As the clearances are less than 300 hundred years old there are many documents and letters which still exist today. Below are a copy of some, which have been found through research or have been passed on to Crann Tara by private collectors and descendants of the clearances. Included is a brief description on how the document or letter came about ion the first place.

Some Clan Chief’s and Landowners had been dealing with foreign landowners some years prior to the battle of Culloden. For example on 16th July, 1735 Instructions were sent to Lieut Hugh MacKay in Sutherland for procuring Highlanders to Settle in Georgia.  1739 -- MacDonald of Sleat and Macleod of Dunvegan also sold selected Clan members as indentured servants to landowners in the Carolinas.

The following are the instructions sent to Lieutenant Hugh MacKay from Georgia for the procurement of Highlanders to settle in Georgia 16th July 1735. From the Hargrett Rare Book Collection, U of Georgia, Egmont Papers, 14208

Instructions for Lieutenant Hugh MacKay 16th July, 1735
You are empowered to Agree with and bring together One hundred and ten Freemen end Servants, to which Fifty Women and Children are allowed. You are to bring them down to Crommarty (sic), where a Ship will be prepared to take them on board for Georgia. Who are to be provided for in the Passage in the following manner, Vizt.

In every Week four Beef Days, One Pork Day, and two Burgou Days; And their Allowance served out dayly as follows. (That is to say)

On the four Beef Days.
4 pounds of Beef for every Mess of five Heads and 2 pounds and ½ of Flour, and ½ a pound of Suet or Plumbs.

On the Pork Day.
5 pounds of Pork and 2 pints and ½ of Pease for every 5 heads.

And on the two Burgou Days.
5 pints of Pease or Oatmeal Gritts, ½ a pound of Butter, and a pound of Cheese for every 5 Heads.
The whole at Sixteen Ounces to the pound.
And allow each Head seven pounds of Bread of fourteen Ounces to the pound by the Week.
And three pints of Beer and two Quarts of Water (whereof one of the Quarts for Drinking and the (10) other for boiling Victuals) each head by the Day for the Space of a month, and a Gallon of Water (whereof two Quarts for Drinking and the other two for boiling Victuals) each head by the Day after, during their being on their Passage.
The Heads to be accounted in this manner. Every Person above the Age of Twelve to be accounted a whole head; All Persons of the Age of Seven Years and under the Age of Twelve Years to be accounted two for one; All Persons above the Age of Two Years and under the Age of Seven Years to be accounted three for one; And any Person under the Age of Two Years is not to be Accounted.
And who are to be maintained in Georgia for a Year after their Arrival there in the following manner. vizt. with
12 bushels of Indian Corn at 56 pounds for each bushel.
100 pounds of Meat
30 pounds of Butter
¼ Cwt. of Cheese
and a bushel of Salt
And a Cow and Calf, and Sow to five heads.
To be delivered in such proportions, and at such times, as the Trust shall think proper.
Each Freeman will have for his Use in Georgia a Firelock, a broad Sword and an Axe.
And for the Use of every five Men there, a brass Kettle, Shovel and Pick Axe will be provided.
And the better Sort of Freemen will be provided with Targets.

The Freemen must be of Gentlemen's families & of good Reputations, and industrious, laborious & brave; speaking the Highland Language.

(11) And to each Freeman Fifty Acres of Lend will be granted in Tail Male and descend to the Heirs Male of his Body for ever; And in Case of failure of Heirs Male revert to the Trust, to be granted again to such Persons as the Common Council of the Trustees shall think most for the Advantage of the Colony. And they will have a special regard to the Daughters of Freeholders who have made Improvements on their Lots, not already provided for, by having married or marrying Persons in possession or intitled to Lands in the Province of Georgia in Possession or Remainder.

All Lots are to be preserved separate and undivided, and cannot be united. In Order to keep up a Number of Men equal to the Number of Lots, for the better Defence and Support of the Colony.
No Person can lease out his House or Lot to another without License for that purpose. That the Colony may not be ruined, by Absentees receiving and spending their Rents elsewhere. Therefore each Man must cultivate the same by himself or Servants.

