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Archive for the tag “ferintosh”

Spiritual heritage

The Ferintosh burn was one of our favourite places of play. To stand where Dr Macdonald stood, to speak from his platform – this was something performed with a superstitious fear and awe. How often we heard people speak of what the great Dr Macdonald said and did, but it was not until childhood had passed and a work of grace was performed in our hearts that we came to appreciate spiritually the doctor’s life and work.

It became “the order of the day” for any who visited our old home, beside the Ferintosh Free Church of Scotland, to be taken on a pilgrimage to the Ferintosh burn. Few resisted the urge to test the acoustics when they found themselves at the preachers stance. Perhaps most often quoted on such occasions was “Ye must be born again.” This was much in keeping with the whole drift of Dr Macdonald’s ministry.

John Walter Ross, Lochcarron, Ross-Shire, Scotland. 1978.
From the Foreword to the 1978 edition of The Apostle of the North, the Life and Labours of the Rev John MacDonald, DD, of Ferintosh. By John Kennedy.

My grandmother believed that her grandfather, James Ross, who came out to Australia in 1866, “lived at Ferintosh opposite Dingwall.” I have not been able to verify that he actually lived there, though it is quite possible, since Ferintosh, on the Black Isle just north of Inverness, is a rich agricultural area and there would likely have been plenty of employment opportunities for young men from the Highlands. Our Ross ancestors did not come from Ferintosh but from Gledfield, some 15 miles to the north, where the father of the family was a blacksmith.

Map Ferintosh 1933

Ferintosh on the Black Isle, 1933 map

James Ross was one of his 13 children but chose to be a carpenter rather than a blacksmith like most of his brothers. Around 1850 I believe he left Scotland for England. He married a Welsh girl, Mary Ann Marston, and they settled in Birkenhead near Liverpool, from where they migrated in 1866.

It is difficult to follow James steps between the 1841 census, when he was a 14 year old living in Gledfield, some 15 miles north of Dingwall, and 1855 when his first child was born in Welshpool in Wales. I have previously hypothesised that he worked in an English house in Great Malvern, because a certain James Ross whose date of birth corresponds with our James turns up there in the 1851 census (and he is not to be found at the family home in Gledfield in that census). But the details of the 1851 census are not enough to be absolutely certain that this was the same person.

And what happened between 1841 and 1851? Here is my theory. Because my grandmother left a note to the effect that James (her grandfather) “lived at Ferintosh” and because the name Ferintosh remains in the family, I believe that after he left home in Gledfield, but before he moved to England and Wales, James may have found work in or around Ferintosh on the Black Isle. But why Ferintosh? Was it simply because a job happened to be available there, or were there other forces that attracted him to the area? He can hardly have been there for more than a few years, yet that time appeared to have been so significant to him that it became in the family’s memory James’ Scottish home, rather than Gledfield across the hills to the north.

Ferintosh is a place of great beauty and it is possible that James remembered it for that reason alone. But I believe that there was more than just the memory of its natural beauty that made Ferintosh so meaningful for James. I believe that it was something to do with The Rev John Macdonald of Ferintosh, a man who had turned the Highlands upside down with his preaching during the years he was the minister in Ferintosh. He died in 1849 about the time that James must have lived there. If James on his sixteenth birthday in 1843 had been in the crowd at Kincardine when Macdonald preached, as I have previously suggested, and if his life had been profoundly affected by that encounter, as seems not unlikely, it may well have been that on leaving his birthplace that Ferintosh, the home of the “apostle of the north,” was the place he sought out as he wondered about the direction his life was to take. He had doubtless been to Ferintosh on many occasions to hear MacDonald preach, or to attend the great communion seasons there. Something about the area drew him back. And something about his time there lived forever in his memory, enough for him to say in later years that Ferintosh had been his “home.”

Ferintosh is hardly even marked on modern maps, though it is still there. The Ferintosh Free Church still stands looking out across the Cromarty Firth to Dingwall. And, though there is no signpost, the preaching dell where Dr John MacDonald preached in the first half of the 1800s can still be found at the end of a track which winds through forest and up the slope from the road. It lies in a hollow through which the Ferintosh burn runs, and is surrounded by beautiful fields that slope gently down to the waters of the firth.


