Catholic Chapels of Moidart and Glenfinnan

by Alasdair Roberts

What follows is taken from a body of work in progress.  It is large enough for a book, although I cannot imagine a publisher warming to the subject of 19th century Highland Catholicism.  Instead it will be presented as scholarly articles (touching on alcohol, schools and Gaelic) for academic journals.  The stem article will be submitted to The Innes Review (the journal of the Scottish Catholic Historical Association) as a follow-up to my 1991 ‘William McIntosh:  an untypical link between East and West Highland Catholicism’.  That 5-page note outlined the story of a violent whisky smuggler from the Braes of Mar.  He fled to Glasgow as a wanted man, saw the light, became a priest, and spent the last thirty years of his life as vicar general at Arisaig.  Now, at greater length, comes ‘William McIntosh in the West Highlands:  changing the practice of religion’.  It is about how what used to be the familiar style of Roman Catholicism (smells and bells, rules and rituals) came to be established on the poverty-stricken western edge of Europe.  The Moidart out-take comes from that paper, except that the local details will be removed as unlikely to interest academics seeking generalisations.  Readers who do want to seek out these details will be referred to the website of Comann Eachdraigh Muideart, otherwise the Moidart Local History Group.

As ‘the Highland Apostle of Temperance’ [1] William McIntosh was hard on priests who drank, and in a letter to Bishop Scott about the unsuitability of Ranald Rankin [2] for Moidart he went further.  McIntosh knew Rankin ‘very intimately’, having been ‘four years a fellow-student of his in Lismore.’   Granted that he was ‘pious and virtuous, sober, zealous, and by his good nature, cheerful disposition and unassuming deportment, a general favourite,’ Rankin was still deemed unsuited for the task of confronting the drink problem in face of ‘opposition from the interested and those on whose pleasures and propensities these reformations may intrench.’  Moidart had been ‘much and long neglected’ – first under an aged priest, then an alcoholic one – and this led McIntosh to make judgements which reveal as much about himself as Rankin:

There are in Moydart several respectable families of bigoted Protestants and indifferent Catholics, so that it would be desirable to have a clergyman there of polite and dignified manners.  Now Mr Rankin’s natural talents are rather below par, his education too was desultory and everything but complete.  In his manners and deportment you find something trifling, not dignified, too familiar with his inferiors. He has no great energy of mind. . .  He is a good Gaelic scholar and, as I hear, a good or at least a fair preacher, and to remedy his want of method and plan in conducting his parishioners, I believe him docile and submissive to dictation particularly from your Lordship;  nay I think he would bear admonition and direction from myself for I am a great favourite with him, especially were I invested with authority as your Lordship proposes. [3]

Rankin had just opened a chapel at Sron an Dun near Laggan in Badenoch, where he was long remembered as ‘one of the best and most popular priests that ever came to the parish, with both rich and poor.’  Part of this stemmed from his reputation as ‘a little wee man like myself, but awful quick and very good at the shinty.’ [4]  The Paris seminary of St Sulpice had given McIntosh a high sense of the priestly office, [5] but Highland clergy were close to the people (whose homes they often shared) and broadly accepting of traditional customs - including shinty.  The first significant change which the Arisaig vicar general sought to introduce was a more ‘respectable’, ‘polite and dignified’ way of being a clergyman – one which was modeled in the Highlands, as it happens, by Protestant evangelicals. [6]   But old customs died hard, and in any case McIntosh arrived at a more relaxed view in time. [7]   Even at the outset of his mission to the West Highlands he recognised that ‘discernment is requisite to know when to prohibit entirely and when to regulate by judicious restrictions such customs and old established practices as are not essentially bad in themselves.’ [8]     Ranald Rankin was appointed to Moidart, in the event, and made a good impression from the start:  ‘He is a pleasant, accomplished, gentleman and a good Gaelic scholar. [9]   We will be much pleased with him in this district.’ [10]   The ‘little wee man’ served the mission well until 1855, when (some five hundred people having already left Moidart after a series of crop failures [11] ) he followed the area’s emigrants to South Australia, departing ‘amidst the tears and lamentations of an afflicted people.’ [12]   McIntosh’s judgement on the man he knew ‘very intimately’ was faulty, in other words, but his criticisms of other priests had more substance. . .

