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Antiquarian Notes, Historical, Genealogical and Social
(Second Series) Inverness-Shire, Parish by Parish
Chapter XXII. South Uist


It is often a matter of regret to those delighting in the past, to find that old places and old names around which cling the halo of romance have been obliterated, some by absorption, others by wanton change.

Take Belfinlay, which sent out in the 'Forty-five one of the bravest of the warlike race of Clan Donald, so lovingly referred to by Bishop Forbes, in illustration. Search in the county rolls of Inverness-shire will be made in vain for the name, though perhaps one may have fancied it was to be found among the Outer Hebrides. Take up a map of the old Diocese of the Isles, and you find Belfinlay on the north-west of Benbecula, looking out on the mighty Atlantic, lying between Bala-mhanaich and Bala-na-Caillich—fit abode for Hebridean poet or romancist. Some of them, it is matter of congratulation, are presently coming well to the front and stand out nobly in comparison with certain Lowland ghouls who fatten on destroying the reputation of past eminent Highlanders.

Alas, how deplorable in many respects are the changes in the Long Island, between Harris and Barra, although the places are the same as, in the main, are the attractive and kindly people.

The recent publication of "The Lyon in Mourning," that grand collection, so minute, accurate, and painstaking, for which Highlanders in all ages will hold the good Bishop Forbes in everlasting remembrance, has brought freshly to notice some papers long in my possession, wrapped up in faded paper and endorsed in an old hand, "Mrs Macdonald Belfinlay's Papers."

Allan Macdonald, counted as eighth Captain of Clanranald, had three sons, Ranald, the third, receiving from his father lands in Benbecula and Arisaig, confirmed to him in 1625. Ranald was succeeded by Ranald Og, his son by a second marriage. The latter, by Papal dispensation, married in 1653 Anne, his cousin within the prohibited degrees, daughter of the tenth Clanranald. Ranald Og was succeeded by his eldest son James, described in 1686 as "of Belfinlay." James Macdonald was succeeded by his eldest son Ranald, Captain in Clanranald's Regiment, of whom the worthy Bishop says, under date, Leith, 4th of December, 1749—" Woes me for the death of the worthy Belfinlay, whose memory I revere." Upon the 9th of January, 1748, Captain Donald Macdonald, alias' Donald Roy, brother of Balishare, called on the good Bishop, who records that, "Captain Donald in his journey to Edinburgh had visited Macdonald of Belfinlay, who had given him a remarkable narrative in his handwriting upon the back of an old letter, and taking the paper out of his pocket book, he delivered it to me. After reading it I desired to know if I might have the liberty of transcribing it in my collection. He told me I might dispose of it as I pleased, for that he had got it from Belflnlay on purpose that I might preserve the narrative in Belfinlay's own handwriting. I then begged leave to observe an omission, which was that Belflnlay had forgot to fix a date to his handwriting, and therefore I desired Captain Roy 'Macdonald to inform me (if he could) at what time he received the manuscript from Belfinlay. After recollecting himself a little the Captain answered that he was in the country of Arisaig about December 20th, 1747, and to the best of his remembrance he was upon that very day with Macdonald of Belfinlay and saw him write the narrative with his own hand in the very shape in which he had just now delivered it to me."

Here follows an exact copy of the narrative, the original of which, in Belfinlay's handwriting, is to be found among my (Bishop Forbes) papers :-

