Monday, August 27, 2007

Inverneill Sailing Ship

A photo of the sailing ship Inverneill has appeared on the 'Web, posted by Australia's Victoria State Library. They say they have 3 negatives on glass, and would like to hear from anyone who knows about this vessel....

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hearth Taxes and Auchinbreck

The "Hearth Tax" of 1694 was an attempt of the central government to tax the Scottish population according to the number of hearths in their dwellings. The attempt foundered on the reality of the central government's weakness in the face of the Clan organization of the highlands. You need roads and addresses to even start to properly tax the peasantry. And Knapdale had none of these modern conveniences in 1694.

HOWEVER. The Hearth Tax lists have proven to be a great source of names and places, ie for genealogists and historians. For my website, at Knapdale People, I am working on the hearth tax records that exist. The Argyll and Bute archive has provided a typed list of said pages; the local LDS has provided a microfilm of said (tattered) records; and Ian MacDonald, one of the great western highland historians, has provided me with modern versions of the 1694 surnames.

So, I have been adding said names etc to my data base, and thought to add this to the Website. But. There is this matter of Campbell of Auchinbreck. Large numbers of farms belonged to this gentleman. But. He joined the losing side in 1745, and he lost his properties after Culloden.

So. Where is Auchinbreck? (I found it, via 'mapquest.') And what is there to say about Knapdale when one of its major landowners fell into bankruptcy in the mid 1700s? The best story of this time is by Alexander Fraser, "North Knapdale in the XVII and XVIIIth centuries", published in Oban, 1964. I found a copy of this in the Guelph University Library and photocopied the relevant pages...

And . I realize I must re-do the front page of the Site, to make things ever more clear to my readers. This will take a couple of days.

Friday, August 24, 2007

an interchange on Scotland and Slavery...

... a journal of scottish studies asked me to write something on Knapdale. I am having trouble with doing that, not just because of Sloth, but because I am puzzled as to what approach to take re slave owning Knapdalians, pre Civil War, USA, ie, the letters of that McMillan (among the Donald McGilp letters at Knapdale People website). I am of the school that thinks one should be cautious of judging one's predecessors, especially since they are no longer able to explain themselves. It is so easy to point and denounce those of another time and place... and so difficult to figure out where we in our time may be committing atrocities ourselves (with the best will in the world, of course.)

No, I do not think that it is possible to morally justify owning slaves. On the other hand, such people as that McMillan did not think of themselves as hypocritical: he was, in his own eyes, a good, God fearing Christian. It is more interesting (to me) to figure out how he thought. And what he thought, as all his work disappeared during the ensuing Civil War (or did it disappear? did he continue to prosper? He had sons. Did they survive to 1865? )


Very interesting to see your musings on Archibald McMillan. The family history says that "There is little doubt that Archibald S. McMillan took a severe economic loss as a result of the emancipation of slaves following the War Between the States." (McMillan Family History by John Q. Edwards, III) Archibald died in 1867, but has many descendants in North Carolina (some of which I have met.)

AND, From a descendent of the Blue Brothers, who emigrated from North Knapdale in 1803, about slavery.
Now, about that slavery thing...something of interest for you. Malcolm, John, and Daniel Blue emigrated from North Knapdale to the USA with their families en masse in 1803. Malcolm and John settled in New York State which was a free state and they did not own slaves. Daniel Blue settled in North Carolina and did own slaves. I do not know why they chose to settle in different states, but perhaps discomfort or comfort with slavery played a part. These three men had a younger brother named Dugald Blue who originally settled in the southern US in 1804, but was so troubled by the institution of slavery that after a short time he moved to be near his brothers in Upstate New York. I think we can judge the people of that time about their views on slavery because they judged each other on it, struggled with its morality, and some concluded it was immoral. Thought you would find that interesting.

Scotland and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (II)

The Scottish Local History Forum is presenting a conference on "Scotland and Slavery", Saturday, 29 September, 10 am - 5 pm, at the AK Bell Library, Perth.

The papers presented will be:
The Sugar Plantocracy of Scotland. Dr. Eric Graham

The Anti Slave Trade Tour of William Dickson in 1792. Dr. Iain Whyte.

Glasgow University, Slavery and Abolition: An Untold Story. Lesley Richmond, U of Glasgow Library.

Scotland and the Slave Trade: South West Connections. Dr. Lizanne Henderson, U of Glasgow Crichton Campus.

Servitude or Slavery? Scottish servants in the early colonies. Sheila Millar, Local Studies Librarian, East Lothian.

'And some have slaves thrust upon them': early 19th Century letters between Paxton, Berwickshire, and Grenada. Sonia Baker, Editor, 4th Statistical Account of East Lothian.

The conference fee is 18 pounds for members of the SLHF and 20 pounds for non members. This includes a buffet lunch. Closing date for applications: 21 September, 2007.

Mrs. Doris Williamson, SLHF, c/o Scottish History, School of History and Classics, U of Edinburgh, 17 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh. EH8 9LN
tel: 0131 669 8252

Scotland and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (I)

Dumfries Museum, from 1 September to 6 October:

An exhibition opens here to mark the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in Britain. Frances Wilkins is curating this event, which will coincide with her new book on the subject.
She has written other books about west highland shenanigans: "Strathclyde's Smuggling Story;" "Scottish Customs & Excise Records with particular reference to Strathclyde from 1707 onwards ;" "The Isle of Man in Smuggling History;" and "Family Histories in Scottish Customs Records." All of these have been published by Wyre Forest Press, 8 Mill Close, Blakedown, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, DY103NQ.

