart’s entitlement to vote was challenged.

MacGill No. 266, 1741
Pages 3 to 10, inclusive, of minute of Ross-shire election to Parliament … Kilravock objected against John Urquhart of Mounteagle that the lands of Eye now called Mounteagle were part of the barony of Balnagowan till splitted therefrom in 1708 . . not of £400 valued rent and cannot entitle the proprietor . . Answered by Sir Wm. Gordon Invergordon for John Urquhart of Mounteagle . . he did vote at former elections without objections . . . objection repelled

Clearly any personal differences between the Mounteagle Urquharts and the Gordons had been set aside and both were rooting for Charles Ross against Hugh Rose of Kilravock. Sir William Gordon had track history of ignoring legitimate challenges (Alexander Urquhart of Newhall had previously benefited from this in his own first election as M.P.) and I am not sure if simply saying that John Urquhart of Mounteagle had voted before without being challenged invalidated the current challenge! However, Charles Ross, despite being a minor, went on to win the election.

The challenge yields the information that the Mounteagle lands, previously known as the lands of Eye, were part of the barony of Balnagowan until separated in 1708.

John Urquhart of Mounteagle was one of the Heritors of the Parish of Fearn and was present at the visitation of the Presbytery to Fearn on 6 October 1742. The subject: what needed to be done to repair Fearn Abbey, the parish church. There had been much loss of slates. Unusually for the time, the heritors indicated they would be happy to pay for repairs. The Presbytery asked two local tradesmen to cost up the necessary works and report to their next meeting.

Alas, it was too little too late. The roof is the most important part of a building to maintain, and slates had been falling off for years without being replaced. Immediate action is required on roofs if serious consequences are to be avoided. It is such an important lesson that never seems to be learned.

Newcastle Courant 16 Octobr 1742

Ipswich Journal 6 November 1742

As summarised in 1792 by Reverend John Urquhart of Mounteagle in his report on the parish of Fearn within the first Statistical Account:

The abbacy was not only the place of worship before the Reformation, but ever since, until October 1742, when, on a sudden, in time of public worship, the roof fell in. There were 36 persons killed instantly, by what fell in of the roof and slate, on that melancholy occasion; 8 more died soon after.

At the next meeting of the Presbytery it was self-evident that the report from the two tradesmen was no longer needed, and there was a short account of the disaster. Over the next few months, there was some debate over the relative merits of repairing the Abbey or building a new church. They plumped for a new church and agreed to repair the minister’s manse and offices at the same time. On 20 April 1743 the relative sums each Heritor would have to pay was worked out, using as a basis their proportions of the unpaid stipend for the past two years. This provides much useful information. John Urquhart’s contributions were relatively modest:

That John Urquhart of Mounteagle pays yearly of the said Stipend four Bolls, so that he is due, for the said two Cropts, Eight Bolls [In comparison Roderick Macleod was due fifty Bolls. The Bolls were converted into money and we have] Item the said John Urquhart of Mounteagle the Sum of forty two pounds thirteen shillings four pennies Scots for the eight Bolls he is due for the said two Cropts.

Having carried out this arcane exercise, the Presbytery found that the money raised would still not be enough for a new church, so they sought the remainder from the lairds in proportion to their valuations.

… Item John Urquhart of Mounteagle for his Lands and Interest in the said parish valued at a hunder and fifty five pounds one shilling Scots the sum of forty one pounds one shilling ten pennies Scots. [and for the manse and office repairs] Item John Urquhart of Mounteagle for his Lands and Interest in the said parish valued at a hunder and fifty five pounds one shilling Scots the sum of twenty five pounds eight shillings eight pennies Scots;

Alas, despite being well-funded, this new church was shockingly badly constructed. In less than 30 years it was abandoned. The next John Urquhart of Mounteagle was involved in the restoration of Fearn Abbey as the parish church once more.

In the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, relatively few of the landowners of Easter Ross and the Black Isle came out. The Gordons, of course, were famously stalwart supporters of the Hanoverian cause. The Earl of Cromartie came out, driven, I suspect, by financial reasons, but few of his Easter Ross tenants came out with him. He had to turn to families on his West Coast land for fighting men. During the Earl’s subsequent trial for High Treason, Sir John Gordon of Invergordon and his wife “Bonny Bel” went to extraordinary lengths to save his life.

Roderick McCulloch of Glastullich also came out, was imprisoned in London and also indicted for High Treason. His defence was prepared. He had served as a Captain in the Jacobite forces, so you would think a reasonable defence would be impossible. But masses of statements (now in the National Archives in Kew, SP36/87/3/28) stress how he had joined the insurrection with reluctance, he now bitterly regretted it, he had behaved like a gentleman throughout, he had treated prisoners with great care and so on. The reason I mention this is because one of the affidavits was signed by John Urquhart of Mounteagle.

John Urquhart’s endorsement is particularly ironic as his own brother, Alexander Urquhart of Newhall, M.P., had in the Atterbury Plot between the two Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745 been an active Jacobite conspirator, liaising with the Pretender under the codename of “Vincent”. However, the affidavits succeeded, as, whilst the estate of Glastullich was annexed, McCulloch’s life was spared. I set out this affidavit to show the great list of the gentry in Ross-shire who sought to assist him.

SP 36/87/3/28 (1746) National Archives Kew Documents in the case of Roderick McCulloch of Glastulich, [Jacobite] prisoner in London indicted for High Treason.
Folios 29–30. Affidavit of clergy and gentlemen of the Ross-shire, referring to McCulloch’s moderate conduct during the rebel occupation, and his remorse at his ‘fatal error’ in joining them. Signed by: David Ross of Inverchasly, Ross-shire; Gustavus Munro of Culrain, Ross-shire; Hugh Munro of Teaninich, Ross-shire; Arthur Ross of Priesthill, Ross-shire; Duncan Ross of Kindeace, Ross-shire; David MacCulloch of Mulderg, Ross-shire; Simon Ross of Aldie, Ross-shire; Robert Ross of?Actmodsich, Ross-shire; James Ross {Rose} of Culles, Ross-shire; John Munro of Milntown [?Castle], Ross-shire; Alexander Munro of Kiltearn, Ross-shire; David Ross of Invercharron, Ross-shire; Alexander Ross of Easter Fearn, Ross-shire; Alexander Ross of Westfield, sheriff clerk of Ross-shire; John Brown, factor to Sir Harry Monro of Fowlis; Hugh Ross of Tain, bailie; Donald Munro, Tain, baillie; John Reid, Tain, baillie; David Ross, Tain, commissar clerk; John Urquhart of Mount Eagle, Ross-shire; David Ross younger, Priesthill. Dated 10 September 1746 at Tain.

One of the outcomes of the ’45 was a desire for a detailed military map of Scotland. William Roy’s Military Map was the most comprehensive map of Scotland of its time. Roy had a particular eye to military fortifications for obvious reasons. His map provides much detail of Lochslin Castle. It also indicates, as mentioned above, that the new house built by John Urquhart of Mounteagle following the fire in 1740 must have been of a fortified nature itself as Roy’s survey describes it as “Castle of Mount Eagle”.

Roy’s Military Map 1747–1752; image courtesy of National Library of Scotland


The children of John Urquhart and Mary McLeod were growing up. John junior is listed as attending Marischal College in Aberdeen over the period 1758 to 1762.

extract from the published lists of Marischal students in Fasti Academiae Mariscallanae Aberdonenis


the ancient spires of Marischal College – not really, they were a Victorian re-build! photo from Wikipedia


And during this period his sister Christian married Alexander Barkly, tacksman of Kirkton – just up the brae from Kirkmichael.


1760 – Christian Urquhart marries Alexander Barkly in Kirkton

Christian would have been about 23 at the time. We don’t know how the two met, although the two families were closely associated. John Urquhart of Mounteagle (senior) would have known the Barkly family well while growing up at Newhall. Alexander, like his father, was farmer and merchant, with a record of having to be chased for some of his debts. He had already had one child (Lillias) by this time, resulting from a liaison with one Isobel Ross, baptised in 1758. All in all, I’m not sure if John Urquhart of Mounteagle would have been altogether comfortable with his eldest daughter marrying into the Barkly family.

Parish of Resolis Marriage Register
5 December 1760 Mr. Alexr Barkley taxman in Kirktown & Miss Christian Urquhart in the parish of Fearn in Ross Shire

The tocher or dowry which John Urquhart was to pay was 1000 pounds Scots, as set out in the marriage contract (NLS Acc.9907 Item 2(i)). Curiously, it was written nine years after the marriage, in 1809, and it apologetically says:

albeit the said Alexander Barkly and Mrs Christina Urquhart are for several years past Married Yet there having been no Contract Hitherto twixt them and that the said Mrs Christian Urquhart is not secured in any annuity nor are the Children of the marriage provided for, or a Tocher given to the said Alexander Barkly according as was communed on and agreed upon betwixt the said partys before and after the marriage

It is strange that organising the contract should have taken so long. The wily Alexander Barkly might have had an aversion to signing anything, but on the other hand 1000 pounds Scots would have been difficult to resist. By the marriage contract he agreed to provide Christian with an annual liferent of £150 Scots. I think John Urquhart may have been ailing when it was finally completed (he would die the following year) and he wanted to ensure his daughter’s interests were protected and therefore insisted the contract be written up and signed.

The Barkly family had been associated with the Urquhart family of Newhall for at least 70 years by this time, as tacksmen of Ballicherry, Kirkmichael and Kirkton, all parts of the Newhall Estate. It still represented quite a social step for a tacksman to marry the sister of an estate owner. But grandfather Gilbert Barkly in Ballicherry had been Chamberlain to Sir Adam Gordon of Dalpholly, and Alexander Barkly himself was no ordinary tacksman; he was a merchant and wheeler-dealer.

Their first born bore the same name as Alexander Barkly’s grandfather and brother, Gilbert. We know little of young Gilbert Barkly (1761–1785), whose gravestone lies in Kirkmichael. For their first child to die as a young man must have been hard for the family. A tablestone was erected by the grieving parents. The inscription on it reads:

Here lyes the / body of GILBERT / BARKLY who / died the 16 of / May 1785 in the / 23 year of / his age / A [small circle] B / C [heart shape] U

photo by Andrew Dowsett


There are two other stories in this series focusing on the Barkly family, one on the early days of the family in the parish of Kirkmichael and Cullicudden commonly known as Resolis which can be read here, and one on their famous descendants which can be read here. A summary is therefore all that is required at this point. From the Parish of Resolis Baptism Register and other sources such as the Barkly Papers in the NLS, Alexander and Christian had:

1. Gilbert Barkly (1761–1785), died when still a young man, buried in the Barkly enclosure in Kirkmichael where he has his own tablestone.

2. John Barkly (1763–), presumed to have died as a child as a second John was baptised in 1772. I believe that the small headstone marked “J + B / G + B” within the Barkly enclosure at Kirkmichael commemorates John and his brother George.

