THE MEN OF GLENELG
FEROCIOUSLY ATTACK A FUNERAL PARTY.
WHILE there were
hereditary differences between clan and clan, name and name,
hereditary feuds also existed between district and district. Of the
latter was the feud between Glenelg and Localsh, and it is as old
at least as the period of the final disjunction of the county of
Ross from Inverness.
I now give a more
complete account than that given on another occasion of a serious
outbreak which occurred in the month of December, 1814, in
connection with the family of Barisdale.
generally seized upon as a convenient opportunity "to have the
matter out but the occasion now chosen was rather unusual, for
although Coll, 4th Barisdale, lived at Auchtertyre in Lochalsh and
had invited his friends of that district to the funeral, he was by
birth and property and in essential a Glenelg and Kilchoan man. The
circumstances are detailed in the statement now to be quoted, which
gave Barisdale the greatest annoyance. He was not in the fray, and
knew nothing of it until all was over, being detained at the funeral
entertainment with some of those invited, who he said in a letter of
the time were "inclined to sit at the table a little longer" than
such as those from Lochalsh, for instance, who had a long way before
them ere they could reach home.
In a letter from Mr
John Matheson of Attadale, dated the 11th of January, 1815, he, a
Lochalsh man and wounded in the scuffle, says of the parishioners of
Glenelg, "they from time immemorial were notorious amongst the
rest of the neighbourhood for their savage deeds."
Mrs Flora Macdonell, at whose funeral
the row occurred, was daughter of Norman Macleod of Drynoch, Skye,
who settled in Gleneig. She married Archibald, third of Barisdale,
and was a devoted wife and mother.
The witnesses for the intended prosecution for assault and battery
were—Mr, George Jeffrey, Esq., New Kelso 2, Archibald Macdonell, Esq,,
yr. of Barisdale; 3, The Rev. Dr Downie of Lochalsh; 4. Mr Roderick
Maclennan, tacksman of Killilan; 5, Mr Kenneth Mackenzie, merchant,
Kyleakin; 6, John Matheson, Esq., of Attadale; 7, Mr John Macrae,
tacksman of Fernaig; 8, Mr Norman Finlayson at Auchtertyre; 9, Mr
Peter Gillies at Auchtertyre 10, Mr Donald Bethune, servant at
Auchtertyre; 11, Mr John Macdonald at Innestown; 12, Mr Donald
Macmaster, shepherd at Glenmeddle; 13, Mr Malcolm Nixon at Kirkton
of Gleneig. Of these in the list the first eleven are in Ross-shire,
the last two in Inverness-shire.
STATEMENT OF FACTS.—That Mrs Macdonell
of Barisdale was interred at Gleneig, on Tuesday 6th December, 1814.
That among several other gentlemen invited to attend the funeral
were Mr George Jeffrey of New Kelso, Mr Matheson of Attadale, Doctor
Downie of Localsh, Mr Archibald Macdonell of Glenmeddle, and Mr
Kenneth Mackenzie, merchant, Lochalsh.
That the gentlemen above named met at
Ardhill early on the morning of Tuesday, and proceeded in the same
boat to Kirkton of Glenelg. That after landing, the boat was hauled
on the shore to carry them back at night.
That after the interment the whole
company adjourned to a house near the church, where they dined and
sat till about five o'clock in the evening.
That after the company broke up the
gentlemen named above, joined by Mr Roderick Maclennan of Killilan,
proceeded towards the boat to return to Localsh. That John
Macmaster, a servant of Mr Macdonell of Barisdale, met with them at
Glenelg and was ordered by his master to go to Lochalsh in this
boat. That it appears the said Macmaster before the company came out
to return home had some words with Donald Maclennan, residing in
Kirkton of Glenelg.
That as the whole party was proceeding
towards the boat, the said Donald Maclennan followed Macmaster and
seized hold of him by the breast. That Mr Archibald Macdonell of
Glenmeddle, seeing Maclennan thus knocking his father's servant,
asked his name, when he replied that his name was Donald Maclennan
and that he resided at Kirkion. That on Mr Macdonell threatening to
send him to the jail at Inverness if he ill-used Macmaster,
Maclennan let go the hold he had of him, but followed the party
towards the boat.
