Jimman Leaper – James Patience [fisherman], 7 Back Street, Hilton.

James Patience was a well known person from Hilton, his wife was Williamina Patience [nee MacDonald]. Their family consisted of Big Dan, Dick, Jessie, Jim and Maggie.

James became known as ” Jimman Leaper ” because, out fishing one very stormy day he fell overboard complete with his oilskins, souwester and wellies on and went under the water. After what seemed like a long time ” 2 minutes “, he suddenly shot out of the water about 8 feet into the air and after he landed back in the water he was hauled aboard. The air in his oilskin jacket had saved him but from that day on he became known as “Jimman Leaper”.

James was my Grandfather and his youngest daughter, Maggie, my mother. Maggie married Alex Dan Patience from Portmahomack, so I am a Patience strong. From Dan Patience – Tain.


Jackaen Henri – Henry MacKenzie, fisherman, Hilton.

Henry MacKenzie was known in the Seaboard villages as ” Jackaen Henri ” because he wore the same jacket at sea, at the pub, out shopping, he wore it all the time.

Henry MacKenzie, ‘Jackaen Henri’, Hilton. With no jacket on.

A lot of the old ladies in the villages waited at the harbour and depended on getting a fishie or two when the fishermen came ashore. Sometimes when the fish were plenty there was enough to go round but sometimes the fish were few and far between.

This day the boats had very few fish and this old wifie wasn’t getting any fish, but Jackaen gave her two flukes, and she to him,

” May the Lord put a fluke, on every hook for Seaman Jackaen Henri “.

Next day the boats came in empty again except for Jackaen Henri’s boat, it was full to the gunnels with fish and that was only from 2 scountacs [ longlines ], Jackaen had to go back out and clear the other 2 scountacs and filled the boat for a second time.

The late Donnie ‘ Henri ‘ MacKenzie who was married to Jessie Miller from Tain, was a son of Jackaen Henri. From Dan Patience- Tain.


Hector McNair.

Hector was in a short play in the Seaboard hall, Hector played the husband and Dolly MacDonald played his wife. When the play was over Hector was asked to sing, he stood on the stage and asked the audience what did they want him to sing. Dolly was off the stage standing right below him on the dance floor, “sing the Hilton school song Hector” she said, Hector ignored her. “What will I sing” he asked again, “the Hilton school song” said Dolly, Hector ignored her. “What will I sing” he asked the audience again, Dolly was getting agitated, ” sing the Hilton school song Hector, sing the Hilton school song”. Hector looked down at her and said ” for God’s sake Dolly, we were only married for half an hour, stop nagging me”. From William McRae.


Hector McNair.

There used to be a meeting of what was called the supporters club, this happened every Sunday morning in the pub during the football season. There was a supporter for every club in the top division of the Scottish league and they met to discuss/argue what had happened on Saturday. Hector was a Hearts supporter, Alexander MacAngus [Goosie] supported Hibs, the two teams had played each other the day before in the Edinburgh derby, Hearts had been winning for the last few years but this Saturday Hibs were victorious. When Hector entered the bar Goosie was straight to him ” what was the score Hector”, Hector ignored him and went to the bar. Goosie followed him asking what the score was, Hector ignored him, ordered a pint and nip, all the time Goosie’s in his ear. Hector took a long swill of his pint and, still ignoring Goosie, said to the barman “do you know the last time Hearts won the cup they lit up Edinburgh Castle in celebration, the last time Hibs won it, Edinburgh Castle hadn’t even been built”. From James Oliver.

Hector McNair.

It was usual at closing time that the proprietor of the Balintore Hotel, Archie MacRae, would run the drinkers from the outlying farms home. He was getting ready to do this when Sandy MacMillan suggested they take a half bottle of whisky and stop off at Hector’s house for a dram. They were in the kitchen and Sandy was asking Hector where the glasses were, Hector suggested they use the cups on the draining board, Sandy said “you can’t use cups for whisky, Hector, you must have glasses?” Hector slowly pointed to a cupboard and Sandy got out the glasses and they emptied the half bottle. When the whisky was consumed and it was time to go, Hector stopped Archie at the door and said ” you may have noticed I was hesitant to take out the glasses, I’m a bit embarrassed, after all they all belong to you.”  From Dusty Vass.