3. Alexander “Sandy” Barkly (1766–1805) was due to take over from his father as tacksman at Kirkton. However, the Barkly family and Dr David Urquhart of Braelangwell could not agree terms for the proposed 19-year tenancy. Alexander’s uncle Gilbert Barkly was to say (letter dated 21 February 1788, NLS Barkly Papers): “From a knowledge of the ungenerus and oppresive disposition of the generality of the Rossshire Lairds I own my prejudices against them to be of a long standing at the same time that I Expected better things of Dr Urquhart, who knows & has seen the world, to which I add the uninterrupted & long Friendship, that subsisted betuixt his, and our Family.” There is within the Barkly Papers in the NLS two long sets of requirements from 1788, one drawn up by the Barklys and one drawn up by “Mr and Mrs Urquhart of Newhall”. The two sides could not agree, and Alexander senior paid his arrears (perhaps the main cause of concern on the Laird’s side), and on 6 June 1788 he and his wife Christian Urquhart moved out of Kirkton to retire in Cromarty. Young Alexander crossed the Firth to become a tacksman and farmer on the Inchcoulter Estate, first at Assint just within the parish of Alness and then at Balcony, nearby but within the parish of Kiltearn. We do not have a record of his marriage to Elizabeth Robertson. They are first noted, however, at Assint, their first child being baptised there on 4 May 1799. When younger brother David was up from London he visited Alexander at Assint (they had both just participated at the funeral at Fearn of their uncle Reverend John Urquhart) and wrote on 2 October 1800 to AEneas: “Sandy purposes in a few days to do himself the pleasure of addressing you.– he with Mrs Barkly & the charming little ones beg their Love to you both” so by this time a second child must have been born. Soon after he moved to Balcony. There he had daughter Christian and his mother, Christian Urquhart, wrote to AEneas from Crmarty on 27 March 1804:

Sandy came here the 19th inst by boat & stayd a few hours with us he says himself is getting better & why would I not say so likewise altho its far from being my opinion yt he yet is in a good state of health / by his unluckie sore he tells me yt the docter must yet probe it & make another incision on it with a silver instrument the poor man looks as well as could be expected from his great sufferings & distress since he parted with us the 26 of Decbr Mary wrot you yt he has got an increase to his family the child is called Christian you know for … the mother & infant is in a fair way of recovery I heard from him since he was here in going home by the boat (as he cannot venture to ride) he got a great deal of cold wc. has given him a megrain in his head it is very severe on him poor fellow he seemed highly grateful when he told us yt he had a letter from you a post or two ere he came here he seems very grateful for your very great attention to him he surely is very partial to Docter Wisharts skill God grant he may have cause to find it so he is restricted to a low diet I think … rather dull

Alexander continued as tacksman at Balcony, near Evanton, until his death by suicide in 1805.

PHOTO OF Storehouse

Alexander was caught up in the failure of neighbour John Bertram of Mountrich, somebody whom AEneas had warned Alexander against becoming involved with. AEneas told his brother: “altho’ I heard two months ago of your unfortunate connection with Mr Bertram I never imagined it was to the serious extent your communication would now seem to insinuate and I am grieved to think that the opinion I always entertained of that man, and frankly intimated to you, upon every occasion, did not place you upon your guard”. Mountrich was owned by Henry Davidson of Tulloch, but Bertram was much more than a tenant farmer – he was a wheeler-dealer in grain. He bought up barley from neighbouring estates, stored it in Foulis Storehouse (which presumably he had rented from Munro of Foulis) and shipped it out. He was declared bankrupt early in 1805, and the Tulloch Estate immediately advertised Mountrich for rent again – and in a cruel irony, Alexander Barkly of Balcony was one of the two men identified in the advertisements who would show interested parties around the land. I see in the Tain Sheriff Court records a bill of £140 Sterling which Alexander owed to Bertram, signed at Balcony on 1 November 1804, and protested at Tain Sheriff Court on 4 February 1805. From letters by and referring to him within the NLS Barkly Papers, Alexander did not enjoy good health and moreover seems to have been highly-strung. On 20 February, Alexander had written despairingly to AEneas about his debts, and AEneas, replying by letter dated 26 February, while sympathetic and offering to help him re-build his life was initially not willing to settle his debts. Alexander shortly afterwards took his own life. His widow Elizabeth Robertson I think went to reside with her sister (who later married the Rosskeen Session Clerk) in Invergordon, whilst Brother AEneas took responsibility for the children’s future. Elizabeth Robertson is buried in the Barkly enclosure in Kirkmichael. I think her husband is probably buried there himself but not named on the memorial due to the social horror associated with suicides.

PHOTO OF protested bill

4. AEneas Barkly (1768–1836), who became AEneas Barkly of Mounteagle. AEneas was born (according to his Islington gravestone inscription) on 11 April 1768. As mentioned above, it is likely that he was named after his maternal grandfather, AEneas Macleod. AEneas became a highly successful merchant trading with the West Indies and owned many plantations. He was involved in the partnership of Davidson and Graham & Co, and later formed the new firm of Davidson & Barkly. The Davidsons were of course from Cromarty originally, they purchased Tulloch Estate in Dignwall.

5. William Barkly (1769–1798) came to London in winter 1786/7 and was employed as a clerk with William Ross lately returned from India, probably William Ross of Shandwick, for a time, then for a spell with a solicitor, and then as clerk to relative Captain John Barkley on a voyage to India and China. He was back in London in 1793. He became very closely attached with a lady, Isabella Hutton, daughter of Professor of Mathematics Charles Hutton who performed the calculations in the Schiehallion experiment. It was expected they would marry. But then suddenly in 1796, and it seems to have involved getting himself extricated from a difficult financial situation, he left for India. He wrote to his brothers from Funchal, Madeira, en route to that destination on 20 May. A few excerpts from his revealing letter to brother David:

my ardent wish to compensate you for the trouble & vexation which you have had for some time past with my affairs in conseqce of my folly & imprudence– I however trust long before you receive this that the storm has in a great measure subsided & that matters now wear a milder aspect the certainty of which wod. be balsam to me … nor do I believe that after I look over every thing – any particular circumstance will present itself that will enable me to say much on the subject of the Insurance accots. situate as they unfortunately are – I have written a very long letter to AEneas which you will I dare say see – it is therefore needless to be making repetitions here – but I must again say that I will be rather anxious till I receive my first dispatches from England at Bengal … I need not add how much you ought to be upon your guard agaist the Snares of designing people– let us hope for better & happier days than we have seen for some time past & don’t let a few frowns from an imperious man vex you– when the rectitude of your own heart tells you that you do not deserve them

From India, it appears from references to him in various letters, he continued a correspondence with his love, and with AEneas. He was getting himself settled there when he died in 1798 at Chinsurah of a fever. AEneas had the difficult job of writing to inform Isabella Hutton which he did with great tact and feeling. He was later to pass to her a lock of William’s hair. She never married. On her death in 1839, her nephew Charles Vignoles, the renowned railway engineer, wrote to AEneas (not realising that AEneas himself was dead by this time) informing him of her death, and that she had never stopped cherishing the memory of William. This sad story can be pieced together from several letters within the NLS Barkly Papers collection.

6. John (Jack) Barkly (1772–1834) in his earlier years sailed on ships involved with trade. For a time he served in the Royal Navy, having been press-ganged! Later he undertook various voyages as captain, but I think he must have suffered an injury or was laid low by a disease, as AEneas in 1805 says “I have now a Family of my own to provide for my Mother and Sisters depend much upon me – and I am sorry to say John too”. In later life John resided as a gentleman with sisters Mary, Christian and Margaret in Cromarty. He was a Captain in the Militia (SC24/21/5). He died in Cromarty and is buried in the family enclosure in Kirkmichael.

7. David Barkly (1774–1803) became a merchant and underwriter in London, initially with Andrew Reid of Lionsdown, by whom he was employed at Lloyds Coffee House (where most mercantile business was conducted) from at least October 1801. Reid wrote to his banking company on 17 April 1802 “Mr David Barkly the bearer hereof whom I have empowered to write Policies for me at Lloyds Coffee House wishes to open an Account with you for the different Sums he may have occasion to pay &recover on that Account.– And I request it may be opened in your Books as follows– David Barkly for & on Account of Andrew Reids underwriting”. David must have moved to London early in life as he writes from Cromarty in 1800, on a great tour to visit relatives in the Black Isle, Easter Ross and Edinburgh (my emboldenment):

I must refer to a future opportunity, my sentiments of our Dearest relations individually.– indeed it must require many many sheets of Paper to do them justice & even then, I am fully convinced, it could add but little to the opinion you already entertain of them.– / I know you will pardon the inaccuracy of the present scroll.– the worthy Farmer [Alexander, visiting from his farm at Assint] is now at my elbow – he is really a fine fellow.– I need not say now I would have written before – but this is the first Post day since my arrival.– Dady & Mamy I would have known.– the little alteration is in their favour I think.– as they appear truly happy – the latter is very anxious about our worthy Uncle [Reverend John Urquhart of Fearn] who I am very sorry to learn is dangerously ill but I hope & trust in God for his own & familys sake.– the fears of his friends will soon be relieved by his Speedy recover. I hope John is now occupied in Tate & Whitesides Coptg& [this will be young John Urquhart, born 1783, and now in London] / I would not have known one of my Sisters are charming Girls

On his early death in December 1803, David was buried in Bunhill Fields. A diagram (dated Bunhill Fields 1829) showing the location of his lair in relation to the nearby one of family friend George Tod and his sister may be found in the NLS Barkly Papers (Item 7). David left a will leaving everything to his three spinster sisters (those “charming Girls”) in Cromarty and a spinster Eliza Williams of Clements Lane London, share and share alike. I am assuming that Eliza Williams of Clements Lane (off Lombard Street, and close to his home in Bartholomew Lane) was his girlfriend. In July 1803 Andrew Reid had written to him: “I sincerely hope you will not lose a moment in separating yourself from a person with whom you cannot promise yourself any thing but misery & regrets for the rest of your life– She has neither youth, beauty, fortune or connection to recommend her”. Whether or not Eliza Williams of Clements Lane was the lady concerned I know not (but I hope it was). On his death, the executors were John Innes, George Tod and brother AEneas Barkly.

8. George Barkly (1776–) I have been unable to track. Like the first John, I think it likely that he died young. As mentioned above, there is a small but well carved headstone in the Barkly enclosure in Kirkmichael bearing initials “J + B / G + B”. This I am sure commemorates the first John, whom we know is likely to have died before 1772 when the second John was baptised, and George.

photo by Andrew Dowsett


Alexander and Christian did not have the baptisms of their daughters recorded and hence we cannot be sure how many they had. But from family correspondence, newspaper death notices, Census returns and the Cromarty Burial Register there appear to have been only three:

1. Mary (c1764–1851). No letter from Mary seems to have survived, so it is difficult to assess her character. She resided in the house in Cromarty (owned by AEneas) with her sisters and mothers, and joined with them as they went out on their social visits to family and friends. Like her sisters she never married, thereby avoiding the dangers associated with bearing the inevitable large family of the time. She died in Cromarty, and is buried in Kirkmichael.

2. Margaret (c1782–1817). She lived in Cromarty (from brother David’s will she was there in 1803) but was residing in Brighton at the time of her death. Margaret seems to have been a particular favourite with Louisa, the wife of AEneas, and in one letter he wonders how he can get her to visit without stirring up feelings with the other two sisters. But she did come to stay with Louisa, and I note from one letter in the NLS Barkly Papers that the two of them went off on a jaunt together to Mottisfont.

3. Christian (c1786–1848). There are a couple of letters written by Christian to brother AEneas in the NLS Barkly Papers, and she seems from thse to have been a lively outgoing lady. She died in Cromarty, and is buried in Kirkmichael.


The Death of John Urquhart of Mounteagle

The first John Urquhart of Mounteagle died at Mounteagle in 1770, as reported in the Scots Magazine of that year.

Scots Magazine 1770
Dec 15 At his house in Ross-shire, John Urquhart of Mount-Eagle, brother to the late Col. Alexander Urquhart of Newhall

Within a few months, his son, the new John Urquhart of Mounteagle, had become Minister of the parish. Fast work.


Reverend John Urquhart of Mounteagle, Minister of the parish of Fearn



Following the Reformation, Fearn Abbey remained in use, but as the Protestant parish church. The roof deteriorated and action to repair it was organised too late. The heritors of a parish were responsible for maintaining their church, and it was usually a battle to get them to pay for repairs, but it seems it was simply neglect that led to disaster with Fearn Abbey. We have already seen how the country was appalled when, in 1742, the flagstone roof collapsed during a service, resulting in the deaths of 44 members of the congregation and severely injuring the new Fearn minister, Reverend Donald Ross (1692–1775). It was a tragedy for the community.

