2006 I had a holiday in Ireland and Scotland, besides visiting relatives it was great to see the places I had become familiar with over the last few decades through books and microfilm, great fun! I was able to spend several days at Edinburgh, home of the National Archives of Scotland.
NAS was a joy to visit, it was awe inspiring to sit with a centuries old document, noticing the ink sparkle from light reflected off the grains of sand sprinkled on the wet ink by the writer to speed it's drying.
The following notes are based on several documents I requested photocopies of then, time and finances prevented me from requesting more, leaving me a good excuse for a return visit some day. The online index of NAS includes some general information regarding the documents, however, what follows are my notes based on information in them relevant to genealogy or history of Coigach.
This is an undated document, apparantly written 1746. It is a deposition from Murdoch MacLean, he states that Alexander MacKenzie of Corrie held Achnahaird in Tack for 11 or 12 years till April 1746 when he was arrested for participation in the Rebellion (so,... from about 1734 or '35). He states that Achnahaird had been laid waste following the Rebellion, except for the outskirts of the land, occupied by the following people;
the rent paid by the last two is indistinct, though a very similar list in the Mitford Manuscript (mitford.htm) says they paid six merks each.
My assumption is Murdoch was paying for two families, perhaps his own and a widowed mother with his younger siblings.
The first seven (at 5 Merks each) were likely Achnahaird, as documents noted below show the Tacksman later had his tenants from there moved to Altandhu, where by the early 19th century the surname "MacLean" predominated, as with this group (though the MacDonald family looks to have migrated to Reiff). The second group (at 8 Merks each) I take to be Reiff. The last two at 6 Merks each might have been the original inhabitants of Altandhu, before the Macleans migrated there, or less likely were at Faochaig or Camuscoille.
This is a letter from Roderick McLeod in Rive (modern spelling "Reiff") dated 10 May 1756 to the Commissioners of Forfeited Estates. It is marked on the cover as read 14 June, 1756.
Roderick says that since responding to the Commisioners request for information regarding oppressions by the Tacksmen he, and others suspected of speaking out, have been subject to threats, including of eviction. He says if the Commissioners are still not convinced then old and infirm as he is he would be willing to travel to Edinburgh to testify under oath. He suggests a letter from the Commissioners stating they are considering his case would;
"... help to convince my malicious Persecuters, that every thing can not be done with money in a free nation, and that there
is Security in the Laws of Great Britain even for poor men."
This is a petition from George Mackenzie, Tennant in Achnahaird to the Commissioners of Forfeited Estates, dated 30 March, 1756, noted on the cover as read 14 June, 1756.
He says he was misrepresented by subtenants to the Commissioners, (presumably referring to Roderick MacLeod of Reiff who sent in a number of petitions).
He says recently he had been warned by the Factor to remove from Achnahaird the next Whitsunday (15 May in Scotland), and to save the Factor expence he has provided a "Renunciation on stampt paper, obliging myself to flit at Whitsunday next."
He goes on to say he will not provide vindication of his behaviour, then proceeds to do so. Portions of this petition have been quoted in various books, the whole thing, and the other correspondance from he and Roderick MacLeod of Reiff, are needed for true context, but for now here is a larger extract;
"That as I was educated in the notions of the Country I am not conscious of having done any thing by the Subtenants but what
has been practiced in many places of the Highlands & other parts of Scotland also, that of receiving more rent from a
Cottar than in the precise proportion in which the principal Tennent pays to the Heretor, and that Article of exacting
frequent Services will appear less criminal when it is considered that altho' a Cottar or Subtenant work one day a month or
week to his Master, he very probably sits idle & basks himself in the sun for the greatest part of the rest of his time
half starved for want of victuals which the Master always gives him in plenty when at his work --"
George further states he is a young man newly married, with the burden of two orphaned brothers and a sister, with only twenty milk cows to support them.
He states Mr. Forbes the Factor is aware that on such short notice he cannot find another suitable place by Whitsunday "where I can shelter myself or my needy family", and that the "summary" moving would force him to sell their cattle at a loss, reducing the family to poverty. An unfairness as he was not guilty of participating in the 1745 Rebellion, being a boy at school then. He does not mention his father was an officer in the Earl of Cromarty's Regiment, "transported" for his part in the Rebellion, or that he himself raised funds for the exiled Earl following the Rebellion, see cromartie.htm
Given the circumstances, he asks for a year longer (till Whitsunday 1757) tenancy of that part of Achnahaird occupied by his family, the rent calculated proportional between his holding of cattle, and his subtenants.
This is a petition from Donald Macleod late in Dorney, now in in Rive (modern spellings "Dornie" and "Reiff") dated 24 May, 1756 to Captain Forbes of New, "Factor of the Forfeited annexed Estate of the Late Earle of Cromarty". This Petition is noted on the cover as read 26 July, 1756, and refused.
Donald states that in May 1754 he was illegaly (and violently and oppressively) removed from his possesion, the Tack of Dorney by the depute Factor, Murdow MacKenzie of Achilty, and by William MacKenzie "present pretended possesor of my said Tack". The 1740 Coigach rental (GD305/1/64) shows the Principal Tenant at Dornie as Alexander McKenzie of Achilty, father of Murdo the "depute Factor" of 1754, and the 1755 Judicial Rental of Coigach (E746/70/77) shows William McKenzie entered 1754, and there were four subtenants.
