NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY
My son Angus Stewart, Advocate, Edinburgh, while searching among the Breadalbane archives in the Register House in Edinburgh for trace of our Appin Stewart ancestors was surprised to discover two old documents which relate to the conditions on which farms were held in Kintyre more than three hundred years ago.
The first which is published in this number is dated 10th June 1653 and must be the first attempt by the Argyll family to bring order to daily life in Kintyre after the disorder of the Colkitto invasion which terminated at Dunaverty.
The Marquis had reached the pinnacle of his power when on 1st January 1651 he placed the Crown of Scotland on the ungrateful head of Charles II. After only a few months the Marquis had fallen out of favour and he asked and obtained permission to retire to Inveraray.
He had plenty to do there in reorganising his estate which had incurred substantial debts in the Royal Service.
After the defeats of the Scottish Army at Worcester and Dunbar, Cromwell's army occupied Scotland. The County of Argyll did not escape and Cromwellian garrisons occupied or intended to occupy the castles of Dunstaffnage, Dunollie, Tarbert and Loch Kilkerran (Campbeltown).
The Marquis was caught between two stools but he decided to collaborate with the English occupying power.
Alexander McNachtan of Dunderave had been Chamberlain of Kintyre but he and the Marquis of Lorne joined the Royalist rising under the Earl of Glencairn. The 1653 document is so far as I know the first indication that the Marquis appointed his second son Lord Neil Campbell to be successor to the Laird of McNachtan whom the Marquis evidently suspected of maladministration. He accordingly spent some time in Kintyre in June 1653 and in addition to the document under discussion there is evidence that the Kintyre and Campbeltown tenants were summoned before the Marquis and his son to explain how much their rents were and what they had paid to MacNachtan who evidently had failed to account to the Marquis for the proceeds.
The Marquis evidently took the opportunity to set forth regulations for the good government of the landward area and these are set forth in the Acts of Neighbourhood.
They seem to form a reasonable framework for neighbours to live together though it may be thought that scourging through the streets of Campbeltown was a fairly stiff alternative to apply to anyone who could not pay the monetary penalty of £20 Scots for the offence of cutting off hair from a neighbour's horse, as indeed was the right to geld a neighbour's horse or colt found wandering on one's land.
We do not know how far the rules were successful in their objective.
Kintyre was invaded by Royalists troops in the autumn and the Castle, held by William Ralston and the Lowlanders in the Cromwellian interest was forced to yield to the Royalist army led by Kenmore accompanied by Lorne and MacNachtan.
The Marquis was, of course, executed after the restoration of Charles II in 1660 and eventually his son Lord Lome who succeeded as Ninth Earl made new rules for the governance of Kintyre.
These are dated 4th November 1672. They are similar to the earlier rules but rather more elaborate. They deal with march dykes, poyndfangs for stray bestial cropping - one fourth of the land to be sown with 'peize' and arable land to be cultivated for not more than three years and then left fallow for three years liming of land, peat cutting, fines for assisting unlicensed beggers, disposals of stray cattle, penalties for breaking down of dykes and for destruction of woodlands, and encouragement of tree planting - "my lord's gardener" would furnish "ash and plain trees to all the countrey twa penneis scotts the peice". There were penalties for "borrowing" without leave a neighbour's horse and farms were thirled to the appropriate mill.These Acts of Bailyierie concluded with the appointment of four birlawmen - local peace officers - for each parish.
They were as follows:-
For the parroch of Killicolmkeille
The Laird of Ralstoun. -Dugall Campbell.
The goodman of Karriskey. - Lachlan McNeill.
For the parroch of kilblaane
The Laird of Sannay. - The goodman of Subbar.
The goodman of Brithmoor. - John McNeill in Cristollach..
For the parroch of kilchousland
The goodman of Cauldwell. - Mckail of Uggodill.
John Fultoun. - James Campbell in Uggodill.
For kilmichael parroch
Captain David Moor. - Hector McNeill in Darlochan.
John Cunynghame of Caddell. - James Fleming.
Lachlan McNeill of Tirargus.
Archibald McNeill in balligrogan.
