In 1944 Sir TOM Sopwith purchased the North Harris Estate and in his book ‘Discovering Lewis and Harris’, James Shaw Grant writes ‘…whose yacht was crewed almost exclusively by Harrismen.’
It is not clear whether this referred to his yachts Endeavour and Endeavour II with which Sopwith challenged for the America’s Cup in 1934 and 1937, his earlier motor yacht Vita (1927-1929), or the 1937 Philante that was requisitioned during WWII and sold in 1947 to become the Royal Yacht of Norway.
It would be good to discover more about this aspect of an estate owner who, alongside the Scotts before him, James Shaw Grant describes as ‘good proprietors and were highly regarded’.
Sir E Scott is perhaps best known from the school in Tarbert that bears his name. The best source that I have found on the Scott family’s time(s) as owners of the North Harris Estate is to be found here and I heartily recommend reading it in full: Amhuinnsuidhe Castle
The article is extremely informative (for example, explaining the presence of the ‘Dunara Castle’ in Tarbert as discovered in the censuses) and reference is made to Sir Edward and his wife Emily and to their son Sir Samuel and his wife Sophie. It was these snippets of information regarding the names of their wives that allowed me to find out a little more about this particular Scott family.
I have no doubt that more details are recorded elsewhere, but none of the sources that I have accessed contain any.
The Baronetcy of Lytchett Minster was created in 1821 for Sir Claude Scott. Lychett Minster is a small village a mile inland from the sea near Poole in Dorset on the South coast of England. The holders of the title were:
Scott Baronets, of Lytchett Minster (1821)
Sir Claude Scott, 1st Baronet (1742-1830)
Sir Samuel Scott, 2nd Baronet (1772-1849) Member of Parliament for Malmesbury 1802-1806, and Camelford1812-1818
Sir Claude Edward Scott, 3rd Baronet (1804-1874)
Sir Claude Edward Scott, 4th Baronet (1840-1880)
Sir Edward Henry Scott, 5th Baronet of Lytchett Minster (1842-1883)
Sir Samuel Edward Scott, 6th Baronet (1873-1943)
Sir Robert Claude Scott, 7th Baronet (1886-1961)
Although Lytchett Minster was home to the title, the home of the Scott family was Sundridge Park in Bromley, Kent and an informative account of the house and gardens is to be found here: Sandridge
Sir Edward Henry Scott married Emilie Packe in the Summer of 1865 in Mitford, Norfolk and their son, Sir Samuel Edward Scott married Sophie Beatrix Mary Cadogan, a daughter of the 5th Earl of Cadogan, in the Summer of 1896 in Chelsea.
And that’s my brief introduction to the Baronets of Lytchett Minster, twice owners of the North Harris Estate…
I have added notes following the description of each Lot:
The Estate and Deer Forest of Borve, with the Farm of Borve, Island of Taransay, Forest of Luskentyre (let on a long lease) and excellent Salmon and Sea Trout Fishing.
Borve Lodge was Lord Leverhulme’s home on Harris. We see that he had let the Forest of Luskentyre.
The Port of Leverburgh, with Pier and fully equipped with Buildings for a Fishing Station
As the focus of the ‘improvements’, and where most of the money had been spent, it is no surprise that ‘Leverburgh’ appears second in this list.
House Property at Leverburgh
I presume these were the ones that had been newly-built to house the workforce.
The Rodil Hotel and Farm and Island of Gilsay, with first-rate Salmon and Sea Trout fishing in the famous Obbe Lochs and Finsbay Lochs
This is the old Rodel House and Farm but note the inclusion of Gilsay.
Kyles Lodge and Farm, with Salmon and Sea Trout Fishing and joint fishing rights in the Obbe Lochs
Kyles Lodge is an 1840s Georgian-style farmhouse and was home to the incoming sheepfarmer Alexander Macrae between 182? and 1874. It is where the early Sound of Harris ferry docked.
This is the farm to the South of Borve.
This is the next farm continuing South towards Northton.
Horsaclett House and Garden, with capital Salmon and Sea Trout Fishing
Situated in the Bays of Harris, past Direcleit and Ceann Dibig on the right of the A859 a mile past the start of the ‘Golden Road’.
Crofting Land in South Harris, including Berneray Island and smaller islands off North Uist
Berneray Island is 2,496 of these 33,870 acres. I mention that in order to provide a sense of scale.
The Island of Killegray
In 1841 it was home to the six members of shepher Kenneth Macrae’s family plus 62 year-old Dorothy Ross from Inverness.