That the boat was now in the water with
the stern on shore, made fast to a boat lying on the beach by a rope
belonging to the latter boat. That while in this situation the whole
party was embarking, Maclennan began to abuse all the people of
Localsh in gross language, and to bid defiance to the whole crew.
That on this provocation Macmaster jumped on shore after he had
embarked, seized hold of Maclennan and dragged him into the sea,
where he ducked him different times. That Mr Archibald Macdonell
seeing this jumped likewise out of the boat and separated them. That
Maclennan crying for help a number of men armed with bludgeons
rushed down the beach, and before Mr Macdonell could again embark
they surrounded the stern of the boat, and began to beat with their
sticks in the most insolent manner every person within their reach.
That in consequence they wounded
severely Mr Matheson of Attadale, giving him a deep cut in the
forehead, from which a great quantity of blood immediately issued.
That Mr Archibald Macdonell received a severe stroke on his head,
from which the blood immediately flowed in abundance. That Mr
Kenneth Mackenzie received a cut on his head to the effusion of his
blood. That Doctor Downie received a severe blow with a stick on his
head which the strength of his hat prevented from being cut. That
Peter Gillies, one of the crew, received a dreadful wound across his
skull after the loss of his hat, and has since been confined to bed,
from every appearance, in imminent danger of his life. That Ninian
Finlayson, another of the crew, has one of his hands torn by it
stroke to the effusion of his blood, and had the other arm so
bruised by repeated strokes of bludgeons that it is now much swelled
and unfit for any service. That John Macdonald, another of the crew,
was much bruised by repeated strokes, and his hat taken away or lost
in the scuffle. That while this work of blood was going forward the
end of the boat next the shore was surrounded by a crowd of people,
some of whom were keeping hold of the boat, and some endeavouring to
seize hold of the oars, while others were with their sticks
endeavouring to knock down every person within their reach in the
boat and who, being comparatively fewer in number and having no
sticks, were quite unable to defend themselves. Having at last
regained the possession of one of their oars which had been wrested
from them, they endeavoured to push off the boat so as to get clear
of this band of ruffians, but their thirst for blood not being yet
satisfied, they still kept the boat close to the shore by seizing
hold of the rope which had been made fast to her as already stated.
That one of the crew seeing little chance of getting clear, cut the
rope, on which several of those who had hold of the other end of the
rope and who had been violently dragging the boat on shore fell on
the beach. That the boat was immediately pushed off into water too
deep for the people to follow, and when no longer able to assail the
party with the sticks, there was a shower of stones from a crowd, in
appearance from thirty to forty, thrown on to the boat, until she
was pushed off out of their reach. One of those stones struck Mr
Mackenzie of Killilan on the breast, by which he had received a
severe contusion. As the boat was proceeding home the men were
throwing out such of the stones as they found in the bottom of the
boat, but on examining the boat next morning 18 of those bullets
were found to be in her still, some of which weighed from three to
four pounds, much blood too was found in the boat next morning. The
night being dark and the people in' the boat being little acquainted
in Glenelg, it is very difficult to point out the individuals of
which this crowd was composed.
The person of Maclennan, however, will
be sworn to by two of the crew. One of the crew, Donald Bethune, who
resided for some years at Glenelg, will make oath to two other men
of his acquaintance being in the crowd, viz., Roderick Macrae, a
young man residing with his mother at Kirkton of Glenelg, and Donald
Buie Maclure, residing at Islandrioch.
Which statement consisting of this and
preceding pages is attested to be truth, at Ardhill, the seventh day
of December, one thousand eight hundred and fourteen years, by
(Signed) JOHN MATHESON. A. DOWNIE,
There was a great gathering at Arnisdale
on the 2nd of May, 1723, at the signing of the contract of marriage
between John Macdonell, second son of Æneas Macdonell of Scotus, and
Janet Macleod, Arnisdale, a copy of which will now be given. The
deed has no less than fourteen signatures, and does great credit to
its framer, the Rev. Murdo Macleod, parish minister. Descended of
this marriage is the well-known barrister and author, Macdonell of
Greenfield, now in Montreal.
Prior to the sale of Glenelg, its large
farmers, under the Macleods, were, and specially those of Skye
extraction, perhaps the most conspicuous on the west mainland. Even
in my own time Captain Reid of Eileanreach kept up a splendid
hospitality, and old Cameron of Beolary was a noted, successful
farmer, and I well recollect what a wrench it was for the old man
when he was removed.
