Moidart Local History Group.
Dear friends, maybe kinfolk,
I have been researching Scottish/ Clan Donald History for some time and in particular that relating to my family line.
information is that John MacDonald of the 15th Regiment of Foot, served
in Canada and returned wounded to Britian to be discharged as an out-pensioner
of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in 1770. He married Janet Stewart and had
children of Christian, 1779 b.Fort William, and Margaret 1780 and Dugald
10.3.1782 who were born when they resided at Corran.
The family emigrated to Australia on the 'British King' in 1838 arriving in Sydney Australia in February 1839.
The following is from my research over 15 years, and a couple of visits to Scotland.
I have recorded the research and then made certain deductions as to possible connections or situations, [as is the case with the probable distilling of whisky on Innes a' Chulun].
I would appreciate any information as to these families and their probable lifestyle in the 1700's and early 1800's.
I would also be pleased to receive any constructive comment on my deductions.
I would appreciate any guidance as to where I might gain further information on my kin, ie where Ewan MacDonald, tenant Farmer, may be buried ? and where any records may exist ?
I look forward to communicating with you and sharing any information I might have on folk who emigrated to Australia from Moidart.
Ewan Macdonald of Innes a' Chulun, was, we believe, a Tacksman tenant farmer in Moidart; his daughter is recorded in a family letter of 1809 as "of Iniskune."
of Moidart rentals establish the family of Ewan of Innes a' Chulun, as
tenants in Moidart from 1747. Inventories show that there were Ewans and
'sons of Ewan' prior to 1684.
In the Roll of men from Clanranalds mainland estates in 1745:- out of 92 men, 39 were named MacDonald, but only one was named Ewan, [Ulgary.] mac.
facts show only one Ewen continually who is a tenant from 1745 to
and John MacDonald were equal tenants of Inchrory in 1747,
chapter, [The Great Glen], provides an introduction to the
Battle of Culloden the well known [suviving] supporters of Prince
This left the main farms in Moidart without principal tenants.
At the same
time in 1746, the Crown appointed Commissioners to administer
of Donald and Reginald now had to take action to retain
was a tenant of Ulgary before the '45, and when he returned, he
of Petty: 10/4/1642 Johne Corbet had a bairne bap named Christane;
Allan and John were called to testify at the same investigation in
married Angus McDonald of Port a Bhata, and their son Donald
In 1931 a
James MacDonald of North Side East bay in Canada, [Seumas Mhic Domnuill
Bhan Vich Dhomnuill Bhain na Coire], reported that he was related
that the Elizabeth Corbett who married Alexander McDonald on
1. 1684 [Reg.PC
vol.8,p.573] records Keppoch names :
Dative of Finnual Nein Dugald Vc Iain Vc Ruary in Inshrory, in
(a) One who
could be traced back through Ewan, to his father Dugald, to his
(b) The same
inventory records Donald McEwan Donald son of Ewan, Ulgary.
Margaret Cameron, widow of Ranald III, was the principal tenant of Inchrory until she died in 1760.
Tearlach MacFarlane is researching the MacDonalds of Ulgary being family of Donald Gorme of Borrodale, son of Angus X Clanranald.[ref. to 10]
By 1770 Ewan
Mc Ewan Vc Dugald also rented land at Caolas Mor, Caolas Ian
In 1784 &
1785 Ewan McDonald, tenant of Kyles Ian Og, and Ewan McDonald,
above we believe that the son Ewan married in 1784 and after
time Ewan Macdonald resided in the Tacksman's dwelling on the family
Macdonald of Innes a' Chulun [Iniskune], married Dugald McDonald, Caolas
Mor,[son of John McDonald, out pensioner of the 15th.Regiment of Foot],
by Father Norman MacDonald. opr.
Dative of 27th September 1686 :-
Chulun,' is a separate meadow with one dwelling discovered in July 1996
by Tearlach MacFarlane FSA Scot. of Glenfinnan, when studying an early
Admiralty Chart of Loch Moidart dated 1860; he had found the 'Iniskune'
as recorded from the entry in the family Bible, for which we had been
searching for 25 years, at last.
1. Porst a Dunan, [port of the dunghill], is consistant with the shipping of kelp, [fertiliser], in the 1700's from this point; there is no gaelic for fertiliser.
Duin is the name used in the 1800's, meaning Port of the Fort, referring to a large rock on a nearby hill.
2. rental records of the 1700's refer to Caolas Mor, Caolas beg and Craig beg; but the records of the 1800's refer to Kyles, Kyles Mor, Kyles beg.
