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Gairloch in North-West Ross-Shire
Part I.—Records and Traditions of Gairloch
Chapter XV.—Gairloch Estates, and Old Names of Places


AN account must be given here of the ways in which the different parts of the parish of Gairloch came into the hands of the present proprietors. It shall be brief. Some notes on old names of places are included.

Hector Roy Mackenzie is said, in an old MS., to have possessed, among other properties, "Kenlochewe, a district adjoining to Gairloch on the east." But after his time it belonged to the lords of Kintail, and subsequently to the Mackenzies of Coul, from whom Sir Alexander Mackenzie, ninth laird of Gairloch, purchased it in 1743, with the proceeds of the sale of Glas Lei tire, in Kintail. Kenlochewe has belonged to the Gairloch baronets since that date. It extends from the west end of Loch Rosque to the water flowing from Glen Torridon past the village of Kenlochewe into the head of Loch Maree, and to a burn running down Slioch on the north-east side of that loch; it also extends six miles on the road from Kenlochewe village to Torridon.

Gairloch itself became the property of Hector Roy under charters from the crown, and has ever since remained the possession of the Gairloch Mackenzies. In the earliest document of title extant, a protocol from John de Vaux, sheriff of Inverness, dated 10th December 1494, "the landis of Gerloch," granted to Hector, and of which the sheriff gave him possession by that protocol, are described as " lyande betwix the watteris callyde Innerew and Torvedene, within the Shireffdome of Innerness." The boundaries thus stated for Gairloch are the waters of Ewe, i.e. Loch Maree, the river Ewe, and Loch Ewe on the north, and Torridon on the south. The sheriff's protocol was sealed at "Alydyll"—no doubt Talladale—"in Garloch," and that place has always formed part of Gairloch, as have also the islands of Loch Maree.

The retour, in 1566, of Alexander, second son of John Glassicb Mackenzie, specifies "the lands of Garloch" as including "Garloch, Kirktoun, Syldage, Hamgildail, Malefage, Innerasfidill, Sandecorran, Cryf, Baddichro, Bein-Sanderis, Meall, Allawdill." Kirktoun seems to have been the designation of the place now called Charlestown, near Flowerdale, being near the old Gairloch church; Syldage represents Shieldaig; Malefage, Melvaig; Innerasfidill, Inverasdale; Sandecorran, Big Sand (of Gairloch); Cryf, Cliff (Poolewe); Baddichro, Badachro; Meall, Miole or Strath; and Allawdill must be Talladale. Hamgildail no longer exists.

In 1638 "Kenneth McKeinzie of Garloch was served heir male to his father, Alexander McKeinzie of Garloche, in the lands and barony of Garloche, including Kirktoun, with the manor place and gardens of the same, Sildag [Shieldaig], the two Oyngadellis [same as Hamgildail, in the retour of 1566], Mailfog [Melvaig], Debak [Dia-baig], Inneraspedell [Inverasdale], Sandacarrane [Sandacarran, or Big Sand], Badichro [Badachro], the two Sandis [north side of Loch Cairlochl, Erredell [Erradale], Telledill [Talladale], Clive [Cliff, Poolewe], Tollie [same as now], and the two Nastis [Naast]; the lands of Ellenow [Isle of Ewe], Auldgressan [Altgreshan], with the waters and salmon fishings of Kerne and Badechro, the half of the water of Ew, and the salmon fishings of the same, Achetcairne f Achtercairn], Meoll [Miole, or Strath], with the mill, Udroll, the loch of Loch Maroy [Loch Maree], with the islands of the same, and the manor place and gardens in the island of Ilinroy [Eilean Ruaridh], the loch of Garloch with the fishings of the same, with other lands in Ross, all united into the barony of Garloche and the town of Clive [Poolewe], with the harbour and shore of the same being part of the same barony of Garloch erected into a burgh of barony." This must have been a list of the inhabited places on the Gairloch estate two hundred and fifty years ago.

