Clan MacQuarrie:  A History, by R. W. Munro and Alan Macquarrie

84

Major-General Lachlan Macquarie,
Governor of New South Wales (Australia) 1810 -1822
from a photograph, likely of a painting in the Mitchell Library, Sydney

6

 

DISTRESS AND DISPERSAL

 

Many of the allegations of oppression and suffering with which these pages are painfully loaded would not bear a searching analysis. Under such scrutiny, they would be found erroneous as to time, to place, to persons, to extent, and misconstrued as to intention. It does not follow, however, that because these narratives are incorrect in detail, they are incorrect in colour or in kind. The history of the economical transformation which a great portion of the highlands and islands has during the past century undergone does not repose on the loose and legendary tales that pass from mouth to mouth; it rests on the solid basis of contemporary records, and if these were wanting, it is written in indelible characters on the surface of the soil.

Napier Commission Report, 1884 1

 

Over the whole of the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland there has been vast change in the last two hundred years. The balance between town and country has become steadily less proportionate, and with the drain of emigration (near and far) the population has shrunk and the land gone out of cultivation. The bleating of sheep and the sharp 'go back! go back!' of the grouse have taken the place of the cries of children above their desolate homes, and whole communities have ceased to exist.

Nowhere has the transformation been more marked than in Ulva. If the MacQuarries of old returned there today, they would scarcely recognize their island home; those who knew it during the heyday of the kelp industry, when its population and econ­omy were artificially inflated by a short-term 'boom and bust', would find it stranger still.

It was Ulva's misfortune to be without an owner, and in the hands of trustees, when poor harvests and widespread destitution overtook much of the Highlands and Western Isles in 1836-37 - a prelude to the worse crisis which was to follow a decade later. The spring of 1836 was a severe and hard one, and many had no seed to put in the ground. The summer and autumn were exceptionally wet, severe frost came in October, and the terrible winter which followed caused destitution such as was unknown in living memory.2 Inevitably, there had been a period of uncertainty following the death of Colonel Charles Macquarie of Ulva in March 1835. His trustees understood that his Ulva and Glenforsa estates were burdened with debt, and Charles had been trying to sell one or the other at the time of his death.3 In 1836 Ulva, with two-thirds of Laggan-Ulva on Mull, was bought from the trustees for £29,500 by Francis William Clark, a Morayshire man in his middle thirties.4

Some idea of the plight of the people at the time can be glimpsed from the account given by Robert Graham, an official appointed by the government to investigate distress in the Highlands and Islands. When the revenue cutter which carried him was confined for three days by bad weather in Loch Tuath, he later told a parliamentary committee, a deputation from Ulva came on board with gloomy reports. 'They were in a particularly bad situation,' he said, 'but it was partly accidental, from the property having changed hands, and from formerly having been in the hands of a set of creditors, who were very urgent for their arrears. At the same time the new proprietors were very urgent for the current year's rent, and this coming upon them at a time when they had nothing to give made them particularly wretched.' Although he did not think emigration was inevitable over the whole area, here at least, he thought it was 'certainly necessary.' 5

Recurrent scarcity and famine was no new feature of life in the Highlands and Islands, and it is on record that this emergency brought out the best in those landowners - 'a good resident protecting head' was Graham's phrase - who saw their tenants' distress, and were willing and able to help.6 It was therefore specially important to the Ulva folk who was to take over the ownership of their island. About the time of Charles Macquarie's death, an apparition, attired in lum hat, white shirt front, and swallow-tails, is said to have interrupted the festivities of the Colonel's staff at Ulva house, and this figure was later recognized as the new laird. Clark, who had been 'educated to the habits of business', was for long in practice as a lawyer or 'writer' in Stirling, and is thought to have acquired a fortune by marriage. As it happens, we know more about his action and motives from his own writings than from the accounts of others, for by his day the steamer had superseded the overland route to Staffa and Iona, and the houses on the old land route across Mull had no more need to open their doors to itinerant strangers, even if their owners had been hospitably inclined.7

The change held no comfort for at least one traveller, who in his journal speaks of 'roughing it' for a night at the Ulva Ferry Inn, and adds, 'We half expected an invitation from the Laird of the island, to pass the night more luxuriously at his house, ... but it seems we had overrated the hospitality of these modern times; for though he sent his ser-vant to the inn immediately on our arrival, it was only to spear (sic) out who we were and wherefore we had come.' 8 Among others who passed that way while Clark was laird, but who did not stay at Ulva, were Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, David Livingstone, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Queen Victoria herself with the Prince Consort and their household.9

