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Highland Heroes of the Land Reform Movement, by Joseph MacLeod, Inverness

Scanned and prepared for the web by Peter Lawrie, a great-grandson of Joseph MacLeod

Highland Heroes of the Land Reform Movement


Author of " The Land Question : The Root of all Social Evils."
[See this link for Joseph's pamphlet on the Land Question]



THIS BOOK Is sent forth as a tribute to the memory, fidelity and worth of the Land Reform Heroes of the Highlands, and as a token of esteem and admiration for their zeal, valuable work, and self-sacrifice in support of the movement for the restoration to the people of their inherent rights to their native soil. Lives of great men all remind us, We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of Time.”

2019 Web Introduction by Peter Lawrie

Joseph's book has become difficult to find. Some may consider that a book about the heroes of the Land League may not seem very relevant a century later, however, I have recently re-read it and considering that two-thirds of Scotland's land area is still "owned" by only 1,252 landowners, with much of it being private hunting preserves, I believe Joseph's thoughts do remain relevant.

Joseph wrote at a time when religious faith was almost universal, so the references to the bible and the faith of the people is understandable. He was also writing during the Great War - with his only son in uniform on the Western front - and at the pinnacle of Empire, so his references to the Highland regiments at the front and Highlanders making their way in the various imperial possessions and dominions have to be understood in that context. Donald MacLeod's Gloomy Memories demonstrated an even greater absorption with the empire and the military. Nobody today is likely to advance the proposition that the Highlands should be repopulated in order to provide many more battalions of cannon-fodder for the Empire.

A brief biography of Highland Hero, Joseph MacLeod

Joseph put very little about himself in the book. So first of all, I would like to offer a brief biography. Joseph was born in 1862, a second son and the fourth of seven children of Alexander MacLeod and Ann MacLean in Helmsdale. They had five daughters, one of whom died in infancy while the others survived to marry and have children of their own. Joseph's elder brother, Alexander, would die in 1891 of a fall from the roof of the Free Church in Helmsdale which was then under construction.

Alexander's parents were Joseph MacLeod, described in 1841 as a stone mason, and Williamina MacKenzie. It seems likely that Williamina may have died at or shortly after his birth at the end of 1820, as Joseph remarried at the beginning of 1822 to Barbara MacKenzie, ( possibly a sister) and had six children during the next 16 years, born and reared at their tiny croft on the steep slopes of West Helmsdale.

Briefly looking back to the Kildonan clearance. The MacLeods were joint tenants with three other families at Eldrable, on the south side of the strath of Kildonan, opposite Kilphedir and Torrish about 4 km from Helmsdale. Joseph and William MacLeod were specifically mentioned in the Sutherland estate papers and marked for eviction, in advance of the general clearance of the strath, by Patrick Sellar for the "crime" of taking a small amount of tree bark. The use of tree bark for the purpose of tanning leather from the hides of one's own livestock was an age-old traditional right of the commons. The new management of Young and Sellar on the Sutherland estate now defined it arbitrarily as a crime.

My account of the Kildonan Clearance is here.

Alexander appeared in the 1841 census as a shoemaker in Helmsdale, a business in which he continued until the railway reached the village in 1870. The railway brought cheaper, factory-made footwear and clothes from the South, so the Poor Roll that year showed outdoor relief payments, not just for Alexander and his family but also for the other shoemakers and tailors in the parish. Poor roll payments of between one and two shillings per week continued to be recorded for Alexander and Ann, with some gaps until 1885. There were no payments recorded after that.

Here is a detailed discussion of the operation of the Poor Law in Helmsdale.

Here is an analysis of prices in Helmsdale in 1870 and the purchasing power of poor law payments.

Alexander died in 1907 and his wife Ann, by then living with the family of her eldest daughter in Gartymore, died at the age of 97 in 1927.

