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The Bailie’s Great Adventure
Grant vs Fife

The Bailie’s Great Adventure

The bailie mentioned he had an acquaintance, Elizabeth Keith or Sutherland, in the town. He wished very much to go and drink tea there. Taylor and his son went to Mrs Sutherland’s leaving Brander, Russell, Christie and Sellar in the inn. The bailie explained to Mrs Sutherland and her father-in-law, who was also present, the meaning of his being there. They expressed the same astonishment as Mrs Duncan. On coming out of Mrs Sutherland’s, Taylor saw Christie and Brander emerge from of a shop directly opposite Mrs Sutherland’s house. (21)

That night, Monday, the mail coach from Caithness came up, into which the bailie, his son, Christie and Brander went. Russell had gone on ahead but was picked up on the road. They went on to Dingwall where they breakfasted about 9 o’clock next day, Tuesday.

On Taylor’s arrival at Dingwall, a person delivered him a letter without saying a word. Opening it, the bailie found it contained the precept that had been served upon him for the purposes of the election.

After breakfast they proceeded on to Inverness in the mail coach, where they arrived before 2 o’clock. Soon after arriving at Inverness William Fraser Tytler, Sheriff-Depute and Thomas Gilzean, Sheriff-Substitute of Inverness-shire, waited on Taylor at Cant’s Inn. Coming into the room where they were, Tytler asked if there was a Mr Taylor from Elgin there. Taylor stood up and said he was the man. Tytler said to Taylor he understood the bailie was a prisoner and under restraint. Taylor said he had hitherto been so since he was carried away but he now understood from his keepers he was at liberty. The bailie asked the men with him if he was to be at liberty now. They said, “Certainly he was.”

Donald Smith, Collector of Customs at Inverness, a friend and old acquaintance of Taylor, called upon him at Cant's Inn. Smith said to the men this was a very extraordinary business on their part and they would all be banished for carrying away Taylor.

Alexander Jack, Candlemaker in Inverness had invited the bailie and his son to drink tea and spend the evening. This they did, and Bailie Lewis Grant of Inverness joined the party at supper. Taylor here explained the restraint and imprisonment he had been under and he mentioned he considered all proceedings at Elgin had been by that time over.

There was an understanding amongst some of the Town Councillors of Elgin the meeting for choosing a delegate was to take place on the Tuesday and the bailie had made up his mind to vote for Sir Archibald Dunbar as delegate from Elgin. It was Taylor’s fixed determination to give orders on the Saturday past for calling a meeting in terms of the precept and had he not been carried away he would have done so. This impression was fixed on Taylor’s mind and made him less anxious to receive the protection of the Sheriff than he would have otherwise been. Taylor believed the conviction in the men’s minds was the meeting was to be held that day and it was all over by the time they had reached Inverness. (22)

When Taylor and his son returned to the inn, they saw Brander there, Russell and Christie had gone eastward with the mail coach that night. Taylor called on the chambermaid and asked to know where they were to sleep. She said they were to sleep in a double-bedded room and Brander was also to sleep there. This Taylor absolutely refused; he said he and his son should have a room themselves.


Early Wednesday morning Taylor, his son and Brander left Inverness inside the ‘Duke of Gordon’ Coach. When they arrived at Campbelltown, Brander went into the inn while the horses were changing. Coming out of the inn, Brander pressed Taylor to go in, saying there was a gentleman there who wanted very much to speak to him. The bailie went into the inn and to his great surprise he found the gentleman who wanted to see him was Deacon James Cattanach, Cartwright in Elgin. Cattanach and Brander pressed Taylor very much to remain at Campbelltown during the day. Elgin was in such an uproar and confusion, mobs were stationed at the west end of Elgin and the Bridge of Sheriffmill and it would be impossible for the bailie to get into the town. The bailie absolutely refused, saying he would not stop unless they detained him there by force. His seat in the coach was taken to Forres, he would at any rate go that length. (23)

Brander, Taylor and young Francis went from Campbelltown to Nairn in the coach. Taylor understood Cattanach rode to Nairn on horseback. On arriving at Nairn they found Alexander Anderson, Squarewright in Elgin, there with a post chaise. Cattanach and Anderson had come from Elgin to Nairn together in the post chaise and Cattanach had gone the length of Campbelltown in order to try stopping the bailie there. When the bailie alighted out of the coach at Nairn, Brander, Cattanach and Anderson surrounded him and pressed him exceedingly hard to stop at Nairn during that day. The post chaise they had brought would be quite at his service and he could afterwards go home in it when he pleased. Taylor again absolutely refused; he repeated unless he was kept there by force he was determined to go on to Forres. (24)

The bailie breakfasted at Nairn before he, his son and Brander proceeded on to Forres in the ‘Duke of Gordon’ Coach, Cattanach having been on the top. All the way from Nairn to Forres the bailie saw the post chaise running before and he understood Anderson was then in the post chaise.

On arrival at Loudon’s Inn (25) at Forres, when Taylor came out of the coach he found himself surrounded by a great number of people. Amongst these he observed a considerable number of Elgin people whose faces were quite familiar to him, although he did now know their names. The bailie did, however, observe, Alexander Russell, Merchant in Elgin.

Taylor observed another man from Elgin among the mob, he knows him to be a wright, although he does not know his name. This man was “pouring down of sweat” and, from his appearance, Taylor was confident in assuming he must have run very hard all the way from Elgin and just arrived at that time.

Brander, Cattanach, Anderson and Russell pressed the bailie very hard to remain at Forres during the remainder of that day. Taylor absolutely refused, saying he was determined to go on. Cattanach took hold of Taylor by the arm. If he would consent to go in with the Fife councillors, which were then sitting at McKenzie’s Inn at Elgin, (26) they would allow the bailie to proceed. Taylor refused and rather than consent to change allegiance, he would remain where he was. (27)

That morning, John Grant, Surgeon in Forres, saw Taylor in the ‘Duke of Gordon’ Coach as it was passing through the street of Forres on its way to Loudon’s Inn where the coach changed horses. Grant knew the bailie and had heard of his being carried off from Elgin. He ran down to the inn to speak with him but before he reached there Taylor had gone into the Travellers’ Room. On attempting to go in, Grant found two or three men at the back of the door, which however was not bolted. Grant pushed the door back a little and said he wanted to speak to Taylor. After some delay the door was opened.

Grant asked Taylor in whisper (at a side near one of the windows) whether he was still under restraint. The bailie said he still considered himself under restraint. Grant then spoke aloud to three or four men who were in the room with him and said, “What, do you prevent Taylor from returning home?” They answered, “No, he was quite free to go home when he pleased.” Taylor informed Grant the men had said to him he might go from Forres towards Elgin if he liked but if he did so, some of Lord Fife’s party would intercept him and detain him by the way until the election was over. On which account, Taylor said he would rather remain in Forres where he had acquaintances.

Extract from the Precognition


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