Clark, however, tried to popularize Ulva as a stepping-stone to Staffa, from the commercial point of view. Soon after taking over the property he put the inn in a state of repair (it was the traveller just quoted who described it as a hovel). He let it be known that 'every accommodation can now be given to parties on pleasure-trips coming to visit Staffa, and the scenery around - boats and men being at all times in readiness.' Their services were not always appreciated, however, for a companion of Dick Lauder complained that 'these guides really poison, by their pertinacious attendance, the tourist's very life in many solemn places, and in one like Staffa, where there are such impressive features to be seen in silent wonder, surely the less that's said the better.' Ulva's neighbour Gometra later became the boat station for Staffa. 10

Clark, who brought his father and mother with him to Ulva, was plainly delighted with his acquisition. From the beginning he personally managed the property; being unable to speak Gaelic, he learned the language so that he might be able to talk with his tenants in their ancient tongue - although by his time many, if not most, of them would have been able to speak English. 11 His readiness to listen to and record the traditions of former life on the island can be shown by quoting from his own account of the old shieling customs, and one of the stories which was still current when he came Ulva:

It would appear that a custom prevailed in this country, even so recently as forty years ago, of the inhabitants setting off to the hills with their flocks at the beginning of the summer, and bivouacking in the vicinity of the best upland pastures, where all the families of the district took up their residence till it became necessary to descend to the low grounds in the month of August, when the hill pasture became bare, and when their crops required attendance. Frequently has the writer of this listened with delight to the tales of pastoral life led by the people on these occasions, - when free from care, they tended their flocks among the pastures of the upland common. The men occasionally visited the low grounds to attend their simple husbandry then in use, or to procure some of the delicious fish which abound along the coast; some engaged in the chase, or followed the game; and richly did they deem themselves rewarded for their toil. When returning to the family circle, the produce of the flocks and dairy were put before them, and the feast enlivened by the pure essence of mountain dew, joined to the heart-stirring strains of the bagpipe. Nor in this pastoral encampment were the women idle; much of their time was occupied in the labours of the dairy, in preparing an abundant stock of butter and cheese for winter. When 'baughting time' was over, the females used the distaff and spindle, and, congregating on the sunniest bank, enlivened the task of providing the tartan clothing for all the family, by the simple yet innocent strains of their mountain songs. ... Travelling one day among the Ulva hills, one of these pastoral encampments was pointed out to me, known by the name of Ari-chreag-nah ighinn (Sic), 12 the Shieling of the Maiden's Rock. A countryman, who accompanied me, seemed to regard it with particular interest, and remarked that it was once the scene of a tragic tale. An industrious woman, visiting her dairy one day, missed a kebbock [a round of cheese], one of the fairest and best. Suspecting a young girl, she accused her of the theft. The maiden denied the charge, and pled innocent; but the gudewife, chagrined at her loss, and in order to extort a confession, seized the girl, and, wrapping a'tonag' or plaid round her neck, dragged her to a small rock near the encampment, and let her down from the verge, with the view of extorting a confession, or deterring her from committing like depre-dations in future. Unfortunately, the tonag tightened, and strangulation took place, and the scene that followed may be more easily imagined than described. The gudewife became inconsolable, for the girl was a near relative of the family, and could scarcely believe the vital spark had fled, while her neighbours collecting to the fatal spot, regard-ed her, with the utmost abhorrence, as a murderess. In these days, the administration of justice was summary, and investigation took up little time. Nothing she could urge in extenuation would avail, and an awful example was left to future ages of her punishment, and the detestation in which her conduct was regarded. No formal trial took place to restrain the popular indignation. They bound her in a large sack, amid the execrations of her people, carried her to the Ormaig shore, and there placed on a rock covered the sea at high water, she slowly terminated existence by the rising tide. The rock still bears her name, 'Scair Caristina' or Christy's Rock. 13

But Clark was first and foremost a man of business, and in Ulva he plainly saw himself in the role of an 'improving landlord'. He took a keen interest in agriculture, and was pleased when his tenants saw the advantage of measures he was taking to make his new property more efficient and profitable. With this end in view, for example, he gave an allowance for every acre of waste ground that was brought under cultivation. Draining, clearing of stones, and laying on of lime shell sand went forward with his encouragement.  Formerly the tenants had held their possessions from year to year on 'tacit relocation', but Clark introduced leases - then a novelty on Mull - among the smaller tenants. 14

The farms on the island were divided and fenced with stone dykes - each man's possession, however small, being defined and protected. Near the shore was the arable land; further inland, the pasture; and beyond that again, separated by a dyke running round the whole island, was the sheep-walk, or hill grounds where the tenants' sheep and horses were grazed. Fishing being an important by-industry, each tenant had at least one boat. 15

Clark, whose property also included Inchkenneth and the estate of Kilpatrick in the Ross of Mull, entered with zest into local administration. He became convener of the Mull or seventh district of Argyll and chairman of the roads trustees, and he drew up the descriptions of the two parishes of Kilfinichen and Kilviceuan and of Kilninian and Kilmore for the New Statistical Account of Scotland.16 In the notice of Ulva he gave particulars of a private census taken with great care in 1837, of which the accuracy, he said, could be relied upon. See Fig. 7.