Ferintosh Free Church, looking north toward Dingwall, May 2015

Many years after James had left and Macdonald had died, James’ younger brother Alexander, who had become a teacher, became the schoolmaster at Ferintosh school. Alexander was only five when Macdonald preached in Kincardine that cold winter day in 1843, and only 14 when Macdonald died. So it is less likely that Macdonald’s preaching was as deeply etched on Alexander’s memory as it was on James’. But it is likely that Alexander and his wife were also members of the Ferintosh Free Church of Scotland in the thirty or more years that they lived in the area until Alexander’s death in 1902. John Macdonald was the church’s first minister, from the time it was built in 1843, the year of the Disruption, until he died in 1849. Alexander and his wife Jane came there some twenty years later, possibly within a few years of James’ departure for Australia (1866). I can imagine that correspondence passed between James and his younger brother, thus continuing the connection between James and Ferintosh.

What was it about John MacDonald of Ferintosh that influenced and affected James Ross? What was the spiritual heritage that he took with him, first to England and later to Australia? The first half of the nineteenth century in Scotland was notorious for the Highland Clearances which emptied the glens of much of their populace, scattering them far and wide in Britain and around the globe. But it was also a time of profound spiritual awakening in many places in the north. The Rev Macdonald was one of many catalysts in this awakening.

James Ross, indeed the whole of the Ross family, lived through this period of spiritual revival and change. In 1843 a large group (450 evangelical ministers) broke away from the Established Church in what became known as The Disruption. This resulted in the formation of the Free Church of Scotland. John Macdonald was a leading light in this development, becoming the first minister of the Ferintosh Free Church. In Gledfield, where the Ross family lived, a Free Church was constructed in 1849, and in the 1881 census the family’s address is listed, somewhat mysteriously, as Gledfield Free Church.

Tom Lennie’s recent book, Land of Many Revivals, gives some insight into those years. I have also managed to acquire copies of two books by a contemporary of Macdonald’s, John Kennedy, who was for many years the minister at Dingwall. These books too give a fascinating insight into those times of spiritual as well as social upheaval in the Highlands.


Days of revival in Scotland, documented in many books


Communion season in nineteenth century Ross-Shire

It seems likely that James Ross carried the name Ferintosh to Australia with him because of a profound spiritual experience that he had at Ferintosh Burn in the 1840s when the Reverend Dr John McDonald was the minister at Urquhart, the parish which contained the area known as Ferintosh. Actually, Dr McDonald had ceased being the minister at Urquhart in 1843 when the Free Church of Scotland broke away from the Church of Scotland; he became one of the first Moderators of the Free Church in 1844. He had to move out of the manse at Urquhart and became the minister of the newly built Free Church of Ferintosh. According to Kennedy in his book, The Apostle of the North,

He flitted again to a larger but not more comfortable house, and a third time time to the Free Church manse, where he spent the home share of the last three year years of his life. During the erection of new church, he preached in “the burn,” long celebrated as the place of the great communion gatherings. it was there he preached on the first Sabbath after his return from the Disruption Assembly. His Gaelic text on that day was Gal v.1, from which he preached a most stimulating and cheering sermon. (Kennedy J, The Apostle of the North, p310)

Galatians 5:1 says the following:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

The Free Church of Ferintosh still stands, with a spectacular view out over the Cromarty Firth to Dingwall. Hamish and I wandered around the churchyard but the doors were locked so we couldn’t look inside.

Hamish outside Ferintosh Free Church. Beyond lies Cromarty Firth and Dingwall.

Hamish outside Ferintosh Free Church. Beyond lies Cromarty Firth and Dingwall.

But it is the Ferintosh Burn that fascinates me, because I suspect that it was there that James Ross’s spirit was brought to life when he was a young man. The communion seasons that are spoken of so often in the literature of the time and which are still a feature of the Free Church of Scotland even today, were the Christian mega-gatherings of the day, like the Billy Graham crusades of the 1950s and 60s and the Christian conferences and conventions of today. Such gathering had many critics in those days but there was much to be said in their defence, as Kennedy observes in his writings:

Great crowds were accustomed to assemble on such occasions. As many as 10,000 people have met on a communion Sabbath, and nearly 2000 communicants have sat at the table of the Lord…

There were two great advantages attending these “public communions,” as they were called. An opportunity of fellowship was given by them to Christians from all parts of the country, who would not else have met or known each other on the earth; and the gospel was preached to a great multitude of sinners, by a variety of ministers, amidst the prayers of a great many of God’s people…

