The following is a description of the lands and estates of the Urquharts in Ross and Cromarty shires, as contained in an instrument of sasine in favour of Sir Robert Farquhar in 1644:- All and whole the lands and barony of Cromarty, comprehending the lands and dominical lands or mains of Cromarty, with the tower, fortalice, manor place, houses, biggings, yards, orchards, and pertinents thereof, together with the heritable office of Sheriff of Cromarty, with all the privileges, liberties, fees, casualties, and duties whatsoever pertaining and belonging to the same. The towns and lands of Newtoun, Navity, and Neilstoun, and the houses, biggings, yards, orchards, parts, pendicles, and pertinents of the same. The burgh lands, roods, and acres of Cromarty, as also with the advocation, presentation, and right of patronage of the parish church and parish of Cromarty. The town and lands of Farness, with the mills, mill lands, multures, sequels, houses, biggings, yards, orchards, parts, pendicles, and pertinents of the same, Bostas of Farness and Bannans, the towns and lands of Davidston, Peddiesten, Ardoch, Bellaskellie, Braelangwell, Bellacherrie, Resolis, Ferrietown, Belblair, Roskobbrechtie, the Milltown of Roskobbrechtie, with the mills, mill lands, multures, and sequels thereof. The ward of Gelnie, Teminich, Auchmartin, and Corrie, the towns and lands of Meikle and Little Braes, with the woods thereof and the towns and lands of St Martin’s, with the mills thereof, houses, and biggings of the same, together with the teind-sheaves, and other teinds, parsonage and vicarage of the whole foresaid towns and lands, with the pendicles and pertinents of the same, as also, with all and singular, the towns, fortalices, manor places, houses, biggings, yards, orchards, mills, mill lands, multures, sequels, woods, fishings, tofts, crofts, outseats, inseats, muirs, marshes, meadows, annexis, connexis, dependencies, tenants, tenantries, and services of free tenants, parts, pendicles, and pertinents of the whole foresaid towns, lands, and barony – all lying within the parish of Cromarty and Kirkmichael, and sheriffdoms of Cromarty and Inverness, respectively aforesaid. All and whole the lands of Udoll, Little Farness, Cullicudden, Culboes, Woodhead, the towns and lands of St Martins, with the mills, mill land, multures, sequels, houses, biggings, yards, orchards, parts, pendicles, and pertinents, with the advocations, donations, and rights of patronages of the parish churches and parishes of Cullicudden and Cromarty. The lands of Kinbeachie, with the mill, mill lands, multures, sequels, and pertinents, all lying within the said parishes of Cullicudden and Cromarty respectively, and sheriffdom of Inverness foresaid. All and whole the towns and lands of Pittogertie Pitnellies, Bellacouth, Inverethie, lying within the parish, and county of Invernes, foresaid, together also with the teind-sheaves, and other teinds, parsonage, and vicarage of the whole foresaid towns and lands, with the pendicles and pertinents thereof; likewise, with all and singular, the towers, fortalices, and manor places, houses, biggings, yards, orchards, mills, mill lands, multures, woods, fishings, tofts, crofts, outseats, inseats, muirs, marshes, meadows, annexis, connexis, dependencies, tenants, tenantries, and services of free tenants, parts, pendicles, and pertinents of the whole foresaid towns and lands.
One of the most colourful and romantic Scottish characters, Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty (c 1610 – c 1660), was the patron of Kirkmichael, Cullicudden and Cromarty. Mathematician, author, translator and soldier, he left his home to fight for the royal cause and was captured at the Battle of Worcester. While in the Tower of London, he tried to persuade Cromwell to free him by promising to deliver various achievements such as a universal language, and impressing him with his genealogy, whereby he tracked his parentage back through genuine forbears and real and mythological kings to Adam and Eve. He was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty and Christian, daughter of Alexander Lord Elphinston. The curacies of Cullicudden and Kirkmichael were in the gift of the Urquharts of Cromarty. Thomas Urquhart Urquhart was harassed by creditors and by the local ministers, who attacked him for his Episcopalian views. One of Urquhart’s greatest claims to fame should be the following piece of text, again drawn from The Jewel (1652). It is part of what must surely be the most sustained piece of invective in the English language. And it is directed in general at Presbyterianism, and specifically at one minister of Cromarty and, to draw out eventually the reason for its inclusion here, at the ministers of Kirkmichael and Cullicudden.