 

Figure 7 Census of Ulva 1837

Total souls

604

Families

116

Males

296

Females

308

Under 5 years

103

5 to 10       "

73

10 to 20 "

120

20 to 30 "

140

40 to 70 "

144

Above 70 "

23

 

In this population, which was more than twice what it had been 80 years before, there were shoemakers, square-wrights, boat-carpenters, tailors, weavers, blacksmiths, dry-stone workers or cowans, and two merchants, all more or less engaged in agriculture. The people were 'peaceably disposed, and religiously inclined'; their habits, Clark acknowledged, were not overly industrious -'too much snuff and tobacco are used; and the females have of late been indulging in tea' - but their general character he found to be shrewd and calculating. For about two months of the year they were occupied in the manufacture of kelp, producing about 100 tons annually of the best quality, and nearly the whole of their rent was paid from the wages they received. 17

By 1840, it appears, Clark had established four single-tenancy farms on Ulva: Cove (also known in its Gaelic form, Uamha, formerly held with Ardnacaillich), Cragaig, Eolasary and Aboss, where there had been 20 tenants in 1834, and ten years before 15.18 Otherwise the number of tenants on each farm was not much reduced, although several substantially increased rents must indicate some amalgamation of holdings.19 See Fig. 8.

The rearing of black cattle and horses formed another part of the island industry. Clark thought that, if the government had restored the bounty formerly allowed, there could be profitable fishing in the island for ling, cod and herring; he also believed that Ulva, from its central position in the Hebrides and its good harbours, could have become a station where a fishery might be advantageously placed.

Figure 8  Statement of Rents for 1840

 

Farm                         

Rent

Tenants

Paying each

Eolasary                     

£60

1

£ 60

Glacnagalan

73

5

14-15-12-12-20

Baileghartan

68

4

14-21-21-12

Bernas

44

4

10-8-12-14

Cillinish

85

5

14-12-16-20-23

Abas

60

1

60

Soriby

64

4

16-16-16-16

Ferandar

64

8

8-9-7-8-9-7-8-8

Ardillum

89

4

12-12-25-40

Lower Kilviceoin

89

3

35-27-27

Upper Kilviceoin

55

3

16-27-12

Cragaig

60

1

60

Ormaig

126

6

13-25-15-16-14-43

Sound & Smith's Cross

43

2

37-6

Ardnacaillich

100

1

100

Uamha

65

1

65

 

1145

53

 

Laggan

80

1

 

 

£1225

54

 

 

The soil, being sharp but fertile, produced the best crops, and grazing was rich and wholesome for cattle. A considerable quantity of potatoes was sold in the neighbouring parishes, and a ready market for barley was found at the Tobermory distillery. The fineness of the climate and the early arrival of the harvest induced Clark to try wheat and peas, by way of experiment, in the spring of 1837. They both succeeded admirably; he makes no mention of a severe season, but admits that later he found that although the land was good, these crops could not be cultivated profitably. Fine wheat was raised, however, to the extent of seven bolls, and Clark sent a sample to the Highland Society, of which he became a member in 1838, considering it to be the first wheat raised in the Hebrides. This was placed in their agricultural museum in Edinburgh 'for the inspection of the curious', where a few years later it was joined by three potatoes dug up in a field on the Ulva home farm, each weighing about two pounds. Turnips were also found to be successful, and they attained great size.20

Such was the somewhat idyllic picture painted by Clark in 1843.21 But in a few short years this peaceful industry was shattered by a blow from which the island has never recovered. Kelp was the keystone of Ulva's economic life, and when the duty on imported barilla was removed in 1845, the employment which had given bread to many thousands in the Highlands and Islands dwindled and eventually disappeared. Hoping against hope, Clark continued the manufacture of kelp at an annual loss, until it became unsaleable.  Added to this disaster was the repeated catastrophe of the almost complete failure of the potato harvest in the years from 1846 to 1848, which brought the fortunes of the Highland people to the lowest point experienced in their chequered history. Robbed at once of their staple supply of food and means of commerce, the crofters were barely able to maintain themselves, and quite unable to pay rent.22

Clark, who is said to have had a dire fear of paupers, was alarmed. The dilemma which brought the duke of Argyll hurrying to his Mull estates sent the laird of Ulva to Belgium in 1846 in search of a remedy. He had heard much of the crofter system there, but his investigations convinced him that -- because of the better soil and finer climate, the vicinity of markets and the comparative smallness of public burdens -- such a system was altogether unsuited for Ulva, or indeed for any part of the Western Isles. He was forced to the conclusion that no crofting system could be made beneficial either for the proprietor or the tenants, unless kelp could be manufactured profitably.23

