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Gairloch in North-West Ross-Shire
Part I.—Records and Traditions of Gairloch
Chapter XVIII.—The Historic Ironworks of Loch Maree


TO the lonely and romantic shores of the queen of Highland lochs belongs the curiously incongruous distinction of having been the scene where the new departure in iron-smelting processes, which commenced the present series of Scottish ironworks, was inaugurated. How wonderful it seems, that the great iron industry of Scotland, which to this day enriches so many families and employs so many thousands of workmen, should have sprung from this sequestered region ! The claim to the distinction is based on the tacts, that up to the present time no records of any earlier manufacture °f iron have been discovered, and that the iron industry established here early in the seventeenth century became, as we shall shew, of such national importance as to call for special legislation. It appears to have been in 1607 that Sir George Hay commenced ironworks at 1-etterewe, on Loch Maree, which were continued for at least sixty years. It is true that in 1612 a license previously granted by the king to " Archibald Prymroise, clerk of his maiesties mynis, his airis and assignais quhatsomeuir ffor making of yrne within the boundis of the schirefdome of perth," was ratified by Parliament, but the date of fne license is not given, and we hear no more of these Perthshire , wnworks.

It was not until the eighteenth century that the seed sown by Sir Oeorge germinated, and the iron industry began to spread in Gotland.

The iron furnaces in Glengarry, referred to by Captain Burt, are said to have been established by a Liverpool company, who bought the Glengarry woods about 1730.

The iron-smelting works at Abernethy, Strathspey, were commenced in 1732 by the York Buildings Company. This company was formed in 1675 to erect waterworks on the grounds of York House in the Strand, London, and was incorporated in 1691 as "The Governor and Company of Undertakers for raising the Thames water in York Buildings." The operations of the company have been described by Mr David Murray, M.A., F.S.A. Scot., in an able pamphlet entitled " The York Buildings Company: A Chapter in Scotch History." The company raised at the time of its incorporation the then immense capital of ,£1,259,575, and conducted not only the original waterworks, but also enormous speculations in forfeited estates in Scotland; the company also carried on coal, lead,. and iron mines, the manufacture of iron and glass, and extensive dealings in timber from the Strathspey forests. Their agents and workmen in Strathspey are described in the Old Statistical Account as "the most profuse and profligate set that were ever heard of in this country. Their extravagances of every kind ruined themselves and corrupted others." Their ironworks were abandoned at the end of two years, i.e. in 1734, or, according to the. Old Statistical Account, in 1737. They made "Glengarry" and "Strathdoun" pigs, and had four furnaces for making bar iron. The corporation of the York Buildings Company was dissolved in 1829.

The Loch Etive side, or Bonawe, ironworks, were commenced by an Irish company about 1730. They rented the woods of Glen-kinglass, and made charcoal, with which they smelted imported iron ore. That company existed till about 1750. In 1753 an English company, consisting of three Lancashire men and one Westmoreland man, took leases, which ran for one hundred and ten years, and these were renewed in 1863 to tne tnen manager of the company for twenty-one years, expiring as lately as 1884. By the courtesy of Mr Hosack, of Oban, I have seen duplicates of the leases under which the undertaking was carried on. The works comprised extensive charcoal burnings and the blast-furnace at Bonawe; they were discontinued before 1884.

Other important works of a similar character were afterwards established by the Argyle Furnace Company, and by the Lorn Company, at Inverary.

In a work on "The Manufacture of Iron in Great Britain," by Mr George Wilkie, Assoc. Inst. C.E., published in 1857, it is stated that the Carron works were established in 1760 by Dr Roebuck of Sheffield and other gentlemen; that in 1779 two brothers of the name of Wilson, merchants in London, established the Wilsonton ironworks in Lanarkshire; that in 1788 the Clyde ironworks were established in the neighbourhood of Glasgow, and that in that year there were only eight pig-iron furnaces in Scotland, of which four were at Carron, two at Wilsonton, one at "Bunawe in Lorn," and one at "Goatfield in Arran," the two latter being worked with wood charcoal for fuel. The furnace at Bunawe is that already noticed as on Loch Etive side. Of the alleged furnace at "Goatfield in Arran" there are no records or remains to be found in Arran to-day. Probably Goatfield was in Argyleshire.

But we need not here further trace the wonderful growth of the still existing series of Scottish ironworks. ,To establish our claim to precedence, it will suffice to shew that the furnaces on Loch Maree were commenced by Sir George Hay more than a century earlier than any of those just named.

