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Gairloch in North-West Ross-Shire
Part II.—Inhabitants of Gairloch

Chapter XXV.—James Mackenzie's Gairloch Stories

THE following stories have been related to me by James Mackenzie of Kirkton, along with many traditions and facts embodied in other parts of this book. James Mackenzie is an enthusiastic lover of family history and local folk-lore, and whilst disowning superstitious fancies is quite alive to the charms of romance. I have endeavoured to preserve the words and phrases in which he communicated the stories, and where the pronoun of the first person is used in the following tales, it must be taken as coming from his lips.

James Mackenzie was born in 1808, and consequently remembers several of the bards and pipers already mentioned. His elder brother was John Mackenzie, so celebrated amongst Gaelic speakers as the compiler of the "Beauties of Gaelic Poetry," and James shared with his brother the fund of old stories which, in the days of their youth, they loved to listen to at the "ceilidh," or social meetings, then so generally held during the long winter nights.

James Mackenzie, who is a direct descendant in the sixth generation from Alastair Breac, fifth laird of Gairloch, has been a sailor during much of his life, and still affects the blue neckerchief and dark serge clothes of the sea-faring man, topped with a Highland bonnet of the Prince Charlie type. He is short in stature, and has very expressive features. He has the true Highland esprit, combined with refined courtesy and faithful attachment to his chief,—qualities which many think are destined soon to become extinct.

Nearly all the following stories are strictly Gairloch tales, relating incidents about Gairloch people. The anecdote of Rob Donn James Mackenzie wished to be included, lest it might otherwise be lost.

William Roy Mackenzie

"William Roy Mackenzie was stopping at Innis a bhaird. This was in the eighteenth century, before they commenced making whisky in Gairloch. William used to go to Ferintosh with his two horses with crook saddles, carrying a cask of whisky on each side. He always went there about Christmas. At that time Christmas was observed in Gairloch; now its observance is given up. William had two horses, a white and a black; one of them was fastened behind the tail of the other,* the white horse foremost.' On the other side of Achnasheen there was an exciseman waiting to catch William on his way home with four casks of whisky. The exciseman hid himself until William came past. Then he jumped out from his hiding-place, and caught the white horse by the halter, saying, *' This is mine.' Says William, * I do not think you will say that to-morrow; let go my horse.' * No,' says the exciseman. 'Will you let him go,' says William, ' if you get a permit with him ?' ' Let me see your permit,' says the exciseman, still dragging at the white horse. ' Stop,' says William ; ' let go the horse, the permit is in his tail.' He would not let go ; so when William saw that, he loosed the black horse from behind the grey, that he might get at the permit. Then he lifted his stick and struck the old grey so that he plunged and jumped, and in the scrimmage one of the casks of whisky struck the exciseman and knocked him down on the ground. Says William, ' There's the permit for you.' The exciseman lay helpless on the ground; so William Roy got clean away with all the whisky, and came home with it to Innis a bhaird."

Kenneth and John Mackenzie of Rona

"One of the Mackenzies of Letterewe had a daughter who was married to a man in Badfearn in Skye. A daughter of theirs became the wife of William Mackenzie of Rona, who was one of the Mackenzies of Shieldaig of Gairloch. He had a son named Kenneth; and Kenneth had two sons, called Kenneth and John. They were out fishing in a smack of their own, when they were attacked and taken by the press-gang. They were carried off, and placed in a hulk lying in the Thames below London. One night they were together in the same watch, and they then made a plan to escape. A yacht belonging to a gentleman in London was in the river; she was out and in every day, and always anchored alongside the hulk. The gentry from the yacht were going ashore every night, and leaving only a boy in her. The night the two brothers Kenneth and John were on the watch, the boy was alone in the yacht. What did they do but decide to carry.out their plan of escape there and then! So they went through.the gun-ports, one on each side of the hulk, and swam to the yacht. Then they got the yacht under weigh, the boy sleeping all the time. They got safe away with the yacht, and worked her as far as to Loch Craignish, on this side of Crinan. There they went ashore in the night, and left the yacht with the boy. They left the yacht's gig ashore in Loch Craignish, and set off on their way home.

When the laird of Craignish saw the gig, and the yacht lying in the loch, he went out in the gig to see what kind of yacht she was. The brothers had left the papers of the yacht on the cabin table, that it might be found out who she belonged to. So the laird of Craignish wrote to the owners in London, and advised them to send orders to him to sell the yacht and send the boy home with the money. The owners did so, and the yacht was sold. She became the mail-packet between Coll and Tobermory. I saw her long ago on that service.

"The two brothers, Kenneth and John Mackenzie, got safe back to Rona, and soon got another smack. They were going south with a cargo of fish, through the Crinan Canal; the smack was lying in the basin after you pass the first lock. There was a plank put to the shore from the gangway of the vessel; by this they went ashore to-the inn at Crinan. A girl in the house went to the vessel and took the plank out; the two Mackenzies, on going back to the smack in the dark, for want of the plank fell into the basin, and were both drowned. They were relations of my mother. I saw them when I was a boy at Mellon Charles. They were fine men."

