Fàilte! (Welcome!)

Fàilte! (Welcome!)
This blog is the result of my ongoing research into the people, places and events that have shaped the Western Isles of Scotland and, in particular, the 'Siamese-twins' of Harris and Lewis.
My interest stems from the fact that my Grandfather was a Stornowegian and, until about four years ago, that was the sum total of my knowledge, both of him and of the land of his birth.
I cannot guarantee the accuracy of everything that I have written (not least because parts are, perhaps, pioneering) but I have done my best to check for any errors.
My family mainly lived along the shore of the Sound of Harris, from An-t-Ob and Srannda to Roghadal, but one family 'moved' to Direcleit in the Baighs...

©Copyright 2011 Peter Kerr All rights reserved

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Importation of Deer – Or where the one on Barra came from!

HARRIS, August 2. – IMPORTATION OF DEER. - Early on the morning of Saturday last, the 27th ultimo, the inhabitants of Tarbert were agreeably surprised by the arrival there of nine magnificent stags from Atholl forset, in Perthshire, being a present from Lord Glenlyon to the Earl of Dunmore. The noble animals were, on the same day, marked, and turned loose into his Lordship's forest, amidst hundreds of admiring spectators, who collected to witness the noble scene, and from the gallant style in which they bounded off to the hills, it was quite evident that they had not suffered the slightest injury on their passage to this country. The object of importing them is to improve the breed in Harris, as the Atholl deer are well known to be among the finest in Scotland.
The Aberdeen Journal August 21st 1844

The story of the stag who went for a holiday including a month of turnip munching at Eolaigearraidh (Eoligarry) on Barra is told in this previous piece. 

Wintering in the South...

'Island of Barra. - A much valued correspondent in Stornoway writes us:-
The House of Barra, on the island of the same name, in the West Highlands, the late residence of the Macneils, and the property of Colonel Gordon of Cluny, was lately totally destroyed by fire.

He also narrates the following curious circumstance:-

Two years ago a few deer were brought from Athol to Tarbat, on the island of Harris, by the late Earl of Dunmore, and there turned at large.

In the month of November last, one of these, a fine stag, swam across the Sound of Harris, a distance of about five miles, went through North and South Uist, swam across from South Uist to Barra, a distance of eight miles, remained there a month where it daily fed on the turnip field at the house of Oligary, and then returned to South Uist where it was lately seen.

This,” says our friend, “is worth while putting in the paper.”
It really is.'
Greenock Advertiser, quoted in the Glasgow Herald of 26th January 1846

Today, of course, his journey would require him to undertake a little less swimming! - http://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/techservices/bridgescausewaysferries/index.asp

Scalpaigh (Scalpay) Population Data 1841-1901

Here, with some comments, are the figures as found in the censuses:

1841
5 households with 31 people – 6.2 people per hearth

In the 1840s the 338 people of Pabbay were Cleared, many to Scalpay. A figure of 20 families being sent there by Captain Sitwell , who was a Commissioner to the 7th Earl of Dunmore, indicates that this was the influx of 1846, just a year after the death of the 6th Earl and hence during the Dowager Countess's time as her son's Tutor. These 20 families had been preceded by an earlier group of 20 in 1842/3:

1851
45 Households with 282 people – 6.3 people per hearth

In his Report of 1851, Sir John M'Neill used a figure of 5.2 people per household in his calculations so the average for Scalpaigh in that year, 6.2 people per hearth, is significantly larger.

1857 - Chart of East Loch Tarbert - compare Chart with map below of same area 20 years later

1861
69 Households with 371 people – 5.4 people per hearth

1871
82 households with 419 people – 5.1 people per hearth

1878 OS Map survey performed - 6-inch map

1881
96 households with 532 people – 5.5 people per hearth

1891
87 households with 484 people – 5.6 people per hearth

1901
122 households with 582 people – 4.8 people per hearth

There is plenty more to be investigated here, such as occupational change during this period, but I think it is clear that, apart from the brief interlude of 1891, Scalpaigh's overcrowding grew steadily worse as the century progressed. The population had more than doubled within 50 years of 1851, a time when there had already been insufficient land to support its 45 families, so the circumstances in which those people found themselves at the dawn of the 20th Century must have been truly desperate.

Pabbay, the island where so many had originated, had once been known as 'the granary of Harris'. It's people were cleared to feed sheep and perhaps as many as a third of its human mouths sent to face potential starvation on Scalpaigh...

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Captain FWL Thomas & Malcolm Gillies

'At the time that he was based in the area he had a friend, Malcolm Gillies, who had been born in Skye and later became a schoolmaster in Harris and in North Uist. Malcolm Gillies had a son whom he named Frederick Thomas. This Frederick Thomas gillies was later a merchant in Lochboisdale. The former Head of the BBC's Gaelic Department, Fred Macaulay, is named after this relative. So the name of Captain Thomas lives on in the islands.'
'Captain Otter & Captain Thomas' by Gillian Maclean and Finlay Macleod p120 'Togail Tir'

This is one of my favourite essays in Togail Tir and, whilst reading it in advance of much of my earlier work on the two Captain's might have saved me quite a few hours of 'toil', in some ways it is even nicer to find published confirmation of one's own endeavours.

What follows are the records from the censuses, charting what I believe to have been Malcolm.s journey from his home on his father's farm, via a period as a merchant, to his vocation in education.
(I have attempted to make it easier to track individuals by using various combinations of bold and italics and I trust that readers find this so.)

1841 – Bracadale
Murdoch Gillies, 80, Farmer
Mary, 60
Malcolm, 35
Norman, 15
Marion, 25

1851 – Cladach Carinish , North Uist
Malcolm Gillies, 40, Tea Dealer in Retail, b. Kilmuir, Skye, Inverness

1861 – North Uist
Malcolm Gillies, 50, Gaelic Teacher, b. County Bracadale, Inverness-shire
Ann, 32, b. Trumisgary , Inverness-shire
Marion, 7, b. Trumisgary – as were her 4 siblings below
Mary, 6
Murdoch, 4
Ewen, 2
John, 11 months

Malcolm Gillies, 61, Gaelic Teacher, b. Brackadle, Inverness-shire
Ann, 38,
Marion, 14
Murdoch, 13
Ewan, 11
John, 9
Archie, 7, b. North Uist
Roderick, 5, b. Harris
Mary, 3, b. Harris
Malcolm, 1, b. Kilmuir

1881 – North Uist
Malcolm Gillies, 76, Missionary Teacher
Anne, 51
Marion, 27, Sewing Mistress
Mary A, 13
Ewen, 22, Arts Student
John, 20, Teacher
Roderick N, 15
Malcolm, 10
Frederick, 7, b. North Uist
Marion Ann Macleod, 1, Granddaughter, b. North Uist

1891 – North Uist
Ann Gillies, 60, Dressmaker
Ewan, 32, Student of Theology
John, 30, Ag Lab
Malcolm, 21, Ex Pupil Teacher, b. Skye
Frederick, 14, b. Harris(?)
Mary Ann Gillies Macleod, 11, Granddaughter

And finally:

1901 – Mc Dougall's House, Boisdale, South Uist
Frederick T Gillies, 26, Shopkeeper Grocer, b. Harris

It is evident that at least two of the Gillies's children, Roderick b.1866 and Mary b. 1868, were born in Harris suggesting that Malcolm may have spent at least these three years teaching on the island.
The next birth, that of Malcolm in 1870, took place in Kilmuir which suggests that was the latest date that he was still teaching on Harris before teaching in Kilmuir prior to returning to North Uist.
All the earlier children are indicated as having been born on North Uist and the same is said of the final child, Frederick Thomas, if we are to believe the census of 1881. However, in the next two censuses he is clearly shown as having been born in Harris.
I am happy to confirm that his birth was registered in Harris and that he was born in 1873.