Donald says at the time he complained to the Commissioners and asked for redress, got none, and then applied to Mr. William Christy who had been sent by the Commissioners to enquire into the grievances in Coigach. He says that in front of Achilty and William MacKenzie he proved to Christy that he had not had full legal warning, notice was eleven days short.
Further, he says the rent to the Earl, including Entry and Grassums, had been two hundred and forty merks yearly, much more than being paid by William MacKenzie, and the Commissioners had declared anyone concealing rents, and their heirs "were forever to be debarrd from possesing any part of the Kings lands".
He concludes by asking for damages and expences.
"History of the Mackenzies" notes that William Mackenzie of Dornie married a daughter of Captain John Mackenzie, VI of Ballone, and his second wife Ann, who was herself a daughter of George Mackenzie, Tacksman of Achnahaird. This disagrees with genealogy shown above in E746/113/5 where George of Achnahaird notes himself a few months before, March 1756, as "a young man newly married, with the burden of two orphaned brothers and a sister,...". Presumably the 1756 William and the early 19th century William, though both of Dornie, were different people.
By 1770 there is no William MacKenzie listed at Dornie (six tenants named in "Obligations to Remove", see mitford.htm), a 1772 petition, noted below at E746/113/98, has four tenants initialled at Dornie, again no William. However, that 1772 petition has a William MacKenzie signing for the people of Achnahaird, and petitions below imply this William was a brother of George of Achnahaird.
This is a letter from Roderick McLeod in Rive (modern spelling "Reiff") dated 10 June, 1756 to the Commissioners of Forfeited Estates. This letter is marked on the cover as read 12 July, 1756.
Somewhat confusing opening regarding bribery paid to keep complaints being raised to the Commissioners, notes a decision was made by "Brother Tacksmen" to consider Rive a third rather than a fourth part of the Tack, effectively raising rents by 33% Roderick objected to the Commisioners their representative MacKenzie of Meddat tried to evict him. He finishes with the statement;
"As for me, I dragg a weary Life in the midst of Persecutions, threatnings, and Malice, resting on the Protection of heaven, and determined to wait, even in that Situation, the final Determination of the Commissioners"
This complaint refers to "brother Tacksmen". That can be lumping all tacksmen together as a brotherhood or it can refer to brothers who were tacksmen and held control over the Coigach. My reading is the use was not literal, I'll transcribe a bit. Roderick MacLeod wrote [my notes in square brackets];
"...[first refers to his earlier complaints] Upon this it was thought necessary to do something to silence these, in order to which Mr. Mackenzie of Medeat [formerly representative of the Earl of Cromarty, he moved successfully into representing the Commission of Forfeited Estates] came to Ullapool upon the 26th May or thereby where he was met by Achilty [MacKenzie of Achilty, formerly from Lewis, was local Factor] and my Master [George MacKenzie], and then and there it was concerted in Consequence of Powers granted to Medat by the honourable Commissioners for that purpose, that the Subtenants in Achnahaird, who uttered the above threatnings, should be eased of thirty one Merks of the Grassum; Persons were also appointed to traverse the whole Tacks and determine what ought to be done to me and my neighbours of Rive, these Persons were all interested as being Brother Tacksmen"
He goes on to describe the new rental as unfair, (Rive had paid one fourth the Achnahaird rent, henceforth a third) and that he would pay it under protest pending word from the Commissioners. It looks like it was not just the rentals at Rive that were looked at, as the document notes they were to study all the Tacks, and the "interest" they would have had as "Brother Tacksmen" was therefore clearly self serving.
This is a Petition from Roderick McLeod in Rive (modern spelling "Reiff") undated, but noted as read by them 12 August, 1756.
He notes that in response to an Advertisement by the Commissioners 14 July, 1756 he complained about "Oppression and Usage" he and others he and others had received from the subfactor and certain Tacksmen. Because of the complaints he has "not only incurred the hatred of the whole Country in General but also lost more than one half of my substance so that at present I live a very uncomfortable life, and my case is hard beyond expression, and of late have sustained so many losses of Cattle from my Neighbours who, Instigated by Envy and Groundless Resentment on the above account come in the night time and drown some of them in Pools, so that I was obliged to send the remaining of them to the adjacent parish for safety."
He notes the Advertisement encouraged reporting, and requests aid, suggesting he, his brother Neil MacLeod, and their cousin Caol Ker be settled somewhere else in Coigach, far from his enemies. He hopes for reimbursement for his expences, noting that four times he had to travel fifty miles before he could get anyone to write out his complaints, and has now had to come one hundred and sixty miles to Edinburgh "which is too long a journey for a man of my age being 67 years old in order to obtain some relief from your Lordships that I may be safe in my person and effects."
The petition ends with a P.S.;
"I beg leave further to inform your Lordships that the Town of Rive was lay for ten years preceeding Whitsunday (15 May in
Scotland) 1753 at which time I entered the possesion thereof, and was obliged at my Entry to build a Six Couple house, two
Barns of three Couple each and two Byres of two Couple each all which cost me about twelve pounds Sterling and never got a
farthing of allowance for the same. I hope therefore your Lordships will reimburse me of this Expence."
