Official Criticism of the Registration
Records in Aharacle in 1862

By John Dye

The report below comprises transcribed handwritten material from the office of the Procurator Fiscal of Tobermory, currently held in the Argyll Archive at Lochgilphead.
Items of inconsistencies and omissions came to light during a periodic inspection at Aharacle of the local Marriages, Births and Deaths Registers. The books and duplicates were not up to standard and this was reported to the Registrar General in Edinburgh. There was a possibility of prosecution and the Procurator Fiscal at Tobermory was made aware of the situation.

On 22nd July 1862, the Registrar General received an unsatisfactory report from Alfred List, The Examiner of the Southern District concerning the registers at Aharacle

From The Examiner of the Southern District To the Registrar General
Fort William
22d July 1862

Along with the Duplicate Register Books of the District of Acharacle for the year 1861, I have transmitted the Register Books of Births and Deaths for the year 1862 that you may be enabled to take cognisance of their condition.

I did not think it necessary to do the same with the Books of Marriages, as they are unoccupied. I found, however, two schedules, the first, dated Feb 5th relative to the marriage of Charles McInnes, Dorlin, the second, dated June 30th relating to the marriage of John Cameron, Shepherd, Gasgan.

In examining the Registers of 1861, I was much struck with the general shortness of the interval between the dates of the events and the dates of registration. I also observed that the marks were in high proportion being above 50 per cent in the case of both Births and Deaths. This I should not perhaps have deemed of much significance, had I not, at the same time, noticed a want of correspondence between the marks of the same persons in the old Books. Such was observed to be particularly the case with regard to Deaths Nos. 16 & 23, where the marks in the Book left in the Dt. bear a strong resemblance to those in Nos. 11 & 18 of the Deaths for 1862, which I here noticed merely for the sake of comparison. The absence of marks in the unfilled Register Books for 1862 seems to explain the peculiarity.

The general condition of the Books of 1861 indicate inattention to the Regulations and the Example Sheets.

Considering that the summer is the time invariably selected for the examination of Argyllshire and that intimation is regularly sent sometime beforehand, the sense of absolute security felt by the delinquents in that County while under inspection fills me with astonishment.

Signed, Alfred C.C. List

On 25th July 1862, WP Dundas, the Registrar General reacted and reported to those with the power to prosecute on the gross irregularities and clear violations of the Act in Aharacle

From W P Dundas, Registrar General, Edinburgh
Edinburgh 25th July 1862

Sir, I enclose herewith a copy of a letter which I have just secured from the District Examiner respecting the way in which the business of registration has been conducted by the Registrar of Aharacle during the present year. The case is of a much more serious character than that of Kilninian & Kilmore referred to in my previous communication, inasmuch as the Duplicate books both of Births & Deaths appear to have been left utter blanks, with the exception that, in some instances, the signatures of the informants have been obtained.

This practice of allowing parties to sign bland entries is of itself a gross irregularity but it does not fall under the 61st sect. The omission to make the entry, however, seems a clear violation of the Act. The reports which I have received from many Parishes in the County of Argyll this season are so unfavourable that I cannot allow such a state of matters to continue unchecked, and I think that the knowledge of your having made enquiry into one or two of the worst cases will have a good effect, whether a prosecution should be resorted to or not.

In the meantime, I shall retain the Registers, but, if their production should be absolutely necessary they can be afterwards transmitted to you.

I am Sir
Yr obedt. Servant
W P Dundas, Registrar General

On 4th August 1862, a response was made to an enquiry at the Registrar General's office as to Mr List's current whereabouts

From General Registry of Births &c., 4th August 1862

With reference to your letter of the 31st ult., I beg to inform you that the Registrar General has not yet been furnished with Mr List's Address for the current week.
As, however, he appears to be at present working towards Campbeltown, a letter addressed to him to the care of the Registrar there will probably be received by him in the course of a few days. His official duties will likely detain him in Argyllshire 3 weeks yet.

I am Sir¼. etc (signature indecipherable)

On the next day Mr List was reported by the Procurator Fiscal in Tobermory to be contactable at a Poste Restante address at Tarbert

To General Registry of Births &c., Edinburgh 5th August 1862

Referring to my letter of yesterday, I beg to inform you that M List's address till Saturday next is "Post Office, Tarbert"

I am Sir
Yr obedt. Servant
John Stewart, for Secretary
The Procurator Fiscal

On 22nd August, a schedule of criticisms and some of the inconsistencies in the Aharacle Register was produced

At Aharacle 22d August 1862
Examining Registrar's Books

Found no entry in Duplicate Register of the birth of male child of Mary MacNaughton, wife of Alex Cameron, Labourer, on 28 Dec. 1861

Do. as to the birth of male child of Janet Cameron, wife of John Cameron, Arivegaig on 10 January 1862

Marriage of Charles Macinnes, Dorlin and Marjory Macdonald, Dalnambreach 5 Feby. 1862

Do. no entry in Duplicate Book of birth of male child of Ann Macdonald, wife of Dugald Macdonald, Blain, 23 March 1862

Do. as to the death of Angus Macdonald, Kinlochmoidart 8 June 1862

Additional information on a separate sheet:
W Fraser

28 Dec 1861 Mary MacNaughten, wife of Alex Cameron, Labourer - Birth of male
Duplicate Register - Schedule D

10 Jany 1862 Janet Cameron, wife of John Cameron, Arivegaig - male child
Duplicate Register - Schedule D

5 Feby 1862 Chas McInnes, Dorlin, Marjery M'Donald Married
Duplicate Registers - S.C.

23 March Ann Macdonald, wife of Dugald MacDonald, Blain Moss(?) - male child
Duplicate Register - S. D.

8 June Angus McNeill. Kinlochmoidart died - Schedule B - Duplicate Register -