And no Person can alienate his Land, or any part or any Term Estate or Interest therein to any other Person or Persons without special License for that purpose, to prevent the uniting or dividing the Lots.
If any of the Land so granted shall not be cultivated planted cleared improved or fenced round with a Worm Fence or Pails 6 feet high during the Space of Ten Years from the Date of the Grant; Then every part thereof not cultivated planted cleared improved or fenced as aforesaid shall belong to the Trust, and the Grant as (12) to such parts shall be void.

There is reserved for the Support of the Colony a Rent Charge for ever of Two shillings Sterling Money for each Fifty Acres. The Payment of which is not to Commence until Ten Years after the Grant.
And the Reversion or Remainder expectant on the Demise of such Person without Issue Male shall remain to the Trust.

But the Wives of the Freeholders, in Case they should Survive their Husbands, are during their Lives intitled to the Mansion House and one half of the Lands improved by their Husbands; (That is to say) Inclosed with a Fence of 6 feet high. Negroes and Rum are prohibited to be used in the said Colony, and Trade with the Indians, unless Licensed.

To each Man Servant and the Heirs Male of his Body for ever, after the Expiration of his Service, upon a Certificate from his Master of his having served well, will be granted Twenty Acres of Land under such Rents and Agreements as shall have been then last granted to any other Men Servants in like Circumstances.

Signed by Order of the Common Council of
the Trustees for establishing the Colony
of Georgia in America this Sixteenth
day of July 1735.

Benj. Martyn Sectary.


Hugh MacKay's recruitment of Highland settlers
Hugh MacKay, entrusted with recruiting the Highland settlers to go to Georgia on the Prince of Wales, wrote regularly to Oglethorpe to keep him informed of progress. This letter illustrates the reluctance of landlords in the mid to late eighteenth century to allow their tenants to emigrate. It represented a flight of labour, military strength and, in some instances, capital. Seventy years later the attitdued in 'my Lord Sutherland's House' was quite different.

Letter from Hugh MacKay to James Oglethorpe, dated Kirtomie, 1.9.1735
From the Hargrett Rare Book Collection, U of Georgia, Egmont Papers, 14208


I wrote to You from Thurso by last Post and by the former Post from Inverness. I have since been in the most inaccessible parts of my Lord Reay's Estate and am now in my way to my Lord Sutherland's House. I have now the pleasure to tell You that notwithstanding the strongest Opposition, and that carryed on in the vilest manner, that is by under hand Agents instilling terrible Apprehensions in the People's Minds; I have at last opened the People's Eyes so far that several have a good Opinion of the Project, and were it not for want of Specie in the Country many would embrace this opportunity; But I dare promise that were this Convoy safely arrived and Accounts transmitted here of their being happily Settled, the Trust may annually have what Numbers they please from the Northern Highlands. I cannot say that the present Convoy will be such as I would choose, had I the Refusal of many; Yet all of them will be usefull Hands and many of them active young Fellows and old Soldiers ....
'At my first Coming there was such a Clamour raised against the Business I had to transact that I was glad to promise any Gentleman, that would carry Servants at their own Charge, Passage in this Ship. Had ay Affair lain in Towns or Citys the Work would have been easy, but I had three Counties to travel through; wherein such Towns as are in them I have not got a Man: What I got were in dispersed Houses here and there; bad Roads to Struggle with, the Art of Landlords, and the worst of all the Ignorance of the People, I own I have been very much obliged to the Clergy, particularly to the Gentleman whose Letter I sent You from Inverness; His friendship proceeded from a Principle of Humanity and Christian Charity, Shocked to see his Fellow Creatures in the utmost Slavery and endeavoured to be continued so by their Masters by false Aspersions against the Scheme for Settling the Colony; He did his utmost to open their Eyes, his Endeavours had the greater Effect that he is a Man of singular Piety and Disinterestedness .... Among the rest of the Storys they made up to terrify the People they gave out that the Hen are Yoked four and four in a Plough and so serve instead of Horses.
He wrote again, from Dunrobin on 17.9.1735, and reported that,
'I met both the Lords [ Reay and Sutherland] mentioned in my last; They seem to be better reconciled to my Business than formerly.'