Fred Thomas must have been delighted to have the lad named after him and I would love to discover whether the two of them met before Fred's death in 1885.

'The Living Voice'

This is the title of Michael Robson's brilliant essay in 'Togail Tir ', the 1989 book that is a treasure for those of us with an interest in the mapping of the isles and matters arising from such mapping.

On page 102 of the book and with regard to the recording of placenames by the Ordnance Survey, he writes, 'The islanders who helped were recorded by name, and it would be an interesting and worthwhile task to identify them all.' which is precisely what I intend to do for one such individual.

Robson records 'Angus Shaw, at Strond' as the man who helped so what can we learn of Angus?
There are a few possible candidates for this man but the one who appears to be the best fit appears in the censuses as shown below (People in bold are those who appear more than once over time)

1841 - Strond
Angus Shaw, 25
Mary Shaw, 25
Christian Shaw, 1

1851 – Geocrab
Angus Shaw, 42, Gamekeeper
Una Shaw, 36
Christy Shaw, 10
Duncan Shaw, 8
Alexander W Shaw, 6
Donald Shaw, 4
John Shaw, 1

1857 – Charts of the Sound of HarrisSound of Harris (Otter) & East Loch Tarbert (Thomas)

1861 – Ardslave
Angus Shaw, 50, Gamekeeper
Winford Shaw, 40
Christina Shaw, 20
Duncan Shaw, 17
Donald Shaw, 13
John Shaw, 11
Anne Shaw, 7

1871 – Strond
Angus Shaw, 64, Gamekeeper
Una Shaw, 58
Duncan Shaw, 25
Alex Shaw, 25
Donald Shaw, 21
John Shaw, 19
Anne Shaw, 17

1875-77 Ordnance Survey surveying Harris

1881 - Strond
Angus Shaw, 70, Crofter
Ann Shaw, 60
Alexander Shaw, 34
Anna Shaw, 24
Donald Shaw, 32
Rachel Shaw, 12, Granddaughter
Angus Mackay, 10, Grandson
John McDermid, 80, Brother-in-law

1891 – Strond
Una Shaw, 79, Crofter
Alexr Shaw, 40
Anne Shaw, 32
Rachel Shaw, 22

1901 – Strond
Alexander Shaw, 45, Crofter
Anne Shaw, 36, Sister
Rachel Morrison, 30
Angus Mackay, 25, Nephew
Peggy Mcsween, 12, Granddaughter

I am sure that this is the same family, followed from 1841 onwards, and am reasonably sure that this is indeed the Angus Shaw who assisted the Ordnance Survey.

Whether his wife, 'Mary', died and he remarried Una/Winford(?)/Ann could be discerned from an examination of their Death Certificates, plus those of the daughter Christian and one of the later children, should one wish to do so.

However, I am happy to present Angus Shaw, born circa 1810, a Gamekeeper in South Harris and father of six, as my first contribution to this '...interesting and worthwhile task...' !

Notes: Robson also discusses the roles of Alexander Carmichael and FWL Thomas and I remind readers of the gem that is Bald's 1804/5 Map of Harris & of my less-shiny attempt at a prose-poem on landscape.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Renting Rodel

Isle of Harris.
TO LET with Entry Whitsunday next (1887),
the FARM OF RODEL,
consisting partly of Arable Land
and partly of Hill Grazing.
Apply to Mr BRYDONE, Luskintyre, Harris,
or Messrs. DONDAS & WILSON,
15 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh

This advertisement appeared in the Scottish Highlander on the 17th March 1887 and it interests me greatly:

Firstly, 'Mr Brydone' is Thomas Brydone, who had been the Factor of the South Harris Estate for only 6 months when he appeared before the Napier Commission. His life has been explored more fully in this piece from ADB's 'Pentland Road' blog.

Secondly, six years before the advert my relative Angus Kerr was the Farm Manager at Rodel but was no longer in that role in 1891. We also know that in 1883 Rodel House was unoccupied and, apparently, being readied for the 7th Earl of Dunmore. From that same piece we see that in 1891 my relative was a 'Retired Groom' and then in 1901 a 'Retired Coachman', so if the Earl did indeed return to Rodel House anytime between 1883 & 1891 then Angus was probably the man driving him & his guests around in their coach!

Finally, although there is no Farmer listed at Rodel in 1891, those shown there in 1901 were Roderick Campbell and his son John, who was living with his wife Marion and her parents - Angus & Lexy Kerr.

It must be remembered that all those, including my relatives, who thrived at Rodel Farm were able to do so because of the dreadful event that took place there in 1818. and that it was one Mrs Anne Campbell, holder of the Tack of Strond & Killegray, who kindness at this particular time was remarked upon. 
Was this the real reason for her incurring the wrath of Donald Stewart in 1834?  I suspect so!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

A Balanced View of the Balance of Nature?

On the 18th of March 1842, the Inverness Journal announced that:
The Earl of Dunmore has ordered a supply of hares and rabbits to be let loose over the island of Harris.
The island does not contain much arable land, and the farmer will be remunerated as a sportsman for any loss he may otherwise sustain.

Eight days later on the 26th of March another paper, the Manchester Times & Gazette, quoted an article in the Inverness Courier:
'The Earl of Dunmore has ordered a supply of hares and rabbits to be let loose over the island of Harris.
This must be intended as a boon for the sportsman; it will scarcely prove one to the farmer; but the island does not contain much arable land.'

I think it is clear that either a 'press release' had been the original source of these articles (with the Journal printing it verbatim and the Courier slightly altering the emphasis of the second sentence) or that the Courier had perhaps used the Journal's article as the basis for it's piece?

