An Old Soldier of the 71st

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A distressing letter regarding an old soldier Hugh Mackay from Dornoch.

Dornoch Head Burgh of the County

of Sutherland N. B.

25 June 1803


Seeing your name in the almanack connected to the Chelsea Hospital, I take the liberty of writing you on a subject which I am sure will move your compassion toward the relief of the miserable object; I bring to your view.

Many years ago, a man from this county Hugh Mackay enlisted in the 71 Regiment, where he served for many years abroad, where he received several wounds by which he lost much blood & was ever since at times in an insane state. On his coming over with the Regiment from India in 1797, (I presume) he was admitted a Pension, and thereon came home to his native land where he occasionally discovered much love. But having got married, some attention was paid to him.

Last spring when the pensioners were called in for inspection, in order to lever from them such as might be thought fit for garrison service. Mackay, he being always remarkable for a grave digger, would not be prevented from going along with the men that were to leave the county, and accordingly went along with them. But before proceeding with them, but a few days journey. He became completely furious, in so much, as that he was handcuffed & under the escort parties he was sent from there to the shire till he at length got to his home. From which he soon broke loose but not until he had put fire to & demolished his house & burnt all it contained. His miserable wife then being with child scarcely saved her life. He has ever since been confined in one of the cells here in a state of high madness & the poor object the wife & infant child a begging.

Amongst other things destroyed in the house, his papers from your hospital were also burnt so that now, I have it not in my power to transmit any aid for him as required law required.

From this true detail of the man’s situation, I beg to have recourse to your sympathy as to that of the other gentlemen concerned with the hospital. In hope, you would cause examination of the register of names admitted to pension from the 71st Regiment where I hope the poor man’s name may be found with the particulars necessary to be inserted in the affidavit to be regularly returned to the Paymaster General and to beg & request that an ??? direction & affidavit for the poor creatures use & benefit be sent to me & and as well as that his name be returned as usual on the pay list of pensioners from this county, for the current half-year pension for the support of the poor women & her two infant babies. He being supported at present by the county, I am informed the regiment was commanded by General Dalrymple at the time Mackay was admitted a pension.

If I am honoured with an answer, it will be most gratifying to him who has the honour to be


Your most obedient

& most humb. Serv.

Hugh MacCulloch Sherriff

of Sutherland and

Bailie of Dornoch