Wednesday, 14 January 2015

My family is responsible for midges being in Scotland

At least, I think my family may be responsible for midges now existing in Scotland!

I found this yesterday on the Australian TROVE newspaper site (, reprinted from the Inverness Courier in many Australian titles. This version is from the South Australian Weekly Chronicle in Adelaide (the original title in Inverness was "A FACT FOR NATURALISTS"). James MacGillivray, Bugle-Major, was brother to my three times great grandfather, David MacGillivray, a tailor based in Inverness - his son James, the subject of the article, was first cousin to my great great grandmother, Ann MacGillivray, who married John Brownlee MacFarlane, also a tailor in the city:

"A MOSQUITO TRAVELLING 15,000 MILES! - Mr James Macgillivray, son of Bugle-Major Macgillivray of the Permanent Staff of the Inverness, &c, Highland Light Infantry, in a letter dated Victoria, Melbourne, 13th November 1859, enclosed for the sake of curiosity, a mosquito alive. The letter reached Inverness, in due course, and was opened by a daughter of Mr McG's, who had not read much of the letter when she felt a sharp sting on her wrist. She looked to the part affected, and espied a bright and gold coloured insect stuck on her arm. Feeling the sting rather keen she hastily brushed it off, and thought no more of the matter until she had read the letter through and knew of the insect being inclosed. A search of two hours followed for the insect, but was fruitless. But the fact that the mosquito came home alive, notwithstanding the different post-offices gone through, and amid the pressure &c., of so many letters together, can be proved, and affords a subject to the naturalist."

TROVE is a free to access website, and with so many Brits and Irish heading to Oz, it is always worth checking to see what else might have reprinted down under from our press!

(For details on how to research British papers, my book British and Irish Newspapers may help - see


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  1. Midges are very different from mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are bigger and don't hunt in packs

  2. Except in Scotland where they have to swarm to keep warm :)