Long prior to Mr Cameron's time the
tenant of Beolary was Mr John Murchison of the Lochalsh family of
that name. I have several of his and his wife's letters. Writing on
the 20th of August, 1782, Mr Murchison says—" 1 had the
mortification to be informed last week of the death of a second
brother that I have lost by this unfortunate war. He died at
Charleston on the 27th of January last, occasioned by the opening of
his old wounds, which he got the day his other brother was killed at
Stoney Ferry. He was a pretty loving young man. God knows their
deaths is a great heart brake to me, as my affection for them was
the contract of marriage the opinions held of black cattle and sheep
respectively are effectively seen, for the sheep are thrown in under
the head of "small" cattle, such as sheep and goats."
The country of Knoydart is rich and
beautiful and reared, in abundance and comfort, honest men and
bonnie lasses. Why it should not do so now seems inexplicable, for
though the people have greatly diminished, the land is there as of
old. To my misfortune I have only once been up Loch Nevis, but the
kindness and stirring reception of my one night at Inverie can never
be forgotten. Here is the marriage contract referred to—
"At Arnisdale, the 2nd day of May, one
thousand seven hundred and twentie three years. It is minuted
appointed matrimonially, agreed and ended betwixt John Macdonell,
second lawfull son to Æneas Macdonell of Scottos, on the one part,
and Janet Macleod, lawfull daughter to Donald Macleod in Arnisdale,
with his consent and assent, and he taking burden on him for her on
the other part in manner following. That is, the saids John
Macdonell and Janet Macleod, with consent foresaid, hereby promises
to take each other in marriage and to solemnize the said lawfull
bond of marriage instantly. And the said Donald Macleod in Arnisdale,
hereby binds and obliges him, his heirs, ex'ors, and successors
whatsomever to content and pay to the said John Macdonell, his
heirs, ex'ors, and assignees in name of tocher good, the number of
threescore of cows and four piece of sufficient horse, as they are
usually payed in tocher, that is to say twentie milk cows, twentie
yeall cows, ten cows two years old, and ten stirks, to be payed in
manner following, viz., the number of twentie-five to be payed at
Whitsunday ensueing, and as many at Whitsunday, one thousand seven
hundred and twentie four, and the other ten at Whitsunday one
thousand seven hundred and twentie five. For the whilk causes on the
other part the said Æneas Macdonell as burden taker, binds and
obliges him, his heir, ex'ors, and successors to provide the said
John Macdonell, his son to the sum of two thousand merks Scots
money, for which he is to pay interest to his behoof from the term
of Whitsunday next to come, and until it be laid out upon interest
in sufficient hands upon land or otherwise.
"The said John Macdonell as pri'nl, and
with, and for him, the said Æneas Macdonell as cautioner, suretie
and full debitor, binds and oblidges them, their heirs, ex'ors, and
successors whatsomever con'llie and severally to secure in the hands
of Donald Macleod of Tallascar or any other sufficient hands the
said sum of two thousand merks money foresaid in liferent to the
said Janet Macleod during all the days of her lifetime and in fee to
the eldest son to be procreate of the said marriage or that shall be
then in life, whilk failling to the other child or children of the
said marriage. And it is hereby provyded that the said Janet shall
have a tearce of all the moveables that shall appertain to the said
John Macdonell at the time of his decease, she then surviving, with
the whole small cattell, such as sheep and goates, by and attour the
just and equal half of the conquest. And the said Janet Macleod
hereby discharges the said Donald Macleod her father of her portion
natural and all other things she could ask or crave thro' his
decease excepting good will allenarly.
In like manner the said John Macdonell
hereby discharges his father of bairns part of gear excepting good
will allenarly and all the said parties binds and obhidges them to
perform the premisses hinc inde in manner above written and
the party faillzying shall pay to the party observer or willing to
observe the same the sum of two hundred merks Scots. And all consent
to the Regran of their pritts in the Books of Council and Session or
any other judicatory competent that an decreet be interponed thereto
so that letters of horning on ten days and other executorialls
needful may pass hereupon in form as efleirs and to that effect
constitutes their pro'rs. In witness qrof (written by Mr Murdoch
Macleod, minister of Glenelg, upon stamped paper) all have subt
their pritts day, place, and year of God a wrin before those
witnesses, Archibald McDonnell of Barisdel, Coll McDonnell his son,
Norman McLeod of Drynoch, Mr Alexr. McLeod his son, Lachlin McKinnon
of Mistiness, Donald McDonnell in Glendulachan, and the said. Mr
Murdoch McLeod writer hereof.