John Macgregor of Londubh

"John Mackenzie, son of William Mackenzie, the fourth laird of Gruinard, by Lilias, daughter of Captain John Mackenzie of Kinloch (or Lochend), was a captain in the 73rd Regiment in the end of the . eighteenth century. The Gruinard family had holes and presses in their houses at Udrigil and Aird, where they kept men whom they had caught until they agreed to enlist in the army. Gruinard got money for catching men for the army. There was a man in Londubh named Ruaridh Donn or Rorie Macgregor, of the Macgregors of Kenlochewe; he was an old man, and was still strong. He had a son, John, who was a very strong bold man. Gruinard gathered a gang of twelve men to catch John Macgregor. So Mackenzie Lochend sent him down with a letter to Mackenzie Gruinard. John went with the letter, and gave it to Mrs Mackenzie, Gruinard's wife. 'Come in, John,' she said, * till you get some meat before you go-away to Poolewe.' So John went in, and she made a piece for him ; she gave him a slice of bread and butter, and put a sovereign between the bread and butter so that he might get it. When John was eating he found the gold in his mouth; he put it in his pocket. So when he had finished eating, he came out of the house to go away home, and there he saw the gang of twelve men ready to catch him. Mrs Mackenzie told him he had got the king's money. 'It's not much/ said he; 'I wish I would get more of it.' Says she, 'You'll get that by-and-by.' 'I'm not so sure of that,' says John. Then the gang took him. 'If you're going to keep me,' says John, 'send word to my old father, that I may see him as I pass by; he is old and weak, and I will never see him again.' So Mrs Mackenzie sent on word to his father to meet him. John was sent away with the gang, and as they passed the garden at Londubh, Ruaridh Donn came down to the road to meet his son, leaning on his staff as if he were weak. 'Good bye! are you going away, John?' says he. 'Oh yes! goodbye to you, I'll never see you again' says John. Then the old man got a hold of John, and put him between himself and the wall. The old man was shaking on his stick. John lifted his two hands and put them over his father's shoulders, and began laughing and mocking the gang. So the twelve men dare not go near them, and they left John to go home with his money.

"Captain John Mackenzie, son of Captain John Mackenzie, Kinloch, and brother of Mrs Mackenzie, Gruinard, went to Skye to marry a daughter of the minister of Cambusmore. He went in a boat with a crew of six men, and Duncan Urquhart, his own valet. John Macgregor was one of the crew. They went ashore at Port Golaig, near Ru Hunish, the point of Skye furthest north. The captain and Duncan walked up to Cambusmore, but the crew stopped with the boat. The captain and Duncan were in the minister's house all the week. On- the Saturday John Macgregor was sent up to the manse by the rest of the crew to see what was keeping them. It was late when John got to the manse. The captain came out and scolded John, asking what business he had there, and saying he might go away any time he pleased for all he cared. Then the minister came out, and said John must stop in the house until the Sabbath, for it would not be safe for him to return to the boat through the night. But John would go away back, and he fell over the high rock near Duntulm Castle and was killed. When the minister rose in the morning, he sent Duncan Urquhart to see if John had arrived at the boat. When Duncan was going he saw part of John's kilt caught on a point of rock, and found his dead body below. So Duncan turned to the house and told the bad news. The minister said to the captain, 'You may go home; you will not get my daughter this trip.' John Macgregor's body was taken home in a box, and buried in the churchyard at Inverewe. He left two •daughters; one of them was married to Murdo Crubach Fraser in Inverkerry, and was the mother of Kenneth Fraser and John Fraser now living at Leac-nan-Saighead. A daughter of Murdo Crubach's is the wife of Christopher Mackenzie, Brahan, and a son of theirs is piper with the Mackintosh."

Murdo Mackenzie, or Murdo's Son

"There was a Mackenzie of an old Gairloch stock living in Ullapool, Loch Broom. He was called in Gaelic 'Murchadh mac Mhur-chaidh,' or, 'Murdo the son of Murdo;' I will call him 'Murdo's son.' He was a very fine, good-looking man, and very brave. He had a small smack, and he was always going with her round the Mull of Kintyre to Greenock with herrings from Loch Broom. Returning with the vessel empty, he put into a place called Duncan's Well, in the Island of Luing, on the other side of Oban. This island belongs to Lord Breadalbane to this day. Murdo's son went ashore at night.. There was a ball going on in a house, and Lord Breadalbane's daughter was there. She fell in love at once with the good-looking Murdo's son, and he fell in love with her. He took her away with him that very night, and before daybreak they set sail for Ullapool. When they got to Ullapool they were married, and he took her to his house at the place now called Moorfield, where the banker lives in the present day.