A clear priority in changing the practice of religion was to provide suitable chapels.  As vicar general it was McIntosh’s task, in co-operation with the clergy, to maximise the use of these new buildings through mass attendance, taking account of the difficulties imposed by geography and weather.  Ranald Rankin described the problems he faced in reaching Moidart from Arisaig:

On Friday we walked up to Borrodale, waited there all day but no boat from Moidart, the wind was too high, the Borrodale large boat was from home.  We remained there Friday night.  Saturday it blew a hurricane.  I set off by land, walked 22 miles.  I was glad to remain at Mr Stewart’s Kenlochmoidart [13] that night.  A stout young man that was along with me was fairly done out, he fainted near Colonel Robison’s house. [14]   I got him into a house, powered [sic] warm milk down his throat which cured him very soon.  I was well attended but the cold seised me by the throat.  Sunday morning I proceeded to Langal chapel. [15]

Hitherto a priest might have travelled to where people lived more often than they came to him. [16]   An ‘obligation’ of regular Sunday mass attendance at a chapel built for worship was scarcely imaginable, although tighean-phobuill or people’s houses served for religious occasions. [17]   The use of even humbler buildings as mass-centres was ruled out during autumn and winter:  ‘I go to Glengarry every sixth Sunday, but there is no place about Laggan until their barns are empty.’ [18]   Now that formal places of worship - with seat rents [19] - were being opened, however, expectation grew that people would ‘go to church’ on a more regular basis.  With the post of vicar general so recently established, decisions on where - and effectively how often - they should go remained, to a large extent, with the priest of each mission.      Moidart is a case in point.  Ranald Rankin’s long walk round from Arisaig left him unable to preach at Langal, but his sore throat was better by the following Sunday at ‘the Castle’: [20]   the Dorlin chapel beside the ruined Castle Tioram (where there had been an earlier chapel).  Dorlin was built in 1828 by the Rev. Norman MacDonald, who was buried inside it nine years later. [21]   It included living accommodation on the upper floor which was shared between the priest (who had his own garret room) and the owner, Miss Isabella MacDonald. [22]    There was a third chapel named after the bay beside an ancient fort, where the track came over to Loch Moidart from Glenuig.  Rankin mentioned it when outlining his plans for something better:  ‘A chapel at Kenlochmoidart is quite essential, being the most centrical and accessible spot in the country.  Portandun Chapel wants both these advantages, and is so small that a great part of the congregation are outside be it foul or fair.’ [23]   Dr Coll MacDonald of Dalilea, at the same considerable distance from both Dorlin and Portandun, lent his support:  Mr William Robertson has consented to give the use of ground, and the people would give labour in making a bit of road and levelling the foundation, if some funds were forthcoming. [24]   At present on a short winter day going seven miles, two out of the three Sundays, is no joke, and Mr Rankin’s Gaelic sermons are so pleasing that the day steals away or rather the time slips away imperceptibly. [25]   We meet on Christmas next at 8 o’clock which is a usefull change in wild Highland parishes. [26]

There were problems, however.  Kinlochmoidart was the area’s focus of Protestantism, with an SPCK school already in place, [27] and plans were being made to erect a kirk of the Established Presbyterian Church. [28]   Meanwhile William McIntosh was exerting himself to block the proposal on other grounds:

Mr Rankin requests me to inform you that he has made no final arrangement with Mr Will. Robertson for the site of a Chapel, and indeed it is so far fortunate for the situation is every thing but eligible. . .  A centrical chapel besides being in the centre of the country would require to be in an elegant exposure suitable to the building to be erected.  He went sneakingly about the business and never asked my opinion.  He is tired of attending the three chapels and he wanted the thing done in a jiffy. . .  However with a little caution and prudence and patience I do not despair of getting matters to rights again.  I will take a step over after Christmas. . . [29]