John Cunynghame in balloch.
Gilbert McLartie in kilquebenach.
McEcharne - Alex. fforester.
Ard. McGibbon and Major Jon Campbell
Charles Mcechan, Bailzie Robert Campbell.
Lieutenant Robert Campbell & Dugald Campbell.
Robert Russell, David Forrester.
Donald McNeill in Balloch, Ard. McNeill in Drumnamuchlach.
For the parroch of Saddell
Archibald Oig Campbell
Neill McMarcus in Leppinbeg.
The composition of this panel is considerable interest and does not indicate any particular weighting in favour of any one section of the community. There are seven Campbells plus Archibald McGibbon who probably came from Inveraray, fourteen of the old native Kintyre stock including eight McNeills and fourteen Lowlanders.
Most of the names are well known to students of the period. The goodman of Karriskey was of course McNeill of Carskiey and I confess I have not previously seen the expression used in relation to a Highlander. In 1683 Hector McNeill was in Carskiey and his brother Lachlan was tenant of Auchinsavill. Sannay is of course Sanda, Brimmoor is William Hamilton of Brownmuir, Subbar is James Maxwell of Southbar.
I had not previously come across the name Russell at such an early date but I see from the Hearth Tax Lists that Robert Russell was in Barr in 1694.
Photostats of the original documents and transcriptions thereof are to be placed in the Society's library.
"The S.R.O. references to the originals are Bredalbane Muniments GD 112/17/1 Acts of Neighbourhood 1653 and Acts of Bailyierie, Kintyre 1672."
At Lochheid in Kintyire the tent day of June 1653.
The quhilk day the Right honorable My Lord Marqueis of Argyll, Earle of Kintyire Lord Campbell and Lorne and Lord Neill Campbell chalmerlane of Kintyire his lordships sonne, with ane certain number both of Lowland and hieland gentlemen of the countrey Being mett; for the better settleing the conditioun of the countrey; and for keiping good nybourhood among the severall inhabitants thairof doeth with mutuall consent aggrie to the particullars efterspecifiet.
In primis that all merch dykis formerlie buildit, sall be repaired and made up againe by the parties nybouring Betwixt and Hallowmes nixt to cume (in caise of contraversie or debate) or Beltaine (1) thairefter anno 1654 at fardest, and that the samen merch dykis sall be keiped wp and maintained both summer and winter And wher ane hieway to kirk and mercat falls to be in a merch dyk That then the gaitt or yett wpon that merch dyik is to be maintained by the nybours proportionablie, as the merch dyike itself is
As lyikquyse that ther be a comoun sufficient herd presentlie apoynted in everie toune, for whom the tennant or tennants of that toune respectively are to be anserable.
Item that ther be poyndfolds appoynted in everie toune, having sufficient water in thame, as formerlie the saids poyndfolds have bein and that the pairtie poynder sall make intimatioun with all possible diligence to the nybours nixt adjacent to the lands wher the goods ar poynded By one of his servants, or any other, whose aithes being taken sall be sufficient probatioun of the intimatioun made: And when the goods ar owned, if the skaith be done in cornes, then it is to be prysed be two or mae sufficient swornemen to be equallie chosen be the pairtie poynder and pairtie owner of the goods And the skaith prysed is to be payed be the pairtie to whom the goods belange Bot if the owners of the goods doe not give satisfactioun to the poynder whether the skaith be in corne or grass so that he be necessitate to complain to any having chairge within the countrey; In that caice the pairtie whose goods ar poynded sall not onlie pay the skaith, bot lykquyse the equivalent of the skaith to any who sall have chairge of the countrey for the tyme Bot if the goods be poynded for being upoun the grass, then the owners of the goods ar to pay tuelve pennies scotts for ilk heid of horse and ky; and for ilk sex heid of scheip or goat poynded. And if the goods poynded be not owned betwixt and the nixt Lords day after the poynding than the poynder of the goods is to make publict intimatioun at the kirk door of the paroch, or the nixt adjacent paroch when divyne service is. And that both in (2) Irish and English with the number of the goods poynded And the most remarkable marks of the samen so neir as he can And in caice they sall not be owned notwithstanding of that intimatioun befoir the nixt Lords day Then the lyke is to be done that day also. And if they be not owned within 48 houres efter the second intimatioun upoun the second Lords day efter the poynding then the poynder is to bring the goods to any having chairge within the countrey for the tyme who is to receave the samen off their lands, and to pay him not onlie for the skaith done wpoun his cornes, and proven as is afoirsaid, and the penaltie for eating of the grass for which they wer poynded Bot also sall give him satisfactioun for keiping and intertainment of the goods, during the tyme they were in his custodie from the tyme of poynding till the tyme of delyverie of the samen, And that according to the modificatioun of him who sall have chairge of the countrey for the tyme.
