>’…and as many more in the adjacent Isles…’


The stimulus for this piece came from the ‘Parliamentary Abstracts; Containing The Substance Of All Important Papers Laid Before The Two Houses Of Parliament During The Session of 1825′.
In a table introduced by the sentence; ‘The following list shews the places at which churches have been directed to be built; most of them absolutely, a few provisionally:’ , I noticed that in the Parish of Harris on ‘Berneray Isle’ a church was to be built for the population of 500:
And as many more in the adjacent Isles of Pabbay and Killigray.’
Reading that, in 1825, the population of these three islands in the Sound of Harris was estimated to be 1000 souls I wanted to investigate further. Although a decennial census had been introduced in 1801, the first four of these only provide a figure for the population of the whole Parish.
For Harris, these figures were:
1801 2996
1811 3569
1821 3909
1831 3900
Our year, 1825, lies neatly between two censuses in which the population, despite all the displacements that were occurring, remained remarkably stable at circa 3900 people.
Thus the 1000 estimated to be living on our three islands were about one-quarter of the parish’s people reminding us that ‘Prior to the nineteenth century, the majority of the population of Harris lived on the machair of the west coast and on Pabaigh and its neighbouring islands (Berneray/Beàrnaraigh, Ensay/Easaigh and Killegray/Ceileagraigh)’ http://www.paparproject.org.uk/hebrides2.html
As an aside, we have this communication from the 18th of July 1832 which I think is illuminating.
The later censuses do provide figures for each island in the Parish of Harris and those for the years 1841-1871 are given below. I have shown the number of males and females and computed the average ‘people per hearth’ for each island with the trio of isles that are our focus shown in bold:
1841 – 7th June
Anabich 18 males and 23 females in 7 houses (41/7 = 5.9 people per hearth)
Bernera 335 males and 378 females in 130 houses (713/130 = 5.5pph)
Ensay 7 males and 9 females in 2 houses (16/2 = 8pph)
Hermitray 5 males and 3 females in 1 house (8/1 = 8pph)
Killigray 3 males and 2 females in 2 houses (5/2 = 2.5pph)
Pabbay 179 males and 159 females in 61 houses (338/61 = 5.5pph)
Scalpay 14 males and 17 females in 4 houses (31/4 = 7.8pph)
Scarp 60 males and 69 females in 23 houses (129/23 = 5.6pph)
Tarrinsay 38 males and 50 females in 16 houses (88/16 = 5.5pph)
There were 1056 living on our three islands which was almost 23% of the total of 4646 people in the Parish of Harris.
Five years later the first of the Potato Famines occurred and the response of the Factor can be seen in his letter of the 21st August 1846 to the Countess of Dunmore.
1851 – 31st March
Anabich 63 people in 12 houses (63/12 = 5.3pph)
Bernera 452 people in 89 houses (452/89 = 5.1pph)
Ensay 14 people in 3 houses (14/3 = 4.7pph)
Hermitray Uninhabited
Killigray 7 people in 1 house (7/1 = 7pph)
Pabbay 29 people in 6 houses (29/6 = 4.8pph)
Scalpay 282 people in 48 houses (282/48 = 5.9pph)
Scarp 145 people in 29 houses (145/29 = )
Tarrinsay 55 people in 11 houses (55/11 = 5pph)
Only 488 living on our three islands which was less than 12% of the Parish total of 4254.
Nine out of every ten people from Pabbay and one-in-three of the population of ‘Bernera’ had gone.
Just four days after the census, on the 4th of April 1851, the Factor John Robertson Macdonald in ‘Rodil’ was being ‘interrogated’ by Sir John McNeill and an earlier piece analyses his account.
We should also note the dramatic increase in the population of Scalpay that had occurred, the reasons for which are to be seen in this investigation.
1861 – 8th April
Anabich Not listed
Bernera 130 males and 185 females in 64 houses (315/64 = 4.9pph)
Ensay 10 males and 5 females in 2 houses (15/2 = 7.5pph)
Hermitray Not listed
Killigray 2 males and 3 females in 1 house (5/1 = 5.0pph)
Pabbay 10 males and 11 females in 4 houses (21/4 = 5.3pph)
Scalpay 199 males and 189 females in 71 houses (338/71 = 4.8pph)
Scarp 72 males and 79 females in 27 houses ( 151/27 = 5.6pph)
Tarrinsay 25 males and 30 females in 12 houses (55/12 = 4.6pph)
There were just 341 living on our three islands or about 8% of the 4174 people of Harris.
Once again, almost one third of the remaining people of Bernera had gone leaving just under half the hearths from the 130 of two decades earlier.
1871 – 3rd April
Anabich Not listed
Bernera 169 males and 204 females in 75 houses (373/75 = 5.0pph)
Ensay 4 males and 2 females in 1 house (6/1 = 6pph)
Hermitray Not listed
Killigray 3 males and 6 females in 1 house (9/1 = 9pph)
Pabbay 3 males and 5 females in 2 houses (8/2 = 4pph)
Scalpay 222 males and 199 females in 82 houses (421/82 = 5.1pph
Scarp 78 males and 78 females in 33 houses (156/33 = 4.7pph)
Tarrinsay 35 males and 33 females in 12 houses (68/12 = 5.7pph)
A small increase to 390 living on our three islands but still only just reaching double-figures again at 10% of the the people of the Parish.
Bernera’s population had risen by 18% but the island trio would have needed nearly three times as many residents to regain the proportion of the population that had led to the church being built there only four-and-a-half decades earlier…
Note: I have left all spellings as they appear in the original sources, except that those for the census lists are ‘standardised’ from the 1841 census rather than reflecting the variations that appear in some of the subsequent decades.