Perhaps the vicar general saw things more clearly than the incumbent, though it is open to question which man acted more ‘sneakingly’.  Rankin admitted he was uncertain about the terms on offer for the site at the head of Loch Moidart, but the effect of McIntosh’s ‘caution and prudence and patience’ was that no chapel was built to replace any of the old ones during the remaining sixteen years of Rankin’s time in Moidart. [30]   Just after he left for Australia, [31] in the same year (1855) that the estate was bought by Hope-Scott of Abbotsford, the chapel was described as ‘a miserable thatched edifice, destitute of everything befitting the service of religion.’ [32]   Rankin’s successor the Rev. Hugh Chisholm described work being carried out at Langal in 1855: ‘Gillespie Ban commenced to thatch the Vestry Nov. 15th – Finished it the following morning.  The work was done gratuitously except what it cost me in whisky.’ [33]   It is not clear whether it was to Dorlin or Langal that Charles MacDonald came as a very young ‘Priest of Moidart’ in 1859, [34] but he was resident at Mingarry before the ‘centrical’ church was finally opened there in 1862.  ‘For years a continual source of trouble and expenditure’, [35] it can hardly have been an improvement on the building which was envisaged for a much larger congregation two decades before.  McIntosh also opposed the younger man on how the upper end of Loch Shiel should be served.  Rankin was addressing the problem raised by the Rev. Austin MacDonald [36] in the previous century, ‘that if there was a resident priest, such as I cannot be, in a short time all the neighbouring district would return to the Catholic faith.’ [37]   The willingness of people to gather for mass, and perhaps for social purposes after, was a matter of concern to the vicar general:  

Mr Rankin on coming to his new mission being full of zeal, and finding a considerable number of people, from various motives no doubt, attend divine service the first Sunday or two he officiated at Glenfinnan, he fancied to himself that he would form a congregation there in a short time, so instead of going there once every three months he commenced going every eight weeks, and he now finds this heavy on his hand and is anxious to get rid of it altogether;  hence he is pressing me to get Glenfinnan attached to Fort William as it was originally. [38]   Glenfinnan (with its Jacobite monument erected in 1815 by a young rake of the Glenalladale MacDonalds [39] ) was twelve miles by carriage road from Fort William.  A major stumbling-block to Rankin’s proposal was that the priest lived in a newly built chapel-house at Ballachulish, fifteen miles on the other side of Lochaber’s market town.  The accommodation for Fort William’s chapel was let. [40]   The Rev. Charles Mackenzie was unhappy about the conditions in both:  ‘The plaster of the low room (though lathed) is as wet from floor to ceiling as the Chapel.  The turn-pike stair at Fort William [41] is not a bit better and the vestry worse.’ [42]   Mackenzie, who left the Highlands soon after, was replaced by Archibald Chisholm.  McIntosh wondered if ‘some arrangement could be made, by letting the Glenco house and the lower flat of the Fortwilliam one, where in my humble opinion he should reside.’ [43]  

Chisholm agreed:

Some of my friends at FortWm frequently remind that you promised when installing me here that as soon as they enabled me to live at FortWm they should have service two Sundays for one at Glencoe, & considering that the congregation (including good & bad) is more than twice as numerous & that they pay twice as much I do not see that this arrangement would be bad especially for the winter season, when the weather occasions sometimes no inconsiderable loss of time before I can return.  What would make one approve of it still further is that I might give an English sermon every alternate Sunday here to prevent the desertion of some Irish who do not understand Gaelic. [44]

Chisholm did take up residence in Fort William and probably served Glenfinnan from time to time until his move to the new Glasgow church of St Alphonsus in 1846.  His successor Donald MacEachen certainly did during his eight years at Lochaber’s market town: [45] indeed the 1851 census catches him as a ‘visitor’ in the crowded household of John McIntosh, sheep manager. [46]         

Donald MacDonald of the Glenaladale family (resident at Borrodale
[47] ) was ordained in 1844.  Never to be connected with any mission but Glenfinnan, due to ill health, he was ‘at Borrodale with no duties 1858-62’. [48]  MacDonald probably used the family coach on the fourteen-mile journey to say mass at the head of Loch Shiel during that time, although he does not appear in the clergy lists for Glenfinnan until 1862.  This coincides with his brother Angus MacDonald’s move to the newly built Glenfinnan House. [49]   Eleven years later a magnificent church designed by Edward Welby Pugin [50] was opened, built ‘at the sole expense of Rev. D. MacDonald, brother of the laird of Glenaladale.’ [51]   Even before the formal opening a high standard of Roman Catholic ritual obtained:  ‘On Sundays and Holidays Mass at 11;  also Stations of Cross, Benediction, and Instructions in Christian Doctrine.  On Week-days Mass at 81/2.’ [52]