It is lykquise ordained that when any goods sall come and haunt, with any mans goods whatsumever He is to make intimatioun therof within twentie dayes efter the saids goods coming among his, that such goods ar wpoun his ground And the intimatioun is to be maid publictlie at the kirk door of that paroch or the nixt adjacent paroch wher divyne service is and that both in Irish and Inglish with the number of the goods they have haunting among thers, and the most remarkable marks thereof so neir as he can, And in caice they sall not be owned (not withstanding of that intimatioun) befoir the nixt Lords day, then the lyke is to be done that day. And if they be not owned within fourtie eight houres efter the second intimatioun wpon the second Lords day, then the person in whose custodie the goods ar is to bring the samen goods to any having chairge within the countrey for the tyme or in his owne optioun to advertise the officer of the bounds to receave the goods off his land, and he is to be satisfied according to the modificatioun of him who has chairge of the countrey of the tyme And in caice the persones in whose custodie any such wauch (3) goods sall be found doe not make intimatioun in maner as is particularlie abovespecifeit in that caice the saids persone or persones sall be accounted and esteimed to be the stealers or ressitters of the saids goods, and they accordinglie proceided against.
Item it is mutuallie aggriet annent swyne that they be keiped aff cornes and infeild lands till Hallowday nixt and if they continow in transgressing in either of the above written it is declairit that the pair tie wrongit by thame may then lawfullie kill them, And from Hallowday nixt such as keip thame, ar to keip thame within ther owne ground, and in caice they doe not, It is aggriet wnto that the partie, in whose ground they sall be found to wander, may lawfullie kill thame without prejudice.
Item that no persone presume to take his nybors horse ather to ryde thereon or labour therwith without leave askit and given by the owner And that under the paine of tenpunds toties quoties to be exacted by him who sall have chairge of the countrey for the tyme And that by and attour the prejudice and skaith that the horse sall sustain And in caice the pairtie transgresser be not solvendo, That he sall be scourged throw the towne of Lochheid.(4)
Item that no man presume to cutt off the hair ather taills or meands of nybors horse or meires, wnder the paine of twentie pund of penaltie, of everie one who sall be found guiltie, and in caice the pairtie transgressor be not solvendo, he is to be scourged throw the Lochheid toune.
As also that none sall suffer any of ther stoned horses or colts, to be among ther nybor meires for prejudging them in any tyme of the yeir And if it be found other wayes The pairtie prejudged sall have libertie presentlie to geld such stoned horses or colts as he finds among his meares, without any inconvenience to follow in relatioun to him for gelding therof.
It is also with mutuall consent aggried that at everie dwellinghouse ther sall be a kaillyaird and that the kaillyaird dyike sall be planted with trees round about at ane equall distance, and that the samen sufficientlie hayned with libertie alwayes to the planters of the said kaillyairds and tries to cutt for the wse of building and labouring within the ground such trees as sall be wsefull for that effect: provyding they imediatlie plant thrie trees for ilk tree cutted.
