(Source of Hackets) Hacket
Alexander Hacket
(Abt 1740-1825)


Family Links

Alexander Hacket

  • Born: Abt 1740
  • Died: 1825

  General Notes:

Harbour Treasurer.





Much was heard in Fraserburgh some years ago about the contract of
1787, which superseded that of 1613, and which was executed between the
feuars of Fraserburgh and Alexander Lord Saltoun in the year first named. The
Town Council records are at this period\emdash 1787\emdash full of correspondence between
his lordship and the feuars on the subject, and reading between the lines, one
can see that feeling ran very high at times during the negotiations. In giving up
certain rights under the old contract, the feuars made some compensatory
demands, which seem to have excited his lordship very greatly, and incurred his
dire displeasure. Some very sharp passages of arms took place between his
lordship and the feuars in consequence.
As an example of the virility of the Superior of 1787, the following extract
from one of his letters dated May 7, 1787, is sufficient. "I must observe that from
the tenor of your letter of proposals you certainly have either considered me set
upon an agreement with you to the blind extent of a fool?s desire, or must
overvalue those points which you propose to yield up, and undervalue those
which you demand, exceeding therein the predeliction, the covetousness, and
even the griping avidity of the miser to his hoard, or the degrading opinion of a
pawnbroker on the property proposed to be left in his clutches."
The person who, evidently, first approached the Superior on the subject of
a readjustment of the contract of 1613, was a Mr. Alexander Hacket, merchant,
Fraserburgh, who afterwards became a famous figure in Edinburgh as the last
outstanding and publicly conspicuous Jacobite who lived in Scotland. The
memory of such a remarkable Fraserburgh character must not be allowed to fade
into oblivion, and some particulars about him should prove interesting, not only to
natives of the town, but to people all over the country. Notwithstanding that a
hundred years have elapsed since Hacket lived in Fraserburgh, some lore
about him, which has been handed down from generation to generation, can still
be gleaned among the older people of the town. He carried on business as a
general merchant in the property in Cross Street on which the late Mr. James
Thomson, baker, raised such a handsome pile of buildings. It is understood that
he came from the Parish of Lonmay, and, it is believed, though he spelt has
name differently, that he was a relation of the unfortunate George Halkett, the
Rathen schoolmaster and Jacobite poet, who wrote the beautiful song or ballad,
"Logie o? Buchan."
Alexander Hacket sold tea and sugar, hats and boots, whisky and
clothing, etc. etc, in fact, was an old school Whiteley in a very modest way.
Customers were not allowed inside his shop, probably because of his big stock
and limited accommodation. The shop windows were exceedingly small, and the
door was divided into an upper and lower half. The lower portion was always kept
securely barred, and persons had to stand on the pathway and do their business
there, all purchases made being handed out at the open upper half of the door.
Not many years have elapsed since there disappeared the little hook at the shop
door in Cross Street to which the horses of customers on horseback were
attached, during the time the people purchased a suit of home spun, or indulged
in a mutchkin of whisky.
Hacket was a dignified and rather handsome man, and being, as already
indicated, an out-and-out Jacobite, could not tolerate the notion of the masses
having an ambition to better their condition, with the view of coming a little nearer
to the level of their superiors. The effects of the French Revolution were felt even
in the wilds of Buchan, and near the close of the eighteenth century there was
visible among the people, the first indications of a feeling that their social
condition was not what it should be. The laudable desire of the poorer classes to
improve their surroundings and assume a better class of clothing was rank
heresy in the eyes of Mr. Hacket, and if any poor looking individual demanded a
hat or clothing superior to that offered, the irate shopkeeper would refuse point
blank to give him such, and would declare that the articles offered were quite
good enough for one in the position of life of the proposed purchaser. "At any
rate," he would add, "if you do not take what I think suitable for you, you will have
none other."
Like many of the old Jacobites, Mr. Hatchet had a great penchant for
smuggling, and, in his opinion, the rigorous measures taken in his day to prevent
it, were solely due to the hated House of Hanover, against which he was
continually railing. Hacket freely indulged in smuggling for many years, and it is
likely that his means were materially added to, through carrying on this nefarious
traffic. It appears that the gin, brandy and other excisable goods imported duty
free by Hacket, were landed about the Loch of Strathbeg and secreted in the
woods of Cairness or Crimonmogate, until a favourable opportunity presented
itself for having them conveyed in safety to Fraserburgh. It is probable that Mr.
Hacket had been interested in the cargo of the vessel referred to in the following
paragraph, which appeared in the Aberdeen Journal OLD RECORDS AND HISTORICAL NOTES