Monument to the Land Leaguers at Gartymore, with thanks to Timespan Returning to Joseph, our author. As he says, on page_29, in 1878 (at the age of 16) he was "among the first to make a stand". Quoting from page_216 of this book "In 1881, a tyrannous time in Sutherland, as in other parts of the Highlands, Mr Macleod was stirred to action. Along with Donald Bannerman (Bual); Donald Watson (Gartymore Shore), and John Fraser (A’ Choire), he formed a small but resolute brotherhood, who met almost nightly to lay plans for the restoration of the land to the people. At last they asked Mr Angus Sutherland to come North and address a public meeting. He agreed, with the result that the first branch of the Sutherland Association, the parent of the Highland Land League, was formed."

Joseph travelled the Highlands organizing meetings and making speeches on behalf of the HLL. With the greatly increased electorate following Parliamentary Franchise reform in 1885 (which abolished the property qualification), their activity resulted in the election of Angus Sutherland as M.P for Sutherland in 1886 along with five other Crofter's Party M.P.s across the Highlands. The Crofters' Holdings Act of the same year conceded their minimum demands: security of tenure, fair rents, compensation for improvements and a Land Court to rule on disputes with landlords. Joseph subsequently was a witness on behalf of the crofters of Clyne to the Deer Forest Commission of 1892.

Later the Congested Districts Board of 1897 and the Small Landowners (Scotland) Act of 1911 would make further improvements to the condition of crofters on the land to which they had been cleared, and token attempts at resettling some of the dispossessed on land which a few landlords condescended to make available. The Land League's desire for a more root and branch resolution of the great wrongs perpetrated during the previous century remained unfulfilled.

In 1991 Joseph and his fellows were commemorated by a cairn, erected at Gartymore on the croft of John Fraser, a leading light of the land reform movement, the first branch of the Sutherland association, and the parent of the Highland Land League.

The inscription on the monument states 'These men by their efforts succeeded in bringing about the first crofting reform acts, ensuring security of tenure for crofters that they would never again be "treated by owners of tenure of the soil as good for nothing, but to be cast out trodden under feet of men"-(Sage)'
At one point, Joseph had a part share in a grocer's shop in Brora, but his activities on behalf of the crofters did not make him friends among the Sutherland estate managers.

Joseph and his wife Lexy MacKay from Rogart spent time in Ellon and Edinburgh before settling permanently in Inverness as a representative for Lipton's Tea. He was elected to the Burgh Council and became a Baillie and JP, as well as active as the election agent for a series of Liberal MPs.

In 1933 he received an MBE from the King for his services to the community.

When Joseph died in December 1949, at the age of 87, his memory was honoured by one of the last 'walking funerals' in Inverness, where a considerable proportion of the population followed the horse-drawn hearse from the church to the station for his conveyance to Helmsdale burial ground where he was interred.
Baillie Joseph MacLeod
The family of Joseph and Lexy MacLeod in 1917 Joseph and Lexy had three daughters and a son, Alasdair my grandfather, who had been born in Brora.

During 1917, when Joseph was preparing his "Highland Heroes" for the press, Alasdair was serving on the Western Front as a 2nd lieutenant in the Cameron Highlanders. Alasdair, who had been seconded to the Machine Gun Corps, was captured by the Germans at the Battle of Passchendale on 1st August. He spent the rest of the war in a German camp, finally returning home in February 1919.