Monday, August 20, 2007

more on the Arichonan Blue/McGuirmans

Among the items I included in my book on "Arichonan Farm" are the people mentioned in a housing inventory done in 1798 and 1802, by the new owner of the Estates, Malcolm of Poltalloch. There were 4 tenants at the time: Donald Blue, Malcolm Johnson, Malcolm McLean and Niel McMillan.

Donald Blue/McGuirman lived in a "dwelling house, good, 4 couples; a Barn, 1 couple; and 1 Bothie, 2 couples" *
His wife was Flory Lamont (McIlchombie), and they had 6 children. His brother John was also at the farm. John's wife was Mary McLean, and they had 3 children at the time.

The man taking the inventory noted that, on Arichonan Farm, "the Houses in this farm and mostly on this Estate was built by the Tenants themselves and by the way, they were not built right at first."

*"couple": these are the main supports for the roof, consisting of two lengths of timber, and attached at the apex of the roof. The number of couples is an indicator of the length of a dwelling. A "bothie" was a one room hut. The sketch is from I. F. Grant's "Highland Folk Ways", page 145 (Birlinn, 1997).

The complete inventory, at Argyll and Bute Archives, is entitled "Report of the Houses of Dunad, 1798; and 1802: the Rest of the Houses on the Estates of Neill Malcolm Esq is added."

more on Arichonan

From a gentleman who lives in Massachusetts: "I am related to the John Blue and Daniel Blue who you show as tenants at Arichonan in 1802. These two had a brother, Malcolm Blue, who was Tackman of Drynoch across Loch Sween from Arichonan. The three brothers and their families emigrated en mass to the USA in 1803. I have family trees and histories for these Blues if you are Interested, including some birth and death records from while John and Daniel were living in Arichonan.

also, another email, from a man in Britain, which fits in well with I.F.Grant's sketch of a 'town', below, and MacInnes' contention that Arichonan was 'anachronistic', ie, not the usual crofter community:
"Although I have done a master research degree (urban housing in Liverpool) and quite a lot of local history and vernacular architecture work, in this instance I was just totally affronted how such a beautifully wrought working village could have been cleared. This was clearly something of a different order to the clearing of single story croft houses that took place all over the highlands. The detail of the houses, barn and sheep folds show such a complete master of 'intermediate technology', exactly what was needed for getting a living in this environment." He has put up his photos here. They are very lovely.
(my website, Knapdale People, has an extensive section, with photos, on Arichonan, and also, a link that helps you order that book of mine. )

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Arichonan, the Imperial context of the Clearance

The Arichonan Clearance has been treated fairly extensively by University of Aberdeen's Allan I. MacInnes, in an article entitled, "Commercial Landlordism and Clearance in the Scottish Highlands: the Case of Arichonan."

Most interesting (to me) is his remark that "... Arichonan does not easily fit the traditional picture of Clearance associated in the Scottish Highlands with crofting communities, that is, communities of tenant farmers with small holdings of land. In the first place, Arichonan was a traditional township whose survival was anachronistic. Most townships had been broken up between the 1730s and the 1820s, to make way for cattle ranches and sheep walks as well as crofting communities, in what can be termed the first phase of Clearance. The second phase of Clearance from the 1830s to the 1880s is usually associated with the attempted removal of crofting, with the rampant commercial pastoralism associated with sheep farming and with the turning of whole glens over to the shooting of deer and other game." (p 49)

Check out the 2 posts and sketches below. They help to clarify what exactly MacInnes means by "town" versus "croft".... and the additional insight that Arichonan was - in 1848 - a very 'old fashioned' sort of place.

MacInnes is also very interested in the Poltalloch landowner's experience with his Jamaican plantations, and how this translated into management of his Highland estates.

Crofting Layouts

Another sketch from I. F. Grant's "Highland Folk Ways" (page 63), this portrays a modern crofter settlement, strung along a road, and with land holdings demarcated. Note that the houses are no longer built in clusters, nor are they necessarily to be found by the sea.

According to A.G.M. Duncan's "Green's Glossary of Scottish Legal Terms" (3rd edition, 1992), a "croft" is "An agricultural holding of limited size located within the counties in Scotland designated as crofting counties, the tenant or crofter or his predecessors having provided the buildings and fixed equipment." The topic of "crofts" and "crofting commissions", and etc., was a huge issue in the Highlands. My impression is that it was a late 19th century attempt to establish some security of tenure for remaining Highland crofters, on land that continued to be owned by others.

A "Town"

This is a sketch of a 'town' in the old style, from I. F. Grant's "Highland Folk Ways" (page 45). In 1630, according to Ms Grant, a Captain Dymes wrote of these 'towns' of joint tenants, "which towns are some half a score of cottages built together neare some piece of arable land where they make their abode in winter, for the most part of the common people in the somer they remaine in the hills to graze theire cattle."(page 44).