Is there any more common saying over all Scotland in the mouthes of the laicks then that the minister is the greediest man in the parish, most unwilling to bestow any thing in deeds of charity, and the richer they become (without prejudice be it spoken of some honest men amongst them) the more wretched they are; grounding that assertion on this, that by their daily practice both severally and conjunctly, it is found that for their splendour and inrichment most of them do immire their spirits into earthly projects, not caring by what sordid means they may attain their aims; and if they make any kinde of sermonicination tending in outward appearance to godliness, which seldom they do, being enjoyned by their ecclesiastical authority to preach to the times, that is, to rail against malignants and sectaries or those whom they suppose to be their enemies, they do it but as those augurs of old of whom Aulus Gellius speaking, saith, “Aures verbis ditant alienas, suas ut auro locupletent crumenas” [“They enrich the ears of others with words, so that they may fill their own purses with gold.”]I know I touch here a string of a harsh sound to the Kirk, of a note dissonant from their proposed harmony and quite out of the systeme of the intended oecumenick government by them concerted. But seeing there are few will be taken with the melody of such a democratical hierarchie, that have not preallably been stung with the tarantula of a preposterous ambition, I will insist no longer on this purpose; and that so much the rather, that he, whose writings I in this tractate intermix with my own, tempers his Heliconian water with more hony than vinegar and prefers the epigrammatical to the satyrick straine; for although I think there be hardly any in Scotland that proportionably hath suffered more prejudice by the Kirk then himself; his own ministers, to wit, those that preach in the churches whereof himself is patron: Master Gilbert Anderson, Master Robert Williamson and Master Charles Pape by name, serving the cures of Cromarty, Kirkmichel and Cullicudden, having done what lay in them for the furtherance of their owne covetous ends, to his utter undoing; for the first of those three, for no other cause but that the said Sir Thomas would not authorize the standing of a certain pew (in that country a desk) in the church of Cromarty, put in without his consent by a professed enemy to his House, who had plotted the ruine thereof and one that had no land in the parish, did so rail against him and his family at several times, both before his face and in his absence, and with such opprobrious termes, more like a scolding tripe-seller’s wife then good minister, squirting the poyson of detraction and abominable falshood, unfit for the chaire of verity, in the eares of the tenandry, who were the onely auditors, did most ingrately and despightfully so calumniate and revile their master, his own patron and benefactor, that the scandalous and reproachful words striving which of them should first discharge against him its steel-pointed dart, did oftentimes like clusters of hemlock or wormewood dipt in vinegar stick in his throat; he being almost ready to choak with the aconital bitterness and venom thereof, till the razor of extream passion by cutting them into articulate sounds and very rage it self in the highest degree by procuring a vomit, had made him spue them out of his mouth into rude, indigested lumps like so many toads and vipers that had burst their gall. As for the other two, notwithstanding that they had been borne, and their fathers before them, vassals to his House, and the predecessor of one of them had shelter in that land by reason of slaughter committed by him, when there was no refuge for him anywhere else in Scotland; and that the other had never been admitted to any church had it not been for the favour of his foresaid patron who, contrary to the will of his owne friends and great reluctancy of the ministry it self, was both the nominater and chuser of him to that function, and that before his admission, he did faithfully protest he should all the days of his life remain contented with that competency of portion the late incumbent in that charge did enjoy before him; they nevertheless behaved themselves so peevishly and unthankfully towards their forenamed patron and master that, by vertue of an unjust decree both procured and purchased from a promiscuous knot of men like themselves, they used all their utmost endeavours, in absence of their above-recited patron, to whom and unto whose House they had been so much beholding, to outlaw him and declare him rebel by open proclamation at the market-cross of the head town of his owne shire in case he did not condescend to the grant of that augmentation of stipend which they demanded, conforme to the tenour of the above-mentioned decree; the injustice whereof will appeare when examined by any rational judge.Now the best is, when by some moderate gentleman it was expostulated why against their master, patron and benefactor they should have dealt with such severity and rigour, contrary to all reason and equity, their answer was they were inforced and necessitated so to do by the synodal and presbyterial conventions of the Kirk under paine of deprivation and expulsion from their benefices. I will not say “[Greek quotation, meaning the egg of a bad crow is bad,”] but may safely think that a well sanctified mother will not have a so ill-instructed brat and that injuria humana [human injury] cannot be the lawfull daughter of a jure divino [by divine law] parent
The Parish and Kirk of Kirkmichael has of old been associated with the Urquharts. There is an Urquhart charter of 1349 of land within the parish, and many subsequent charters over several centuries deal with lands within the parish and Kirkmichael itself as they moved into and out of Urquhart ownership. The Urquharts of Cromarty and related branches were the proprietors for a long period of the whole parish of Resolis (the united parishes of Kirkmichael and Cullicudden). The Urquharts of Kinbeachie are buried in Cullicudden but the Urquharts of Braelangwell and the Urquharts of Newhall are buried in Kirkmichael. This superbly carved Urquhart of Braelangwell (William Urquhart) wall panel (right) can be seen in the chancel of Kirkmichael kirk.