Below is a list of some of those transported by MacKay

                          NAME                                FROM                          DESTINATION
           Baillie, James   00-00-1702            Daviot and Dunlichity                             Georgia
           Baillie, John                                      Daviot and Dunlichity                             Georgia
           Baillie, Kenneth  00-00-1715         Daviot and Dunlichity                             Georgia
           Burgess, Joseph                                       Inverness                                           Georgia
           Burgess, Margaret                                  Inverness                                            Georgia
           Cameron, Alexander                              Inverness                                            Georgia
           Clark, Alexander 00-00-1720                 Tongue                                              Georgia
           Clark, Angus  00-00-1730                         Tongue                                              Georgia
           Clark, Barbara  00-00-1733        Tongue                                             Georgia
           Clark, Barbara  00-00-1695        Tongue                                             Georgia
           Clark, Donald  00-00-1693                       Tongue                                             Georgia
           Clark, George  00-00-1722        Tongue                                             Georgia
           Clark, Hugh  00-00-1723                           Tongue                                             Georgia
           Clark, William  00-00-1727         Tongue                                            Georgia
            Cuthbert, John  00-00-1705                    Inverness                                         Georgia
           Kennedy, Elizabeth  00-00-1711          Inverness                                          Georgia
           Kennedy, William 00-00-1713               Inverness                                         Georgia
          MacKay, Barbara  00-00-1705                 Durness                                           Georgia
          MacKay, Barbara  00-00-1730                 Durness                                           Georgia
          MacKay, Catherine  00-00-1733             Dornoch                                           Georgia


Cape Fear, North Carolina
The voyage of the Jupiter, 1775

The passenger list for the Jupiter of Larne (PRO T47/12) which took emigrants from Glenorchy, Lismore and Appin in Argyll to Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1775, contains a statement from the officials responsible for the paperwork.

The twin pressures of economic hardship and kinship are clearly illustrated in the statement as is the emigrants’ reluctance to leave.

‘Reasons assigned by the Persons named on this and ye preceding Pages of this List for their Emigrating follows:
The Farmers and Labourers who are taking their Passage in this Ship unanimously declare that they never would have thought of leaving their native Country, could they have supplied their Families in it. But such of them as were Farmers were obliged to quit their Lands either on account of the advanced Rent or to make room for Shepherds. Those in particular from Appin say that out of one hundred Mark Land that formerly was occupied by Tenants who made their rents by rearing Cattle and raising Grain, Thirty Three Mark Land of it is now turned into Sheep Walks and they seem to think in a few years more, Two thirds of that Country, at least, will be in the same State so of course the greatest part of the Inhabitants will be forced to leave it. The Labourers declare they could not support their Families on the Wages they earned and that it is not from any other motive but the dread of Want & that they quit a Country which above all others they would wish to live in. Captain Alan Stewart, formerly a Lieutenant in Fraser’s Regiment, goes with an Intention of Settling in the lands granted him by the Government at the End of the last War. But should the Troubles continue in America he is determined to make the Best of his way to Boston and Offer his Service to General Gage.

The Tradesmen have a prospect of getting better Wages but their principal reason seems to be that their relations are going and, rather than part with them, they choose to go along.


I should love my father not merely as such, because he was the son of the wise and pious Donald, whose memory the whole parish venerates, and the grandson of the gallant Archibald, who was the tallest man in the district, who could throw the putting stone further than any Campbell living, and never held a Christmas without a deer of his own killing, four Fingalian greyhounds at his fireside, and sixteen kinsmen sharing his feast. Shall I not be proud of a father, the son of such fathers, of whose fame he is the living record. What is my case is every other Highlander's.
Mrs. Grant of Laggan
Letters from the mountains, 1773

It is not easy for those who live in a country like England, where so many of the lower orders have nothing but what they acquire by the labour of a passing day, and possess no permanent property or share of the agricultural produce of the soil, to appreciate the nature of the spirit of independence in countries where the free cultivators of the soil constitute the major part of the population. It can scarcely be imagined how proud a man feels, however small his property may be, when he has a spot of arable land and pasture stocked with corn, horses and cows. He considers himself to be an independent person.
David Stewart of Garth
Sketches of the Highlanders, Vol.1


In Relation with the Sutherland Clearances

In an account of the improvements on the Estates of the Marquis of Stafford published in 1821 James Kinloch, General Agent of the Sutherland Estates wrote:
   “No country in Europe at any period of its history ever presented more formidable obstacles to the improvement of people arising out of the prejudices and feelings of people themselves.
   To the tacksman, it is clear, from what has already been stated, such a change could not be agreeable.....
    Its effect being to alter his condition, and remove him from a state of idle independence to a situation in which his livelihood was to be obtained by his exertions and industry.”


