Below is a transcript of a newspaper report that relates to the home of our clan chief in the late 1850s. Clan Chief Neil John Macgillivray visited Scotland from Canada and was welcomed to his estate at Dunmaglass with a lavish dinner and ball. The report provides some of the flavour of the event. The original newspaper report can be viewed in our Reading Room.
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Inverness Courier, November 11, 1858. p6
'Dinner and Ball at Dunmaglass'
'Neil John Macgillivray, Esq, of Glengarry, Canada West, who succeeded to the fine highland property of Dunmaglass, arrived in this country. His accession to the estate gave sincere satisfaction in Dunmaglass, where Mr Macgillivray was to some extent personally known, and whither very favourable reports of his character and disposition had preceded him. In order that all might have an opportunity of meeting him, and in order, also, that they might show respect to the heir of the Dunmaglass family, the tenantary on the estate invited Mr Macgillivray to a dinner at the Mains Farm, which took place on Friday last. The day was fine, and, besides the tenantary, many other friends of Mr Macgillivray were present. On his approach to the Mains, some two hundred persons met the carriage, and having unyoked the horses, they dragged the vehicle to the scene of the banquet, preceded by pipers, and loudly cheering all the way. Materials for a large bonfire had been previously collected on the top of Mamour, and towards evening a large party assembled round the pile, which they set on fire; having drunk to the health and prosperity of the laird, and danced round the fire, they returned to join the dinner party.
Dinner was served in an out-building, which was tastefully fitted up and decorated for the occasion. The chair was taken by Mr Macgillivray, tenent of the Mains of Dunmaglass; and Mr James Anderson, factor on the estate, and Mr Donald Mactavish, officiated as croupiers. On the right of the Chairman sat Mr Macgillivray, the guest of the evening, supported by Capt Fraser of Balmain; Mr Fraser, Abersky; Mr Greig, banker; Mr James Gordon, merchant, and others. The dinner was sumptuous and elegant, and reflected great credit on the management and arrangement on Mr Macgillivray of the Mains, under whose superintendence the preparations had been made.
Ample justice having been done to the dinner, the Chairman called for a bumper to the health of our Sovereign Lady the Queen.
The Chairman next gave the Prince Consort and the rest of the Royal Family. A more worthy or more exemplary family was not to be found in the country, and it was saying enough of Prince Albert to say that he was in every way worthy of the Queen.
Mr Fraser, Abersky, proposed the Army and Navy, passing a warm eulogium on both services.
The Chairman then called for a special bumper to the health of their esteemed guest - the laird. We have met, he said, to give a welcome to Mr MacGillivray on his arrival in our country, to take up his abode on the estate of his ancestry, and I am sure I speak the sentiments of all when I say that he receives a most sincere and hearty welcome. Neither he nor his family are strangers to us, and many an anxious wish during the litigation did we all all express that he should be, as I rejoice to say he is, now among us. We felt satisfied, let the lawyers say what they would, and let the issue be what it might, that our honoured guest was the true heir of Dunmaglass, and no other could have received a like hearty welcome, or have been acknowledged as as our chief. I would not, in the presence of Mr Macgillivray, exprate on his many virtues, but I may be permitted to say, that from all that we have seen and know of him, as well as as from what we have learned regarding him, he will be a good and honoured landlord. He has sprung from good stock. His father and mother had been well known to the tenants, and had been universally esteemed as known; and I doubt not the laird will keep alive those our pleasing recollections of of the parents. The Chairman concluded by calling on the company to join him in wishing Mr Macgillivray long life, health, and happiness in the enjoyment of his property. The toast was drunk with Highland honours, and immense cheering.
Mr Macgillivray returned thanks, and was received with renewed cheering. He said - I never before felt how desirable it is to be a fluent speaker, I cannot express to you how I am affected by your conduct this day, but I assure you, so long as I live I shall look back upon this meeting as the most grateful to my feelings. I fear that I shall not be able to realise all your high expectations regarding me, but the honour which you have done me today, as well as former kindnesses shown to my family, will impel me to do my duty; and if I am not as good a landlord as your hopes lead you to expect, believe me the fault will be of the head not of the heart. I believe that it is the duty as it is in the interest of the landlord to go hand-in-hand with effecting improvements; and if I can aid in this good work, we shall continue to hold the same good opinion of each other as it is my pleasure to believe we mutually entertain now.
Abersky then gave the neighbouring proprietors, coupled with the name of Captain Fraser of Balmain.Captain Fraser returned thanks. Mr J Anderson, proposed Mrs Macgillivray, the landlord’s lady. Mr Mactavish gave The Mackintosh, chief of the clan. Mr Gordon proposed Mr Macgillivray’s friends in Canada. Mr Macgillivray returned thanks, and gave the Tenants. Captain Fraser proposed the neighbouring tenants and Abersky. Abersky gave the Chairman, Mr Smith, Croachy, in an eulogistic speech, proposed the health of Mr Patrick Grant, the late factor, than whom there was never was a more courteous gentleman, or more obliging factor. Mr Gordon, the Ladies who are to join us in the dance. Several other social and convivial toasts were proposed in the course of the evening.
At ten o’clock the dinner party adjourned to the ballroom, where a large number of ladies joined them. Upwards of 200 were present, and they kept up the dance with unflagging spirit until about five o’clock next morning.'
David McGillivray and Peter McGillivray were about 130 years too late for the party.