Perth & Inverness Railway 1845

The Perth and Inverness Railway was an early proposal, put forward in the mid 1840’s, for building a line between these two locations in the north of Scotland. It failed to get Parliamentary approval in part because it was thought that the locomotives of the time would not be able to cope with the gradients over the  Cairngorms.  A route was eventually built and became part of the  Highland Railway.  The history of this is nicely summarized on the Highland Railway Society’s website ( click here ).

Featured below are details taken from two Subscribers Agreement documents for the proposed  Perth  and  Inverness  Railway. There is a legal preamble and then a list of those subscribing to shares in the venture. Perth and Inverness document (3)The preamble is written in rather convoluted legal prose but does give information on the members of the Committee of Management. This included some of the local landed gentry and politicians indicating that they backed the proposal. The share capital was to be £1,200,000 in £25 shares. (This was later raised to £1,400,000 with an ability to borrow a further £466,600  see link – page 126 ). It is likely that shareholders were recruited via a broker in London. Many of the subscribers provide an address in that locality although there are also a good variety of addresses from throughout the English provinces. Only a relatively small number of subscribers were from Scotland. Against each subscriber’s name is their “description” (in most cases their occupation but sometimes just “Gentleman” or “Esquire”), their place of abode, their signature, the value of shares subscribed to, with 10% of this  paid up , the date, and the signature of a witness. There are only three different witnesses throughout the documents and these persons were probably (I guess) the clerks within the broker’s office. Information I’ve have obtained from private correspondence suggests that the broker was probably Foster & Braithwaite who were allocated 75% of the shares with the remainder “reserved for subscribers in the northern counties”. The prospectus for the venture was published on 9’th April 1845 (1). The first subsciption recorded was just a week later on the 16’th of April. Subscriptions then continue until the 28’th of November 1845, with just the final two in 1846. This was at the height of the  railway mania  when the perceived wisdom was that  railway shares  were a means to a a quick buck and healthy return. Sadly, as with many  financial bubbles , the  crash came a year later  and many investors in such railway schemes lost their money . The scramble to get into railway shares at that time can be seen by the relatively large numbers subscribing each day, particularly at the beginning. The figures are as follows:

Date (1845)    No of new Subscribers     £’s Subscribed     £’s paid up

16’th April  (Wed)              9                                   22,125                        2,212

17’th April                          16                                   20,600                        2,600

18’th April                          35                                   41,500                        4,150

19’th April                          63                                   95,000                        9,500

21’st April   (Mon)            55                                   76,125                        7,612

22’nd April                         48                                   75,000                        7,500

23’rd April                          24                                   48,250                        4,825

24’th April                          26                                   40,375                        4,037

25’th April                          38                                   64,875                        6,487

26’th April   (Sat)              34                                   50,750                        5,075

29’th April                          17

30’th April                          14

1’st May                                7

2’nd May                               8

3’rd May                              11

4’th – 28’th May               58

4’th – 25’th June               17

2’nd – 31’st July                  7

7’th Aug – 28’th Nov       24

1846                                         2

The total subscribed amount recorded within these two documents is £770,575. This is approximately 86% of the allocation given to the broker for disposal – or 64.2% of the total share capital of £1,200,000. The documents, one of five and one of four pages, are of durable waxed legal type paper each measuring 81 x 64 cms. These were found together, along with a single similar document for the Inverness and  Elgin  Railway, among a collection of old Scottish railway legal papers. They may represent the full record of shares subscribed to via this broker  – but one cannot be certain of this. Perth and Inverness document (2)However the distribution of subscribers over time, with a rapid initial rise in numbers to an early peak followed by a long dwindling tail does suggest that the two documents may well be the full record. 348 subscribers were recruited in the 10 working days 16’th to 26’st April 1845  During that short period £534,600 worth of shares were subscribed to, which was almost 69% of the total capital recorded as being raised in these documents. It must have been quite a busy time for the clerks. One can almost imagine the queues. The largest single subscription was by a Richard Paterson Esquire of Blackheath for £12,500 (approximately £750,000  in today’s terms) or 500 shares. Ten percent of this was paid up front.

Reference 1: “The Highland Railway”, David Ross, second edition, Stenlake, 2010. ISBN 978 1840334975.

I am happy to make these documents available for any appropriate display or research. Also found with them was a draft Subscribers Agreement for The Inverness and Elgin Railway  (later re-named The Inverness and Elgin Junction Railway).

