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Chat's with Frank R. Shaw FSA Scot
A Chat with the Rev. Peter Youngson


Q: How long did the actual writing of your book on Jura take since the idea began thirty years ago?

A: The idea formed about eighteen years ago. I wrote the book between 1996 and 2001, so it took about five years.

Q: Throughout your book you refer to the "Campbell of Jura Papers", the "Statistical accounts of Jura", and the "Manuscript of Craignish". Where would an American find these papers for his/her own personal study?

A: The "Campbell of Jura Papers" are in the National Archives of Scotland, HM Register House, Edinburgh. EH1 3YY Ref:- GD64.

The "Statistical Accounts of Jura" can be found in all major libraries, such as the National library.

The"Manuscript of Craignish" is published by The Scottish History Society. Vol IV of 1926 – accessible through the National Library.

Q: On Jura today, what is the main occupation of the people who live and work there? Do many work on Islay? What is Jura’s current population?

A: Most work on the estates as mamagers and gamekeepers, with some farming. Others are in the Distillery. There is some inshore fishing. Hardly anyone works on Islay. The present population is abou 215.

Q: You refer to a children’s song you wrote in the 1970’s about "Ships and Boats". In it you mention "Diurachs" as peple living on Jura. Please explain and tell our readers what a person from Jura is called today. Is it "Jurach"?

A: A resident of jura should still be termed a "Diurach" – the Gaelic form.

Q: What and how long was the connection of the Lord of the Isles with Lochaber and Ross which is located in the heart of the Hightlands since they had the titles of Earl of Ross and Lord of Lochaber?

A: The history is laid out in Donald Budge’s book. I enclose a copy of pages 16-18. (Note: these pages point out that marriage of the MacDolads with the great clans of the west led to the Lords of the Isles being recognized as the Earl of Ross. Later, in 1411 the fierce Battle of Harlaw was fought over this title and the lands they conferred. I might add the Chief of Clan Shaw was killed during this battle fighting for the MacDonalds. After the battle of Inverlochy in 1431 James I recognized Alexander with the lordship of Lochaber.)

Q: There was not much said in your book about the ’45 as it related to Jura. Were the people of Jura on one side or the other? Or, were they split in allegiance like some families during our own Civil War here in America with brother against brother, etc.?

A: My reference on page 134 & 135 is the only historical mention of the ’45 in connection with Jura. There is no evidence of Catholic sympathy in Jura after the ‘counter- reformation..although some Catholic sympathies remained underground after the leading MacDonalds left the island. Consequently there could be no overt support for Bonnie Prince Charlie from a wholly Protestant island, and there is absolutely no evidence for any such in Jura or its neighboring islands.

Q: If I have my facts correct, Archibald Campbell seems like a rascal, to say the least, but not a loveable rascal. How would you describe him from the viewpoint of the people who lived on his land?

A: You may be referring to Archibald Campbell, 4th of Jura, who had to cope with Rev. Hossack. He and his successors were deeply resented by the people until they left the island in the 20th century. I have eye witness accounts by very old residents who remember the Campbells visiting their crofts, and could recall the deep bitterness with which they wee viewed. It would not be too strong a word to say that they were actually ‘hated’ by many people. The Campbells seemed to have passed down to each successive generation a harsh and inflexible attitude. They were neurotically convenienced that everyone was out to cheat them and do them down, and they wre probably right.

Q: A question I often ask is do you see Tony Blair taking the United Kingdom into the European Union?

A: The U. K. is already a member of the European Union, having joined in 1973, and confirmed its membership in a referendum in 1975. The question at issue at the moment is whether or not we should become members of the European Monetary Union, and give up the pound Sterling in favor of the Euro. It is this decision Tony Blair faces, through the promise of a referendum. I think we will probably join in time, as it will be too costly to stay out.

Q: If Scotland was to become independent, in your opinion, could she support herself with the services now enjoyed by a population of 5.5 million people?

A: Much sound economic opinion suggests that Scotland could indeed support herself if she were an independent country. She has considerable resources, including future off-shore oil revenues. However, although Devolution was sufficiently welcome to be carried by popular vote, there has never been more than a tiny minority of the population who have seriously advocated independence from the United Kingdom, and there has never been the slightest chance that that would happen. We are now cheerfully experimenting with our Scottish Parliament, which I think we will probably come to appreciate. After all we now have a state legislature for Scotland, rather as you have in Georgia, while keeping our "Congress" down at Westminster. This may well be the best of both worlds.

(Note: In a letter dated 19th October, 2001, Rev. Youngson shared some words that many of our readers will find of interest:

"I am absolutely delighted to receive your letter today, and to learn a little about The Family Tree

"I am flattered by your reaction to my book, into which as you can well imagine, I have put a great deal of myself, and my love of the island. I am very excited to learn that you propose to review the book.

"You may know that my wife and I had a wonderful visit to Rome and Atlanta in May, 1986, when we were the guests all over the States of the descendents of Jura emigrants.

We stayed with McDougald descendents in Rome and with Prof. Charlie Cousar of Columbia Seminary, who lives in Decatur. We went to the Peach Tree Plaza Hotel, and had an unforgettable lunch in the revolving restaurant. We visited with ‘Pete" Peterson of Villa International, who took us to the Martin Luther King grave, and on to Stone Mountain. We went to Emory University. I myself preached in 1st Presbyterian, Rome. We are left with indelible memories of Atlanta!"

(Note: When my wife, Susan, and I visited Jura years ago, I recall the people of Jura we visited with like Sandy Buie speaking mighty highly of Rev. Youngson, as did the late Gordon Wright in our conversation via phone, snail mail, and email over the years. It has been a pleasure to review the work of one who has done a tremendous service to those of us who are descendents of emigrant "Diurachs". I have been told by others that a person from Jura is called a "Duirach" because there is no "J" in Gaelic. If so, how did our beloved isle become known as "Jura", that’s "Jura" with a "J" ? Why not Dura?


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