Pennant, in his tour of 1772 (Appendix B), mentions the time of the Queen Regent as the period when Sir George Hay was head of a company, who carried on an iron furnace near Poole we ; this statement is given on the authority of the Rev. John Dounie, minister of Gairloch. The regency of Mary of Guise extended from 1542 to 1560; so that the historical commencement of the ironworks on Loch Maree might date as far back as the middle of the sixteenth century. But Sir George Hay lived at a later date, and Mr Dounie must have been inaccurrate in this respect.

From Donald Gregory's history of the Western Highlands, Alexander Mackenzie's history of the Mackenzies, and several old MSS., including the genealogy of the MacRaes (Appendix A), we glean the following facts :—

In 1598 a party of gentlemen, known as the " Fife Adventurers," obtained a grant from the crown of the island of the Lews, and took steps to plant a colony there. Mackenzie of Kintail and the M'Leods of the Lews, ceasing for the time their own feuds, combined to oust the Fife Adventurers. In 1607 the king granted the Ixws to Lord Balmerino (Secretary of Scotland and Lord-President of the Session), Sir George Hay, arid Sir James Spens of Wormistoun (one of the original "Fife Adventurers"), who in 1608 renewed the attempt to colonize the Lews, but without success. In 1609 Lord Balmerino was convicted of high treason and executed, thus forfeiting his share. Sir George Hay and Sir James Spens about that time sent an expedition to the Lews, but Neil M'Leod, secretly backed by Mackenzie of Kintail, opposed the intending colonists, who were driven from the island. Mackenzie was raised to the peerage in the same year with the title of Lord Mackenzie of Kintail, after he had induced Sir George Hay and Sir James Spens to give up their scheme and transfer their rights in the Lews to himself. Lord Mackenzie, in part payment, gave them the woods of Letterewe for iron-smelting; the arrangement was concluded in 1610, and Lord Mackenzie then obtained a fresh grant to himself from the crown.

But we can carry back the history of the Letterewe ironworks to a slightly earlier date still.

The Rev. Farquhar MacRae was appointed vicar or minister of Gairloch by Bishop Leslie of Ross in 1608, in order that he might "serve the colony of English which Sir George Hay kept at Letterewe." Mr MacRae continued his work in Gairloch parish till 1618, and his son informs us, in the "Genealogical Account" (Appendix A), that on his death in 1662 Mr MacRae "had lived fifty-four years in the ministry, ten of which at Gairloch." Thus it is evident that he was ordained vicar of Gairloch in 1608. This was two years before Sir George Hay acquired the woods of Letterewe from Lord Mackenzie, but the later date of his acquisition of those woods does not preclude the possibility of Sir George having already commenced the manufacture of iron there, perhaps in a tentative manner. It will be noticed that the Genealogical Account of the MacRaes speaks of Sir George Hay's undertaking at Letterewe as a going concern when Mr MacRae was sent in 1608 to minister to the ironworkers. It seems almost certain, therefore, that it had begun in 1607, for we cannot but assume that the appointment of Mr MacRae to Gairloch was made to supply a want that must have taken at least a year to develop. The conclusion that Sir George Hay began the Letterewe ironworks in 1607, receives some confirmation from the fact that the grant of the Lews to him and his colleagues took place in the same year. The two matters were very probably connected. Either Sir George was led to enter into the Lews adventure from his being located at Letterewe, so near to Poolewe, the port for the Lews, or—which is more probable—the advantages of Letterewe attracted his attention when at Poolewe planning the subjugation of the Lews. The date (27th January 1609) of the act forbidding the making of iron with wood (Appendix G) is not inconsistent with the commencement of the ironworks in 1607. Assuming that the prohibition was (as seems likely) aimed at the Letterewe ironworks, it is reasonable enough to suppose that they must have been begun in 1607, so as to have attained sufficient importance to excite the alarm of the legislature in January 1609. News from the Highlands took a long time to travel so far as Edinburgh in those days.

We hear nothing more of Sir James Spens in connection with the ironworks.