"There was no name on Murdo's son's smack at that time; there were no roads nor newspapers then; and no one knew where the smack had gone with Lord Breadalbane's daughter, only that she had left with Murdo's son. Lord Breadalbane could find out nothing more. He went to the king and got a law made that from that time every vessel should have a name on it; there were no names on vessels before then in Scotland. Lord Breadalbane offered a reward of three hundred pounds to any one who would find where his daughter had gone. When Murdo's son got the report of this reward he started off at once, dressed in his best kilt and plaid, with his dirk in his belt, and walked all the way to Lord Breadalbane's castle at Taymouth. He knocked at the door, and a man came and asked what he was wanting; he told him he wanted to see the lord. So the man went in, and soon the lord came in his slippers to the door. He asked Murdo's son what was he wanting there. He told him he came to tell him where his daughter was, that he might get the reward. Says the lord, 'You will get the money if you tell me where, she is;' asked him, 'Where is she?' 'Wel!! says Murdo's son, ' I'll tell that when I get the money.' 'There's your money for you then.'

When he got the money, he said, 'She's at Ullapool, at Loch Broom, and if you will give me other three hundred pounds I will put the hand of the man that stole her into your hand.' The lord gave ! him other three hundred pounds. Says he, ' Keep out your hand.'; 'There,' says he, putting his hand in the lord's hand, 'is the hand that took your daughter from the Island of Luing;' and Lord Breadalbane was so pleased with his pluck and appearance, that he accepted him as his son-in-law, and gave him the full tocher (or dowry) of his daughter. I remember seeing their son and daughter; the daughter married John Morrison, who was the farmer at Drumchork, about 1850.

"Murdo's son was going in the same smack with herrings from Loch Broom to sell them. After coming round the Mull of Kintyre he anchored at Crinan for the night. There was lying there a lugger full of gin and brandy;" she had been captured near Cape Wrath by a government cutter; the crew had been put ashore at Cape Wrath. Six men of the cutter's crew were bringing the lugger to deliver her at Greenock. She came alongside Murdo's son at Crinan, as she was going south and he coming north. Murdo's son asked them, 'What craft is that?' They told him it was a smuggler they had caught at Cape Wrath. ' Surely you have plenty drink on board,' says he. 'Oh, yes,' they said, ' she is choke full.' Says he, ' You
had better all of you come over and see if the stuff I have is better than what you have got.' So they came over, all hands, to his smack. He tried the jar he had, and made them all drunk. They could not leave his cabin. When they were in this state he and his .crew went to the lugger, took possession of her, and set sail, leaving her drunken crew in his own smack. Murdo's son came to Ullapool with the lugger, and when he had taken the cargo out of her he set fire to her and destroyed her. A son of Murdo's son was married to Mrs Mackenzie of Kernsary before Mr Mackenzie married her, and had two sons, both now dead, and buried in Cil-lean, in Strath Garve.

"Donald Morrison, of Drumchork, was a grandson of Murdo's son and Lord Breadalbane's daughter. He went to see the Lord Breadalbane of his day, a descendant of the lord whose daughter was married to Murdo's son. Lord Breadalbane gave Donald Morrison three hundred pounds when he went to the castle. Rorie Morrison also went to see Lord Breadalbane, but he did not get anything. Donald was a very fine, tall, handsome man, and looked grand in his kilt and plaid; there was no one like him in the country, so good-looking and so well shaped for the kilt!"

Anecdote of Sir Hector Mackenzie

"The law that a name should be put on every vessel brings to my mind an anecdote of Sir Hector Mackenzie of Gairloch. Macleod of Raasay had a boat that had no name on her when the law was made requiring names. So the boat was taken from him, and he was cited to a court at Inverness, that he might be fined for not putting a name on the boat. When Sir Hector heard of this he went to the court. Macleod was there; the judge told him he was fined so much for not having the boat named. Sir Hector said, "Macleod's boat is the coach to his house, and he can never get home without it, and if you are going to fine him for not having his boat named, you must put a name on your own coach when you go out.' Said the judge, l If that be the case he can go home.' Thus Macleod got clear."

Mackenzie Kernsary and my Grandfather

"I can remember Mr and Mrs Mackenzie of Kernsary. They lived in the house where I now live. Rorie, as Mackenzie Kernsary was called, was a strange eccentric man ; he died a good while before his wife, and was buried in the chapel in the Inverewe burial-ground close by. They had only one son, Sandy, and it was he who built the house at Inveran; he was married to a daughter of the Rev. Roderick Morison, minister of Kintail, the best-looking woman in the north of Scotland at that time; her nephew is the present minister of Kintail. Sandy had three sons and three daughters. One son became Established Church minister at Moy; one daughter married Mr Mactavish, a lawyer in Inverness ; another daughter married one Cameron, a farmer; and another son was at sea. My grandfather, John Mackenzie, was a cattle drover; he was always going through the country buying cattle ; an old Hielan'man, with his blue bonnet and old Hielan' coat. He bought cattle between Pooiewe and Little Loch Broom. At times he bought a large number. One james Mackenzie's Gairloch stories. One time he went to the Isle of Gruinard and bought a fat grey cow from one Duncan Macgregor there. He sent a man on with the drove to Gairloch to go to the market, and stopped behind himself that day. When the cows were passing Londubh, Mackenzie Kernsary was out on the brae ; he saw the cattle passing, and he asked the man with them to whom did they belong. The man replied, 'To John Mackenzie, the drover/ ' Oh!' says he, 'they could not belong to a better man. You'll turn that grey cow up here till I kill her for Mrs Mackenzie.' ' No,' says the herd, ' that'll no be the case ; we'll know which is the best man first.' 'That tells you that the cow will be mine,' says Kernsary. And so it was; Mackenzie took the cow from him, drove her to the byre, got the axe, and killed her in a minute. He went in and told Mary his wife to send a man to bleed the cow before it would get cold. So Mary said, 'What cow is it?'; ' Never mind,' says he, 'you'll know that before Saturday.' And so she did. The old drover himself came by next day. Mrs Mackenzie saw him passing, and called him up. She took him into the house and gave him a glass of mountain dew. Then she told him what her husband did yesterday on a grey cow of his, and that she was going to pay him. She asked, him what was the value of the cow. He replied, ' Nothing but what I paid for it;' and she paid him."