The minister it appears never fully recovered, and was elderly as well, so an assistant minister had to be put in place. You get the impression that Donald Ross was by the time of John Urquhart’s ordination largely incapable. However, the assistant minister was limited in authority and the Elders were frustrated with the inability to get things done.

A new church had been constructed adjacent to the ruined church, but it had been badly built and it too had fallen into a ruinous state by the time that John Urquhart the younger inherited Mounteagle in 1770. Under his ministry, all this was turned around.

John Urquhart had been away at Marischal College, Aberdeen, 1758 to 1762, but we do not yet know where he received his early experience as a minister. I have picked up only one mention of him in the Presbytery of Tain minutes as a probationer:

Presbytery of Tain Minutes 13th December 1769
Application being made for supplys to Tain Mr John Urquhart probationer is appointed to preach there Sabbath next

Perhaps I missed other references for it is surprising for him to appear just like that; usually Presbytery minutes give more information. And where had he been between graduating from Marischal College in 1762 and appearing as a probationer in 1769?

In September 1770, the parish Elders petitioned (with the concurrence of the minister) to proceed to the ordination of Mr William Keith, preacher of the Gospel and at the time assistant to Mr Donald Ross. The Presbytery considered the petition and on 5 December 1770 turned it down, saying it would be “improper in the present circumstances of that parish”. They probably were aware of other plans developing in the background.

John Urquhart senior died later that month, and on 12 April 1771, the Presbytery records show:

Thereafter was given in, his Majestys Sign manual in favours of Mr John Urquhart of Monteagle, Preacher of the Gospel, containing his Majesty’s consent, as Patron of the Kirk, and parish of Fearn, to have the said Mr John Urquhart settled assistant and successor to Mr Donald Ross the present Incumbent, and grounding the said consent a petition to that purpose presented to his Majesty by the Heretors of the parish, which represented, that it would be agreeable to them, and all concerned, that the said Settlement should take place. … it was moved that a Diet be appointed to hold in the Church of Fearn for moderating in a Call…

All this shows considerable work behind the scenes at a high level, of which the Elders of the parish had not been aware. I think probably it was Ross of Balnagown who had put in motion the necessary political levers to achieve this result – it required somebody of influence. The Presbytery met at Fearn on 1 May 1801 but it was a foregone conclusion:

This meeting being appointed for knowing the Inclinations of the parishioners of Fearn with regard to the Settlement of Mr John Urquhart as assistant and Successor to Mr Donald Ross … the parish being thrice Called, at the most patent door of the Church, Compeared, Roderick McCulloch of Glastulich, one of the Heretors, Mr Charles McKenzie, Factor on the Estate of Meikle Allan, David Ross of Priesthill, Factor on the Lands of Ballintore, and Mr David Ross Sherriff Substitute of Ross, Factor for Hugh Ross of Shandwick, and Andrew Ross of Drum, other two of the Heritors. Compeared also, Donald McLeod of Geanies, Advocate, and presented a letter of proxy from Captain Ross of Belnagown, Charles Robertson of Kindeace, who presented a letter of proxy from Mr George Ross of Pitkerrie, as did, Roderick McCulloch of Glastulich, a letter of the same kind from Roderick McKenzie of Scotsburn, and Mr John Hutchinson, from Mrs Urquhart Liferentrix of Monteagle. Compeared also, Donald Oag, David Tomson, Alexander Ross, Robert McRorie, John Bain, and John Mitchel, Elders and Members of the Kirk Session, and together with them, a considerable number of the heads of families. The Heritors present, and the Proxys of such who were absent, unanimously disclosed their hearty Concurrence with his Majestys Sign Manual, and their desire, to have Mr Urquhart speedily setled as Assistant and Successor to Mr Donald Ross. The Elders, being asked, they declared, they had no objection to Mr Urquhart; as did also the heads of families, a few excepted, who said, they were not for his Settlement, being already well appointed in a young man who was assistant to Mr Ross, but they acknowledged at the same time that they had nothing to object to Mr Urquhart’s life or doctrine.

I have emboldened the text relating to Mr John Hutchinson (Hutchison), standing in for Mrs Urquhart Liferentrix of Monteagle, i.e. John Urquhart’s mother. John Hutchison had married Jane Urquhart, sister of Reverend John Urquhart, and they had several children in the 1770s and 1780s in Cromarty, including one Robert, born in 1781. Robert would move to London and become a vintner and cooper, and turns up in quite a number of London Urquhart and Barkly documents. For more on Robert Hutchison, see the final appendix to this story.

No sooner was John Urquhart inducted into the role of minister, than he started to address major issues, and the great benefit of having a minister who was also a heritor began to be apparent. The Kirk Session on 27 July 1771 considered the dangerous condition of the new Church. It could never have been built very well – “the roof whereof is become untimely rotten, so that by this and other imminent dangers the fall thereof is much to be dreaded, therefore the Session has ordered the Session Clerk to draw out a Petition in order to represent the situation thereof to the Presbytery…”

The Petition is quite touching: “The Session of Fearn remembering and seriously considering the melancholy Event, viz. the fall of the Old Kirk by which many lives were lost, therefore they took it under their serious Consideration for some time past to represent to the very Revd Presby the dangerous situation & Condition of their present Kirk, but delayed it till now by reason of their wanting a Modr. to constitute a Session for that purpose, who might corroborate their Representation of the facts ascertained as follows.
1mo. Upon proper persons takeing a view of the massons work thereof, found that the walls & gavels were entirely out of plumb … the Roof & particularly the Wester end thereof is intirely rotten and by this means the north side of the Wester Loft is in the very same way as the Roof above, and as much to be dreaded by them that sits below as the Roof can be to them that sits above.
        “May it therefore please the very Revd Presby. to take the above Representation & Petition to their serious Consideration and that without Loss of time, so that some proper method may be taken to prevent such a melancholy Catastrophe as is dreaded…”

The Heritors of the Parish of Fearn met at Loggie, where “a Report made out by Jas. Rich Surveyor now residing at Cromarty” set out costs of two options: rebuilding the new church or repairing the old Abbacy Church. Captain Ross of Balnagown came up with a suggestion which all the heritors supported. Time to take it to the Presbytery…

Presbytery of Tain Minutes, meeting at Kilmuir Easter, 23 October 1771
Captain John Ross of Belnagown and Mr John Urquhart of Monteagle, Minister of Fearn, produced an agreement entered into by them and the other Heretors of the parish of Fearn, at a meeting which held at Logie Easter on the twelth day of Current for rebuilding the old Abbey Church of Fearn that the presebytery having considered the said paper of agreement, They ordered the same to be recorded whereof the tenor follows “At Logie Easter [12 Oct 1771] The Heretors of the parish of Fearn having this day met, at this place, to take under their consideration the ruinous situation of the Church of said parish, and to concert measures, either for repairing the old Abbey Church, or rebuilding the new Church, at which meeting there were present, Captain John Ross of Belnagown, Charles Robertson of Kindeace one of the Tutors of the Laird of Cadbol, Mr Hugh Rose of Aitnoch Factor to George Ross of Pitkerry, Mr David Ross Clerk of Tain, Factor to Hugh Ross of Shandwick, Alexander Baillie of Little Tarrell, factor on the Sequestrated Estate ofMulderg, Mr John Urquhart of Monteagle, Roderick McKenzie of Scotsburn and Roderick McCulloch of Glastulich. Thereafter, there was laid before the Heretors a report made out at their desire by James Rich, Surveyor, now residing at Cromarty, of the Situation of the present new Church, and of the walls &c. of the old Abbey Church of the parish of Fearn and also the expence of rebuilding the new Church, or repairing the old Abbey Church, by which report, the sum of two hundred and twelve pounds, twelve shillings and eleven pence Sterling, is estimated to be the expence of repairing the old Abbey Church, and from one hundred and eighty, to two hundred pounds Sterling, to be the expence of rebuilding the new Church. Therafter, Captain Ross of Belnagown proposed to the Heretors present, and to the Doers of the absent Heretors, that if the Heretors would pay into him the Sum of two hundred pounds Sterling money, he would engage to repair the Abbacy Church, and to have it sufficiently finished against the first day of November, Seventeen hundred and seventy three years, He always getting the slates and other materials of both new and old Churches – The Heretors and Doers present having considered Captain Ross’s proposal, they unanimously approve of the same…. [the stent for the work includes] Item, Mr John Urquhart of Monteagle for his lands lying in the said Shire of Ross, and parish of Fearn, the valued rent whereof is a hunder and fifty five pounds, one shilling Scots, in the Sum of Seven pounds, twelve shillings and eight pence Sterling: Item, William Ross of Aldie…

With the Abbey Church repaired, on 20 July 1773 the ground floor seating accommodation was split up amongst the heritors. This in other churches usually led to feuding but it seems to have gone quite smoothly in Fearn. As a heritor himself, John Urquhart was provided with his own seating area: “8. To Mr Urquhart of Mount Eagle five foot nine inches on the South side of the Kirk next to Mr Ross of Pitkearys”.

interior of Fearn Abbey during a celebration of the building’s history; the south side is on the right


In all of this you don’t hear much about the Reverend Donald Ross, and as I say I think he may have been suffering from one of the mental afflictions of the elderly. He died a few years later in 1775 and a now-rapidly delaminating wall panel was erected to his memory in the south east chapel of the Abbey.

south east chapel of Fearn Abbey

sadly spalling memorial to Reverend Donald Ross in south east chapel


Now settled in Fearn, John Urquhart of Mounteagle could consider marriage and raising a family. On 2 January 1779, by now about 40 years old, he married Katherine Houstoun, 15 years his younger. She was a member of a very religious branch of the Houstons. They had been ministers in the parishes of Boleskine, Wardlaw and Kirkmichael and Cullicudden. Katherine’s great grandfather had been James Houston, the last Episcopal minister of Kirkmichael and Cullicudden. Extraordinarily, not only did Katherine marry a minister but also two of her sisters married ministers: Jane married Reverend Alexander Wood of Rosemarkie and Alexandrina married Reverend James Smith of Avoch. Both these ministers crop up later in this story.

The marriage between John Urquhart and Katherine Houstoun was to be a prolific one. John’s Fasti entry sets out all the children along with a small amount of biographical information:

Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae vol. 7, New Edition, Hew Scott, 1926 – Fearn Parish
1771 JOHN URQUHART of Mounteagle; educated at Marischal College, Aberdeen; pres. by George III. in April, and ord. (assistant and successor) 12th June 1771; died 27th Sept. 1800. He marr. 2nd Jan. 1779, Katherine (died 24th Feb. 1836), daugh. of Alexander Houston, provost of Fortrose, and had issue –
John, born 11th May 1783;
Alexander, born 21st May 1784;
Janet, born 14th July 1785, died 26th June 1816;
Elizabeth Baillie, born 10th July 1786;
Mary, born 28th June 1787;
Katherine, born 16th June 1788;
George Roderick, lieut. 33rd Foot, born 26th May 1790;
Charles Farquharson, major 54th Bengal Light Infantry, born 10th Aug. 1792, died 17th Feb. 1856;
Alexandrina Sophia, born 8th Sept. 1793;
Christina, born 27th Sept. 1794, died 24th Nov. 1854;
Joan, born 14th July 1798.
Publication – Account of the Parish (Sinclair’s Stat. Acc., iv.).

John and Katherine’s 11 children were thus born over the period 1783 to 1798.

I have not gone through the Fearn Kirk Session or Presbytery of Tain records in detail but from what I have seen John Urquhart seems to have been a respected, conscientious minister.

John Urquhart’s position was a curious one as he was both a minister and a heritor as owner of Mounteagle. When repairs were required to church, manse or school the land of Mounteagle would be included in the stent (admittedly as a modest contribution) whereby heritors had to pay up in proportion to the area of land they owned. And when the Poors Roll was broken up, “Poor on Mr Urquhart’s Ground” had its place within the list of “Poor on Balnagown’s Ground”, “Poor on Mr Monro’s Ground” and so on.