Accordingly, Clark proceeded to convert a proportion of the crofts into farms for sheep and cattle, which he kept in his own hands. In order to achieve this he warned off a certain nuymber of crofters each year, until, out of a population which had once been over 600, at the end of five years only about 150 were left.24

The suffering and distress of the Highlands and Islands aroused national concern. At the end of 1846 the Rev. Dr. Norman MacLeod, of St. Columba's church in Glasgow, wrote to many of the ministers and other leading men in the areas affected asking for detailed accounts of famine and destitution known to them personally -'we want facts' was his plea in organizing a public appeal - and extracts from their letters were printed for circulation. The Rev. William Fraser, only two years into his thirty-year ministry, writing promptly from Ulva manse, described the state of most of his parishioners as 'miserable beyond description'. Conditions in Tobermory were bad enough, he said, but there people could get something for the money they earned by relief road work and spinning, but the Ulva folk had to go the seven miles to Salen, or 20 to Tobermory, before they could get anything to buy.

'Many of the crofters tell me they will not be able to sow anything this year, as they are now busy at work at their querns, when they are not ready to go to the mill. I was told on good authority that on a farm of 18 families there was not a single particle of meal last week but what was ground by the quern. But, bad as these are, they are well off by comparison with the cottar families, who are very numerous. I believe that it is beyond the power of many individuals to keep themselves in life till summer. It is a common case for me to have an application from a family of six persons, and who did not taste food, as they say, for two days previous, either for the loan of money or what will serve a diet. Indeed, I am glad when I see the faces of many who are known to be in want .... In short, I give you it as my candid opinion, that there will be many deaths here soon unless something be done immediately.'25

Schemes for assistance were quickly set afoot. A highland relief board, of whose administration and methods criticism was not lacking, was organized, and Ulva, Gometra and part of Mull were formed into a district under the charge of a sub-inspector. The case of every applicant for relief was inquired into by him, and where possible assistance was given only in return for labour. Work on the roads on Mull gave employment to many of the able-bodied men and boys of Ulva, and provided at the same time an asset for which the island had reason to be grateful.26

In spite of all this activity, a commission which visited Ulva and the surrounding districts in the autumn of 1849 saw little hope for any permanent improvement in the social and physical condition of the people. The future prospect for the poor of the island seemed to them to be gloomy indeed. Many of those on Ulva were found to be in a very miserable state; but on the other hand, work of lasting benefit had been done. Only the elderly people, or those unfit for hard labour, were employed under the committee's inspector. These were engaged in building a pier at the sound of Ulva; making a road on the Mull estate of William Henry Drummond, son of Lord Strathallan, for which he paid at a valuation; repairing and paving the passage from Ulva to Gometra, to enable foot passengers to cross at any state of the tide; and in building houses for poor persons, including some of themselves. Two new houses were erected for four families on Ardglass Point, which are pointed out today as 'starvation terrace'.27

We learn from another report that the ladies of Clark's household were very successful in organizing the work of the women. From wool which they had bought with £30 put at their disposal, they produced a larger quantity and better quality of goods than any other ladies' society to which similar assistance had been given. This brought out and encouraged 'habits of industry and a spirit of emulation' which before had lain dormant.

The poverty and misery caused among the crofters and cottars by the conversion of a number of small crofts into large farms could not escape notice. Dr. Robert McGregor and Charles R. Baird, secretary of the Glasgow section of the Board, who were the commissioners, spoke freely to Clark regarding the number of persons who were warned away and removed from his estate. The proprietor contended, however, that it was absolutely necessary both for the welfare of the people and for his own interest. He would have preferred, he told them, to let the land be put into sheep-walk in crofts at £30 to £40 rents, but he could not get tenants with sufficient capital to take such crofts. The crofters, with few exceptions, were too poor to take in, stock or till additional land. In short, he saw no alternative course of action.28

And so the miserable process went on. 'I have been increasing my sheep stock, as the removal of the crofters afforded space.'29 Evictions were carried out sunwise from Ormaig, if local tradition can be relied on, and the laird was enthusiastically helped by Dugald McColl from Appin, remembered as a ruthless character. In 1849 twelve families left Ulva - ten remaining in Mull, one going to Glasgow, and one settling in Stirling. Next year they were followed by a further 19 families, of which 13 settled in Tobermory, one in Dunghelia, two in Colonsay, one in Dervaig, one in Gribun, and one in America (McLucas).30 On a single day in May 1850 at least 13 families left Ulva, and the pathetic list shows that the old names had not yet died out.31 See Fig. 9.