[1]       Scottish Catholic Archives/Oban Letters.  Archibald Chisholm, Fort William, 29 Jan 1841.  Father Mathew, who first became known outside Ireland in 1839, was called the Apostle of Temperance.  For more on this see E. B. Ritson and A. Roberts, ‘Scots Highland Catholics and the Temperance Movement, 1837-43’ (forthcoming).

[2]      Ranald Rankin was the oldest child of Donald Rankin, a Glencoe Episcopalian, and Elizabeth MacDonald, a Keppoch Catholic.  She was widowed as the mother of one son and four daughters, all of whom grew up as Catholics.  The future priest was born at Fort William in 1796.  North Argyll, ‘From Moidart to Victoria’, Oban Times, 30 Dec 1950.

[3]      McIntosh to Scott 9 Jan 1838.

[4]     O. Blundell, The Catholic Highlands of Scotland, i, (1909), 131.  Laggan is near Newtonmore and Kingussie in the heartland of Scottish shinty.  A contrast of body types is provided by McIntosh, who was renowned for his strength and laid open the exciseman Malcolm Gillespie’s jaw by ‘a stroke with the sabre’.  Quoted in Roberts, ‘William McIntosh’, 138.  Gillespie’s scar is reproduced in his Dying Declaration.

[5]     The movement begun by Père Jean-Jacques Olier became international as the Society of Priests of Saint Sulpice:  ‘This community exercised a great influence and helped to form for the Church in France a dedicated and devout corps of clergy, conscientious about their duties.’  Saint Sulpice (Paris, 2000), 45.

[6]    On Protestant opposition to shinty see J. Macinnes, The Evangelical Movement in the Highlands of Scotland, 1660 to 1800 (Aberdeen, 1951), 46.  For later Free Church attitudes, see D. MacLean, The Counter-Reformation in Scotland, 1560-1930 (London, 1931) and D. Macleod, ‘The Highland churches today’ in Kirk, Church in the Highlands, 146-76.  The priest Alexander Gillis played shinty in Eigg ‘every Christmas and New Year on the fine sandy beach of Laig Bay. . . Mr Gillis would join in the game, barefooted like the rest.’  Blundell, Catholic Highlands, ii, 200.

[7]    In old age McIntosh made fun of a young priest’s difficulties with a Morar Christmas ceilidh and ‘the Bonnet dance . . . at which the gentleman at whom the lady throws the bonnet rises and kisses her publicly.’  Glasgow Archdiocesan Archive.  McIntosh to Archbishop Charles Eyre, 8 Jan 1872.

[8]     SCA/OL. McIntosh to Scott, 9 Jan 1838.

[9]     ‘Father Rankin is still remembered on the West Coast of Scotland for his gifts as a poet and a preacher.  His beautiful hymns, songs and witty sayings were familiar. . .’  Scottish Notes and Queries, 2nd Series, vii, (Dec. 1905), 106.

[10]     SCA/BL.  Dr Coll MacDonald, Lochshiel, to Scott, 28 Feb 1838.  Later the local doctor wrote:  ‘Mr Rankin is making his Congregation young and old excellent Christians, and we are getting up a School House some of these days where a Catholic teacher will preside.’ Coll MacDonald to Scott, 22 Dec 1839.  For more on this see A. Roberts and J. C. Stocks, ‘Education and faith in the Catholic Highlands of Scotland’ (forthcoming).

[11]     Particular use of Moidart and Arisaig Catholic registers has been made on death rates and potato blight.  T. M. Devine, The Great Highland Famine:  Hunger, Emigration and the Scottish Highlands in the Nineteenth Century (Edinburgh, 1988), 57-59, 64-65.