This Memorial written for Roderick McLeod of Rive (modern spelling "Reiff") dated August 1756 to the Commissioners of Forfeited Estates and read by them 12 August, 1756.
Roderick states the Tacksman, George MacKenzie of Corrie, pays not a shilling rent, as his subtenants pay him the whole rent and more, which not satisfying him he looks for four merks more from each subtenants.
Roderick talks of his troubles since the 1745 Rebellion.
He says he has come to Edinburgh to present this Memorial and address the Commisioners, with Certificates from two Ministers as to his honesty. He notes his four sons, two in the army. The writer on his behalf notes none in the country would write on his behalf, and he had to travel fifty miles to find a writer, presumably as English speaking writers in Coigach were either sympathetic to his persecuters, or afraid of them.
This short letter dated 9 August, 1756 from James Stewart on behalf of General Bland to the Commissioners of Forfeited Estates looks to be a cover letter for the previous letter (E746-79-1-3-00005) from Roderick McLeod in Rive (modern spelling "Reiff") dated 10 June, 1756 to the Commissioners of Forfeited Estates, requesting they consider it at "the first Board Day", both were read 12 August, 1756.
This "Representation" from Roderick McLeod of Rive (modern spelling "Reiff") to the Commissioners of Forfeited Estates though undated is marked as read 2 May, 1757.
Roderick notes a letter 16 August, 1756 from Alexander Williamson, Secretary to the Commissioners, that in thanks for representations made to the Commissioners henceforth he was to be tenant direct of the King, paying to the Factor, Captain Forbes (previously he had been a subtenant of the Tacksman of Achnahaird, George MacKenzie). He remarks the Commissioners knew he would become object of resentment of "those I Discovered Concealed rents with, and their adherants". Also that the Commissioners would provide him all the protection in their powers "Against all the Injustice & opression of those that in the least devised my hurt."
Roderick says that since the beginning of February he and his family could not stay at home;
"by the threataning & frequent menaces of George McKenzie of Corrie, Wm MacKenzie tennant in Dorny,
Hector McKenzie tennant in Summer Isle, and their Accomplices Who without any Legal Warrand associate themselves
to apprehend my sons to impress them for his Masters Service notwithstanding that the quota laid on the paroch of Lochbroom
by the Justices of the peace were punctually given in to the Officer apointed to receive the impressed men, which is thought
to be Contrar of Law, unless any of my ??? sons did not enlist voluntarily, and I further represent that in his Majesties
Service one son in the Navie & another Serjant in a Marching Regiment, and myself being old I have none but three young
boys who allenarly(sp?) labour my Lands and one other son called Norman who drew his discharge lately from the Service, and
if those young sons of myn are carried away in an Ilegall manner I must quit my possesion & my self and my old wife
He goes on to say all the above was as revenge for information he gave to the Commissioners, and asks for whatever help to allow his family to sow a crop, and mentions letters from labourers of reference.
This Petition from Roderick Macleod, Tenant at Rive (modern spelling "Reiff"), to the Commissioners of Forfeited Estates on the cover has two dates, 30 June, 1763, and also noted "Read 28th July 1763". Also noted on the cover is;
"It is entreated this petition may be read this day as the poor man is waiting in town and has no friends to support him"
Roderick writes that about ten years earlier he complained to the Commissioners about the subfactor and principal Tacksmen of Coigach regarding fees ("grassum") and labours demanded. That on report from a Mr. Christy sent to enquire of the complaints the substitute factor was removed, and principal tacksmen threatened with removal from their possesions.
He says he has suffered since uttering his complaints, and for protection came to Edinburgh in July 1756, asking for some place of settlement safe from his persecuters. And that he then received a letter warning any persecuters of prosecution, and also promising him the first vacant place in Coigach. He complains that though several places became available, he has not been given one. His own farm is on poor moorish ground, of thirty merks yearly rent, that on it he has built house, byre, barn, and a sheep coat all of a value eighteen pounds sterling. Also he and his three sons have converted some moor to good corn land.
He says he has no hope from family as his two sons in the military were now presumed dead, that he was now 75 years old (born 1688 !), and hoped for either funds to allow him to convert more moor to farmland, or re-imburse his expenses of buildings.
This docuument is dated November 1768 at Achnahaird, the writer, George MacKenzie the Tacksman of Achnahaird, is obliging himself to the Commissioners of Forfeited Estates to pay for the apprenticeships of two lads if they did not return to Coigach.
The two lads are named as "Kenneth MacLean Son to Duncan Maclean Tennant here & John Mackenzie my Son". Kenneth apprenticing as a "Wright", and John as a Weaver.
It is interesting that in the 19th century censuses there was a Weaver at Altandhu named John Mackenzie, born about 1776, possibly a son of John the apprentice?
This one page letter has date a bit indistinct, appears to be February 27, 1769. It is from Archibald Menzies, addressed to;
Mr George Mackenziecare of Provost MackenzieAchnahardCoygachDingwall
Menzies tells he was extremely sorry to hear George's house had burnt, and in consideration of his merit was extending a 41 year lease.
He finishes with request next summer George send the two lads proposed to be bound apprentice.
