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The History of the Highland Clearances
Perthshire - Rannoch


By ALEXANDER MACKENZIE.

Regarding the state of matters in this district a correspondent writes us as follows :—I am very glad to learn that you are soon to publish a new edition of your "Highland Clearances." You have done good work already in rousing the conscience of the public against the conduct of certain landlords in the Highlands, who long ere now should have been held up to public scorn and execration, as the best means of deterring others from pursuing a policy which has been so fatal to the best interests of our beloved land. . . . And now, if I am not too late, I should like to direct your attention to a few authenticated facts connected with two districts in the Highlands, that I am familiar with, and which facts you may utilise, though I shall merely give notes.

In 1851 the population of the district known as the quoad sacra parish of Rannoch numbered altogether 1800; at the census of 1881 it was below 900. Even in 1851 it was not nearly what it was earlier. Why this constant decrease? Several no doubt left the district voluntarily; but the great bulk of those who left were evicted.

Take, first, the Slios Alin, north side of Loch Rannoch. Fifty years ago the farm of Ardlarich, near the west end, was tenanted by three farmers, who were in good circumstances. These were turned out to make room for one large farmer, who was rouped out last year, pennilness; and the farm is now tenantless. The next place, further east, is the township of Killichoan, containing about thirty to forty houses, with small crofts attached to each. The crofters here are very comfortable and happy, and their houses and crofts are models of what industry, thrift and good taste can effect. Further east is the farm of Liaran, now tenantless. Fifty years ago it was farmed by seven tenants who were turned out to make room for one man, and that at a lower rent than was paid by the former tenants. Further, in the same direction, there are Aulich, Craganour, and Annat, every one of them tenantless. These three farms, lately in the occupation of one tenant, and for which he paid a rental of £900, at one time maintained fifty to sixty families in comfort, all of whom have vanished, or were virtually banished from their native land.

It is only right to say that the present proprietor is not responsible for the eviction of any of the smaller tenants; the deed was done before he came into possession. On the contrary, he is very kind to his crofter tenantry, but unfortunately for him he inherits the fruits of a bad policy which has been the ruin of the Rannoch estates.

Then take the Slios Garbh, south-side of Loch Rannoch. Beginning in the west-end, we have Georgetown, which, about fifty years ago, contained twenty-five or twenty-six houses, every one of which were knocked down by the late laird of Struan, and the people evicted. The crofters of Finnart were ejected in the same way. Next comes the township of Camghouran, a place pretty similar to Killichoan, but smaller. The people are very industrious, cleanly, and fairly comfortable, reflecting much credit upon themselves and the present proprietor. Next comes Dall, where there used to be a number of tenants, but now in the hands of the proprietor, an Englishman. The estate of Innerhaden comes next. It used to be divided into ten lots—two held by the laird, and eight by as many tenants. The whole is now in the hands of one family. The rest of Bun-Rannoch includes the estates of Dalchosnie, Lassintullich, and Crossmount, where there used to be a large number of small tenants—most of them well-to-do—but now held by five.

Lastly, take the north side of the river Dubhag, which flows out from Loch Rannoch, and is erroneously called the Tummel. Kinloch, Druimchurn, and Druimchaisteil, always in the hands of three tenants, are now held by one. Drumaglass contains a number of small holdings, with good houses on many of them. Balmore, which always had six tenants in it, has now only one, the remaining portion of it being laid out in grass parks. Ballintuim, with a good house upon it, is tenantless. Auchitarsin, where there used to be twenty houses, is now reduced to four. The whole district from, and including, Kinloch to Auchitarsin belongs to General Sir Alastair Macdonald of Dalchosnie, Commander of Her Majesty's Forces in Scotland. His father, Sir John, during his life, took a great delight in having a numerous, thriving, and sturdy tenantry on the estates of Dalchosnie, Kinloch, Lochgarry, Dunalastair, and Morlaggan. On one occasion his tenant of Dalchosnie offered to take from Sir John on lease all the land on the north side of the river. "Ay, man," said he, "you would take all that land, would you, and turn out all my people! Who would I get, if my house took fire, to put it out?"

The present proprietor has virtually turned out the great bulk of those that Sir John had loved so well. Though, it is said, he did not evict any man directly, he is alleged to have made their positions so hot for them that they had to leave. Sir John could have raised hundreds of Volunteers on his estates—men who would have died for the gallant old soldier. But how many could be now raised by his son? Not a dozen men; though he goes about inspecting Volunteers and praising the movement officially throughout the length and breadth of Scotland.

The author of the New Statistical Account, writing of the Parish of Fortingall, of which the district referred to by our correspondent forms a part, says:—"At present [1838] no part of the parish is more populous than it was in 1790; whereas in several districts, the population has since decreased one-half; and the same will be found to have taken place, though not perhaps in so great a proportion, in most or all of the pastoral districts of the county."

According to the census of 1801 the population was 3875 ; in 18ii, 3236; in 1821, 3189; in 1831, 3067; and in 1881 it was reduced to 1690.

Upwards of 120 families, the same writer says, "crossed the Atlantic from this parish, since the previous Account was drawn up [in 1791], besides many individuals of both sexes; while many others have sought a livelihood in the Low Country, especially in the great towns of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Perth, Crieff, and others. The system of uniting several farms together, and letting them to one individual, has more than any other circumstance " produced this result.


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