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The History of the Highland Clearances
Notable Dicta - Appendices


NOTE A. (See Page 115.)

The following pertinent observations appeared in the Dundee Advertiser, of 10th January, 1914. They are from the pen of a notable Dundee lawyer, Mr. John Walker, who has made a special study of the legal aspects of the Highland Clearances At the time of Patrick Sellar's trial the ruthless evictions carried out by the Stafford family had been so long in process of execution that no one had the slightest doubt of the facts of these taking place. The question tried was not whether they took place, but whether they were carried out, in one particular instance, in such a way as to directly cause the death of Donald M'Beath and Janet M'Kay, two helpless, old, bedridden people. The trial took place at Inverness. Of the 15 jurors 8 were landed proprietors, and the rest were mostly either factors or those interested in factors. The most of the witnesses for the prosecution were evidently terrified to say one word against the accused. When Sellar was arrested, he emitted a declaration which was put in evidence at the trial, and, to be strictly fair, I shall confine myself to that. The gist of it is as follows:—In December, 1813, the crofting lands were advertised to let, and at the set, where apparently the lands were disposed of to sheep farmers, a paper was read that the removed tenants would get allotments "in the lower part of the county." "That Lord and Lady Stafford directed the declarant (Sellar) to offer at the set for any farm he chose a few pounds beyond the highest offerer; and they directed Mr. Young on his so offering to prefer him." That thus Sellar got possession of the farms of Rhiloisk and Rossal. That in April, 1814, decrees of removing were got against all the tenants on these farms. That the ejections were carried out in June, 1814, and " that his directions to the officers were that they should lawfully eject the tenants, and that after ejecting . . they should remove the roof of every house in Rhimsdale excepting those occupied by families, wherein sickness was mentioned to have been." That he was present at the first part of the ejections (of the towns of Garvault, Ravigill, Rhiphail, and Rhiloisk), but after they had ejected from a few houses and had unroofed these the tenants of the others " in the neighbourhood yielded obedience to the warrant, and removed themselves." "Interrogated. If the declarant's orders to the officer and party were not to throw down the couples and timber of the different dwelling-houses, barns, kilns, and sheep cots? Declares that the declarant directed the officers . . . to remove the tenants' property and effects from the premises ; and thereafter to unroof the huts to prevent them from retaking possession after the declarant should leave that part of the county." Sellar himself admitted burning only in one case. The proceedings from a judicial aspect were largely a farce, as can be judged from the fact that the first evidence adduced for the defence consisted of written certificates from three landed proprietors, who did not appear, as to "Mr. Sellar's character for humanity," and that these certificates, although not evidence, were founded on in Lord Pitmilly's charge to the jury. But the important thing is that Sellar's declaration implicates Lord and Lady Stafford as being by their own instructions the direct instruments of putting this tyrannical under-factor in the position of rendering homeless some hundreds of their helpless tenants. The little crofts were made into large sheep farms, which were advertised to let to the highest offerer, and the exposure was a farce, because the Sutherland family had personally arranged that Sellar was to be allowed to cap the highest offer. One would require a double-power microscope to see the noble philanthropy of that transaction! I have extracted the above summary from the report of the trial, which was prepared and circulated by Sellar's own junior counsel.

On the other hand, the stories yet told in Sutherland represent a much harsher state of matters. I personally have talked with men whose fathers were as young children turned out on the hillside to see their little cottages burned to the ground, and I have had pointed out to me the sites of these same cottages and crofts, where now there is nothing but miles and miles of dreary waste ; and this did not happen in one or two instances, but in the whole of Strathnaver, Strathbrora, and many other places in all parts of the county.

NOTE B. (See Page 218.)

The following interesting letter has been handed to the Editor by Mr. J. Stewart Bannatyne, solicitor, Glasgow:

"CASTLEBAY, BARRA.
"September 21St, 1912.

"Dear Sir,

"In reply to your letter of the 6th inst., and after consulting the older inhabitants, I beg to inform you that it was John Bannatyne who rescued Mrs. J. M'Kinnon, her sister and another woman, from compulsory emigration, but it was John Crawford who rescued John M'Lean. I know the women and M'Lean as well as I know my two fingers, and heard the whole story from their own lips different times.

"Both my father and mother were eye-witnesses of people being chased like wild cattle over the hills, not in Barra, but in North and South Uists. People can hardly believe now what took place then, and what my mother, who died in my arms at the fall of last year, told me it would be enough to make the devil himself desperate, if I am not using too strong an expression.

"There is a man still living at Mallaig, Inverness-shire, named Ewen M'Dugald, who sailed with John Bannatyne.

"People nowadays are trying to deny that such brutalities were carried out by landlords, but they need not attempt such nonsense. I have no doubt but the descendants of the perpetrators of those acts are ashamed of the deeds—and no wonder.

Yours faithfully,
"DON. M`AULAY."

JOHN STEWART BANNATYNE, Esq.,
"Solicitor, Glasgow."

NOTE C. (See page 234.)

In the Inverness Courier for 11th October,1837, appears the following :-

A large body of emigrants sailed from Tobermory, on the 27th September, for New South Wales. The vessel was the "Brilliant," and its size and splendid fittings were greatly admired. "The people to be conveyed by this vessel are decidedly the most valuable that have ever left the shores of Great Britain. They are of excellent moral character, and, from their knowledge of agriculture, and management of sheep and cattle, must prove a most valuable acquisition to a colony like New South Wales." The Rev. Mr. Macpherson, of Tobermory, preached a farewell sermon before the party sailed. The total number of emigrants was 322, made up as follows:-- From Ardnamurchan and Strontian, 105; from Coll and Tiree, 104; from Mull and Iona, 56; from Morven, 25; and from Dunoon, 28. There were two teachers and two surgeons. A visitor from New South Wales presented as many of the party as he met with letters of introduction, and expressed himself highly gratified with the prospect of having so valuable an addition to the colony. A Government agent superintended the embarkation.


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