This Petition is from Lieut. Daniel MacKenzie to the Commissioner of Forfeited Estates for Tack of Achiltibuie, with a Factor's Report added on the last page by Ninian Jeffreys. It is undated, though the cover is noted "Recd 23d Feby 1767. This is an important document in the struggle between Daniel and Katherine MacKenzie for Achiltibuie, as it looks to be the first registered notice of his interest.
Daniel notes that since the Reduction of Colonel Keith's Corps he is without an occupation (It was reduced in 1763, see a Regimental History at http://www.electricscotland.com/history/scotreg/keith.htm). Other documents make it clear he was on half-pay, subject to recall at time of war. He notes Achiltibuie pays eight pounds sterling per year rent, but is capable of much improvement. He says at present "it lys in a perfect State of Nature occupied by a few ignorant and inactive persons". He says use of a plough is unknown there, only an "Awkward Spade" ("cas croim"). He says the fields are not enclosed, and shelly sand on the farm in great abundance could be used as manure.
He says "the only person of any Consideration" is a Widow (Katherine MacKenzie) who has extensive grazings at Kerrowgarve. He suggests she would be more comfortable there, with addition of adjacent grazings, and her subtenants moved to Dornie which has a fine harbour and a great deal of improvable ground.
He says if given Achiltibuie he will serve as a good example to his neighbours through introduction of modern farming methods they are ignorant of.
The last page has added to it a report from the Factor, Ninian Jeffrey, dated 23 February, 1767 at Edinburgh. He suggests Katherine and her family should be moved to Dalpolly, the possesor there "accused of being concerned art & part with the theives in Coygach". He says the rent there is close to her current rent at Achiltibuie, and would be added to her grazing at Kerrowgarve. He suggests the small possesors could move to the grazing at Kerrowgarve, possesed by Donald MacKenzie in Dornie, who is also accused of being a thief.
This Petition dated 7 March 1767 is from Katherine MacKenzie of Achiltibuie and her eldest son, Alexander to the Commissioners of Forfeited Estates. Katherine says she was possesssor of Achiltibuie for upwards of 30 years. She says she is informed Lieut. Daniel Mackenzie has petitioned to acquire the Tack, and lists her objections;
"... From the above Reasons and Many More to be Ad???ed, It is hoped your Lordships will have a Charitable Consideration for the Widow and the Fatherless, which they pay their Rents constantly, and not expose them by Removal to Contempt, Beggary, Misery, and Distress."
It is signed by Katherine, Alexander, and two more sons, James and Roderick, who are noted "2 More of the Fatherless Children"
This is a Petition from "Katharine MacKenzie Widow and Alexr Mackenzie her Eldest Son for them selves and Fatherless family with 17 more weak Families living on the Farm of of Aklibuy" to the Commissioners of Forfeited Estates, dated on the cover only "1767", though context of other documents should firm up the date or period in that year.
Katherine refers to a petition from Lieut Daniel Mackenzie for the farm of Achiltibuie had only recently come to their knowledge, and spells out her objections to the points in his petition;
"Answer: The greatest part of the Farm is done by the Plow, That what is done by the Spade most really described(sp?) like a Kail Yard, Where are there better Plowmen in the Highlands than the Possessors of this Farm? A Boy of 16 or 17 Years Subscribing this paper Challenges the Lieut at that Weapon, the possessors hope there no harm in using the Spade where it was and ever shall be improfitable to use the Plow..."
Although only Katherine and her son Alexander sign this petition, the "Boy of 16 or 17 Years Subscribing" probably referred to her son James who along with a younger son Roderick signed another petition in the same period. Katherine was then 30 years at Achiltibuie, and Alexander noted in other petitions as her eldest child, so more likely to be closer to 30 years old than 16 or 17. Also a birth 1750 or 1751 does not agree with birth years for Alexander's children. James, the next youngest son, was recorded in family genealogy as born July 1753, which more closely agrees with this petition, though still not quite. My guess is James was implied, and later authors without access to the genealogy have erred in assuming the implied son challenging Daniel to a plowing duel was Alexander.
Katherine also refutes Daniel's claim there is shelly sand available on the farm to enrich the soil, though if required can be fetched from elsewhere by boat by the Possessors as easily as by he.
Katherine concludes with some further comments; she says Dalpolly and Kerrowgarve were not contiguous, but separated by three miles of other's possesions, and the coursest ground. That Dalpolly was in the same state it was three centuries ago, moving there would mean ruin and starvation for the people of Achiltibuie.
She further observes "It is no secret that the Lieut is Courting the Factor's Daughter, and this Snug Farm would Accomadate the young couple properly.". She says no order has been shown from the Commissioners to her or to the Sherrif's Court, and the children would be removed from the school, rendering the school useless. She says though the Factor may have prosecuted a Thief or two, but in this case the innocent would be the first sufferers.
And finally a paragraph that gives some genealogy information, and an insight into the social history of the area;
"... Widow your Petitioner apprised with the thoughts of the Approaching ruin of her Family, in such extremity demanded the advice of her mother Mrs MacKenzie of Ballone, Niece to that once eminant Lawyer Sir George MacKenzie, and who on that account is reckoned a kind of Oracle among the Women, The old Gentlewoman advised her Daughter, to Suffer patiently all the Harsh Treatment she should meet with, till such time as her Grievances could be set before the high Commissioners, and probably she might find favourable hearing for continued Tho the Greatest Men have commonly the greatest share of Clemency."