"That there was a vast number of the Highlanders killed in cold blood the next morning after Culloden battle is a fact that can't be denyed, and that can be likewise attested by Mr Ranald Macdonald of Belfinlay (a cadet of Clanranald's family), who was an eye witness to that tragedy. This gentleman, who was an officer (a Captain) in the Highland army, had the misfortune to be shott through the two Ieggs in that action, which rendered him incapable to make his escape. He lay in a field after he received his wounds, and was betwixt the fire of the English army and that of the few French troops that made some resistance after the Highlanders were routed, where showers of balls pass'd by him. He remained likewise in the field all that night, after he was stript of all his cloaths, his very shirt and breeches being taken from him. But as he was young and of a robust constitution, he lived till next morning, when he saw that cruell command coming to execute their bloody orders, and saw many of his unhappy companions putt to death in cold blood. They were just presenting their firelocks to his own breast when he was saved through the clemency of Lieutenant Hamilton, who if he remembers, belonged to Cholmondely's regiment and who took him to a neighbouring country house. Next day he was brought along with wounded redcoats to Inverness, they cursing and abusing him all the way for a damned rebellious rascal. He lay a prisoner at Inverness, not being able to be transported with the broken bones in his legs, till the indemnity which set him free. He lives and can walk about."

Belfinlay's case seems to have made a deep impression on the Bishop, who, signing himself "Donald Hatebreeks," in his letter to Dr Burton of York, and dating from "Tartan- hall," on the 19th of June, 1749, says, inter alia-

"Just now a limmer is busy about an original picture at my desire upon which he is to draw the following description:—Ranaldus Macdonald de Belfinlay in Benbecula, in proelio Cullodino (Etat suae 18) multo vulnere saucius, nudatus, sub dio circiter horas 22 restabat; sed tandem hurnanitate (tuna cemporis admodum singulari) cujusdam Hamiltonij vicarij de legione Cholmondiyaca salvus evasit dum vulneratos commilitones (referens tremisco) consulto mactatos, miserrime jugulatos undique videbat; adeo ut contaminata esset terra caedibus. Monstrum —Horrendum —Ingens! The limmer assures me he is determined to work off a plate of it with the same inscription not to cost above a shilling sterling per copy. As it is an historical and undeniable proof of a certain barbarous and shocking scene, so I doubt not but it may circulate far and near. Pray, dear sir, be at pains to count noses and say what demand may be for such a commodity in your cornet-. You may have as many copies as you please."

Whether or not the proposed engraving was ever published I cannot say. Belfinlay's end is thus noted by Dr John Macdonald, brother to Kinlochmoydart and stepfather to Belfinlay, with the Bishop's indorsation-

"Dear Sir,—I had no opportunity before now to let you know of our arrival in the country. We had a most severe journey of it, with most excessive winds and rains which has cast poor Belfinlay so low that alas, I fear he has not many days to pass in this world, otherwise you might be sure he had embraced so fair an opportunity of letting you hear from him. His illness puts me and whole family in very great confusion, for I have quite despaired of his recovery. There is no country news but a prodigious bad season and plenty of Red Coat parties, both very bad articles.—I am, Dear Sir, your affectionate humble servant,


Kinlochmoydart, Sept. 21st, 1749."

"The original of the above is to be found among my papers. I received Dr Macdonald's letter from Neil Macdonald, Maceachen's eldest brother, John Macdonald Maceachen, who, and Angus Macdonald of Militon (Miss Flora Macdonald's full brother) made me a visit. They afterwards told me that they got notice from the Highlands that Belfinlay died on 28th September."

(Signed) "ROBERT FORBES, A.M."

Upon the 4th of December, 1749, Bishop Forbes says that he was favoured with a visit from Ranald Macdonald, son to Borrodale, who gave him a letter from Major Alexander Macdonald of Glenaladaic, in which, referring to Belfinlay, Glenaladale says-

"I am heartily sorry to have the account of your real well-wisher Balfinlay's death to give you, having departed on the 27th September last, much regretted by his friends, among whom he depended on you as a firm one."

The gallant and unfortunate Captain Ranald Macdonald, on his death prematurely from his wounds and barbarous treatment at Culloden, was succeeded by his son Allan, then a child. Allan was held in great estimation by the Clanranalds, not only for his father's sake, but as due to his own high character and prudent conduct. Besides Belfinlay, Allan Macdonald had the possession of Ardgaseg or Ardghasarig, in Arisaig, and was able to lend considerable sums to his chief, unpaid at his death. He married in 1768, Jean Mackinnon, daughter of Lachlan Mackinnon of Corrychatachan, a clever helpmate, who managed prudently whilst the marriage subsisted, and during her long widowhood, conducted the family affairs with discretion. Allan Macdonald died in Muidart, in September, 1784, and was survived by his wife and at least two children—James, who succeeded; and a daughter, Janet. His debts were trifling, including sums in total not exceeding five pounds, due to Donald Macdonald of Cross, James Macdonald of Borrodale, and Colin Macdonald of Traigh.