My own views on the Land Question

Following this very brief biography of Joseph, I'd like to conclude by considering the land question itself. Highlanders of the generations prior to the turbulent 18th century, belonged to clans (Gaelic: clann meaning family or kin-group) which were kin-linked people organised for the control of land based resources. The land occupied by the clan was considered as their duthchas. At the head of the clan was the chief, usually the descendant of the eponym or founder of the kindred many hundreds of years earlier. While a clan can be considered as a tribal organisation, the land laws of Scotland had been feudal since the time of David I in the early 12th century. Feudal organisation is top-down. Land would be granted by charter to an individual lord by the king in return for his service. The lord in turn could sub-infeudate to his supporters, usually the armed men who maintained his power. At the bottom of the feudal tree were the people who tended the land and provided labour service. Despite this being the legal position, across the Highlands until the clans were effectively smashed in the aftermath of the '45, the people did not view their chiefs as feudal lords, but as fathers to their people and custodians of the joint property of the entire clan. It would have been inconceivable to them that the chief might dispose of or sell their duthchas. The people had a responsibility to support the chief, both in food and services as well as militarily if called upon. Equally the chief was regarded as the guardian and protector of his people, while at the same time, he was often a feudal lord in the eyes of the crown. An ideal situation would have been that in which every tribal clan leader also possessed feudal charters from the crown for the duthchas of the clan. In practice that was rarely the case. Apart from the periodic cattle raids on one's neighbours to demonstrate manhood, the principal cause of Highland feuding had been the mismatch between the occupation of territory by a clan and the feudal ownership, in the view of the crown, of that same territory.

In the case of Sutherland, the increasing indebtedness of the Chiefs of MacKay had enabled the Sutherland family to take over their lands. Similarly the lands occupied as their duthchas by the clan Gunn in the heights of Kildonan had become part of the feudal possessions of the Sutherland Earls.

In England, feudalism began to decline in the late 14th and 15th centuries, being replaced by a cash economy. This would be a dramatic change. Until then, across the whole of Europe, there had been an understanding that land could not be owned individually and was a communal asset, subject to duties and obligations. However, in this radical innovation, land became defined as a commodity which could be owned, like any other form of property, by individuals. This idea transformed rural England during the next three hundred years as successive waves of enclosure deprived the peasantry of access to common land. This idea was slower in coming to Scotland, so the Lowland clearances of Scotland begin in the 17th century. Attempts by the Scottish crown, beginning with the statutes of Iona, to reduce the perceived military power of the Highland chiefs focussed on educating their heirs in the Lowlands - teaching them English and making them accustomed to a 'higher' and thus more expensive standard of living.

The final 'nail in the coffin' of the clans would be the 1747 Act of the UK Parliament which abolished the Heritable Jurisdictions. Until then, Highland chiefs had the delegated responsibility of maintaining order in their localities, providing justice and, as part of the role, they had the right to levy fines. The Act of Abolition compensated the chiefs for their loss of income, but no thought was given to the future welfare of the clansfolk or of the wider social impact. In the ensuing generation, the attitude of most of the chiefs changed, from acknowledging their responsibility for the welfare of their clansfolk, to concentrating on income maximisation in order to support their increasingly expensive lifestyles in the South.

John MacPherson of Glendale wrote in the Introduction to the "Highland Clearances" by Alexander MacKenzie, "....their ancestors had tilled those lands and lived free and untrammelled. By every moral law, if not by the law of the land, they had a right to the soil which had been defended with their own right arm and that of their ancestors. These were the days when they were useful to the chief, who assumed some indefinable right to the land. But the day came after the "Forty-Five" when men were no longer assets to the chief. His territorial jurisdiction was broken. He wanted money, not men, and the lonely silences of the hills instead of merry laughter and prattle of children singing graces by the wayside."

The above may be a simplistic generalisation but it is broadly true. As the middle ranking gentlemen of the clan, the daoine uasail, were effectively forced into emigration in the latter part of the 18th century, many chiefs placed lowland factors, usually lawyers, in charge of maximising income. Sutherland is probably the most extreme example of widespread practice. Here, Young and Sellar brought in new non-Gaelic speakers at every level - farmers, shepherds, builders. Many of the incomers were made J.Ps, and it was made quite clear to the ministers of the established church that their glebes and stipends depended on their support for the new order. Whether of not the Duchess-Countess of Sutherland knew or cared about what was going on can be argued, but she took little notice of events and any of the Highland peasantry who contacted her for amelioration, very soon after would experience the displeasure of the factors. There seems little doubt that the incoming capitalist farmers would have preferred to have the natives expelled entirely, but preferably not at the expense of the farmer or the estate. James Loch boasted of the huge expenditure by the Stafford family, but it was entirely for the benefit of the incomers. Perhaps in previous centuries the reaction would have been violent, but the clan leadership had been removed and the ministers played a most important role in convincing the people that it was God's judgement for their own sins and that any resistance would be a greater sin against God's laws.