And unlike other ministers he could afford to pay for timely repairs, confident that his fellow heritors would refund him. With an ancient edifice to maintain this could only be good:

Presbytery of Tain minutes, 16 July 1788 (page 41)
Mr John Urquhart thereafter craved, that as the great body of the Heritors of the parish of Fearn were present here vizt the above named Cadboll, Scotsburn, Messrs Montgomery and Barclay with Charles Munro Esq of Allan for his own interest and for Captain MacCulloch of Glastulich that the Presbytery represent to these gentlemen that he hath repaired a large fracture in the Church of Fearn and that several of its slates are fallen off and many more daily threatening to fall The Heritors agreed to reimburse Mr Urquhart the Expence he hath already incurred and appoint and empower him to give them in a Note of what money will be necessary to preserve the slating of the Church and that he in the meantime proceed in the Repairs thereof

The following year his mother died. I do not know where Reverend John Urquhart’s father, the first John Urquhart of Mounteagle, is buried. But we know that his mother is interred in Fearn Abbey graveyard so I assume they are buried together.

Parish of Fearn Burials
1789 … April 1st Mrs Mary McLeod Relict of John Urquhart Esqr. of Monteagle –.–.3

Despite being a heritor himself, I see from the records that he occasionally did have difficultes with other heritors. He had trouble getting his minister’s stipend from Charles Munro of Allan and in 1792 had to take him to court (GD71/308). Presumably the dispute was settled amicably as Charles Munro of Allan acted as a witness to the baptism of one of his children in 1793! In CS229/U/1/20 he is chasing one of the McCullochs in 1798 (probably David McCulloch of Glastullich). In GD199/330 (1788) the dispute is between two others, with Urquhart caught in the middle as Munro Ross of Pitcalnie writes to him to say he “Has refused permission to allow burial of wife of Alexander Macpherson, writer in Inverness, at Fearn, on grounds that it would disturb the remains of writer's ancestors.”

And I see that he was on the Committee of the Justices of Peace and Commissioners of Supply for the County of Ross (Caledonian Mercury 19 April 1798). His interests were thus considerably wider than those of religion.

You can form your own impression of the man and his writing style from his contribution on the Parish of Fearn to the first (Old) Statistical Account in 1792. It is certainly one of the best of the old accounts. He comes over as a kind and sensible man, who writes exceptionally well. His report is thorough and yet very easy to read. One of the strongest themes coming through is the change that had been experienced in climate over his lifetime, with crop yields down dramatically over the past decades due to consistently cold weather. This I think would be due to the famous Laki eruption the atmospheric effects of which were long-reaching. He concludes that the best means whereby the condition of the people could be ameliorated, next to better seasons, would be for the Legislature to allow coals duty free.

His life extended into the 1800s – just.

Porcupine 8 November 1800
On the 27th of September, at Fearn Manse, Ross-shire, in the 62d year of his age, and 13th [should be 30th] year of his incumbency, John Urquhart, of Mount Eagle, minister of Fearn.

His widow, Katharine Houstoun, filed to become his executor and submitted an inventory, the largest item on which helpfully shows how his small estate was managed whilst he himself was a full-time minister.

CC19/4/1 Ross Commissary Court Testament Dative umquhill John Urquhart Esqure of Mounteagle 1802
In the first place, there was resting and owing to the said John Urquhart at the time of his death aforesaid, by David McCulloch Esquire of Glastullich for the rent of the farm of Eye, Eagle hill & for crop one thousand eight hundred years, including Customs, Carriage, Services, ministers stipend &c the sum of one hundred and forty nine pounds one shilling and seven pence Sterling

So you can see from this that McCulloch of Glastullich had been renting out his farmland. You will also note the name “Eagle hill” again, as mentioned in the inventory submitted on the death of Charles Ross of Eye away back in 1727. The farm of Eye must have contained a hill. Now, there is no real hill for several miles of Mounteagle, but all things are relative. A field just to the west of Mounteagle House seems to be the highest point for some distance around – could it have been the original Eagle “Hill”?

I think his passing must have been sudden and unexpected. He attended the Presbytery of Tain at their meeting at Logie Easter on 11 June 1800 as usual and then we see at a special meeting called at Fearn:

Presbytery of Tain Minutes
At Fearn the thirtieth of September eighteen hundred. The pby of Tain met and was constitute by Mr Matheson Moderator sederunt with him Messrs. John Ross, Thomas Urquhart, Alexander MacAdam, Alexander Munro, Angus Macintosh and William Forbes Ministers.
The Meeting on occasion of the Demise of Mr John Urquhart Minister of Fearn hold here this Day and find that said melancholy Event took place on the twenty seventh Instant
The Presbytery appoint Mr Munro acting Clerk for Mr Gallie to notify the Death of Mr Urquhart to the Trustees for the Widow’s Fund and to furnish them with a State of his Family at the time of his Decease.
Supplies were appointed for Fearn. Mr MacAdam to preach there the first Sabbath and to declare the Church vacant. Closed with Prayer.

Note the reference to “State of his Family” – John and Katherine had 11 children by now, the youngest only 2 years old. The family would have had to vacate the Manse in Fearn and find alternative accommodation. Was Mounteagle House itself open to them? As they had been living at the Manse presumably Mounteagle House had been rented out as well as the farmland.

Despite much effort, I have not located a memorial to Reverend John Urquhart. We know that his mother is buried in the churchyard at Fearn Abbey as it is recorded in the Parish of Fearn Burial Register. And we know that his wife is buried in her father’s burial enclosure in Rosemarkie churchyard for her tablestone survives. But why is there no inscription to Reverend John Urquhart himself? He died in the Manse of Fearn as recently as 1800. There are substantial memorials to his immediate predecessor, Reverend Donald Ross, and to one of his successors, Reverend Donald Fraser, in the south-east chapel at Fearn Abbey. Urquhart served as minister for 30 years, and it was during his time that the Abbey was restored, so it is difficult to understand why there is no prominent memorial to him.

the south east chapel at Fearn Abbey within which are several memorials to former ministers; photo by Jim Mackay


David Barkly, son of Alexander Barkly and Christian Urquhart, attended the funeral. By now long resident in London, he had returned to meet up with all his relatives. His Reverend uncle died whilst he was up and he wrote to AEneas after the funeral from his brother Alexander’s house at Assint, having just come from lawyer John Barclay’s house at Moorfarm, beside Tain. He paints a vivid picture of the scene, with the eldest of the Barkly brothers, despite being ill, carrying the head of the coffin to the grave and himself carrying the foot.

Assint 2nd Octr. 1800
My Dear AEneas
On the 27th Ulti. I wrote you of the Death of our worthy Uncle at Fearn. On the 30th. I had the trying scene of seeing him laid low.– the ceremony was performed with the respect due to the memory of so valuable a character. Our worthy Brother Alexander exerted himself very much to his credit, & underwent very great fatigue– he carried his Uncles head to the Grave & the honor of carrying his feet fell to my lot.– the distress of his dear Widow & family was very great. the distress of the county People – vast numbers of which attended – was truly lamentable.– yet yielded a secret satisfaction to the friends of the deceased.– I came here yesterday accompanied by Sandy from Moorfarm where I intend returning tomorrow morning on my way to Fearn.– & I hope to be at Cromarty on Saturday. Our worthy Parents have supported the blow with very great & christian fortitude. I have been assured my presence has contributed towards soothing our worthy Mother.– I understood from Mr Riach on Tuesday that previous to our worthy Uncles being taken ill he had contracted with the Town of Tain for 40 Acres of Moor Land at a feu of 6d p ann p acre. Mr Riach informed me at the same time that he heard it repeated in Tain that it was in agitation to make application to John Urquhart to cancel this contract – as on this head as well as on several other matters he may have applications made to him– his friends here request you to give your advice – the Land in particular may in a few years yield twenty shillings p acre or more – it ought to be confirmed to him however black it may be painted to him by some well meaning Scoundrels GW M----s of Tain

From David’s account we have heard of the distress of widow Katharine Houston and their considerable family. Fortunately, Katharine was well connected. Two of her sisters had married ministers. Some of John and Katharine’s children ended up residing in the homes of their aunts.

Katharine Houston certainly moved around after her husband’s death. At the time of her daughter Janet’s death, “At her mother’s house”, she was residing at Winkworth Place, which I think was on City Road, Middlesex. But the will of her son George Roderick, written on 5 February 1822, says “My Mother & Sisters address is No. 26 Edgecombe Street Stonehouse Plymouth”. And by her death, she had moved to Inverness and died there at 14 Douglas Row, in 1836. Coincidentally this is just a few doors away from the current home of good Friend of Kirkmichael and volunteer, Donald Ross.

Douglas Row from the Greig Street footbridge across the River Ness; number 14 is the house undergoing renovation; photo by Jim Mackay


Inverness Journal and Northern Advertiser 4 March 1836
Here, at 14 Douglas Row, on the 21st ult., in the 82d year of her age, Mrs Katherine Houston, Relict of the Rev. John Urquhart, of Mounteagle, Minister of the Gospel, at Fearn, Ross-shire.

Katherine was not buried with her husband across in Easter Ross, but in the Houstoun burial area in Rosemarkie churchyard:

Parish of Rosemarkie Burials
Mrs. Catherine Houstoun, Relict of the Revd. John Urquhart, of Mounteagle, Minister of the Gospel at Fearn, in the Presbytery of Tain, Ross-shire, died at Inverness on the twenty-first, and was interred in the family burying-ground of Provost Alexander Houstoun, in Rosemarkie Churchyard, on the twenty-fifth day of February, one thousand, eight hundred, and thirty six years; in the eighty second year of her age.

Andrew Dowsett and I in August 2023 set out to find the tablestone. We found Provost Houstoun’s striking wall memorial within overgrown shrubbery, and Andrew was stepping back to view it properly when he tumbled backwards over a low tablestone buried in a bed of brambles. It proved to be the correct memorial.

photo by Andrew Dowsett


photo by Andrew Dowsett


Under this stone lies the body of JEAN HOUSTOUN, eldest daughter of PROVOST [ALEXANDER] HOUSTOUN, a most amiable, virtuous and every way well disposed girl between 17 and 18 years of age, who departed this life the 3d of August 1766 to the great grief of her sorrowing parents; also to the memory of MRS KATHERINE HOUSTOUN, daughter of PROVOST HOUSTOUN and relict of the REVD JOHN URQUHART, Minr of the Gospel at Fearn, who departed this life at Inverness 21st February 1836 in the 82d year of her age; and in memory of MISS CHRISTIANA URQUHART, their daughter, who died at Rosemarkie the 29th April 1854 in the 59th year of her age.

The wall memorial erected by her father, Provost Houstoun, bears some superbly carved symbols of mortality.

photo by Andrew Dowsett


I include notes on the children of John Urquhart and Katharine Houstoun in an appendix. However, I summarise the life of eldest son John here, as he was known for a while at least as Urquhart of Mounteagle. Here he is on a trip north:

Caledonian Mercury 2 November 1812
NORTHERN MEETING. Inverness, Oct. 30. … Among the gentlemen were:– … Mr Urquhart of Mounteagle…

John became a lawyer in London, and was admitted to Gray’s Inn in 1809. In “The register of admissions to Gray's Inn, 1521–1889: together with the register of marriages in Gray's Inn Chapel, 1695–1754” (1889) by Joseph Foster we see (page 411):

[admitted] 1809. … Mar. 7. John Urquhart, aged 25, eldest of John U., late of Mount Eagle, co. Ross, Scotland, Esq., deceased.

Despite being a lawyer, John joined the Ordnance Office, and, hard to believe, resided in the Tower, London.