(Signed) "JOHN MACDONELL, JANNET MCLEOD,
"DONALD MCLEOD, ÆNEAS MCDONELL CA'R, LACHLAN MCKINNON, wittnes,
ARCHIBALD McDONELL, wittness, MCDONELL, wittnes, COLL MCDONELL,
wittness. ANG. MCLEOD, wittness. NOR. MCLEOD, wittness, ALLAN
MCDONELL, wittnes, ALEXR. MACLEOD, wittness, ALEXR. MCDONELL,
wittnes, MURD. MACLEOD, wittness."
LEASES, ROADS, RAILWAYS, AND RECRUITING.
Upwards of a century ago, it was the
practice to encourage tenants in Glenelg, by granting them long
leases, whereby having a considerable fixity of tenure, they found
that it was worth while improving. When sales afterwards became
abundant, very frequently the price given, calculated at so many
years' purchase, was astonishing. In my own day, I have seen forty
years' purchase given, but these times are past. Mr William Tod,
factor for the Duke of Gordon, asking a high price last century for
lands in Lochaber instances that between the years 1770 and 1790 two
estates in Badenoch, Phoness and Raits, had been sold in public
market at fifty-five and seventy years' purchase of the gross
illustration of long leases in Glenelg I have in view are two, one
by Macleod to John Murchison, his factor in Gleneig, of the two
penny lands of Beolary as then possessed by the said John Murchison,
and Ludovick Murchison, his father ; the two penny lands of
Arrieharachan, as then possessed by John Macleod and his
sub-tenants; and the four penny lands of Achaconon, as possessed by
Donald Macleod and other tenants. The tenant had power to assign one
half of the subjects to his second brother Roderick, and the other
half to his brothers—Duncan, Magnus, and Donald. The endurance was
for fifty-seven years, from Whitsunday, 1774 and the rent £472
Scots. Notwithstanding the favourable terms, and that Macleod
dispossessed several of his clan, the lease, dated the 8th of
December, 1767, did not terminate successfully. John Murchison died
in 1811, survived by one brother only, the Duncan before referred
to. Two others, as previously mentioned, soldiers, died in America.
The other lease referred to was by General Simon Fraser of Lovat, in
favour of Ewen Gillies, of the lands of Camusnabrain of North Morar
for two nineteen years from and after Whitsunday, 1780, at a rent of
£9 2s 8d sterling, but excluding any right to the salmon fishings on
the water of Morar.
The lands of Glenelg were considered by
Government and others so central and important a position on the
west mainland that barracks were erected at Bernera as suitable to
command the neighbourhood. They were never of much use, and have
long since gone to ruin, and the site restored ; reserving to the
Government the right to re-acquire the premises with a considerable
piece of land at any time, should this be resolved upon. The sheep
farmers from Skye and outer islands found Glenelg convenient as a
connection with the south, and the late Mr Telford projected a road
in i8io from Rannoch to Glenelg and gave details of the cost. It is
an interesting document, particularly in view of the recent openings
of the west mainland. Gleneig is very convenient of access by sea,
but the reverse by land. Telford's proposed road traverses much of
the West Highland Railway route until it reaches Roy Bridge. It then
directed its course by the Spean to the Lochy, thence by ziz-zag
courses through the northern part of Lochiel's estate, crossing
Glengarry into Glenmoriston, and by Glenshiel to the sea. This was
essential if Glenelg was the terminus aimed at, because if it
ascended the waters of Arkaig, one would be on the way to Loch Morar.
If it ascended Glengarry, Loch Hourn would be reached, and as there
is no mountain or valley access to Glenelg, the road has to go first
to Loch Duich, and from thence there is a steep ascent and an
equally steep descent to Glenelg.
