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The Bailie’s Great Adventure
Grant vs Fife


(19) In the afternoon of Saturday, Russell went to Taylor’s shop and asked John Ross say to Mrs Taylor if she wished to send clothes or anything to Taylor he could get them sent that night. He said he had had occasion to be in a place where the bailie was that day. Ross went to Mrs Taylor, got a bundle of clean clothes and gave them to Alexander Russell.

(20) When he was seized, Taylor had no money with him. His son, Francis, had but 5/-.

(21) John Ross, Grieve at Main in Elginshire, related something Christie had later told him. Patrick Sellar, after Taylor and his son had gone off to drink tea at Mr Sutherland’s, said to the men the bailie had gone to a man’s house who was perhaps the cleverest and the quickest in Sutherland so they had better look sharply after their prisoner.

(22) A number of meetings of the Town Council of Elgin seem have to been held at this time, all were probably irregular or invalid.

On 11th March, the Fife councillors took advantage of the absence of Dick and Taylor and held a meeting. The Fife councillors also held a meeting on 15th March, probably within McKenzie's Inn, where they elected Major A F Tayler of Monaughty as delegate.

After Taylor and Dick were allowed to return, there was a meeting of Grant councillors held in the house of William Gauldie, Dean of Guild. There they entered into a minute by which it appears Taylor and Dick both declared they had been taken away by force.

There was another meeting of the Town Council on 25th March but only eight members were present and there was, therefore, no majority and no delegate could be elected.

Finally, there was a meeting of certain of the councillors held on 28th March. This meeting resulted in a vote in favour Sir Archibald Dunbar of the Grant party, by the “deliberative and casting vote of the Provost.”

The election at Cullen took place on 31st March where the delegates for Cullen and Kintore voted for the Grant party and the delegates for Banff and Inverurie voted for the Fife party.For Elgin, competing minutes of council were presented in favour of Sir Archibald Dunbar of Northfield, the Provost (Grant) and of Major A F Tayler of Rothiemay (Fife). George Grant, Writer in Portsoy and Town Clerk of Cullen, indicated no delegate from Elgin had been regularly commissioned so both were necessarily refused. The casting vote of the delegate for Cullen, the presiding burgh, being given in favour of Archibald Farquharson of Finzean, that gentleman was returned duly elected.

(23) At Inverness, Brander took a seat in the ‘Duke of Gordon’ Coach for the bailie and paid for it. The seat was taken only the length of Forres.

(24) Taylor had reason to go to a private place for a little. Anderson and Cattanach pressed young Francis Taylor very hard to try and prevail with his father to stop there that day. They said if he did so he would be very much esteemed in Elgin. This the youth refused, observing he had no business to interfere.

(25) Loudon's Inn was one of the oldest hotels in Forres, it was the one at which halted the mail coach.

In 1830, Loudon's Inn was taken over by Hugh Duff MacQueen and the hotel was known from that time as MacQueen's Hotel, then Fraser's Hotel and finally Commercial Hotel before being converted to a supermarket in the 1980's.

In 1834, two coaches operated from Forres: ‘Defiance’ and ‘Star’. Morning mail from Inverness arrived at 5am, followed by the ‘Defiance’ at 9am (also from the west). From Elgin came the ‘Star’ at 8:30am, the ‘Defiance’ at 2:30pm and the mail at 4:30pm.

(26) McKenzie's Inn was the hotel at Elgin at which the mail coaches halted. It is thought to have been on the site of what once was the Gordon Arms Hotel in the High Street.

(27) John McKenzie, Innkeeper in Elgin, had the Fife party sleeping in a body at his house for several nights during the political struggle. An open table was kept at his house for the Incorporated Trades and other friends of Lord Fife, the expenses being borne out of his Lordship's pocket.

(28) Some time in the course of the forenoon William Mitchell was called from the pavement near his own shop door into a gateway by a young boy, Taylor’s son. He gave the bailie the precept and told him as his father was going to take a walk in the country, he wanted Mitchell to keep the precept till he would be ready to go home.