Tory Historians have argued that the Highlands were backward and overcrowded by peasants living at a low standard. The modern world had arrived, the empire was growing and there was a huge un-met demand from the South for mutton and wool. While some change was inevitable that does not in any way justify the enormous cruelty and abuse of the law during the Clearances. The native Highlanders had built up the fertility of the pastures in the inland glens for cattle rearing over many centuries. Overstocking of sheep by the get-rich-quick incomers exhausted most of that fertility in little more than a generation. When the returns on mutton fell, the cash-strapped chiefs sold off huge tracts to meet the demand for hunting reserves by the wealthy from the South and - increasingly in the 20th century - from countries all over the world whose own laws would not permit them to behave in such a way.

Perhaps of even greater significance to us today, and the reason why "Highland Clearance" is still relevant, is the concept that any piece of land could be exchanged for cash at the whim of the owner, irrespective of the customary rights of the people actually resident on that land. The law assigned ownership absolutely to the feudal Lord and to the succeeding post-feudal landowner, with nothing for the tenant. The only tenant rights which the law would recognize were fixed-term leases for defined rentals, at the end of which, the tenant could either attempt to enter a new lease, at whatever rental the estate demanded, or leave the land which they and their ancestors may have occupied and taken care of 'since before the memory of man'.

In Switzerland, Denmark and Norway for example, the peasantry have retained far more of their rights to the soil. The clearances experienced in Scotland and especially in the Highlands did not happen there, thus the remote Norwegian valleys are populated by small farmers, unlike the Highland glens where only the deer and grouse are permitted to live, for the summer enjoyment of alien plutocrats.

Many people hoped that the establishment of a Scottish Parliament in 1999 might mean changes to our system of land tenure. Indeed, there have been some, it is now easier for crofters and other small people to launch community buyouts, but only when the "owners" are willing to sell. Perhaps in an independent Scotland, one day, we may achieve a state were all our land is dedicated to the needs of the people who actually live on it. It would be wonderful too, if some of those people were the descendants of the dispossessed able to return home from exile around the world and able to find new ways to live in an ecologically sensitive and sustainable Highland economy.

I trust that I would not be viewed as a Marxist crackpot for questioning the ownership rights of many of the occupiers of large Highland estates which they may visit for just a few weeks in the year to shoot a few deer or grouse. One might argue that the descendants of clan chiefs who still possess some of their clan's ancestral duthchas should have to account for their stewardship. But what about those who have purchased or inherited from parents or grandparents a Highland shooting estate? Should they be ejected without compensation. What about corporate pension funds, Overseas Investment funds, Institutional owners which are headquartered and operated from outwith Scotland for a sectional interest, such as the RSPB or Forestry Commission? It's a thorny question, but as Joseph pointed out, the view expressed in the bible from thousands of years ago was that the land belonged to the community, not the individual and "the first charge on the land was the support of the people that laboured upon it".

The land of Scotland, the duthchas of the people of Scotland, should not be the property of wealthy individuals to do as they will with it. The chief - the Government of Scotland - should provide the security which would enable the people on the land to make best use of the land for their own benefit, benefit to their community and to Scotland as a whole.

Peter Lawrie

End of 2019 web Introduction.

The original PREFACE by Joseph.

I MAKE no apology in sending forth this volume, containing as it does a record of self-sacrifice and unswerving devotion to duty in the struggle for Highland Land Reform on the part of stout-hearted men, the great majority of whom have passed beyond the veil. The volume comprises an account of the causes which led up to a formidable agitation on the part of the Highland people; narrates stirring incidents which took place between the more prominent advocates and their oppressors; and gives short biographical sketches of heroes with whom I had the honour of being associated. My only regret is that space prevents the inclusion of others who might be not inaptly described as the silent heroes. This volume contains a good deal of matter hitherto unpublished, and in gathering together these fragments that relate to an honest and legitimate effort to improve the Scottish Highlands, I hope that the book may act as a stimulus to others and as a memorial to those Highland heroes in whose steps it is an honour to follow. I have to acknowledge my deep indebtedness to the Rev. John A. Lamb, B.D., for his valuable help in reading the proofs of these pages.


