Monday, April 27, 2015

Sir John Sinclair and his Schemes, Article VIII, Northern Ensign 04/12/1879 - Rambling Recollections of Berriedale, Badbea & Neighbourhood - Part A

Article VIII written by Alexander Gunn aka A Native of Badbea was printed in the Northern Ensign on 4 December 1879 – Part A

Sir John Sinclair and his Schemes – Other Berriedale Lairds – A Field for Land Reclamations – Beautiful Scenery – Primitive Ploughs

Sir John Sinclair by Henry Raeburn
Public Domain via Wikimedia Common

"Sir John Sinclair had a large park reaching from the Borgue of Langwell, on the lower side of the turnpike road, extending nearly half-a-mile in length, and down to the edge of the wood on the riverside. This was called Lady Janet’s Park or more familiarly park-na-ban-tighearn, her lady-ship having cut the first sod. Further west he caused a large plot of boggy ground to be ploughed up and planted with cabbage and greens in the middle of winter, but, as might be expected they never yielded any returns. The drills were still visible when I used to roam over the ground herding the town’s cattle."

Shetland Kale or cabbage Looking toward Berriedale from Inver Hill
Shetland Kale or Cabbage Looking toward Berriedale from Inver Hill

Borgue of Langwell Langwell House
Borgue of Langwell Grounds at Langwell

"We need not, however, follow the enterprising baronet much longer in his career as an agriculturist. He had his “faults and his fares” like other men, and while he did not improve the agricultural interest on his estate of Berriedale, but acted contrary to the best interests of farming there, he was greatly missed after Berriedale passed into other hands."

4 12 1879 NE (Article VIII) part b copy

"Sir John was succeeded in Berriedale by Mr James Horne. He was a stern man, and easily irritated, and when in this frame of mind he was not very refined in his manner of speech. There was a man of the name of George Grant, “Pagoch,” who lived in Auchencraig, whom I introduced to your readers in a former article. He had some business one day with the laird, who lost his temper and “opened up” on him with much strong language. George had told his neighbours how vehement the laird had been, and he was asked, “And what did you do?’ “I just swore at him,” was the reply. “But were you not afraid to swear at the laird?” “Och, no,” said George, “For I was across the bridge before I did it.” The old gentleman died in Inverness, where he had gone to attend the wool market, and I remember sitting at the roadside waiting to see the hearse which conveyed his remains to Auchastle."


"Mr Donald Horne was not long in making a change on the estate. He turned out the people of Auchencraig, The Cairn, and Rinsary. Some of those turned out had miserable places given them along the edge of the rocks at Newport, where they had to struggle night and day for a bare existence, perched on the edge of an almost perpendicular rock, where one false step would be certain destruction."

"Nor has there been much improvement since Donald Horne’s time. Now this is a great pity, as a spirited proprietor, like the Duke of Sutherland, having ample means, which the present proprietor has, could effect a wonderful improvement on the estates, where hundreds of happy families could live in comfort, if not in affluence, and where a very considerable quantity of all kinds of farm produce could be sent to market. In place of this what have we? Where formerly there used to be sheep and shepherd, the very sheep are banished, and deer occupy their places, and watchers all over the ground watching and warning away intruders with as much zeal and perseverance as if every person who passed through the grounds were thieves and robbers."

Gamekeeper and his dog Northumberland 2010
Gamekeeper and his dog.
Northumberland 2010

1879, 17 July NE Original 1 copy B

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