Gellions Hotel Bridge St Inverness

The History and Geography of Auld Scotia

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Gellions Hotel Bridge St Inverness

Post by trish1 » Sun Feb 07, 2010 1:33 pm

Not sure where to put this query, but I am looking for a history of the above hotel. I have found that it is said to be the oldest pub in Inverness - 1841 - and that it was previously a prison - and lots of current information about the Gellions bar & that part of Bridge Street - but it seems one of my families were running this pub for at least 20 years 1881 - 1901 - possibly before/after those dates & I am wondering what it would have been like at the end of the 19th century. The husband died intestate in 1900 and from the inventory of his estate - there was very little profit in the pub, yet in 1881 and 1891 it was operating with 4-5 live in staff.

Any suggestions for where to look for information much appreciated


Liz Turner
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Re: Gellions Hotel Bridge St Inverness

Post by Liz Turner » Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:43 pm


If you've already got information from the Census and are looking for some background, I wonder if it might be worth checking out the HIghland Family History Society at:-

You may find information there, perhaps some links from:- ... lyhistory/

Old archives of local newspapers might also be worth a look:- or

There are also lots of online sites which offer photos of Inverness, so try browsing them in Google to see what turns up. I found some photos of the current Bridge Street but it might be possible for you to track down older ones.

Fife: Nicolson, Cornfoot, Walker, Gibson, Balsillie, Galt, Elder
NE Scot: Nicolson, Lindsay, Haliburton, Ross
Edin & Central: Nicolson, Blaikie, Stevenson, Ross, Hotchkiss, Suttie, Christie, Clelland, Gray, Purvis, Lang, Dickson
Ross & Cromarty: Ross

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Re: Gellions Hotel Bridge St Inverness

Post by trish1 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 4:33 am

Hi liz

I've googled every which way what way - have lots of pictures and info on the current hotel & Inverness. I am looking for past times information.

Thank you for the other links, I will check to see if they help.


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Re: Gellions Hotel Bridge St Inverness

Post by Currie » Mon Feb 08, 2010 4:37 am

McGonagall’s trip to Inverness.

'Twas on the 16th of October, in the year 1894,
I was invited to Inverness, not far from the sea shore,
To partake of a banquet prepared by the Heather Blend Club,
Gentlemen who honoured me without any hubbub.

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.

The banquet consisted of roast beef, potatoes, and red wine;
Also hare soup and sherry and grapes most fine,
And baked pudding and apples lovely to be seen;
Also rich sweet milk and delicious cream.

Mr Gossip, a noble Highlander, acted as chairman,
And when the banquet was finished the fun began;
And I was requested to give a poetic entertainment,
Which I gave, and which pleased them to their hearts' content.

And for my entertainment they did me well reward
By titling me there the Heather Blend Club bard;
Likewise I received an illuminated address,
Also a purse of silver, I honestly confess.

Oh, magnificent city of Inverness,
And your beautiful river, I must confess,
With its lovely scenery on each side,
Would be good for one's health there to reside.

There the blackbird and mavis together doth sing,
Making the woodlands with their echoes to ring
During the months of July, May, and June,
When the trees and the shrubberies are in full bloom.

And to see the River Ness rolling smoothly along,
Together with the blackbird's musical song,
While the sun shines bright in the month of May,
Will help to drive dull care away.

And Macbeth's Castle is grand to be seen,
Situated on Castle Hill, which is beautiful and green.
'Twas there Macbeth lived in days of old,
And a very great tyrant he was be it told.

I wish the members of the Heather Blend Club every success,
Hoping God will prosper them and bless;
Long may Dame Fortune smile upon them,
For all of them I've met are kind gentlemen.

And in praise of them I must say
I never received better treatment in my day,
Than I received from my admirers in Bonnie Inverness.
This, upon my soul and conscience, I do confess.