The Whale in Loch Ewe.

"In the year 1809 Loch Ewe was the most famous loch known for haddock. Boats came even from the east coast, from Nairn and Avoch; indeed until the following occurrence Loch Ewe was unrivalled in the north of Scotland for its haddock fishing.

"It was a beautiful day, and all the boats were fishing on the south-west side of Isle Ewe opposite Inverasdale. A new boat was put off the stocks at Mellon Charles, and was taken out that day for the first time. Seven men went out in her, viz., Duncan Mackenzie, Ronald Mackenzie, Rorie Maclean, Murdo Mackenzie, Donald Maclennan, John Chisholm, and Hector Macrae, all Mellon men. They went to the back of Sgeir an Fharaig, much further out towards the open than the other boats. It was so calm the oars were laid across the boat. Suddenly they saw a whale coming in from the ocean making straight at them. One of the men suggested they had better put the oars straight and pull out of her way. And this they did ; but as they worked to one side, the whale cut across straight after them, and soon came up with them. She struck the boat in the bow, and made a crack about a yard long in the second plank above the keel. Six oars were then manned, and, with one man keeping his coat to the crack, they rowed for their lives; but as the crack was in the bow, the water forced itself in notwithstanding the efforts of the man with his coat. They were making for the nearest land, when the boat filled. When Ronald, who had been a soldier, saw this, he stripped and jumped overboard to swim for it. He swam some distance when the whale struck him below; so then he turned back to the water-logged boat. When he reached the boat, three of the men had been drowned, viz., Murdo Mackenzie, Donald Maclennan, and John Chisholm. After that the whale disappeared, or at least ceased to molest them. It was a small whale.

"A man at Mellon Charles had noticed the incident; he ran through the township to procure help ; but no boat was to be found, and there were only women and children at home. He went as far as Drumchork; there an old boat was found, that had been turned keel up for two years. Seven men were found to attempt an expedition for the rescue of the wrecked fishermen. They had only one oar, and on the other side of the boat worked bits of board, whilst two of the men were employed baling. In this way they reached the water-logged boat, and rescued the four survivors of its crew. Ever since this fatal occurrence it has been the popular belief in the country that whales attack new boats or newly-tarred boats. When the boat was got ashore a large piece of the whale's skin was found in the crack in the bow."

A Story of Rob Donn

"Rob Donn, the great Reay bard, was bard and ground-officer to Mackay Lord Reay, in the middle of the eighteenth century. He would always be going out with his gun, and secretly killing deer. Lord Reay found this out, and sent for Rob. He said, * I'm hearing, Robert, you are killing my deer.' 'Oh, no,' says he, 'I am not killing them all, but I am killing some of them; I cannot deny that.' Lord Reay then said, 'Unless you give it up, I must put you away out of the place; you must get a security that you will not kill any more.' ' Oh/ says Rob to him, ' I must go and see if I can get a surety.' So he left the room. Outside the door he met Lord Reay's son. ' Will you,' said Rob to the boy, ' become security for me that I will not kill more deer on your father's property ?' ' Yes,' replied the boy. Rob caught him by the hand and took him to Lord Reay. ' Is that your security, Robert?' said his lordship. ' Yes,' said Robert, ' will you not take him ?' ' No, I will not,' answered his lordship. ' It is very strange,' replied Rob, * that you will not take your own son as security for one man, when God took his own Son for all the world's security.' It need scarcely be added that Rob Donn remained bard and ground-officer to Lord Reay. This story I believe to be perfectly true."

The Lochbroom Herring Fishing

"About ninety years ago the British Fishery Society built the pier at Ullapool, and the streets of unfinished and unoccupied houses there which to this day give it the appearance of a deserted town. There were great herring fisheries then in Lochbroom, and Wood-house from Liverpool started a large curing establishment in Isle Martin ; so did Rorie Morrison at Tanera, and Melville at Ullapool. The Big Pool of Loch Broom was the best place for herrings in Scotland at that time, and there would be a hundred and fifty ships from all parts to buy herrings there,—from Saltcoats, Bute, and James Mackenzie's Gairloch stories.