>South Harris Estate – The Final Dunmore Years & A Review of 1834-1919


You may recall that, in 1868, Charles Adolphus Murray, the 7th Earl of Dunmore, had relinquished ownership of the North Harris Estate to his bankers, in particular the Scott family.

Thus for the next forty years, until his death on the 27th of August 1907, the Earl’s interest in the island was confined to his South Harris Estate.

He was succeeded by his son, Alexander Edward Murray, but this 8th Earl of Dunmore was to finally sell the estate in 1919 marking the end of his family’s involvement in the island some 85 years after his great grandfather had initially bought Harris. (As an aside, the purchaser in 1919 was Lord Leverhulme who paid £20,000 for the Estate. Following his death only six years later it was sold at auction for £900.)

In fact, the 8th Earl was a soldier and it was really only the in years 1908-1914 that he was able to devote time to his Harris estate for he played an active and distinguished role in the First World War prior to lord Leverhulme’s purchase a year after the end of that bloody and, for the islands, especially debilitating conflict.

Thus ended the Murray family’s ownership that may be conveniently divided into seven eras:

The 5th Earl
1834 – 5th March, George Murray, 5th Earl of Dunmore buys Harris for £60,000
1834 – Duncan Shaw replaces Donald Stewart as Factor

The 6th Earl
1836 – Alexander Murray, 6th Earl of Dunmore, inherits Harris
1836/7 – Poor harvests, particularly of Potatoes
1838/9 – Seilibost, Big Borve, Middle Borve and Little Borve cleared
184? – Raa on Tarasaigh Cleared for John Macdonald, tacksman
1843 – Church of Scotland fragments in Disruption – islanders join Free Church of Scotland
1843 – 6th Earl of Dunmore considers a harbour at W Loch Tarbert, with a link to the E Loch
1844 – John Robson Macdonald becomes Factor of Harris

The Dowager Countess
1845 – Alexander, 6th Earl, dies and Catherine, his wife, is ‘Tutor’ for her son, 7th Earl of Dunmore
1846 – Potato Famines begin
1847 – Borve, Harris resettled.
1849 – Countess of Dunmore establishes the Embroidery School at An-t-Ob
1851 – Crofts at Direcleit and Ceann Dibig bisected to provide homes for people cleared from Borve on Berneray
1851 – Potatoes Famines end.
1852 – Highland and Islands Emigration Society(HIES) formed – 742 leave Harris for Australia
1853 – Borve, Harris cleared again
1853 – Manish Free Church built
1854 – Road from Stornoway to Tarbert completed

The 7th Earl’s Limited Period*
1857 – 24th March – 7th Earl of Dunmore’s 16th Birthday
1857 – Lady Dunmore and Mrs Thomas start Stocking-Knitting industry
1858 – ‘In 1858 Lady Dunmore was a mother to her people in Harris.’ – Duchess of Sutherland writing of ‘The Revival of Home Industries’ in ‘The Land Magazine’, Vol 3, 1899.
1860s – Direcleit and Ceann Dibig cleared

*This marks the period during which, although he was still five years away from being of ‘Full Age’, the Earl would have had enjoyed enhanced rights regarding his property under Scottish law.

The 7th Earl
1862 – 24th March – 7th Earl of Dunmore’s 21st Birthday
1863 – Ardvourlie Castle built as Hunting Lodge for North Harris Estate
1865 – Harris Hotel built by Earl of Dunmore and originally called Tarbert Hotel
1866 – Marriage of 7th Earl to Lady Gertrude Coke
1867 – Abhainnsuidhe Castle built by Earl of Dunmore
1867 – North Harris Estate sold to Sir Ernest Scott for £155,000 (over two-and-a-half times what the 5th Earl of Dunmore had paid for the whole of Harris 33 years earlier!)
1871 – Alexander Edward Murray (8th Earl) born

The 7th Earl – South Harris Estate
1873 – Dunmore’s restore St Clement’s church
1882 – Nov/Dec –Thomas Brydone becomes Lord Dunmore’s Factor
1884 – Direcleit and Ceann Dibig recrofted
1886 – Catherine, Countess of Dunmore (7th Earl’s mother) dies in February
1886 – Telegraph Cable from Port Esgein, Harris to North Uist laid
1888 – Assisted emigration to Canada established
1897 – Golden Road linking Tarbert and Rodel through the Bays is completed
1897 – Manish Victoria Cottage Hospital built & endowed by Mrs Frances Thomas

The 8th Earl
1907 – Death of Charles Adolphus Murray, 7th Earl of Dunmore
1919 – South Harris Estate sold for £60,000.