No reference to Innes a Chulun had been found on previous maps, nor is it listed in any record of rental or tack; it's importance to be recorded on an Admiralty chart would relate to it's local standing as the dwelling of the Tacksman for the area [ Ewen Macdonald]; trees prevent it's visibility from Loch Moidart.
of the dwelling with separate byres, built on usable land [not on a useless
rocky hillock], suggests a substantial farm, and a resident of some standing,
The place and dwelling was known to an aged local member of Moidart whose father took them, as children, to Innes a' Chulun to collect holly.
and Tearlack MacFarlane inspected Innes a Chulun in October of 1997 after
a large oak tree had been cut at the rear of the dwelling and a rowan
tree, saplings and bracken, cut from the middle and perimeter.
It is on
arable land extending past the byre,[10 by 5 yards, with only one door
opening 4 foot high, with stone lintel in place], 20 yards away, and sweeping
gently away to the front and to the right where a second byre stands 100
The brook, 50 yards from the dwelling,[of pure, sweet, fresh burn water], is recorded as 'Allt na Innes Chulun' so that we have the 'a' dropped from the title on the very same map.
entry was from a Moidart church Register with 'Iniskune' as the english
spelling of the sound,[the phonetic], of InnesChulun; this was recorded
by Katie and Ronald McDonald, from memory of that Bible entry :-
The only names which could have been difficult to understand could only have been the name recorded as "Iniskune" and for "Dr" preceding Norman McDonald. p.84.
We have explained
how Iniskune = InnesChulun; the "Dr" is as simple :-
'Dr.' was used for someone who had graduated at a University.
I have examined the ruins of the 6 dwellings on Caolas Mor as a toon, [small village], and the square cornered walls of the more recent building, in conjunction with the two drying kilns, one in the narrow defile through Torr More and Innes a Chulun on the other side of the hill, with the other in the open meadow and the burn running into Loch Moidart.
Uisge beatha, the water of life, required certain ingredients and conditions pure, sweet, mountain water filtered through layers of ageless peat, an even, cool temperature for fermentation, secluded area away from robbers and the authorities, a lookout vantage point, a close quiet anchorage, a quantity of good quality malt barley grain, and a drying kiln.
Innes a Chulun had all of these except for the barley grain, this would have been shipped in from Uist and Locharber. [ 8]
The 'creation' of the Water of Life was an art form known to a select number and required the process of germination, fermentation and distillation,[and finally ingestion.]
The malt barley grain was soaked in burn water for three days to start germination, then the grain was spread out; when the sprouts were about half the length of the grain, the germination process was halted by spreading the 'green malt' over the floor of the grain drying kiln and heating the kiln; the dried malt was then placed in casks with pure mountain water to allow fermentation; at the completion of fermentation, the fluid was distilled off and the 'Water of Life' was casked and sealed.
product of Whisky was then traded with the birlinns bringing in the barley
grain; Uisge beatha had many uses, as :- a curer of ills; a reliever of
pain; an antiseptic for wounds; warmth on a frosty morn or an icy night;
enjoyment in the evening it was truly "The Water of Life."
With the evidence of the Custom House on Caolas Mor, plus the drying kilns and foundations of a storehouse behind Innes a' Chulun,[and no others], it is obvious that the tenant of Innes a' Chulun was a whisky distiller within the legal Whisky trade in the late 1770's on.
It would not take any foresight to see a connection between Dougal McDonald, Merchant of Glenuig before 1807, and Ewan Macdonald of Innes a' Chulun, farmer and Whisky Distiller.
4. THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME INNES A' CHULUN
Moidart was not remote as far as access from sea or loch, for about thirteen years after St.Columba arrived on Iona, Tighernach records that in 731AD the battle of Loch da Eiges, [which historians place in Morven], was fought between the Picts and the Dalriads, in which the Picts were defeated and driven back across Loch Suinart and farther north.
There is an account of the Danes establishing a camp on the heights of Dolin; the local tribe mounted an attack on the Danes but were driven back, fighting a rearguard action all the way to Langal.
Moidart is recorded in the 'Life of St.Columba,' by Adamnan; in one account it records that Columba and five companions fished in the River Shiel and caught salmon, one of ' magnificent size.'
account was when twelve boats left Iona to cut trees for timber to maintain
the buildings on Iona; they returned 'laden with cargoes of oak from the
mouth of the river Shiel.'
This was also one of the places that Somerled had routed Vikings from one of their base camps, and chased them back to strongholds in Ireland.
Moidart = (Norse) Muydeort = mud fiord; (2) Arisaig = Ari's Bay;
That Moidart was central to the defence of the territories of Clan Donald, and their antecedents, at different periods in time, is demonstrated by evidence of a vitrified fort on Eilean nan Gobhar, [off shore from Roshven], and another vitrified fort near Rahoy.
evidence that the site of Castle Tioram was occupied by Iron Age people
and possibly Bronze Age people, undoubtably as a Dun or Fort; this provides
dating in the 4th 5th century. N.M.S.