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  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.