Sunday, January 28, 2007

Inverneill info added to Knapdale People

I have started to add information on the Inverneill Estate of Knapdale in my website. Inverneill was one 2 very large Knapdale properties, along with the Malcolm of Poltalloch lands. Since my ancestors inhabited Inverneill - and since I have had access to Inverneill Estate Papers - I have gathered a lot of information on Inverneill which I will add to the site as time goes on.

One thing: the surname listing for Inverneill encompasses 3482 entries, so it may take some time to download. Also, in this section, are a couple of documents made when the new owner was taking inventory of Inverneill, specifically, Knap Estate in 1778, and Taynish Estate, in 1779. This 'inventory' or 'souming' consisted of asking respectable people who had lived on that estate for most of their lives, how many cattle, etc, a particular property handled in the past. Our interest today lies in the men thus queried: Neil McIntyre, Aulay Galbreath, Gilbert McIlchombie and Donald McMillan, in 1778, in Knap Estate; and Neil McLuccash and Malcolm MacIntaylor in the Taynish Estate in 1779.

The new owner was the very important Major General Sir Archibald Campbell, by the way. Among other things, in 1776, he was a prisoner of war of the American Revolutionaries. More on him later!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The worth of money, 1780 and today

How much exactly did property cost, back in the 1790's? Well, the British National Archives has an online currency convertor now, and it is stupendously simple to use. I am interested in the Inverneil estate of Knapdale (from whence came most of my Highland ancestors), and have found, in the Inverneil Estate Papers, the cost of the 4 estates purchased back in the 1780s, and the rental totals for the year 1791.

Thus, Major General Sir Archibald purchased the Knap Estate in 1776 for L4852.2.8, or in today's terms, L304,956. He was, at the time, a prisoner of the Americans, by the way. The rental income for that Knap Estate was - in 1791, L15,502. *

The Inverneil Estate project will not be on Knapdale People website until the end of this weekend.
* I am using "L" to signify the British Pound symbol.

my email address and other stuff

I had thought I could use the very cool email address, heather(at), but it didn't work out.. too many glitches. So, my email address will be the boring heathermc (at) northwestel (dot) net.

As to adding to the knapdalepeople website: I am working on adding material from the Inverneil Estate records, which is moving in on Major General Archibald Campbell of Inverneil. This is a Big Thing, and so will require a few days.

Another issue: the Free Church. We in the early 21st century are looking across a great chasm of more than time when we try to understand our Highland ancestors. First, we tend to be secular. Even if we are not secular, it is unlikely that we have ever heard of the "Great Disruption" that rocked Scotland in 1843... however, if you have ever noted that suddenly your ancestors stopped baptizing their children in the local Parish Church... then, you have stumbled upon the "Great Disruption" and the Free Church. More of that too..

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Castle Sween Information at Website

I have done some re-arranging of Knapdale People and added information on Castle Sween. Included is a listing from my data base on the people who lived at Castle Sween from the late 1700s to the 1850s. This list joins two others: the listing of people in 11 Knapdale Burial Grounds; and a listing of the people involved in the 1848 Arichonan Affray.

In the process of doing this, I realized that (a) it is very easy to transfer my data base program (Paradox) into html format... and my data base at this point has some 37,000 entries.

(b) If you go to Google Books, you can download all sorts of old (the copyright has died) books, that previously would only be accessible in faraway libraries, or in second hand bookstores somewhere. Thus, I have the Book of the Dean of Lismore, as it was translated and published back in the 19th Century, and therefore, my website now has TWO ancient Gaelic poems in which Castle Sween plays a central role!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Shipwrecks and Barra

History Scotland has another winner in the Jan/Feb edition: "Shipwrecks and Barra" by Michael Clark. It describes an 1866 report by Thomas Gray who investigated shipwrecks for the Board of Trade.
Mr. Gray was shocked at what he found on Barra. His personal reactions were recorded in a strictly confidential memo, which has lain undisturbed "at the bottom of a box of Board of Trade papers in the National Archives" until now.

I like to think my ancestors were a noble and kindly bunch, so this article makes depressing reading. According to Mr. Gray, Barra's people were extremely poor and dirty living in windowless chimneyless huts. Upon the wreck of the "Annie Jane", the farmer charged the ship's owner 365 pounds for cattle too scared to eat, 360 pounds for cows that aborted, and 420 pounds for calves lost. To quote Gray:

"It would appear that all the cattle in the Island went to see the wreck and that all these cows were in the family way and all in such a precarious state at one and the same time, that the wreck had such an effect on them as to bring on premature delivery and cause the offspring to die. This would not be believed in a novel."

Barra's landlords had been absentee since 1838, and a factor squeezed every penny it was possible to squeeze from the tenantry. Among other joyous things, it seems the landlord decided who could be an innkeeper. Comfort was not required. Clark says,

"At one wretched local inn, Gray slept on a table in a tap-room, with a brick floor that was swilled down twice a day with water, and chickens and ducks for companions.... (in another)... "The ceiling was not watertight but the bedstead was - it had a good strong wooden roof and could be moved to the dry parts of the room when it rained..."

One interesting aspect: Barra people did not eat eels, because they believed that eels spring from human hair, so eating them would be a form of cannibalism. According to Clark, this idea was commonly held in the Orkneys, as well as parts of Essex (where the tail of a horse was put under a stone in a pond to breed eels.)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

History Scotland subscription

I have started to subscribe to "History Scotland" (website address is and received the Jan/Feb 2007 magazine this week. In an article by D C McWhannell, on Campbell boatbuilding, there is a reproduction of a painting of Sir Duncan Campbell, Glenorchy/Breadalbane branch of the Campbell Clan (1550-1631.) The man looks like a biker. Really! But in his time, you would have to be rough, if you were to survive to old age, as Sir Duncan did:
"Between 1600 and 1700, as in earlier times, significant raiding and local warfare was pursued. This required galleys to transport men, materials and booty around the coastlands of Argyll, between islands like Islay and Mull, and to Ireland." (p. 16)

The painting itself can be found in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Knapdale People Data Base

I am working on a data base of Knapdale's population. The names included are from the South and North Knapdale census for 1841, 1851 and 1861 (EXCLUDING ARDRISSAIG); parish registers for N and S Knapdale ( ie, marriages and births/christenings); various Malcolm of Poltalloch records; Inverneill Estate papers; Road Money listings; the Argyll Militia listings; the South Knapdale Parochial Board minutes (1845 - 1855), ie, listings of paupers, etc; and Monumenti inscriptions for 11 Knapdale cemeteries.

I would be pleased to help you find/describe an ancestor. Email me at . I can't do your work for you, but I can get you a listing of a particular person who is on the data base. Remember that there were not a lot of names to go around back then... and the settlements are mostly gone, although most of them can still be found on maps.

My data base is in PARADOX format. It can provide a list in Wordperfect, and also in Microsoft Word.

Knapdale People Website Open

The Knapdale People website is finally open! You can find it at

It has at this point, 2 batches of names: monument inscriptions found in 11 Knapdale burial grounds, including an alphabetical list; and an alphabetical listing of all people who were involved in the 1848 Arichonan Clearance.

So... take a look!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

a blog for Knapdale, its history & its diaspora!

Welcome to my blog... it will function in partnership with my website.