>’…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.
Sources:

>The Two Houses of ‘Kylis’

>

The 1911 Census of Harris records the following:
KYLIS
7 Rooms with Windows
Malcolm Macdonald, 41, G&E, General Merchant, Own Account, b. Obbe, Harris
Catherine Macdonald, 21, Wife, b. Finsbay, Harris
Roderick Macdonald, 3, Son, b. (unreadable), Harris
Sarah Grant Macdonald, 9 months, Daughter, b. Kylis, Harris
Sarah Macdonald, 70, Widow, Mother, G&E, Private Means, b. Grantown, Strathspey
Flora Maclennan, 18, General Servant Domestic, G&E, b. Finsbay, Harris
Malcolm Macleod, 18, Servant, Carter, G&E, b. Ardvia, Harris
13 Rooms with Windows
Norman Robertson, 29, G&E, Estate Factor, b. Portree
Jessie Robertson, 27, Wife, G&E, b. South Uist
Donald Norman Stuart Robertson, 7 months, Son, b. South Uist
Donald Robertson, 66, Married, Father, G&E, Railway Traffic Agent, b. Blair Atholl
Christina Kerr, 21, Domestic Servant, G&E, b. Harris
I’ll get my family bit out of the way first:
Christina Kerr was a daughter of Direcleit-born Roderick Kerr Roderick Kerr and a decade earlier her brother Donald had been a Cattle Herd living with the family of Roderick & Sarah Macdonald at the Farm House. Thus she represents the most recent of a line of family members serving the Farmers & Factors of the South.
Returning to the two houses, I am unsure which of them is the ‘Kyles Lodge/Kyles House’ that was built for the McRa family and now wonder whether I was wrong to suggest that the family of Mrs S Macdonald had ever lived there?
If the smaller house was indeed the McRa residence, then what is the larger property?
My instinct is to suggest that the Macdonald’s had indeed lived at the Lodge/Farm from at least the years1881 to 1901 then ‘downsized’ after Roderick’s death and relinquished it to the new Factor, but I’d welcome some assistance in unravelling these residencies!

>Factors linking Factors

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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.

>Duncan Shaw & Charles Shaw of North Uist

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I have previously written about Charles describing assisting his father as Factor of Harris from 1834 until 1838. Duncan Shaw was appointed to the role when the 5th Earl of Dunmore purchased Harris and replaced as Factor by the 6th Earl just two years after he had inherited the island.
What I hadn’t realised was that, thanks to the of story of some cutlery, we can learn a little more of these two men:
Duncan Shaw of Dalnagar was married to Miss Macleod, a daughter of Kenneth Macleod of Ebost. Their son, Charles Shaw, married Miss Macdonald of Balranald.
How do we know this? Simply because Charles Shaw inherited ‘The silver knife, fork and spoon given by Prince Charles Edward Stewart to Murdoch Macleod, 3 July 1746’ as can be read in the paper of that name by George Dalgleish in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 118 (1988), 291-300. The original document may be accessed via this Table of Contents page.
The tale is a fascinating one, and well worth reading, but my interest lies not in the provenance of the silverware but in the families of the two men and their respective spouses.
Duncan Shaw of Dalnagar: Dalnagar is in Perthshire and Duncan Shaw appears in the 1841 Census as Factor of North Uist. His age is shown as 60 with a birth year of about 1781
Miss Macleod of Ebost: The 1851 Census for the household of Charles Shaw in North Uist clearly shows ‘Anne Shaw, 60, Mother, b. Duirinish, Skye’ so I can now reveal that ‘Miss Macleod of Ebost’ was Anne Macleod of Ebost who was born in about 1791.
Charles Shaw was born in about 1812 in the same parish as his mother.
Miss Macdonald of Balranald was born Anne Margaret Macdonald in 1824 in North Uist and her name we have seen before in this piece from the Carmichael Watson Project. 
All this is gleaned from the 1851 Census (apart from Duncan Shaw’s) and the subsequent censuses confirm each year and place of birth as described.
To recap, Duncan Shaw of Dalnagar (b 1781) married Anne Macleod of Ebost (b 1791) and they had Charles Shaw (b 1812) who married Anne Margaret Macdonald of Balranald (b 1824).
I am quite pleased to have stumbled across the means of assembling these details for all four of these people and it might be worth retreading our steps and looking again at Duncan Shaw’s Examination on Thursday 19th March 1841 by those compiling the First Report From The Committee on Emigration, Scotland 1841.
He tells us that he has been resident in the ‘Long Island’ for ’29 years last Whitsuntide’, ie since May/June 1811. He later states that he first reached there in 1812 and had spent the previous 6 years in Skye where he had come to from his native Perthshire. So he was in Skye from 1805 or 6 until 1811 or 12. The missing year might be simply an error on his part or it could be that it was the time that he spent as Factor of South Uist? It doesn’t greatly matter, but I do like to get these details correct if at all possible! What interests me is that, assuming that he was born in 1781, then he went to Skye when he was 24 or so, remained there until he was 30 and clearly met & married Anne Macleod who gave birth to their son Charles around the time that he became a Factor in the ‘Long Island’.
This all seems to fit with the details so far described and acts as a form of corroboration which is always nice to have.
I trust that this hasn’t been too long-winded an account and you will be glad to learn that I am going to finish now and have some dinner – Now, whatever did I do with that cutlery?…

>A Tale of Two Tyrants

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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

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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:
1841
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
1851
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

Of Two Tacksmen towards the close of the 18th Century

“The Tacksman of Ensay is Factor for all the Estate of Harris. He is also Baron Bailie, though he has not held a Court for these seven years. He deals deeply in the Kelp trade, and also in illicit trade.


The Tacksman of Strond is distinguished by humanity to his Sub-Tenants and Scallags, who are objects of envy to all the other Subtenants and Scallags of Harris.”


Travels in the Western Hebrides from 1782 to 1790
By the Rev. John Lane Buchanan Published 1793
Page 44

I think Buchanan, who is relentlessly scathing in his comments regarding the Tacksman class, presents these two (neighbouring) extremes from Harris partly as a prescient warning of what happens when power is concentrated in the hands of one individual and his cronies and partly to demonstrate that the excesses of the Tacksmen generally were neither necessary nor inevitable.

I don’t know who these two individuals were but we do know that Mrs Ann Campbell was the Tackswoman of Strond and Killigray at the turn of the 18th Century, and that she was similarly well-disposed to her Tenants & Cottars, so maybe she had inherited that position and it was Mr Campbell that Buchanan was referring to?

More commentary from this account, including an explanation of Buchanan’s division of the people into Lairds, Tacksmen, Sub-Tenants & Scallags, can be read here.

The Gaelic for Tacksman is Gabhaltach whilst a Sub-Tenant is a Maladair. Scallag, which may or may not be the etymological root of ‘Scallywag’, does not appear to have a Gaelic equivalent but also occurs in the 1794 Statistical Account as can be seen here.