The book "Mackenzies of Ballone" says Catherine was daughter of Alexander II of Ballone, whereas the above places her mother as daughter of Alexander III, whose wife is noted as niece of Sir George MacKenzie, at one time Chief law lord of Scotland, who earned the epithat "Bloody MacKenzie" for his persecution of Covenanters in the 17th century.
This is a Petition from Katherine MacKenzie of Achiltibuie to the Commissioners of Annexed Estates asking to be continued in possesion, not dated, the cover is note "Recd 2d March 1767".
She says her late husband, Roderick MacKenzie, took possesion from 1740 till his death in 1762, leaving her with nine children, the eldest son being Alexander. Other petitions from her refer to her "seven fatherless children, so either two must have died, or likely were daughters married off between 1762 and 1767. She says several of her children were infants in 1762.
She notes her husband was well respected, built them a commodious house, and made enclosures and other improvements, leaving Achiltibuie as the most desirable farm in Coigach. She felt they were assured of their tenancy, noting the medical care the Commissioners provided her son Alexander whom they had binded as an apprentice to a farmer in the South of Scotland. She notes the Doctor ordered him home to recover the previous summer (1766?)
They were sorry to hear the good condition of the farm had led to Lieut. Daniel MacKenzie applying to lease it.Though they agree officers should be rewarded, they feel there were better sites for that purpose.
The stock of the farm was the only way to support her numerous family. The only farms available were remote "pendicles" occupied by a gang of thieves. There were no houses on the pendicles but a few huts, which could not shelter a third of the family.
She assures that the Farm can be improved with the knowledge gained by Alexander's apprenticeship, and five years "caution" ( sort of guaranty provided by others) of rent toward further improvements.
Besides the petitioners, twelve other families would also be ruined if the farm was given to Daniel.
She suggests there are other farms that would suit Daniel better, especially as he was unmarried without a family to support.
This is a "Bill of Suspension for Mrs Mackenzie in Akilibuy". Cannot see the date it was submitted, but a note on the cover dated at Edinburgh 12 May, 1767 reads "The Lord ??????? refuses this Bill". It is addressed to "My Lords of Council & Session". It asks them to overrule the Commissioners of Forfeited Estates, in their decision to Lease Achiltibuie to Lieut, Daniel MacKenzie. It repeats claims from her earlier Petition. It also makes the startling claim that Lieut. Daniel MacKenzie was planning to marry the daughter of the Factor, Ninian Jeffery, and the Factor in turn arranged the expulsion of Katherine and her subtenants to provide the new couple with the best farm in Coigach.
This is a Petition from the subtenants at Achiltibuie to the Commissioners of Forfeited Estates, undated, but noted on the cover as read 15 June, 1767. Numbers in brackets refer to the order in the signatures at foot of the document, which were given as initials:
The following initials at the foot of the document do not clearly match the names at the top; HML (4), DG (9)
The Petitioners note if removed next Whitsunday (15 May in Scotland) and Achiltibuie made Tenancy of Lieut. Daniel MacKenzie their families will be ruined. They then put forward their reasons to remain;
All at great expence, without expectation of immediate return. They say removing Tenants such as themselves who have worked to improve will be a bad example to the others in Coigach.
They repeat an objection found in several of Katherine MacKenzie's petitions; that Lieutenant Daniel MacKenzie could better be settled elsewhere in Coigach, suggesting farms held by the local factor, MacKenzie of Achilty, and his nephew, naming "Corry, Dalkeanloch, Ballivrail, Glastulich, &c".
They suggest the Factor estimate the value of their improvements, "at the sight of" Mr MacKenzie of Dundonald, James Robertson, Minister of Lochbroom, and Mr MacKenzie of Ardloch, and they would pay an increased rent, based on the interest of the value of the improvements, and as well they would take in more moorland each year.
This is a Petition from the principal tenant at Achiltibuie, Katherine MacKenzie, her son Alexander, and their subtenants to the Commissioners of Forfeited Estates, undated, but from context certainly some time 1767. The petitioners are noted as;
The Petitioners note that by order of the Clommissioners they were to be removed from their possessions in Achiltibuie the previous Whitsunday (15 May, 1767). They were all of good character, and as such they thought it haed to be removed without a hearing they asked Roderick MacLeod, Tacksman of Leadmore in Assynt and another gentleman from Assynt to put their case before the Commissioners, and were also encouraged by them to apply to the Sherriff.
Those efforts were to no avail, though costing £24, eight sheep, and some yards of linen, settling which caused them to sell some cattle. Given the expences paid, if removed they will not have resources left to farm elsewhere.
At this point they seem to have given up their battle to hold Achiltibuie, they say by their earlier opposition they can expect no favour from the Board of Commissioners, they beg forgiveness and promise future obedience. They ask given conditions to be left in Achiltibuie till the next Whitsunday (15 May, 1768), at which time they promise to flit.
This is a Petition from "Lieutenant Daniel Mackenzie late of Colonel Keith's Corps" to the Commissioners of Forfeited Estates. It is dated at the top 20 June, 1767, and noted on the cover as read 22 June, 1767.