Helensburgh, Greenock and Port Bonachie, East Tarbert and West Tarbert. Melville built two ships in Guisach, which he named the 'Tweed' and the 'Riand.' That place was full of natural wood at the time; it was in a rocky spot at Aultnaharril, opposite to Ullapool, where the ferry is. Melville was bound to take the herrings from alL the fishermen's boats. They were so plentiful that he could not cure them all, so he made middens of them, and he also boiled quantities for the oil from them. After that season Lochbroom was nineteen years without a hundred herrings in it, and the fishery has never recovered to this day."

The other Rob Roy Macgregor

"Kenneth Mackenzie, the last laird of Dundonneli of the old family, was descended from the first Lord Mackenzie of Kintail, and was a connection of the Gairloch Mackenzies. He was a peculiar man; he had a large flock of hens, and used to make every tenant pay him so many hens at the Martinmas term along with their rent. My grandfather's brother, Sandy M'Rae, who was tenant of the Isle of Gruinard, had to pay four hens every year to the laird. Kenneth Mackenzie, in 1817, married Bella, daughter of one Donald Roy Macgregor, belonging to Easter Ross; they had no family, She had a brother called Rob Roy Macgregor, who was a lawyer in Edinburgh. When Kenneth was on his deathbed his wife and Rob Roy wanted him to leave the Dundonneli estate to the latter. The dying laird was willing to do so, because he did not care for his only brother Thomas Mackenzie; but he was so weak that he could not sign his name to the will, and it is said that Rob Roy Macgregor held the laird's hand with the pen, and that the wife was keeping up the hand while Rob Roy made the signature. The laird died soon after, and left nothing at all to his brother Thomas. When the will became known there was a great feeling of indignation among all the Mackenzies and the gentry of the low country, as well as among the tenantry on the Dundonneli estates, against Rob Roy Macgregor, who now took up his residence at the old house of Dundonnell. The whole of the tenantry were opposed to him, except one man at Bad-luachrach named Donald Maclean, commonly called Donald the son of Farquhar. He was the only man that was on Rob Roy's side. His neighbours made a fire in the bow of his boat in the night time and burnt a good part of it. He sent the boat to Malcolm Beaton, a cousin of his own at Poolewe, to repair it; the night after it was repaired (whilst still at Poolewe) there was a fire put in the stern, and the other end of her was burnt. The Dundonneli tenants rose against Rob Roy Macgregor, and procured firearms; they surrounded the house, and fired through the shutters by which the windows were defended, hoping to take his life; one ball or slug struck the post of his bed. The next night he escaped, and never returned again. His barn and his stacks of hay and corn were burnt, and the manes and tails of his horses were cut short. Thomas Mackenzie commenced law against Rob Roy Macgregor for the recovery of the estate. In the end it was decided that it belonged to him, but it had become so burdened by the law expenses that it had to be sold."

Cases of Drowning in Loch Maree

"It would be before 1810 that Hector Mackenzie of Sand was living in a house at Cliff, on the west side of the burn at Cliff House. Sir Hector Mackenzie of Gairloch had given him lands at Inveras-dale. He went up Loch Maree in a boat to fetch wood to build a house close to the shore at Inverasdale. He took for a crew his son Sandy, a young lad, and also William M'Rae from Cove, and William Urquhart, called William Og, and his son, who lived at Bac Dubh. They reached Kenlochewe and loaded the boat. Just before they started back, Kenneth Mackenzie, a married man, and Rorie Mackenzie, a young man, who were returning to Gairloch with hemp for nets, asked for a passage down the loch. Hector said there was too much in the boat already. He was not for them to go in the boat, so they went off; but William Og said to Hector, 'You had better call the men back; you don't know where they will meet you again.' William Og called for them to come back. Kenneth Mackenzie came back, but Rorie would not return; he had taken the refusal amiss, and it was good for him that he had done so. The boat with the six of them started from the head of Loch Maree. Opposite Letterewe she was swamped, from being so heavy. All hands were lost except William M'Rae and Sandy the son of Hector, they were picked up by a boat from Letterewe.

"Two sons of Lewis M'lver, of Stornoway, came to Kenlochewe on their way back from college. It was before the road was made from Gairloch to Poolewe. They took a boat down Loch Maree. Four Kenlochewe men came with them; they were all ignorant of sailing. Between Ardlair and the islands there was a breeze, and they put the sail up. One of the Kenlochewe men stretched himself upon the middle thwart of the boat; a squall came, and he went overboard head foremost and was drowned.

"Kenneth Mackenzie from Eilean Horrisdale and Grigor M'Gregor from Achtercairn were employed sawing at Letterewe. They were put across to Aird na h'eighaimh, the promontory that runs out from the west shore of Loch Maree to near Isle Maree, by a boat from Letterewe. One of them had a whip saw on his shoulder. On landing they started to walk to Gairloch. There was then no bridge over the river at Talladale. The stream was swollen by rain; they tried to wade it, but were carried off their legs and taken down to the loch, where they were drowned. Their bodies were never recovered. This was more than eighty years ago.