[12]    J. Ireland, Some Priests of Moidart (Acharacle, 2000), 27, quoting the parish register.

[13]     This is surely too early to be ‘Mr Stuart of Kinloch’.  C. MacDonald, Moidart;  or Among the Clanranalds (Edinburgh, 1889, 1989), 255.  Although a house at Kenlochmoidart is hard to identify for him, it could be Alexander Stewart who was at various times proprietor of Glenuig, Glenforslan and Glenalladale.  Moidart, 241-3.

[14]     This is the Lieut. Col. Robertson, youngest son of Principal William Robertson of Edinburgh University, who married Margaret MacDonald last in the line of Kinloch-moidart in 1799.  Their ‘very comfortable house’ was replaced by ‘the handsome mansion recently raised by Robert Stuart of Ingleston’.  Moidart, 231.  The son of this couple, who later went by the name William Robertson-MacDonald, lived there when Rankin first came to Moidart.

[15]     SCA/OL.  Rankin (Crathie, Badenoch) to Scott, 6 Mar 1838.  Travel by boat remained the preferred option on this coast:  the last twelve miles of the journey from Borrodale to Kinlochmoidart had no metalled road until 1964.

[16]     Glenquoich people ‘were known to come the thirty miles to Fort Augustus, starting at four o’clock in the morning.’  Blundell, Catholic Highlands, i, 189.  More commonly, perhaps, ‘Glenquoich, in Glengarry, [was] attended twice a year from Fort Augustus.’  The  Catholic Directory for Scotland [CDS] (Edinburgh, 1865), 98.

[17]     ‘Although churches were non-existent, meeting-places or Tighean-Phobuill (houses of the people as they were called) were to be found throughout the glens.  There the people would congregate to practise their faith. . .’  P. Galbraith, Blessed Morar (Morair Bheannachte) (Fort William, 1989, 1994), 5.

[18]     SCA/OL.  Alexander Gillis, Fort Augustus, to Scott, 26 Mar 1840.  This is Laggan at the head of Loch Lochy.  On barns, see A. Roberts, ‘Mass in the kiln’, IR, xli (1990), 227-29.

[19]     As shown by Niel MacDonald’s comment (main article) seat rents were an innovation in Barra although they had been used to finance the Preshome chapel of 1788.  In Morar there were complaints from those ‘not provided with seats, who did not appear for their interest on the day of letting.’  SCA/OL.  MacColl to Scott, 9 Feb 1838.

[20]     SCA/OL.  Dr Coll MacDonald, Lochshiel, to Scott, 28 Feb 1838.

[21]     The remains of the Rev. Norman MacDonald and another unnamed priest were reinterred on St Finan’s Isle by James Hope-Scott.  Iain Thornber, ‘Memories of Moidart by the late Sandy MacDonald (1892-1982)’, De tha dol? – 1999?, 16.

[22]     Miss Bell MacDonald belonged to the Dalilea family.  Alexander MacDonald of Glenalladale paid her board between 1798 and 1814 as the ward of the Rev. Alexander MacDonald at Balloch (later Taymouth Castle) in Perthshire.  NAS, GD243/3/3.  After Dorlin she moved to Fort William.  Moidart, 146, 152.  Soon after the Kinlochmoidart project failed, Rankin’s revised intention was ‘to build joining the Dorlin chapel which is too small – in such a manner that the house may be converted to an enlargement of the chapel.’  SCA/OL.  Rankin to Scott, 12 Jan 1840.

[23]     SCA/OL. Rankin to Scott, 11 Mar 1839.  Portandun soon fell out of use:  ‘In this [Moidart] Mission there are two Chapels – one of them is tolerably good and the other is miserable.’  CDS (1847), 76.  There was an earlier chapel nearby:  ‘[Father Hustian Macdonald] . . . lived principally at Altegil, on the Glenuig proerty.’  Moidart, 215.  Aultigil is shown a mile WNW of An Dun on the Pathfinder 1:25 000 map but the chapel served by Rankin is almost certainly the building by the shore at NM 679736.