As also that all timber of all sorts whatsuever within the countrey sall be hayned: and that, whosoever, without licence fra the heretor, sall cutt or peill any therof for the first fault they sall pay fyve pund; for the second fault ten pund; for the thrid fault 20 lib, and for the 4 fault fourtie lib. And that by and at tour the payment of the timber cutted or peilled. And ther is heirby libertie granted to the possessor of the ground quhair the timber sall be cutted or peilled to take fra the saids persons ther axes, playds horsses or any other thing broght be them for that effect And to present the sarnen to him who sall have chairge of the countrey for the tyme, and to dilate thir names with libertie also to search in any place suspected of such cutted or peilled timber And ther is also libertie granted that the possessors of the severall lands quhair the woods ar sall have libertie to cutt any such timber as sall be found necessar for building within that land and labouring of the ground therof, provyding it be ordourlie done, and that the woods be not destroyed.
Item, that ther be no peitts casten in any medowes or sward ground (if ther be any moss within these lands): And tha t ther be ane new way taken for casting be way of binks in the laigh or fall of the moss, and t ha t no further holls be casten wnder the paine of fyve pund of penaltie toties quoties as they sall contravene.
Item, that during the wholl summer and harvest tyme, goods be broght and keiped in sufficient faulds; to the effect the corne .may be the better keiped, and the land taitched (5) wnder the paine of halfe a mark of the heid of ilk beast keiped back and not faulded as said is.
Item it is mutuallie aggriet be the gentlemen of both plantatiounes (6) that ther sall be uplifted yeirlie for·the wse of a schoolmaster at Lochheid ane groat out of ilk merk land fra the Lairgie syde to the mui11 of Kintyire inclusive And that by and attour the sourne of ane hundreth merks Voluntairlie promised be my Lord Marqueis And in the mean tyme Mr Thomas Orr present schoolmaster is to be payed presentlie two yeires of bygane rests, and to receave the benefit of his present act during his faithful1 service.
Item all maisterles and ydle people ar heirby discharged from remaining any longer within his countrey of Kintyire wnder the paine of being taken and apprehended and censured accordinglie as idle maisterles men and soarners And lykwyse all tennants and inhabitants within the countrey quhatsuuever ar heirby dischargit from ressaiting or intertaining any such persone or persones: And whosoever sall doe in the contrarie it is aggriet by mutuall consent that they sall be esteimed as airt and pairt of any rimeid and wrongs to be done by such persones and sall be lyable for produceing of them, and making satisfactioun for any skaith they sall doe within the countrey: And lykewyse the ressaitters and intertainers of any such persones as is afoirsaid sall be lyable to the penaltie of tuentie pund so oft as they sall ressaitte and intertein any such persones, And that by and attour the making satisfactioun for the skaith abovewritten.
(1) Hallowmass was of course All Saints' day. Beltane, a pagan fire festival adopted by the christian church as the 'May term day'.
(2) Irish - the term used for Gaelic until well into the 18th Century.
(3) 'Wauch' not given in the Concise Scots Dictionary, but apparently, the equivalent of 'waff', 'waif' or 'wauf' meaning 'stray'.
(4) Rather a severe penalty for a civil wrong. Lochheid is of course Campbeltown. It is of interest that the Marquis did not use the new name created in his honour.
(5) 'Taitched' appears in the Concise Scottish Dictionary as 'tathe' - to manure ground by enclosing sheep or cattle thereon.
(6) The use of "both plantatiounes" is of interest. The Marquis granted tacks or leases to the Lowland Lairds led by William Rabston~in 1650.~ In 1652 the forfeited estate of Largie was leased to Donald Campbell of Inverawe - "the McConnachie" and at the same time many other Campbells were given leases of lands in Kintyre. McKerral heads his Chapter X "The plantation of Lowland Lairds and Campbells" but it is unlikely that the native Kintyre tacksmen were not asked to subscribe to the schoolmasters salary and I suggest the phrase is used as shorthand for the Highland and Lowland tacksmen.
Ministers were prominent amongst the founder members of both Machrihanish and Dunaverty Golf Clubs, some being founders of both clubs, as were Mr Strang of the Castlehill Church, and Mr. Tolmie of Southend. The latter told many golfing stories still enjoyed by golfers. One was of the golfing minister who found to his annoyance that his profession and recreation did not quite suit each other. On returning to the Club House after an exasperating game he muttered sadly that he'd have to give it up. 'What" said a friend, "Give up golf?" "No" returned the other, "the Ministry!"
