Moidart Council Minutes
by Tim Roberton

Extracts from Arisaig and Moidart Parish Council Minutes
from 11 April 1895 to 30 March 1906

The setting up of the Arisaig and Moidart Parish Council Takes Place. The Council was made up of a mixture of Landowners on the one hand and crofters and working folk on the other. There were many poor receiving relief in the Parish.

11 April 1895  Provisional Meeting of the Arisaig and Moidart (A&M) Parish Council took place, at which MacDonald of Glenaladale was appointed Chairman.

The first meeting of the Parish Council was set for 18th May 1895 at Kinlochaylort (sic) and steps were to be taken to open a Bank Account at the British Linen Bank in Fort William and overdraft facilities were to be negotiated.

18 May 1895  First Meeting A&M
Parish Councilors present were:

  • Col MacDonald of Glenaladale
  • Donald McVarish of Rhu
  • J Kerr, Arisaig
  • Angus McIntosh of Cliff (Dorlin)
  • John McWilliam, Blain
  • Simon McDougal of Langall
  • Thomas McPherson of Arisaig
  • Ronald MacDonald, crofter of Bunicault
  • (Absent - Arthur Nicholson, Arisaig House)

Excerpts from the Ardnamurchan Parish Council minutes of 17th Inst, considered and it was noted that the allocation of the salaries of Doctor and Inspector (and house rents thereof) would have to take place, noting that by which time the council do not intend to continue with Mr. SB MacKenzie, as Collector.

Authority given to Chairman and Nicholson to agree terms with bank on overdraft.

Council agreed that duties of Collector and Clerk and Treasurer of School Board should, if possible, be the same person.

Council satisfied that MacKenzie performs duties of Collector for Ardnamurchan properly but, in view of aforesaid, want to appoint another Collector for A&M. The position was to be offered to DW Smith, writer, Fort William at £20 per annum.
The Poor Roll at this first meeting was Moidart 31, Arisaig 27, Asylum 3, Other Parishes 3.

4 June 1895 Joint Parish Councils of (1) Arisaig & Moidart, and (2) Ardnamurchan met at Shielbridge. Firstly they recorded their "surprise and displeasure that the Clerk was not in attendance and that his presence had to be secured 2 hours late by dint of telegraphic correspondence".

The joint councils were unable to agree on medical help for Moidart paupers, with members for Ardnamurchan suggesting £33 and Arisaig & Moidart saying £15.

Furthermore, it was noted that cheques drawn upon British Linen Company had been dishonoured, so security would consequently be offered by the two parish councils.

There was discussion over the requirement for A&M to pay £150 to Ardnamurchan for taking over various onerous obligations. (Note: On 12 May 1905, the final element on this payment was discharged by A&M - see later)

26 July 1895 Dr Nicoll was appointed by Arisaig & Moidart Parish council as medical officer of health from next Martinmas at £100 including vaccination fee, plus a free house at a rent not exceeding £18.

The A&M Council also resolved that the present arrangements for paupers in A&M will cease and that they would intimate an offer to Ardnamurchan Council up to £10 for medical attendance on Moidart paupers for half a year from Martinmas.

4 May 1896 Inspector authorised to have Widow McMillan's house thatched.

8 July 1896 Quarterly payments noted inter alia :- Poor House £21.18.4; W Nicoll, Salary £25.0.0; Inspector £7.10.0

21 October 1896 D Cameron, Inspector of the Poor resigned and Peter Charles MacKenzie appointed Inspector of the Poor for the Parish of Arisaig and Moidart.

9 Dec 1896 Special meeting to revise and adjust the Roll of Paupers and to fix their allowance for next 6 months. Extract examples:

Christina Kennedy, Eilean Shona one boll meal per quarter
Marion MacDonald, Dalnabreck offer ticket to Poorhouse
Angus MacDonald, Langall Poorhouse, admit at 1/5 per week
John MacDonald ditto
Lexie MacDonald ditto
Widow John Gillies, Creag Mor 1/3 admit to another poor house
Donald MacEachan, Keppoch 1/8 per week plus 10d per week for attendance and have him certified as a pauper and a lunatic

4 May 1897 Flora MacEachan of Cross allowed 1 boll of meal and certified as an "out-door lunatic"

17 Aug 1897 Dr MacNaughton offered medical officership of Moidart district at £15 pa. He refused and said he would not accept less than £33. Parish Council backed down and offered £33 and the appointment was confirmed. Dr Nicoll discontinued from attending paupers and salary consequently reduced by £15.