Perth and Inverness documentPerth and Inverness document (1)

Transcription of the The Legal Preamble on these documents:

Perth and Inverness Railway    Subscribers Agreement

We the several persons who have hereunto subscribed our names being severally contributors for an undertaking to be known by the name of the Perth and Inverness Railway or by such other name as the Committee of Management hereafter mentioned shall appoint for making a railway and all proper works and conveniences attached thereto for the purpose of connecting the city of Perth with the town of Inverness either by one independent line or partly by means of other railways by  Dunkeld ,  Atholl  and  Strathspey  subject to such modification and alteration as may be considered needful by the Committee of Management. Do hereby severally and respectively acknowledge and declare that the Rules and Regulations hereafter written are and are to be considered the terms and conditions upon and subject to which we have contributed and do severally subscribe for carrying the said undertaking into effect. And we do hereby for ourselves severally and respectively and for our several and respective heirs executors and administrators promise and agree to and with each other and to and with the respective heirs executors and administrators of each other and also to and with the several other persons who are subscribers to certain other agreements of the same purpose and effect herewith and with their respective heirs successors and administrators and also to and with certain persons who have executed and subscribed or shall hereafter execute and subscribe certain contracts or agreements made out according to the form of the Laws of Scotland of the like purpose and effect herewith and to and with the several and respective heirs executors and administrators of such last mentioned persons to conform to and abide by the said rules and regulations that is to say –

