Invergordon is located on the Cromarty Firth north-shore and boasts stunning views towards the western Beins and Black Isle.
The shoreline road (B817) to Invergordon forms part of the historic Pictish Trail and the Ross and Cromarty Naval Trail both of which are a welcoming and less travelled detour off the A9 trunk road and Moray Firth Tourist Route.
The site of Invergordon was originally known as An Rudha, the point or ness. It was later changed to Inverbreakie, the mouth of the Breakie, which was probably the stream which enters the Cromarty Firth at Rosskeen Bridge near the old parish church. Inverbreakie has had many old spellings such as Inchreky in 1475, Innachreky in 1511 and Innerbreky in 1512. The earliest mention of it occurs in the thirteenth century when the castle, about a mile inland from the Ness, was occupied by a Fleming placed there by William the Lion.
From a very early period there were a few thatched houses, known as “The Ferry Houses”, near where the harbour now is. From the 1250s to 1704 Inverbreakie was successively in the hands of the Munro, Innes and Ross families. In 1704 the estate was bought from George Ross of Morangie by Sir William Gordon, who renamed the estate after himself. He represented Sutherland-shire in no fewer than five parliaments between 1708 and 1727 and Cromarty-shire, as it was then called, in 1741-1742.
The Gordon family, who were originally from Berwickshire (1319), prospered under Robert the Bruce and a junior line of the family annexed by marriage the Earldom of Sutherland. This branch was descended from Alexander Gordon 1st Earl of Huntly (d 1470). His son Adam Gordon was Dean of Caithness and Governor of Petty. In 1567 John Gordon, son of Adam, married Margaret MacKrith. Their fourth son, John Gordon, was the founder of the Gordons of Invergordon.
John Gordon of Kilcalmkill (Strathbrora) & Backies fought at the battle of Craigh-ne-Kamkish in 1589. He was still alive in 1616 as he sent his fourth son, Alexander Gordon of Carroll, with 18 horses to Edinburgh. In 1634 Adam Gordon of Kilcalmkill went to the German states with Sir Hector Munro of Foulis. He also served in the Swedish Army and became a captain. In 1629 he married Anne Mackay and they had three sons. His oldest son, William Gordon of Kilcalmkill, is mentioned in history for helping to capture the “Great Montrose” in May 1650. In 1652 William married Jane Elphinston and they had a son Adam Gordon or Adam of Dalpholly, who was later a shareholder in the ill-fated Darien venture. In 1695 he was knighted by King William III and was also made MP for Sutherland. In 1674 he married Anne Urquhart of Newhall and the following year their son William, who would later buy the Inverbreakie estate, was born.
During Sir William’s lifetime the castle, originally a very modest dwelling, was considerably enlarged, and at the same time the policies were improved and plans laid for the building of a town near the Ness. William’s son, Sir John, was MP for Cromarty-shire from 1742-1747, and again from 1754-1761. He was the real founder of the town and his ambitious plans included industrial development, but he was hampered by inherited debt. Sir John died childless in 1773. The baronetcy passed to Sir John’s great-nephew William, who lived in London and who also died childless in 1817. The title then passed to William’s younger brother Alexander, who had two sons, George and Adam. George died in 1840, also without children. The title of Baronet of Invergordon ended with Adam who died in 1850 leaving two girls, as the title could not be inherited by the female line.
Cadboll, meaning dwelling of wild cats, is first mentioned in 1281, when William Earl of Ross granted land to the Bishop of Moray to maintain the Friars in Elgin. In 1375 William Clyn paid 1lb of pepper to the King as tenant of Cadboll. In 1610 Cadboll House was built and was purchased by Aeneas Macleod in 1697 from the executors of Lady May Sinclair.
Aeneas Macleod (1660-1719) was Town Clerk of Edinburgh from 1690 to 1698, MP for the county of Cromarty from 1702 to 1707, and was one of those who signed the Treaty of Union with England in 1707.
His son Roderick II of Cadboll (1704-1770) registered the arms of Cadboll in 1730. He fought in the Jacobite rising of 1745/46 and went to France for a few years, returning in 1757 with a huge library. In 1763 he had a son, Robert III (d.1833), who became Lord Lieutenant for Ross & Cromarty and was the MP from 1807 to 1812. In 1780 the Invergordon estate was purchased for him by trustees as he was still a minor. Tragically Invergordon Castle burned down in 1805 and the famous library was destroyed.
Roderick IV of Cadboll (1791-1855) was MP for Ross & Cromarty from 1818 to 1820, MP for Sutherland from 1831 to 1837, MP for Inverness from 1837 to 1840 and Lord Lieutenant for Ross & Cromarty. He also served on HMS Victory at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
His son Robert Bruce Aeneas Macleod V of Cadboll (1818-1888) was the first Provost of Invergordon, from 1864 to 1888. His son Roderick Willoughby Macleod VI of Cadboll (1858-1931) sold Invergordon estate in 1923 to Sir William Martineau, who demolished the castle in 1928. The last Macleod of Cadboll was Robert Bruce Darell Macleod VII of Cadboll (1897-1968), who died childless.