At the same time, MacKenzie (Appointed Inspector of the Poor in Oct 1896) now appointed as well, Collector of Rates at £20 per annum

28 June 1897 Outgoings listed included payments to Mull Combination Poor House (as reported by Mr. Penney, General Superintendent) of £20.17.5 and to Inverness Asylum Account of £25.0.0 and to R Stewart of Kinlochmoidart of £4.9.3

November 1897
Moidart Paupers listed, together with their weekly allowance of poor relief were:

  • Margaret MacDonald, Eilean Shona, 72, 1/8 weekly allowance
  • Mary MacDonald, Blainard, 78, 1/8
  • John MacGregor, Moss, 77, 1/3
  • Janet MacGregor, Moss, 84, 1/3
  • Margt MacEachen, Dalnabreck, 61, 1/8
  • Catherine Grant, Langall, 86, 1/8
  • Mary MacNeill, Kinlochmoidart, 81, 1/8
  • Sarah MacIsaac, Kinlochmoidart, 87, 1/8
  • Misey MacDonald, Kinlochmoidart, 70, 1/8
  • Catherine MacEnnis, Kinlochmoidart, 48, 1/3
  • Jane MacDonald, Roshven, 71, 1/8 plus 9/- per quarter for fuel
  • Christy MacDonald, Roshven, 76, 1/8
  • Catherine MacDonald, Smirisary, 63, 1/8
  • Widow Duncan Kennedy, Eilean Shona, 43, 1/8 (This case is of interest later)

Also Misey MacDonald or Gillies, Alexander Gillies, Angus MacDonald, John MacDonald, Lexie MacDonald of Langall and Janet MacDonald of Dalnabreck.

There were also separate lists of Arisaig paupers, poor residing in another parish for which A&M had responsibility, lunatics in Asylums and lunatics in private dwellings.

The Inspector reported that he had received a claim from Peter MacGregor, Navvy, Kinloch, and he had lodged a claim on Fraserburgh as the Parish of his birth.

Medical officers salaries noted, Dr Nicholl for Arisaig being £80 per annum under Poor Law Act plus house and garden, plus £5 under vaccination acts. Dr Macnaughton for Moidart district, £30 and £3.

The Inspector indicated he was resigning as from 15th February 1898 and the Parish Council agreed to advertise for his successor at £35 per annum with free house and garden (or £10 in lieu of a house).

The poor state of the road between Kinlochailort (sic) and Arisaig was noted and the council called for the contractor of the Mallaig Railway to repair it immediately.

9 Dec 1897 There were 58 applications for Inspector and Alexander Gibson of Dunoon was appointed.

Widow Duncan Kennedy's (see earlier and also below) son enrolled as an apprentice to a tailor, John MacIntyre, Shiel Bridge. (Enquiries had been made about him after she applied for a grant towards his training. The reports had been favourable)

22 Feb 1898 Salary and payments recorded, inter alia to Dr Nicholl (£21.5.0) and Dr Macnaughton (£8.5.0) for service as medical officers and vaccinators and £3 to Robert Stewart (presumably for fuel)

Alexander Gibson also extended his roles (see Dec '97) by being appointed Registrar, Arisaig at £7 per annum as well as Inspector.

7 May 1898 Inspector reported on payment of £3 to McIntyre, being the first installment on Premium for John Kennedy, apprentice tailor. (Minutes 16 Mar 1899 confirm this to be the amount per quarter, namely, £12 per annum).

Rate assessment for 1897/8 and 1898/9 undertaken, split between Poor Rate 3/- and 3/4d; Registration Rate ½ and ¾ ; Arisaig and Moidart Schools 7/- and 9/-; Acharacle School 1/- and 1/-; one half payable by owners and one half by occupiers.