Loch Carron at the north, and Loch
Linnhe at the south, from their position can be reached easily by
land, but the intermediate lakes, and particularly the Bay of
Glenelg, are practically inaccessible except by sea. These lakes,
however, are admirably adapted for fishery purposes, which have not
been fully developed, although this may be confidently expected when
railway facilities are provided from Kyleakin and Mallaig. I expect
the latter will become by and bye an important centre, and that when
the railway is opened, that part of it facing the Atlantic will be
largely taken up for building purposes by the merchants of Glasgow
and other cities, who will no longer be satisfied with country
quarters on the Firth of Clyde.
Macleod of Macleod and his wife stayed
at Inverness in the winter of 1789, in the house of a Captain
Baillie. Giving it up by them seems to have annoyed the Captain, who
according to Macleod "had, he feared," again taken another pet. "I
don't know how to manage in such cases. I never take pets myself."
He must have been a most exemplary person.
In another letter to a gentleman at
Inverness, who had taken some trouble about his affairs, Macleod
writes from Golden Square, London, on the 24th of May, 1790-
"Parliament will probably be dissolved about the month of June.
There seems to be no avoiding a war, in which case I shall
immediately get a regiment, and will probably commence recruiting as
soon as I get down."
He seems to have been very attentive to
his own people in the matter of patronage. A gentleman in Inverness
writing to Mr William Macdonald of Saint Martins, MacLeod's
Edinburgh agent, making application for a situation in the Excise
for a friend, gets this reply, dated Edinburgh, 6th December, 1790.
"It is by no means so easy a matter to obtain a Commission in the
Excise as formerly, for this reason that the salary is nearly
double, and everything in Excise and Customs go by Parliamentary
interest. Macleod has many claims upon him, and many to provide for
of his own clan and friends which I know too well to ask anything
from him in the meantime."
Recruiting became very severe, and those
engaged were hard put to. Norman Macleod, Eileanreach, General
Macleod's factor in Glenelg, complains that the taxes for naval
services and others were excessive and that some sympathy should be
shown to those like himself, who had paid a bounty, and expenses of
a volunteer to Inverness, but the recruit had declined enlistment at
the last moment, and either could not or would not repay anything.
The Dunvegan factor, Mr Charles Robertson, writing on the 2nd of
November, 1795, says—"Considering the exertions we used in the
affair of the Navy Volunteers, and that we are still endeavouring to
send more recruits," trusts that delay in paying the navy rates will
one class only were recruits pretty easily obtained, viz.,
apprentices in towns. I see Macleod got into much trouble with a
carpet weaver in Elgin, who took legal proceedings against him for
the enrolment of his apprentice in the 2nd Battalion of the 42nd
a pity that his promises to provide for recruits or their families
with a house and a bit of land, were departed from or largely
restricted, as so fully brought out by the editor of the Scottish
Highlander in that paper a few years ago.
The condition of the people did not
improve under Macleod's successors.
THE FRASERS OF LOVAT AND MACLEODS OF
The name of Glenelg
is found at an early date, it being noted in 1282 that it was part
of the Kingdom of Man. It afterwards pertained to the old Earls of
Ross. It consisted of two parishes, Kilchoan, mentioned in 1372,
comprehending Knoydart and north Morar, and Glenelg proper.
Falling into the King's hands, Glenelg
was divided into three parts, and was included in the charter to
Randolph, becoming a part of the Earldom of Moray. Two-thirds became
the property of the Macleods of Harris, extending to eight davochs
and five pennylands, and the other third, of the Frasers of Lovat.
There is some obscurity as to the origin of the Lovat title, which
rather points, however, to its being an acquisition from the Morays.
Hugh Fraser is served heir to the third of Gleneig on the 2nd of
May, 1430, following in the narration of lands, the barony of
Abertarff, comprehending Stratherrick, which undoubtedly came
through the Dunbars. Naturally, the Macleods and Frasers did not
agree, and the latter made various attempts to adjudicate and get
charters to the whole.
In 1540 a good opportunity occurred of
reuniting Glenelg. The well-known Allister "Crotach" Macleod, had a
son William, of marriageable age, while Hugh, Lord Lovat, had a
daughter Agnes in the same position. Accordingly a match was made
up, whereby in effect the whole three parts of Glenelg was settled
upon the heirs male of the marriage, the lady also getting a
liferent of the thirty pennyland of Minginish. A copy of the
contract of marriage will now be given, dated Lovat, the 13th of
April, 1540, from which it will be seen that Allister Crotach could
not write. The well-meant intentions of the parties were, however,
frustrated by the death of William Macleod, within a few years of
the marriage, leaving an only daughter, Mary, the famous heiress of
Dunvegan, as to whose great succession and for the custody of whose
person there had been several years of fighting and controversy.