In 1851, when the decennial census was taken, Ulva had a population of 203, of whom 49 were MacQuarries, in 39 occupied houses, compared with 570, with 104 MacQuarries and 110 houses ten years before. Clark was shown as farming 100 acres of arable and 4000 sheep at pasture.32 Earlier that year, Ulva was among the places visited by Sir John McNeill, of the Colonsay family, who was then conducting a special enquiry in the West Highlands and Islands for the board of Supervision. He took all the personal evidence in writing, each witness signing his declaration; and among the statements published is one by Clark, the terms of which recall his 'habits of business' rather more than his early delight in his island Kingdom.33

Figure 9 Emigrants from Ulva, May 1850

 

Angus McFadyn

10

in family

Allan McQuarrie

5

"

Hector Black

8

"

Hector McDonald

5

"

Lachlan McQuarrie

10

"

Neill McDonald

4

"

Hugh McLean, Cullon

5

"

Hugh McLean, Ardclair

4

"

Widow Donald McKinnon

5

"

William Campbell

10

"

John McDonald (Ronald)

4

"

Murdoch McQuarrie

6

"

Widow Flora Lamont

2

 

 

 

In all

78

persons

 

 

 

'In the first years after the failure of the potato,' wrote Clark, 'I purchased meal largely from the government stores, and elsewhere. I borrowed money under the Drainage Act to the amount of £500, and have also expended more than £500 in draining and other improvements, from my own private funds, chiefly with the view to give employment to the population; but, finding that the crofters could not pay their rents, and that my private resources were therefore diminishing from year to year, I had no alternative but either to surrender my property to the people, or resume the natural possession of the land.'

The result of his own experience convinced him that property, in that part of the country, could be most advantageously employed in rearing black cattle and sheep, and that agriculture could not be profitably prosecuted except as subservient to that end. Finally - 'I can see not other means of extricating the distressed districts of the Highlands from their present difficulties than emigration, under proper regulations.'34

As a footnote to this tragedy, Clark expressed the opinion that the relief afforded had had the most pernicious effect upon the character of the people. 'It has taught them habits of chicane which formerly they would have scorned.' When roads were being made in 1847, he told McNeill, the contractors found it necessary, especially upon the Leir-na-Coul line (along the north shore of Loch na Keal), to bring Irishmen to complete the work, because the relief from the destitution committees having commenced, the inhabitants of the district refused to work for the contractor, unless at exorbitant wages.

As far as Clark's own actions were concerned, McNeill reported that in the four years 1846-49 the proprietor had expended in wages of labour and gratuities to the inhabitants, not only all the revenue derived from the estate, but £367 from other resources. He understood that in 1849 the removal of the crofters was completed, and that in 1850 Clark had a clear revenue of £221, with the prospect of its increasing.35

The Macdonald regime had ended disastrously for the laird; now the Clark rule was having results that were as tragic for the people. Occupying land that had passed for generations from father to son, many of the crofters were naturally loath to leave. Feeling ran high against Clark at the time, and it was even whispered that, if the people had not been sent away by him, they would have sent him on his way.36

When the Napier Commission came to Tobermory in 1883, one of the witnesses examined was Lachlan McQuarie, shoemaker, then living in Salen, who had been a married man in his 20s at the time of the evictions. He told that he had three different removals in Ulva, each one from better to worse, then from there to the side of the Sound.37

Lachlan McQuarie's story (evidence to the Commission was not given under oath) was that he first rented a croft in Ormaig for £13; another man came and offered more for it, and got that croft. Some time after, Lachlan got a smaller croft at Cragaig, but a short time after he was warned off. On his refusing to leave, his house was stripped by a policeman and sheriffs officer, together with the proprietor himself and his men. Being then homeless, and having a wife and three young children, he took the 'couples' or timber rafter-beams (which were his own) from the house, carried them to the shore, and built himself a hut there, about six yards above high water mark. Being a lobster fisherman also, he intended to stay there and support his family by lobster fishing; but he had not been there above a week when Clark came riding by and said he was vexed for the young children and was afraid they would catch cold. Lachlan McQuarie was astonished by this, and could only reply, 'Why then, if you are so anxious about them, did you strip the house above their heads?' Clark then offered him a house at Caolas (the Sound) at L3 rent, which (glad at the time to get anything) he accepted, and lived there solely by fishing for three years, when he was again glad to leave of his own accord.38

When Lachlan McQuarie was examined by the commissioners, he recalled wistfully the memory of the old lairds of Ulva whose name he bore. 'Were the people comfortable in the times of the MacQuarries in Ulva?' one of them (Charles Fraser-Mackintosh, MP) asked him. 'They were,' he replied; 'they never complained.'39 'Distance lends enchantment' to most views, as the man who made Ulva's Isle a household name has reminded us;40 but surely those who lived through the horrors of poverty, famine and eviction were not wrong to look back on the earlier days as some kind of golden age.

As an illustration of the wholesale nature of the evictions, a list of townships cleared on Ulva appears in a statement submitted by the crofters and cottars of Salen to the Napier Commission.41 See Fig 10.