Rules and Regulations

  1. At all Meeting of Subscribers for carrying the said undertaking into effect the majority that is to say so many of the subscribers present personally or by proxy (such proxys being themselves shareholders) as shall have subscribed to and hold a larger amount and number of shares than the rest of the subscribers present personally or by proxy shall bind the rest of the subscribers present at such meetings as also all absent subscribers.
  1. The persons following shall be a Committee of Management for promoting and carrying into effect the object of the said undertaking until an Act of Parliament be obtain for carrying the said into execution that is to say  The Most Honourable John Marquess of Breadalbane, Henry James Baillie Esq, William Sprott Boyd Esq, Edward Ellice Junior Esq, Lieutenant Colonel William Graham George Mackintosh Esq, John Masterman Junior Esq, James Matheson Esq, James Morrison Esq, Richard Paterson Esq, John Stewart Esq, . . . . MacKintosh Esq, Cluny McPherson Esq, Duncan Davidson Esq, John McPherson Grant Esq, James Murray Grant Esq, Patrick Grant Esq, Sir James John Randal MacKenzie Baronet, Neil Maclean Esq, John Ross Esq, John B. Ross Esq, James Sutherland Esq the Provost of Inverness and Charles Waterston Esq and five shall form a quorum of such Committee and at all meetings of the said committee one of the members thereof present shall  be appointed Chairman and all questions shall be decided by a majority of members present the Chairman having in case of an equality of votes his own vote being included a second or casting vote but no member of Committee shall be qualified to act unless he be a proprietor of twenty five shares at least in the said undertaking.
  1. The deposits and all other Monies and Funds belonging to the company shall be invested in the names of the said Marquess of  Breadalbane, James Matheson, James Morrison, Edward Ellice Junior and  John Stewart as Trustees of the Company.
  1. No monies shall be paid out the funds of the Company except on the signature of three of the said Trustees and under an order of the said Committee of Management.
  1. The said Committee of Management shall have power from time to time to select such qualified persons as it shall think fit from among the subscribers to the said undertaking holding twenty five shares each at least to supply any vacancy which shall occur by death or resignation in their body from among the subscribers as also to supply vacancies by the said causes in the number of the said Trustees.
  1. The Committee of Management shall have full and entire power and authority to carry the said undertaking into effect and for that purpose to cause such surveys to be made as they may think fit or to adopt and avail themselves of such surveys as may already have been made and to obtain estimate and to make arrangements with Landowners, Railway Companies and other bodies and persons to make calls upon the subscribers for money to determine and for and from time to time to alter and vary the sites or spots at which the said intended railway shall commence and terminate and the places and manner in which the same shall join or communicate with other lines of railway and extensions as may seem advisable to them and to apply the money subscribed to the said objects and to invest the same until required in Government Stocks or such other Securities as they may think fit and generally to adopt all such measures as the said Committee of Management may in their judgement consider expedient for carrying the said undertaking into effect and obtaining an Act or Acts of Parliament for that purpose confirming the application to Parliament in the first instance to any portion of the line according to the discretion of the said Committee of Management and also to protect and promote in such way and by such means as they shall think fit the interests of the subscribers against any competing lines or otherwise and to contribute to or otherwise promote any communicating or other lines of railway that may appear to the said Committee of Management to be calculated to benefit the said undertaking as also to enter into agreements with the proprietors of any railway communicating directly or indirectly with the said intended railway for the purchase or lease of any such communicating railway or for the more advantageous working of the said intended railway or any such communicating railway.
  1. The said Committee of Management shall have full power to appoint re-appoint suspend and remove such Treasurers, Bankers, Agents, Engineers, Secretaries, Clerks, Servants and Workmen as they shall think fit and to allow and pay such salaries and recompenses as they shall deem right and to enter into contracts and agreements for or in anywise relating to the undertaking and for all manners incident to the obtaining of the proposed Act or Acts of Parliament or any of the matters aforesaid and to apply all or any part of the monies which shall come into their hands or into the hands of the Treasurers or Bankers of the undertaking either as deposits or in pursuance of calls made the said Committee of Management in payment of said salaries recompenses and engagements as aforesaid and of the expenses of apply for soliciting and obtaining an Act or Acts of Parliament as aforesaid and all other costs charges and expenses incident to the said undertaking or which have already been or may hereafter be incurred in relation thereto or to any of the matters aforesaid.
  1. The said Committee of Management shall have power to appoint subcommittees of their number to carry out the objects of the said undertaking and to delegate to such committees the whole or such parts of their own power as they shall think fit subject however always to the control of the said Committee.
  1. The capital of the undertaking shall be one million two hundred thousand pounds or such other amount as the Committee of Management shall deem or find advisable or proper to be raised in shares of twenty five pounds each and such shares shall not be transferable until an Act or Acts of Parliament shall be obtained authorising such transfer.
  1. In the event of an application or applications being made to Parliament in the next or any subsequent session and not being successful or in the event of no such application being made all the costs charges and expenses of every description already incurred or hereafter to be incurred in respect of such application to Parliament or in any manner incident to the undertaking or to any of the matters aforesaid shall be borne and paid by the several subscribers to the said undertaking rateably and in proportion to the number of shares taken by each subscriber and the several subscribers hereto do further promise and agree and bind themselves severally and respectively and their respective heirs executors and administrators when so required from time to time to subscribe and execute all such Parliamentary Contracts as are or may be required by the Standing Orders of Parliament to be entered into previously to applying for the said intended Act or Acts of Parliament and also all such further and other Deeds Documents and assurances as shall from time to time be required by the Committee of Management for the time being and in the event of any such subscribers failing to execute such Parliamentary contract or contracts Deeds or Documents or other assurances for fourteen days after notice given by or on behalf of the Committee of Management in the London and Edinburgh Gazettes they do hereby agree each of them for himself his heirs executors and administrators that the sums severally paidup and posited by them previously to such failure in the opinion of the Committee of Management be absolutely forfeited to or from the use of the other subscribers to and parties interested in the undertaking altogether with their several rights to the shares of which such deposits have been paid and all their rights of account and other rights whatsoever at Law and in Equity in any way relating to the promises in witness whereof the subscribers have here unto set their hand and seals on the respective dates annexed to their several signatures hereto –

So what happened?

The Bill put to Parliament ultimately failed and no  Act of Parliament  to authorize the building of the line was obtained. In the jargon of parliament the “preamble was not proven” ( see link re Group 4 Bills ). The Journal of the House of Commons records the procedures the Bill went through between February and May 1846, and the support and opposition it received. This record has been extracted and transcribed below. The last advertised value of the shares was in June 1847. Their initial value of £25 had reduced to 33s 0d. This was all that was left after expenses had been paid off.  The investors thus got back only 6.6%.

Perth & Inverness Railway Bill – passage through Parliament 1846

From Journal of the House of Commons Vol 101, 1846:  (This link is to is a large volume document and may take a minute or so to load)

Page 62, 6’th Feb:

A Petition of Persons whose names are thereunto subscribed, for leave to bring in a Bill for making a Railway, leading from Perth to Inverness, with Branches to Nairn, to be called The Perth and Inverness Railway, was presented, and read; and referred to the Select Committee on Petitions for Private Bills.