Follows the contract of marriage referred to:-
"At the Lovat the 13th day of April 1540
yeirs. It is appointed staited and finally agreed betwixt ane noble
Lord Hugh Lord Fraser of Lovat, as taking burden upon him of Agnes
Fraser his daughter on the one pairt, and Alister McLeod of
Dunveagan as taking burden upon him of William McLeod his eldest son
and appearand air on the other hand in manner form and effect as
after follows. That is to say the said William McLeod appearand of
Dunveagan, sail God willing marry and take to his wife the said
Agnes Fraser and shall celebrate the haily band of matrimony with
her in face of the haily kirk, betwixt the day of the date hereof
and the last day of July next to come, but any further Delay fraud
or Guile, and the said Alexander McLeod of Dunveagan binds and
oblishes him and his airis duly and sufficiently to infeft vest and
sieze the said Agnes Fraser, now in her virginity, in all and haul
his triatty penny Lands of Mid Gaines lyand within the Isle of Sky
and Sheriffdome of Inverness to be brooked by the said Agnes all the
Days of her lifetime in conjunct Fee, for the which marriage swa to
be performed the said Hugh Lord Fraser of Lovat binds and oblishes
him and his Airis and Assigneys to renounce all Just Tittle of right
property and possession that he has had or may have to the haill
land and barony of Gleneig with the haul parts pendices and
pertinents thereof lyand within the Sheriffdom of Inverness, in our
sovereign Lord's hands, in favour of the said William McLeod, and
Agnes Fraser his futur Spouse to be brooked possest set used and
disponed be the said William McLeod appearand of I)unvegan and Agnes
Fraser his futur Spouse, and the longest liver of them two and the
Airis meal lawfully to be begotten betwixt him and the said Agnes
Fraser svrally of our sovereign Lord even as the same is now halden
be the said Hugh Lord Fraser of Lovat and that betwixt the Day and
date hereof and the first Day of July next providing always as God
forbid if it shall happen that the said William McLeod nocht to have
Airis meal betwixt him and the said Agnes; in that case the hail
rights to the said lands and barony of Glenelg to return to the said
Hugh Lord Fraser of Lovat his eiris again as well as gif this
present Contract had never been made or granted. And baith the said
parties bind and oblishes them to stand and abid herat under the
pain of four thousand mark usual money of the Realm. And in Case
this Contract be not sufficient they are baith content and consents
that the same salt be amplified be men of Law in the most ample form
that can be devised, Keeping still the substantial heads above
written. In witness whereof of baith the said partys have subscribed
their presents as follows Day year and place forsaid before their
witnesses William Fraser of Guisachan, John Schisolm of Commar,
Allan Mackintosh, Ranald Mackallan Vickrory of Muidort, Hugh Fraser
(Signed) "WILLIAM MCLEOD of Dunveagan with my hand.
"AGNES FRASER with my hand.
"HUGH FRASER of Lovat with my hand.
"ALISTER MCLEOD of Dunveagan with my hand lead by a Notar
underwritten because I could noucht writ myself.
Ita est Jacobus Hay Notarius Publicus
dicti Scribere nescien teste manu propria."
General Macleod in his difficulties in
1794 attempted to sell Glenelg, but failed. In the advertisement of
sale the estate is said to consist of 37,000 Scots acres, and the
stool of oak wood so considerable that if properly enclosed and
preserved it might bring in £io,000 every twenty years. The feu-duty
is is 9d sterling, and the rent at Whitsunday 1795, £1325 sterling.
It was sold at Martinmas, i8io, by John Norman Macleod to Patrick
Crawford Bruce, merchant and banker in London, son of the late Sir
Michael Bruce of Stenhouse, Baronet, for £98,500, an enormous price,
and resold a few years later to the Right Hon. Charles Grant.