As for his wife our dear Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland, these were her comments regarding the people who had ancestors living on the land for generations. These comments she wrote in support of her husbands experiment.

     “ We have been much occupied in plans for improvement”, she wrote.“ This country is an object of curiosity at present: from being quite a wild corner inhabited by infinite multitude roaming at large in the old way, despising all barriers and all regulations, and firmly believing in witch – craft so much so that the porters durst not send away two old wimen who were plaguing us one day, believing them to be witches.”


In a Sermon for the Times the Rev Richard Hibbs of the Episcopal Church, Edinburgh
Reffering to the evictions wrote :

“Take first, the awful proof how far in oppression men can go – men highly educated and largely gifted in every way – property, talents, all: for the most part indeed, they are so-called noblemen. What then, are they doing in the Highland districts, according to the testimony of a learned professor in the city? Why, depopulation those districts in order to make room for red deer. and how? By buying off the cottars, and giving them money to emigrate?
   Not at all, but by starving them out: by rendering them absolutely incapable of procuring subsistence for themselves and families: for they first take away from them their apportionments of poor lands, although they may have paid their rents: and if that doesn’t suffice to eradicate from their hearts that love of the soil on which they have been born and bred these inhuman landlords take away from the poor cottars the very roof above their defenceless heads, and expose them to the inclemencies of the northern sky: and this, forsooth, because they must have plenty room for their dogs and deer.”
    He would fain yield himself into tempting allusion that the ruthless atrocities which are depicted were enacted in a fabulous period in ages long past; or some far distant, uncivilized region of our globe, but alas! It is 19th century Scotland.”


Alexander MacKenzie describes the Clearance itself in his 1883 book. The quotations he uses are from the 1853 pamphlet of Donald Ross, The Glengarry Evictions or Scenes at Knoydart, in which the Glasgow lawyer turned journalist interviewed those left behind.

'The tenants of Knoydart, like all other Highlanders, had suffered severely during and after the potato famine in 1846 and 1847, and some of them got into arrear with a year's and some with two years' rent, but they were fast clearing it off. Mrs MacDonell and her factor determined to evict every crofter on her property, to make room for sheep. In the spring of 1853 they were all served with summonses of removal, accompanied by a message that Sir John Macneil, Chairman of the Board of Supervision, had agreed to convey them to Australia. Their feelings were not considered worthy of the slightest consideration. They were not even asked whether they would prefer to follow their countrymen to America and Canada.... The people, however, had no alternative but to accept any offer made to them. They could not get an inch of land on any of the neighbouring estates, and any one who would give them a night's shelter was threatened with eviction.
It was afterwards found not convenient to transport them to Australia, and it was then intimated to the poor creatures, as if they were nothing but common slaves, to be disposed of at will, that they would be taken to North America, and that a ship would be at Isle Ornsay, in the Island of Skye, in a few days to receive them, and that they must go on board. The Sillery soon arrived. Mrs Macdonell and her factor came all the way from Edinburgh to see the people hounded across in boats, and put on board this ship, whether they would or not. An eye-witness who described the proceeding at the time, in a now rare pamphlet, and whom I met last year at Nova Scotia, characterises the scene as indescribable and heart-rending.
"The wail of the poor women and children as they were torn away from their homes would have melted a heart of stone"
Some few families, principally cottars, refused to go, in spite of every influence brought to bear upon them, and the treatment they afterwards received was cruel beyond belief. The houses, not only of those who went, but of those who remained, were burnt and levelled to the ground. The Strath was dotted all over with black spots, showing where yesterday stood the habitations of men. The scarred, half-burnt wood - couples, rafters, and cabars - were strewn about in every direction. Stooks of corn and plots of uplifted potatoes could be seen on all sides, but man was gone. No voice could be heard. Those who refused to go aboard the Sillery were in hiding among the rocks and the caves, while their friends were packed off like so many African slaves to the Cuban market.'
No mercy was shown to those who refused to emigrate; their few articles of furniture were thrown out of their houses after them - beds, chairs, tables, pots, stoneware, clothing, in many cases, rolling down the hill. What took years to erect and collect were destroyed and scattered in a few minutes.