In an earlier contribution I narrated the
friendship between Lt. Col. Robert Stewart, a son
of the Campbeltown Manse and George Washington
dating from their comradeship in 1755 at the
Battle of Fort Duquesne. (Issue 22)
Stewart retired to this country before the American Revolution but took up the acquaintanceship again with a letter dated at London 19th April 1783.
"My dear General,
From the bottom of my heart that has never since our parting ceased to glow with the purest affection and most perfect respect for you I beg leave to offer my warmest and most sincere congratulations on that exalted fame which you have so nobly won and to which your truly glorious actions so fully entitle you. For you has been reserved the rare distinction of performing achievements which attract the admiration both of the old and new world. Posterity will not fail to celebrate the uncommon talents and virtues which united to form a Character and served to accomplish a Revolution the most wonderful that is to be met with in the History of mankind. It does not belong to me to enumerate them or even to touch the subiect. My abilities I am conscious are unequal to the dignity of it. My pen cannot do justice to the sentiments I feel. The Poets and Historians of after ages shall vie with each other in endeavouring to reprint it in its true brilliancy. Tho I could speak of it as I ought I know well that it should not be in your ear because it would most certainly offend that innate modesty for which you like all other great men have been ever remarkable.
Permit me however to assure you and I do it with great truth that tho' I may at times have viewed some objects in a light different from that in which they appeared to your enlarged eye that time did not exist nor did that event occur which could find me not interested in your Honour and Welfare. On all occasions I glorified in that Intimacy, and Friendship in which I had so long the happiness to live with you. The desire of indulging this well founded pride led me to talk of you in all Companies and I had thereby frequent opportunities of doing justice to the goodness of that Heart and the superiority of those talents which I knew assuredly my Friend possessed. By doing so uniformly I found that I gave pleasure to many and that I removed the prejudices and false impressions of many. Tis true I made some powerful enemies to myself by my conduct in this matter and created obstacles and barrs in the way of having my own interests advanced. To this however I could not sacrifice the Friendship and gratitude which I served. Perhaps at some time or other you may hear a little of some particular scrapes into which I brought myself by the lines I followed. Delicacy forbids my mentioning them. Some of my friends in this country can do it. I claim no merit from any such circumstances. You may think I have been rather officious, my intentions after all were of the purest kind and I always approve of them. Whether you may be pleased to do so I know not.
What I beg to mention to you is that the very iminent station and Rank to which your merit called you and which you have supported with Dignity and Success will bring along with it troubles usually attending such. I mean that of receiving many solicitations for favour and preferment and of my solicitations among the rest. I should not call these matters of Trouble to you, because it is impossible that the great scenes in which you have aided and all the iminence you have gained can have produced any change in the native benevolence of your heart which will induce you to imploy all your power in doing good.
Were it possible my dear General for us to change situations but for a little, I am certain I know so much of myself to be persuaded that few things could give me so much pleasure as renewing former habits with you and hitting upon some expedient to enable my former bosom and confidential friend to pass the remainder of his days comfortably. I take the liberty to inform you that my Situation for some years back has been very unpleasant to me. The obstacles which I referred to which I threw in my own way together with the consequences of the obstinate Bilious Disorder which I contracted in Jamaica and which I gave you some account of in my former letters contributed much to render it so. I have therefore but a gloomy prospect before me respecting the State of the Evening of my days unless you shall dispel the cloud that hangs over it. Advantageous proposals were intimated about going to serve in your Country which I always loved. These I rejected for obvious reasons while my conduct in this country was considered so imprudent.
Uninformed as I am of the nature of those powers which you may now retain I cannot even mention my wishes as to what may be convenient for you to do or think of in my favour. Let me therefore only in general wish that should your Influence be of that extensive nature which the generality believe and to which all think you have an uncontrovertable right it may be no difficult matter for you to get me some genteel appointment either in this country or in France. For some years I passed a considerable part of my time in France and made some very respectable acquaintances in that country.
From your own knowledge of me I hope you will not deem me unqualified for the duties of a Military Agent for finding and sending such supplies as your Troops may want from this Country or from France or of a Consul or Resident at one of the small European Courts or for acting in any other way you think to fix for me or choose to procure.
