With the development of Hopeman during 1805 there were two sets of settlers each being an integral part of starting up the village. There were tradesmen, labourers and farmers required to construct the village buildings and to farm the lands and these families generally came from the surrounding local areas in Moray. Then there was the fishing community who were recruited from the Ardersier and Black Isle areas to the West of Inverness where they were farmers, fishermen and boatmen associated with the garrison at Fort George.
When researching Scottish family history during the 1700s the principal records are those recorded by the church where there is an entry for each child baptised and recorded in what is now called the Old Parish Register (OPR). The baptism of a child was normally done within a few days of the birth and a typical entry would be similar to this from the Ardersier OPR – 1755 Aug 30th. Mary daughter to William McPherson and his spouse Jannett McIntosh was baptised by Mr Morrison. Witnessed by Donald Moir and Donald McPherson. These entries give the names of both the child’s parents, sometimes the ministers, the names of two male witnesses and on occasions the area or farm where they were living. Places like Campbelltown (Ardersier) and farms such as Connage (which is still in existence) and Fishertown, a farm incorporated into the relatively new Castle Stuart golf course are noted on several occasions. The Ardersier and Petty parish and registry areas are located next to each other and along with the above places are noted on the attached map from around 1900.
It is interesting to note that many of the established fishing families currently still living in Hopeman today (2015) came from this area as surnames such as McPherson, Main, Davidson, Tolmie, More/Moir, Ralph are common within these registers.
Previous research has indicated that there were perhaps four separate ‘McPherson’ families who settled as fishermen from the Ardersier and Petty parishes and we are very fortunate in Hopeman to have a comprehensive family tree compiled by Moira Martin (McPherson) prior to her moving to British Columbia in Canada. This tree is on display in the Hopeman Memorial Hall and gives the following McPhersons as first settlers and this is confirmed in part when checked against the 1806 Estates Register for Hopeman listing each person who purchased land for a house and included within the Estates Register section of this website.
By combining the McPherson family tree and the Estates Register for 1806 we have the following:-
1 – William McPherson (Jnr) & Isobel More (Moir) – 2 plots on Dunbar Street.
2 – James McPherson & Isobel Main – 1 plot on Dunbar Street
3 – Donald McPherson & Mary Fraser – 1 plot on Petrie Street (later renamed McPherson Street).
4 – John McPherson – Included within the family tree but no record within the Estates register for 1806.
Like all fishing communities around Scotland these tightly-knit communities at Ardersier and Hopeman tended to have many children to support the family and were dependant on each other for basics such as food, water, heating, etc. as there was no social security or help from outside. On relocating to Hopeman this close relationship between the two communities continued where there were very strong family ties continued until the 1920s when the older generations passed away and the personal contact was lost.
Map of the Petty & Ardersier area showing the location of Campbelltown and farms such as Connage and Fishertown