The first point that I need to make is that, as a result of the estate(s) being owned by four successive Earls punctuated by the Dowager Countess’s period as ‘Tutor’, there is a degree of confusion to be found in some writing about Harris (Yes, including my own!) and I hope that the selected extract from my Timeline shown above helps to clarify things.

(A similar problem exists with the previous dynasty of owners where we have, in turn, Captain Alexander Macleod, Alexander Hume Macleod & then Alexander Norman Macleod owning the island from 1779-1790, 1790-1811 & 1811-1834 respectively!)

Secondly, it is really the role of two generations, those of the 6th & 7th Earls from 1836-1845 and 1845-1907 respectively, upon which we should focus:

Alexander Murray, 6th Earl of Dunmore, inherits the island and with it the first hint of the food crises that would, coincidentally, start the season after his death and dominate the early years of his widow’s control of the estate. He appears to do the islanders a favour in replacing the hated Factor Donald Stewart with Duncan Shaw Factor but the series of Clearances that Shaw oversaw suggests otherwise. The one good thing that the 6th Earl did consider doing was a revival of Captain Alexander Macleod’s plan to link East & West Loch Tarbert but he, just like the good Captain before him, died soon after having had this notion.

No, this is not an error but I want to look at these years before returning to what I believe to be the defining decades of the Dunmore dynasty.

The first five years see the finally fully fledged 7th Earl embark on an overambitious building program, gain a wife and lose an estate. I say ‘lose’ because, although it might appear that having sold North Harris for 250% of the sum his grandfather had paid for the whole island he had done rather well in the deal, it is believed that little or no cash was actually exchanged. The estate was provided in payment of monies that were owing to the Earl’s bankers.

It is worth noting that he wasn’t the first grandson to have to ‘sell’ land on Harris for Alexander Norman Macleod had preceded him in this regard when being forced to sell the whole island. In his case, the purchaser had been…the 5th Earl of Dunmore. It was also this Macleod who had brought Donald Stewart to Harris to act as his Factor.

The consequence of this was that, for the final forty years of his life, the 7th Earl only owned the South Harris Estate and thus could focus his attention upon that part of the island. There is, frankly, scant evidence of him paying the island any attention at all other than as a plaything and virtually none after his mother’s death in 1886. The few developments that did take place can all be ascribed to sources other than him.

As alluded to above, the Dowager Countess was greeted in the year following her husband’s death by the first of the Potato Famines that would last through to 1851 and lead, in part, to 742 people leaving Harris for Australia the following year. Borve on Harris was resettled, and then it & Borve on Berneray were Cleared. In amongst this turmoil the Countess decided to establish her Embroidery School at An-t-Ob which seems to have more in common with a child-labour sweat-shop than a serious attempt at addressing the economic issues facing the islanders.

She met their spiritual needs by finally acceding to demands for a Free Church to be built (although the site at Manish was not their first-choice) having claimed ignorance of all previous requests.

In the year of her son’s sixteenth birthday she and Mrs Thomas started the Stocking Knitting industry which appears to have been more financially robust for the women of the island than the Embroidery School of the previous decade. This event marks our first record of the latter lady’s presence on the isle, a presence that in my opinion was of great significance especially with regard to the early marketing of what was to become known as Harris Tweed.

Finally, in 1860, Direcleit and Ceann Dibig were cleared with a favoured few being allowed to dwell there as cottagers…

Overall what strikes me is not what the four Earls and one Countess are remembered for having done, but rather all that they failed to do and chief amongst these must be their not having established Tarbert as a fishing station with the two lochs linked by canal or rail.
One can only guess at the income it would have generated for the island and its owners and at what it might have cost, but it would certainly have been a wiser investment than the 7th Earl’s castle which was to prove so dear…



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

>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.
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