"From house to house, from hut to hut, and from barn to barn, the factor and his menials proceeded carrying on the work of demolition, until there was scarcely a human habitation in the district. Able-bodied men who, if the matter would rest with a mere trial of physical force, would have bound the factor and his party hand and foot, and sent them out of the district, stood aside as dumb spectators. Women wrung their hands and cried aloud, children ran to and fro dreadfully frightened; and while all the work of demolition and destruction was going on no opposition was offered by the inhabitants, no hand was lifted, no stone cast, no angry word was spoken."


Report to The Times newspaper – 1845 Relating to Croick
Behind the church, a long kind of booth was erected, the roof formed of tarpaulin stretched over poles, the sides done in with horsecloths, rugs, blankets and plaids... Their furniture, excepting their bedding, they got distributed amongst the cottages of their neighbours; and with their bedding and their children they all removed on Saturday afternoon to this place. In my last letter I informed you that they had been round to every heritor and factor in the neighbourhood, and 12 of the 18 families had been unable to find places of shelter........
A fire was kindled in the churchyard, round which the poor children clustered. Two cradles with infants in them, were placed close to the fire, and sheltered round by the dejected-looking mothers. Others busied themselves into dividing the tent into compartments, by means of blankets for the different families. Contrasted with the gloomy dejection of the grown-up and the aged was the, perhaps, not less melancholy picture of the poor children thoughtlessly playing round the fire, pleased with the novelty of all around them was the churchyard.  The most telling window etching is "Glencalvie people the wicked generation Glencalvie." - Generations of trust, obedience and faith in their church and their chiefs had left the clansmen unable to believe that these were the very people had betrayed and deserted them. Rather than blame their chiefs, the system or the church, they felt that it must really be their faults. They had sinned in someway and were now being punished.
Within a week of the report to the Times, the Churchyard was empty. Where the people went, to factory towns, or to face the perils of emigration to Nova Scotia or the like, is not known.
At least, unlike some, they left their story and a memorial of sorts at Croick. Etched on the windows of the church.


Emigration agent's letter to Gordon's factor
John Fleming, Colonel Gordon’s factor, who had been responsible for getting the South Uist and Barra emigrants onto the ships in Lochboisdale wrote to the Emigration Agent in Quebec on the 9th August, essentially to say that things had been rather busy, Colonel Gordon had been ill so, sorry, we didn’t tell you that there are a thousand or so destitute Highlanders about to arrive on your doorstep but I am sure you will look after them.
Of course, the first ships had already arrived by the time the letter reached Quebec and the agent was not impressed with the bills Gordon had left the Quebec authorities to meet nor with the provision made for the emigrants when compared to that for the people sent from Sir James Matheson’s estates in Lewis in 1850.

This was his reply to Fleming:
Emigration Department
Quebec, November 26, 1851.

I have to acknowledge the receipt on the 15th of September of your letter of 9th August, the first and only intimation afforded me of the shipment of 1500 Highlanders, the tenantry of Colonel Gordon, from his estates in South Uist and Barra.
The vessels arrived as follows, the three first previously to the receipt of your letter:
August 28, Brooksby, 285 passengers
August 30, Montezuma 442 "
September 10, Perthshire 437 "
October 1, Admiral 413 "
October 18, Liskeard 104 "
A total of 1681 souls, less five adults and three infants, who died on the passage or in quarantine.
These parties presented every appearance of poverty; and, from their statement, which was confirmed by the masters of the several vessels, were without the means of leaving the ship, or of procuring a day's subsistence for their helpless families on landing, and many of them, more particularly the party by the Perthshire, were very insufficiently supplied with clothing.