Page 131, 13’th Feb

Petitions of Archibald Hepburn Mitchelson, of  Strathgarry, in the county of Perth, Esquire, Henry Black Stewart, Esquire, of Balnakilly, in the county of Perth, Owner of land on the line of the Railway thereinafter referred to; and, Robert Small, Esquire, Merchant in London, one of the Trustees of Colonel Alexander Stewart, of Strathgarrie, deceased; complaining that the Standing Orders of the House, in respect to the application for the Perth and Inverness Railway Bill, had not been complied with; and praying that they may be heard, by themselves, their agents and witnesses, against the same, were presented, and read; and referred to the Select Committee on Petitions for Private Bills.

Page 140, 13’th Feb:

A Petition of the Lord Provost, Magistrates and Town Council of the city and royal burgh of Perth, taking notice of the application for leave to bring in the Perth and Inverness Railway Bill; and praying that such Bill may pass into law, was presented, and read ; and ordered to lie upon the Table.

Page 195, 24’th Feb:

Petitions of the Weaver Incorporation of the royal burgh of Elgin; Glover Incorporation of the royal burgh of Elgin; Tailor Incorporation of the royal burgh of Elgin; Shoemaker Incorporation of the royal burgh of Elgin; Hammermen Incorporation of the royal burgh of Elgin; Square Wright Incorporation of the royal burgh of Elgin; and, Bankers, Merchants, Tradesmen and other Inhabitants of the royal burgh of Elgin; taking notice of the applications for leave to bring in the Perth and Inverness Railway; and, the Inverness and Elgin Railway Bills; and praying that such Bills may pass into law, were presented, and read ; and ordered to lie upon the Table.

Page 381, 23’rd March:

Mr. Home Drummond reported from the Select Committee on Petitions for Private Bills; That in the case of the Petition for the Perth and Inverness Railway Bill, the Standing Orders had been complied with. Ordered, That leave be given to bring in a Bill for making a Railway leading from Perth to Inverness, with Branches to Nairn, to be called The Perth and Inverness Railway: And that Mr. Henry Baillie and Mr. Cumming Bruce do prepare, and bring it in.  

Page 396, 24’th March:
Mr. Gibson Craig presented a Bill for making a Railway leading from Perth to Inverness, with Branches to Nairn, to be called The Perth and Inverness Railway: And the same was read the first time; and ordered to be read a second time.

Page 406, 25’th March:

Petitions of His Grace Hugh Duke of Northumberland, the Right honourable Lord Prudhoe, George Forbes, Esquire, Banker, in Edinburgh, and Henry Home Drummond, Esquire, of Blair Drummond, M. P., Trustees of the late John Duke of Atholl; Sir William Drummond Stewart, of Grandtully, Baronet; and, William McInroy, Esquire, of Arnhall; praying that they may be heard, by themselves, their counsel or agents, against certain parts of the Perth and Inverness Railway Bill, were presented, and read ; and ordered to lie upon the Table.

Page 420, 26’th March

Petitions of Trustees of the Suspension Bridge over the River Findhorn, near Forres, in the county of Elgin and Forres; Archibald Butter, Esquire, of Faskally, in the county of Perth; James Muir Ferguson, Esquire, of Middlehaugh; Trustees for executing the Act for more effectually making, repairing and maintaining certain Turnpike-roads in the Counties of Nairn and Inverness; Trustees for executing the Act for making and maintaining a Road leading through the Parishes of Nairn and Auldearn, in the. County of Nairn, and for converting and regulating the Statute Labour of the said County; Robert Stewart, of Ardvorlich, James Gillespie Graham, of Orchill, Henry George Watson, Accountant, in Edinburgh, and Thomas Duncan, Writer, in Perth, Commissioners of John Stewart, Esquire, of Dalquise, in the county of Perth, High Sheriff at Cape Town, at the Cape of Good Hope, duly appointed by commission dated the 18th day of May 1829, and recorded in the Sheriff Court Books of Perthshire, the 31st day of January 1845; praying that they may be heard, by themselves, their counsel or agents, against certain parts of the Perth and Inverness Railway Bill, were presented, and read; and ordered to lie upon the Table.

Page 438, 30’th March:

The Perth and Inverness Railway Bill was read a second time ; and committed.  Ordered, That the Bill be referred to the Committee of Selection.

