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Antiquarian Notes, Historical, Genealogical and Social
(Second Series) Inverness-Shire, Parish by Parish
Chapter XVII. Snizort

THE necessities of the family of Macleod involved parting with much of their land. Harris was sold out and out, but the lands in Skye, in order to retain political influence were feued. Amongst the earliest lands feued in Skye was the estate of Skeabost, parted with about 1790, to James Macdonald, a successful merchant in Portree. The description of the estate from an old deed ran in these terms:-

"All and whole the lands of Skeabost with the change house and salmon fishing in the water of Snizort, and one half of the town and lands of Edinbane with the islands, rocks, shores, and the seaware and wrecks of all kinds growing, or that may at any time be thrown on said rocks, shores, or small islands in so far as Norman Macleod of Macleod had right thereto; with the milns, multures, sucken and sequels, fishings in fresh and salt waters, houses, higgings, mosses, muirs, sheillings, grazings, and universal parts, pendicles, and pertinents of the said lands, which are henceforth to be free from thirlage to the miln of Waternish, or any miln belonging to the said Norman Macleod, as the said lands and others are more fully described in the title deeds and leases of said lands."

The feu duty is stipulated at 14 odds. In 1799 the total gross rental was only 56, and the proprietor, writing by the hand of his son Alexander Macdonald, says he occupies the house, a park, and the salmon fishing himself, adding, "houses yield very little rent in this country." James Macdonald was thrice married, and had by his first wife, sister of Captain Kenneth Macdonald, a son Donald, well- known under the designation of "Tanera," who carried on a very large fish-curing and other business, finally coming to grief. Captain Kenneth Macdonald leased Skeabost and did not behave nicely to Skeabost's second wife, who in a letter dated 1st July, 1801, signed by her for her husband, thus refers-to the Captain. " He and his wife lived two years under the roof of my house, and was received with the utmost hospitality and friendship, yet this monster of ingratitude domineers over my infirmities, like a tyrannical laird over a disobedient tenant." Captain Kenneth, however, had his own troubles, for on the 19th of September, 1805, he thus quaintly expresses himself in nautical phraseology.

The times bear so hard upon me between rents, taxes, and other demands that I find it very difficult to keep up square yards."

Since the present proprietor of Skeabost came into possession of the estate it has been improved, beautified, and enlarged by him into an ideal Highland residence, wanting but the facilities of a light railway, which there is every prospect will speedily be carried out. It needs no gift of prophecy to say that a new era is more than dawning on Skye, when its wonderful natural capabilities will be fully developed, and thousands rather than hundreds will be found annual and profitable visitors.

Greshornish was feued by the Macleads about the same time as Skeabost, and after passing through several hands became the property of one of Gesto's sons.

The story of the vast works carried out by the new proprietor is graphically told by Alexander Smith, who had married one of his nieces. These improvements are seen by every by-passer, over the highway from Dunvegan to Portree, with pleasure and satisfaction. The present Macleod, who has succeeded to a fine inheritance and to one of the most honourable positions in the great county of Inverness would do well to rival if not excel the great improvements on the estates of Skeabost and Greshornish.

Another of the Macleod feus in Snizort is the estate of Lyndale. The estate has been greatly developed and in the hands of a man of wealth and taste, has become ornamental and valuable. It has passed through several hands and the unfortunate proprietor in 1835, whose political sympathies were Conservative, had a poor time of it, the ladies being Grants and zealous in the extreme for Glenmoriston. To keep "John" from the poll at the expense of scalding his feet was a mild step in contemplation.

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