Whatever the case, a couple of year's later on the 20th of April 1844 an article in the 'Scotsman' was quoted by 'The Freeman's journal & Daily Commercial Advertiser':
RATS IN THE HEBRIDES
'Generations have passed away without seeing a rat on the small island of Tarinsay, on the west coast of Harris. An innumerable swarm of these annoying and destructive vermin have of late spread over the island, notwithstanding the efforts of Mr Macdonald, the taskmaster, to extirpate them. They appear to be increasing so fast that they threaten to over-run the whole island, and keep violent possession of it.
They are supposed to have come from the island of Soay, which lies at the distance of about three miles from Tarinsay, and into which the Earl of Dunmore, some years ago, ordered rabbits to be sent. Soon after this, the rats, which were formerly very numerous on the island of Soay, completely disappeared, having removed in a body to the neighbouring island, from which they are not inclined to take their departure in a hurry.'

Note: 'Tarinsay' for Taransay is forgiveable whilst substituting 'taskmaster' for 'tacksman' was, perhaps, a Freudian slip as the island had recently been Cleared for this same John Macdonald?

Island which spent £600,000 getting rid of rats over-run by rabbits, trumpeted the Telegraph of 27th of April 2010, referring to the island of Canna, with the same story also being covered by the Guardian, which didn't mention the cost of the operation, and by the Times, whose tabloidesque headline apparently suggests that the rabbits had consumed the island itself!

Nature & newspapers sometimes seem to share similar difficulties in maintaining balance...

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Mol na Hearradh - 'The Stoney Beach of Harris'

From the comments section in the previous piece arises the matter of the 'March' or boundary between Harris & Lewis. I am extremely grateful to my friend ADB for once again coming to my aid by identifying 'Mulhagery' at Grid Ref NB197118 which I then found on the 6-inch OS map where it appears as Mol na Hearradh.
What was particularly interesting was that, according to the 6-inch series, the majority, if not all, of the buildings appeared to lie on the Lewis side of the boundary hence I was surprised that the people living there were listed in the 1851 census of Harris.
However, this statement from 1805 provides the answer:
'Depones, That he is not so well acquainted with the situation of the march betwixt Lewis and Harris, as it proceeds to Loch Seaforth on the east, but understands it to be at the rivulet called Gil a Mhoil, which falls into Loch Seaforth, at Mol na Herradh; and that the term Mol na Herradh signifies, The Stoney Beach of Harris, which name it has always had.'
It was made by a Sub-Forester, Donald Macaulay, and is to be found in this PDF document created by Hebridean Connections and CE Uig, with the latter providing further fascinating information here http://www.ceuig.com/archives/911 and here http://www.ceuig.com/archives/1215.


The boundary was again subject to a dispute in 1850 which moved it further North leaving us with the 1841 census list of 53 people living in Mol na Herradh as a unique record of folk whose homes in 'The Stoney Beach Of Harris' are now in Lewis!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

SHEEP STEALING

Roderick Macdonald, Scalladale, In the Isle of Harris, was charged with having, in July last, stolen four wedder sheep, the property of Mr Stewart, Luskintyre.
He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to fourteen years' transportation.
Inverness Journal 22nd April 1842

We know much of Donald Stewart, the farmer of Luskintyre, but what of Roderick Macdonald of Scalladale?

The 1841 census record 7 people of that name on the island but we can ignore the youngest three, who were only 1, 2 & 7 years old, leaving us with the following quartet who are shown in order of their ages:

14, Scarp son of Donald & Margaret
28, Carragrich, Tenant
35, Obb
40, Molnahcuradh, Shepherd, wife Effy & 5 children

A decade later, those still found on the island aged 20 and over are listed below with those who match, and therefore were certainly not our man, shown in bold:

23, Scarp
25, Obe, Merchant & Innkeeper's son (He who soon married Sarah Grant)
40, Carragrich, Crofter
46, St Kilda, Farmer of 3 acres & Bird Catcher employing no men
50, Drinishader, Farmer of 4 acres, wife Catherine

It is clear that only two of those who were listed in 1841 can be positively matched in the list of 1851 leaving us with the two oldest men from 1841 as potential candidates.

So what clues might we glean from the place named in the article, Scalladale?

Sgaladail (Scaladale) is a tiny settlement adjacent to Ardvourlie in North Harris, but that is a modern place and no buildings, not even ruins, are shown there on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey 6-inch map.

A clue may be provided by this record from RCAHMS but I can see no ruins shown at NB 180 092 on the current 1:50 000 or 1:25 000 OS maps.

Nevertheless, the reference to these five possible shielings would make sense if 'Scalladale' referred not only to where Roderick was living at the time but perhaps also to the 'scene' of his crime.

Was he, in that July of 1841, living in a summer shieling and, perhaps, doing so in the capacity of Shepherd?
If so, then the 40 year-old of 'Molnahcuradh' might well be him, especially as neither he nor any of his family can be accurately identified as remaining on Harris in 1851.

It is also just possible that the Roderick we seek was already in the shieling at the time of the census, evading the enumerator's eye and thus absent from the record.

One thing that would help enormously in eliminating the man of 'Molnahcuradh' from my investigations (which I certainly would prefer to be able to do) would be if I had a any idea as to where the 53 people living in the place of that name actually were! Only seven peoples' occupations are given; two were Tenants, two were Ag Labs and three were Shepherds; suggesting that wherever the location, it was most certainly closely associated with one of the sheep farms.

In conclusion, I cannot be sure if any of the Roderick Macdonalds of 1841 were indeed our sheep-stealer but, whoever he was, his punishment of fourteen years in the antipodes was an awfully harsh treatment for taking just four of Donald Stewart's castrated sheep.

Note: The National Archives provide some useful educational information on Transportation as a punishment: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/candp/punishment/g09/g09cs1.htm

I have just discovered that Roderick Macdonald,
sentenced at his trial in Inverness in 1842 to 14 years Transportation,
arrived in Tasmania aboard the 'Emily' in that same year.
In the final 'Remarks' column is written
'Died 1845 Sepr.'
I don't know what the value of four wedders was in 1841,
but I do know it cannot be compared to the value of a human life... 
RIP Roderick Macdonald

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Clearance of Borve, Harris 1839

This is an unusually long piece purely because I have attempted to combine in one place all that can be gleaned from published accounts relating to this particular Clearance.

We start with the First Report from the Committee on Emigration, Scotland 1841 which is contained in the House of Commons Papers Volume 6 Thursday 19th March 1841 (I have provided the full text of this examination in a previous piece so what follows is an analysis of information specifically related to the events of 1839 contained in Duncan Shaw's responses):

Henry James Baillie, Esq, in the Chair
Mr. Duncan Shaw, called in ; and Examined.

At the time he was Factor for Harris and North Uist having earlier been the Factor for South Uist. Shaw came to the 'Long Island' at Whitsuntide 1811 (or 12, depending on which part of his account you take the year from!) having previously spent six years on Skye since leaving his native Perthshire. He quotes a figure of £11,500 for the value of the Kelp made on Clanronald's South Uist estate in one year alone. He remarks on the large population growth that has taken place on the isles since that time but was unable to give an estimate of the extent.