Sir George Hay's history is remarkable. He was the second son of Peter Hay of Melginche, and was born in 1572. He completed his education at the Scots College at Douay in France. He was introduced at court about 1596, and seems at once to have attracted the attention of James VI., who appointed him one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber, and in 1598 gave him the Carthusian priory or charter-house at Perth and the ecclesiastical lands of Errol, with a seat in Parliament as a peer. But he declined the peerage, was knighted instead, and subsequently adopted the profession of the law, in which he attained to great distinction. He seems to have been a favourite with the king, whom he defended when in 1600 the Earl of Gowrie was killed in his treasonable attempt on his majesty's life. Assisted by the favour of the crown, Sir George acquired large territories both in the Highlands and Lowlands. (See extract from "Douglas's Peerage," Appendix G.) But some think that at the time he settled at Letterewe he was under a cloud. Political troubles had arisen ; one of his partners, Lord Balmerino, had been convicted of high treason and executed; so that the statement that Sir George had chosen the remote Letterewe "for the sake of quiet in those turbulent times" appears reasonable enough. The fact that he occupied the leisure of his enforced retirement in establishing and improving iron-smelting, is a standing testimony to the energy of this remarkable man. He is-said to have resided some years at Letterewe, or at least to have made his headquarters there. No doubt Lord Mackenzie would provide the best habitation he could for the learned and enterprising lessee of his woods. Probably Sir George lived in an old house on the site of the present Letterewe House.

The only Gairloch iron-furnaces which we can be sure were carried on by Sir George Hay were those at Letterewe, Talladale, and the Red Smiddy near Poolewe. (They will be described in Part I., chap. xx.). The vast woods of Letterewe were undoubtedly the prime motive that led Sir George to start the ironworks there. They must have been very extensive, for it is the opinion of those who should know, that each furnace would annually use as carbonised fuel the product of one hundred and twenty acres of wood. The works Sir George conducted seem to have combined two classes. of industry,—(i) The manufacture of wrought-iron, the ore being smelted with charcoal into a mass of metal called a bloom, which was hammered whilst yet hot into bars of wrought iron, or into various articles used in the arts of peace or war; (2) The manufacture of pig-iron and articles of cast-iron, the metal being poured into moulds.

The Letterfearn MS. says, that at Letterewe " Sir George Hay kept a colony and manufactory of Englishmen making iron and casting great guns, untill the wood of it was spent and the lease of it expired."-

The Genealogical Account of the MacRaes tells of "the colony of English which Sir George Hay of Airdry kept at Letterewe, making iron and casting cannon."

The Bennetsfield MS. mentions the grant of the "lease of the woods of Letterewe, where there was an iron mine, which they wrought by English miners, casting guns and other implements, till the fuel was exhausted and their lease expired."

Pennant notes in his Tour (Appendix B), that the Rev. John Dounie had seen the back of a grate marked " S. G. Hay," or Sir George Hay. Those acquainted with old inscriptions tell us that the initial S was a usual abbreviation for the title "Sir."

It appears, then, that Sir George not only produced articles used in warfare, but also such goods as we are accustomed to procure at the ironmonger's.

It is certain that improved processes-of iron-smelting were introduced at Furnace, Letterewe, and perfected at the Red Smiddy, Poolewe, so that the results obtained at the latter place were almost on a par with those of the newest methods of the present day. The credit of these improvements must be given to Sir George Hay. In resuscitating the ancient manufacture of iron, he brought the intelligence of his cultivated mind to bear on the subject in a practical and successful way.

The "new industry" thus commenced on the shores of Loch Maree soon attracted the attention of the government. Reference has already been made to the act of 27th January 1609, prohibiting the making of iron with the natural woods of the Highlands. The act is printed verbatim in Appendix G. There seems little doubt, as previously remarked, that it was intended to injure Sir George Hay. It was probably passed on the instigation of a political foe.

But Sir George must have still possessed considerable influence at court, and the importance of his new industry must have produced a strong impression, for on the 24th of December 1610, at Whitehall, the king gave him what appears to have been a monopoly of the manufacture of iron and glass throughout the whole of Scotland, for thirty-one years from that date, and this gift was ratified by Act of Parliament, dated 23d October 1612. The delay of two years in its ratification seems a little strange, and perhaps indicates that whilst Sir George continued such a favourite with his king as to receive from him so valuable a "Christmas box," he still had enemies in the Privy Council or the Parliament of Scotland. The ratification will be found in Appendix G; it recites the license. It would appear from a Scots Act passed 16th November 1641, that several noblemen and gentlemen had obtained monopolies of other manufactures,—probably about the same time. That act brought these monopolies to an end in the same year (1641) that Sir George Hay's monopoly of the manufacture of iron expired. Whether Sir George carried on ironworks elsewhere than on Loch Maree we know not, but it is most likely that they were his principal, if not his only, undertakings of the kind.