The Urquharts of Newhall were a very important branch in their time, having an extensive estate of about 9,000 acres of land. In 1678, Colonel Alexander Urquhart of Newhall with his son John and the Laird of Cromarty were Commissioners to the Scottish Parliament. Both Alexander and his son John were buried at Kirkmichael, but the location of their graves has not been traced.
Formerly an officer in the Scots Greys, he had sold the estate with the exception of a small portion including the ancient burying ground of Kirkmichael, which, having descended in strict tail, became the property of his half-brother David. Braelangwell came into the possession of the family of Fraser. Interestingly, Isabella Fraser of Braelangwell (-1862) married the eighth Urquhart laird of Meldrum, Beauchamp Colclough Urquhart (1830-1896).The diplomat David Urquhart was born at Braelangwell, the second son of David Urquhart of Braelangwell, by his second wife, Miss Hunter. His father died while David was still a child [he died in 1811 and Braelangwell was rouped in 1812], and he was brought up by his mother. He was active in the military, including being in the Greek service, and held numerous important diplomatic positions, including several in Constantinople. His outspoken views led to him falling out of favour on several occasions. He powerfully influenced public opinion by his numerous writings, mostly on international politics and international travel. His style was admirably lucid. Interestingly, Urquhart was responsible for the naturalisation of the Turkish bath in the British Isles through his enthusiastic report of the institution in his ‘Pillars of Hercules’ in 1850 and subsequent lectures. One of the most colourful and romantic Scottish characters, Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty (c 1610 – c 1660), was the patron of Kirkmichael, Cullicudden and Cromarty. Mathematician, author, translator and soldier, he left his home to fight for the royal cause and was captured at the Battle of Worcester. While in the Tower of London, he tried to persuade Cromwell to free him by promising to deliver various achievements such as a universal language, and impressing him with his genealogy, whereby he tracked his parentage back through genuine forbears and real and mythological kings to Adam and Eve. He was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty and Christian, daughter of Alexander Lord Elphinston. The curacies of Cullicudden and Kirkmichael were in the gift of the Urquharts of Cromarty.
On the 16th of April, 1746, the last Jacobite uprising occurred. Men from Urquhart and Glenmorriston marched to battle with Bonnie Prince Charlie – as it turned out – for the last chance to return him, a Stewart, to Scotland’s throne. At this point Urquhart Castle had been laid waste for 54 years and the Urquhart clan had lost it’s clan chief 5 years earlier with no apparent Urquhart heir to the title and so on thus found. The Urquhart warriors, like many of the Scottish warriors, had grown weary of the Jacobite uprising, but the Urquharts marched off to the war after an impassioned plea from one of the Prince’s authorities. Many Scottish warriors chose not to go. In a sense, the Jacobite uprising had lost it’s spirit over the years of battling the English. This was the last roar of the great lion of the north, after a slow gathering death.
However, every descendant of the men who fought at that last Jacobite uprising, including those descendant from the Urquhart and Glenmorriston men that fought there, will, it is said, on the 16th of April every year, if they visit Culloden, Inverness – the last battleground for the Jacobites – will be thrown back into a ghostly past. For on that anniversary, all the descendents of those brave Scottish warriors will supposedly witness the battle, played out by the ghosts of those who fought there. As an Urquhart you will possibly see your Urquhart ancestors marching, fighting, dyeing, bleeding, laying wounded and, in the end, retreating. For those who fell wounded on the battlefield on that fateful day, there is first hand testimony of a ghost helping the wounded highland warriors back to a hotel, where a normal doctor then tended their wounds.
Although the Urquhart and Glenmorriston men and all the others put up a worthy fight, if the truth be known, Bonnie Prince Charlie was the cause of our brave highland warriors being massacred – he did not heed the words of the seasoned highland warriors as to how best to fight the battle in the mountainous terrain nearby, but, instead, in his arrogance, Bonnie Prince Charlie took to the field suited to the English soldiers and artillery, lost the battle and 1000 Scottish highland warriors – clansmen and others – died that day. For some time after the battle, the English authorities hunted down the highland warriors like dogs and imprisoned them or exiled them or both. Some of the exiled warriors returned to Scotland under a different name, to avoid being detected and put to death or imprisoned.