He cites the fall in the price of kelp and the lack of public works as key components leading to the present poverty of the population and informs us that the money made in kelp manufacturing was used by the people to pay their rent so that arrears were a relative rarity. The people were wholly dependant upon one industry to afford them the means to pay their rent and were actually more profitable tenants than the grazing farms. He actually makes the astonishing admission that 'We got of course higher rents from the small tenants employed in the manufacture of kelp in labour, than they would have paid in money.' The word for this is exploitation...

Returning to the expanding population, he reminds us that 'In 1803 there was a very great disposition on the part of the people in the Long Island to emigrate, and the Government became alarmed at the extent of the emigration. An Act was passed, regulating the terms of sending emigrants to America, which raised the freights so much that few could emigrate, owing to the expense. For the purpose, I believe, partly of keeping the people in the country, the Caledonian Canal and the Highland Road and Bridge Acts were passed, and this regiment of local militia furnished the people with so much employment, and brought so much money into their hands, that along with the kelp manufacture, then flourishing, it put an end to the desire to emigrate.'

Whatever one thinks about Shaw's actions, he deserves grudging admiration for reminding the Government that it was their legislation, introduced at the height of the country's demand for home-made kelp, that was in part to blame for the present situation.

As regards Harris, he gives figures of 'about 440 families of crofters holding directly from Lord Dunmore, and I should think 2,300 people that do not hold of him, if at all.'
The context of this is that there were 4,300 people living on the island so by implication less than half the population were generating income directly for the 6th Earl.

A brief interlude in which we are informed that of the famine relief provided by the Lord about 1/3 will be repaid, and then he delivers his (prepared) account of the circumstances around events in 1839:(Please noteI have added a commentary within the statement)

"The small farm of Borve, in the Island of Harris, lately possessed by crofters, lies in the the middle of one of the largest and best grazing farms in the West Highlands.
This being the ever-expanding farm that Donald Stewart has rented for at least 30 years.
Borve is ill-suited for crofters, having no sea-weed for manure; no fishing, not even as much as a creek where, for a great part of the year, a boat could land, constant disputes occurred between the tenant of the surrounding grazings and the crofters.
The fertility of the area results from that unique combination of peat and shell-sand that is known as machair. One reason for a lack of sea-weed throughout the isle was, of course, the fact that it had been the raw-material in the manufacture of kelp. Fishing is a red-herring for it was the 'improving' of agriculture that had pushed the people into what had previously not been a major source of food or income. However, in referring to the 'constant disputes' that took place between Donald Stewart and those on the land that he craved, Duncan Shaw is inadvertently supporting the argument that it was the expansion of the sheep-farm that was the root cause of the call Clearance.
They were miserably poor; payment of rent, except by labour, was out of the question, and labour was unproductive : they were much in arrears, even for the price of meal annually imported.
Mr. N. McLean, an eminent land valuator from Inverness, who inspected and valued the estate of Harris, strongly recommended the removal of the tenants.
The extent of the poverty is not in question but the inhuman opinion of a land valuator, however 'eminent', in recommending uprooting people from their ancestral land is simply disgusting.
The tenant of the large farm refused to renew his lease if Borve were not included in it. The proprietor, the Earl of Dunmore, could not afford to lose so good a tenant for a farm paying 600L a year in so remote a corner as Harris; it was determined to remove the crofters, providing for them elsewhere.
£600 was 1% of the price paid for the island in 1834 and about 17% of the total rental income. Nevertheless, the Earl could easily have advertised for a new tenant to replace this one man.
Three years were allowed them to prepare.
If this dates the decision to 1836 (and his next sentence suggests that this was so) then we can firmly place it in the hands of the 6th Earl of Dunmore who had inherited that island that very year. This is important and we have a letter from his wife, Catherine Countess of Dunmore, dated the 15th of April 1836 in which she complains about the rates paid by islanders for mainland roads. This informs us that the 21 year-old was already involved in matters relating to the running of the estate.
1836 was also the first of two consecutive years of poor harvests with the potato crop suffering particularly badly. It also happens to be the year that the 7th Earl, who was five years away from being born, alleged saw his mother start the Harris Tweed industry.
At Martinmas 1838, they were told they must remove at Whitsuntide 1839.
In 1838 their neighbours in Seilibost were not so lucky for it was then that they were Cleared.
Such of them as from age or other infirmities were unfit subjects for emigration, were offered better lands elsewhere in Harris; those able to emigrate were informed their whole arrears would be passed from, that they and their families would be landed free of expense, with the proceeds of their crop and stock of cattle in their pockets, either at Cape Breton, where their friends and countrymen were already settled, or in Canada, at their choice; these offers were then considered generous, and no objection was made to them.
Firstly, any talk of 'better lands elsewhere in Harris' has to be questioned for, as we know from Donald Stewart's coveting of Borve and his existing holdings at Luskentyre, this are a mirage. Secondly, the fact that objections were not raised publicly by powerless individuals is not proof that they had no such objections. It merely confirms that they were too scared to raise them.
In the meantime, however, occurrences of an unpleasant nature had taken place in the neighbouring island of Skye. Some people on the estate of Macleod fearing a removal, wrote threatening letters to Macleod, of Macleod, and his factor. Inflammatory proclamations of the same description were posted on the church doors, and some sheep belonging to a sheep grazier were houghed and killed. Those guilty of these outrages eluded detection.
Duncan Shaw would have had a particularly intimate knowledge of these events because his son, Charles Shaw, began being an apprentice Writer of the Signet on the 11th of December 1834 and was assisting his father's work on Harris from Whitsuntide of that year until Whitsuntide 1838. He would rise to Sheriff-Substitute of the Inverness isles by the end of 1841. He also just happened to be the Factor on Skye.
Exaggerated accounts of these occurrences soon reached Harris, and joined with bad advices from those who ought to have known better, wrought an immediate change on the tempers of the people; assured that no military would be sent to so remote a corner, they were advised to refuse the offer which had been made to them, and to resist the execution of the law.
Here he appears to suggest that the people were in his view erroneously 'fired-up' by a combination of factors but whether this stems from a certain respect for the normally quiescent nature of the islander or was included for some other reason I am unsure.
Every argument was used to bring them to reason, but without effect; they defied and severely maltreated the officers of the law.
A few years later the ladies of Loch Shell would be 'de-bagging' the officers of the law but in what way these ones were 'severely maltreated' is not recorded!
It was now ascertained that a conspiracy for resisting the law existed in all this quarter of the West Highlands, which, if not at once checked, would lead to consequences no lover of order would care to think of.
This is an outrageous allegation and his use of the word 'ascertained' seems to me to suggest that the existence of any such conspiracy was never proven. Shaw is retrospectively justifying the decision to bring in the troops.
An investigation took place before the sheriff, to which it was, however, impossible to bring any of the rioters; application was made to Government for military aid, which, under proper precautions, was granted; a lieutenant and a party of 30 men under the charge of the sheriff-depute of the county were sent to Harris.
No evidence, no arrests but still the military were summoned.
The people expecting nothing of the kind were taken by surprise.
Five of the ringleaders were taken into custody without opposition. The stay of the military in the island did not exceed a few hours. The only object Lord Dunmore and his agents had in view in applying for military aid, was the vindication of the authority of the law. This having been done by the seizure of the leaders in the riot, the tenants were at once forgiven ; they were allowed to continue in possession for another year, on the same terms as formerly.
Thus it was that five men were arrested and those left forced to accept the terms.
His Lordship solicited the liberation of the five prisoners, and sent money to defray the expense of their journey home.
This is odd – on the one-hand these men were supposedly some of those involved in a conspiracy to ferment revolt across the West Highlands and on the other their landlord got them freed and repatriated?
Thus terminated an outbreak which, but for the prompt measures of Government in sending the military, would have thrown the whole West Highlands into confusion for many years.”