>Factors linking Factors


In an earlier piece we saw that Alexander ‘Fear Huisinis’ McRa and Mrs Donald Stewart were 1st Cousins and that Donald Stewart’s son, John Stewart, and his wife Jessy Macrae were 2nd Cousins.
The connection was the Macrae family of Ardintoul who were Roman Catholics (Hence in 1861 ‘Fear Huisinis’s sons Archibald Alexander & John were boarding with the Rev William Davison, a Roman Catholic Priest, at St Mary’s Church in Huntly St, Inverness) and this leads me to think that the Stewart’s were possibly of the same faith?
Donald Stewart was the Factor of Harris for Alexander Norman Macleod who inherited the isle in 1811 (I am unsure whether he inherited the Factor, too) and it was in 1834, when he purchased Harris, that the 6th Earl of Dunmore appointed Duncan Shaw to the role.
There is a reference to his successor, John Robertson Macdonald who died in 1874, having been the Dunmore family’s Factor for 35 years implying that he was in the role by 1839 but the census of 1841 only confirms that he was farming from, I believe, Rodel House. The Estate Officer living in Rodel was John Lindsay.
By 1881 the Factor for South Harris was Kenneth Macdonald and he had become Factor for North Harris by 1883. He was Assistant Factor of Harris in 1847.
Let us look at where each of these men were in 1841:
Donald Stewart – Farmer of Luskentire (Previously Factor of Harris)
Duncan Shaw – Factor of North Uist (Previously Factor of Harris)
John Robertson Macdonald – Farmer of Rodel (Later? Factor of Harris)
Alexander ‘Fear Huisinis’ McRa – Not found, but by circa 1844 he was in Harris.
Kenneth Macdonald – Not found, but by 1832 according to his evidence to the Napier Commision.
Hence we can place the Catholic Alexander McRa joining his cousin’s husband, Donald Stewart, as a fellow farmer on the fertile West Coast near the time that John Roberton Macdonald became Factor. John Robertson Macdonald’s sister, Isabella Maria Macdonald, was wife of the Rev Finlay MacRae, Minister of North Uist, who was a son of Donald Macrae of Achintee, Lochcarron.
The Factor of North Uist was Duncan Shaw whose son, Charles Shaw, informed the Napier Commission of 1883 that he assisted his father in that role from ‘Whitsuntide 1834 to Whitsuntide 1838’ which provides us with the earliest date for John Robertson having become Factor and that is a good match for the 35 years alluded to above. Charles Shaw, whos was already a ‘Writer to the Signet’ by 1841, had married John Robertson’s niece circa 1844.
Another person interviewed in 1883 was Kenneth Macdonald from Applecross who by that time was farming at Scaristavore but had been the Farmer of Borve, Harris at the time of the Clearances. In 1881 he was Factor of South Harris, a role that he had relinquished by the time he was interviewed. His wife, Mary Macrae, was of a Lochcarron family from Achintee. She was, in fact, a niece of Finlay Macrae, the Minister of North Uist.
Donald Stewart was married to a Catholic Macrae of Ardintoul descent and John Robertson Macdonald’s sister was similarly attached to a Macrae of the Achintee lineage and through them to the Established Church of Scotland.
Kenneth Macdonald had also married into that same Achintee Macrae family and Charles Shaw was married to John Robertson Macdonald’s niece which appears to rather neatly connect these three men. Alexander ‘Fear Huisinis’ McRa had been in the 75th Highlanders and John Robertson Macdonald a Lieutenant in three regiments. There were 20 years & a religious divide between these two men but they had the Army (whose force they could resort to) in common.
These factors linking Factors seem to me to be important in understanding their respective roles in the history of Harris.There were several family ties between these Factors (& Farmers) and one could, if so desired, continue to explore them further but I hope to have shown that the Messrs. Stewart, Shaw, Macdonald(s) and McRa had plenty of personal (as well as professional) incentives to ensure that they acted in unity.