In the windows from Urquhart Castle overlooking Loch Ness, one can imagine this legend of undying love being spoken amongst fair maidens of Urquhart in giggles and sighs, or even of between lovers who knew their love forbidden. The legend goes thus:
Colum Cruitire of Ireland, whose daughter, Deirdire or Dearduil was the most beautiful in all of Ireland, the most beautiful virgin to ever walk in the lands of Ireland, had his daughter noticed by Conachar MacNessa, King of Ulster, in the 1st century AD. Conachar resolved to have Dearduil and she agreed if he would allow her to spend one year and one day as a virgin within his castle first. He agreed. During that time, Dearduil fell in love with Conachar’s cousin, Naois and Naois with her. Naois and Dearduil then made haste to Scotland to try and avoid the King’s wrath. They built a tower on Loch Naois – now called Loch Ness – and for one year they lived joyfully there. King Conachar found out and asked them to return to Ireland in peace and with his assurance for their safety. Dearduil believed the King false, but Naois returned to Ireland with his brothers and Dearduil. Naois and his brothers were slain at the King’s command and placed in the same grave. Dearduil, on seeing them in the open grave asked the dead to move enough to let her in with them, which they did and she lay with Naois and died. The king, enraged, order Dearduil to be placed in another grave on the other side of the stream from them, so that they could not be together in death. The eternal love sprouted a young pine tree from Naois’s grave and another young pine from Dearduil’s grave. The two pines grew, their branches intermingled above the stream and the two trees were joined, so that even in death Naois and Dearduil were together.
Those who believe in this legend, believe Loch Ness was another spelling for Loch Naois and got it’s name that way. I can imagine my Urquhart ancestors, in the cold of night or in moments of forbidden passion, speaking of this beautiful legend and of their own undying love for each other or waiting for the right lover to appear.
The legend also speaks of a king’s dishonor and to mind the words spoken by people, something some Urquharts learnt all too well in the dealings with the English King’s authorities.
Long, long ago, in the days when the Great Glen held it’s deepest valley, before Urquhart castle was even a thought. The valley’s steep sides had pathways that wound up and down and around them. A large number of people had settled – perhaps some of our Urquhart ancestors before the name of Urquhart was even spoken – and took advantage of it’s abundant food and resources. It was a fertile valley which made life easy.
These fortunate people also had a magical well, a spring which Daly the Druid had made magical, which brought forth healing waters for all ills. There was a condition placed on using this magical well – after each use, the cover had to be placed back upon the well lest the well rise up and destroy the valley.
Alas, one day, a mother had removed the cover from the well and was drawing the magical water. Her baby started to cry and when she heard, like all good mothers, she went to her child’s aid. In her speed to do so, she neglected to replace the cover upon the magic well and although she may have had all intentions of doing so, by the time she realized she had left the cover off unattended, the well had turned into a roaring fountain of water, gushing forth water with such force that she had no option but to run with her baby, clambering up the sides of the valley.
The other settlers, seeing and hearing the great commotion and roaring of the water, also took to the paths up out of the valley, knowing that all was now lost. Their homes, possessions, but they escaped, all escaped I believe.
One of those who escaped, looking back at their great valley filling with water almost as fast as they could climb, cried out in disbelief and anguish “Tha loch ann a nis!” – which means “There is a lake in it now!” That great valley of the Great Glen, draws it’s name from those words “Loch ann a nis”: Loch Ness.
So, all I can say is this, if your over by Urquhart Castle having a look for Nessy, remember those waters around the Urquhart stronghold have magical healing properties, as I cannot find any reference to that healing well ever being covered again. So if you are feeling crook, dip your toe in and see if it helps. Would not advise drinking the water from around Urquhart castle, as the peat bogs the lochs’ water runs over puts a lot of small debris into the water, which affects the sonar of ships. So Nessie may still be hidden in the waters around Urquhart Castle.
But, getting back to Urquhart Castle, that magical well and the careless action of that mother in haste, produced the landscape and loch that Urquhart Castle took advantage of – in fact, you could say the magical well was responsible for Urquhart Castle ever being built there!
the Chief’s arms and standard. As the legend goes, An Cu Mor was a large hunting dog who served his master faithfully until his old age and infirmity caused such distress that Conachar desired to put the dog down. It was on the counseling of an old woman, who warned him the dog had not yet had its day, that he let the great dog live. During those days the woods had been ravished by a wild boar of such tremendous ferocity that who ever happened upon it did not live to tell the tale of the encounter and only by the grizzly evidence left behind was their testimony of the danger that prevailed over the region. It was one day when Conachar was hunting that he came upon the ferocious beast, and as great a man and as skilled a warrior as he was, he could make no fatal impression on the boar. With his own death prescribed by this treacherous beast, Conachar’s last hope and prayer was delivered in the form of An Cu Mor. The great dog, with renewed vigor of youth, battled the boar to its death, saving the first Urquhart, and the name we so proudly bear. Alas ,the great dog received such a mauling that it soon faded from this life in the arms of his beloved master.
There is said to be a mermaid,of enchanting beauty who graces the Black Isle with song and voice no mortal can match. Many men have seen her, but only the most resolved or most foolhardy will dare to approach her. It is said that if you can catch her, to gain her freedom she will grant you three wishes…. but if you fail to hold her fast to the shore, she will drag you down to the secret depths from which no man has returned. You might think this an easy task, but do not be fooled for she has the magical strength of five men. Therefore, be warned by the wisdom of ages to trifle not with the beautiful creature, but be content to listen to her song.