QueenVictoria's Visit To Crieff in 1842



My last two Blogs have looked at the 1745 Jacobite Rising with a particular relevance to Crieff and Strathearn. The aftermath saw a vicious retribution against the Gàidhealtachd- the Gaelic speaking areas of Scotland and those lands on the periphery. Apart from the mass killing of prisoners – many of the Jacobite persuasion were transported to the “colonies “and their homes were burned to the ground. Contrary  to what  has  been  written about Strathearn and  the general attitude  towards the
“ rebels “ by , in most  cases, Presbyterian clerics , it is  clear that there  was  considerable support in this area  for the Rising . The list of Jacobite prisoners has been published and part was included in my previous Blog . Crieff and Strathearn worthies like the local doctor and the post  master were some of the  ones  who took up arms as well as a host of weavers , farmers and farm workers . Most of the local lairds  were Jacobite  sympathisers  and as a consequence their  lands were forfeited by the Hanoverian Government . The Act of Proscription passed in 1746 included a new section, which became known as the Dress Act, banned the wearing of "the Highland Dress", use of bagpipes and Highland  music and song. Provision was also included to protect those involved in putting down the rebellion from lawsuits. Measures to prevent children from being "educated in disaffected or rebellious principles" included a requirement for school prayers for the King and Royal family.
The most severe penalties, was a minimum six months incarceration and transportation to a penal colony for a second offense which made these the most severe portions of this Act. The Act of Proscription was followed by the Heritable Jurisdictions (Scotland) Act 1746 which removed the feudal authority the Clan Chieftains had enjoyed. Scottish heritable sheriffdoms reverted to the Crown, and other heritable jurisdictions, including regalities, came under the power of the courts. They were finally repealed  in 1782.
The Commissioners of the Forfeited Estates took over the Drummond Estates and we still have evidence of this in Crieff  when the Old Feus  was renamed Commissioner Street (as it is to this day) . Despite the severity of the Act of Parliament , the benefits   to Crieff in the longer  term were appreciable . Grants were  made  to weavers to enable them to purchase a “ feu “ – a plot of  ground in perpetuity  with enough ground  to build a house with a  weaving/spinning shed , an area to grow tatties ( potatoes ) and keep a pig ! Wood’s map of  Crieff  drawn in 1822 shows  clearly  the various  plots that were granted  together with the names of the current proprietors . These areas  include Burrell Street , King Street and Commissioner Street . The map  can  be  viewed  on the  internet on the National Library of Scotland site :  http://maps.nls.uk/view/74400016 . It can be simply enlarged to view  all in  close detail.
It should be pointed  out en passant that the repeal of the Acts was  greatly attributable  to that  much maligned political rogue Viscount Melville  whose distinctive obelisk looms  down on the  village of Comrie !
The  following  little narrative describes the young Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on their  visit to Strathearn in 1842  less than 100 years after the ’45 Jacobite Uprising . It is  clear than  they were  extremely popular  and there  was  no apparent animosity  to their visit . We know  from earlier  studies and coverage in my last Blog  that Victoria had  no sympathy for  her great grand uncle William , Duke of  Cumberland better known as “ Butcher “ Cumberland . Her predecessor on the throne  was her Uncle , William lV  who with her grand father, George lll had  erected equestrian  statues in memory of the infamous Duke in  Windsor  Great Park and in London . On Victoria’s instructions  these  were removed  leaving only the bases with the inscriptions  duly obliterated .The  author Lytton Stratchey in his book” Queen Victoria “ wrote thus :

Upon the interior decorations Albert and Victoria lavished all their care. The wall and the floors were of pitch-pine, and covered with specially manufactured tartans. The Balmoral tartan, in red and grey, designed by the Prince, and the Victoria tartan*, with a white stripe, designed by the Queen, were to be seen in every room: there were tartan curtains, and tartan chair-covers, and even tartan linoleums. Occasionally the Royal Stuart tartan appeared, for Her Majesty always maintained that she was an ardent Jacobite.”

Why  Victoria  was so pro Stewart  we shall never know . She  was  attracted  greatly to all things Scottish and prior  to buying Balmoral Estate nearly  bought an estate in St Fillans !

                                      The Queens Visit
(as published originally in Crieff in the Victorian Era by " Dixon " in 1897 )

Queen Victoria along with Prince Albert visited Crieff on the 10th September 1842, and one can imagine what excitement the arrival of the Royal pair causes among all classes in the district. When the sun rises the people are doing their utmost to decorate their houses. Some work out all manner of designs on the front walls   of their premises, place a wreath of evergreens here, and a festoon of heather and roses there, and fasten a Union Jack at the chimney- top. The town, for once in its life is in a hurry: and in their anxiety to surpass one another in their efforts at adornment, the people run in each other’s way and create a most unnecessary stir. All over the town decorations are general- flags of every nation, shape and colour are to be seen – but it is along the route of the procession that the most extensive decorations are to be found. At the entrance to Burrell Street a splendid arch is placed, and right down to the Bridgend, the houses look quite gaudy with their floral embellishments. As far as the weather prospects, they are not particularly bright, but the people hope for the best.

