Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Dalmore. Sir James has a plan.

In the last 5 years of the 1840s,successive bad harvests had given rise to famine in Dalmore,and throughout most of Lewis.At this time, John Munro Mackenzie was the factor to James Matheson,the proprietor of Lewis who used £190,000 of his Chinese opium money to buy the island from a bankrupt Seaforth in 1844.In 1851,Matheson had a baronetcy conferred on him.In honouring this new-made knight,the castle and all of the houses in the harbour area were illuminated,with the exception of a John Reid Mackenzie,"who is always an exception to every general rule,however proper it may be".There's always an awkward bugger,to be sure !
So, in the very year of his elevation to Sir James,our "duin'-uasal"has a plan to help the poor and hungry in his domain.To help those in debt(mainly rents),Sir James instituted "work schemes", thereby "giving work to the natives" in order that they might repay their debts.No cash was paid to the tenants,but a little was shaved from their rent arrears.Dalmore and the district of Carloway in general had little in the way of potatoes and fish left(other areas were a bit better-off).They could not feed themselves,never mind address their rent arrears."The people of Carloway are very poor and much crowded",observed the factor,Mr Mackenzie on the 17th January,1851.
Sir James has another plan,now that he sees the original failing.He would have his ground officers suggest to the people that they might volunteer to emigrate to another country as a means of eliminating their debts to the tacksmen,and indirectly to Sir James, the erstwhile drug baron.Sir James now fleshes out his plan a little and suggests two classes who might be volunteered to emigrate.
Premier class :- "Bad payers" "say,those in two years of rent arrears,able bodied,with no reasonable grounds of excuse for their arrears"
Secondary class :- " Whole townships,not conveniently situated for fishing(eg. Dalmore),and can be converted into grazing".The plan is now making sense,and who among "Na duine bochd" (the poor people) could stand up to the factor and his ground officers.Dalmore and many parts of the parish of Uig would be the first areas to look at, for clearance or emigration in the Spring of 1851.Their stock would be sold to offset the cost of their passage to the Americas,and to address their debts.The prospect of sailing to a far distant land,and enduring a frightening journey in a hell ship must have been unbearable.These poor souls were being literally dumped in foregn parts,with no hope of return and no idea how they would survive,if at all.

1 comment:

Kiri said...

Keep up the good work.