Mrs Jean was unfortunately involved in considerable litigation, from which she generally emerged successfully, notably in one case—that with Colin Macdonald of Boisdale, factor for Clanranald.

The tax on windows was a most obnoxious one, and greatly exercised the minds of those affected, specially ladies. I give one of Mrs Jean's letters, addressed to a friend in Inverness, chiefly for her remark on the Surveyor who had visited her house on his rounds, well worth recording. "But I excuse him in a manner when he viewed my house, his eyes had a cast more than ordinar," would have delighted Dean Ramsay. The letter follows :-

"Ostaig, 2nd June, 1798.

"Sir,—By last post I had a letter from Mr Fraser of Gortuleg. Concerning his attention towards the transactions betwixt my husband and the family of Clanranald, he stated that he would show all the manner of justice possible in our favours. He says that you did not send him a copy of the assignation granted by my son James in favour of his sister Jenny, and if that is the case, begs on receiving this, you will lose no time in writing to him and enclosing the said assignation.

I now beg to acquaint you of a tax of window lights, that I think I have no right to so much as is mentioned by Mr Mackay when here, but I excuse him in a manner, when he viewed my house his eyes had a cast more than ordinar. It is not worth my while to say anything but truth concerning them, but his imposition if I have the right side of the question, I hope you will put me on the right channel only to pay for the number hereafter mentioned, that is, six windows and one small opening without glass.

"He charged me for two riding horses. I never keep one I declare, but he has seen two large labouring horses of Mr Macpherson's on his farm which marches with mine, and has taken it for granted as it was so near my house that they belonged to me, He has charged Mr Macpherson with the same horses ; my small farm had no right to such horses, being too small. He charges me with ZI 3s sterling and I don't want to lose so much by imposition yearly if I can think to avoid it. You will act for me in reasoning the case with Mr Mackay, which I will cheerfully accompt with you. Concludes with compliments to my worthy friend Mrs Macdonald, and the young family in general.—I am, sir, your most obedient servant, (Signed) JEAN MACDONALD.

James Macdonald, the next Belfinlay, resided abroad for many years. Upon the 15th of June, 1791, he made over all his estate in Scotland to his sister Jean, by deed signed at Ostaig on the above date, written by Donald Macleod, late tacksman in Canna, and witnessed by him and James Beverley, schoolmaster in Sleat.

Amongst those referred to in Mrs Jean's letters are her sister, Mrs Macpherson of Sleat, her nephew Mr Mackinnon of Kyle, and Miss Annie, Tormore. The Belfinlays' connection with Uist gradually dropped away, Skye becoming their main residence. After the last sale of Waternish the family of Belfinlay, with their connections, the Nicolsons of Ardmore, became proprietors, and still continue in possession. [Since the foregoing was written, I observe on the authority of Dr Kenneth Macdonald, Gesto, that a servant of Ms Jean's, viz., Mrs Catharine Macgillivray or Kennedy, one hundred years of age, still survives (1S96) and in possession of her faculties. It is quite possible, indeed probable, that she may have spoken to and been acquainted with people who knew Belfinlay Of the '45. I much regret I did not know of this old lady, or would have endeavoured to see her when in Uist in 1892. C. F. M.]

The present Allan Macdonald of Waternish, son of Major Macdonald, is a resident, and prominent in the successful rearing of West Highland stock. From his residence of Fasach, there are, weather permitting, seen perhaps the finest sunsets in the Isles—across the lesser Minch to the grand outlines of the mountains of South and North Uist, bathed in gold, a dream of beauty.