I think the phrase we would use is 'setting an example' and I suspect that the rescue of the Borve Five had more to do with a lack of them having committed any provable crime rather than anything else.

Once the statement had been read, the questioning continued and we learn that the next year the 'removal' took place. A few stayed in Borve to service the farm, some were scattered elsewhere on the island either to land 'from Lord Dunmore' or to that of their families and none emigrated.

Despite all that they had been through, the people had refused to leave the land. However, and bearing in mind that he was addressing a committee on Emigration, Shaw then gives his interrogators assurances that now the situation is such that '...even in Harris the people are now willing to emigrate.' He suggests removing 2,500 from North Uist and '...about the same number from Harris.'!

He, in all seriousness, wants to reduce the population by more than half. The motive for this is clear for it is the two proprietors who foot the bill to provide famine relief although when asked if the recipients are expected to eventually reimburse them, he stated 'most certainly we expect it to be paid for in more prosperous years.' This revelation produces from a Mr Dunbar the following response: 'You hold the settlement over their heads?' but whether he exclaimed it in horror or not is not recorded.

I do not want to continue with this examination for, although it certainly has much of value in the context of later actions on the estate, it takes us away from our focus which a contemporary account called a 'Disturbance in the island of Harris'.

The Inverness Courier in 1839 described it as 'A circumstance of very rare occurrence in the remote and peaceful islands of the Hebrides...' It continues by explaining that the Earl '...contemplating some extensive improvements in the culture and management of the land, had given notice to a number of the cottars, about fifty families, to remove their huts and little patches of ground.'
No mention of the duress applied by Donald Stewart but useful in providing the number of families involved although the image of them having '...to remove their huts and little patches of ground.' is perhaps even more alarming than the reality of what they faced! The article proceeds and, in somewhat intemperate language states that 'It was feared also that violent measures might be resorted to, and blood shed in the struggle.' Those sent are then identified as '...a detachment of the 78th regiment...' accompanied by 'Mr Fraser Tytler, sheriff of the county, Mr A. Fraser, sheriff-substitute of the Fort William district, Mr Mackay, procurator fiscal, and Mr John Macbean, an active criminal officer of Inverness.' The account was written before the 'action' took place and the article ends on a depressingly familiar note, reminding us that 'Nothing can be more miserable than the condition of these poor highlanders, living in the most wretched huts, destitute of employment, and forever on the brink of famine. Emigration to America or Australia would be the greatest boon that would be conferred upon them. This is a point on which all well-wishers of the Highlands are agreed; and we sincerely trust that arrangements may be made for this purpose, of such a nature as to overcome, by moral force, the repugnance natural to our poor countrymen at quitting the land of their fathers.' followed finally by the fact that 'The population of the Island of Harris, according to the census of 1831, is 3900.

The story was taken up by the Aberdeen Journal which, on the 31st of July 1839, published in full the account from the Inverness Courier and then added the following update:

'Subsequent accounts state that, after an absence of nine days, the party, which consisted of twenty-nine men and a searjeant, under the command of Lieutenant Neill, returned to Glasgow on Saturday last, having executed their mission – painful though it was – firmly, yet peacefully.
At Portree, the party was joined by the Sheriff of the County, Mr Mackay, Procurator Fiscal, and Mr Macbean, and active criminal officer from Inverness.
six the same evening. All the cottars or small farmers implicated in the deforcement, were requested to assemble at the village, and from the body five men, who had been most active in the illegal proceedings, were selected, and carried prisoners to Portree. Before leaving, arrangements were entered into for the tenantry finally leaving the island at a convenient term.
The visit of the military excited the deepest alarm among the poor islanders, who were heard to express in Gaelic their terror that the scene of Glencoe was about to be enacted over again.
Their condition is represented as being very miserable indeed; and though it may be bitter to break the tie that binds these poor people to the rugged land of their fathers, yet emigration anywhere would absolutely be a boon.
Agricultural improvement, too, is out of the question so long as the crofters are next to starvation on the very lands which they till, and this is still unfortunately the case in many parts of the Highlands, which would otherwise be fruitful and productive.'

So some fifty families, probably equating to about 260 men, women and children, were in 'terror' as their homes were rendered uninhabitable and hence forced 'to break the tie that binds' them to the 'land of their fathers' and into emigration.
Why?
Because 'Agricultural improvement...is out of the question...and this is...the case in many parts of the Highlands, which would otherwise be fruitful & productive.'

One can debate the 'niceties' as to what extent the Clearances were an economic inevitability, or whether they were as extensive or forced or terrible as I believe them to have been, but one cannot silence the cries of terror in the Gaelic tongue, dry the the tears of the terrified women and children, avoid the stench of the burnt milk on the quenched hearths, excuse the wilful destruction of the priceless roof timbers, feel the pain of separation and emigration, witness the grief of funerals and burials at sea of those who never reached those 'promised' lands, nor excuse the failure of future generations of the rich and powerful to restore to the people the use of the land that had been so cruelly and inhumanely taken from them.