Wikipedia states that “The Board of Ordnance was a British government body. Established in the Tudor period, it had its headquarters in the Tower of London. Its primary responsibilities were 'to act as custodian of the lands, depots and forts required for the defence of the realm and its overseas possessions, and as the supplier of munitions and equipment to both the Army and the Navy'. The Board also maintained and directed the Artillery and Engineer corps, which it founded in the 18th century. By the 19th century, the Board of Ordnance was second in size only to HM Treasury among government departments.”

Tower of London from the Shard; attribution: Duncan from Nottingham, UK, CC BY 2.0

Board of Ordnance full coat of arms, with crest and supporters, at the Tower of London; attribution: Richard Nevell, CC BY-SA 3.0


Despite working in the Ordnance Office, though, John Urquhart was wanting to set up in business and make lots of money. He and his friend and cousin Robert Hutchison were borrowing money to get established. Robert secured £100 from his brother-in-law Robert Gordon, writer in Kirkcudbright, and AEneas was to match that for John Urquhart (GD1/884/3; letter dated 7 January 1807). But John had much bigger plans and wrote to AEneas from Gray’s Inn (NLS Barkly Papers; letter dated 13 December 1809):

I beg to inclose for your perusal a letter from R. Ross of Kilmanivaig [Kilmonivaig] (the second on the same subject not replied to) announcing another Offer of £1000 on heritable Security.
One thousand Pounds will do me little Service, & yet I know not how I could raise that, except on Mr. Gordon’s plan of getting my Mother & elder Sisters to renounce their prior right in favor of a Mortgage to the Lender – Neither could I expect them to do that: but upon seeing me situated in a permanent Birth.–
The hope I indulged in of borrowing £500 a piece from several well wishers (to make up the £1500 to £2000 – as you proposed) being blasted, as it were at the Outset: by their well meant enquiries as to the stability or security in my projects. And if I sell, I publish my being pressed for money without getting the present command of £1000 which therefore makes it least adviseable.
I feel confident on these grounds which led to our conversation on Monday – you will do me the Justice to believe my eagerness sincere to better my prospects – but at the same time I conceive it would be most reprehensible to prevent your entertaining an eligible connexion while I found it wholly out of my power to come forward in the manner proposed.– without being able to bring forward some convincing argument in the shape of a pledge or security of your continued countenance.
I would wish to write Mr. Ross in the afternoon & will wait on you between two and three trusting youll continue to advise me … I would prefer borrowing thro’ Mr Tait of Edinr. than thro’ Mr. Mackintosh of Inverness.– tho’ I don’t know what great service £1000 will be.

In the end, I believe AEneas loaned him the £2000 himself on the security of Mounteagle Estate. I’ll come back to that. Despite his occupations in London, John Urquhart kept up with activities in the North. Before Tain Royal Academy opened in 1813 a long advertisement appeared in the press in 1812 seeking highly skilled teachers, and interested parties were asked to contact either a baillie in Tain “or John Urquhart, Esq. Tower, London”. But like so many of the Urquharts he was to die a relatively young man in 1820:

Oxford University and City Herald 26 August 1820
In the Tower, aged 37, John Urquhart, esq. of the Ordnance Office.

Mirror of the Times 26 August 1820
At his house in the Tower, on the 7th inst. John Urquhart, Esq. eldest son of the late Reverend John Urquhart, of Mounteagle – a young man of great intelligence, combined with a most friendly disposition, and truly engaging manners. He endured his severe illness with pious resignation and Christian fortitude, trusting in the merits of his dear Redeemer for salvation. His departure will be much and most justly lamented by his afflicted family, and a numerous circle of friends – to whom he was endeared by those obliging habits, and those amiable and sociable virtues, which never fail to excite and command esteem.

He left a will, written in the Tower, which set up “my friends Alexander Bain of 60 Buxton Crescent, Robert Hutchison of the Plantation Cooperage, Commercial Road & my brother George now an Ensign in His Majesty’s thirty third Regt of Foot as my Executors & Trustees”. In this way his money, mostly from a large life insurance policy, would be used for the benefit of brothers George and Charles, his mother and sisters. One of the people in the customary identity testification was none other than Hugh Barkly of Lime Street Square.

Thus John Urquhart of the Tower of London, who had been the third and final John Urquhart of Mounteagle, passed away. But in fact Mounteagle was already in the hands of AEneas Barkly.

Some sources say AEneas Barkly inherited the estate, but with several of the children of Reverend John Urquhart and Katharine Houstoun surviving long past the time when he became known as “AEneas Barkly of Mounteagle” this cannot be the case. I see him being called Barkly of Mounteagle as early as 1817.

I don’t know yet when exactly Mounteagle passed to AEneas, although I note from George Roderick Urquhart’s will, made in 1822, reference to:

the heritable bond granted by AEneas Barkly Esqr. on the Estate of Mount Eagle for £2000 falling to me as the lawful heir of my late Brother John

So AEneas had loaned £2,000 pounds to John Urquhart of the Tower who had provided to him as security the Estate of Mount Eagle. It was heritable, so on John’s death the loan now passed to George Roderick. And Mounteagle remained with AEneas.


AEneas Barkly of Mounteagle (1768–1836)

The life of AEneas Barkly can be followed in other stories within this series but I include some notes specifically on his early years which have not been recounted before and in relation to Mounteagle. Those notes are sparse enough.

Mounteagle_AEneas Barkly_enhanced.jpg
an image of AEneas Barkly copied on several websites, the provenance of which I do not know


Born in 1768 at Kirkton, as a younger son of Alexander Barkly and Christian Urquhart. I don’t know where he received his education. There were two schools in the parish: the parish school and an SPCK (Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge) School at this time – Gordon of Newhall writes in 1774 (RH15/44/54) about fears locally that they were going to lose the SPCK one “it will be really a great loss to the poor people should they be deprived of this School, the Scholars who attend it amount to about one hundred most of whom are not able to pay the dues at the Parish school, as you may believe when I inform you there are ninety Maillors in the Land of the Parish besides forty Tennants, many of whom no more opulent than the Maillors. This reason with distance & bad roads to the parish School, in the winter impassable, are I think reasons against taking away a School they have enjoyed the Benefit of for many years.”

His parents organised his gaining mercantile experience with a Nairn merchant, Alexander Dunbar, where AEneas became Dunbar’s clerk or shopkeeper.

Alexander Dunbar was an important man in the area. I see he became a burges of Dingwall in 1780 (Dingwall Romance of a Royal Burgh, Norman Macrae, 1923) and no doubt a burges of other towns as well, this being key to facilitate shipping trade between ports. He married Marjorie Dunbar in 1782. The one baptism record of a child I have found has several members of the influential Hoyes and Dunbar families of the area acting as witnesses. A related Dunbar (and thanks to Nick Hide for this information), Duncan Dunbar (1764–1825), became a prominent merchant and major ship owner based in London. Barkly family letters mention an acquaintance in London, a “Mr Dunbar”, but do not give his first name. These Dunbars were related to the Gun Munros of Poyntzfield and the Davidsons of Cromarty and Tulloch. Alexander Dunbar would go bankrupt in 1790 (Scots Magazine, 52, 1790 page 52), and died in Jamaica in 1794 (Gentleman’s Magazine, August 1794 page 768) “At Kingston Jamaica … Mr. Alexander Dunbar, late merchant in Nairn”, no doubt trying to recoup his fortune in the West Indies.

It was a smart move then at the time for young AEneas to become Alexander Dunbar’s clerk. Nairn was a popular and short ferry trip from Cromarty so it was even close to home. And those family connections would lead to London and big money. It was during this period that AEneas and the Elgin book-seller Isaac Forsyth (1768–1859) became life-long friends. Isaac’s father-in-law, William Forsyth, was one of Cromarty’s most famous sons. Upon the death of AEneas, Isaac would write to Henry Barkly in 1836 (NLS Barkly Papers):

I have known your worthy Father intimately for fifty years, and had the happiness of being on the most friendly footing with him in all that long period; respecting and admiring him in the various situations and connections in life, which he occupied and filled up with so much honor to himself, and so much advantage to all with whom he associated, and to whom he was so truly endeared. His death has shewn me the uncertainty and folly of human calculation. I always believed him to be, and spoke of him, as a long liver. His Parents were so, he himself was most regular and temperate, careful of his health, which always appeared to me to be robust, and with an uncommon proportion of constitutional vigour and firmness, that almost gave assurance of long life. … When I look back on the blanks which death has so suddenly created in my small circle of friends, in so short a period too, I seem to myself as if I stood almost alone in it. Besides all my family connections who are gone, where is your kind hearted cousin Hugh, where your respected Father, where Mr Colin Robertson – Mr Thomas Geddes, &c. &c. How I feel also for your valuable Aunts at Cromarty, and for my Solitary friend –Mr Innes! What in life now can make up to him for the loss of more than a brother?

I think it likely that it was in this period that he also met the aforesaid Mr Innes, his (and Isaac’s) great friend, John Innes (1767–1838), London merchant and M.P. He was from Auldearn, a short distance from Nairn.

So even before he left the North, AEneas had made many valuable friends with mercantile connections in London. But there was an incident at Nairn which perhaps hastened his departure. AEneas became sucked into an altercation between revenue officers and his then employer Alexander Dunbar and other merchants so our first report of the young AEneas is actually in the context of a serious criminal charge, where unlike his master he escaped conviction.

Caledonian Mercury 25 May 1785
Extract of a letter from Inverness, May 21.
“The Circuit Court of Justiciary was opened here, on the 17th Current … Alexander Dunbar merchant in Nairn, AEneas Barclay clerk or shopkeeper to the said Alexander Dunbar, James Kay, presently residing in Inverness, James Simpson and John Jamieson merchants in Elgin, and James Stevenson merchant in Garmouth, were indicted for deforcing the officers of the revenue. Alexander Dunbar and James Kay were found guilty; the first was fined in 400 merks, and to be imprisoned for one month, the latter to be imprisoned for six weeks.

Hopefully the experience would have made him more careful in later year. Evade revenue duties if you can, but don’t physically prevent the revenue officers from doing their job!

AEneas must have moved to London not long afterwards, as we find his uncle, Gilbert Barkly, writing to him there on 4 September 1787 (NLS Acc.9907 Item 4). At this time AEneas was residing at No. 3 Cullum Street, London, and he and his uncle were collaborating to try to get AEneas’s younger brother William employed. William had come to London “last winter” (this would be winter 1786/1787) and had been for a time a clerk or secretary for “Mr. Ross lately from the East Indies” (presumably William Ross of Shandwick, who would die in a duel in 1790). Ross thought highly of him but had nothing for him at the time. Similarly, a solicitor had employed him whilst Parliament was sitting, but had nothing for him after Parliament rose. AEneas and Gilbert were working to get William taken on by Captain John Barkley, from the other side of the family, to do clerical work on board his new ship, destined for India and China. Subsequent letters show that William did indeed sail with Captain Barkley and was enjoying his experience at sea.

I think it safe to say that AEneas himself then had arrived in London in 1785 or 1786. Gilbert’s letter to AEneas of 10 September 1787 is addressed to 100 Fenchurch Street, which is where Davidsons and Graham & Co. was based, so it appears that at this time AEneas was working for the company. This is confirmed by Gilbert’s letter of 30 June 1799 from which it would appear that AEneas had been mentioning how well he was getting on: “You may be assured that the Accounts you give me of the advance of your Weges renders us singular pleasur, as it is of itself a proof of your Merit, & we doubt not but you will continue to persever in preserving the approbation of Mr Grahame”.

He was certainly making good money by 1799 as that year he bought his father’s Cromarty properties and the Precept of Sasine is most revealing. Alexander was served heir to his long-dead father Alexander just a few days later, presumably to facilitate the transfer of property (Service of Heirs).