Alexander Gibson appointed Collector of Rates at £20 per annum as well as Inspector (£35 plus house to £10) and Registrar, Arisaig (£7).

Nov 1898 Payments recorded to Kinlochmoidart Estate for "coals" of £4.11.0 and rent in respect of Langall Poor House for ½ year at £2.8.0

Dec 1898 New Parish Committee appointed including William Blackburn, Farmer of Irine and John Charles Stewart of Glenmoidart. Col MacDonald of Glenaladale again elected Chairman unanimously.

Discussion focused on the possible potential benefit under the will of Sir William Fraser (£100), who was buried on an island in Loch Morar. (Nothing appears to come of this)

Allison, the factor of Arisaig Estate, advised that the Inspector's house cost £552 and that, based on an amortizement of 7.5%, the annual equivalent rent was £41.9.1. Mrs. Nicholson was the owner.

10 Aug 1899 It was noted that JC Stewart had been absent from meetings for more than 6 months, but that the council approved of the reason for this and in consequence, do not declare his seat vacant.

There was expressed dissatisfaction at being part of the Mull Combination Poorhouse and lawyers were to be instructed to advise whether disentanglement could be achieved.

5 Oct 1899 It was stated by Glasgow Corporation that consideration was being given to making Tobermory a reformatory for inebriates and Enquiries were put forward to establish whether the council would consider relinquishing it. The council replied by asking for more information. (This enquiry appears quite separate from the issue being investigated above)

13 Nov 1899 Extract: "Kinlochmoidart Estate, coals for paupers £6"

12 Dec 1899 Council advised by their lawyers that no powers existed for the disposal of a Poor House.

15 Nov 1900 It was reported by Gibson, as Parish Clerk, that a name change was proposed from Kinlochailort to Loch Ailort. This had been supported by Mrs. Head, the proprietor who was in favour of changing the name of the Post Office to Loch Ailort and of Mr. Nicholson of Arisaig, owner of the Hotel. Furthermore, the Railway Company had the permission of Mr. Nicholson to call the railway station Loch Ailort Railway Station.

3 Dec 1900 Professor Blackburn strongly objected to the proposed name change. "Kinlochailort was called that when first I came 60 years ago. It is a piece of land. Loch Ailort is a loch"

The Parish Council did not support him and endorsed the proposed change of the Post Office to Loch Ailort Post Office.

In these minutes, JC Stewart is described as "farmer, Glenmoidart".

12 Dec 1901 Mary MacDonald, pauper - ref 96 - refused to leave her present house. Council instructed the Inspector to ask permission from the proprietor (Lord Howard) to have the house put into habitable repair. (The house was in Dalilea. Permission was refused - see 20.02.02)

  • 1901 Poor Roll included:
  • 15 Ordinary poor Arisaig
  • 16 Ordinary poor Moidart
  • Lunatics in Asylum 4
  • Lunatics in private dwelling 8
  • Poor residing in other parishes

13 Feb 1901 Payments include:

  • Mull Combination Poor House £37.10.5
  • Parish of Glenelg £2.10.6
  • Rent Langall Poor House £2.8.0
  • Little Sisters of the Poor, quarterly £2.0.0
  • Paupers' quarterly payments £70.0.0
  • Medical Officers £30.0.0 (approx)
  • Inspector's quarterly salary £8.15.0
  • Collector's quarterly salary £5.0.0
  • Inverness Asylum £24.8.0
  • etc

3 Feb 1902 etc

  • Mull Combination Poor House, half year £28.13.8
  • Inverness Asylum £26.0.0

3 June 1902 Same approximate numbers of poor and lunatics etc.

Also a petition was considered requesting a railway siding at the viaduct at Lochnamuagh. It stated that cod and herring abounded in season as well as lobsters, whelks and mussels. The populace had missed out by the coming of the railway, both passengers and goods because "before the Mallaig Railway opened, MacBrains (sic) Steamers called four times a week through the whole year at Rhu"…."in summer, every day". Now there was nothing.