I n v e r n e s s , 1st May, 1917.


Land Reform Justified:


The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof. Ps. xxiv. 1.

God Himself that formed the earth and made it, He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited.— Isaiah xlv. 18.

Remove not the old landmark, and enter not into the fields of the fatherless.— Prov. xxiii. 10.

Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!— Isaiah v. 8.

The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.— II. Tim.— ii. 6.

The foregoing quotations from the Old and New Testaments, to which many might be added, prove to a demonstration that the land was given to man that he might take his sustenance out of it, the first charge being the support of the man whose labour increased the food supply. The land promised to the Israelites was laid out in portions large and small, to suit the requirements of the various tribes, as well as the
inheritance of each family, determined by lot. Numerous pasages of Scripture show clearly how careful God was that each family should have, and should continue to have, its lot of land. With this end in view laws were framed, based upon the fundamental idea that the land is not an article of merchandise. There appears to be a two-fold reason assigned for this, the first being that the land was the Lord’s, and the second, which had an eye to the future, that the people were not to regard this as their final settlement.

The statement that “ the land should not be sold forever, for the land is Mine ” (Levit. xxv. 23), condemns human lordship over land, and suggests that such originated in conquest and fraud. But this human lordship did not attain to the height of its malignant power until men presumed to sell and buy land, and the feudal became a commercial system. God’s laws were so made that even the man in straits was provided for, so that in the event of his having to part with his lot the same had to be restored in the year of jubilee.

Thus, according to these laws, a nation could not be divided, as ours is, into two great classes, one possessing great and valuable estates, and the other, vastly more numerous and useful, without any land at all. Indeed, there is nothing in the world so wicked as that lordship in land, which in this country sets both God and man aside in the interests of a few, and it is not to be wondered at that so many laws and warnings should have been given against it throughout the whole Bible. Many of the consequences predicted of this lordship have come to pass in our midst. The mansions built for the tenants of wide sheep walks are now tenantless; the crofts are
exhausted from want of the rest enjoined; and the sheep-walks are choked up with damp and weeds, from excess of rest and want of " the tillage of the poor."

The foregoing points have been mentioned, as there are so many who try to escape the teaching and force of Old Testament Writ, by saying we are not under Moses— an excuse which I claim should have little weight in a country where the Fourth Commandment has been applied so rigorously to the first day of the week. The land laws of Moses have at least as much force as the Sabbath laws, and there is not a line in the Old Testament or in the New to countenance the idea that the land laws were meant to be set aside. We are certainly more in need of them to-day than ever the Jews seem to have been, and if they have been repealed we have every reason to look for others in their place. And so having before us the only true foundation and direction as to how we should deal with the vital question of the land, I shall endeavour to treat of the Land Reform Heroes, along with the causes and events which brought them into prominence.


The Highlanders’ Love of Liberty.

We have read and heard in days gone by of the numerous and heroic deeds performed by our Highland regiments on the field of battle, as well as of the many sacrifices made by both men and women in the long fight for civil and religious liberty. And to-day again comes the news of the valour and heroism of the men of the North on the battle front in connection with the terrific European War waged against the Central Powers for the rights and liberties of the smaller nations. Many of the fearless and heroic deeds which have come to light call forth the admiration of all patriotic subjects because of their bravery and sacrifice for King and Country, as well as for freedom and liberty. Indeed, never before have the men of Great Britain shown a greater love of country and homeland than to-day. This applies not only to the gallant lads who still remain in the Motherland, but also to the sons of the homeland who, through force of circumstances and want of room to live on their native soil, were compelled to seek a home across the seas, many of whom have come thousands of miles, at great sacrifice and discomfort, to defend the country that gave them birth.