Waternish possesses in the island of Rona, a holding in his original duchus of Uist, and as his nephew is lately happily married, all Highlanders and Islanders wish for the standing and continuous prosperity of the house of Belfinlay.


When referring to Moidart and Arisaig, I gave the Clanranald rental in 1798, in these localities. The judicial rental then taken included the Isles; that portion comprehending South Uist and Benbecula follows, and may be contrasted with the present occupancy. Later on, the names of the crofters and cottars early in this century will be given, amongst whom will doubtless be found the immediate predecessors of many of the present possessors-

This finishes the Benbecula list, but the evidence of Donald Ferguson, ground officer, may be given in regard to the meal supplied to the tenants, viz., "That he knows the whole tenants on the estate have been in use of being supplied with meal by the proprietor, as the crops raised on the estate seldom or ever prove sufficient for the maintenance of the numerous inhabitants necessary for the manufacturing of the kelp."

Ranald George Macdonald of Clanranald, who succeeded to his great estates when a child, was brought up with an exaggerated idea of his importance and wealth. Bad management, inefficient supervision, and above all the fall in the value of kelp, proved fatal, and one after another of his great estates had to be sold, until nothing remained but Castle Tyrim and a few acres in Moidart. He lived to a great age, and at least on one occasion, when an octogenarian, visited the north and spent some days in Inverness. Within no great distance of each other live in the great Metropolis, the representatives of the once great houses of Glengarry. Clanranald, and Maclean, and worthy representatives they are, but alas, whose are their lands ?occupied by "the sons of little men," to use the words of Ossian.


The family of Bornish is described in the Old Statistical Account as the only resident heritors in South Uist. They, like Clanranald and Boisdale, have in turn disappeared. There were two Bornishes, Upper and Lower. Lower Bornish belonged to Clanranald, while Bornish Uachdar was feued out by Donald Macdonald of Moidart, Captain of Clanranald, to Ranald Vic Coil, by charter dated the 16th May, 1672, registered in the Books of Session at Edinburgh, on the 29th November, 1760. Infeftment followed on the 2nd December, registered in the General Register of Sasines at Edinburgh, on the 28th of August, 1683. The feu duty and casualties, latterly commuted into a fixed money payment of £24 5s 9d, originally consisted of 100 merks Scots, twelve ten stones butter, and five stones of cheese ; and the entry of heirs and successors is fixed at two hundred merks Scots.

A century later brings us to John Macdonald, a stirring man in his day. By his first wife Bornish had Ranald Macdonald, who succeeded and was the last Bornish, also Dugald, Archibald, Christian, and Marion. His second wife was Catharine Macdonald, and there was serious litigation between her stepson, Ranald Macdonald, and herself. John Macdonald died very early, I think in January, 1803, leaving by his settlements, dated 8th December, 1802, only £20 per annum to his relict and certain allowances by way of furniture and stocking. John Macdonald seems to have entertained doubts as to the steadiness of his son, for he leaves considerable money provisions to his younger children, in the event that Ranald should dispose of his heritable property to a stranger, or sell the same, or allow it to be evicted by his creditors.

The disputes ended in Court, and protracted and ruinous litigation carried out, I fear, by pretended friends. Real friends in the country met and got matters referred to Major James Macdonald of Askernish and Mr Robert Brown, Clanranald's factor. These gentlemen, aided by mutual friends in the country, endeavoured to arrange differences, but ineffectually, and the Edinburgh lawyers had the business in hand from 1809 to 1814, terminating in the defeat and ruin of Ranald Macdonald, who, however, struggled on till 1837, when he is still found as the only resident heritor in South Uist. By 1845 Bornish, with all South Uist, had fallen into the hands of the unlamented Aberdonian Colonel Gordon, who wished to turn the island into a convict settlement, and was ready to dispose of it as such to Government, no doubt, in the meantime, clearing off the whole population, as was done in Clanranald's other islands of Rum and Canna, after their sale.