Some of these families, it was explained, were first removed from sufficient farms to small ones, then they were reduced to a house with grass for a cow or two, then to nothing at all. When they would not clear off altogether, some of them had the roofs taken off their houses. When one of them asked Clark for a house, the laird allegedly replied, 'No; I am not the father of your family.' Another case tells of a very sick woman who was with her daughter in one of the houses which Clark wished to pull down. Notwithstanding her condition, he had the roof taken down, all except the portion directly above her sickbed. The McQuarrie witness already quoted remembered a poor woman being at the well one day when Clark came along; she ran away terrified, leaving her kettle, which Clark seized and smashed in pieces.42

                There was still living in the 1940s a man who had heard about the evictions from an old crofter who had himself been one of the victims. On returning home one day he found McColl, Dubhgall Ruadh, on the roof of the byre stripping off the thatch; so he took a graip to the intruder. Clark later protested to him that he had nearly killed McColl, to which he replied, 'I only wish I had.'43

Figure 10 Townships of Ulva Cleared

Ormaig

7

families

Cragaig

9

"

Kilvicewen

6

"

Eolusary

4

"

Glacnagallan

4

"

Ballighartan

4

"

Bearnas

4

"

Cuilinis

5

"

Abas

5

"

Soraba

7

"

Achanatutha

4

Tairi-nan-Ardruidhe

3

"

Upper Ardeallam

2

"

Lower Ardeallam

5

"

Blar-nan-Corr

2

"

Salen Buadh

2

"

 

 

 

Total

73

 

'By one means or another,' the Salen crofters' account says grimly, 'he got the people away, now one lot, and then another lot of them, according as he was able to stock the land.'44 When the decennial census fell due in 1881, the population of Ulva had shrunk to a mere 53, but the sinister figure behind this clearance was nearing the end of his half-century as proprietor. Francis William Clark of Ulva died on 17 September 1887, in his 88th year; they buried him in the exclusive little family graveyard set on top of the rocky knoll of Dunvormie, near Ulva House, beside his wife Agnes Wright, who had died before him in 1859 after 34 years of married life.45 Their only son (also Francis William) died at Glasgow almost a year before his father, in November 1886, so the succession opened to a grandson of the same name, born at Ulva in 1857. It is a matter of conjecture whether this intervening generation might, if things had gone differently, have mitigated the misfortunes of Ulva and its people. Following his father's profession, but in another branch of the law, he passed advocate in the year of McNeill's visit, and rose to be sheriff of Lanark, one of the largest and most populous counties of Scotland. 'Simple and natural in life and manners,' it was said of him when he died, 'no man was freer from all approach to self-assurance and self-importance'; and elsewhere 'urbanity and courteousness assumed in him too much the place of self-reliance and firmness' to make him a strong or a great judge. He published a two-volume work on the law of partnership and joint-stock companies according to the law of Scotland, which he dedicated to Lord Colonsay (brother of Sir John McNeill already mentioned), was associated with Professor J. S. Blackie in founding the chair of Celtic at Edinburgh University, and was an honorary LLD of Glas­gow University.46 Here surely was a man of different stamp from his father: it was remembered that as a young man in his early twenties he used to pace up and down the corridors of Ulva House in fury, telling his father that he could send the tenants away to America or wherever he wished, but he would have them all back again when he became proprietor of Ulva. It was the idle dream of a young enthusiast who, it was also said, would point to the derelict houses on the southern shore and the flocks of sheep on the slopes above, and declare that he would rather have one old cailleach in each house to give him a light for his pipe than all the sheep on Ulva.47 The old memories were perhaps too highly coloured, and it was not to be; although Sheriff Clark's widow, Catherine MacLachlan (whose family had some experience of land management in Mull and Morvern), seems to have shared in the ownership of Ulva after her father-in-law's death.48

The Clark family is now only a memory in Ulva. The grandson who succeeded lived until 1935, and his widow looked after the island while their son (another Francis William) served in the army with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.49 Major Clark died of wounds at Monte Cassino during the Italian campaign in the Second World War, leaving an infant son,50 and Ulva was sold to Lady Congleton granddaughter of Lord Strathcona, who as Donald Smith helped found the Canadian Pacific Railway. Lady Congleton passed Ulva on to her daughter Jean Howard and Mrs. Howard's son James, who are in charge of the isle as this book is being published.

 

Notes and References - Chapter 6, Distress and Dispersal

1. Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Condition of the Crofters and Cottars in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland (PP 1884 XXXII, Lord Napier Chairman) 2, 9, 110, hereafter referred to as Napier Commission.

2. Eric Richards, A History of the Highland Clearances (1982), i 228; John N.MacLeod, Memorials of Rev. Dr. Norman MacLeod, senior (1888), 125ff, 141-2; E.Mairi MacArthur, Iona, 1750-1914 (1990), 63-4.

