These decorative duelling pistols were owned by Robert Melville, an important figure in the establishment of Ullapool.
The village was founded in 1788 by the British Fisheries Society who appointed Melville to construct the first buildings and pier. In the late 1700s, The British Fisheries Society developed ports around the Scottish coastline to encourage the herring fishing industry.
Herring was easily caught in Scottish waters and was in huge demand by slave plantation owners in the Carribean (then known as the West Indies). The fish offered a cheap source of protein and salted herring could last in barrels for several months across the long transatlantic crossings.
Many fishing towns and villages boomed from the sale of cheap salted herring and almost two thirds of fish exported from Scotland in the late 1700s went to the West Indies. But Ullapool’s boom did not last. The herring is a migratory fish and shoals moved away from the west coast of Scotland in the final years of the 1700s. Ullapool went into decline and by 1803 Robert Melville was bankrupt with his Ullapool properties and possessions sold to pay his debts.