In the morning thousands of country people file into the town from all quarters – some have been on the walk most of the night- and before mid-day the place is thronged with an anxious and excited crowd. Travelling minstrels reap a good harvest, and the pubs do a roaring trade. To permit of the Queen and her Consort proceeding in comfort, all thee entrances to Burrell Street and the Bridgend are barricaded, and special guards regulate the traffic. At different points on the route platforms are raised, and when the Sovereign Queen is expected they are packed with loyal lieges. Up and down the street, guards, in their gay uniforms, pace about, fully conscious of their importance, and keep order among then crowd, who as time wears on , get impatient by the non- arrival of the procession. The people have a long wait. Three, four,   five o’clock in the afternoon , and still no Queen in sight .

Meantime, a nipping breeze rises to cool the ardour of the multitude and the sky becomes over cast. It is nigh six o’clock before the people become acquainted with the fact that the Royal party are at hand. As the cannon ay Ochtertyre volley forth allegiance to the Queen and country, the vast crowds who assemble along the route  raise a loud  and prolonged cheer, and patiently await events .Lord Willoughby de Eresby , mounted  on a beautiful white  charger remains  at the entrance  to Drummond Estate  till the Royal equipage  and mounted guards  cross the bridge of turret : and , after paying the respects  due by his rank , he wheels  round and leads the procession.

Right along the top of Burrell Street both sides  of the road are lined  with an anxious  crowd of spectators, and as the royal visitors pass along , they are loudly cheered .Her Majesty smiles  and looks pleasant , and sweetly  bows hr acknowledgements on all sides . Prince Albert makes an effort to  appear happy , and raises his hat to all and sundry .  When they reach the floral arch at the West Church the cheers of the people  echo and re – echo far and wide : and rain, which now begins to fall , keeps the sound  from going any further . With the wind  and rain it is feared  Her Majesty My catch cold and orders  are here  given for the horses  to be driven at  the trot.

So away the Royal equipage  swings down Burrell Street . The people cheer till they are hoarse, and before the Gallowhill is reached – where the Laird of Broich puts in his appearance – there is roaring, shouting and cheering enough to deafen all the crowned heads of Europe. But the gracious and  beloved Queen appreciates the reception , and so does Prince Albert, and they bow right and left in all directions  whence cometh the noise . The Broich leads the way to the Earn Bridge, but after that Lord Willoughby again heads the procession, and when they pass on o South Bridgend, Lady Baird and her tenants, salute the Royal pair.

By this time the rain is falling heavily, and the carriage is closed .What a disappointment this is to thousands of people who are waiting on the Muthill road. The Queen, however, like   every other body, knows what a cold is , and she suits her convenience , as everybody should on holiday. The horses charge through another floral arch, along the Muthill road, and up the long avenue, and, after some ceremony of more or less importance, the Queen and the Prince consort are conducted through the castle gates into their apartments.

When darkness creeps in, bonfires blaze from every hill- top, and the sky from end to end is brightly illuminated. In Crieff every window is lighted up and gaudy lamps swing at every door. Till midnight, the people wander about the streets admiring the brilliant spectacle, and sorry they are the night   so quickly passes.

The Royal couple remain at Drummond Castle till the following Tuesday. For the time being, everything at the castle is conducted on a scale of the greatest magnificence. A military band plays at intervals; the skirl of the bagpipes is heard at every corner, and Gaelic speaking kilted retainers guard the castle gates. The Royalties dine in a large marquee, filled with the silver plate of generations. In the afternoon the Queen walks in the garden and Prince Albert goes deer stalking. In the evening Her Majesty dances with Lord Willoughby, to the merry strains of “ Meg Merrilees “, and at night  she sleeps on a bed  made from the  throne of her great – great- grandfather .


As may be expected on such an occasion, there is always something goes wrong .In the morning, the marquee poles refuse to fit, and to ll appearance the erection of the tent the night before is hopeless. And it is here the Royal pair are to dine. Lord Willoughby, who personally superintends the arrangements, watches the men as they endeavour to get the marquee into position, and beholds, with annoyance the fruitless efforts in that direction. Turning to the factor he declares – “The Queen will dine in heaven before she will dine here tonight “. The factor calmly replies – “Her Majesty will dine here tonight, my Lord, whether she dines in heaven or not”, and he keeps his word.

While the procession is proceeding down Burrell Street, the loyal weavers sit in all conspicuous places to view the Royalties as they pass. Some sit on the riggings of houses, some on the heads of chimneys, and a few take up sites on the Well in Burrell Square. What they expect to see cannot be definitely described, but it may be said, that hopes of crowns and sceptres are not beyond the reach of their imagination. When the Queen reaches the centre of Burrell Square, a worthy weaver turns from the crowd in utter disgust, and sarcastically remarks to his friends –“Hum, she’s only a woman “.


  1. Hum, she's only a woman....maybe......but at the time every bit as important as Kim Kardashian.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Glen Artney and Auchnashelloch : A Royal Forest and Comrie’s Highland Heritage .

The Story of Ferntower House

The March from Callum’s Hill in Crieff to Tibbermore