Mrs Macdonald appears to have had no relative or willing friend in Uist, except Major James Macdonald of Askernish, whom Bornish accused of initiating and keeping up the ill-feeling between him and his stepmother. The names of the Rev. Ranald Macdonald, priest at Bornish; Ranald Macdonald, shepherd; the Rev. William Arbuckle, minister of the Gospel in South Uist; Dugald Macdonald at Bornish Hugh Macdonald, late at Killipheder; Malcolm Morrison, tenant in Bornish; Captain James Maclean, at Penmore of North Uist; Alexander Maceachin, tenant in Howbeg John Macdonald, tenant in Lower Bornish; Neil Maclellan, tenant there; Angus O'Henley, tenant there; and Christian Macdonald, his wife, appear in course of the proceedings.

Old Bornish left L2 per annum to each of the two parish priests of South Uist and Benbecula for the use of the poor of their respective parishes, and nominated Hector Macdonald Buchanan, W.S., Captain James Macdonald of Askernish, Rev. Alexander Maceachin of South Uist, and James Macdonald of Borrodale, to be his executors and as tutors and curators to his daughter Marion during her pupillarity and minority.

The estate, which extended to about 1600 acres, is thus described in the old titles:-"All and haul the Town and lands of Bornish Uachkar, extending to seven pennies and a half lands of old extent; with houses, biggings, yards, woods, fishings, shea]lings, mosses, muirs, parts, pendicles, and pertinents thereto belonging."


The family of Boisdale only ran through four generations, but in the time of Colin Macdonald, the second, it attained great importance on the Clanranald estates and in the Isles. The first of the family was Alexander Macdonald, son of Donald Macdonald of Benbecula, afterwards of Clanranald, by his second marriage. He may have been in possession of Boisdale previously, but the charter in his favour by Ranald Macdonald, designed Younger of Clanranald, is dated the 26th of July, 1758, on which he was infeft in the same year. The description of the lands and mill thirlage, is in these words—

"All and whole the twenty penny lands of Boisdales, Smerclet, Kilbride, Eriskay and Lingay, with the corn mill lately built on the said lands, with grazings, sheillings, mosses, rnuirs, meadows, woods, fishings, islands, rocks, and whole parts, pendicles and pertinents of the said lands of Kilbride, Boisdale, Eriskay, Smerclate, and Lingay and miln aforesaid ; together with the teinds of the-said lands so far as the said Ronald Macdonald of Clanranald had right thereto, with the mill lands, multures and sequels thereto belonging, and payable out of the lands lying between the Sound of Barra, and the water called Ryglass, particularly after-mentioned, viz., the lands of Kilpheder, Dalibrugh, Garryhualach. Askernish, South Frobost, North Frobost, Garryvaltos, and Milntown, belonging in property to Clanranald, together with the services performable by the tenants and possessors of the said lands to the mill, all lying within the parish of South Uist and shire of Inverness."

In some of the titles Boisdale is described as a five merk land of old extent, called Beustill or Boisdale.
The first Macdonald of Boisdale, forsaking the ancient faith, became a Protestant, and showed his zeal by driving his tenants to church with a staff of foreign importation, of yellow colour, hence the nickname applied to the new religion, "the religion of the yellow stick." Boisdale's unhappy persecution of his tenants ended, as is well known, in the expatriation of many of the flower of the Clanranald people, headed by John Macdonald of Glenaladale, who sympathised with them in their sad fate.

Alexander must have died early in 1768, perhaps before that year, for a precept of dare constat is granted in favour of Colin Macdonald, as eldest son and heir of Alexander Macdonald of Boisdale, on the 28th of May, 1768.