of 16th September 1782: "On Saturday was brought in here" (Aberdeen) "a sloop
belonging to Fraserburgh, Stewart Master, with 170 ankers of spirits and 6 matts
of tobacco on board. She was taken off Colleston on Friday by the boat
belonging to Captain Brown of the revenue yacht." The vessel had evidently
been making for the recognized landing place, a short distance north of Rattray
Head, when she was captured. Hacket was caught at last, or at least implicated
in a serious smuggling case, for which he was mulcted in a heavy penalty. The
penalty took the shape of a royalty on his Cross Street property, which was
payable annually to the Kirk Session at Crimond. This payment was made yearly
by all the subsequent owners of the property, until the time of the late proprietor,
who, a few years ago, and after considerable legal trouble, managed to get the
royalty remitted.
The Jacobite proclivities which Hacket was continually parading before his
fellow townsmen, became irritating. A great change had taken place in the
political opinions of the community in the fifty years that followed Culloden, and
the steps taken by the then Town Council to punish Hacket for his intolerable
partisanship, had a grim humour about them which the present generation even
can appreciate. The name of the street running west directly opposite Hacket?s
shop, was named Puddle Street, not a very high certificate of character to a
street which to this day stands rather low in public estimation. The Council
changed the name from Puddle to Hanover Street, and painted the new creation
in strikingly large letters. The hated name was the first thing that Hacket saw in
the morning and the last at night. The outrage upon his feelings was more than
he could bear, and as soon as circumstances would permit, he sold everything
he possessed in Fraserburgh, left the town, and took up his abode for good in
Edinburgh. He would never acknowledge the House of Hanover, and in
Edinburgh, with all its Stuart traditions and associations, he had a field wherein
he could give full rein to his feelings of veneration and reverence for the dynasty
that had for ever been shattered to pieces.
In order to be near the historic scenes of old, Mr. Hacket took up his
abode in the old towns and lived in a shabby genteel house, near Holyrood,
which had once been a grand town house of some of the noblemen who were
attached to the court when the Stuarts occupied the Royal Palace. Mr. Hacket
only occupied part of the tenement, and that as a lodger, but nevertheless, his
means enabled him to afford the necessary repairs on a rather tumble down
place, and he lived in comparative comfort. One of his rooms was cased round
with white painted panelling in imitation of the grand old style, and in his
apartment were hung pictures of the later race of Stuarts, prominent among them
being the old and the young Chevalier. The windows of his room looked out on
one hand upon the cloistered portions of Chessel?s Court, and on the other on
the grey turrets and spires of deeply honoured and revered Holyrood.
Invariably dressed in clothes of antique and striking appearance, he
became a well-known and remarkable figure on the streets of Edinburgh. He

on perpetuating the fashions of a bygone age, and on Sundays and holidays he
donned a sort of Court dress, and with a cane worthy of a pedant, he walked with
more than ordinary stateliness and importance. On all occasions of importance
he assumed this garb, particularly so on a certain day in each year, when he
made a State visit to Holyrood, to do honour to the memory of his beloved
Stuarts. The late Robert Chambers, LL.D., wrote a most interesting short sketch
on this very remarkable and eccentric man, from which much of the description of
Hacket?s life in Edinburgh is taken. Dr. Chambers gives an excellent description
of how Hacket used to do a pilgrimage to Holyrood as follows:\emdash
"On the morning of the particular day on which he was thus wont to keep
holy, he always dressed himself with extreme care, got his hair put into order by
a professional hand, and after breakfast walked out of doors with deliberate steps
and a solemn mind. His march down the Canongate was performed with all the
decorum which might have attended one of the State processions of a former
day. He did not walk upon the pavement by the side of the way. That would have
brought him into contact with the modern existing world, the rude touch of which
might have brushed from his coat the dust and sanctitude of years. He assumed
the centre of the street, where, in the desolation which had overtaken the place,
he ran no risk of being jostled by either carriage or foot-passenger, and where
the play of his thoughts and the play of his cane-arm alike got ample scope.
There, wrapped up in his own pensive reflections, perhaps imagining himself one
in a Court pageant, he walked along, under the lofty shadows of the Canongate,
a wreck of yesterday floating down the stream of to-day, and almost in himself a
"On entering the porch of the Palace he took off his hat; then, pacing
along the quadrangle, he ascended the staircase of the Hamilton apartments,
and entered Queen Mary?s chambers. Had the beauteous Queen still kept Court
there, and still been sitting upon her throne to receive the homage of mankind,
Mr. Hacket could not have entered with more awe-struck solemnity of
deportment, or a mind more alive to the nature of the scene. When he had gone
over the whole of the various rooms, and also traversed in mind the whole of the
recollections which they are calculated to excite, he retired to the picture gallery,
and there endeavoured to recall, in the same manner, the more recent glories of
the Court of Prince Charles. To have seen the amiable old enthusiast sitting in
that long and lofty hall, gazing alternately upon vacant space and the portraits
which hang upon the walls, and to all appearance absorbed beyond recall in the
contemplation of the scene, one would have supposed him to be fascinated to
the spot, and that he conceived it possible, by devout wishes, long and fixedly
entertained, to annul the interval of time, and reproduce upon that floor the
glories which once pervaded it, but which had so long passed away. After a day
of pure and most ideal enjoyment, he used to retire to his own house, in a state
of mind approaching, as near as may be possible on this earth, to perfect