>A Tale of Two Tyrants


Cases Decided in the Court of Session, November 12th 1834 p4-7
These are the edited & annotated highlights of the second case heard by their Lordships that day:
Donald Stewart, Pursuer
Alexander McRa, Defender
…Macleod of Harris granted a nineteen years’ tack of a sheep-grazing to Archibald McRa of Ardintoul, who was succeeded during the currency of the tack by his son, Alexander McRa.
The successor being ‘Fear Huisins’‘Fear Huisinis’ and the house that the McRa’s built was Kyles Lodge ‘Kyles Lodge’ which would later become home to Mrs S Macdonald ‘Mrs S Macdonald’ following Fear huisin’s death in 1874.
The term of entry was Whitsunday, 1814; the rent was £400 per annum, payable at Martinmas and Whitsunday; and the tack contained the following clause:
“It is hereby declared, that the said Archibald McRa and his foresaids shall have liberty to build a dwellinghouse and stone dikes upon the lands hereby set, and that, at the expiry of the present lease, he or they shall receive payment for the same; but that only on the express condition that the said dwellinghouse is built of stone and lime, and slated, and that the dikes are sufficient stone dikes; and it is declared that fanks for sheep are to be paid for as stone dikes; which dwellinghouse and dikes are to be valued by persons mutually chosen by the parties at the expiry of this lease; and it is declared, that the claim of the said Archibald McRa, and his foresaids, for building such dwellinghouse and dikes, is on no account to exceed the sum of £800 sterling, and that the said Alexander Norman Macleod, and his foresaids, shall be liable to that extent only,”
Now, by the time of this hearing, Alexander Norman Macleod had sold Harris to Lord Dunmore and the details of the case hinged upon the complex issues that Macleod’s debts introduced but they are not what particularly interests me about this particular case.
McRa made meliorations during the currency of the lease; and, at the term of Martinmas, 1832, retained the sum of £100 of the rent, to account of the meliorations.
The house was built in 1820 so it seems likely that the sum retained was a reflection of that particular melioration, or improvement.
In 1830, one of the creditors of Harris had raised a ranking and sale of the estate ; in the course of which process, a sequestration of the rents was awarded, and Donald Stewart, tacksman of Luskintyre, was appointed judicial factor.
So in 1830 Donald Stewart became involved as ‘judicial factor’ and I have previously written of his actions in this role in a piece relating to the church on Berneray Church on Berneray.
The heritable debts exceeded the value of the estate. The judicial factor raised an action against McRa, for payment of the £100 of arrear of rent at Martinmas, 1832, and the £200 due at Whitsunday following; but the creditors, in whose right he insisted, were not possessed of any real right, until several years after the date of the lease granted to McRa.
Here we learn of Stewart acting on behalf of those to whom Macleod was in debt and attempting to reclaim the monies that had been retained by McRa because of the improvements that he had made upon the land that he rented.
McRa pleaded a right of retention of both sums, as being less than the amount of the meliorations to which he was entitled under the lease. Valuators were jointly appointed, in terms of the lease, but reserving the rights of the judicial factor and of McRa respectively. The valuators made an estimate, amounting to £506 ; and although some of the items, particularly as to the expense of a manager’s house and storehouse, were objected to by the factor, there remained a sum of meliorations exceeding the amount of rents retained by McRa.
Even excluding the improvements that Stewart felt should be excluded, the amount that McRa had kept was still less than the value of the other improvements that he had made.
Lord Balgray.—The case involves a general principle which is of importance…I conceive it is as good against him as it would be against a singular successor.
Lord President.—I am of the same opinion…I am clearly of opinion that the note for Stewart should be refused.
Lord Gillies.—I concur….
Lord Mackenzie.—I am of the same opinion….
The Court refused the reclaiming note for Stewart, and awarded expenses against him since the date of the Lord Ordinary’s interlocutor; and in regard to McRa’s note, their Lordships remitted to the Lord Ordinary to bear parties farther.
Donald Stewart lost, and lost comprehensively, but things were to get worse in the next case that was heard and which I have already described in Mrs Campbell’s Mill at An-t-Ob. . It is perhaps no wonder then that, in 1834, Lord Dunmore appointed Duncan Shaw Duncan Shaw to be his Factor and that, although Donald Stewart remained on the island as the Farmer of Luskentire for a few years, he spent his.final days back on the mainland.
He and McRa were equally disliked by those who suffered at their hands as they cleared whole settlements in their lust for land and, although this evidence concerns an apparent conflict between them, perhaps that was merely because of the role that Stewart was acting under and, for all we know, he may have been privately pleased to see his fellow farmer avoid making any additional payment to benefit Macleod’s creditors? Stewart had certainly boasted in the past of enriching himself at the expense of this Macleod’s father a quarter-of-a-century ago…
Update: I suspected a closer connection might exist between the two supposed adversaries in this case and think that I have found it:
(Please note that, although I have inspected the records as carefully as possible, I have not drafted a full family tree for the following folks but I believe the links as described to be true)

Alexander McRa was the son of Archibald MacRae of Ardintoul who was the son of Alexander Macrae of Ardintoul.
Donald Stewart was married to Isabella MacRae who was the daughter of Margaret MacRae who was a daughter of Alexander MacRae of Ardintoul – ‘Fear Huisinis’ and Mrs Donald Stewart were 1st Cousins!
Better still, John Stewart, son of Donald & Isabella, was married to Jessy MacRae a daughter of Jane Macrae who was a daughter of Archibald MacRae of Ardintoul.
Thus they were 2nd Cousins each being a great-grandchild of the first Alexander MacRae of Ardintoul.
There are, undoubtedly, several similar occurrences where members of this strata of society are concerned (as hinted at previously with regard to the Factor of Harris and the Ministers of North Uist) but in this particular case I think it adds weight to my suggestion that the interests of Donald Stewart & ‘Fear Huisinis’ were not as polarised as their adversarial roles in the court case might have led one to originally assume.
I rest my case…

>The Stewarts of Pairc, Luskentyre, Ensay &…Achintee


Although I’ve covered several of the key events that took place during Donald Stewart’s years on Harris, especially the various Clearances that he undertook to further the expansion of his and his family’s interests on the isle, I’ve perhaps tended to neglect the years either side of them.
We will start with three extracts from the Angus Macleod Archive that establish the pattern of behaviour that the three Stewart brothers made their own on the islands:
The Establishment of the Park Sheep Farm
‘The Park Sheep Farm was set-up about 1802 at the southern tip of the Park Peninsula, in the Parish of Lochs. A modern farm house was built at Valamus, on the southern shores of the Peninsula, where it may still be seen, although by now, it is falling into disrepair.’

The entry for Bhalamus in RCAHMS allowed me to produce this link to a map of the site of the farm house that Donald Stewart inhabited: OS 1:25 000
The Stewart Brothers of Park Sheep Farm
‘…the clearance of the small tenantry in the area round about Valamus was carried out when the sheep farm was established there. The manager of the sheep farm was Mr Donald Stewart from Perthshire.’

By 1843 the Park Sheep Farm had taken up the whole of southern Park, including Lemreway and Orinsay, but not Steimreway, which was the subject of an unexpired lease.’

‘Donald Stewart, the original farm manager, became tenant of the farm and it was said that he made so much money in Park that he was able to move to Harris and lease and stock the farm at Luskentyre.