"Donald Maclean from Poolewe and John M'lver, called John M'Ryrie, and often known as Bonaparte, from his bravery, were in a sailing boat in Tagan bay at the head of Loch Maree, when a squall upset the boat. John M'Ryrie went down, and was drowned. Donald Maclean got on the keel of the boat. Rorie Mackenzie had a boat on the stocks at Athnanceann. She had only seven strokes in her, but there was no other boat, so they took her down to the loch, and Donald Maclean was saved by means of her. John M'Ryrie's body was recovered, and buried in the Inverewe churchyard.

"It would be about 1840 that Duncan and Kenneth Urquhart, two brothers from Croft, sons of Kenneth Urquhart the miller, were coming down Loch Maree one Saturday evening after dark. There was smuggling going on in the islands at that time. It was a very dark night, and there was a stiff breeze blowing down the loch and helping to propel the boat. Duncan was rowing the bow oar, and Kenneth the other. Duncan called to his brother to go to the stern and steer the boat with his oar. Kenneth jumped on the seat in the stern, and from the way that was on the boat, and his own spring, he went over the stern. He called to Duncan, but he had only the one oar left, and with the wind so strong he could do nothing for his brother, so Kenneth was drowned. His body was found nine days afterwards in the middle of Loch Maree ; the oar came ashore at a spot called Ah Fhridhdhorch, or 'the dark forest,' where the scrubby wood now is near a mile to the north of Ardlair. Duncan came ashore with the boat on the beach in Tollie bay.

"When Seafbrth bought the Kernsary estate some forty years ago Mrs MTntyre was living at Inveran. It was after Duncan Fadach had lived there. Two years after Seaforth made the purchase he sent two lads to repair the house at Inveran. One of them was Sandy Mackenzie from Stornoway. The two lads went to bathe at the rock called Craig an t' Shabhail, or ' the rock of the barn,' where the river Ewe begins ; there was a barn long ago on the top of this rock. Immediately Sandy entered the water he went down, and was drowned. The other lad hastened to the house, and a sort of drag was made with a long stick and a crook at the end of it, and with this the body was lifted. Sandy was of the stock of George Mackenzie, second laird of Gruinard, who had thirty-three children. Sandy's brother is the present Free Church minister of Kilmorack."

The Stornoway Packet and the Whale

"The smack 'North Britain,' Captain Leslie, was carrying the mails between Poolewe and Stornoway for eighteen years. Leslie had four of a crew besides himself. Murdo Macdonald was at the helm when the smack struck a whale. She was running with a two-reefed mainsail and slack sheet. She ran on the back of the whale and cut it through to the backbone; seven feet was put out of the cutwater of the packet; it was a severe stroke! When the smack ran up on to the back of the whale her stern went under to the companion. The whale sank down, and so the smack went over her, but made so much water in the hold that they were obliged to run her ashore. They got her to Bayhead, inside the pier at Stornoway. The whale went ashore in Assynt, and they found the cut on her. I had this account from Leslie and others of the crew."

The Wreck of M'Callum's Schooner at Melvaig

"About 1805 John M'Callum, a decent man from Bute, had a schooner and carried on a trade in herrings; he had been to Isle Martin. He had one pound in cash to purchase every barrel of herrings with. The herrings were so plenty he got them for five shillings a barrel. He had a smack called the ' Pomona' as well as the schooner, and he would be sending the smack to Greenock with cargoes of herrings whilst he stayed at Isle Martin curing herrings. At the end of the season, as there was a great demand for small vessels, he sold the * Pomona' for three hundred pounds to Apple-cross men. Then he himself started home in the schooner, with a crew of seven sailors. He came to Portree from Isle Martin, and left Portree for home, intending to go through Kyleakin. When he got through the sound of Scalpay it came on a hurricane from the south. The vessel would not take the helm, and became unmanageable. She was running down the coast in that state, and at last the wind shifting to the west put her on the rocks at Melvaig. The mate went to M'Callum, who was in the cabin, and told him to come up, that they were going to be lost, and he should try and get ashore. M'Callum was old and weak, and replied that he was so frail that he would have no chance, and that his days were gone at any rate; so he remained below. One of the crew went out on the jib boom, and as she struck he let himself down by a rope from the jib boom to a shelf on a rock, and was quite safe. Another of the crew jumped out, but could not get ashore on account of the surf. The Melvaig people saw him swimming a mile off; then he turned back; he seemed to be a good swimmer; when he was in the surf and saw a big sea coming, he would dive through it; at last he disappeared. The ship went to pieces, and all hands were lost except the man who had got on the shelf of rock. All the bodies were washed ashore, and were buried in Melvaig, near the house of Murdo Mackenzie, called Murdo Melvaig. A Melvaig man, named John Smith, stripped the sea boots from one of the bodies and took them home with him. When the man who was saved heard this, he said it would have been enough for him to take them off when he was alive! The man who came ashore told the Melvaig people that the three hundred pounds realised for the sale of the ' Pomona/ as well as the balance of the money the captain had- had to buy herrings, was in a box. The captain had had one pound to buy each barrel of herring, and as he had only to pay five shillings a barrel he must have had nearly four hundred pounds balance. The whole of the money was found in a box, as the man had said. The man went away home, but he did not get the money with him."