3. Trustees' minute of 11 Apr 1835; Lochbuie Papers, SRO GD 174/35.

4. Clark had sasine of the lands in May 1836, on charter by trustee of George William 6th Duke of Argyll & disposition by trustees of Lt. Col. Charles Macquarie of Ulva; Argyll Sasines, 1831-40, abstracts 920-2 & supplement, also 1390, 1567, for L5000 borrowed & repaid; F.W.Clark in Sir John McNeill, Report of the Bd. of Sup. ... Highlands & Is. (1851), App. A, Minutes of Evidence, 10-11; ltr of Murdoch Maclaine of Lochbuie to Lachlan Macquarie, Scots Greys, Edinburgh, 8 Dec 1835 (SRO GD 174).

5. First Report of the Sel. Comm. on Emig., Scot. (PP, 1841, vi), 47. When claims for government assistance were brought before parliament, neither Lord John Russell nor Sir Robert Peel was willing to support financial assistance, and the only concession was the appointment of this committee under Henry James Baillie of Redcastle, MP, to enquire into the condition of the Islands & Highlands, and into the practicability of affording relief by means of emigration; J.P.Day, Pub. Admin. in the High. & Is. of Scot. (1918), 87-8.

6. Richards, Clearances, i, 228; Macleod, Memorials, 126; Graham's evidence in Select Committee Report, 26.

7. Clark in McNeill, Report, app.A, 10-11. Some information in this chapter is drawn from lengthy conversations the author had in Aug 1940 with the John MacGillivray, Gribun, who died 19 Jan 1950, aged 82. He came from an old Mull family, had rented a croft in Gribun for 16 years and for 15 years been manager on the Ulva estate. In 1904 there were two islanders, both about 80 years old, from whom he learnt of earlier times on the island.

8. C.H.Townshend, A Descriptive Tour in Scotland (1840), 131.

9. James Wilson, A Voyage round ... Scot. & the Is. (1842), i, v, 116-7; T.Dick Lauder, Scottish Rivers (1890 edn), vii; W.G.Blaikie, Per. Life of Dav. Livingstone, 3, 287-8; Greenhill Gardyne, Records of a Quiet Life, 235; Letters of Robert L. Stevenson, ed. Booth & Mehew (1994), i, 198-202; Queen Victoria, Leaves from the J. ... High. from 1848 to 1861 (2nd edn. 1868) 84-6.

10. George & Peter Anderson, Guide to the High. & Is. of Scot. (1834), 307-8; New Stat. Acc. of Scot. vii (Argyle), 350; Townshend, Descriptive Tour 130-1; Wilson, Voyage, i, 116-7; Summer Tours in Scot. ... McBrayne's Royal Mail Steamers (new edn 1902), 50.

11. Francis Clark died at Ulva House 8 Jan 1851, aged 72, his wife Clementina Anderson 20 Mar 1864, aged 89; memorial inscription at Dunvormie (Dun Bhioramuill), Ulva. F.W.Clark in McNeill, Report, app. A, 10-11; NSA Argyle, 353.

12. i.e., Airigh Chreaga na-h-Inghinn.

13. Clark in NSA Argyle, 346-7.

14. Ibid., 348

15. Ibid.

16. J.S.Blackie, Altavona (1882), 163; From John MacGillivray, Gribun 15 Aug 1940; Greenhill Gardyne, Life, 237; NSA Argyle, 296-329, 339-59; McNeill, Report, app. A, 10.

17. NSA Argyle, 353, 348; McNeill, Report, app. A, 10.

18. NSA Argyle, 353, 348; McNeill, Report, app. A, 10.

19. Rentroll of 1840 drawn up by Neil Morison. A copy of this rentroll, in the possession of C.R.Morison, Tobermory, was shown by him to RWM, 28 Apr 1939. It was drawn up by his father, inspector of the poor of the parish of Kilninian & Kilmore for 53 years, on information supplied to him by crofters when he was in Ulva at the time of the distress. The total compares with Clark's statement to McNeill, giving the gross rental of the property for the first four years after he took possession, not deducting public burdens & man­agement, as averaging £1100, which was actually realized; McNeill, Report, app. A, 10.

20. NSA Argyle, 347-8; A.Ramsay, Hist. of the High. & Agri. Soc. of Scot., 470.

21. Clark's account of Kilninian & Kilmore parish is dated Sep 1843; NSA Argyle, 359.

22. Clark in McNeill, Report, app. A, 10-1; Scottish Economic Committee, The Highlands and Islands of Scotland (1938). 15-7.