Eventually, he became the factor to the Macleod Proprietor of Harris who seems to have fallen under his control. He cleared the people from the whole of the Borve, West Harris area and bundled them to the Bays of Harris, and overseas.

He and his sons held a number of farms in Harris when West Harris was cleared for Donald Stewart. Squads of well-rewarded ‘flunkies’ wiped out all evidence of the community. They drowned the fires on the hearths with the household milk, and set the houses on fire.

Donald Stewart was succeeded on the Park farm by his brothers Alexander and Archibald, known in Park as ‘Gillean Ruadh na Pàirc’ (The Red-headed Men of Park). They held the tenancy of Park farm until 1842, when Walter Scott succeeded them in the tenancy.
Like their brother in Harris they oppressed the small tenantry, and the Park Sheep Farm was enlarged to the point where the people of Lemreway and Orinsay, comprising of nearly 60 families and 327 souls, were being evicted when the new tenant, Mr Scott, came to the farm.

The Park Clearances
The Estate officials came to these villages in June 1842, backed up by the force of the law, in the form of the Sheriff etc. The law was always on the side of the landlord oppressors. On this occasion the women turned on them when they were pulling down the houses and drove them off. However, the next year, they returned and drowned their fires in the hearths, and these two villages were cleared in 1843, the year of the Church Disruption in Scotland. The following year marked the end of the Seaforth Mackenzie regime in Lewis and James Matheson bought the Island for £190,000.
One of the Orinsay families cleared was that of my grandfather’s grandmother and I like to imagine that she, a single lady of 21 or 22 at the time, was one of those women who humiliated the raiding party of 1842 into fleeing for their boats and a making a hasty return to Stornoway!
Sources: Angus Macleod Archive http://www.angusmacleodarchive.org.uk/
Highland Cattle in 1919 by James Cameron
The Stewart family, afterwards powerfully represented at Ensay, Duntulm, and Bochcastle, were reputed to have bred the cattle in the long Perthshire glen and surrounding districts for hundreds of years, but no written records are available.

The breed owed a great deal in many respects to the brothers Donald and Archibald Stewart, who shifted with the best of their stock to the Hebrides in the early part of last century — Donald taking a Lewis farm in 1802, and Luskentyre, in Harris seven years later. In the Skye of that period, according to Donald Stewart, no one could tell how long the breed had been established.

Outstanding breeders last century were John Stewart, latterly of Ensay, son of Donald Stewart already referred to…

John Stewart, following his father’s example, blended the best of the island and mainland strains of cattle, and having large numbers to deal with on extensive feeding ranges he was able to practice line breeding most effectively.
It is interesting to learn that the Stewarts, who are normally associated with sheep rather than cattle, appear to have played a pivotal role in the breeding of Highland Cattle but my main interest is in the reference to John Stewart being ‘latterly of Ensay’ for, from the census data, it would appear that he actually lived the majority of his life on the mainland.
Source: ‘Highland Cattle in 1919 by James Cameron’ via http://www.cruachan.com.au/1919.htm
Notes from a Research Group
Ensay is a small isle in the Sound of Harris and formerly belonged to the lairds of Harris; about 500 acres. Belonged to the “improving Campbells” of Ensay and then after 1856 to Archibald Stewart of Luskentyre (Lord Dunmore’s factor).

This Stewart family was later “powerfully represented” at Ensay, Duntulm, and Bochastle.

Before settling in Luskintyre, Donald and his brother were in Lewis on Park Farm where they were ruthless evictors of crofters. Donald began as a hired shepherd from Appin, became manager of the farm for The Skye Group and later became tenant and “prospered so well that he moved to a more promising location on the North Harris estate.” He expanded his holdings at the expense of Macleod of Harris and secured farms for his friends and relatives.