In the time of this Colin, second of Boisdale, the family had attained its height, he being almost supreme over the great Clanranald estates. Colin had numerous sisters and brothers, his father having married three times, and was himself married first to Margaret Campbell of Airds, and secondly to Isabella Campbell of Glen-Falloch. Miss Margaret Campbell's portion was 9000 merks. Colin died between 1799 and 1800, leaving a large family, of whom may be mentioned Hector, a Writer to the Signet, who feathered his nest handsomely through the love of litigation or imbecility of some of the island proprietors, and who assumed the additional name of Buchanan on his marriage with a Dumbartonshire heiress; Reginald, of Staffa, who succeeded by special destination to the baronetcy of Allanton, and, by marriage, to the Seton-Touch estates. "Old Staffa," as he was called, was well-known in Edinburgh society in its palmiest days, during the times of Sir Walter Scott and others. Margaret Macdonald, Boisdale, became the wife of Flora Macdonald's nephew, Angus of Milton. Their contract of marriage is dated the roth of March, 1783.

Colin Macdonald was succeeded by his eldest son Alexander, third of Boisdale, afterwards a Lieutenant-Colonel. He married, contract dated 11th June, 1783, Marion Maclean of Coil. Before his father's death Boisdale was in difficulties, and the heavy provisions to his numerous brothers and sisters proved so burdensome while his father's trustees were in possession of the estate, that he had to place himself under trust, first in 1813 to William Dallas, W.S., and at a later period to Alexander Maclean of Coil, Hugh Macdonald, his eldest son, and Messrs Mackintosh and Macqueen, Writers to the Signet. He died in 1818 and was succeeded as representative of the family, but not in the estate, by Hugh Macdonald, fourth of Boisdale, who vent to England, married, and, since the estate was sold to the Gordons, lost sight of.

Alexander Macdonald, third of Boisdale, besides his family burdens, was engaged in several litigations, particularly one with his uncle, Major James Macdonald of Askernish. There was also a keenly fought question with some of the Barra people about rights of fishing, which, as they related to the historic isle of Eriskay, may be briefly noticed here. The southern part of South Uist, including Eriskay, formed of old a part of the property of the MacNeills of Barra, and though the lands had long passed to the family of Clanranald, yet the Barra people continued to fish around and land their boats on Eriskay.

In 1809 Colonel Alexander Macdonald makes an application in the Court of Session against, among others, Ewen Ban Macdonald, grieve to MacNeil of Barra; Peter Robertson, schoolmaster of Barra ; Finlay Mackinnon, ground officer there ; Angus Macmillan, John O'Henley, Alexander Macneil, Neil Macinnes, and Neil Maclean, all in Barra, to prevent them from encroaching and roaming abroad upon Eriskay at pleasure, and injuring Bois- dale's cattle and disturbing them, as also from fishing upon the banks adjacent to his islands. The respondents are said to admit Boisdale's right of property, but plead certain rights of use and wont, which Boisdale characterises "as savouring more of ancient depredations, than of the modern civilization of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland." He goes on to say that Eriskay lies in the channel between Barra and that part of South Uist belonging to him, but much nearer to South Uist, and through his predecessor's toleration, the Barra people were permitted to fish close inshore at Enskay, the fish there being more numerous and of better quality. The sea around the island subsides greatly at ebb, leaving a considerable beach, which the Barra people utilised by hauling up their boats and taking sand worms for bait. Indeed they went so far as to kindle fires and pluck up grass by the roots, to prevent their lines from intertwining, and even erected huts.

Further, Boisdale contended that the Barra people had no right to fish nearer Eriskay than the mid channel with Barra, and stated that he was Depute-Admiral over the coasts of his own estate. He further stated that the respective fishing banks should be distinctly defined, for the present state of matters frequently ended in a fray and riot, and the loss of fishing tackle ; and that in order to secure a kind of preference for the season South Uist and Barra began to set their lines in the. favourite banks, two months before the season opens, taking them away from the cultivation of their lands.

It came out in the procedure that the old occupiers of Eriskay had emigrated, and those remaining knew nothing of its ancient history, or the old manner of possession.

Fishing seasons vary, but it may be said with truth that there will always be considerable fishing ex adverso of the old Boisdale lands and those of Barra. A new era for these long neglected localities will commence when the Mallaig line is opened, while the names of its unpatriotic opponents will be held in merited obloquy.