In a Dutch map of Ross-shire, by the famous geographer Bleau, engraved by Pont, and dated 1662, kindly lent me by Mr D. William Kemp, some of the old Gairloch names are given with curious spellings. This map of Ross-shire purports to have been made by " R. Gordonius a Strath-loch." The map shows Telladull, Slotadull, Tawy, Yl Ew, Ruymakilvandrich, Dunast, Inner-Absdill, Melvag, Sanda, Erdull, Viroill, Meall, Achagacharn, Heglis Gherloch, Kno-kintoull, Ingadill, Shilkag, Padechry, Erradill, Typack (Diabaig), Ardetisag. Rudha Reidh is called Rowna Ra; the island of Longa is called Yl Lunga; the sealoch of Gairloch is called Gher Loch; Loch Maree is called Loch Ew, which name is also given to the present Loch Ew, and the Garavaig river is called Alt Finnag. This last name seems to be for Allt Feannaige, or " the burn of the hoodie crow," a bird which still frequents the locality. These are all the names given on what was the original Gairloch estate. Of other names within the parish of Gairloch there are Inner Ew, Turnag, Drumnachoirk, Badfern, Oudergill, Sanda, Inoran, Ardlarich, Acha-buy, Letyr Ew, Fowlis, Smirsary, Pinesdale, Achanaloisk, Glenmuik, Lecachy, Glen-dochart, Glas-Letyr, Heglis-loch-ew (apparently where Culinellan now is), and Groudy. The only mountain named is Bin Cherkyr. A large island on Loch Maree has the name Sow, probably intended for Suthainn, which island had then previously been a residence of Alastair Breac, laird of Gairloch. Lochs Finn [Fionn loch], Dow [Dubh loch], Garavad [east of Letterewe], Fadd, and Clair, are the only lochs with names. It is curious that such places as Kenlochewe and Clive [Poolewe] are not named on this old map. The names that are given are very instructive when compared with the names in the old records just quoted. Ruymakilvandrich is not found elsewhere; it seems to be intended for Rudha Mac Gille Aindreas, or "the point of the son of Gillanders," i.e. of the servant of Andrew, and is applied to a small headland near Boor; it doubtless had reference to some incident long ago forgotten. Dunast [Dun Naast] is still the name of a rock close to Naast; from this name being given instead of Naast, it may be inferred that in the seventeenth century there was some part of the dun that stood there still remaining. The names Heglis Gherloch, Heglis-loch-ew, Knokintoull, and Achanaloisk, do not occur elsewhere, either in old descriptions or modern nomenclature. Viroill seems to be the same as Udroll in the description of 1638. The map shows it where Lonmor now is. The other names are easily identified. The place called Ingadill on this old map, Hamgildail in the retour of 1566, and Oyngadellis in 1638, has now entirely disappeared; it seems to have been at the mouth of the river Kerry. The map gives only two churches in Gairloch parish, viz., Heglis Gherloch, near where the present Gair-loch church now stands, and Heglis-loch-ew, at the head of Loch Maree. The names of places given on the map most likely indicate the most populous localities at that date. Some of the names are spelt phonetically; thus Bin is the Gaelic pronunciation of Beinn, and Finn is still the pronunciation by the natives of the name of Fionn loch.

Alexander Mackenzie, seventh laird of Gairloch, bought the second half of the water of Ewe and Mellon Charles in 1671. The precise extent of this purchase does not appear. Mellon Charles still belongs to the Gairloch Mackenzies, as well as Isle Ewe, and the whole right to the salmon fishings of Loch Ewe, the River Ewe, and Loch Maree. To finish with the Gairloch estate of Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, the present baronet, it may be mentioned that the Kernsary estate was purchased from the Seaforth family in 1844, very early in Sir Kenneth's minority, and was resold by his trustees to his half-brother Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie, in 1862, with the exception of the strip of territory extending from Inveran to Londubh on the north-east bank of the river Ewe, which, with Gairloch proper, Kenlochewe, Mellon Charles, and the Isle of Ewe, completes Sir Kenneth's possessions in the parish of Gairloch. They form a noble estate, which comprises more than three-fourths of the whole parish.

Letterewe unquestionably belonged to the Kintail or Seaforth family up to and including the early part of the seventeenth century. It was either acquired by Kenneth, sixth laird of Gairloch, at the time (about 1648) when he became cautioner for the Earl of Seaforth in a bond for five thousand merks, or else later on (in 1671) by his son Alexander as part of his acquisition of the second half of the water of Ewe. In 1696 this Alexander gave up Letterewe to his brother Charles in exchange for Wester Logic Charles became the progenitor of the family of Mackenzie of Letterewe, who possessed the property until 1835, when it was sold to the late Mr Meyrick Bankes, whose daughter Mrs Liot Bankes is the present liferenter of it. It extends from Slioch, along the shore of Loch Maree, to a burn between Ardlair and Inveran, and back to Fionn loch. With Letterewe is held the old Gruinard estate; it includes all the lands on the promontory called the Greenstone Point, except Mellon Charles. The older annals of this property are complex, and need not be fully narrated here. It came into the possession of the Gruinard Mackenzies before 1655, an<* continued in the same family until 1795, when it was sold to Henry Davidson of Tulloch, who again sold it to the late Mr Bankes, about 1835, along with the other parts of the Gruinard estate to the south of the Meikle Gruinard river^ Mrs Liot Bankes is also liferenter of this property: it forms, with Letterewe, a fine estate, which covers just one-sixth of the parish of Gairloch.

The remaining property in Gairloch parish is that of Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie. It includes Kernsary (except the strip on the northeast side of the Ewe, which, as before stated, is Sir Kenneth's), Loch-end or Inverewe, and Tournaig. Kernsary, as we have seen, was, after belonging to more than one family, purchased by Sir Kenneth's trustees in 1844, and sold by them to Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie in 1862. It was bought from the Seaforth family, who had acquired it as providing a port at Londubh, from which the island of the Lews, then their estate, was accessible. The Lochend and Tournaig properties were in 1863 purchased by Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie from Sir William Mackenzie of Coul, to whom they had come after having had a succession of proprietors. These and Kernsary now constitute Mr Osgood H. Mackenzie's charming estate of Inverewe,. about one-sixteenth of the whole parish of Gairloch.


 


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