Agnes McRae – Commercial Hotel.

Aggie was working behind the bar when two fishermen came in, they were in their full fishing gear and it was the middle of the day so it was unusual to see them at this time. They both ordered a pint and a nip and knocked them back and ordered more, Aggie thought it was time to see some money, one of the fishermen put his hand in his pocket of his souwester and threw two cormorant’s beaks onto the counter. Aggie said “what’s that”, “it’s five shillings” came the reply [ the water bailiffs were giving the fishermen half a crown per cormorant beak in the hope of protecting salmon stocks]. “I can’t take that” says Aggie, “but it’s five shillings, take it to the water bailiffs” came the reply, Aggie told them she could only take real money and suggested they take their beaks and leave and she would get the real money the next time they were in. From William McRae.

Agnes McRae, Commercial Hotel.


Andrew Ross [Peco].

Andrew Ross, was known as Peco, that was the name of his dog when he was a small boy, it used to wander and Andrew would be sent to look for it, shouting Peco as he went and the name stuck. Peco was one of the finest footballers to come out of Balintore, a centre forward, a goal scorer with Ross County. His most famous goal came when he wasn’t even playing. Seaside Rovers were playing Fearn Thistle, local derby, hard fought. Peco was standing by a post at the Fearn goalkeeper’s end, watching the game, when a shot by a Balintore player was just going past the post he was standing at, Peco stuck out a foot and deflected the ball into the net. The referee gave the goal [ no specsavers in those days ], Fearn players were – umm upset, but the referee was not to be swayed by their protests and the goal stood. Peco had scored without even playing, but he was not popular in Fearn! From Dusty Vass.

Andrew Ross [Peco]

Andrew Ross [Peco].

When Invergordon had the outdoor swimming pool there used to be huge swimming galas, competitors would come from all over the county to take part. Invergordon was an enclosed swimming pool and you had to pay to get in unless you were taking part in the gala. Five boys from Balintore were taking part but needed a lift to Invergordon, Peco volunteered. When they reached the gate taking the money for entry the boys went through, “competitor”, “competitor”, “competitor”, “competitor”, “competitor”,  Peco’s turn “coach”, all in for nothing.

From Dusty Vass.

William McAngus.

Question. What do Hilton and Formula 1 Motor Racing have in common.

Answer. William McAngus, William left Hilton for Texas in 1866, got himself a ranch just outside Austin, the USA Grand Prix circuit is built on that ranch, you get the shuttle bus for the circuit on McAngus road.

William McAngus, Texas.

From Larry Jackson, grandson of William McAngus.

David Wood McAngus.

David was born in 1903 in Hilton and joined the merchant navy as a cabin boy. He found himself in Australia working on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and became friendly with an Irishman. When there was a strike on the bridge they decided to sign on a merchant ship and head for home, his friend went down with appendicitis  soon after they sailed, it was decided to put him off in Fremantle for treatment, David decided to stick with his friend and got off to. Later in Perth they met two sisters and married them. David worked in the Kalgoorlie gold mines and when he became a prisoner of war of the Japanese in World War 2 he survived the notorious Changi Prison in Singapore saying the conditions weren’t half as bad as the Kalgoorlie gold mines. David was a prisoner until 1947, he was on a small Pacific island and neither he or his Japanese guards knew the war was over until then.

David Wood McAngus.

From Nan Hodson [nee McAngus] and Donald Macangus.


Nicholas Vass.

Granddad Nicholas Vass had a whisky still some where on the Fairy hill to the west of Shandwick, eventually the excise men were getting to close for comfort so Nicholas abandoned it, but wouldn’t tell anybody where it was. Ten years after his death, a cow found it, the cow fell through the roof.

From Nicholas and Catherine Vass.

Nicholas Vass.

Granddad Nicholas Vass was also known to go poaching for rabbits on Nigg hill. One day the gamekeepers looked to have him cornered, he decided the only way out, seeing the tide was in, was to swim back to Shandwick. The only problem was what to do with his faithful ferret, easy, put the ferret on his head and put your seaman’s cap back on. Nicholas arrived back in Shandwick wet but the ferret was warm and dry.

From Nicholas and Catherine Vass.