On referring to the passenger lists of these five vessels, I find the emigrants classed the following proportions:
For Transport £660l 10s 0d.
For provisions £14l 0s 0d.
Making a total of £674l 10s 0d.

The amount of the Emigrant Tax realized by the province from this party of emigrants was £522l 0s 0d.
The balance, therefore, for which Colonel Gordon appears to remain liable, is £152l 10s 0d
In addition to this, there is a charge for a week's rations served out to the passengers on leaving the vessel, for which this department is held responsible, in the event of Colonel Gordon's declining to settle it.
Quebec is practically the only seaport of Canada; and being situated in a country already fully supplied with a population speaking a different language, this city and neighbourhood afford no opening of any extent for the employment of the destitute emigrants who arrive in large numbers and at a particular season of the year. It is in the interior and western portions of the province only that employment for labourers and artisans is to be procured, and these must be reached before the pauper can find any means of support.

Therefore, to convey to this port emigrants possessing no resources whatever, and without a provision of some kind for their progress westward, is to subject them to great distress and certain discouragement.
The first and most important object of the creation of the Emigrant fund is the medical assistance of the entire body of emigrants throughout their progress to the most distant districts; and the charges under this head, including the quarantine establishment at Grosse-Isle, absorb a large proportion of this fund. The number of persons whose emigration, voluntary and unaided, takes place in total ignorance of the circumstances in which the change must involve them, together with the large portion whose destination remains to be governed by chance, are always sufficient to exhaust the remaining resources of the department; and in the season of 1852 there will be, owing to a change in the law passed during the late session of the Legislature, a reduction of fully thirty per cent on the present rates; so that I cannot perceive that it will come within my province to recommend the denial of assistance to the classes here alluded to, with a view to admit the claims of those whose emigration is prompted by the direct interest of their landlord.

If dependence upon the Provincial Government for the maintenance of all emigrants landed at the port of Quebec were permitted to those who are interested in the removal from Great Britain of paupers and other unprofitable portions of the populations, the amount required would shortly prove to be beyond the resources of the country, and exhaustive of its means of employment. The most disastrous reaction must follow, and Canada become at once a burden instead of a relief to the mother country in respect to her redundant population.

There is also another point of view in which I would wish to place this subject before Colonel Gordon. The mere transfer to this port of an indigent tenantry, without an alteration in any respect in their condition, gives no reasonable ground for expecting their subsequent successful progress. The numerous inconveniences which attend emigration are sufficiently trying to every class, and, with the addition of distress and privation, must always induce unfavourable representations by the emigrants to their friends who remain at home. The result is necessarily a disinclination to follow; certainly an indisposition to make any exertions for this purpose. If, on the contrary, the landlord who is interested in the reduction of the population of his estate should extend his assistance so far as to carry forward his emigrants to the occupation of land, or should secure their advance to advantageous employment, the sure result would be, incitement to industry and exertion, and the strongest desire on the part of all to obtain a similar opportunity of benefiting themselves.

I am satisfied that Colonel Gordon, on being informed of the limited extent of the resources of the Provincial Emigrant Department, and the nature of the claims for relief to which it is applicable, will see that to permit the arrival at this port of further parties of his tenantry, in a situation so destitute as that of the South Uist emigrants, will be to risk a result as fatal to the people as it must be unsatisfactory to himself.

I cannot close this letter without referring to the wholly different circumstances under which a party consisting of 986 persons were sent out in the past spring by Sir James Matheson, from the island of Lewis. These emigrants were provided with a passage to this port, food and clothing, and on arrival were supplied with a week's rations and a free passage to their ultimate destination. They had embarked in the early part of the season, and nearly the whole landed here in July, when an unusual demand for labourers existed in almost every section of the province. About 400 proceeded to Sherbrooke, Eastern Townships, where those able to work obtained employment on the Montreal and Portland Railroad at ample wages. The remainder went forward to Toronto, where they, also, immediately obtained suitable employment.