Unfortunately, these notes are not sourced but they rang sufficient bells to lead me to a familiar place and the notes appear to have been compiled from contributions to this discussion board. (Which, if I had found it sooner, could have saved me a bit of time in compiling this piece!)
The notes are followed by a family tree for the ‘Stewarts of Ensay’ and it may be seen at the site cited below but from that tree I want to focus upon a few features.
Firstly, the tree comes from a 1907 document recording the family as described by a Mrs Stewart of Milton Farm and she states the following regarding one of Donald Stewart’s sons, the Rev. Unknown Stewart:
Described by Mrs Stewart of Milton as he who “refused to be associated with his father’s farms and moved briefly to Australia as a farmer, but later returned as a Gospel missionary in Harris.
(Fasti Ecclesiastesshows no such person.)
This mysterious ‘Rev. Stewart’ who returned to Harris as a Gospel Preacher would not appear in the Fasti unless he was an ordained Minister of the Established Church of Scotland. I think I may have previously located him as a Catechist living in Direcleit in 1861 when the 70 year-old gives his birthplace as Kilmuir in Inverness-shire. The age is far too great but the sudden appearance of a preacher called Stewart on the island, and the story as told,  surely makes it seem too unlikely a coincidence for this not to be the ruthless Donald Stewart’s son?
Secondly, Donald’s son John Stewart (b.circa 1825 on Harris) pursued his farming career on the mainland, conscientiously noting the island of his birth in each census, and it was a William Stewart who lived at Ensay House as the 19th Century turned into the 20th. He was a Captain in the Army but whether or not he too maintained his relatives’ skill in breeding Highland Cattle I couldn’t say.
Finally, and much to my delight, I have finally found Donald Stewart in 1851 as can be seen in the second of these two lists of his households from the censuses, in which those appearing in both lists are shown in bold:
Donald Stewart, 65, Farmer, Luskintyre
Isabella Stewart, 55
Richmond Stewart, 30
John Stewart, 15
Helen Stewart, 15
Mary Stewart, 12
Grace Stewart, 9
Jessy Stewart, 7
Isabella Dickson,, 20
Rosh Mcleod, 20, House Carpenter
Helen Mcmillan, 15, Female Servant
Isabella Mcleod, 30, Female Servant
Ann McGillip, 15, Female Servant
Cathrine Mcleod, 20, Female Servant
Christian Mclellan, 15, Female Servant
Mary Urquhart, 20, Female Servant
Donald Stewart, 70, JP & Farmer, Farm House of Achintee, Kilmallie, Inverness, b. Fortingal, Perthshire
Isabella Stewart, 60, Wife, b. Kintail, Ross-shire
Mary Mcintosh, 22, Clergyman’s Wife, Daughter, b. Harris
Jessy Stewart, 17, Daughter, b. Harris
Isabella Stewart, 16, Grand-Daughter, b. Stornoway
John Mackay, 78, Poor Man, Visitor, b. Kintail, Inverness-shire
Malcolm Mccaskill, 26, Shepherd, Servant, b. Harris
John Cameron, 20, Farm Servant, b. Kilmallie
John Mccoll, 16, Farm Servant, b. Kilmallie
Mary Ann Chisholm, 50, House Servant, b. Kingston, Jamaica
Ann Mackay, 24, House Servant, b. Durness, Surtherland
Catherine Mcsweyn, 25, House Servant, b. Harris
Margaret Mclean, 17, Dairy Maid, b. Harris
Jane Mccoll, 15, Kitchen Maid, b. Oban, Argyll
It is interesting to see that he employed three Hearachs in his mainland home but that is no compensation for the appalling inhumanity that he and his brothers wrought on the people of Pairc and Harris.
It is not for nothing that Donald Stewart is known by many as ‘the worst thing to happen to Harris’
Other pieces from Donald Stewart’s time as Factor of Harris that may be of interest:
1834 court action against Mrs Ann Campbell – http://direcleit.blogspot.com/2010/05/mrs-campbells-mill-at-t-ob.html

From Donald Stewart, Esq. J. P., Factor, Harris Edinburgh 13th January 1824

As I am just now in this city for a few days, I cannot leave it without expressing to you, and through you to the Directors of the Gaelic School Society, my unqualified approbation of the conduct of your teachers in the Island of Harris.

It is now about five years since your first teachers got a proper footing in Harris they had many prejudices to encounter, but these were at last happily overcome, and through your bounty we have now seven of your schools in the parish of Harris, attended by nearly five hundred scholars besides one school belonging to the Education Society!

You are probably aware, that the parish and island of Harris is about forty-five miles long by twenty-five broad, exclusive of many extensive Islands; population exceeding four thousand souls, only one parish minister, and one missionary on the royal bounty, and one parochial teacher. Before the introduction of your schools, the Island of Harris was in a most deplorable state in regard to the means of religious instruction. I shall mention a few facts. I had a concern in a very extensive sheep farm in the island of Lewis, bordering on Harris, and I generally calculated, that about four hundred sheep were stolen each year. Cursing and swearing prevailed to an alarming extent throughout the island, and the disputes among the people on the Sabbath, particularly among those who could not go to the parish church on account of its distance from them, was so general, that much of my time was taken up as a Justice of the Peace in settling these disputes. The case is now altered, for the last three years very few depredations indeed have been committed in stealing sheep, cursing and swearing, and profaning the Lord’s day are now at an end, and hardly any disputes occur among the people to occasion my interference in settling them. This very desirable change in the conduct and morals of the people, under the blessing of God, I attribute solely to the effects of your Gaelic Schools.