National Library of Scotland Acc.9907 Barkly Papers Item 2 (iii) Precept of sasine, 1799, by Alexander Barkly in favour of his son, Aeneas.
Know all men by these presents Me Alexander Barklay residing in Cromarty Eldest lawful son and heir of the deceased Alexander Barklay Tacksman of Neither Ethie who was Heritable Proprietor of the Subjects after disponed considering that AEneas Barkly of London my son has now and formerly advanced & paid to me a certain sum of money as the adequate price & value of the Subjects after disponed [property in Cromarty] of which I hereby grant the receipt bind hold myself satisfied and paid … At Cromarty the Twenty Eight day of August One thousand Seven hundred and ninety nine years … Alexr. Barkly

The Tod connection

AEneas, having gained experience working for Davidsons and Graham & Co. now joined forces with London merchant George Tod, originally from Myreside near Elgin, to form the ship-agents Barkly & Tod. How they met and what the family connection was I know not. Myreside is only four miles from Lossiemouth, the port of Elgin, so easily reached by boat from Cromarty. David Barkly in 1800 (NLS Acc.9907 Item 8) talks blithely about going across to Myreside to persuade “Miss Tod” to come over to Cromarty for a visit. She is mentioned on several occasions, but we never learn her first name. The farmer at Myreside at this time was James Tod, and in 1804 when AEneas was visiting Cromarty he refers to “the high wind which stops the Ferry of Fort George and I much fear will detain Mr James Tod who kindly paid us a visit yesterday and took his departure for Myrside after breakfast” (NLS Acc.9907 Item 5). On the death of James Tod in 1806 the executor of his probate (CC16/5/1 Moray Commissary Court) turns out to be none other than George Tod, merchant in London, the partner of AEneas in Barkly & Tod. There was therefore a close family connection between the Barkly family and the Tod family of Myreside, but how it originated has yet to be discovered.

The partnership was already in existence in 1800 as several of the family letters in that year are addressed to “AEneas Barkly Esqr / Messrs Barkly & Tod’s / London”, but the first time I see the firm’s name in print is in 1802:

Pocock’s Sea Captain’s Assistant, (Robert Pocock, introduction dated “Dec. 1, 1802”).
List of the Principal Ship-Agents in the City of London.
Barkley, and Tod, 6, London-st. Fenchurch-st.[London Street comes off Fenchurch Street]

The firm became members of the Society for the Registry of Shipping, responsible for publishing the world-famous Lloyds Shipping Register. We see them come in as new members in the list for 1804:

Lloyds Shipping Register (Underwriters)
A List of the Members of the Society for 1804 … NEW MEMBERS … Barkley & Todd

They continued as members of Lloyds for several years without any change except getting the spelling of their names corrected. AEneas in his letters often mentions being at Lloyds or as he describes it to Louisa: “that charming retreat Lloyds– where Vinegar and Ether are sprinkled in abundance”. And then Aeneas and Tod must have dissolved their partnership for we see them separately in the Lloyds list:

A List of the Members of the Society for 1808 … AEneas Barkly … Tod, Spencer, & Co.

They remained close friends, however, and the “Spencer” with whom Tod was now in partnership was another mutual long-term friend, London merchant Thomas Spencer. Both Tod and Spencer appear in Barkly documents, and on George Tod’s death in 1814 both AEneas and Spencer acted as executors of his will, in which AEneas was nominated residuary legatee. By this time Tod, who had been living on London Street as had AEneas, had moved to Craven Street. Tod’s codicil is addressed to “my dear Barkly” so they remained very close to the end. Tod left several thousand pounds to relatives, mostly in Morayshire. Business had been good to him.

George Tod was still a relatively young man when he died in 1814, and even in 1807 Louisa, the wife of AEneas, had remarked in a letter: “I am sincerely sorry to hear of poor Mr Tod’s bad state of health, the feelings of the mind have great influence over the health of the body, and I really believe he has never got over the death of his Sister, – it was an instance immediately under his eye, and happening so suddenly must have shown him, to the fullest extent, the fallacy of all human projects for happiness” (NLS Acc.9907 Item 5). The sister in question was Miss Helen Tod who had died at her brother’s residence in London street the previous year.

Why did AEneas and George Tod break up the company? Well, in 1806 Charles Graham, of Drynie in the Black Isle and partner in Davidsons and Graham & Co. (major traders in sugar), had died. In 1807, Barkly became a partner in the firm, although it would only change name to become Davidsons, Barkly & Co. in 1819.

The Davidson family for several generations were merchants in London. Henry Davidson (1726–1781), son of the Sheriff Clerk at Cromarty, started as clerk to George Ross. He bought the Tulloch Estate in 1762. On his death, brother Duncan Davidson (1733–1799) became the second Laird of Tulloch, and operated the London operation. His son, Henry Davidson (1771–1827), third Laird of Tulloch, was the man who married in 1797 Elizabeth Deffell, and became partners with AEneas Barkly.

But AEneas had fingers in different financial pies. He was a major stockholder in the West India Dock Company, along with John Henry Deffell, Colin Robertson and John Innes, whose names recur in these stories.

This was a very profitable time for trade with the West Indies. As I have mentioned, AEneas was first with Davidson and Graham & Co. and then formed Davidson & Barkly. You see him attending social events and donating to charities. Here is AEneas, given as one of the stewards at that prestigious Scottish ex-pat affair, the Scottish Hospital:

The Sun 25 November 1802
Scottish Hospital … Notice is hereby given, That a General Court of the Governors of this Corporation, will be held in the Hall, in Crane-court, Fleet-street, on Tuesday the 30th of November inst. (St. Andrew’s Day). … STEWARDS. … Eneas Barkly, Esq. …

It is clear that his wealth was known in the North. When his brother Alexander in Kiltearn died by his own hand in 1805 over pressing financial strain, the minister’s wife there was to write in March 1805 (NLS MS 19331 f98v, and thanks to David Alston for drawing my attention to this one):

But when we consider the case of others we have many consolations – to compare this with the shocking and [un]timely exit [of] Mr Barkley. I assure you for some time this rash deed, cast a horror on all this neighbourhood. Unfortunate man that had not fortitude to stand the shock a little longer for by letters since his death from his Bror Eneas he was ready to come forward with every assistance and with 500 st in the first instance. I hope from this he will sympathize with his unfortunate Widow and her Family, poor woman she is as well as could be expected from her deplorable circumstances.

Offering his brother £500 sterling shows just how affluent AEneas had become, and how desperately in debt Alexander had become.

With his affluence came the desire to settle down and raise a family. He married in 1805:

The Public Ledger 15 January 1805
AEneas Barkly, Esq. of London-street, to Miss Frith, of Camberwell.

AEneas and Susanna were besotted with each other. Many of the letters between them, both before and after marriage, are held in the NLS in Acc.9907 Item 5, and they are heart-warming. His son Henry jots down on the top one: “Letters from my Mother to my Father before their Marriage / H.B. / I burnt many dozens of similar tenor”. Unromantic soul!

A few years earlier, his uncle Gilbert Barkly had tried to get AEneas interested in marrying Gilbert’s only daughter, Katherine or Kitty Barkly, but we don’t know what AEneas thought of the idea. Certainly when Gilbert’s wife, Ann Inglis, found out what her husband’s intentions were, she immediately wrote in a panic (NLS Acc.9907 Item 4; 29 August 1797):

It is with reluctance I take up my pen to write to you upon a subject totaly Novel & disagreeable to me – having perused yr. Uncles last Letter to you, inclosing my power of Attorney, in wh. epistle I find he has been building a Castle for you & Kitty, wh. as I have the highest oppinion of yr penetration & good sense, you will attribute to his very sanguine disposition, wh. I cannot help thinking you are pretty well acquainted with & must view the impropriety of his Ideas in their proper light, as to myself God knows I think you have weight enough upon yr shoulders with the difficulties you have depending on you already, without any addition, besides contracts of that kind shoud be a mutual affair between both parties & not forced without knowing whether they like each other or not & helieve me neither Kitty or me ever sanctioned such a step, & I wish you in future when you write yr. Uncle take no notice of what he says on that particular topick

Nevertheless, AEneas and Kitty became good friends, regularly writing to each other. Kitty was a very lively and assiduous correspondent. She was the common thread in a friendly relationship between AEneas and her distinguished uncle, Admiral John Inglis of Redhall (1743–1807), and from her home in Bath would frequently visit her uncle John in Edinburgh and her cousin AEneas in London. She and her mother Ann Inglis are buried under the West window of Greyfriars Church in Edinburgh.


He became AEneas Barkly of Mounteagle by 1817. He visited Mounteagle rarely, and indeed in 1831 was to write to Crawford Ross (who was taking over as factor of Mounteagle): “Having passed a long life in this great City I have little or no local experience, never having seen Mount Eagle but twice” (NLS Acc.9907 Item 7). He lived in Highbury Grove London and the men he did business with as part of Davidson and Graham & Co. and then Davidson & Barkly were based in London and the West Indies. But nevertheless, first through Walter Ross and then through Crawford Ross he invested in considerable improvements to the estate.

I assume there were several motives for his purchase of Mounteagle: as an investment, out of family interest and to help out the Urquharts financially, for prestige as an estate-owner and for political reasons. As a land-owner in the County of Ross he was entitled to vote, at a time when there were so few voters that a handful of votes could swing an election. A voter could have significant influence in this era when politics was a game played by lairds for the benefit of lairds.

This is the earliest reference I see to him as “of Mounteagle” and it is in fact in relation to the political process of valuation of land to determine how many votes could be assigned to it.

Highland Archives CRC/1/1/2A Minute Book. Commissioners of Supply: Ross
Tain 2 Jany. 1818 … Thereafter Mr. Donald Horne W.S. as agent for Alexr. Fraser Esqr. of Inchcoulter the Pet[itione]r. Resumed the said Petition and Deliverances of Adjournment thereon and produced a mandate from the Petr. & from Aeneas Barkly Esqr. of Mounteagle addressed to the said Donald Horne dated the twenty second day of Decemr. last, Authorising him to take such Steps as might be thought necessary for rendering the Valuation of the said Lands clear & regular Therefore now insisted the said Aeneas Barkly as a party to the proceedings to follow on the said Petition for all Right and Interest which he might have therein… They Hold the said Aeneas Barkly duly sisted as a Party to these Proceedings… [this long process seems to involve Inchcoulter and Assynt, and it is perhaps no coincidence that the deceased brother of AEneas, Alexander Barkly, farmed Assynt and Balconie on the Inchcoulter Estate].

As late as 1835, I see Aeneas still in action politically in the area, assisting the truly awful Thomas Mackenzie of Applecross in trying to gain power (which fortunately he didn’t on this attempt):

Inverness Journal and Northern Advertiser 9 January 1835
Ross and Cromarty Election
At Invergordon … in a numerous meeting of the friends and supporters of Thomas Mackenzie, Esq. of Applecross, the following Gentlemen were appointed a General Committee … AEneas Barkly, Esq. of Mounteagle.

This is the period when gentlemen liked to have shooting on their estates, and Barkly was no different. We see:

Inverness Journal and Northern Advertiser 13 September 1833
List of Game Certificates issued in the County of Ross, for the year ending 5th April, 1834.
… Schedule B. – L1 5s. … Ross, John, for AEneas Barclay of Mounteagle. Lands of Mounteagle.

AEneas exhibits that strange dichotomy of the period. He supported, benefited from and engaged through his estates in the West Indies in the appalling practice of slavery and yet he was very kind in looking after the welfare of friends and family. His nephew Hugh Barkly wrote in his will how he owed everything to his uncle AEneas. There are similar mentions of his generosity in other wills. Several of his Urquhart and Barkly relatives resided in his home, and at least one of them (Sophia Alexandrina Urquhart) died there in 1810. He was a generous benefactor to charities.

And yet, and yet…

from the Royal Gazette in Jamaica of 12 July 1794; a reminder of the scale of the abominable practice of slavery


AEneas passed away in 1836. His will is one of the most magnanimous that you will read. He showered money and gifts on just about every relative and friend he had. The problem was that though he had been enormously rich in his time, the state of his finances had declined savagely with changes in the West Indian trade and estates following the welcome abolition of slavery. His son Henry put the family onto a more stable footing and became a most respected statesman.

