St Fillan’s Highland Society (1827)


St. Fillans had been renamed from its several other names by Lord Gwydr of Drummond Castle. It was, of course, his right to change anything, as he owned all of it including Comrie, Crieff and Lochearnhead and most of the land in Highland Strathearn. He fancied the adopted name, no doubt, having heard some rumour that a good man called St Fillan had lived there 1200 years before. There had been bloody times in this area over the millennia including a savage massacre and the local people were very big on fairies, ghoulies, ghosties and the like.

The first rejuvenated Highland games occurred here in 1821 and seemed quite popular. In 1827 or so seeing it as a social event many of the upper echelons of society decided that it probably would be better organized if they controlled it. As a result the gang got together and the following was reported in the Caledonian Mercury in October, 1827. Their annual general meeting held in September of 1827 was wonderful and shows who the significant players were and oddly enough there was not even a corporal or a sergeant amongst them! The lowest form of life was merely a Lieutenant or possibly just a wealthy mister. Readers may be interested in knowing that the same family names will keep recurring through future generations even to today.

“The annual meeting of this Society was held at St. Fillan’s Mount; east end of Loch Earn, on Wednesday the 6th ultimo, under the direction of of Major-General Stewart of Garth, Chieftain, Lord Glenorchy, Moray of Abercairney, and Graham-Stirling of Airth, Vice President. Of all the institutions of similar objects and tendency with the present, which of late years have been established in this country, St. Fillans enjoys the pre-eminence not only from the striking magnificence of the scenery amidst which its meetings are held, but from the assemblage of rank, beauty and fashion who honour its amusement with their presence. On the present occasion, both advantages were enjoyed in their fullest extent. At this season nature is in all her glory; the weather was highly favourable and those who had seen the peculiarly romantic beauties of St Fillan’s, its level plain, wooded knolls, and placid lake, with the Grampians encircling it like sentinels of an enchanted land, may imagine the additional interest which such a scene derives from the assemblage now met from all parts of the kingdom. The various objects of the institution, also, added as much to the moral effect of the meeting, as the variegated hues of the Highland costume did to its picturesque:- these were for the relief of the poor, for the encouragement of the deserving, and to promote the practice of those athletic exercises which create a spirit of laudable emulation among the youth, and fit them for the defence of their country. Among the distinguished company present on this occasion we observed –

The Duchess Dowager of Leeds; the Countess of Wilton; Lord and Lady Gwydr, and Misses Drummond Burrell; Lord Glenorchy Lord John Hat; Lord Kinnaird; Ladies Mary and Matilda Bruce of Elgin; Hon. Mrs Moray Stirling of Ardoch; Hon. Miss Montagu; General Sir David Baird, and Lady Baird, and Miss Preston of Ferntower; Sir Rob. and Lady Dundas; Mr. David Dundas; and the Misses Dundas of Dunito; Sir John Erskine, and Miss Erskine from Torrie; The Hon. John Grey, and Miss Gray from Kinfauns Castle; The Hon. John Hope; Mr. and Mrs Murray, and Miss Moray from Abercairney; Mr. Moray Stirling of Ardoch; Sir John Ogilvie, Bart; Sir James Ramsay of Banff; General and Mrs and Miss Moncrieff; Colonel Elphinstone; Major-General Sir Andrew Barnard; General Graham Stirling, and Miss Graham of Duchray Castle; Mr. and Mrs Murray of Dollerie, and family; Mrs Cheap of Strathtyrum; Mr P. Smythe and Miss Smythe from Methven; Miss Cameron of Lochiel; Miss Douglass Moncrieff; Miss Wederburn of Wedderburn; Mrs Henry Cockburn and Miss Cockburn of Edinburgh; Miss Graham of Inchbrakie; Miss Graham of Fintry; Miss C. Campbell, Monzie; Charles and J. Bruce, Esqrs; J.White Melville, Esq; Capt. Graeme sr of Inchbrakie and Capt. Laurence, and Mrs Graeme; Capt. William Graham of Mosknow; Mr. Graeme of Garvock, and family; Capt. Murray, Gartshore, Ochtertyre; Robert Wigham, Esq advocate, and Mrs Wigham; John Erskine, Esq of Clathick; Capt. William Stewart, Murthly Castle; Mr. Campbell of Glenfalloch; Mr. and Mrs Stewart Hepburn; Mr. Drummond of Strathgeath; Miss Roland; Dr. Stewart of Honskeid; George Wauchope, Esq; Major and Miss Reid, Culdees Castle; Mr. Munro Binning; William McInroy Esq. of Shierglass; Mrs Johnstone of Kincardine, and family; Mr. Oliphant of Gask; Capt. Robertson and Lieutenant Gordon, 92d Highlanders; Robert Fraser of Struie; Mr. Stewart of Stenton; Mr. Beveridge Duncan of Damside, and Mr. Beveridge, Jun; Mr. and Mrs Farr of Hampstead; Mr. and Mrs Bailiff, and Mr. and Mrs Bailey; Mr. Murray, Comrie House, Dr. And Mrs Scott, etc

Many of the company living at a distance, and Mrs Williamson of Balgray having given a public breakfast to a large party of ladies and gentlemen at Lawers House, on their way to St Fillan’s, it was one o’clock before the whole assembled, and the competition and exercises had commenced.

We should pause and take stock at this point and try not to compare the reporting of today with that of yesterday. It would probably make most people sick! Many of the family names in here will reappear as our story unfolds and today some descendents are still around. The vast majority of people living in Highland Strathearn were serfs to these people!

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