A long document, he begins by quoting from several earlier Petitions and decisions from the Minutes of the Commission;
He states that based on the decisions, he returned to Coigach and purchased a large stock of cattle and utensils for his entry last Whitsunday.
The Factor obtained through the Sherrif the proper process to remove the existing tenants, a "Decreet of Removal".
Those existing tenants presented a "Bill of Suspension" to the Court of Session, at first refused by Lord Hailes, then accepted by Lord Gardenston. The Bill requested a delay in the Removal, allowing;
"an opportunity of Exposing to the Honble Board a very gross and interested plan concerted by the petr and Mr Jeffrey the Factor in order to obtain this possesion for the petitioners"
Daniel objects strenuously to the statements in the Bill of Suspension, especially the claim the granting of the lease of Achiltibuie to him was plotted, saying he and the Factor Mr. Jeffreys had only recently become acquainted.
He states he had little reason but to expect to get Achiltibuie;
"But he now has the Mortification to be informed that upon a petition of Mrs Mackenzie the present possesor of Achiltybuie and without giving the petitioner an opportunity of being heard in his own defence, the Honble Board was pleased on the 15th Instant to order that she should be continued in her possession of Achiltybuie."
He states his understanding was that the order or Resolution of the unanamous Board was as effectual as a formal Tack, and the expences he has made based on that will "end in his inevitable ruin", if the Board adheres to their new Resolution of the 15th.
He asks that the Commissioners "shall in a very few words endeavour to confute every clamorous argument which has or can be advanced by the Agents and Confederates of the present possesor and repeats many previous arguments including the difference in rents Katherine will be subject to amount to only four shillings per annum.
He says he has been informed that on the 15th (of the current month) the Board ordered him to be put into possesion of Dalpolly in place of Achiltybuie, he objects that would set him to the greatest inconvenience and loss, as it lies several miles from the other parts of the farm alloted for him, though it adjoins ("Marches") with the farm set out in the Resolution of 23 February for Mrs. MacKenzie, he would consider it "an absolute Bar to his ever enjoying the Settlement once intended for him in Coigach".
He worries for the Honour and Dignity of the Board, pointing out several lies in Katherine's petitions, and asks them to set aside their decision of the 15th in the current month, and adhere to their decision of 23 February, and that of 9 March that he have lease of Achiltybuie for 21 years from Whitsunday (15 May in Scotland) 1767.
This is a one page Memorandum "for Lieutenant Daniel Mackenzie to Mr Barclay Secretary to the Honble Board of Annexed Estates". It is dated at the top 18 July, 1767, and then in the margin a paragraph later 29 June, 1767.
The Memorandum says that as the Board has decided 29 June to supercede advising to the Court of Session the Petitions of Mrs. Mackenzie and Lieutenant Mackenzie till the Factor could look into the case and the Factor has now reported, then Mr. Barclay should submit to the Board his previous Petitions, so that they could continue consideration of them.
This two page Petition from George Mackenzie, "Tennant in Achnahaird". It is noted as read 22 February, 1768.
George petitions the only way to support himself and his family is from his industry of the Possession of Achnahaird, which he has endeavored to improve for some years past, enclosing march dykes, rebuilding his mansion house and office houses of masonary, But he is greatly discouraged by the inconvenience of many small tenants in the middle of the Tack, who paid only a small share of his rent, and further discouraged by not having a lease or promise of one.
He suggests the small tenants could be relocated to a skirt of his farm called Aldandow (modern spelling "Altandhu"), which he would yield to them rather than have them in the heart of his possession.
He notes he would have earlier have suggested this to the Board "had it not been for the trouble given them from the many Groundless Complaints given in by Litiguous Persons in this Barony which is hoped is now Silenced." I wonder if Roderick MacLeod of Reiff died shortly before this Petition?
This is a four page Petition from "Lieutenant Daniel Mackenzie late of Colonel Keith's Corps possesor of Achiltybuie part of the Barony of Coigach unto The Honourble The Commissioners for managing the Annexed Estates in Scotland". It is noted as read 29th Feby 1768.
The petition "Humbly Sheweth" that the Board on 9 March 1767 in response to the petitioner ordered the Lieutenant to receive lease of the farm of Achiltybuie for twentyone years from Whitsunday (15 May in Scotland) 1767. He refers to the shameful and indirect methods used to deny him possession then, including character attacks on himself and the Factor of Coigach. He goes on to note the decisions referred to in the documents above. He notes money, sheep, wool, etc. were extorted from the previous possessors by people who claimed they could prevent the process.
He notes that on faith of the above minute (the promise of 21 year lease) he purchased cattle and made other preparations for the Whitsunday possession. When he unexpectedly did get possession he had already sold of his stock in dispair and at a loss, at the time "when it is well known that Cattle in the North became an absolute drug--"
He notes further problems at that time, which the Factor was aware of, and requests the Board now give him Tack, and suggests he will do improvements worth five years rent within two years of taking Tack.
Without a Lease he suggests it would be impudent to do any improvements. The promise of a lease noted above predated his problems, so an actual lease was required for security.