AEneas Barkly is buried in a vault in St Mary Islington, and a published transcription of his inscribed panel reads:

Aeneas BARKLY is buried in the North gallery of St Mary Islington, in vault beneath the chapel.
Son of Alexander & Christian BARKLY of Kirkton, County of Cromarty, NB
Born 11 Apr 1768, died 17 Aug 1836, and his wife:
Louisa Susanna, daughter of Richard Tobin FFRITH Esq of Jamaica and Mary Hoper GREEN his wife.
Born 7 Jan 1774, died 1 Jan 1831, and their son:
Aeneas BARKLY born 20 July 1817, died 25 Dec 1824, and also:
Hugh BARKLY, son of Alexander & Elizabeth BARKLY, nephew of Aeneas (above)
Born 13 Apr 1797, died 10 Sep 1829, and also:
Elizabeth Mary DAVIDSON, daughter of Robert DAVIDSON Esq & William, his wife, sister of the above Hugh BARKLY
Born 8 Sep 1829, died 20 Jun 1833

You will note the mention of “Kirkton”, the farm just up the brae from Kirkmichael. AEneas was very fond of his parish of origin, Kirkmichael and Cullicudden commonly known as Resolis. His son Henry some years later even donated money to the poor of the parish.

The inventory associated with AEneas Barkly’s will includes what was found on Mounteagle:

Value of farm stocking, implements of husbandry Growing Crop and other effects upon the Estate of Mount Eagle in the Parish of Fearn & County of Ross per Inventory & valuation of George Middleton £389.2.6


Sir Henry Barkly of Mounteagle (1815–1898)

The Estate itself passed to son Henry, who became Henry Barkly of Mounteagle. It may be a bit gloomy to leap straight to his obituary, but in fact this is one of the best summaries of his career I have seen:

Manchester Courier 24 October 1898
Sir Henry Barkly.– The death of Sir Henry Barkly, took place on Thursday at his residence, South Kensington, through cardiac failure. Sir H. Barkly, who was born in London in 1815, was of Scottish extraction, being the only son of the late Mr. AEneas Barkly, of Mounteagle, Ross-shire, an eminent West Indian merchant in London. In 1845 he was elected M.P. for Leominster, which constituency he represented until February, 1849, as a firm supporter of Sir Robert Peel’s commercial policy. He was appointed in December, 1848, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the settlement of British Guiana, where he possessed some estates. Sir Henry Barkly recived the K.C.B. after service in British Guiana, and was appointed Governor of Jamaica in 1853, the same year. He was successful in Jamaica, and in 1863 was selected Governor of Mauritius. Sir William Molesworth, the Colonial Secretary, promoted him in 1865 to the important Governorship of Victoria, for which his business habits and his large commercial experience peculiarly fitted him. In 1870 he went out to the Cape of Good Hope, and remained there as Governor until 1877. He was appointed High Commissioner for settling the affairs of the territories adjacent to the eastern frontier of the Cape of Good Hope in November, 1870. He received the G.C.M.G. in 1874, retired on a pension in 1877, and was a member of the Royal Commission on the Defence of British Possessions and Commerce Abroad in 1879. Deceased was 83 years of age.

Sir Henry was so busy at home and abroad he would never have had time to pay attention to Mounteagle. But there is evidence that he did consider his north roots:

Inverness Courier 14 Oct 1835
Charitable Benefactions.– The Rev. Mr Sage of Resolis has received Five pounds sterling for behoof of the poor, the gift of Henry Barkly, Esq., yr, of Mounteagle, as a testimony of regard for the parish of Resolis, that gave birth to his father’s family, where they lived, venerated and respected.

And of course, whilst he held Mounteagle, he liked to use his title, particularly on formal occasions, none more so than at his first wedding ceremony:

Chelmsford Chronicle 23 October 1840
MARRIAGES. … 15th inst. at Aldenham, by the Rev. J.H. Timins, M.A., Henry Barkly, Esq. of Mounteagle, Rossshire, North Britain, and Bushey, Herts, to Elizabeth Helen, second daughter of J.F. Timins, Esq. of Hillfield, Herts.

lithograph of Elizabeth Helen Barkly ms Timins by Richard James Lane

photograph of Anne Maria Barkly in 1863 by Batchelder & O'Neill of Melbourne


Elizabeth Helen and Henry had six children. She died in childbirth in Victoria in 1857 and is buried in Melbourne General Cemetery. He married Anne Maria Pratt in 1860; there were no further children. Both wives collected and illustrated botanical specimens, aided of course by the postings of their husband to different parts of the world.

sketch of Sir Henry Barkly

this photograph may be found on the web with the annotation “Sir Henry and Lady Barkly 1854” but you can see that the lady is Anne Maria Barkly ms Pratt and probably taken on the same day in 1863 as the one above

a caricature of Sir Henry in his elderly years, still sporting those dreadful side whiskers


While Henry Barkly was proud to be “of Mounteagle”, the reality was that Mounteagle was too distant for him to administer directly. After years of running it remotely through a manager, he had the farm let out through Charles Ross in Cadboll:

Inverness Courier 21 April 1841
Entry at Whistunday next.
The Farm of MOUNTEAGLE, in the Parish of Fearn, Easter Ross, the Property of Henry Barkly, Esq., will be Let, for such number of years as may be agreed upon. The Farm has been for many years in the natural possession of the Proprietor, was laid down in grass in high condition, and pastured since the last four years, with the exception of about twenty acres, now put under a corn crop. The Farm House and Offices are very substantial and complete, with excellent Granaries, &c. &c. The tenant can be accommodated with some Pasture at entry if required.
For further particulars apply to C. Ross, Cadboll, by Tain, by whom offers will be received until the 12th proximo.
19th April 1841.

He held onto Mounteagle throughout his period as an M.P. for Leominster and whilst he was out as Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the settlement of British Guiana. However, he must have recognised then that he was not going to return to the north. He decided to sell Mounteagle in 1850 but it took a couple of years in the papers and the price being reduced before he succeeded. The year before he was appointed Governor of Jamaica, it came into the hands of a family living locally.

from the Aberdeen Journal of 7 April 1852


See how the ancient name of Easter Allan re-surfaced in the advertisements of this period, not having been seen for a long time.

Inverness Advertiser and Ross-shire Chronicle 20 April 1852
Estate of Mounteagle.– We are glad to understand that our respected townsman, William Robertson, Esq., has purchased the beautiful estate of Mounteagle, situated in this neighbourhood. It was exposed to sale by public within Dowell’s sale-rooms, Edinburgh, on Wednesday last, at the upset price of £6,000. The estate formerly belonged to Henry Barkly, Esq.

The Robertson family held Mounteagle for many years. The current Mounteagle House, designed by famous architects, the Maitlands of Tain, was built in 1907 for W.J. Robertson. It nestles in woodland well out of the public eye. The farm steading is nearby and back in the 1970s used to house 250 cattle. The farm nowadays grows mostly arable crops, although Highland Turf grows its turf on its fields and operates out of the steading.

Ross-shire Journal 7 June 1907


However, with the estate having moved away from the two families who are the subject of this Story behind the Stone, Urquhart of Mounteagle and Barkly of Mounteagle, it is time to bring this tale to a close.

Mounteagle House, the farm steading and the jetty on Loch Eye


Appendix – The Recipe Book Kept by a Member of the Barkly of Mount Eagle Family

Within the Barkly Papers held by the National Library of Scotland in Acc.9907 is Item 18, a notebook filled partly with meal recipes and partly with home tips. It is catalogued as “c1826 Anonymous recipe book kept by a member of the Barkly of Mount Eagle Family”. The 1826 comes from internal evidence, as some of the recipes are drawn from publications up to and including that year. Some of the recipes are noted as coming from Cromarty, and several other recipes, all relating to curry, are from “R Davidson Esqr” who must have been in India for some time. A cure for Chilblains comes from “Mrs Davidson Hampstead”.

I tried my family on the chicken curry recipe and you can see that at tasting the initial apprehension gives way to relief, as it tasted fine.

c1826 Anonymous recipe book kept by a member of the Barkly of Mount Eagle Family – being tested; photos by Carlann Mackay


There is a second volume of these recipes in the Barkly Papers which I have not yet inspected. It would be an interesting project for someone to work out the likely writer.


Appendix – Mounteagle House and the former Mounteagle House

The current owners of Mounteagle are Hilarie and Douglas Russell. On a showery day in September 2023, Hilarie very kindly showed my cousin Isabel Ross of Rhynie (the adjacent farm to Mounteagle), my daughter Kirsty and me around both modern Mounteagle House and the former Mounteagle House. Hilarie and Douglas have restored parts of the old house complex which bring back a vision of the period when it was occupied by Urquhart of Mounteagle and Barkly of Mounteagle.

Mounteagle House as designed by Maitland Architects of Tain


it was erected in 1907, and sandstone from a quarry on the estate was used in its construction


There is a recurrent oak theme about Mounteagle House. There are mature oaks in the grounds, planted presumably at the time the house was built. The cornice in the front room has a complex oak motif. And in the porch there are two sandstone panels each bearing an acorn and two oak leaves.



The walled garden, still very much in use, lies between the old and new houses and would have served the residents of the old house centuries ago.




The previous house, built after the fire in 1740, changed with time and I set out below the layout as shown on two 25 inch to the mile Ordnance Survey plans, surveyed 1872 and 1904. I have drawn in the location of the modern Mounteagle House and its garage on the 1904 plan.


map courtesy of National Library of Scotland

map courtesy of National Library of Scotland

The southern section of both the west wing (closest) and the east wing (on the right, in the distance) have been renovated by Hilarie and Douglas.




The east wing is shown to us, and to the left is the more substantial west wing.




The west wing, the front portion of which is still called “the Old House”.




Further back, the central agricultural storage area has been created by iron beams set into the walls of the old building. You can see here an infilled window in what was the east wall of the west wing.




Again, thanks to Hilarie and Douglas Russell for this opportunity to bring our Mounteagle story to life.


Appendix – Urquhart of Mounteagle and Barkly of Mounteagle Family Tree



Appendix – the children of Reverend John Urquhart of Mounteagle and Katharine Houstoun

Using the list of 11 children given in the Fasti entry for John Urquhart of Mounteagle as a basis, we have:

1. John Urquhart, born 11th May 1783
Died in the Tower, London, 1820, and dealt with above.

2. Alexander Urquhart, born 21st May 1784
I have been unable to track Alexander and he is not mentioned in the wills of his siblings so I suspect he died young. He was certainly dead by 1822, as George Roderick refers to himself then as lawful heir of John when Alexander if he had been alive would have been second in succession.

3. Janet Urquhart, born 14th July 1785, died 26th June 1816
I have picked up on Janet only through her death notice.

Evening Mail 3 July 1816
On Wednesday, June 26, at her mother’s house, in the bloom of youth, Jannett, eldest daughter of the late Rev. John Urquhart, of Mount-eagle, much and justly regretted.

The death notice, copied in several of the English papers, unhelpfully does not mention where her mother’s house was, and whilst 30 is still quite young she was not quite in “the bloom of youth” so you would think they would have spared a line to provide some more accurate information! Fortunately, within the burial notices for the non-denominational burying ground at Bunhill Fields in Islington I see the following:

RG4/3994 Register Book Bunhill Fields Burying Ground Islington [non-denominational]
1816 … July … 2 Janet Urquhart 31 yrs [brought from] Winkworth Place £1.–.–

The age and burial date are correct so Janet at this time had been residing with her mother in Winkworth Place (which I believe was on City Road, Middlesex). Her brother John was living in London at the time, as were AEneas Barkly and family.