But the opportunity which was afforded, on a communion occasion, of hearing all the good ministers of the district, the proofs given of the Lord’s presence with each of them, the effect of a community of profit and enjoyment under their preaching, and the loving fellowship of such seasons, tended in a great degree to bring all these sections more closely together, and to expand their sympathies and hopes.
(Kennedy J,The Days of the Fathers in Ross Shire)

But what happened at the communion season? Here is Kennedy’s description:

A communion season is approaching. It has been timeously announced, that it may be known “far and wide,” and that the praying people may be bearing it on their spirits before the throne of grace. The minister preaches a suitable course of sermons on several preceding Sabbaths. The Lord’s people are stirred up to seek a special manifestation of His power and glory. A few, who propose to seek admission to the Lord’s table, are deeply exercised about the solemn step they contemplate, and faithfully and tenderly are they dealt with by both minister and elders. As the appointed time draws nigh, special meetings for prayer are held, and, with holy solicitude, all the preparatory arrangements are made.

The Fast-day is come. Eminent ministers have arrived to take part in the solemn services. Many of the Lord’s people are gathering. From as many as forty parishes they come; but lodgings they will easily procure, as the parish people are striving for the pleasure of entertaining them. Suitable discourses are preached in Gaelic, on the open field, and to a small English congregation, in the church, and in the evening, prayer meetings are held in the various districts of the parish.

On Friday, the day of self-examination, the only public service is in the open air. A large crowd is gathered. “In the tent” there are several godly ministers. The service is that of a fellowship meeting, such as has already been described, but now with special reference to the solemn duties of a communion Sabbath. There are two questions proposed successively to secure variety. Strangers only are called to speak, and even of these only “the flower,” for there are so many. Not fewer than thirty will have spoken before the service is over. Blessed indeed to many souls have these “Friday meetings” been.

The services on Saturday, the day of preparation, are conducted as on Thursday, but, owing to the gathering influx of strangers, the congregation outside is greatly larger than on the Fast-day. At the close of the service, tokens are distributed. Prayer meetings are held throughout the parish in the evening; and while the ministers are preparing for the solemn work of the Sabbath, many are the petitions that ascend in their behalf, to Him who hath “the treasure” to dispense, and of whom is “the excellency of the power.” In many instances, these prayer meetings have been protracted all night. So sensible were the people of the presence of the Lord, that they could not forsake the place where they enjoyed it; and they found “the joy of the Lord” a sweet substitute for sleep.

On Sabbath, the day of Communion, an immense crowd is gathered before the tent. As many as eight thousand are there. The “Beauty of the Lord,” is on the assembly of His people; and before the service is over, many a soul has had reason to say, “it is good to be here.”

On Monday, the day of thanks-giving, a crowd almost as large as that on Sabbath is assembled and often has “the last” been found to be the “great day of the feast.” The closing service of the communion season is now over, and then comes the solemn parting! How affecting do the Lord’s servants and people feel the scene before them to be, as that multitude disperses, never to meet all together again, till the vast congregation of “the last day” has assembled! What touching farewells are now exchanged between the Christians who enjoyed with each other, and together with the Lord, such sweet communion since they met a few days before! There are few tearless eyes, but the weeping is expressive of gratitude as surely as of sorrow. Such was a communion season in the good days of the Fathers in Ross-shire.

Such communion seasons were probably held at Ferintosh only once a year, probably in the summer – July or August. James Ross was 16 in the year that the Free Church was formed. The five years that followed probably laid the spiritual foundation for his life. I believe he left Scotland in 1848 or 1849. He would live in England, Wales and finally Australia. But he would take the name of Ferintosh and the memory of those days with him wherever he went. How it showed itself in the rest of his life is hard to know. I have no descriptions (nor photos) of James Ross. My grandmother, Winifred Ross was born in 1901, 9 years after James died in 1892. She knew of him only what her father told her. I don’t remember her ever speaking of him.

I tried to imagine James and his family among the immense crowds gathering at the Ferintosh Burn when I was wandering those pleasant fields with Hamish a few weeks back. It is quiet and peaceful there now. But how would it have been with thousands of others there? What effect would the preaching of the great “fathers” have had on me, I wonder?

The fields around Ferintosh Burn, where crowds of up to ten thousand gathered for the Communion season.

The fields around Ferintosh Burn, where crowds of up to ten thousand gathered for the Communion season.