This is a two page Petition from "Lieutenant Daniel Mackenzie Tacksman of Achiltybuie in Coigach". It is dated 8 July, 1769 and noted as read 10 July 1768.
The petition "Humbly Sheweth" that he received Tack from Whitsunday 1767 for 41 years and was put in possession of all but two pendicles of the farm, Eistabreaky and Kerrogarve, the only winter and spring grazings, which were still in possession of the former Tenant, even though they were expressly named in his own Tack, and for which he was paying rent.
He notes that summer of 1768 a Survey of the estate was made by Messrs McCra and their Report to the Commissioners that the grassing of Oscaig was of about an equal rent to Eistabreaky and Kerrogarve, currently held by George Mackenzie (presumably refers to the Tacksman of Achnahaird), and suggests he should be given Oscaig as being more contiguous to Achiltybuie, and George be given possession of Eistabreaky and Kerrogarve.
This is an eight item document at NAS, I have not obtained a copy or seen it, however the author of the Mitford Manuscript devotes much of his Chapter Five to an extract of the pertinant data. The NAS index notes;
Obligations signed by tenants in the barony of Coigach to remove when warned, in return for the right to remain in their farms without leases.
As the document fits theme of this file here follows the extract from the Mitford Manuscript;
We, Neil Macleod tenant of Ardmair,
Norman Mackenzie tenant there,
Kenneth Stewart tenant there,
Roderick Macleod tenant there,
John Mackenzie tenant there,
John McCallum alias Mackenzie tenant there,
Kenneth Macleod junr. tenant there,
John Macleod tenant there,
Roderick Macleod tenant there,
Roderick Mackenzie tenant there,
Neil McIver tenant,
Norman Stewart tenant there,
Murdoch Mackenzie tenant in North Langwell,
Kenneth Maclean tenant there,
Kenneth Macleod tenant there,
John Macleod tenant there,
Kenneth Mackenzie tenant there
all parts of the forfeited estate of Cromarty (etc) considering that we have been allowed by the said commissioners to continue in the possession of our respective farms and possessions ever since they were annexed, without any Tack or Minute of Sett, and whereas in removing some of the tenants of the annexed estate inconveniences have arisen from the terms of their entries to their farms and possessions not being known with certainty and it being reasonable and proper to prevent such inconveniency in time coming, that the term of our entry to our respective farms and possessions be ascertained. Therefore we by these presents do declare and acknowledge the term of our entry to our respective farms and possessions to have been the term of Whitsunday, and we bind and oblige us our heirs and successors to flit and remove from our respective farms and possessions at the term of Whitsunday or 15th day of May New stile in the year 1770, or at any subsequent term of Whitsunday upon 40 days warning -
At Ullapool of Coigach before these witnesses:
Lieut. John Mackenzie tenant Riddorich, Lieut. Alex Macleod at Iverpolly, John Mackenzie tenant Ullapool.
Similar obligation by the tenants of Achmilmorie and Gluach:-
Murdoch Macleod tenant in Achmilorie,
Donald Mackenzie tenant there,
Katherine Macleod relict of Neil Mackenzie late tenant there,
Ronald Macleod tenant there,
Murdoch Cameron tenant there,
John Mackenzie tenant there,
Rod. Mackenzie, tenant there,
Anable Macleod relict of deceased Roderick McGillimichael late tenant
Neil Macleod tenant in Gluach,
Norman Macleod tenant there,
John Maceiver tenant there,
John Macleod tenant there.
Similar obligation by tenants of Dalpolly, Leorchircaig, Sheanscaig:-
Katherine Mackenzie relict of deceased Roderick Mackenzie (of Achilty)
now in Dalpolly,
Alexander Mackenzie son of to the said Roderick tenant there,
Roderick Macleod tenant there,
John Mackenzie tenant there,
Angus Macleod tenant Leorchircaig,
Hector and Donald sons to the said Angus Macleod tenants there,
Neil Macleod son to the deceased Angus Maclaod late tenant in
and Hector Maclean tenant in Lochanganich.
Similar obligation by :-
Colin Mackenzie tacksman of Keanachrine, Morechyle, Island Martin
Glastullich and grazings of Ullapool dated at Leckmelm
16th January 1770.
Similar obligations by tenants of Achnahaird, Badenscallie, Dalvraid
Duncan Maclean tenant in Achnahaird,
Donald Maclean tenant there,
John Maclean tenant there,
Duncan Maclean tenant there,
Alexander Mackenzie tenant there,
Murdoch Maclean tenant there,
John Maclean tenant there,
John Maclean tenant there,
John Macleod tenant in Badscally,
Anable Mackenzie relict of deceased Murdoch Macleod late tenant there,
Hugh Macleod tenant there,
Murdoch Stewart tenant there,
William Mackenzie tenant in Dalvraid,
Roderick Mackenzie tenant there
and Alexander Robertson tenant in Keanchulish.
Similar obligation by tenants of Dalkinloch and Runabreck:-
John Mackenzie tenant in Dalkinloch,
Donald Maclenan tenant there,
Alexander Macleod tenant there,
Alex Munro tenant there,
Christopher Mackenzie tenant there,
John Cameron tenant there,
Roderick Macleod tenant Runabreck,
Murdoch Macleod tenant there,
Christian Macleod relict of deceased Hugh Ross late tenant there,
Donald Kerr tenant there,
Kenneth Graham, Donald and John Graham tenants there,
and Donald Kerr tenant there.