(29) Patrick Duff, junior, Writer in Elgin, was an intimate acquaintance of Taylor. He was in Forres that day and dined with John Grant. Duff mentioned in the course of conversation he thought Taylor should return home to Elgin in the carriage with his family, which had come to Forres in a post chaise from Elgin that afternoon.

He commented it would have a bad appearance for the bailie to return to Elgin with the men who came with him to Forres in the ‘Duke of Gordon’ Coach. Duff wrote a note to this effect to Taylor and Grant took it to him to the house of George Cumming, Merchant in Forres, where he found Taylor at tea.

(30) John Grant returned to Duff and stated these circumstances, Duff requested Grant to go in the coach to Elgin with Taylor. It would tend to take off the bad appearance of the bailie returning to Elgin with these men.

The doctor declared he knew one of the men as of the name of Anderson, Carpenter in Elgin. He also had every reason to think the name of another of the men was William Brander. This last named person went inside the coach along with Taylor and Grant from Forres to Elgin that evening.

(31) The Inverness Courier of 16th March carried a letter of the previous day:

  “We have been in a state of great agitation since Saturday without political parties, which have run high for some time past. On Saturday morning in fair day light, two of the Councillors in Colonel Grant's interest were picked up and packed off in post chaises to the coast side, where boats were in waiting to carry them over to Sutherland - previous to that Col. Grant had 8 votes and Lord Fife 7. The council consists of 17, but Col. Grant is absent, and Bailie Innes would not qualify; the carrying off, of the two already mentioned, left Lord Fife 7 and Col. Grant 6, the latter then withdrew to Grant Lodge, and those for the former went to the Inn under a guard of the populace. Matters remained in this state over Saturday and Sunday, a subject of merriment to the inhabitants. But in the interim, it would appear, some ill-judged communication had been made to the Tenantry on the Grant estates in Strathspey, who in the course of the night began to pour in, in great numbers, and nearly 600 marched quietly into Grant Lodge - the alarm was soon given - the drums beat to arms, and the whole town was immediately in an uproar. Messengers were despatched to Lord Fife's estates, round the neighbourhood to apprize the Tenants and about noon the town was crowded to excess - for several hours matters wore an alarming appearance indeed. But through the medium of Sir Geo. Abercrombie [sic], our Sheriff, and some others, the Highlanders were withdrawn about 2 o’clock. 100 respectable special constables were sworn in, who patrolled the streets, and placed guards on all the avenues leading to the town. In the evening report followed report, that the Highlandmen were lurking in the woods, with the intention of entering the town during the night. About 11 o'clock the drums again beat to arms. The windows of the town were all lighted with candles, and the streets with torches. The Constables were kept on duty all night; such was the confusion and consternation. But no enemy appeared. The reports were groundless. The fears of the night originated in 5 or 6 poor fellows having got too much drink, who were seen loitering about the woods, whose numbers were magnified into as many hundreds. At this time, for farther security, the Councillors in Lord Fife's interest were removed from the Inn to the Jail, where they have remained for two nights. Last night the Constables were again on duty; and the town was lighted up. To-day the meeting of Council took place - Colonel Grant's friends did not attend, except his man of business to take a protest. Lord Fife's party named a Delegate, viz. Major Tayler. So the matter is so far over; it is too good a subject however to be so soon done with; and will, at all events, afford employments to the Lawyers.”  

(32) Alexander Innes was neutral; that doesn’t mean he didn’t support one of the parties, he was very much in favour of the ‘Fife’ cause; it wasn’t that he didn’t vote, he simply wasn’t allowed to vote because he hadn’t taken his oath as a Councillor at the time of the election - he only took his oath in June!

From the Elgin Burgh Court Minute Book, 1809-1826, on 20th June 1820, we find a court held by Sir Archibald Dunbar, Provost and Bailies Francis Taylor, Robert Joss and Peter Nicholson.

  “The court being duly formed Alexander Innes, Esquire, who was elected a Bailie of this Burgh at Michaelmas last appeared in court and accepted the office of bailie - took his seat and gave his oath de fideli in Common Form.”  

Innes had not sworn his oath in time; he was not allowed to cast his vote.


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