Ferintosh Landscape 1

Ferintosh is the middle part of the parish of Urquhart and Logie Wester, on the Black Isle. It is a rural area of agricultural land and woodland with scattered houses and small settlements such as Ryefield, Corntown, Easter Kinkell, and Duncanston.

Traditionally it comprises the estate of the family of Forbes of Culloden (the ‘Duncan Forbeses’), and was accounted a part of the Sheriffdom (County) of Nairn.

In 1430 this central part of the parish was granted to Donald, Thane of Cawdor, and in 1476 was incorporated into a single complete thaneage, in Gaelic: An Tòisigheachd.

Its name in English, Ferintosh, likewise derives from the Gaelic: Fearann Tòisigheachd, literally ‘estate of the thanedom’.

Ferintosh Landscape 2

The Barony of Culloden was acquired by the then Duncan Forbes (originally of Tolquhoun) in 1625. His son John added Ferintosh to the family estate in 1669. In the 17th Century the family supported the Covenanters and the Marquess of Argyll, and subsequently in 1689 John’s son declared for William and Mary.

Their possessions suffered in the conflict, and as some compensation the Crown granted the privilege of whisky distilled on their estate to be excused excise duty. Almost a century later Ferintosh was selling more whisky than the rest of Scotland put together.

Burns certainly liked to quaff a Quaich o’ Ferintosh or twa. His and others’ enjoyment was quenched when the Crown bought back the Ferintosh privilege in 1784 for the princely (at the time) sum of £22,500. Burns’ poem ‘Scotch Drink’ mournfully bewails: “Thee, Ferintosh!
O sadly lost! Scotland lament frae coast to coast . . .”

Ferintosh Cottage

The other notable place of Ferintosh in Scotland’s history is the continuing renown of the Rev. Dr. John MacDonald, M.A. (Aberdeen),D.D. (New York) 1779-1849. He was the greatest Gaelic preacher of his generation, and is still remembered as ‘Domhnallach an Tòisigheachd’ (MacDonald of Ferintosh), aka ‘The Apostle of the North’, and was minister of the (established) church of Ferintosh from 1813.

Many anecdotes and stories are still recounted about him. He took a leading part in the events of the Disruption of the Churches (Sgaradh nan Eaglaisean) in 1843 over the issue of church patronage by the lairds, and their enclosures of common land and clearances of population.

He led his congregation out of the established Church of Scotland on the formation of the Free Church, and until they were able toacquire land and establish their own church building, they met in a natural amphitheatre in the woodland around the Ferintosh Burn. Outdoor Gaelic communions continued to be held at this ‘Preaching Site’ until the 1950s, and outdoor summer services continue to be conducted there.

Ferintosh Kirk

There are informative web resources on the history of Ferintosh on Wikipedia, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferintosh,_Black_Isle

On the history of Ferintosh (with historical maps) at: http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/place/21804

On the Ferintosh Distilleries, and the Duncan Forbes family (with copious illustrations), at: http://lostdistillery.com/06ferintosh/ryefield.html

If you are able to obtain a copy, ‘The Parish of Urquhart and Logie Wester’ by William G. Young (no date, publisher or ISBN) is a highly informative source of local history.

The present site is in course of development as a source of material on religious themes, hymn translations from Gaelic and other Celtic languages, and original compositions. This is dedicated respectfully to the memory of Domhnallach an Tòisigheachd, my 19th century next-door neighbour.