Page 461, 2’nd April:

Ordered, That the Petitions of His Grace Hugh Duke of Northumberland, the Right honourable Lord Prudhoe, George Forbes, Esquire, Banker, in Edinburgh, and Henry Home Drummond, Esquire, of Blair Drummond, M. P., Trustees of the late John Duke of Atholl; Sir William Drummond Stewart, of Grandtully, Baronet; and, William McInroy, Esquire, of. Arnhall, which were presented upon the 25th day of March last; and also the Petition of Robert Stewart, of Ardvorlich, James Gillespie Graham, of Orchill, Henry George Watson, Accountant, in Edinburgh, and Thomas Duncan Writer, in Perth, Commissioners of John Stewart, Esquire, of Dalquise, in the county of Perth, High Sheriff at Cape Town, at the Cape of Good Hope, duly appointed by commission dated the 18th day of May 1829, and recorded in the Sheriff Court Books of Pertholme, the 31st day of January 1845, which was presented upon the 26th day of March last; praying that they may be heard, by themselves, their counsel or agents, against certain parts of the Perth and Inverness Railway Bill, be referred to the Committee on the Bill; and the Petitioners heard, by themselves, their counsel or agents, upon their Petitions, if they think fit ; and counsel heard, in favour of the Bill, against the said Petitions.

Page 520, 21’st April:

A Petition of the Right honourable Francis Earl Perth and of Moray, K. T., praying that he may be heard, by himself, his counsel or agent, against certain parts of the Perth and Inverness Railway Bill, was presented, and read. Ordered, That the said Petition be referred to the Committee on the Bill; and the Petitioner heard, by himself; his counsel or agent, upon his Petition, if he think fit; and counsel heard, in favour of the Bill, against the said Petition.

Page 539, 23’rd April:

Ordered, That the Petition of Trustees of the Suspension Bridge over the River Findhorn, near  Forres, in the county of Elgin and Forres, which was presented upon the 26th day of March last, praying that they may be heard, by themselves, their counsel or agents, against certain parts of the Perth and Inverness Railway Bill, be referred to the Committee on the Bill; and the Petitioners heard, by themselves, their counsel or agents, upon their Petition, if they think fit; and counsel heard, in favour of the Bill, against the said Petition.

Page 541, 23’rd April:

Petitions of Members of the Provisional Committee or Directors of the Great North of Scotland Railway; and, Thomas Ogilvy, Esquire, of Corrymory, one of the Conveners of the county of Inverness, and of Commissioners of Supply and Heritors of said county; praying that they may be heard, by themselves, their counsel or agents, against certain parts of the Perth and Inverness Railway Bill, were presented, and read. And the said Petitions were ordered to be referred to the Committee on the Bill; and the Petitioners heard, by themselves, their counsel or agents, upon their Petitions, if they think fit; and counsel heard, in favour of the Bill, against the said Petitions.

Page 597, 30’th April:

A Petition of Shareholders and Scripholders of the Perth and Inverness Railway, was presented, and read; setting forth, That from the altered state of the money market, the great increase in the price of labour, and the general circumstances of the country since the scheme was projected, renders it advisable that though highly approving of that Railway as a medium of direct communication with Inverness, and thus forming a continuous trunk line to London, the same should not, however, be further proceeded with in the mean time, but that the deposits, after paying the expenses hitherto incurred, should be immediately returned to the shareholders; and praying the House to stop all further progress in the Bill applied for to make the said Railway, and to appoint the concern to be forthwith wound up, and the deposits, after paying the expenses hitherto incurred, to be divided among the shareholders. Ordered, That the said Petition do lie upon the Table.

Page 732, 19’th May

Mr. Greene reported from the Committee on the Perth and Inverness Railway Bill; That the several Documents required by the Order of the House of the 30th day of April last, had been produced before them, and verified by the Promoters. Ordered, That the Report do lie upon the Table.

Page 764, 25’th May

Mr. Smollett reported from the Committee on Group No. 4, of Railway Bills, to whom several Petitions against the Bills comprised in the said Group were referred; That in the case of the Perth and Inverness Railway Bill, they had heard counsel in support of several of the said Petitions, and had also heard counsel in favour of the Bill; and had examined the allegations contained in the pre-amble of the Bill, but the same had not been proved to their satisfaction. Ordered, That the Report do lie upon the Table; and be printed.

One page of the Perth and Inverness Railway Subscribers Agreement. Each seal represents one subscriber.
One page of the Perth and Inverness Railway Subscribers Agreement. Each seal represents one subscriber.
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