In 1613 a proclamation was made by the Privy Council restraining the export of iron ore out of the country, so that the enterprise of the new industry should not be hindered or disappointed (Appendix G). If the act of 1609 prohibiting the making of iron with wood had been obtained by an enemy of Sir George Hay's, the adverse influence of the foe was now at an end. Possibly Sir George had by this time returned from the Highlands, for we find that in 1616 he was appointed Clerk-Register. If so, his personal influence may have overridden that of his former political enemies. Under this proclamation Sir George became able to procure the clayband ironstone almost at his own price. He used it extensively both at Furnace (Letterewe) and at the Red Smiddy, as well as at Talladale.

There is another record relating to Sir George Hay's iron manufacture; it is the curious license anent selling of his iron, granted to him by a Scots Act, dated 4th August 1621, and printed in Appendix G. It purports to be a license to Sir George to carry his iron to any port or harbour of the free burghs royal, and to dispose of the same to any person notwithstanding the privileges and liberties of the burghs. This license, granted fourteen years after the commencement of the Letterewe ironworks, testifies to the vigour with which the enterprise had been pushed. It would seem that the quantity of iron produced now only required a free market. The monopoly granted to Sir George, the proclamation restraining the export of iron ore, and the special license he now obtained for selling his iron in royal burghs, were exceptional provisions, which would now-a-days be considered antagonistic to cherished political principles. To what extent Sir George profited from the advantages granted to him we cannot tell. That he became a rich man there seems no doubt, and the ironworks on Loch Maree may have added to his wealth.

John Roy Mackenzie was the prudent, business-like, and hospitable laird of Gairloch during the residence at Letterewe of Sir George Hay, who appears to have had a furnace at Talladale on John Roy's Gairloch estate. Doubtless some intercourse took place between them, but as John Roy had been previously engaged in warfare, and could not, so far as we can judge from the story of his youth, have been a man of much culture, it is unlikely that he and Sir George became very intimate. But Sir George, the learned lawyer and man of science, had a thoroughly congenial friend in the great Latin scholar the kev. Farquhar MacRae, vicar of Gairloch, whose house at Ardlair was but a three miles' walk or row from Letterewe House. The account given in Appendix A proves that the friendship of this accomplished and genial clergyman was much appreciated by Sir George, who endeavoured to induce Mr MacRae


THE MINISTER'S STONE, ARDLAIR.

to accompany him when he himself returned to the south. A remarkable rock or stone at Ardlair, called "The minister's stone" (see illustration), is still pointed out as the place where Mr MacRae used to preach in English and Gaelic No doubt he also preached at Letterewe ; and we are told that he "did not only please the country people, but also the strangers, especially George Hay." The interesting memoir of Mr MacRae, in Appendix A, is well worth perusal; he married in 1611, and brought his bride to the parsonage at Ardlair, where several of his children were born. Unquestionably the refined life of the vicar and his family at their beautiful and retired home, would be more enjoyable to Sir George than the rougher habits of the natives of the country, nay, even than the society of the fighting laird of Gairloch himself.

The date when Sir George left Letterewe is not certain; the reason of his departure is plain,—he had superior calls on his presence in the south. After he left his Highland retreat his career was one of unbroken success and distinction. In 1616 he was appointed Clerk-Register, and on 16th July 1622 he was constituted High Chancellor of Scotland. He was raised to the Peerage by the title of Viscount Duplin and Lord Hay of Kinfauns in 1627, and was created Earl of Kinnoull by patent dated at York 25th May 1633. As chancellor he won "the approbation of the whole kingdom, and the applause of all good men, for his justice, integrity, sound judgment, and eminent sufficiency." He died in London in 1634, aged sixty-two. Some account of the statue of his lordship, of the epitaph on his monument, and of the portraits of him still extant (see illustrations), will be found in Appendix G. If we may trust the expressions contained in the epitaph, it would almost appear that the iron-founder of Loch Maree became, under his king, the ruler of fair Scotland, for he is termed " the great and grave dictator of our clime."

But the departure of Sir George from Letterewe did not stop the progress of his ironworks on Loch Maree. The concession or monopoly granted by the crown had still many years to run, and the works were unquestionably continued for a long further period under a manager or factor. The last manager is said to have been called John Hay, a name which obviously suggests that he was a relative of Sir George.

