This article was supplied by Sue Ventris. Her great grandfather, Andrew Hunter, was evicted from his wife’s cousin Catherine McLeod’s house in Invermoriston in 1886. It seems that he was rather badly behaved, but a colourful character, at least.
Eviction at Invermoriston
On 27th July last proof was led in the Inverness Sheriff Court, before Sheriff Blair, in an action for removing at the instance of Catherine MacLeod, spinster, residing at Invermoriston, with consent and concurrence of Ian Robert James Murray Grant, Esq., of Glenmoriston, and the said Ian Robert James Murray Grant, for himself and for all interest he might have in the premises, against Andrew Hunter, sawmiller or labourer, Invermoriston. The pursuers craved warrant to remove the defender and his family and belongings, from the house at Invermoriston occupied by the pursuer, Catherine MacLeod. After hearing evidence, the Sheriff granted decree of removing as craved. It came out in the evidence that Hunter came to the pursuer, Catherine MacLeod’s place, more than two years ago, and brought his wife and eight children with him. He was out of work at the time, and he came home to his wife’s native place. He settled down in pursuer’s house and began to live there. The action of removal was based upon sanitary grounds, as the house did not contain accommodation for more than two or three people at most. It consisted of one room and a small closet.
In pursuance of this decree, Mr. D. J. Grant, messenger-at-arms, accompanied by two concurrents, left Inverness yesterday morning by steamer for Invermoriston. On arriving there the officers at once proceeded to Hunter’s residence, which they reached shortly before noon. On enquiry, it was found that Hunter himself had gone to Inverness, but his wife was at home, and at once divined the stranger’s errand. Mr. Grant, having read over his warrant, explained to Mrs. Hunter the painful necessity which he was under of removing her from the house. Mrs. Hunter said that it could not be helped, and that, if he would give her half-an-hour, she would take the things out of the house, and remove quietly herself. Mr. Grant told her she might take an hour if she liked, and immediately after, along with his concurrents, left the scene. On returning in the course of an hour, the officers found that the effects had been quietly removed from the house without any trouble whatever, and the only duty remaining for the messenger-at-arms to do was to lock the door of the house, according to the usual practice in such cases. This having been done, the officers left, returning to Inverness by the evening steamer. The whole proceedings were carried out in a quiet and orderly manner, and Mr Grant and his concurrents showed great consideration and tact in dealing with Mrs. Hunter.
INVERNESS SHERIFF COURT
(Before Sheriff Blair)
TUESDAY, 27th July.
INTERESTING REMOVING CASE.—Proof was led in an action for removing at the instance of Catherine Macleod, spinster, residing at Invermoriston, with consent and concurrence of Ian Robert James Murray Grant, Esq. of Glenmoriston, presently residing in Fort-George, and the said of Ian Robert James Murray Grant for himself and for all interest he might have in the premises, against Andrew Hunter, sawmiller or labourer, Invermoriston. The pursuers craved warrant to remove the defender and his family and belongings, from the house at Invermoriston occupied by the pursuer, Catherine Macleod.
Mr. James Anderson, solicitor, appeared for the pursuers. About ten minutes before the case came on, the defender, Hunter, whose agent, Mr. James Clarke, solicitor, Inverness, was in Edinburgh, asked Mr. Kenneth Macdonald to take up the defence. After looking into the case, Mr. Macdonald advised Hunter to accept an offer made by Mr. Grant to provide him with a house, and pay a year’s rent for him, on condition of his leaving. This advice, however, the defender would not take, and Mr. Macdonald then declined to have anything further to do with the case. The defender, on being requested to go into the witness box, said: I prefer, Sheriff, to leave my wife and family in your charge till I get a suitable place to take them to. (Laughter.)
Sheriff Blair—Well, I am afraid I must decline to take charge of them. I have got a wife of my own, you know. (Renewed laughter.)
The Defender then stepped into the witness-box, and, having been sworn, deponed, in answer to Mr. Anderson—My name is Andrew Hunter, and I am forty-one years of age. I am a spooler or bobbin-maker to trade. When I am not working at that, I work at anything at all that will support my wife and family. I have not been working at my trade in Glenmoriston for nineteen years. I have been sawing in Glenmoriston lately. I am in the employment of Donald Macdonald, carpenter, Blairey, there. I have eight of a family, besides my wife and myself. I live at present along with the principal pursuer in this action, Catherine Macleod, who is my wife’s cousin. There are two apartments in the house, a kitchen and a room or closet, and Catherine Macleod lives there herself. I have been asked to leave that house on account of its being overcrowded. There was a sanitary inspector and doctor sent to the house, and they gave good accounts of it. Mr. Burgess, the factor, told me sometime ago that, if I would take another house, Mr. Grant, the proprietor, would pay a year’s rent of it for me, and Mr. Grant himself repeated the offer today. He never offered to assist me to get employment.
Mr. Grant, who was sitting inside the bar—I did, though.
Witness—You did, today. Mr. Burgess told me that Mr. Grant would pay a year’s rent of another house for me, provided I would leave the one I am in within eight days. I refused, because it was impossible for me to do so. I am still on the premises, and I refuse to go out. I pay rent to my landlady, Catherine Macleod.
The Sheriff—What rent have you paid?
Witness—£1 a year. The last time that she came in to Mr. Burgess I paid her £1. That was six months last rent-day.
The Sheriff—Did you pay the money to herself?
Witness—Yes my wife gave her the pound. I did not see my wife pay her, but I have perfect confidence in her.
The Sheriff—Then you don’t know.
Witness—I have not paid anything to Mr. Grant personally, or to his factor.
The Sheriff—When you came to the house, did you make any agreement with Miss Macleod as to paying her rent.
Witness—By no means.
On being asked if he wished to say anything further, Hunter repeated that he left his wife and family in the Sheriff’s charge.
Mr. I. R. J. M. Grant, who was next examined, deponed—I am proprietor of Glenmoriston, and the premises mentioned in the record belong to me. I let them to Catherine Macleod, and she holds them under me from year to year. The house consists of one room and one small closet, suitable for the woman herself, but not for anybody else. I know that the defender came to the place on a visit to Catherine Macleod some two years ago, and brought his wife and a family of eight children along with him.
The Sheriff—Have the family increased in number since they came there?
Defender—They have not increased yet, but they are likely to. (Laughter.)
Mr. Grant—The house does not contain accommodation for more than two or three people at most. I consider it is injurious to the health of the people in the house to be so overcrowded, apart from the annoyance caused to the neighbours. The defender is not there with my consent, and he pays me no rent. I am quite willing, if he removes from the place, to find a house for him, and pay his rent for a year. My only object in getting him out is because there is no accommodation for him. It has nothing to do with his character or anything of that sort. I tried persuasion to induce the defender to leave quietly, and it was only after that that I joined the pursuer, Catherine Macleod, in the present action. He was requested several times to remove before proceedings were taken, and it was only on failure of that that I employed my solicitor to raise the present action.
Mr. Peter Burgess, factor for Glenmoriston, corroborated Mr. Grant’s evidence.
Catherine Macleod, the principal pursuer, deponed that Hunter came to her place some time ago. He just came to see her, and brought his wife and eight children with him. He was out of work at the time, and he came home to his wife’s native place. He settled down in pursuer’s house and began to live there. She did not understand that he was to remain there after he got another place. She had signed a letter before a Justice of the Peace authorising Messrs. Anderson & Shaw to raise this action.
This was all the evidence of any importance.
Sheriff Blair granted decree of removing as craved, and the defender left the Court, declaring again that he left his wife and family in the Sheriff’s charge.
The Scottish Highlander
Thursday, July 29th, 1886.