At this same meeting, J Charles Stewart suggested that alternative meetings could be held at Glenfinnan to help Moidart members, but this was not accepted.

8 Dec 1902 Re-election/re-appointment of Council with Col MacDonald CB of Glenaladale Chairman. J Charles Stewart was appointed Representative of Mull Combination Poorhouse Committee.

A debate took place about the possibility of obtaining rates from the railway. (It appears to have come to nothing within the time-frame of the Minute Book)

The roll call of paupers was about the same as before.

20 Jan 1903 The council also included William Blackburn, A (Arthur) W Nicholson, Donald McVarish and Donald MacPherson.

"The Inspector reported that the paupers' house at Kinlochmoidart was in a very dilapidated condition, and submitted a letter from Mr. J Charles Stewart, in which he stated that Mr. R Stewart of Kinlochmoidart was willing to let a cottage to the Parish Council for a rent of two pounds per annum. The Council agreed to rent the cottage from Mr. Stewart on the terms stated".

13 Feb 1903 Payments authorised:

  • Lachlan McNeil £2.10.0 Repairing pauper's house
  • John MacPherson £5.10.0 Rethatching pauper's house
  • Langall Poor House £3.7.0
  • Dr Nichol £0.3.6 postage and medicine to paupers

18 May 1903 Membership of Council included Rev A MacDonald and Rev D MacIntosh

13 Nov 1903 Paupers' clothing quotations received from four sources. Shortlist of two were H MacDonald of Moidart and Matheson & Sons of Arisaig. Men's and boys' suits (from 30/-) were to be supplied.

There was a discussion over an alleged rights of way obstruction, by Mrs. Head over land at Lochailort.

19 April 1904 First formal budget provided by the Council, complying with the directions of the General Superintendent.

General Parish Rate Fund      
Income Expenditure  
Assessment Arrears
Balance 15 May '04
Lunacy Grant
Medical Relief
Relief of Rates
Medical Relief
Agricultural Rates
Paupers' relations
    Colln School Rate
£1,164.0.0 (sic)

Registration Account      
Balance 15 May '04
Salaries and Reg
Assess Arrears
Ag Rates Grant
Amt to raise

School costs budgeted at £320 for 19003/4

Assessable rental Owners Occupiers
Arisaig and Moidart £5,814.0.2 £5,050.0.0
Acharacle and district £1,952.4.0 £1,285.0.0

1/3 for owners yielding £485.8.3 and 1/- for occupiers yielding £317.5.9 on General Rate and 7d and 6d on Education respectively raising £296.1.10 in toto, plus a farthing on Registration bringing in a further £15 approximately.

15 Aug 1904 Finance meeting approved inter alia £4.0.0 to Kinlochmoidart Estate, £32.10.0 to Inverness Asylum and £4.5.0 to John MacDonald for thatching a pauper's house. The paupers' quarterly pay was £67.0.0

The Parish Council noted that the District Committee did not feel that there was a problem with the Loch Ailort right of way dispute and felt aggrieved that the matter had not had sufficient attention and resolved to refer it to the County Council. (It was alleged that the barrier was removed just before an inspection and that even that was not satisfactory. The dispute spluttered on and then died)

The Inspector reported and was authorised to allow Catherine MacDonald, Smirisary an extra ½ ton of coals and Widow A Gillies, Strath, 1 ton coals during the winter. Mr. D MacPherson of Smirisary applied for clothing and 10/- per quarter attendance on Donald MacPherson (who, it must be assumed was a lunatic in a "private dwelling"), all of which were granted. Majory Kennedy or Cameron, Kilmallie and Charles MacDonald were reported dead; William MacDonald of Tobermory Poor House, "chargeable on this parish" applied for a suit of clothes to enable him to leave and work because he felt able to do so, and this was granted.

14 Nov 1904 Payments made inter alia to the Parish Councils of: Kilmallie, Kilmore and Kilbride, Lochwinnoch, Elgin, Kilinonivaig, and Inverness, totaling about £15, (presumably in respect of non-resident poor from A&M who qualified) plus £32.10.0 to Inverness District Asylum.

