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Bridge Street, Inverness (Credit: Visit Inverness Loch Ness)
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A Yarn About The Gellions


My Great-Great-Grandfather was called John McPherson. He was born on the 4th January 1838 in Inverness (Scottish Gaelic: Inbhir Nis) to Angus and Catherine McPherson. Angus was a carpenter who had a workshop on Rose Street.

John was an entrepreneur. He spent 14 years of his life in India, where he carried on an extensive business as a manufacturer of ice, but he soon returned to the Highlands to settle down with his English wife Emma Miles. We think he was Proprietor of The Gellions Bar on Bridge Street from around 1885 until he died of a stroke on 21 April 1900. He even named a daughter after the pub - Helen Gellion MacPherson.

John was mentioned in one of McGonagall's poems called The Heatherblend Club Banquet, which was held at the hotel in 1894:

The banquet was held in the Gellion Hotel,
And the landlord, Mr MacPherson, treated me right well;
Also the servant maids were very kind to me,
Especially the girl that polished my boots, most beautiful to see.

- William Topaz McGonagall, The Heatherblend Club Banquet, 1894

I also found this newspaper cutting about John which gives an insight into the life of a hotel proprietor!

Aberdeen Weekly Journal, Tuesday, December 21, 1880

Yesterday John MacPherson, innkeeper, Gellion's Hotel, Inverness, was charged with a breach of his license certificate before Baillie M'Lennan by selling rum and whisky to a mason and crofter, resident in the neighbourhood, on Sunday, 21st November. The evidence was to the effect that the parties represented to Mrs MacPherson that they intended to go by an afternoon train to Fort-George, and as such were bona fide travellers. They got dinner, a half-gill of rum each to wash it down, and two bottles containing each half-a-mutchkin of whisky away with them. The men were subsequently found in an advanced stage of inebriation on the streets. In respect that the hotel-keeper did not use sufficient diligence to ascertain if his customers were bona fide travellers, the Baillie found the charge proven and fined accused 25s, with £2 4s 6d expenses, or ten days’ imprisonment in default of payment within fourteen days. Defender's agent intimated an appeal to the High Court of Justiciary.

To view this article and search other articles in the Aberdeen Weekly Journal collection on the British Newspaper Archive please click here.