NORTH HARRIS with Amhuinnsuidhe Castle and Deer Forest, Ardvourlie Forest, Ardvourlie Lodge, Harris Hotel and House Property, and capital Salmon and Sea Trout Fishing
The whole of North Harris, and nearly 53% of the total area, is in this final Lot. Ardvourlie ‘Castle’ has been ‘downgraded’ in the description and what began life as the ‘Tarbert Hotel’ appears in the name to which it is known to this day.
I make that a total of 116,731 acres, from a total of ‘about 355,000acres’ including Lewis, indicating that Harris is a tad under half the area of Lewis.
Ref: The original document can be seen here:
and I am extremely grateful to http://www.ceuig.com/ for referring me to it.
These are all the Gamekeepers found in the census returns for Harris.
I have separated them into South Harris and then North Harris and added notes for each decade:
Angus Shaw, 42, Geocrab, b. Harris
Finlay Macleod, 30, Visitor, Port Esgein, Farm of Strond, b. Harris
As Finlay Macleod is only visiting Port Esgein and is later found in North Harris he may well have been working on the latter Estate at this time. He and a Miller, John Macaulay, are at the home of the Shoemaking Kerr family with the ‘Paisley Sisters’ also living at Port Esgein at this time.
Angus Shaw, 50, Ardslave, b. Harris
Finlay Macleod, 44, Miavaig, .b Harris
We are awaiting the construction of the two castles of Harris in 1863 and 1867 but nevertheless it is surprising that these two remain the only ‘permanent’ Gamekeepers recorded.
Angus Shaw, 64, Strond, b. Harris
Murdo Macaulay, 57, Ardourlie Castle, b. Harris
Donald John Mackenzie, 45, House at Tarbert, b. Harris
James Robertson, 37, Main Road of Harris, b. Perthsire
Donald Scott, 28, Avensrudh Castle, b. Perthshire
Angus Shaw is still serving the South Harris Estate but we now have a Gamekeeper at each castle plus two more on North Harris.
John Finlayson, 28, South Harris, b. Stirling
Roderick Mackay, 32, Farm House, N Harris, b. Lochbroom
D John Mackenzie, 60, Stavke Loft, N Harris, b. Harris
Finlay Macleod, 63, Miavaig, b. Harris
Angus Macleod, 46, Luachair Keeper’s House, N Harris, b. Harris
Charles Macleod, 23, Bunamhewdara, N Harris, b. Harris
Murdoch Macaulay, 65, Keeper’s House, N Harris, b. Harris
Robert Macaulay, 25, (Unemployed), Son, Keeper’s House, N Harris, b. Harris
Frederick Macaulay, 29, 2 Ardvourlie, b. Lochs
Murdo Macfarland, 48, Assistant GK, 3 Ardvourlie, b. Ness, Ross-shire
John Finlayson has taken over the role at Rodel and we see 8 gamekeepers serving the castles and the North Harris Estate.
John Finlayson, 41, Rodel, b. Stirling
Roderick Macleay(?), 43, Hamlets Little Borve, b. Lochbroom
Donald Macleod, 47, Leaclee, b. Harris
Duncan Shaw, 45, Flodabay, b. Harris
Murdo Macaulay, 78, No 2, N Harris, b. Harris
Finlay Macleod, 75, Tolomochan House, N Harris, b. Harris
Charles Macleod, 32, No 2 N Harris, b. Harris
Frederick Maculay, 48, 2 Ardvourlie, b. Lewis
Borve Lodge, on the West coast, is represented now but the predominance of the North is still in evidence.
John Finlayson, 51, Rodel, b. Stirling
Roderick Macleay, 53, Little Borve, b. Lochbroom
Duncan Shaw, 52, Flodabay, b. Harris
Murdo Macdonald, 86, 2 Gamekeepers House, N Harris, b. Harris
Donald Macdonald, 22, 5 Solomochan cottage, N Harris, b. Kilmonivig, Inverness-shire
John Macinnes, 40, 2 Bunavoneadder, N Harris, b. Harris
Angus Macleod, 66, 1 N Harris, b. Harris
Samuel Morrison, 35, Laxdale(?), b. Harris
The previous pattern is maintained but whether the apparent drop from the 1881 heights is a true reflection of sporting activity or merely an artiface of the peripatetic nature of Gamekeeping is not known.
Anecdotally, one of my English Gamekeeping ancestors appears in one Census in a large group of Gamekeepers staying in a barn! They were clearly engaged in supporting a hunt away from their families at the time.