A Sea Captain Buried in Isle Ewe

"About twelve years ago some gentlemen in a steam yacht came to Isle Martin, and inquired there whether any one knew of a place where the captain of a ship had been buried in one of the Summer Isles. They thought he,had been buried in one of the small islands james Mackenzie's Gairloch stories off Loch Broom. They offered fifteen pounds to any one who could inform them, but no one could tell them anything of the place. Here is the true account of this captain and his death and burial. It was about 1822 that I was living with my father in Mellon Charles house. A schooner going to Newcastle with bars of brass put in for shelter to the sound of Isle Ewe. She lay opposite the dyke on the island; that is still the safest anchorage, the best holding ground in a storm. Two of the crew came ashore at Aultbea, and said the captain had got ill, and they were seeking a doctor; there was no doctor then in the country. My father used to go and see some who would be sick, and would bleed them if they would require it. So the two sailors were told to go to him, and they took him out to the schooner. He found the captain lying dead in his cabin, and there were cuts in different parts of his head as if he had been killed by his men. He was buried in the old churchyard in the Isle of Ewe, still enclosed by a dyke; there is a headstone yet standing at his grave. No other sea captain has been buried in this district for many years, except John M'Callum, John M'Taggart, and this captain buried in Isle Ewe."

The Loss of the "Glenelg."

"It was about 1825 that the mail-packet called the 'Glenelg of Glenelg' was lost. A year before that the Right Honourable Stewart Mackenzie, who had in 1817 married Lady Hood, the representative of the Seaforth family and proprietrix of the Lews, bought the ' Glenelg' to ply with the mails between Poolewe and Stornoway. Poolewe is the nearest port on the mainland to Stornoway. ' There had been packets on the same service generations before. The ' Glenelg' was a smack of about sixty tons. Her crew consisted of two brothers, Donald and John Forbes, and a son of Kenneth M'Eachainn, of Black Moss (Bac Dubh), now called Moss Bank, at Poolewe. Donald was the master, and John the mate. She was going to Stornoway about once every week, but she had not a fixed time. It was on a Saturday, either the end of November or beginning of December, that the Rev. Mr Fraser, who was minister of Stornoway, returned to Poolewe from the low country. He had come down Loch Maree in a boat. The master of the ' Glenelg' was ashore at the inn, which was then at Cliff House. Mr Fraser came to Donald Forbes, and told him he would require to be at Stornoway that evening to preach on the morrow. Donald said it was not weather to go. Mr Fraser said he would prosecute or punish him for not going; then Donald said he should take care before he would not punish himself, and that he knew his business as well as Mr Fraser knew his own. At last Mr Fraser persuaded him to go; and there were two other passengers, Murdo M'lver from Tigh na faoilinn, who was going to be a Gaelic teacher in a parish near Stornoway, and Kirstie Mackenzie from Croft. They started about nine o'clock in the morning, with two reefs in the mainsail. Donald M'Rae from Cove was out on the hill for a creel of peats and saw the ' Glenelg' loosing some of her canvas after going out of Loch Ewe. Nothing more was seen of her. M'Iver's box was washed ashore at Scoraig in Little Loch Broom, and two handspikes and the fo'scuttle. Another packet was afterwards put on the same service."

Wreck of the "Helen Marianne" of Campbelton

" John M'Taggart from Campbelton had a smack called the * Helen Marianne.' He used to come to Glen Dubh buying . herrings, and he had two fishing boats of his own worked with the smack. I saw him in Glen Dubh when I was fishing there; it would be about 1850. One Sabbath night he left Loch Calava at the entrance to Glen Dubh, and set sail for home, thus breaking the Sabbath. A storm from the north-east came on, and in the night he struck on the Greenstone Point, at the other side of Oban, or Opinan, there, and all hands were lost. Donald Mackenzie and Kenneth Cameron, the elder of the church, both living in Sand, had the grazing of Priest Island. On the Tuesday they went out to that island to see the cattle, and there they found the dead body of John Taggart, along with an empty barrel. They thought he must have been washed off the deck, as the vessel had been carried past Priest Island before she was wrecked. They brought the body to Sand, and buried it in the churchyard with the rest of the crew, whose bodies were all recovered. There would be six or seven of them in all, for the crews of the fishing boats were with the smack, the two boats being on deck, one on each side."

Wreck of the "Lord Molyneux" of Liverpool

"Farquhar Buidhe, who was one of the Mathesons of Plockton, and brother of Sandy Matheson the blind fiddler there, was the owner and master of the trawler * Lord Molyneux/ a smack he had bought at Liverpool. He used to come to Glen Dubh for the herring fishery. It was two or three years before the wreck of the ' Helen Marianne' of Campbelton that Farquhar set sail for home one Sabbath night. Before daylight he was lost upon a rock at the end of the island of Oldany. These two ships were both lost from Sabbath-breaking."