The “Preaching Dell” at Ferintosh

A note from my grandmother, attached to a photo of William Ross

A note from my grandmother, attached to a photo of William Ross

The note above, written by my grandmother, Winifred Ross (1901-1999), is attached to a photo of her father, William Ross (1861-1939). I have come to realise that it is not entirely accurate. For one thing I am fairly certain that William was only five when his family migrated to Australia (1866). But for another, I am fairly certain that William’s father, James Ross (1827-1892), never lived in Ferintosh. As far as I have been able to ascertain from other records “grandfather Ross” was born and bred in the village of Gledfield in the valley of the Carron River, the Strathcarron, as it is is known. When he left home, probably toward the end of the 1840s around the age of 20 or 21, I believe he moved south to England. So why would Gran say that he “he lived at Ferintosh… opposite Dingwall”?

Gledfield is not marked on the following map from 1831, but it is very close to Kincardine which can easily be seen near the head of the Dornoch Firth. Ferintosh is not marked either, but it is next to Urquhart, which is clearly seen on the southern bank of the Cromarty Firth, close to Dingwall. Between the two firths is a hilly peninsula of Ross-Shire reaching out into the North Sea. Last week my friend Hamish and I spent some days in the Highlands and we drove from Ferintosh via Dingwall and Alness over the hills to Kincardine and Gledfield. By car it takes a bit over half an hour, but in the mid 1800s there were no cars, only the well off had horses, and the common people walked, so the 20 miles across the hills would have been a good day’s journey. The Highland Railway that links Inverness with Aberdeen and which runs through Dingwall and to the north did not reach Bonar Bridge (near Gledfield) till 1864 and was therefore not available to shorten the journey during James’ early life.

Ross Shire 1831

Ross Shire 1831

So where does Ferintosh fit into James Ross’s experience? Did he in fact move to Ferintosh before he left for England, and if so, why? He became a joiner journeyman – a carpenter tradesman. Did he move to Ferintosh to learn that trade? Did he have family in the area who were able to give him opportunities that were not available back home in Gledfield? All his brothers appeared to have become blacksmiths, like their father. Did James leave home to pursue a different trade with a relative who was a carpenter? A guidebook to Scotland that I came across indicates that the main significance of Ferintosh in history was in the production of whisky, though there is no distillery there now. Could James have had something to do with the whisky business? It seems far fetched, though nothing is impossible.

Or did Ferintosh have some other significance for James, enough for its name to have come down to his granddaughter, Winifred, who didn’t even mention Gledfield or the Strathcarron when she referred to her grandfather’s origins? Interestingly, while the name Gledfield has disappeared from the family heritage, the Ferintosh name lives on in the family memory, as I discovered from Peter Robinson, whose father Don Robinson is my father’s cousin, and who is therefore related to James Ross in the same way as I am, a great great grandson. Peter’s home in Sydney is named Ferintosh, and that name has apparently been passed down through the generations since James arrived in Australia in the 1860s. I asked Peter if he could throw any light on the question of James Ross’s connection with Ferintosh. Here is his email reply to my question:

It’s just speculation, but given the traumatic collapse of life up the Strathcarron after the clearance and the possible economic effect on Gledfield it may be that James moved to Ferintosh on the Black Isle opposite Dingwall as a place of spiritual significance/re-orientation/comfort. It is associated with a long tradition of interdenominational communal days of worship alongside the Ferintosh Burn, and at least two leading divines are mentioned in association with Ferintosh in what I have read recently. Our Rosses appear to have been Free Presbyterians. Of course, if the house at Enfield in Sydney was called Ferintosh then it is true that our great-great-grandfather “lived at Ferintosh”!

This sparked my interest and gave me something to work with. He mentioned the Highland Clearances, of which I had heard but knew nothing about really. He also referred to a spiritual significance of the Ferintosh Burn, and I was keen to find out more about this too. Who were these “two leading divines” and what kind of influence did they have on the surrounding community? I thought it would be a good thing to travel to Ferintosh and see what turned up, and that opportunity came up last week when I was travelling around the Highlands with Hamish. It has taken me a little further on my journey of discovery though there are questions that remain.

Driving north from Inverness, Hamish and I pulled into a roadside tourist information centre and procured a free map of the Black Isle (see the map here. The “Preaching Dell” is located at B4). I located Ferintosh and, examining the small country lanes in the area, found a spot marked “Preaching Dell.” This must be the place, I thought, that Peter had referred to in his email – “communal worship alongside the Ferintosh Burn.” We headed toward Ferintosh, which I found to be not so much a village as an area on the lush green slopes that form the southern side of the Cromarty Firth. It is, as Gran had written, “opposite Dingwall,” the town clearly visible on the other side of the inlet. It is, as Peter had written, on the Black Isle, which is not an island in the normal sense of the word but a promontory between the Moray Firth and the Cromarty Firth north of Inverness.