The superiority having been redeemed
from the Duke of Argyll in 1802 the lands came to hold of the Crown,
and the valuation of the Cess Roll being £2208 Scots, afforded
qualification for 5 votes. In 1826 Mr Grant's position as member of
Parliament was getting risky and he gave off four qualifications to
friends and connections, viz., to Matthew Norman Macdonald Hume, W.S.,
his agent; Dr William Frederick Chambers, London, his near
connection; Charles Mark Phillips, of Gavendon Park, Leicestershire,
another near connection; and William Thomas Grant, described as
"residing in London," his brother. Grant's henchmen, Rothiemurchus
and Glenmoriston, were in such a hurry enrolling these four, that
there were two of Bruce's equally "nominal and fictitious" barons
left actually standing on the roll for the very subjects on which
these four claimants were admitted. Grant's then opponent, Lord
Macdonald, was equally busy, for he created no less then seventeen
barons on the Macdonald estates.
The picturesque estate lying between
Loch Nevis and Loch Morar was described of old as "a very little
country." It formed the southern seaboard part of the estate of
Glengarry, where it met South Morar, originally part of Clanranald.
The Lovats, who had been so long in Glenelg, seem, notwithstanding
having parted with their third, to have kept an eye for 150 years on
the neighbourhood, and in 1768, when Glengarry was brought to a
judicial sale, General Simon Fraser of Lovat purchased North Morar,
which still remains in the family; and to increase his strength
among freeholders, about the same time acquired the superiority of
South Morar. The estate was suitable to General Fraser in another
way, viz., as good recruiting ground and a place to settle
Flow influence and favouritism ruled after General Fraser's death
may be seen from the subjoined letter of Angus Gillis, dated East
Stoul, 29th of March, 1786. Angus could not write, but the person he
employed wrote an excellent hand and used very correct language-
"Sir,—At the time of recruiting Captain
Frazer's company of the North Fencibles, I sent a recruit at my own
expense on condition that I should be entitled to the same terms
promised the recruits, that is a certain portion of land on
disbanding the regiment. At the time of the lett when the lands
appropriated for the soldiers were given to their nearest relations
to be managed for them till their discharge, J3elladrum allocated my
own share to me; which in the letter of tack then given to the whole
country was named for the man I had recruited. I set one half to
Donald MacLelan, the other to Finlay Gillis, uncle to the man I
enlisted, giving under my hand a security to the ground officer for
the rent. Notwithstanding all this when the tacks came to be
extended the same land was, through the partiality of Gortuleg and
Belladrum, included in Angus MacLelan's tack of Glasnacardoch, and
all my representations to the contrary unattended to.
"Donald MacLelan has, however, still
kept possession of his own part of the land in my name, but has been
warned out this spring the warning I send enclosed and desire you
will draw out a petition to be laid before the Sheriff to make known
all the above, and move him to protect me in my right.
"Please to observe that if Donald
McLelan is allowed to remain in peaceable possession this year, we
will both give up all future claims and leave the place clear to
John McLelan next year; but if he will not agree to this, we will
pursue the matter as far as law will allow us, and keep possession
till forced out.
"Whatever expense attends bringing thro'
to a conclusion will be thankfully payed by, sir your most obedient
humble servant, (Signed) "ANGUS (his X mark) GILLIS.
Tacksman of East Stoul, North Morar.
Stoul, 29th March, 1786."
When Archibald Fraser of Lovat came into
power he did not treat the North Morar people kindly, and he was in
litigation with some of them at his death, insisted upon by his
successor in the entail. Mr John Macdonald of Borrodale, who always
befriended the Morar people, on hearing of Lovat's death, says that
Archibald after "settling the affairs of the nation," alluding to
his notorious meddling, has now "to render very strict account
indeed of his own acts."
The estate of North Morar still remains
undivided, indeed has been added to by the acquisition of the islets
in Loch Morar'sometime belonging to the estate of South Morar. The
latter has, on the contrary, been much broken up; first, the
Camerons of Fassiefern made the earliest purchase of land by
acquiring Meople, signalising their acquisition by removing 54
people between Loch Beoraik and Oban
Letter Morar, Almie, Rhetland, etc., was added to the Glenalladale
estate; and the remainder of South Morar belongs to Arisaig and Mr
Eneas R. Macdonell of Camusdarroch. North Morar, a twelve merks
land, had no church within its bounds.
The district of Morar is rich in
Jacobite reminiscences, and Mallaig, in which Prince Charles more
than once found himself, together with all the country to
Fort-William, after long seclusion and neglect, eventuating in
depopulation and stagnation, is evidently destined again to raise
itself and become the home of a prosperous and contented people.