Similar obligations by tenants of Reive:-
Roderick Macleod tenant in Reive,
Murdoch Mackenzie tenant there,
Donald Macdonald tenant there,
John Kerr tenant there,
Alex. Mackenzie tenant there,
Hugh Macleod tenant there,
Donald Maclennan tenant there,
John Macleod tenant there,
Alex. Urquhart tenant there,
Norman Macleod tenant there,
William Macleod tenant there.
Similar by tenants of Dornie and Badentarbat;-
Alex. Mackenzie tenant in Dornie,
Donald Macleod tenant there,
Neill Macleod tenant there,
Angus Macleod tenant there,
Duncan Maclean tenant there,
Murdoch Maceiver tenant there,
Mary Ross relict of deceased tenant in Badentarbat,
Murdoch Macleod tenant there,
and Hugh MacDonald tenant there.
This two page Petition is from George Mackenzie, Tacksman of Achnahaird in Coigach. Not dated, it is noted as read 10 February, 1772.
The petition "Humbly Sheweth" that in 1769 he received a letter from Mr Menzies ("then Inspector General of Improvements") noting he was to receive 41 years lease at current rate. That he had considered the letter as equivalent to a lease and had done improvements based on that security, but finds Agent for the Board has recently produced a scroll Tack, the period changed to 19 years.
George notes that though he had already made sizable improvements he was willing to expend five years rent on further improvements to entitle him to the 41 year lease. He further asks that as Altandow was not included in the Scroll his subtenants be moved there as he had previously asked and reccomended in the MacRae's Report.
This two page petition read 27 July, 1772 "of the united inhabitances of the Baronie of Coigach part of the annexd estate of Cromarty".
They note some years back Highlanders were thriving, with plentifull sea food, the great price of black cattle, and high price of grain, enabling them to live decently and pay rent punctually. That encouraged proprietors, including the Honourable Board, to "augment" rents. "But alas the times are intirely altered,...", most tenants had lost a great number of their cattle, some all, they expended all their corn upon their cattle, so that their familys lack bread and there is no corn for planting. And that in desparation some had considered leaving with their familys to North America, but on mature consideration thought to put their condition before the Board.
They "beg leave to inform" the Board that Heritors and Proprietors in the area "have already lowered rents and supplied the wants of their Tenants and Cotters and dependance with seed for their land and vittules to their familys" and they humbly expect the same from their Honours. That though early request to the Factor was made no suppy arrived. Some Tenants used credit to reduce the distress, but now distress is so bad they humbly submit this petition.
They would drop all thoughts of going to America if aid was given.
There follows a series of signatures and initials; signatures by Tacksmen signing for their subtenants, and initials for several subtenants. Interesting the new Tacksman of Achiltibuie, Lieut. Daniel Mackenzie, and his subtenants did not sign, though the people he displaced to Dalpolly and Runabreak are represented;
I ML: M:ML C:ML K:G: M:ML I:G:
D:K: D:K: R ML the above is the Tenants of Runabreak
[see probable identification of initials in chart at top of achil.htm]
HML: DML: RML AML: Leokirkage & Shinskraige
D ML: M M V: A ML: K ML: The Tennants of Dornie
D ML: D ML: M ML: I ML: I ML:
The Tennants of Aldandoo
Alexr Mckenzie att Dell
John McLeod for Badaskallie
William MacKenzie for Achnahaird
Donald MacK Aulay in Glasstullich
John McKenzie at Ullapool
Alexr MacLeod Lieutt for Inverpollie
This three page Petition is from Lieutenant Daniel Mackenzie Tacksman of Achiltybuie in Coigach. Dated 22 November, 1773, it is noted as read 17 January, 1774.
The petition "Humbly Sheweth" that when he took possession he found "all the houses and biggings" irrepairably ruinous, causing him to build a new dwelling and "office houses" worth more than five years rent already. And now he finds the soil so long neglected and the weather so precarious, "as to render another barn absolutely neccesary".
Noting all his expences he asks the Factor be directed to return the last three years "augmented" rent so he can apply that to inclosures. He notes neighbours have received similar.
This two page Report by James Morison on the Petition of Lieut. Daniel McKenzie in Achiltibuie appears to be dated December 1781 and read 10 December, 1781 (the year may be mistranscribed, context looks more like 1774).
Morison reports the old rent was 11.14.6, and that Mackenzie agreed to pay 8.5.6 of addition bringing the rent to 20, the lease signed 14 March, 1768, before the resolution that expence of building houses could be considered part of the five years rent. He then explains that on account of an exchange of grassing a new lease was issued 5 August, 1771 for 41 years, dating from Whitsunday 1768, with condition the Lieutenant was to lay out five years rent in expence on buildings, inclosings, and other improvements within the first seven years, and that the Factor reported 25 July 1774 that he had done so, and that he himself viewed the houses last September, finding them "neat, commodious, and in good Order", he remarkd either the houses or well made dikes would equal the required five year investment, however he leaves it to the Commissioners to determine if the rent should be rebated, "as every tenant in the Barony is excepting himself".
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