Your school in the island of Scarp is now removed to Ranigadle. The poor people in that island have derived much benefit from the labours of your teacher, and they have now employed James Fraser to carry on their education both in Gaelic and English. They are very poor and have no money ; but they have agreed to give this teacher a little of the produce of their small farms to support him and his family. If you could give him a small donation of encouragement to assist him it would be well bestowed. The people, including a farm opposite the island on the main land of Harris, are about one hundred and thirty, and attend pretty regularly, notwithstanding the access is difficult on account of the dangerous Round of Scarp. It is distant above thirty miles from the parish church, and I do not suppose they have heard above three sermons for the last ten years.
With every good wish for the prosperity of the Gaelic School Society,
I remain, &c
Letter in ‘The Tenth Annual Report of the Society for the Support of Gaelic Schools 1821’
Let us start with the facts that Stewart provides regarding schools in Harris: There were 7 of the Gaelic Society’s schools educating nearly 500 children plus one ‘Education Society’ school. The Gaelic schools had grown in number since gaining a ‘proper footing’ in about 1819. These are useful an interesting facts.
Stewart then continues by painting an, in my opinion, wholly fictitious account of the people of Lochs, Lewis who had suffered his reign of tyranny before he transferred himself to applying the lessons he had learnt to amass his personal fortune at the expense of the people of Harris. He claims that some 400 sheep were stolen each year and puts the reduction in this, and in other aspects of the peoples behaviour, solely down to the influence of the new schools. It should be remembered that nearly all other commentators on the people of the Long Island, portray them as being especially moral and upstanding, long before either Stewart or the Society gained their footings, whether ‘proper‘ or improper, on the isles.
Stewart then concludes with a request for the Gaelic Society to regarding James Fraser who the people of Scarp have employed as a teacher ‘to give him a small donation of encouragement‘. All that preceded this request, from one of the wealthiest men in the Western Isles, is a preamble.
One other piece of information is tucked away in the book, for it lists all the Society’s schools and also those schoolmasters who were in place ‘at the commencement of 1821‘:
Tarbert, Angus Macleod
Island Ensay
Caolisscalpa (Kyles Scalpay)
Caolisstockinish (Kyles Stockinish)



Bernera, James Fraser

Duncan Shaw

The first Factor appointed by the Dunmore’s in 1834 was Duncan Shaw. In 1841 the 60 year-old is found on North Uist in a household comprising himself plus six women, two of whom were servants. I have been unable to find him in later censuses.

In 1841, John Lindsay was the Estate Officer at Rodel, where John Robson Macdonald was the Farmer, and Donald Stewart was the Farmer at Borve. Stewart, whom Shaw had succeeded as Factor prior to Macdonald’s appointment in/by 1851, was supported in his campaign of Clearances by his predecessor.
The precise range of roles each of the trio had at specific periods is complex, and probably only to be unravelled by close consultation of the Dunmore papers, but a clear impression of them passing the baton with which to beat the islanders is emerging…

An account of Duncan Stewart’s ancestry can be seen here: http://www.chuckspeed.com/balquhidder/glenfinglas/Stewart_of_Milton_Transcription.htm

Mrs Campbell’s Mill at An-t-Ob

On the 12th November 1834 the Court of Session heard a case brought by Donald Stewart, Factor of Harris, against a Mrs Ann Campbell.

In 1770 Mrs Campbell was granted a 42 year lease which would terminate in 1812 but in 1805 a new lease for 30 years ‘from and after 1804‘ was entered into. Clearly that was why the case took place in 1834.

This new lease stipulated that:

‘at the expiry of the lease the tenant should be entitled to such reasonable sum, by way of meliorations, as may have been already laid out under the former lease, or that may be laid out by them, during the currency hereof, in building or repairing proper dwelling-houses or office-houses on the said lands and others & etc’

A clear statement that whatever improvements Mrs Campbell made would be repaid to her.

The house and offices were erected during the former lease, and in 1813 they were completely repaired. The tenant had also built a mill, and in 1818 the proprietor wrote to her:

‘I this day received your missive letter regarding the mill you built at Oab, and hereby signify my full approbation of the sufficient manner in which it is built.

I accordingly hereby, by this my missive letter, bind and oblige myself, my heirs, executors or assignees whatsomever, to pay back to you the expense of building said mill, say L.230, at the expiration of your tack of the lands you hold from me, provided you uphold and deliver over to me the said mill in the same good order it now stands.’

So, sometime between 1770 and 1813 a ‘house and offices’ were built by Mrs Campbell and we may presume that they were constructed early in the lease as otherwise they would not have required to be ‘completely repaired’ in 1813.

Further, we see that by 1818 Mrs Campbell had also had a Mill built at ‘Oab’. I presume, therefore, that she held the tack of the Farm of Strond from 1770 until 1834 during which time she oversaw the establishment of the mill at An-t-Ob. It is known that a Mrs Campbell held that same tack in 1851 but whether she was related to this Mrs Ann Campbell I do not know.

The Court report then states:

The tenant…pleaded retention of the rent to meet these meliorations, and the Lord Ordinary found that the defender is entitled to the amount of the meliorations specified in the clause of the lease 1805.

So Mrs Campbell won but,

Finds, That the claim for the value of the mill erected by the tenant does not fall under that description.

It appears that the mill, despite the letter, was excluded from the settlement?

Judgment. And to this interlocutor the Court adhered.

The other point of interest is that this case took place in November 1834 and George Murray, 5th Earl of Dunmore, had completed his purchase of Harris in March of that same year. It would be interesting to know of the Earl’s personal involvement in cases such as these where his Factor is attempting to avoid to pay for ‘ameliorations’ made by his tenants but I suspect that Donald Stewart was pursing them purely for his own ends.

Either way, at least they allow us to glean information about the past that might otherwise not have been recorded.

Ref: Decisions of the Court of Session from 12th November 1834 until 11th July 1835