Men were of value in the islands of old as a fighting body, and consequently cherished by the proprietors. Later, in the palmy days of kelp, they still continued of use, but evil days came when the old proprietors were ruined, and new-corners looked for mere returns.

In other parts of the county sheep farming played havoc with the people, but in the isles, chiefly in the outer Hebrides, men had to make way for large cattle farms. The black cattle of the islands were not only pleasant to look at, but fetched high prices, hence the finest land became absorbed in a few large black cattle farms. Many of the people emigrated, doubtless the most active and energetic, while the sluggish and spiritless were planted either in poor near places, or amongst people already bordering on congestion. In South Uist the best lands face the Atlantic, and the west side of it was the first to suffer.
I will take Ormiclate, which has long been a large farm possessed by a single tenant, by way of illustration. In 1810 there were removed from it no fewer than 16 heads of families, perhaps 100 souls, viz., Ned Macisaac, Donald Curry, John Macdonald, Angus Morrison, Roderick Macdonald, Ranald Maceachin, Duncan Macisaac, James Maclean, Alexander Maclean, John Maclennan, John Macphee, John Maclean, John Macdonald, piper; Roderick Curry, James Curry, and John Macintyre. It will be observed that the place was the home of a piper.

There is now in Lower Bornish one tenant, but in the same year, 1810, no fewer than 26 tenants, or about 150 souls, were removed from Lower or Clanranald's Bornish, viz., Roderick Macdonald, Lachlan Curry, Angus Macmillan, John Maclellan, Roderick Macmillan, Neil Macintyre, Donald Macmillan, Donald Macdonald, senior, John Morrison, Donald Macisaac, Angus Macisaac, John Macdonald, Macintyre, John Macdonald, Donald Macdonald, junior, John Macdonald, junior, Archibald Maclellan, Widow Curry, Roderick Buie, Donald Maceachan, Roderick Maclellan, Angus Mackintosh, John Mackintosh, Angus Macintyre, John Macmillan, and Donald Maclellan.

In Kilaulay and Unique there appears to be now in all ii occupants, while no less than 35 were removed in 1810, viz., John Mackinnon, Ewen Mackinnon, Lachlan Mackinnon, Widow Dugall Macdonald, Roderick Macisaac, Alexander Maceachin, Farquhar Campbell, John Morrison, Angus Campbell, Donald Mackinnon, Donald Macisaac, John Macphee, Alexander Maceachin, senior, William Burke, Alexander Macdonald, Roderick Macisaac, senior, Donald Macisaac, Neil Macphee, Angus Macdonald, Ranald Macdonald, Allan Macdonald, Malcolm Macinnes, Lachlan Macdonald, Alexander Macaulay, Lachlan Macaulay, John Macdonald, Donald Macdonald, senior, Donald Macinnes, Donald Macdonald, second, Neil Macphee, junior, John Mckinnon, Alexander Macdonald, Neil Macphee, senior, Donald Macphee, and John Macphee.

The townships of Liniclate and Balgarva are much as they were in the beginning of the century, numbering 41 at present, as compared with 44 in 1810; Balvannich and Dungannich numbering 31 against 32 in 1810.

Stoney bridge isnotoriously congested, having at present 37 tenants against 18 in 1810, while the lands have been curtailed, and added to Ormiclate. [It is a matter of great satisfaction to observe (November 1896) that the sadly congested holding of Stoneybridge receives considerable enlargement of holdings from the Crofters Commission out of this Ormiclate. C. F. M.]

In 1810, Lieutenant Angus Macdonald of the gist Regiment, Colin Macdonald, at Garryvaltos, Sons of the deceased Captain Angus Macdonald of Millton; Margaret Jane, Penelope, and Isabella Macdonald, their sisters, are summoned out of Millton; but this historic family were not actually dispossessed until a few years later.