Dingwall, over the Cromarty Firth, from Ferintosh. Beyond the mountains lies the Strathcarron

Dingwall, over the Cromarty Firth, from Ferintosh. Beyond the mountains lies the Strathcarron

We parked beside an old cemetery, and wandered along the road between beautiful fields of long green grass and flowering yellow rapeseed, but could not see any signs to a Preaching Dell, nor to the Ferintosh Burn. We passed a sign to Ferintosh and to the Free Church and directed our steps that way, until we met a local man who was out walking his dogs. We enquired about the Preaching Dell. He knew something of the area and showed us an unmarked path leading up into some woods on the slope above the road. We walked under the leafy canopy for a short distance and came into a hollow between the banks of a little stream – a stream which mysteriously disappeared underground at the higher side of the hollow to emerge about 50 metres or so further down the hill. This, we realised, was the Ferintosh Burn, and the hollow was the so called “preaching dell.” Our guide said that old records suggested that at times up to ten thousand had gathered here, but he could not see how so many could fit into such a small area. An exaggeration, he assumed: five hundred perhaps, but ten thousand? But clearly something of profound spiritual significance had happened here sometime in the past. But what had happened and when? And could this possibly be the event that gave Ferintosh such significance in James Ross’s memory that he gave his home in Australia that name when he settled there twenty years later?

There is a small windowless building in the dell, a cross on the outside wall marking it as a prayer house. The door was unlocked and I stepped into a dark empty interior, with nothing more than a wooden lectern and sundry other items lying around on the floor. I stepped out again into the sunshine and gazed across the dell of green lush grass covered with bluebells. I tried to imagine a crowded revival meeting and a lone preacher booming out to the assembled throng. It seemed far removed from the quietness of the day, broken only by the singing of the birds. When did James Ross come here, I wondered, and what did he hear?

The Preaching Dell at Ferintosh Burn

The Preaching Dell at Ferintosh Burn

Since then I have tried to assemble an historical timeline the years from 1841 to 1851 – the only time that James Ross could have been in Ferintosh. He had been born in 1827, and grew up in a family of 10 children in Gledfield. In the 1841 census he was 14 and living with his family in Gledfield. By 1851 he was 24 and living in Great Malvern, in England (see my previous blog). Sometime between 1841 and 1851 he left Scotland for the South, as many people were doing in those years. Precisely what prompted that departure I don’t know, but they were eventful years in the Strathcarron, and James was witness to many of those events. In 1843 the so called Disruption took place when the Free Church of Scotland was formed. This was a major event for church going people in Scotland and I have reason to believe that the Rosses were such a family. In 1845 amost 100 people of Glencalvie in the upper Strathcarron were evicted from their homes for no reason more than that they were in the way, as were many others in the Highlands during those years, but the Glencalvie clearance became national news when it was reported by a sympathetic reporter in The Times of London. In 1846 a potato blight hit Scotland, causing many more to drift away from the Highlands in a bid for survival. In 1847 Queen Victoria purchased Balmoral in the mountains south of Inverness and Scotland began to become popular as a tourist destination, despite the problems and suffering of the local people. In that year James Ross turned 20. By the time he was 24 he was working as a servant in a large house in the west of England.

But what of Ferintosh, and the Ferintosh Burn? Where does it fit into the history of the time? Our acquaintance on the road had said that old records indicated that some 10,000 people had once gathered at the burn, but what old records was he speaking of? Somewhere I had heard of a minister called the Reverend Dr McDonald – John McDonald of Ferintosh so I determined to try to track him down. We were staying with some delightful friends of Hamish in Inverness, a retired minister of the Church of Scotland, and the walls of his living room and study was lined with books. I asked him if he knew of Ferintosh and the happenings in Ross Shire in the first half of the nineteenth century and after a few minutes he had extracted a number of history books from the shelves. Some I had seen but one caught my eye, an old book with the title, The Days of the Fathers in Ross-Shire, by John Kennedy. Later that night I skim read this fascinating book, which deals with the religious awakening that took place in the Highlands at that time, a subject not addressed in much detail in the majority of history books about Scotland. I searched for references to Dr McDonald, and found him mentioned only in passing, because John Kennedy had written another book about him. Dr McDonald was emerging as an interesting figure: he was known variously as the “wild man of Ferintosh” and “the apostle of the North.” He lived from 1779 to 1849 and became the minister at Urquhart, just down the road from the Ferintosh Burn, in 1813. He was a part of the great defection from the Church of Scotland in 1843 – The Disruption – when the Free Church of Scotland was established. Here is John Kennedy’s brief description of him in his book The Days of the Fathers:

