Emigration from the Clanranald Estates
by John Dye

Emigration from the Clanranald estates

In his "Antiquarian Notes" Charles Fraser-Mackintosh remarks that he had not come across any instances of tenants being evicted from Clanranald properties except in l790, when about 110 were evicted from Ardnafueran. (That was the old name for Arisaig).
There is a rare but interesting book in the library of Toronto University - written by Rev. John Lane Buchanan and published in London in 1795. He had been a Presbyterian Missionary to the Isles and lived and travelled there from 1782 to 1790. Generally he is favourable to the Islanders, and his book gives an interesting account of life in the Hebrides and the social and economic conditions.
He says that the Clanranald Chieftain (this would be John, 19th Chieftain) was
a sensible and sprightly man, and of tolerable disposition, but that a set of interested m(en?) had prevailed on his easy disposition, and that he had turned out or evicted several hundred souls and given the farms to a few favourites. Those evicted were substantial farmers, not ousted by poverty, and having means to go abroad, preferred to do so rather than truckle down and have their children reduced to "Scallags." Mr. Buchanan went on to say that there was a common notion that only the poor emigrated, but that this was a great mistake, and that only people of some property, and that not inconsiderable, could afford to do so.
This is a summary of pages 28 and 29 of the book referred to viz.:

"Travels in the Western Hebrides"
Sept. 9/47

A somewhat similar viewpoint was expressed in a report made on Knoydart, Scotland in 1786 by Bishop Alexander MacDonald, when referring to the 500 Catholics who were about to emigrate to Glengarry, Canada. He said they could not stop these emigrations but that they had injured the missions and would do so, because those who emigrated were just the people who were a little better off - and from whom the Priest received hospitality on his journeys. Those who remained, on the other hand, were mostly those who could not afford the cost of emigration and who were also quite unable to help the priest. Hence it happened that the condition of the priests grew daily more difficult.

Sept. 9/47