[24]     Rankin earlier made appeals from pulpits elsewhere:  ‘The country is wretchedly poor.  With your permission I would try the begging system again.  I think I would collect as much in three months as would effect my purpose at Dorlin.’  SCA/OL.  Rankin to Scott, 12 Jan 1840.  This may not have been for the proposed Kinlochmoidart chapel, however:  ‘Badenoch, by Laggan.  Reverend Ranald Rankin.  It is expected that the Chapel which it is proposed to erect in this part of the country, and for which collections were made nearly two years ago, will be commenced in the ensuing spring.’  CDS (1836), 54.  Due to difficulties of land tenure the work was not completed until 1846, ‘on the cold, stormy and incovenient site of the old Chapel’.  CDS (1847), 76.

[25]     For more on this see S. Grannd and A. Roberts, ‘Eobhan MacEachan and the orthography of Scots Gaelic’ (forthcoming).

[26]     SCA/OL.  MacDonald to Scott, 22 Dec 1839.  William Robertson (49) was in residence at Kinlochmoidart House when the census enumerator called in 1851, along with a sixteen-year-old son of the same name who was studying at home.  The ‘usefull change’ may have been from the inconvenience of Midnight Mass.

[27]     Archibald Fletcher (20) from Salen in Mull was recorded in the 1851 census as a schoolmaster living at Kinlochomoidart School House, shown just west of St Finan’s Church on the 1873 map, along with his fourteen-year-old brother.

[28]     SCA/OL.  Rankin to Scott, 11 Mar 1839.  In fact St Finan’s Episcopal Church was built to satisfy the spiritual needs of the Robertson family and dependents, the cornerstone being laid on 12 May 1857, when a ‘parsonage’ was already envisaged.  Robertson MacDonald Papers, NLS, MS72a.  The incumbent in 1861 was the Rev. Joseph Rawlins (32), a B.A. of Trinity College, Dublin.

[29]     SCA/OL.  McIntosh to Scott, 19 Dec 1839.  McIntosh, like Rankin, had early seen the need for a central chapel ‘in course of time when people’s views are more enlarged.’  SCA/OL.  McIntosh to Scott, 18 Feb 1838.

[30]     Moidart was greatly overpopulated in the 1840s:  Alexander MacDonald of Lochshiel took in families from Rhu Arisaig, where his brother Gregor had been forced to evict most of his subtenants when giving up the tenancy, Lord Cranstoun having imposed realistic rents on his Arisaig estate:  ‘The only thing that he could do was to get his brother MacDonald of Loch Shiel to take the people. . .’  Eneas Ranald MacDonell, in Report of the Royal Commission [Highlands and Islands, 1892], (Edinburgh, 1895), 1228.

[31]     Ranald Rankin lived at Dorlin from his arrival in 1839.  He was there in 1841 and 1851, and his widowed sister Jean Kelly or Rankin (ten years his junior and born in Strathglass) was housekeeper.  In both years a female house servant and a male farm servant were maintained.  The widow’s three children, born in Campbeltown, were part of the household although one had left by 1851.  Also at Dorlin that year were the priest’s teenage cousin of the same name (a scholar born at Torosay in Mull) and the MacDonald children (aged five and three) of another sister.  Finally the dressmaker Jessy Rankin (23) of Lochaber was probably a relation, although registered as a visitor in 1851 along with Netty MacDonald (25), a farmer’s wife from Lochaber.

[32]     R. Ornsby, Memoirs of James Robert Hope-Scott of Abbotsford, ii (London, 1984), 233.  James Hope added to his name on marrying Sir Walter Scott’s granddaughter.  A friend of John Henry (later Cardinal) Newman, this London lawyer became a Catholic at Easter 1851 along with the man who became Cardinal Henry Manning.  Langal chapel served a new purpose, on the evidence of ‘The Old Poor House’ at the gate, but when?  Mrs Doris Parrish, the present owner, knew that an elderly male pauper occupied one of the apartments during the second world war.  Personal communication, 9 June 2002.

[33]     Ireland, Some Priests of Moidart, 21. Fr Ireland had Austin MacDonald rebuilding the Langal chapel and building the Dorlin and Portandun ones before 1783.  Mrs Parrish has photographs of the building before she and her late husband improved it.  The vestry at the rear (now removed) is clearly in evidence.

