Food Riot

Avoch did not escape some of the misfortunes which befell other parts of the Highlands in the first half of the 19th century. In 1832 cholera spread to the village. Many must have died in the overcrowded conditions. Men burnt barrels of tar in the streets in a vain attempt to ward off the disease.

Then in 1846, potato blight, which had ravaged Ireland and the lowlands of Scotland, spread to the Highlands.

Grain crops were good, and with high prices in the south, farmers tried to ship out their crops and were unwilling to sell in small quantities. The sight of cart loads of grain on their way to the harbour enraged the hungry local people.

Mr George More, a farmer and corn dealer of Muiralehouse, Avoch, tried to export grain, and a riot followed. An urgent appeal by him brought 60 men of the 7th Regiment from Fort George. They drove off the local fishermen who unmoored the ship and were trying to pull it into the firth.

Gravestone of Mr George More

Food riots took place in every north and north-east port at this time and “meal mobs” rioted in other towns and villages. The correspondent of the Inverness Courier at that time wrote that the destitution in Avoch was as bad as anywhere in the Highlands.