In the Gairloch churchyard is a picturesque tombstone, evidently of considerable age. It has a well carved skull and cross bones, and underneath them a shield (originally faced with a brass), with a design below it resembling an inverted fleur-de-lis. At either side of the shield are the letters I and H, of large size. The inscription round the border of the stone is only partly legible. It runs as follows :—

 

It is said that this stone was sent to the port or wharf at Port na Heile, in Gairloch (the present Gairloch pier), some years after the death of John Hay, to be placed over his grave; that he was the last manager of the Letterewe ironworks ; that he died, and was probably buried, at or near Letterewe; that the stone lay at the port for many years; and that, ultimately, when the situation of John Hay's grave had been forgotten, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, the second baronet and ninth laird of Gairloch (who succeeded 1703, came of age 1721, and died 1766), authorised one William Fraser to place the stone in the burial-place of his (Fraser's) family, where it now lies. It is added that " Sir Alexander received a stone from William Fraser for it."

These statements about the Hay tombstone are from the mouth of James Mackenzie, who says that William Fraser and his own grandfather were first cousins, and that the facts about the gravestone were told him on their authority when he was young. He is corroborated by other old Gairloch men.

Although this John Hay, whose father appears from the tombstone to have been Mr Hay of Kirkland, was probably a relation of Sir George Hay, it is impossible to fix the degree of relationship. Sir George Hay's father had three sons, Patrick, George, and Peter. This Peter was designated as of Kirkland of Megginch. He had a son called Francis, whose great-grandson Thomas succeeded to the earldom of Kinnoull, on the direct line of Sir George Hay, the first -earl, becoming extinct in the person of William, the fifth earl, in 1709. Possibly Peter Hay had a son known as James Hay of Kirkland, or else some collateral relation of the family bore that designation, for we gather from a short account of the parish of St Martins, Perthshire, contained in a footnote to the account of that parish in the Old Statistical Account, that a James Hay acquired Kirkland by an exchange with Mr John Strachan, minister of St Martins. The son, Thomas, of this minister, " after his return from his travels, when he had waited on the earl of Kinnowel his son as his governour for the space of three years, became conjunct with his father, and died minister there in the year 1671." Kirkland was a "good manor house;" it was built of old by the abbot of Halyrood-house, and was afterwards the minister's manse. It is possible that this Kirkland may not have been the same as Kirkland of Megginch. In all probability, however, John Hay, the last manager of the Loch Maree ironworks, was a son of James Hay, and the latter was a relative of the great Sir George. It was indeed natural that Sir George should prefer to entrust his ironworks to a relative rather than to a stranger.

After the death of the Earl of Kinnoull, his ironworks appear to liave fallen into a languishing condition, possibly from the timber being exhausted. In Knox's Tour it is stated that Mr Alexander Mackenzie of Lochend, in 1786, told the author (Mr Knox) that cannon were still made at Poolewe in 1668. Mr Mackenzie said his grandfather had " lent ten thousand marks to the person or persons who carried on the works, for which he got in return the back of an old grate and some hammers." It is curious that these relics are the only remains known to have existed (except the breech of a cannon and some small pigs of iron) of the productions of the Loch Maree ironworks. The "back of an old grate" was no doubt the same as that which Mr Dounie told Pennant of, and the hammers, or at least one of them, must have been the same as •existed in living memory. (See Part I., chap, xx.)

So far as we can judge, the ironworks were discontinued soon after the date of the loan mentioned by Mr Mackenzie of Lochend. Thus the undertaking was carried on for a period of at least sixty years. Local tradition affirms that the industry was prolonged into the eighteenth century, but there is nothing to confirm the tradition •except the story of the Gille Buidhe (Part I., chap, xiv.); it speaks of men living in 1746 as being sons of one of the last of the Letterewe ironworkers.

The artisans employed by Sir George Hay are said by some to have been from Fife, by others to have been Welsh, and by all to have been " English." But this last term only means that the ironworkers spoke English, for as truly remarked by the Rev. Donald MacRae, minister of Poolewe (Appendix E), "Highlanders look upon all who do not speak the Gaelic language as Sasganaich [Sasunnacfi] or Englishmen."