The other surprise has been to see that throughout the years a Gamekeeper has resided in the Bays of Harris, initially in isolation but then latterly accompanied by a colleague living in Rodel.
I have not yet established a construction date for Borve Lodge, today still in private ownership but now within the area administered by the West Harris Trust which combined the estates of Luskentyre, Borve and Scaristavore.
In 1863, Ardvourlie Castle, on the shores of Loch Seaforth, was built as a hunting lodge for the North Harris Estate which was being run my the widowed Lady Catherine and her Factor. It was let on a tenancy basis to sporting friends.
Charles, 7th Earl of Dunmore, decided that Ardvourlie Castle was too far removed from his sporting activities. In 1867 Fincastle was constructed, Fincastle being the courtesy title (Viscount Fincastle) of the first sons of the Earls of Dunmore, but it later was renamed Amhuinnsuidhe Castle after its location.
Here are the residents of each castle as seen in the censuses of 1871-1901:
Isabella Burns, 22, Domestic Servant, Ardvourlie Castle, b. Stornoway
Arabella Murray, 19, Domestic Servant, .b Ireland
Murdo Morrison, 21, Schoolmaster, Visitor, b. Carloway
Murdo Macaulay, 57, Gamekeeper, Ardvourlie Castle, b. Harris
Elizabeth, 54, Wife, b. Aberfeldy, Perthshire
Robert, 26, Assistant Gamekeeper, Son, b. Athline, Ross-shire
Jessie, 21, Daughter, b. Athline
Emma, 17, Daughter, b. Athline
John Macleod, 5, Grandson, b. Tarbert, Inverness-shire
Anne Braden, 47, Housemaid, Avensrudh Castle, b. England
Mary E Elliot, 16, Visitor, Niece, b. England
Donald Scott, 28, Gamekeeper, b. Perthshire
(Murdo Macleod, 60, Farmer, Scalpay, b. Fincastle, Harris)
This is odd as the castle was only built 4 years ago!
1879 – Ardvourlie Castle burnt down on Tuesday, 4th March
‘…built about 16 years ago at great cost by Lord Dunmore.’
Glasgow Herald, Thursday, March 6, 1879; Issue 12232
Betsy Macaulay, 32, Housekeeper, 1 Ardvourlie, b. Harris
Margaret Macleod, 26, House Maid, Cousin, b. Harris
Marion Mackay, 16, Visitor, b. Harris
Peter Macaulay Smith, 3, Visitor, b. Peterhead
Frederick Macaulay, 29, Gamekeeper, 2 Ardvourlie, b. Lochs
(Wife and 4 children all b. Harris)
Chirsty Mackenzie, 22, General Servant, b. Lochs
Murdo Macfarland, 48, Assistant Gamekeeper, 3 Ardvoulie, b. Ness, ross-shire
Elizabeth Covell, 32, General Servant (Domestic, Castle, N Harris, b. England
Margaret Macleod, 28, General Servant (Domestic), b. Harris
Euphemia Mackinnon, 32, General Servant (Domestic), b. Harris
Marjory(?) Macdonald, 35, House Maid, 1, Ardvourlie, b. Harris
Bella Mackay, 20, Third House Maid, b. Harris
Frederick Macaulay, 48, Gamekeeper, 2 Ardvourlie, b. Lewis
(Wife and 9 children)
Kate Mackenzie, 29, Housemaid Domestic, Finn Castle, b. Harris
Marion Mackay, 28, Under Housemaid, b. Harris
Ewan Macdonald, 25, Deer Stalker, Gamekeepers House, b. Kilmonivig, Inverness-shire
Flora Finlayson, 34, Housekeeper, b. Portree
(There are also several entries for 1 and 2 Gamekeepers House, N Harris but I intend focussing on those people associated with Gamekeeping in a separate article)
The most obvious feature is that none of the censuses have captured occupants other than employees and their visitors.
Whilst we can be fairly sure that the domestic staff were living in the castles themselves, those supporting the sporting activities appear predominantly to have inhabited associated houses.
Although I am slightly disappointed by the ‘thinness’ of these results, perhaps they demonstrate how small a part these castles played in the everyday lives of the 4000+ people of Harris despite they being the people who paid the highest price in establishing these ‘sporting’ venues on the Highlands and Islands…
…It is only now, with the purchase of the North Harris Estate by the people of Harris that they will begin benefiting directly from the income generated by Amhuinnsuidhe Castle.