Dr Jim MacKay's talk to the Cromarty History Society, exploring the world of Hugh Rose Ross of Cromarty, journeys from Easter Ross to London and on to the West Indies and South America, before returning to Easter Ross and Cromarty. En route, the origins of the villages of Arabella and Barbaraville are revealed. Hugh's role in the scandalous profiteering in the armed services in the West Indies, his propensity for challenging friends and foes alike to duels (his duel with Duncan Davidson of Tulloch in 1841 was the last in Ross-shire) and his addiction to litigation are contrasted with his role as social benefactor (as in the establishment of Tain Academy) and agricultural improver (as in the creation of the tile- and brick-works at Phippsfield and modernisation of his estates in Easter Ross and the Black Isle).
Dr Jim Mackay is Chair of the Kirkmichael Trust, seeking to repair, conserve and display the Kirkmichael site in the Black Isle. Author of works on the writer Jane Duncan and Jemimaville, the parish of Resolis, and of countless genealogical articles, Jim is currently completing his biography of the family of Macleay from New Tarbat, whose members include owners of the estates of Bilbster, Keiss and Newmore, Australia's first Speaker in the Legislative Council and Kenneth Macleay R.S.A., Queen Victoria's choice to paint her "Highlanders of Scotland".