Dr Campbell was paid £2.7.0 for two lunacy certificates, Dorlin Estate received £2.8.0 for rent on Langall Poor house and Kinlochmoidart Estate £1.0.0 for the paupers' house.

"The bad condition of the High Road in Arisaig and Moidart to be taken up with the District Council by Colonel MacDonald of Glenaladale and Mr. Robert Stewart of Kinlochmoidart."

16 Dec 1904 Membership of Parish Board and additional Duties:

  • John Andrew MacDonald CB of Glenaladale, Chairman
  • Rev James Chisolm RCC, Kilmory, Finance and Clothing Committee (F&C)
  • Ronald MacDonald, Crofter, Bunacairnb, (F&C)
  • Donald MacPherson, farmer, face of Keppoch, (F&C), Lochaber District Committee
  • Donald McVarish, farmer, Rhu (F&C) - Covener of F&C
  • Arthur William Nicholson, Arisaig House (F&C)
  • William Blackburn, Irine, Roshven
  • James Head, Inverailort
  • John Charles Stewart, farmer, Glenmoidart.


  • Ordinary Poor Arisaig 21
  • Ordinary Poor Moidart 14
  • *Lunatics in Asylum 6
  • *Lunatics Private Dwelling 7
  • Poor in other parishes 14

*Of the lunatics, 5 were McEachans, 3 MacDonalds, 2 McDougals and 1 each Weir, McArthur and McVarish.

15 Feb 1905 Payments to Mull Combination Poor House of £38.14.9, Inverness District Asylum of £39.18.4 and a quarterly paupers' outlay of £70.0.0.

From the rates, the schools received £200.0.0 for Arisaig and Moidart and £70.0.0 for Acharacle.

30 Mar 1905 "Inspector reported that Misey Gillies gave birth to an illegitimate male child in Tobermory Poor House on 15th Inst and that Flora MacDonald was discharged, recovered, from Inverness District Asylum 13th March".

12 May 1905 The final payment of the Ardnamurchan Indemnity £150 was made. The payments to outside parishes at this meeting, totaled £46.0.0

The roll of poor at this time was

  • Ordinary Poor Arisaig 25
  • Ordinary Poor Moidart 17
  • Lunatics in Asylum 5
  • Lunatics Private Dwelling 7
  • Poor in other parishes 15

31 Jul 1905 Budget cast for next financial year at General £1,126, Registration £16.10.0. It was noted that A&M School Board advised that indent of £365 would be needed to cover education deficiency.

Rose Weir was struck off the roll (lunatic) because MA MacLennan of Oban had been appointed "Curator Bonis" and that in return, all charges on her account would be paid by him.

The overdraft limit was raised to £600 under 89th Section of Poor Law (Scotland) Act 1845 and 22nd Section of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1894.

A notice about the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act 1904 was laid on the table.

31 Jul 1905 Quarterly paupers' pay £87

27 Oct 1905 The Inspector reported a re-imbursement of £12.14.3 from "Curator Bonis" Rose Weir from advances paid. McLellan asked for a certificate that Rose Weir was no longer chargeable to Parish Council, who had no further claim therefore to dividends from the £150.0.0 invested on her behalf. All this was agreed to.

A letter from Father MacIntosh was tabled, stating that the roof of the apartment occupied by Lexie MacDonald at Langall Poorhouse required repairing. Also perhaps proper flooring should be put in and the walls wood-lined. The Inspector was instructed to have the roof made watertight.

15 Dec 1905 Col MacDonald unanimously re-elected Chairman.

The roll of poor at this time was

  • Ordinary Poor Arisaig 26
  • Ordinary Poor Moidart 17
  • Lunatics in Asylum 4
  • Lunatics Private Dwelling 7
  • Poor in other parishes 17

The final signature in the book against these minutes was

"William Blackburn, Chairman pro tem, Lochailort 30.3.06"

See also Public Record Office Inverness, Highland Regional Archive ref 253, Ardnamurchan, correspondence and minutes of meetings of Ardnamurchan Parish Council re: division of the parish, re-adjustment of rates, 1892-1894 (g)