The number of persons whose emigration has been entirely provided for, either by landlords or poor law unions, has been unusually large this season. They have generally been provided with a sum from 10s to 20s sterling on landing here, which has enabled them at once to proceed to join their friends or to reach suitable employment.

Canada generally offers a favourable opening for the reception of a portion of the redundant labour of the United Kingdom; but it is essentially important that emigrants should arrive here early in the season; if possible, in the months of May or June. They should be able-bodied, and prepared for labour in their several vocations, and they should be free from aged or decrepid incumbrances. If then they possess sufficient means to convey themselves without delay to the different sections of the province, according to the openings presented, they cannot fail to secure immediate employment at ample rates of wages.

I have availed myself of the receipt of your letter to express at some length my views on the subject of the emigration of the destitute classes, and a copy of the correspondence has been submitted to his Excellency the Governor-General. I have to request that you will bring it, at your earliest convenience, under the notice of Colonel Gordon.

I am, &c.
(Signed) A.C. Buchanan,
Chief Agent


Proclaimation for the Clearance of the Island of North Uist, Scotland July 17, 1849

The district of Sokas in the Island of North Uist, the property of Lord MacDonald, contains a population of 110 families consisting of 603 souls distributed over the following farms, name by, Sokas, Middlequaite, Dunckeleas & Malligate.  Whereof 79 heads of families are tenants and the remainder Cottars. The yearly rents of these four farms amount together to 382 lbs.  At present 27 of these tenants are from one to one, and a half years rent in arrears and the others are in arrears two years or upwards.  The arrears on these lands as at Whitsunday last and still due amount to 624.5 lbs.

Their lands are in miserable condition and their worth will not value more than their arrears as at Whitsunday last if so much, for the last two years a great fact of these people after exhausting their crop have been aided by their Highland Destitution Communities V the proprietor.  At present they are living upon meal furnished them by the Proprietor gratis.  The people in this District (and other Districts are quickly following in the same path) in place of making any returns for their occupancy form a present and constantly increasing load on the Proprietor.

  This state of matters has arisen from many causes.  But the population rendered superabundant owing to the discontinuation of the kelp manufacture followed by the total failure of the potato crop is sufficient cause to account for a great part of the misery that exists to which must follow if the hands of the Proprietors are not ?  in their endeavours to remove a population the labours of which have been altogether superseded in consequence of the remission of the duties on sale, without any adequate provision having been made whereby their labour could be turned to advantage, otherwise. 

In other facts of these Islands where the population is also considerable extent in works of drainage and thereby in some degrees to alleviate their districts, but as regards the District in question the soil is not suited for small tenants and it is incapable of renumeration improvement by drainage, for this reason the government Drainage Inspector withheld his sanctions from such work being proceeded with in that particular District.  But in order to put the Tenants of that District as nearly as might be in the same footing with the other small tenants and with a view to enable them to support themselves and assist in paying their rents work was provided for them on some of the Tacksmen's farms who were willing to avail themselves of part of the Drainage money. 

This work the people actually refused to perform and one of the Tacksmen was obliged to bring people from a neighbouring Island belonging to another Proprietor to execute the works upon which they had refused to enter.  The actual loss which the Proprietor annually sustains by these people is not represented by their rent and the supplementary aid tendered them.  It must be borne in mind that the Proprietor is taxed for the District in question on the full yearly rental by the government, the County and the Parish. 

The Proprietor in March last warned the whole population of this District to remove at Whitsunday last and Decrees of Removing were obtained against them.  But as yet the people have continued in possession.  To encourage them to emigrate to Canada the Proprietor has offered to remit their arrears and to pay them for their crop & stock at valuation.  The Highland Destitution Committee have agreed to assist the Proprietor to the extent of 2g for each adult and 1g for each person under fourteen years of age.

  And the Proprietor has offered to supplement this assistance by whatever additional sum is necessary to convey the people to America besides sending a person with them to see them comfortable and assisting the necessitous in clothing.  And although the great body of the people petitioned the Proprietor for assistance in this respect, nevertheless the offer which has been made has been obstinately refused.  It is under these circumstances that the Proprietor will be obliged to call in officers of the law to carry the Decrees of Removing into execution to enable him to resume possession of his lands and houses.






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