Ewen Lamont and Sarah Macpherson (Picture courtesy of Harold S. Macleod). Ewen Lamont was born in 1817, in Bernisdale, Isle of Skye, son of Malcolm Lamont and Isabella Macdonald of Skye, emigrants to Uigg PEI on the Mary Kennedy in 1829. Ewen was age 13 years when they emigrated to PEI. He was Head Master of the famed Uigg Grammar School circa 1860 and an Elder in the Church of Scotland. Ewen liked to write and he composed religious poems, both in English and Gaelic, some of which still exist. He married Sarah Macpherson in Belle River, Prince Edward Island, daughter of John Macpherson and Mary Currie.
Donald MacLeod of Galtrigill
Prince Charlie’s Pilot
Galtrigill Click to see PDF document from Noni Brown.
Or read the detailed history of the Pilot by clicking on the link ‘MacLeod of Galtrigill’ in the blogroll to the right of the screen.
Skye is the largest and most northerly island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland and in Scottish Gaelic it is commonly referred to as An t-Eilean Sgitheanach (“The Winged Isle”). It has also been referred to as ‘Eilean a’Cheo’ which means ‘Isle of Mist’. The predominant clans to be found in Skye were the MacLeods, MacDonalds, MacKinnons, Nicholsons and MacAskills. Edinbane in the north was founded in 1809 by Kenneth MacLeod who at the age of 15 went to India with one golden guinea in his pocket and took the river boat down to Calcutta. He visited a place where an auction of the contents of a sugar factory was in progress, bought a copper boiler and this set him on the ladder to making a fortune in India planting indigo. Dunvegan is the seat of the Clan Macleod and the North-West’s history is as compelling as its landscape and wildlife. Legends and myth abound as well as intrigue and passion, feuds and bloody battles. Slave trading of the inhabitants around the Jacobite Rebellions found many local folk kidnapped and sold to the plantations in the Carolinas. This trade in white slaves had the full sanction of the MacDonald and MacLeod chiefs at the time and was quickly hushed up when it came to light in 1733.
Historical visitors include Boswell and Johnson, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and Flora Macdonald. Dunvegan was also home to the legendary and world acclaimed MacCrimmon pipers.The MacCrimmons were the hereditary pipers to the Clan MacLeod and they changed the whole face of piping to bequeath the world over two hundred years a legacy of great music.
Pride of place in the Skye bardic tradition must surely go to Mary MacPherson, Mairi Mhor nan Oran. Even a casual glance at her work brings joyously back to life not only herself but the Skye social scene of the mid nineteenth century emigration years. The pleasure and pride that she took in her younger-generation island men and women jumps out from her song, ‘Camanachd Ghlaschu’.
‘S iad gillean mo rùin a thogadh mo shunnd,
‘S i seo a’ Bhliadhna Ùr thug sòlas duinn;
‘S iad gillean mo rùin a thogadh mo shunnd.
Bha bonnaich gun taing is pailteas dhiubh ann,
‘S clann-nighean nan gleann gan còcaireachd.
‘S e an sealladh as brèagha a chunnaic mi riamh,
Gach òigear gun ghiamh ‘s a chòta dheth.
Bha cuid dhiubh cho luath ri fèidh air an ruaig,
‘S cha chluinnte ach “A-suas i, Dhòmhnaill,” leotha.
‘S e duine gun tùr nach faiceadh le shùil,
Gun robh iad bho thùs an òige ris.
Suidhibh, a chlann is gabhaidh sinn rann,
Gun cuirear an dràm an òrdugh dhuibh.
After the Highland Clearances life became almost totally impossible for those who remained. The collection of seaweed from the shore was forbidden and crofters were not permitted to keep dogs. Other impositions included the right of the landlord to demand free labour and crofters were not allowed to remove marauding deer from their land.
By the mid 1870’s crofters were harbouring thoughts of revolt and a new newspaper called The Highlander focused attention on their plight. Public opinion had galvanised against landlordism and crofters began to resist eviction orders. Soon there was chaos and near riot. On Lord MacDonald’s estate at Braes, an old grievance was revived when crofters demanded grazings taken over by the landlord’s sheep be handed back. They refused to pay rent until their demands were met and a Sheriff’s Officer was sent out with summonses of ejection on 7th April 1882. A band of crofters forced him to bum his papers so fifty policemen were sent from Glasgow to Skye to help settle the uprising. One hundred men, women and children with sticks or stones met the policemen and charged at them and, in the scuffle that followed, a number of crofters were taken prisoner. Small fines were imposed but it was clear that law and order had broken down.
An outburst of crofter rebellion then took place at Glendale when crofters who allowed their stock to wander over a neighbouring farm were arrested and imprisoned for two months. Scottish MPs promoted a petition to set up a Royal Commission on Highland distress and the result was a formidable indictment of the Highland land-owning class. However, the Commission did not recommend any official revision of rents and islanders were not content with proposals that did not include security of tenure and fair rents. In 1884 there was again unrest in Glendale and the Government sent in marines with gunboats to intimidate the crofters. This brought the crofters’ cause again to the forefront of public attention.
The Highland Land League nominated crofter candidates to stand as independent members of parliament and this Crofters’ Party became the first Labour Party in Britain. The four new crofter MPs succeeded in introducing the Crofters’ Holdings (Scotland) Act in 1886 which gave security of tenure to the crofter and compensation for improvement. However, landlords continued to ignore the new legislation or made attempts to evict crofters before cases could be heard. Encounters took place later in 1886 when writs were served at bayonet point and it was not until the 1920s that land tribunals were introduced.