Andrew Ballantyne's statement on 11th June 1844, which you can read on my previous blog post, came after he had listened to the testimony of the other parties involved in the case of the little brown mare.
Here, you can read what Margaret McRae, daughter of the horse's owner, had to say. While you read this, think about how Andrew must have felt as he listened to her and remember that he said in his testimony that he had often been allowed to borrow the little mare.
Margaret lived in Bottacks of Achterneed just like Andrew had done for most of his life. They must have known each other very well, so what had happened between them to cause Margaret to make this testimony?
Statement of Margaret McRae
Margaret MacRae, daughter of and residing with, Kenneth MacRae, crofter at Bottacks of Achterneed in the parish of Fodderty, aforesaid who being examined interrogated, declares as follows:
"I know Walter Ballantyne (late) Shepherd at Bottacks, who left that place about the end of May last. I also know his son, Andrew who lived with him but who went south in charge of a flock of sheep a day or two before his father left Bottacks.
I saw him again and for the last time on Thursday of last week in Strathpeffer within a mile of my father’s dwelling. I asked him what had brought him back to the country and he said he had come to engage ….to work for him at a job worth £200 which he and his cousin had taken by contract at Fort Augustus. I had then my father’s mare in a cart, and was on my way to the wood for a load of tinder.
On Friday I was at the …… with the mare. I put her into the stable for the night sometime after nine o’clock as I believe. I did not fasten the door, but my mother did. I saw it after it was fastened.
Next morning, I was up at or before six o’clock and proceeded to the stable. I found the stable door wide open and a stone placed against it to keep it open. The mare was gone. I saw the heavy marks of a man’s foot in the soft earth outside the stable door and inside the stable.
He appeared to have been walking on his heels outside the door. Inside, the marks were distinct and were those of a coarsely mended shoe. I immediately suspected Andrew Ballantyne as a I knew the foot marks were like his and as he had previously borne a bad character. It was in consequence of this suspicion I called upon the --eal and mentioned his name as the probable thief.
I did not give the horse, or the use of him to Andrew Ballantyne on this occasion. He did not ask me to do so. He never said that he had any occasion for the loan of her. I am sure I did not see Andrew Ballantyne on Friday last. I only saw him once last week, and that was on Thursday as already mentioned. All which is truth. I cannot write
The mare was this morning brought back to us by MacPherson, the Sheriff's Officer."
Was Margaret angry that Andrew had left Bottacks? Was she trying to get revenge for some reason? Watch out for my next blog post to discover what happens next!