Around 1673 Bunchrew was bought by John Forbes. The Forbes’ of Tolquhon were an Aberdeen family of high standing. John’s father Duncan became Provost of Inverness and a copy of his portrait hangs in the Town House in Inverness. He died in 1654 aged 82. John bought Bunchrew and the estate eventually passed on to his son Duncan – the most famous of the Forbes family who was actually born at the house. He became Lord President of the Court of Session at Inverness. He was known to be a very diligent student, as well as a very sociable man, and is said to have read the bible three times in the original Hebrew, during his various holidays at Bunchrew. At that time there was a moat round the house and a drawbridge the last remains of which could be traced until 1839 when the last arch fell into ruins.
During his time at the head of the Town Council President Forbes was responsible for the first hats ever to be worn in the Town council in place of the old blue bonnets. He presented them to the Councillors one day after lunch at Bunchrew. These hats were so highly cherished that they were worn only on council days and the rest of the time were locked up at home. Before this there were only four hats in Inverness – those of the two ministers, the Provost and the Sheriff.
When Forbes took over the house he is reputed to have had the motto “Fraser – Lord Lovat” which was carved above the door removed. This evoked a vigorous response when a squad of about 30 Lovat ruffians came and smashed all the windows and destroyed the meal mill in the grounds. Forbes planted the grounds as they are today including the magnificent Cedar of Lebanon tree opposite the front entrance. This tree is known locally as the ‘Loving Tree’ and it is said to bring good luck if young couples plight their troth underneath the branches. There is also a holly tree at the far end of the top lawn, which is reputed to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest in Scotland.