Angus Macleod would later give us a description which I shall leave as the last words on the matter:

Donald Stewart of Luskentyre had a reputation of being an oppressor of the crofters of Park when he was there, but it was in Harris that he excelled himself by ruthlessly clearing the crofters from the West Coast of Harris.
In Borve, Harris, in 1839 he caused the fires on the hearths to be drowned with domestic milk while the thatch was ripped off the houses with hooks and even the roof timbers and the thatch was collected and burnt, until there was nothing left but the blackened shells of the once hospitable homes.”
Angus Macleod – ‘Lewis Maciver of Gress’ in the Angus Macleod Archive

Refs (Chronological by event):

NAS Reference GD46/13/45 Letter by Lady Dunmore per James Campbell Tait, her agent, to J A Stewart Mackenzie, M P relating to the injustice of assessments laid on the proprietors of the Western Isles for roads on the mainland and enclosing copy letters from Mr Duncan Shaw, Benbecula, factor on the Harris estate, and Mr Robert Brown, Hamilton. 15 Apr 1836

NAS Reference GD201/4/97 Duncan Shaw to Alexander Hunter, Esq. W.S. Dealing with the matter of application to the Government for assistance in sending the extra population of Benbecula to America. The proprietors should have influence in selecting the emigrants. Wishes to clear two parts of Clanranald's estate for pasture where the poorest of the people and most of the subtenants reside. Refers to the miserable state of the tacksmen and subtenants. The emigrants wish to go to Cape Breton. Refers to unsatisfactory state of kelp and fishing industries, and to expense of emigration. Report on Canna 25 Feb 1827

NAS Reference GD201/1/338 Report by Duncan Shaw, dealing with arrears of rents on Clanranald estates sold in Ardnamurchan and the Small Isles: necessity of arranging remaining estates so as to draw a revenue independent of kelp; suggested arrangements for Benbecula and South Uist. At Edinburgh 19 Nov 1827

Register of Society of Writers to the Signet
Charles Shaw, apprentice to William Mackenzie 11 Dec 1834

NAS Reference GD46/13/45 Letter by Lady Dunmore per James Campbell Tait, her agent, to J A Stewart Mackenzie, MP relating to the injustice of assessments laid on the proprietors of the Western Isles for roads on the mainland and enclosing copy letters from Mr Duncan Shaw, Benbecula, factor on the Harris estate, and Mr Robert Brown, Hamilton. 15 Apr 1836

Previous Pieces that contain other references:

An article that is on my(pending) reading list:
TGSI 52 1980-82 Morrison Alick, 'The Grianam Case, 1734-1781, The Kelp Industry, and the Clearances in Harris, 1811-1854 p20-89

Monday, 21 March 2011

VALUABLE AND EXTENSIVE ESTATE,

IN INVERNESS-SHIRE,
FOR SALE
The Estate of Harris will be exposed to sale in the course of next winter.
This Property forms part of the chain of Islands commonly denominated the Lewis or Long-Island.
Beside the main land of Harris, the Estate comprehends a number of Islands, of which seven are of considerable extent.
The Property extends to about 93,500 Scots acres, whereof about 7000 are Arable, and the greater part of the remainder Hill Pasture.
The Land Rent is about L3600, and the public burdens are moderate.
A Freehold and Church Patronage are attached to the lands.
There are valuable Fishing Banks, and the Shores, which are extensive, produce annually about 600 Tons of Kelp, well known in the market to be of very superior quality.
There are also several safe and accessible Harbours, and there is an excellent carriage road of considerable extent leading though the south and west parts of the main land.
The extension of steam navigation must be attended with important advantages to the Property.
Further particulars will be given in future advertisements.
Applications may be made to Messrs. Dickson and Steuart, W. S, 3 Royal Circus, Edinburgh.
Mr Donald Stewart, Factor of the Estate, resident Luskintyre, in Harris, will give directions for shewing the property.
Edinburgh, 20th April, 1832

Source: Inverness Journal, 18th May 1832 via Am Baile & Inverness Reference Library

This is what George Murray, 5th Earl of Dunmore, bought from Alexander Norman Macleod for £60,000 in 1834. He considered it to have been a bargain and, with an apparent annual rental return of 6%, it is easy to see why he thought so.

One can easily imagine Donald Stewart making an excellent job of 'shewing the property', no doubt emphasising the opportunities to extend the sheep farms but perhaps forgetting to mention his ongoing legal disputes regarding the church on Berneray or the lease held by Mrs Anne Campbell of Strond & Killegray?

Confusion regarding the naming of the isles, which continues to rumble-on today, is shown by the reference to 'The Lewis' for if anything the phrase is more correctly 'The Lews' but I do not intend following that particular diversion today.
The seven islands 'of considerable extent' that accompany 'the main land of Harris' are Berneray, Ensay, Killegray, Pabbay, Scalpay, Scarp and Taransay all of which were within the Parish of Harris. The Freehold was presumably Rodel House whilst the church patronage refers to the appointment of the Minister to the Parish Church at Scarista.

Whilst there were 'valuable Fishing Banks' it was already Stornoway that was profiting the most from these for Tarbert had been overlooked by the British Fisheries Society four decades previously.
The 600 Tons of Kelp being produced at this late stage comes as a surprise for the market had collapsed 20 years ago but on the other hand we know that in 1821 the Farm of Strond had manufactured 115 tons of high-quality Kelp.

The 'extensive carriage road' was that running from Rodel to An-t-Ob and thence along the West coast to Luskintyre but the majority of overland travel was along unmade tracks and the sea remained the main 'road', a term that was still commonly used to describe such sea-routes.

Steam navigation would indeed provide improved communications however not during the lifetimes of the 5th or 6th Earls but in that of the Charles Adolphus Murray, the 7th Earl of Dunmore.

Note: Many more references to these matters appear elsewhere in this blog and I have merely directed readers to those pieces that might otherwise be overlooked!

Friday, 18 March 2011

HARRIS - EMBROIDERY SCHOOL

On Wednesday last, the girls attending the Countess of Dunmore's school for embroidery at Obbe, assembled to receive payment for the work done by them during the past half-year.
Many of the ladies of Harris were present, who were much gratified by witnessing the progress made by the children, and in examining their beautiful work.
After the business of the day had been transacted, the children were regaled upon tea, cake, and many other good things of a more substantial kind, for which treat they were indebted to the liberality of Mrs Macrae, Hushinish.
The school is of great benefit to the island, as girls who otherwise would be idle for most part of the year, were here taught a useful and elegant art by which they can not only support themselves in a respectable manner, but also contribute to the support of their families.
The poor of Harris cannot be sufficiently grateful to Lady Dunmore for the interest she always takes in their welfare.
One proof of this is the institution under notice, which is under the management of Mrs Galbraith, whose untiring exertions for its benefit are deserving of the highest commendation.

Inverness Advertiser Thursday, 3rd June 1856 (via Am Baile and the Inverness Reference Library)

The school had been opened in 1849 and this account informs us that Mary Galbraith, the 32 year-old from Ireland, was already in charge. Her husband, Henry Galbraith, was Gardener for the Dunmores and in 1861 we find the couple living in the house at An-t-Ob that had been built for the gardener in 1850.

The tea-party was provided by no less a person than the wife of Alexander McRa, 'Fear Huisinis', and one wonders what the parents really thought of her 'liberality'!

It doesn't appear as if the Dowager Countess herself was present on this occasion (which took place on Wednesday, 28th May 1856) presumably, although it not made explicit, at the school in 'Obbe'?

Nevertheless, another little window into the world of 19thC Harris has presented itself and I think we should leave the children to enjoy their 'tea, cake, and many other good things...'!