Have you any thoughts of gratifying the great curiosity and earnest wishes of Europe by sharing them the Author of one of the greatest and most extraordinary Revolutions which has occurred in any period of History. If you should cross the Broad Water a line from you directed to Lieut Col Robert Stewart cover to my worthy friend John Torenson (?) M.P. Grays Inn, London will find me out and bring me to you in whatever part of Europe you may be But if you are resolved to remain in your own Country I think of paying my respects at Mount Vernon where I shall be happy to recognise in the personage of my old Friend presently what is very rare a Great General. In the meantime let me beg the favour of an answer as soon as you conveniently can. Our correspondence has lasted a very long and tedious interuption May I also beg that you will do me the particular Honour to present my complements in the warmest a~d most respectable terms to your lady and that you may still be persuaded of the highest esteem and most perfect regard and inviolable attachment with which I have the Honour to be my dear General.
Your ever affectionate Friend
Most faithful hble servant.
On August 10th 1783 (even then the Americans had started to use dates back to front) the President replied.
The letter removed an apprehension which I have long laboured under of your having taken your departure for the land of spirits for how else could I account for the silence of full 15 years for I think it must be at least that number since I heard, from you and not less that 9 or 10 since I could hear a little of you altho' when I had opportunities I made it a point to inquire.
You may be assured sir that I should ever feel pleasure in rendering you any service in my power but I will notbe so uncandid as to flatter your expectations or doing it in the way you seem to expect. In a contest long arduous and painful which has brought forth the abilities of men in a military and civil life and exposed them with Halters about their necks not only to common danger but many of them to the verge of poverty and the very brink of ruin justice requires and a grateful Government certainly will bestow those places of honour and profit which necessity must create upon these who have risked life fortune and health to support its cause but independent of those considerations I have never interfered in any ,Civil appointment and I only wait (and with anxious impatience) the arrival of the Definitive Treaty that I might take leave of my military employments and by bidding adieu to public life for every enjoy in the shades of retirement that ease and tranquility to which for more than eight years I have been an entire stranger and for which a Mind which has been constantly on the stretch during that period and perplexed with a thousand embarassing circumstances of tentiones (sic), without a ray of light to guide it, stands much in need.
Gratitude to a nation to whom I think America owes much and an ardent desire to see the country and customs of the French people are strong inducements, to make a visit to France but a consideration more powerful than these will I dare say be an insuperable bar to such a tour. An impaired fortune (much injured by this contest) must turn me into those walks of retirement where perhaps the consciousness of having discharged to the best of my abilities the great trust reposed in me and the duty I owed to my country must supply the place of other gratifications and may perhaps afford as rational and substantial entertainment as the gayer scenes of a more enlarged theatre.
I shall always be happy to see you at Mount Vernon. Mrs Washington who enjoys but a very moderate share of health unites in best wishes for your Health and prosperity with
your most obt, affecte & hble servant.
Robert Stewart did not apparently take offence and on 23rd January 1784 responded as follows.
"As I purpose to do myself the honour and great pleasure of writing to you soon by a direct opportunity from hence to Virginia in answer to the letter which you did me the honour to write to me the 10th of last August from the State of New York this only serves to entreat you though pardon the liberty I take in introducing to your Excellency the bearer Doctor Ross who after a long residence in Turkey and visiting many other countries intends going to America and ardently wishes for the honour of being known to your Excellency. Dr. Ross's great merit and extensive knowledge will I hope in some degree plead my excuse for the freedom I now presume on at the earnest request of Mr Dempster a member of the British Parliament a great admirer of yours that has long honoured me with his particular friendship and whose uncommon goodness of heart distinguished abilities and sterling worth render him all partiality aside a valuable member and real ornament of Society.
May I likewise beg you will do me the honour to present my most respectful compliments to your lady and be persuaded of the high esteem and sincere attachment with which I have the honour to be my dear General.
Your ever affectionate and humble servant
There the correspondence seems to have ended. At least, that is the last letter I could trace of the correspondence lasting some twenty years and consisting of 121 items preserved in the Library of Congress.
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