[34]     Charles Macdonald was aged 25 at the 1861 census.  His housekeeper was helped by a maid aged twelve.  By 1871 his widowed mother had come to live in the eight-roomed chapel house.

[35]     Ornsby, Hope-Scott of Abbotsford, 237.  A chapel was built for Glenuig in 1861.

[36]     It is likely that Austin (Uisdean, Hustian or Hugh) MacDonald lived at Austinscroft, close to Dalilea, as proposed by Ireland, Some Priests of Moidart, 20.

[37]     Austin Macdonald to the Cardinal Prefect of Propaganda, 10 Sept 1771, quoted in Blundell, Catholic Highlands, ii, 137.

[38]     SCA/OL.  McIntosh to Scott, 24 Jan 1840.

[39]     N. Cameron, ‘A Romantic folly to Romantic folly:  the Glenfinnan Monument reassessed’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries in Scotland, 129 (1999), 887-907.

[40]     It took time and legal pressure to move the tenant:  ‘Capt. McDonald has been warned out of the house.  I employed Sinclair the Fiscal here. . .’  SCA/OL.  Archibald Chisholm, Fort William, to Scott, 8 Mar 1841.

[41]     The ‘turn-pike stair’ may reflect the chapel’s position next to the stables owned by Posting Masters MacGregor & Cameron in Gordon Square.  Fort William Memories:  A Pictorial Record (Fort William, n.d., 1992?), 65.

[42]     Charles Mackenzie, Fort William, to Scott, 11 Mar 1839.  He described himself as a ‘wandering Jew’, and the near fatal effect of going to Glengarry in winter.

[43]     SCA/OL.  McIntosh to Scott, 24 Jan 1840.

[44]     SCA/OL.  Chisholm to Scott, 25 Sep 1840.  Chisholm reported that the masons had been required to pull down the half-finished front windows of the Presbyterian chapel because the frontage was narrower than that of the Catholic one for Glencoe.  The two churches still stand side by side in the Braes of Brecklet above Ballachulish.

[45]     Johnson, ‘Western District’, 128, 143, 147.

[46]     Seventeen people were listed in this Glenfinnan house.  For an insight into the life of a ‘sheep manager’ at this time, see A. Cameron, Our Greatest Highland Drover:  John Cameron ‘Corrychollie’ (Oban, n.d.).  As a tenant of Cameron of Lochiel, Corrychoillie at one stage paid £1,430 in rent for grazings north of Glenfinnan.

[47]     Bishop Scott often stayed at Borrodale House in Arisaig on his summer visitations, and spent a week there in September 1838.  SCA/OL.  Scott to Kyle, 15 Sep 1838.

[48]     Johnson, ‘Western District’, 127.

[49]     ‘It was in the lifetime of John’s successor, viz., the late Angus of Glenaladale, that the family seat was removed from Borrodale to Glenfinnan. . .’  MacDonald, Moidart, 219.  He died in 1870.  Glenfinnan House was built about 1860 and designed by Sir Alexander Ross.  An older house was built as an inn by Alexander MacDonald VII of Glenalladale in 1753-5.  The West Highland seminary was there briefly (probably in this building) before moving to Samalaman ‘due to too much social life for the students!’  Tearlach MacFarlane, Glenfinnan, pers. com. 31 Jan. 2002.

[50]     This son of the architect Augustus Welby Pugin (1812-52) died two years after the Glenfinnan church was opened.

[51]     Blundell, Catholic Highlands, ii, 157, quoting CDS for 1874.  By chance (as reported) it opened on 19 August, the date when the Stuart standard was raised at Glenfinnan:  ‘The pipes used on the morning of the opening of the Church were the identical pipes played at the first gathering of the Clans on this same spot in 1745.  They were played again on the fatal field of Culloden, and were ever afterwards carefully preserved as a most precious heirloom in the family of Glenaladale.’

[52]     Modern editions give both 1870 and 1872 as foundation dates. Fr MacDonald offered daily mass at Glenfinnan until the year of his death in 1895.  According to Tearlach MacFarlane he had been ‘ordained to die’ in 1844.