Update: They worked all day for 6d. There were 26 attending the school in 1866 and 10 of them couldn’t read and only 3 could write. School or sweat-shop?
Source: ‘The Schooling of Working-Class Girls in Victorian Scotland’, Jane McDermid, 2005

HARRIS – PUBLIC MEETINGS FOR FOOTPATHS

Largely attended meetings of the inhabitants of the Bays District, and of Strond and Obbe, were held last week for the purpose of pressing upon the County Council and Government the urgent necessity of affording a grant in aid of the construction of roads and footpaths in Harris, and also of relieving the necessities of the people of affording them work.

At Flodabay, the meeting was addressed by
Kenneth Maclennan, crofter, Finsbay;
Donald Mackinnon, Flodabay;
Sergeant John Mackinnon, Flodabay, and
Alexander Morrison, Bayhead;

while at Obbe, the meeting was addressed by
Donald Paterson, crofter, Strond;
Donald Kerr, crofter, Strond, and
William Gilles, Strond.

At both meetings it was stated by all the speakers that the people of Harris were sore pressed, bordering on want, caused by the terrible weather of last winter, preventing them prosecuting the fishing.

It was also stated, that unless the footpaths partly built last year were continued and completed between the different townships and schools, the children in many parts could not yet attend school save in the best weather.

Resolutions were passed unanimously expressing the gratitude of the people of Harris to Sir George Trevelyan and Dr Macgregor, MP, for last year's grant, and a further grant this year was urgently pressed for. A petition to Parliament for a similar purpose has been signed in the Kylis, Stockinish district by heads of families representing 1056 people.

Source: Scottish Highlander 29th March 1894 (via Am Baile & Inverness Reference Library)

(I have altered the layout in order to make the article easier to read but left the reference to Kyles Stockinish as it appeared in the original.)

It would be another three years before the 'Golden Road' through the Bays was completed whilst the people of Strond were still waiting for their road to be completed nearly 50 years later.

Talking of those people, I was slightly surprised to realise that the Messrs. Paterson and Gilles were related to each other (and to me), by marriage, whilst we three share no connection with Mr Kerr!

William Gilles (b. abt1850) was a Stone Mason, whilst by 1901 Donald Kerr (b. abt1858) was a Road Labourer on Berneray, which probably explains why these two addressed the meeting.

It is interesting too see the reference to the bad weather of the Winter of 1893/4 which must have been particularly terrible to have prevented the men from fishing.

I suspect the reference to the difficulties facing the children in attending school was raised partly out of parental concern for their offspring's education but also because a poor attendance record for the Parish would reflect badly upon the County Council.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Contribution From India For The People Of Harris

'The Scotsman notices that the last number of the Friends of India contains an interesting statement regarding that “most desolate and poverty-stricken of the Western Isles,” Harris, with a population of 4400, the majority of whom “live in sight of starvation the whole year.” “They are always hungry: ...many of them never know what it is to feel satisfied after a meal. Poor as the other islands are, nowhere are the people in so wretched a condition as in Harris.
The article from which we quote (and we guess it to be from the pen of Mrs Colin Mackenzie) goes on to describe the noble exertions which an English lady, Mrs Captain Thomas, the wife of the naval officer surveying the coast of Harris, has made for the last two or three years, “striving, as she has done, with all her might, and almost unassisted, to raise a population from the extremity of misery.” She has established schools, got the church finished, has collected subscriptions by which she has supported a catechist in the island for almost three years, has set on foot a bazaar by which she has raised funds for building a manse, has induced numbers of the fishermen to join the Coast-Guard service, and has brought up in Edinburgh several relays of boys and girls, who have all turned out most docile and excellent servants, and strives, but hitherto striven in vain, to raise means for enabling some of the poor and starving families of the isle to emigrate.
Shall we not (writes the Friend of India) - “Shall we not help her?”
The appeal ends with a series of subscriptions from Hindoos and others, as H. H. the Nawab Naziur, 500 rupees; Rajab Prosuno Narain Dab Buhadur, 100 rupees, etc.
Is this not a great and deserved censure upon the apathy with which we look upon the miseries of poverty when they chance to be to near our own door?'

Inverness Advertiser Friday 22 Feb 1861

This article, obtained from the Inverness Reference Library via Am Baile's online search and order service, is, quite simply, the pinnacle of the primary sources that I have perused in relation to this magnificent lady (and also of the situation on Harris fully a decade after the final potato famine).

Everything that I have researched regarding Mrs Frances Sarah Thomas Bousfield Thomas (yes, that was her full name following her two baptisms and her first marriage!) leads up to this newspaper piece. This may come as a surprise for where is the Clo Mor, or the Stocking Knitters, or whatever? The answer is that I do not believe that either 'Harris Tweed' or 'Strond Stockings' were truly significant economic activities at this early date and it was the less glamorous work amongst the people that is described above that the exhaustingly energetic Fanny was devoting herself to at this time.

Of the publication, 'The Friend of India', I have learnt that it was created by the missionary John Clark Marshman http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Clark_Marshman but, although the title contains the word 'Friend', I have not discovered whether it was associated with the Society of Friends. I raise this because, although I have no proof that the Thomas's were 'Quakers', an article on Mrs Thomas appeared in 'The British Friend' of 1888.

Mrs Captain Thomas, my 'Heroine of Harris', was certainly a friend to the people of the isle...

North or South?

Apparently the North Harris Estate was sold in 1867 to Sir Ernest Scott for £155,000.
At least that's what I once wrote but I'm having serious second thoughts. For a start, I cannot locate the origin of that figure and can only discover vague references to the sale being partly in payment for a debt that the 7th Earl had with his bankers. If that weren't bad enough, I have now discovered that the South Harris Estate was advertised for sale in 1876 for...£155,000. It may be coincidence or, equally, it may be that the figure quoted for the sale of the North Harris Estate in '67 was actually the price asked for the South Harris Estate in '76.

I don't know but, putting aside my earlier error for a moment, what is significant about this second sale is that it never took place. Only three years earlier, in 1873, the restoration of St Clement's Church had been completed so why the 35 year-old Earl was wanting to dispose of his remaining estate at this particular time is unknown as are the reasons for it failing to be sold.

I will discuss the description of the Estate later but meanwhile must apologise for suggesting that the North Harris Estate had been acquired for £155,000, although I must have obtained that figure from somewhere...

CATTLE TRYST IN HARRIS

ALEXANDER N M'CLEOD, Esq, of Harris, being desirous of establishing a CATTLE MARKET on his Estate, notice is hereby given to Drovers and Cattle Dealers, that this Market or Tryst will be held at the head of the Ford of Luskintyre, in Harris, on the 20th of July, being the Tuesday following the Stornoway Cattle Market. Lochstocknish, which is well known to be a good harbour, is within two miles of the Marketplace. Every accommodation will be given to Dealers; they may depend upon getting Vessels and boats to ferry the Cattle either to the Isle of Skye or the mainland, on very moderate terms, and a good shew of cattle may be expected.
Harris, 7th June, 1813

This notice appeared in the Inverness Journal of Friday, 2 July 1813 and I obtained a copy of the image via the service provided by Am Baile and Inverness Reference Library.


