1871~1872, October (ca.): Mr. D. Mackenzie’s ’Monster’ Sighting at Loch Ness
Among the earliest claimed sightings of an odd animate creature in Loch Ness, Scotland, is the sighting described by a Mr. D. Mackenzie in a letter he sent to Rupert Gould, one of the earliest investigators into the matter of the strange stories of a 'monster' being seen in the lake. Gould received the letter on March 26, 1934, and printed this excerpt in his study of the Loch Ness 'Monster':
"... I saw it about 1871 or 2, as near as I can remember now. I was on the rock above Abriachan, taking home bracken in October, when I saw what I took to be a log of wood coming across the Loch from Aldourie side. The water was very calm at the time.
"I expected it to go down the Loch towards the river1; when it reached the middle of the Loch, however, it suddenly appeared to come to life, and seemed to me to look exactly like an upturned boat, and went at great speed, wriggling and churning up the water, in the direction of Urquhart Castle. [ 1 The River Ness, at the Northern end of Loch Ness.]
"It was about 12 o'clock on a grand sunny day, so that it was impossible for me to be mistaken. It was an animal of some sort; and I have told this same story to my friends long before the present 'monster' became famous..."
While Mackenzie's statement seems to be an excellent description of a similar nature to other Loch Ness sighting being reported from 1933 onwards, Gould himself choose to exclude it from his overall Loch Ness study, along with all reports he had of sightings previous to 1923. This was largely due to the sheer amount of time between the sightings and their first reporting which, to Gould, made it hard to connect the earlier sightings with being the same beast as the sightings taking place at least thirty years later (or sixty years later, as in this case). To my mind, Gould probably also excluded them due to the possibility of the memories of the older sightings being influenced by the newer reports in the paper, though he was too polite to say such at the time. Nonetheless, they stand as claims that something large and animate was being reported in the Loch previous to the 1933 'unveiling' of the story in newspapers worldwide.