Two great improvements have been carried out since South Uist was sold, the one being the shutting out of an inlet of the sea which practically made two islands of South Uist. This very desirable improvement in banking and draining was of the greatest importance, not only adding to the producing area, but ridding considerable tracts from sea water which came in with every tide. It is to be feared that this great operation has not been well attended to of late years, nor has the efficient keeping open of certain valuable main drains. The other improvement, also it is feared now getting neglected, was the planting of bent on the west coast machars, which not only gave considerable sustenance, and added greatly to the beauty of the coast, but effectually stopped sand drifts. In 1792, the sea had encroached so far that a reduction of rent was made, while the ancient road by the Atlantic shore, from Nunton to Ormiclate, had become in part obliterated.

As I previously said, in the Outer Herides all the best land faces the Atlantic, to which it slopes gently with a south-western aspect from the mountains to the sea.

With security of tenure, a better distribution of the good land, the opening up and developing of the fisheries, the speedy access to the southern markets by the Mallaig Railway, which last has been so villainously impeded during the last four years, a new era of comfort and prosperity ought and will doubtless arise for the long suffering but lovable and orderly inhabitants of the Isles.


I may mention that in 1892 when in South Uist, I saw Neil Maceachin at Howbeg, who said that his age then was "five twenties and one," though those about him made out that he was only ninety-seven. Neil was well acquainted with Margaret Macdonald, sister of Clanranald of the commonly called " Miss Peggy Ormiclate," whose father was born as far back as 1692. It was to verify statements to this effect that I called at Neil's bothy, and I had it from himself, lie was not only well up in the Clanranald history but in that of Flora Macdonald's house of Millton. It was this Neil who gave my friend, Father John Mackintosh of Bornish some of the verses on the sad death by drowning of Captain Angus Macdonald of Millton, which will be found in one of the volumes of the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness.

I select the following from my note-book, taken down at the time:-

"On Tuesday, the 28th of June, 1892, I attended a meeting in course of my canvass at Howmore, in South Uist. Recollecting that I had papers showing that Miss Margaret Macdonald, sister of the young Clanrinald of the '45, was living at Ormiclate as late as the year 1825, whose father Ranald Macdonald, in his youth styled of Benbecula," was born as far back as 1692, I told Father John Mackintosh of Bornish, if there was any old person in the district who had seen Miss Margaret, that I should like to have an interview with such person. He enquired of people assembled at the meeting, when a middle aged man named Macdonald came forward and stated that he believed his mother was acquainted with Miss Macdonald, whom he described as "Miss Peggy Clanranald." his house was sonic miles distant but not far from the high road, and in case he might not be there before my arrival, he described the situation. Upon driving up to the house I took to be the one indicated, I saw at the door it person who did not look old enough to be Mrs Macdonald, and the place altogether looked inferior to what I would expect as the residence of my well-dressed and intelligent informant. I asked her if she was Mrs Macdonald and she said "No," but pointed to an inner room, upon entering which I saw a very old man, sitting alone by the fireside, who seemed very much astonished at my appearance.

"I saw then that I was in the wrong house, but the man being apparently very old, I thought I would question him. He gave his name as Neil Maceachin, and that he was 101 years old. At this stage the woman contradicted him and said he was only 97, upon which he stated, striking his staff on the floor (all the conversation being in Gaelic) "No, no, five twenties and one." Stated that he had been in "South Uist all his days." Did he know Miss Peggy Clanranald who lived at Ormiclate? Answered, "Perfectly; she was an old woman when I was a comparatively young man, but I have seen and spoken to her frequently. She was an active energetic person whom I used to see constantly going about and very much thought of as the only member of the Clanranald family who remained and constantly resided in Uist." By this time the apartment had become full of people, who all seemed to be acquainted with my name. I gave the old man five shillings, with which he was very pleased, and he attempted, with the aid of his staff to rise while thanking me, but failed in the attempt. On going outside, Macdonald came up breathless to say that he had seen his mother, who had told him that she recollected Miss Peggy quite well, and wished me to go with him to his house, but as his mother was described as only 87, and as I had already got the connecting link of information I wished—time also being pressing—I was obliged to continue my journey, though probably losing some interesting fragments of Clanranald and South Uist story."

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