Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Friday, 1 February 2008

Dalmore. The Sound of Silence.

From 1852/1853 the people of Dalmore and Dalbeg had been "cleared" from the "dailean" to make way for the Big Sheep and a couple of shepherds.From 1853 until 1875,Donald Mackenzie and his son John Mackenzie had the rental of these lands,either singly,as in the case of Donald Mackenzie who rented Dalbeg(1849-1853)for £55.0.0 pa,or Donald and son,John renting both Dalmore and Dalbeg(1853-1860) for £100.0.0 pa.They were based in the farmhouse at Dalbeg(a great portion of Dalbeg had for some time operated as a farm),and they also ran the government licensed inn there at Dalbeg(I think the Mackenzie ladies were actually "mine hosts").Government inns had been set up in the "country" to cater for the moorland traveller.There were inns at Barvas and Garynahine(of which a tale of murder is still told).In the town of Stornoway at that time(1851)you could slake your thirst in any one of 11 taverns.
From the register of deaths for Dalbeg,we see that Donald Mackenzie's wife Margaret died in 1855 aged 61(born in Stornoway,daughter of Colin Mackenzie,shoemaker).Her husband,Donald died two years later in 1857,aged 66.He was the son of Roderick Mackenzie,seaman(revenue cutter)and Una Mackenzie from Sutherland.It seem that the last of the Mackenzies in Dalbeg,John had broken with tradition and had married one Isabella Campbell.His life and Mackenzie tenure in Dalbeg ended in 1875.He should have kept things within Clann Choinnich,like his predecessors - seems he spoiled a good thing !
The tack of Dalmore/Dalbeg in 1875 was now taken by a Mr.John Sinclair at an annual rental of £100.0.0(which was £25.o.o less than Mackenzie's last payment ?).In 1888 Sinclair's rental dropped to £90.0.0 but we know the reasons for this.About 30 years earlier,Dalbeg farm had "appropriated" the grazings to the west of Loch Roinavat,land traditionally used by South Shawbost.This was the time of the Napier Commission which was looking into land reform in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland,and which when it was published in 1884,came down heavily in favour of the crofters.The Dalbeg Grazing Dispute ended in the Stornoway Sheriff Court with the grazings returned to the people of South Shawbost,and £10.0.0 deducted from Sinclair's rent.Crofters were now emboldened to fight for their rights,and their actions in the different Lewis townships are well documented - except this one which happened as late as 1909.It's in the next letter.

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