4. Elizabeth Baillie Urquhart, born 10th July 1786
I imagine Elizabeth Baillie Urquhart was named after one of the Easter Ross Baillie families, but which one I know not. She died when still very young:

Oxford Journal 12 May 1804
At Fortrose, in her 18th year, of a fever, Miss Eliz. Baillie Urquhart, second daughter of the late Rev. John Urquhart, of Mounteagle.

Presumably she had been residing with her aunt and uncle, Janet Houstoun and Reverend Alexander Wood (primus), Minister of Rosemarkie.

5. Mary Urquhart, born 28th June 1787
Mary was alive in 1822, when her brother George Roderick in his will (PROB11/1704), written in that year, refers to his “beloved sisters Mary & Christy”. I have learned nothing more about her.

6. Katherine Urquhart, born 16th June 1788
I have been unable to track Katherine and she is not mentioned in the wills of her siblings so I suspect she died young.

7. George Roderick Urquhart, lieut. 33rd Foot, born 26th May 1790
In 1820, at the time of his brother John’s death, George gave as his address the Tower, London, so I think he was in residence with John whilst on leave from the 33d in which he was an Ensign at the time. John in his will talks about purchasing a lieutenancy for George and by his death he had indeed become a Lieutenant. George himself wrote a very brief but informative will on 5 February 1822 because he was on board the Thomas and Mary transport bound for Jamaica and “being at present in good health but considering the uncertainty of this life” wished to make his will. He made his trustees a friend Alexander Bain Esquire and “cousins Robert Hutchinson of Plantation Cooperage Commercial Road & Hugh Barkly of Lime Street Square London”.

As mentioned above, he refers to his “beloved sisters Mary & Christy”.

The brief will even sheds some light on Mount Eagle passing to AEneas Barkly: “should it please the Almighty that I survive my Mother then my said property, together with the heritable bond granted by AEneas Barkly Esqr. on the Estate of Mount Eagle for £2000 falling to me as the lawful heir of my late Brother John to be actually divided by my said Eexcutors … for the use of my aforesaid Brother [Charles] & Sisters being at present uncertain what sums may be in the hands of Messrs. Davidsons Barkly & Co. (as due to me after paying off my Sisters legacies).”

From this then, AEneas had secured the Estate of Mounteagle by means of a bond for £2,000 to John Urquhart (of the Tower) as heir to his father, Reverend John Urquhart of Mounteagle. John Urquhart (of the Tower) had died in 1820, so George Roderick was next in line for the bond.

And here is a line you don’t often see in a Scottish gentleman’s will: “N.B. the above disposition is made without any reference to just & lawful debts as I have none having always made it a practice to pay off a debt as soon as contracted”.

He was right to be careful about making a will as Jamaica was to prove fatal to him.

Scots Magazine
1825 … March … 27. At Falmouth, in Jamaica, Lieut. George Roderick Urquhart, of the 33d regiment of foot, second son of the late Rev. John Urquhart, of Mounteagle, minister of Fearn, in Ross-shire.

The reference in his will to a cousin “Robert Hutchinson of Plantation Cooperage Commercial Road” was of considerable interest as said Robert’s mother had to be an Urquhart of Mounteagle daughter. That reference led, after considerable difficulty, successfully to Robert Hutchison born to John Hutchison and Jane Urquhart in Cromarty in 1781. This, it turns out, was the Robert Hutchison to whom Hugh Barkly, son of the deceased farmer Alexander Barkly in Balconie, much later became an apprentice.

The Hutchisons had four children in Cromarty – George Ross (1777–), the said Robert (1781–1842), Jane (1783–) and David (1784–). There was another child, Alexander Hutchison, whose baptism is not recorded but is mentioned in Robert’s will. Robert moved to London where he remained associated with Urquhart and Barkly descendants.

London Metropolitan Archive; Reference Number: COL/CHD/FR/02/1485–1490
This Indenture witnesseth, That Hugh Barkly Son of the late Alexander Barkly of Balcony, Scotland, Gentleman doth put himself Apprentice to Robert Hutchison Citizen and Vintner of London…” (5 April 1815).



Robert Hutchison I think became a member of the Company of Vintners to give him freedom to trade, even although his main business was a cooperage. Much later in 1844 his son AEneas Barkly Hutchison, “son of Robert Hutchison citizen and vintner of London” is granted “Freedom of this City by Patrimony, in the said Company of Vintners” despite the fact that he would go on to become a minister.

Robert Hutchison being a cousin of the Urquhart children of Mounteagle, as mentioned in George Roderick’s will, explains why Hugh Barkly was apprenticed to him. And it explains why AEneas Barkly became godfather to his two children, AEneas Barkly Hutchison and William Corston Hutchison, both of whom became ministers in later life. The “Corston” came from Robert’s wife: Martha Corston, whom he married at her family home of Fincham in 1819. She died in 1868, long after Robert’s death in 1842. One of the executors named in her will was Hugh Barkly Davidson, confirming the family connection, and the newspaper announcement of her death confirms the Cromarty connection:

Weekly Register and Catholic Standard 4 April 1868
HUTCHISON.– On Friday, the 20th ult., at her residence, Fincham, Norfolk, in her 76th year, Martha Corston, widow of the late Robert Hutchison, Esq., of Cromarty and London.– R.I.P.

Robert Hutchison is important to this story about Mounteagle, not only because of his relationship with the Barkly family, but also because he went into business partnership with the last John Urquhart of Mounteagle. Let me explain the background.

Robert Hutchison’s sister Catherine Rose Ann Hutchison, usually called Rose, married in Edinburgh a young legal clerk named Robert Gordon. He went on to become a very successful lawyer and proprietor in Kirkcudbright. The marriage record indicates the occupation of her late father:

Edinburgh Marriages 8th January 1800
Robert Gordon Clerk St Andrew Church Parish and Katharin Hutchison same Parish Daughter of John Hutchison late of the Excise Elgin

Her father had died in Elgin, but the family clearly felt it was important to record on his gravestone that he was from Cromarty. There is an entry in the Elgin Burial Register and a memorial to him in the churchyard of Elgin Cathedral:

Elgin Burials 1796
Hutcheson Elgin April 2 Died here Mr John Hutcheson Officer of Excise in Elgin & was buried in the Cathedral church yard

Headstone, Elgin Cathedral Churchyard

memorial commemorating the husband of Jane Urquhart of the Mounteagle family; photo by the Odd Quine (Margaret Nancy Whyte)


When Robert Hutchison was setting up in business in London in conjunction with his cousin John Urquhart of Mounteagle, brother-in-law Robert Gordon loaned him £100. AEneas Barkly was to provide the same to John Urquhart. Letters from Robert Hutchison (and a short note from John Urquhart of the Tower) to Robert Gordon may be found in GD1/884/3 and GD1/884/7. Robert says in his letter of 7 January 1807: “yet I must now beg you will send me no more till required, as Mr Barkly will advance for John an equall sum with me, But all above that John & I must give him a Bond for it, to be paid equally with Interest, this is the way I now understand Aeneas”.

And what of Robert’s mother, Jane Hutchison ms Urquhart, of Mounteagle? In that letter of 7 January 1807 Robert says: “I calld. at the dispensary about the vaccine matter but they do not send any to the Country free of postage, I have got & send inclosed as much as will inoculate 3 or 4 my best love to Mother & Rosie &c." Similarly, John Urquhart’s note ends “I beg my love & regard to Mrs. Gordon & Mrs. Hutchison – & the rest of your fire side”. So Jane Hutchison ms Urquhart was alive and residing with her daughter Rose and son-in-law Robert Gordon in Kirkcudbright at that time of 1807. Her brother, the Reverend John Urquhart of Mounteagle, had died in 1800, but I simply have not been able to establish when Jane passed away.

AEneas Barkly maintained close contact with the Hutchison family. When Rose died in 1822, Robert Hutchison wrote to his bereaved brother-in-law “I enclosed your letter of yesterday to Mr Barkly & perhaps a more affecte. or tender reply was never penned for our beloved Rose he expresses the most affecting & for the whole family, the deepest sympathy” (GD1/884/7).


8. Charles Farquharson Urquhart, major 54th Bengal Light Infantry, born 10th Aug. 1792 [actually 4 July 1791], died 17th Feb. 1856
Charles, like his siblings, did not marry. And like so many younger children of the gentry in this period he found himself directed to be a military man in India.

Edinburgh News and Literary Chronicle 11 October 1856
DEATHS. … Major Charles Farquharson Urquhart, sometime of the 54th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry, and latterly on the Invalid Establishment, the youngest and last surviving son of the late Rev. John Urquhart of Mount-Eagle, minister of the parish of Fearn, in the county of Ross – Meerut, East Indies, 17th February.

Before he died he made a will, and the Indian records give:

Urquhart, Charles Farquharson (1791–1856). Major. 54th Bengal N.I. 4th and yst. s. Rev. John, of Mount Eagle, Minister of Fearn… Born Fearn, 4th July, 1791; bapt. 11th July, 1791. Died at Meerut, 17th Feb., 1856. (Will dated Meerut, 17th Aug., 1854; admon. 27th Jun,1 856.)

He left by his will everything to his “cousin Reverend Alexander Wood of Rosemarkie” or if he died to his cousin’s children. I have already mentioned the dynasty of three Wood ministers in Rosemarkie: John Wood (1701–1775), Alexander Wood (primus) (1748–1808), Alexander Wood (secundus) (1785–1874). Primus, to quote the Fasti, married “4th Dec. 1773, Janet (died 6th Dec. 1829), daugh. of Alexander Houston, provost of Fortrose, and grandson of James Houston, min. of Kirkmichael (Ross)”.

Rosemarkie churchyard; photo by Andrew Dowsett

memorial commemorating the three Woods; photo by Andrew Dowsett


Major Charles Farquharson Urquhart was the last of the family to die.

9. Alexandrina Sophia Urquhart, born 8th Sept. 1793

Scots Magazine Vol. 72 1810 page 958
Ocr. … 13. … At AEneas Barclay’s, Esq. Highbury Grove, London, aged 17, Miss Sophia Alexandrina Urquhart, fifth daughter of the late Rev. John Urquhart of Mount-Eagle, Ross-shire; a young lady, whose goodness of heart, gentleness of temper, quickness of apprehension, and engaging manners, most justly endeared her to her family and friends.

10. Christina Urquhart, born 27th Sept. 1794, died 24th Nov. 1854
Christiana never married, and at the time of her death was residing with her cousin, the Reverend Alexander Wood (secundus), Minister of Rosemarkie. His father, Reverend Alexander Wood (primus), Minister of Rosemarkie, had married Christiana’s aunt. Christiana is commemorated on the tablestone on which her mother is also commemorated , in the Houstoun burial area in Rosemarkie graveyard:

Inverness Courier 11 May 1854
At the Manse of Rosemarkie, Ross-shire, on the 29th ult., Miss Christiana Urquhart, daughter of the late Rev. John Urquhart, of Mounteagle, and Minister of Fearn.

Under this stone lies the body of JEAN HOUSTOUN, eldest daughter of PROVOST [ALEXANDER] HOUSTOUN, a most amiable, virtuous and every way well disposed girl between 17 and 18 years of age, who departed this life the 3d of August 1766 to the great grief of her sorrowing parents; also to the memory of MRS KATHERINE HOUSTOUN, daughter of PROVOST HOUSTOUN and relict of the REVD JOHN URQUHART, Minr of the Gospel at Fearn, who departed this life at Inverness 21st February 1836 in the 82d year of her age; and in memory of MISS CHRISTIANA URQUHART, their daughter, who died at Rosemarkie the 29th April 1854 in the 59th year of her age.

Christiana Urquhart’s inscription in Rosemarkie graveyard; photo by Andrew Dowsett


11. Joan Urquhart, born 14th July 1798
I have been unable to track Joan and she is not mentioned in the wills of her siblings so I suspect she died young.

Extraordinarily, of the eleven children born to Reverend John Urquhart and Katharine Houstoun, not one of them married or had children.


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