The last of the great Ross-Shire fathers who passed into his rest was, in some respects, the first. The extent of his labours, and his great popularity and success, won for him the name of “the apostle of the north.” … His was mainly the work of an evangelist; and his great physical energy, his masculine intellect, his retentive memory, his bouyancy of spirits, his pleasant manner, the fervour of his love, and the character of his Christian experience, marked him out as an instrument of the Lord’s own fashioning for the work in which he was engaged. (Kennedy J, The Days of the Fathers in Ross-Shire, 2nd ed, 1895, p.77)

In the days that followed I searched in vain for a copy of Kennedy’s other book, The Apostle of the North, in local bookstores in Dingwall and various other towns we visited. In the end I located a copy online on Google Books and there I found several references to the Ferintosh Burn. It began in 1816 a short time after his arrival at Urquhart, during his first “communion season at Urquhart” and many had gathered for that purpose. Unexpectedly his wife had died the week before the communion, but he pressed on despite his grief and officiated at the communion just the same. Here is the description by Kennedy in his book:

On that occasion an immense crowd assembled. As many as ten thousand were in “the burn” on Sabbath. “I will betrothe thee unto me forever” was his text. From the very commencement of the service there was an unusual stillness in the congregation, and all seemed under the spell of an unwonted solemnity. They knew the preacher’s affliction, and they could not even look on him unmoved. His sorrow touched their hearts, and his self denial, courage and devotedness to the service of the gospel, appealed powerfully to their conscience. He was marvellously helped by the Lord in his work. His soul was lifted as on eagle’s wings above the sorrow which before depressed him. The widower was lost in the spouse; the earthly was forgotten in the spiritual relation; and unthinking of his own distress he gave himself up to the praise of Christ. The power of the Lord was singularly working in the burn that day. Few eyes were tearless in that vast assembly; and when in the evening he appealed to the unconverted, commending to them the love of Jesus, urging on their acceptance his offer of marriage, and warning them of the danger of refusing his advances, the hearts of may sinners were pierced. The excitement at last was very great, the groans and outcries of the stricken ones sometimes drowning the voice of the preacher. During the closing service on Monday the same scene was repeated. The awakening, then begun, continued for some time. (Kennedy J, The Apostle of the North, 1867, pp79-80)

I too can not help doubting the figure of 10,000, especially when I remember the huge Billy Graham evangelistic crusades in Sydney during my youth. The Ferintosh Burn area could not contain 10,000 people. Perhaps 1000, but even that would be crowded in the little hollow that Hamish and I came upon. Whatever the real number, it seems that this event marked the start of Dr McDonald’s extraordinary ministry in the Highlands of Scotland, but by the time James Ross came to Ferintosh some thirty years had passed since this first communion. John McDonald died in 1849 at the age of 70 and was preaching until the last week of his life. He was not the only great evangelist in the Highlands at that time. Kennedy in his book details the lives and ministry of a good many others. But it was John McDonald who ministered in Urquhart and therefore around the Ferintosh Burn in the 1840s when James Ross was a young man. My theory now is that James probably came to Ferintosh for the communion season, perhaps once, perhaps several times. He heard Dr McDonald speak and like so many others he was moved to the point that his life was changed. Whether it was a conversion experience or some kind of “second baptism in the Holy Spirit” is impossible to say now with no documentary records surviving. He may not have “lived at Ferintosh” as Gran suggested, but it would seem he found a life there which he had not previously experienced and which he would walk in all his days.

As he travelled the world in search of a better life for himself and his family he never forgot those times of communion with God and his fellow Highlanders at the Ferintosh Burn, and when he eventually settled in Australia he named his home for that place, as a reminder of the wellspring of life for him, not Ferintosh itself of course, but the God he had encountered there who had changed his life and who had journeyed thenceforth with him.


See also this article on Wikipedia:,_Black_Isle

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