The names Cross, Bethune or Beaton, and Kemp, are still known in Gairloch parish as belonging to descendants of the ironworkers. Cross is a common Lancashire name. Mr D. William Kemp, of Trinity, who has read a valuable paper on old ironworks in Suther-landshire to the Scottish Society of Arts, says that the name Kemp is very uncommon in Wales, but is a north of England name, and was common in Cumberland after the fourteenth century, artisans of that surname having settled in that county in the reign of Edward III.

It is probable that Sir George Hay's artisans were mostly from Fife; they were very likely some of the men who had been taken by the "Fife Adventurers" to the Lews, with the object (frustrated as we have seen) of establishing a colony there. To these Fifeshire men were no doubt added a few (including a Cross and a Kemp) who had come with iron ore from Lancashire or Cumberland. Of course all of them were ignorant of Gaelic.

These ironworkers remained in Gairloch for several generations; | some of them became permanently settled in the parish. It is said that at one time an epidemic of smallpox carried off a number of them. Narrators of Gairloch traditions differ as to where the iron-workers buried their dead. Some believe it was at the burial-place on flat ground near the head of Loch Maree, which is accordingly called to this day Cladh nan Sasunnach, or "the Englishman's churchyard," but others say, with more probability, that the beautiful burial-ground on Isle Maree was their place of sepulture. This last view is in accord with the information obtained by Dr Arthur Mitchell (Part II., chap, xi.), and appears to be the better opinion.

I do not think the Cladh nan Sasunnach was used for interment so recently as the time of Sir George Hay's undertaking. I examined this strange place on 12th May 1884. There are indications of twenty-four graves, all with the feet pointed towards the east, and all covered more or less with large unwrought stones. There are head and foot stones more or less distinct to all the graves, which, from their dimensions, might well be called the graves of giants. I opened two of the graves in different parts of the group to the depth of four or five feet, in fact as far as the ground was workable with ordinary pick and spade. In the first grave opened, a cavity, filled with water, eighteen inches deep and much wider than the grave, was reached at a depth of between twro and three feet, and below that the stratum was nearly as hard as concrete. There were no indications whatever of organic remains. In the case of the second grave opened, which was the largest and most marked of the group, no water was reached and no remains were found. To the depth of about four feet the gravel was comparatively loose, as if it had been wrought at some time. Below that it was so hard that evidently it had never been moved by man. Now, had there been interments here in the seventeenth century, there must surely have been some traces of them. My own opinion is, that these graves date back some centuries earlier than the ironworks, in fact to the period when tradition says it was usual to bury the dead in shallow graves scraped out of hard gravel, and then to cover the graves with large stones, the hardness of the gravel and the weight of the superincumbent stones being intended to hinder wolves from exhuming the bodies.

We should like to know more about the ironworks, and particularly about the men who were employed at the furnaces, and their families and circumstances. The struggles that had engaged the MacBeaths, Macdonalds, M'Leods, and Mackenzies for two centuries, and had rendered Gairloch a veritable baftlefield, were at an end in Sir George Hay's time. With the exception of occasional raids on Gairloch by Lochaber and other cattle-lifters, there was now peace throughout the parish. The Scots Act of 27th January 1609 (Appendix G) speaks of the "present generall obedience" of I the Highlands, as contrasted with the previous " savagness of the I inhabitants." Letterewe was then, as now, a peculiarly retired spot; J there is still no access to it for wheeled vehicles; Sir George Hay's choice of it as a retreat from political troubles confirms the view that it was safe and secluded; the mountains behind Letterewe had long been a favourite hunting-ground of the lords of Kintail (Part I., ' chap, iv.); and we may well believe that Sir George and his men I were able not only to carry on their business without interruption, but also to enjoy in peace the sport afforded by the district. At the same time, it must be remembered that the natives were still in a half savage condition, miserably fed, clothed, and housed, and entirely destitute of education. Very loose notions of morality were prevalent; and to a great extent the old principle that "might is right" still ruled the daily life of the people. They say that some of the ironworkers, severed from home ties, and finding themselves far away from the executive of the law, became reprobates. One of the latest of the ironworkers, or a son of one of them, was known as the Sasunnach Mor, or "Big Englishman"; he is said to have been a wild character. A crofter and carter now living* at Londubh is a great-grandson of the Sasunnach Mor; the last Mackenzie of Kernsary testified, in the presence of persons now living, to the descent of this Londubh crofter from the Sasunnach Mor. But whatever were the idiosyncrasies, either of the early or of the latest ironworkers, there can be no doubt that they all led rough and almost lawless lives in their wild Highland homes.


 


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