Alexander Norman Macleod had inherited Harris from his father, Alexander Hume Macleod, in 1811 and by the time of this notice some 34 years had passed since his grandfather, Captain Macleod, had purchased the Estate. It is quite surprising to learn that, as late as 1813, there wasn't an established Cattle Market on the isle. i presume, therefore, that we can say with a fair degree of confidence that the first such Cattle Tryst was this one on the 20th of July.
I don't know for how long it remained 'at the head of the Ford of Luskintyre' nor whether Loch Stocinis became the principle place of departure for the cattle heading elsewhere, but my understanding is that cattle were taken from near Tarbert to either Uig on Skye or to Poolewe on the Mainland whilst others were taken from Rodel to either Uig or Dunvegan on Skye.
More questions to answer, as usual, but it's pleasing to be able to say that we have Alexander N M'leod to thank for starting the annual cattle fair and the resultant droves from Harris.





Taking A Stance - On A Drove-Stance

On the 3rd of December 1846 a case was heard in court between the Marquis of Breadalbane and 'James M'Gregor and others'.

The case, which is extensively recorded in great detail, was with regard to a long-standing drove-stance that had been moved and the relationship of drove roads with later, mainly military, routes.

The place in question was Inverouran in Argyll which lies just off the modern A82 road and it is what the case has to tell us regarding the history and practice of droving that particularly interests me:

"The drove-road by Glencoe and the Blackmount was used for driving sheep and cattle long before the public road was formed, and it has continued to be used down to the present time in the same way as before the formation of the present road.
Nicely reminding us that it was such paths that had formed a large part of the land communication network for many, many years.
At Inverouran, the drove-road leaves the present public road for about two miles. It runs through the drove-stances in dispute, and has been used as a part of the drove road for the sheep and cattle from time immemorial.
I suggest that 'time immemorial' implies at least several centuries of use.
Shortly before 1745, a military road was, with the necessary engineering deviations, made under the authority of parliament, on or along the line of the former and ancient drove-road, which afterwards became the road by which the cattle and sheep were driven.
The first roads were built for political, rather than economic, purposes.
In 1803 this line of road was, in common with the other roads in the Highlands, placed under the management of parliamentary commissioners, and is so still; and, with the exception of occasional deviations, the present public road runs along the line or course of the ancient drove-road.
Not all 'modern' roads follow these ancient routes so it is nice to have this particular one confirmed.
The military road, and the present parliamentary road are, substantially, in the lino of the ancient drove-road, and came in its place, and, among others, to supply its purposes, which, until recently, have been its chief use."

" On their journey, certain places for resting and refreshing sheep and cattle are indispensable. These places are generally situated at the average distance of ten miles from one another, being the safe and proper distance sheep and cattle on a journey can daily travel without sustaining serious injury, and they are called drove-stances or stages, and are invariable and indispensable accompaniments of drove-roads; and on the great drove-road by Glencoe and the Blackmount, there have been for centuries past, and as far back as its history reaches, drove-stances at stated distances, for the resting of the sheep and cattle.
So we know that the average speed of these droves was about 10 miles per day which fact is worth pondering when you consider that some of these animals would leave in July to travel all the way from the Western Isles to England!
There are fixed rates of charge for every hundred sheep, and every score of cattle, attached to each stance; and these rates, - generally 1s. 6d. for every hundred sheep, and the like for every score of cattle for each night, -have been fixed for time immemorial."
Using the Retail Price Index reveals that 1s 6d is a little over £5 today and that is for every 100 sheep or 20 cattle and for each day of the journey. 5p per sheep per night and 25p per cow which it would be interesting to compare with modern haulage rates per 10 miles!

I might return to this case to see what other snippets might be lurking there but for now I think that's enough on the disputed drove-stance of Inverouran.

Source: The Scottish Jurist Vol XII 1867

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

'Ormisdal'

A novel. By the Earl of Dunmore FRGS, author of 'The Pamirs'.


'In this breezy and entertaining novel Lord Dunmore has given us a very readable and racy story of the life that centres in a Highland shooting, about the end of August.' - Glasgow Herald

This reference was found in 'Mr Edward Arnold's New and Popular Books, December 1901' and I believe the Earl's novel was published in 1895.

Has anyone heard of it? Or read it?

'The Pamirs' is still in print and, if you search the Amazon site, you will find by 'Charles Adolphus Murray Dunmore', a book called 'The Revelations of Christianus: And Other Christian Science Poems (1901)'

Christian Science was begun in 1879 by Mary Baker Eddy but I was unaware that the 7th Earl had any association with the religion.

LIFE Magazine - 17th October 1938 pages 58-61

These four pages, complete with several unique photographs, make for an interesting read regarding Harris Tweed.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Events in London in July 1845

On Thursday, 11th of September 1845, Lady Alexandrina Victoria Murray was baptised at St Leonard's, Streatham in Surrey. The family were living at 78 Pall Mall, London.
Her birth date is given as 19th July 1845 although it looks as if it was originally in the process of being written as the 16th and then amended. I have not seen her birth certificate to verify this but what is certain is that her father had died on Saturday, 15th July 1845, just a day, or a few days, before her birth. He was buried on 22nd July in the same church and by the same vicar who would perform his daughter's baptism a few short weeks later.

Her siblings:

Susan Constance Mary Murray (b 7 Jul 1837 in Wilton, Wilts.)
Constance Euphemia Woronzow Murray (b 28 Dec 1838 in Wilton, Wilts.)
Charles Adolphus Murray( b. 24 Mar 1841);

were only 8, 6 and 4 years old respectively.

Their widowed mother, the Dowager Countess of Dunmore was 30 years old and faced the prospect of not only raising a family but also running her son's estates for him until he became of age.

Quite when this occurred is complicated: Up to the age of 14, a boy was a 'Pupil' and the person in control his 'Tutor'. From 14 until 21, the age of majority, he was a 'Minor' and, although he could enter into contracts, I do not know to what extent he would have been in control. Therefore until at least the 24th March 1855, and quite possibly in most respects, until 24th March 1862 the whole of Harris was under his mother's control.

Who knows what mixture of emotions she was going through in that fateful week in July (or, indeed, whether the death of her husband had played any part in bringing-on the birth of her fourth child?) but, even for a woman of wealth and privilege, such an appalling combination of events can only be seen as tragic and I don't think the closeness of the two dates has been commented upon before.

There is a reference in the NAS (RH4/195) to a letter dated 29th November 1853 from Prince Albert Edward (the later King Edward VII) to Charles Adolphus regarding them playing together at Buckingham Palace. The Prince was some seven-and-a-half months younger than the Earl and the friendship lasted throughout their lives. I mention this merely to indicate the vast gulf that existed between the private lives of the Dunmores and the social circumstances of those on their Harris estate. 1853 was when the people of Borve were being 'Cleared'...