John Macdonald, the Drover of Loch Maree

"It was about 1825 that John Macdonald lived at Talladale. He was a cattle drover, and was always known as 'The drover of Loch Maree.' He was a fine tall man ; I remember seeing him. He wore a plaid and trousers of tartan, and a high hat. He used to go to the Muir of Ord market with the cattle he bought in Gairloch. At that time large quantities of smuggled whisky were made in Gairloch and Loch Torridon. John Macdonald got the loan of an open boat at Gairloch. She was a new boat, with a seventeen foot keel; I remember seeing her. He worked her round to Loch Torridon, and then he took a cargo of whisky for Skye. Two Torridon men accompanied him. A storm came on from the south or south-west, and they could not make Skye. The boat was driven before the wind till she reached the shore of Assynt, on the south side of Stoir head. There they came ashore ; the boat was found high and dry, and quite sound, above high-water mark. John Macdonald and his companions were never seen again, and some Assynt men said that they had been murdered for their whisky. Assynt was a wild country then, and long before."

The Murder of Grant, the Peddler

"It was about 1829 there lived in a house some three hundred yards above the present parks at Tournaig a man named Grant. He had three sons, William and Sandy, and another, who was the youngest, whose Christian name I forget. He was a peddler, a good-looking lad, about twenty-three years of age at the time. He used to carry his pack on his back through the country. He often went to Assynt, and was acquainted with one M'Leod, who lived near Loch Nidd, to the north of Stoir head. M'Leod was a kind of teacher; he was a great favourite with the women. Grant, the peddler, was stopping in a house near M'Leod's, and M'Leod was seeing him. One morning, after breakfast, Grant left his lodgings to walk across to Lochinver with his pack on his back. M'Leod joined him, to convoy him out of the township. When they were out of sight of the houses M'Leod struck the peddler with a small mason's hammer, which he had concealed in his, breast. He struck him at the back of the ear, and killed him clean. When M'Leod saw the peddler was dead, he would have given three worlds to have made him alive again, as he afterwards said; but it was too late. M'Leod put the body in a small loch, still called from this circumstance Loch Torr na h' Eiginn, or ' the loch of the mound of violence,' and he put stones on the body to keep it from floating. A man in the township had a dream that the peddler had been murdered and put in this loch, and he went with his neighbours and found the body there. The neighbours thought this man had killed Grant, because he knew where the body was. The poor man was apprehended, and taken to the gaol at Dornoch, where he was kept for a year, and his sufferings caused his hair to come from his head. He was not/set free till M'Leod confessed the murder. The men of the place were all anxious to find out the murderer of the peddler, that they might clear their own families.

"M'Leod, soon after the murder, hid the peddler's pack in a stack of peats. He took part of the goods out of it to give to some of his sweethearts, of whom he had too many! The girl that was in the house where Grant had lodged had taken notice of the contents of the pack. She saw some of the things after the murder with a girl who was a neighbour, and whom M'Leod was courting. She said to this girl, ' It must have been you, or some one belonging to you, that killed Grant.' This girl was taken to Dornoch gaol, and another girl who was seen with a piece of cloth that had been in Grant's pack was also taken to gaol. The neighbours were all against each other, trying to discover the murderer. At last these two girls gave evidence that they had received the things from M'Leod, and upon their testimony he was found guilty of the murder before the judge at Inverness. He would not confess to the murder, until the Rev. Mr Clark, minister of a church in King Street, in Inverness, who was attending on the condemned man, worked upon him so that he told the whole truth. It was not until this confession that the man who had had the dream was released from Dornoch gaol. Poor man, he never got over it. M'Leod was hung at Inverness, and on the gallows he sang the fifty-first Psalm in Gaelic. The two brothers of the murdered peddler, and their sister, who had married a MacPhail, got up a ball at Inverness on the night M'Leod was hung. It was a foolish thing."

Death of the Shieldaig Shoemaker and his Companions at Lochinver

"It was long after the murder of Grant, the peddler, in Assynt, that three men from Shieldaig of Applecross went in their smack to fish with long lines for cod at Lochinver. One of them was a shoemaker. It is said that they came ashore to the inn there. After their return to the smack, three days passed without any smoke from the vessel, and the people on shore did not know what was the cause of it. So they went to see what was wrong, and they found the three men dead, two of them among the barrels in the hold, and one at the hearth in the fo'castle, They came ashore, and a letter was sent to M'Phee, the fishing-officer at Shieldaig of Applecross, reporting the case. Three Shieldaig men went first to Lochinver and brought the vessel home. I saw them as they passed Poolewe. Some thought that the three fishermen had had poison given them in the inn. After the disappearance of John Macdonald, the Loch Maree drover, and his two companions, and the murder of Grant the peddler, in Assynt, it was considered dangerous for men from Gairloch and the neighbourhood to visit that wild country."



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