As might be expected, this sentimental idealist and self-appointed
representative of the Stuart line was a rigid Episcopalian, and belonged to what
then was called the primitive Apostolical Church, which lent all its weight and
influence to the Stuart cause, the disastrous collapse of which is too well known
to call for detail. The chapel in which the fragment of people adhering to the old
tenets, worshipped, was situated in an obscure part of the old town. The
congregation was a mere handful, and naturally Hacket was an outstanding
figure among them. On account of the anti-Catholic and anti-Episcopalian feeling
in the country, few people during the service ventured to pronounce the
responses aloud. Not so the bold Hacket. He responded in a loud tone of voice,
and while the liturgy was gone through he assumed a most pious attitude, which
was more impressive by his practice of out-stretching one arm at full length, in
devotional appeal, as it were. The eccentricity of his character may be judged
from the fact that at one part of the service he showed absolutely no reverence.
He would never join in the prayer for the King, and when this part of the service
was reached, he indulged in loudly blowing his nose, as a mark of his contempt
for the House of Hanover. In order that the name might not offend his eye or his
feelings, he always used a prayer-book that had been in use before the
Revolution, in which the prayers offered up were for King Charles, the Duke of
York, and Princess Anne. He was most intimately acquainted with all the
Episcopal Church forms of worship, and was very punctilious in regard to their
observance. He was a recognized leader in the church in this respect, and his
rising up and sitting down was the signal for all the other members of the
congregation to follow his example.
As already indicated, he was very finical about dress, and, being a lonely
bachelor, occasionally became very hypochondriacal in regard to his state of
health. It appears that towards the later years of his life some of his friends, of a
jocular turn of mind, could make him believe that he was on the point of death,
when there was really nothing the matter with him. He lived in his own little world,
typical of a past age, to the end. This antique figure passed away 1825, at a ripe
old age. With his last breath he declined to acknowledge the House of Hanover,
and thus fell to Fraserburgh the privilege of claiming as a son, "The Last of the

Full text of "The life and times of Patrick Torry, D.D., Bishop of Saint Andrew's, Dunkeld, and Dunblane : with an appendix on the Scottish liturgy"

Whether Bishop Jolly had followed the advice of
his brethren, and provided himself with a new wig,
does not appear ; but the king was, at all events, ex
cessively struck with his appearance, and made par
ticular inquiries respecting him. It is well known
that this visit extinguished the last remains of Jaco-
bitism in Scotland ; and that one of the sturdiest of
its then upholders, who, up to that period, had always
risen from his knees and blown his nose when the king
was prayed for in the church, Mr. Alexander Hackett,
of Edinburgh, now condescended to speak of his Ma
jesty as a " braw lad," and thenceforward found no
difficulty in joining in the petitions of the rest of the
congregation for his welfare. The Bishops returned to
their several homes ; and interchanged a multitude of
letters, full of mutual congratulation that so delicate
a business had been brought to so happy a termination.

Bishop Hobart, of New York, made a tour in Scot
land in the latter end of 1822, and, while on a visit to
Bishop Skinner, thus wrote to Bishop Tony :