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.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal, Wednesday, April 25, 1900
Mr John Macpherson, tenant of Gellion’s Hotel, Church Street, died on Saturday afternoon as the result of a stroke of apoplexy with which he was seized last Thursday week. Deceased was one of a numerous family of sons and daughters of the late Mr Macpherson, carpenter, Rose Street. He spent 14 years of his life in India, where he carried on an extensive business as a manufacturer of ice. Returning to Inverness in 1880, he took over the tenancy of Gellion's Hotel, perhaps the oldest-established business of the kind in Inverness, and carried it on for the past twenty years with much success. Mr Macpherson was a prominent member of St Mary's Lodge of Freemasons, and was an enthusiastic member of the Bowling and Curling Clubs. He was 62 yeas of age, and celebrated his silver wedding two years ago. He is survived by a widow and six sons and daughters.

Hope there’s something new there,

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Re: Gellions Hotel Bridge St Inverness

Post by trish1 » Mon Feb 08, 2010 6:55 am

many many thanks Alan

Mrs MacPherson was my London lass Emma Miles who visited an Aunt/Uncle running the Birnam Hotel in Dunkeld, Perth & stayed to run Gellions in Inverness (after a trip to India). I had known they had been to India (one surviving son born there) but not why, not what they did there. On the marriage John McPherson said he was an engineer. The marriage was in 1872 & they were in Inverness 1881. Perhaps Mr McPherson was on a trip back to Scotland staying at Birnams when they met as his 14 years in India must have started before the marriage. Now I wonder if Emma returned early from India - they had 1 child born there c. 1873 & then no more children until back in Scotland 1880.

Not sure as to how successful was Mr McPherson's tenancy of the Hotel. The intestacy gives an inventory of 433 pounds, with 30 pounds cash, 120 life assurance, 100 hotel stock-in-trade, 6 pounds in shares & the rest furniture and fittings (zero cash in bank). His wife passed away 1907. Guess an obit is not likely to say he was almost bankrupt.

I surely need some lessons from you in how to find the right places to look. (Edit: I went searching in the NLA resources and found the article on the fine, but not the obit - I shall keep looking)

thank you as always - this does so add to my meagre "facts"


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Re: Gellions Hotel Bridge St Inverness

Post by Currie » Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:53 am

Hello Trish,

Innkeepers and the like often get a mention in the newspapers, sometimes they get into minor strife but more often it’s the clientele misbehaving .

Searching for gellion hotel or gellion’s hotel will bring up 4 items but gellions hotel won’t give a result. Containing the two words within quotes e.g. “gellion hotel” will keep the results more precise, and is usually important, but in this case it doesn’t make any difference.

I was hoping to find something in Parliamentary Papers, there are lists of licensed premises there, but I drew a blank.

All the best,

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Re: Gellions Hotel Bridge St Inverness

Post by nelmit » Tue Feb 09, 2010 12:39 am

Love it! :D

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Re: Gellions Hotel Bridge St Inverness

Post by trish1 » Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:14 am

nelmit wrote:Love it! :D
Did you check the introduction to McGonagall - from that amazing link Alan found

"William Topaz McGonagall, poet and tragedian of Dundee, has been widely hailed as the writer of the worst poetry in the English language.." :shock:

(but it seems they loved him in some places!)


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Re: Gellions Hotel Bridge St Inverness

Post by Rory » Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:12 am

Hi Trish, My name is Rory, Im the current owner of the Gellions hotel, I have alot of information about the history and im also friendly with a local historian who is some what of an expert, feel free to get in touch, if its any use to you i will forward my email address to you, I look forward to your reply, the Gellions is an institution in Inverness and im very proud to be part of it.

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Re: Gellions Hotel Bridge St Inverness

Post by Russell » Wed Feb 10, 2010 11:44 am

Wow :!: :!: :idea:

Hey Rory and a warm welcome to TalkingScot :D :D

What a first post. This is why we enjoy our searching. Finds present themselves.

Working on: Oman, Brock, Miller/Millar, in Caithness.
Roan/Rowan, Hastings, Sharp, Lapraik in Ayr & Kirkcudbrightshire.
Johnston, Reside, Lyle all over the place !
McGilvray(spelt 26 different ways)
Watson, Morton, Anderson, Tawse, in Kilrenny

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