23. John McCallum, solicitor in Tobermory, Napier Comm. Evidence iii, 2249; G.D. Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll, Autobiog. & Memoirs (1906), i, 285-92; Clark in McNeill Report, app. A, 10-1. Dr. John Mackenzie, factor at Gairloch, who had already urged the need to improve crofters' cultivation by adopting Flemish husbandry methods, visited Belgium by invitation of the government & arrived at 'a precisely opposite conclusion from Clark's'. He opposed the cry of 'emigrate' put forward by McNeill & others as the sole remedy for highland destitution.; Mackenzie, Ltr. to Lord John Russell ... McNeill's Report... High. & Is. of Scot. (1851), 5, 22,

24. Mackenzie's plans for Gairloch met with opposition from the crofters, & reforms introduced did not follow lines he had proposed; J.B.Caird in Peoples & Settlement in North-West Ross, ed. J.R.Baldwin (1994), 143-56. 24. McNeill, Report, app. A, 10; Malcolm Gray, The High. Econ. 1750-1850 (1957), 97.

25. Extracts from Ltrs. to the Rev.Dr.MacLeod, ...Famine & Destitution in the High. & Is. of Scot. (72pp, 1847), 39-40; This ltr., dated 25 Dec 1846, was obviously written in haste, & two minor errors in wording have been corrected. On the use of querns (a rude instrument for grinding corn), Carr was told in 1807 that it was then 'wholly discontinued' in the High. & Is., including Ulva, where modern water-mills were in general use (Cal. Sketches 497-8). MacLeod, Memorials, 215ff; Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, iv 124.

26. Report on the Is. of Mull, Ulva, ... & part ... of Morvern, by a Deputation of the Glasgow Section of the High. Relief Bd. (Oct 1849). Alexander G. Farrow was sub­inspector for the district until Aug 1848, when Ewen MacLachlan sub-inspector of Kilfinichen district replaced him. Charles Macquarie, merchant in Bunessan, was inspector for the Ross of Mull & Iona, & gave evidence to Sir John McNeill in 1851 (Report, app. A, 3-4); he is remembered as a Baptist pastor & author of religious verse in Gaelic.

27, 28. Ibid.

29. Clark in McNeill, Report, app. A, 10.

30. Dr. Hector McColl, Tobermory, in ibid., 14.

31. Rev. David Ross, Tobermory, in ibid., 12.

32. Census Enumerators' Schedules (1841), Edinburgh, Gen. Reg. Off.

33, 34. McNeill, Report (see note 4 above), See also Appendix III below

35. Ibid. xvii-xviii.

36. John McCallum in Napier Commission, Evidence, iii, 2249.

37, 38. John McQuarie in ibid. iii 2254-5.

39. Ibid., iii 2258.

40. The line is from T.Campbell, The Pleasures of Hope, Part i, Stanza i. He was a tutor at Sunipol, north of Calgary, and wrote the poem Lord Ullin's Daughter.

41. 42. Napier Commission, Evidence, iii 2254-5.

43. Information from John MacGillivray, Gribun, Aug 1940.

44. Napier Commission, Evidence, iii, 2254.

45. Memorial Inscription at Dunvormie (Dun Bhioramuill); Register of Deaths, Kilninian & Kilmore (1859), spells it Dunviramule.

46. Mem. Inscrip. at Dunvormie; Faculty of Advocates of Scot., F.J.Grant (1944), 35-6; The Scotsman & Glasgow Hearld, 17 Nov 1886; Stoddart, John Stuart Blackie: a Biog. (1895), ii 213-4. Sheriff Clark was educated at Stirling High School & Edinburgh Acad.

47. Information from John MacGillivray, Gribun, Aug 1940.

48. Norah Munro Mackenzie, Lady Fairfax-Lucy, Hebridean Childhood (1981), 86. For MacLachlans of Killiemore (Mull) & Laudale (Morvern), see J.P.MacLean, Hist. of the Is. of Mull (1925), ii, 126, 148; Philip Gaskell, Morvern Transformed (1968), 163.

49. F.W.Clark (1857-1935), educated Glasgow Univ. (MA) & Balliol College, Oxford; barrister of the Inner Temple but didn't practice; member of Argyll County Council, 1900-32 (Walford, County Families of the United Kingdom (1888); The Scotsman, 3, 4 Oct 1935). His widow Caroline, dau. of Crompton Hutton of Harescombe Grange, Gloucestershire, gave RWM access to Macquarie papers & other MSS at Ulva House, which in 1947 she deposited in the NLS (MS 3833). Their son, the 4th Francis William Clark, was commissioned in 1932, served in China, India, Palestine, to Commandos in Italy; reported wounded & missing Feb 1944, death confirmed Apr 1945 (The Scotsman, 17 Jun 1944, Oban Times, 7, 12 Apr 1945).

50. Clark was married at Callander 25 Apr 1940 to Cecilia, eldest daughter of Captain & Mrs. Murray Buchanan of Leny (Oban Times, 4 May 1940); their son Francis Malcolm Clark (The Scotsman, 17 Sep 1970).

 


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