The true patriotism which has thus been shown reveals in a striking fashion how dear to them is the spot where first they saw the light of day. More striking still is this thought, that not only have they sacrificed all for the defence of those principles which to Britons are so dear, but they have assisted in defending those who were responsible for their enforced emigration.

What a heaping of coals of fire on the heads of those who so tyrannically sent them adrift, preferring the wild beasts of the field to the stalwart sons of the Highlands! The fathers of the heroes of the present day were awarded the distinguishing mark of the prison cells because they stood out against the injustice to which the people were subjected by the very men whose lives and vast estates are to-day being saved and protected by the blood of those gallant sons. Although denied a foothold in the land which gave them birth, they return to give their lives bravely and heroically for it!

The heroes'of the War, however, will no doubt be written about by those better able to record their fearless acts and exploits in this never to-be-forgotten conflict, and I must therefore proceed to treat of the Heroes of the Land, many of whom are the fathers and relatives of those who have fallen on the battlefield in France and elsewhere.

The heroes of this volume fought a good fight without any recognition other than the satisfaction of knowing that they fought for those great principles which to them were dear as life itself. And this beneficent service adds greater lustre to the Celtic name than all their prowess in war. It has long been felt by friends of the Land Movement that something should be published or placed on record as a tribute
to the memory of the noble band of heroes who so gallantly and devotedly held aloft the banner of Land Reform during the last thirty-five years. In endeavouring to carry out the wish of these friends, I have to acknowledge how difficult it is for one to do anything like justice to so worthy an object. It must be kept in view that those whose names will appear in this volume are only a few out of the vast number of heroes who are worthy of being included. Many of them never took any prominent part in the movement, and therefore may be thought by some to be of no account.

Such, however, is not the view of the writer, as too well does he know how many did a great work in a silent but most effective manner, without whose faithful service the more outstanding heroes would have utterly failed in the object for which they organised their forces. Quietly,, but devotedly, did they stand by those who voiced their grievances, never flinching from the less conspicuous part of the work, but having a steadfast faith and confidence in the men whom they chose to lead the movement for a restoration of the land to which they claimed an inherent right. It is necessary, however, before giving a sketch of the life and work of these heroes, to set forth the cause which brought together these good and true men of the Highlands.


The Highland Clearances.

The Highland Clearances were certainly the prime cause of the unrest in the Highlands of Scotland. With this black history, which brought about such devastation and desolation, will ever be associated the name of Donald Macleod, one dear to every true Highlander on account of his outspoken and fearless writings regarding the cruelties carried out in Sutherlandshire over one hundred years ago. But for his tale of the awful deeds and crimes perpetrated upon an innocent and saintly people, much that is known would be hidden in obscurity. No book apart from the Bible is treasured by Highlanders as of more intrinsic value than Donald Macleod’s “Gloomy Memories,” a volume which gives a tale of woe, the story of the great wrongs inflicted on a loyal and Godfearing peasantry, as no other pen could, he being an eye-witness, as he himself relates, of the cruelties inflicted by mercenary land-grabbers. While vast clearances took place all over the Highlands, the Sutherland Clearances stand out as the most notorious of all the evictions which took place in these Northern parts. “ Gloomy Memories ” records the fact that the
people were driven from their homes in a most merciless manner, the evictions being carried out on a large scale by those in charge of the Sutherland Estates.

Indeed, what was true of the Highlands generally, was true of Sutherland to such an extent that, according to an eye-witness, the unfortunate county was made another Moscow. We Britons so frequently boast of what we have done for the elevation and advancement of other countries and races, and yet the loyal people and sons of our freedom-loving country have been permitted to suffer persecution and banishment to foreign shores, without the least consideration from a coldblooded aristocracy, who owed all their possessions to the forebears of the very men they so cruelly treated.

This extermination policy was carried out for purely selfish and mercenary reasons. These poor people were compelled, by every possible means, to move away from the homes created by themselves or their ancestors, to live upon wretched patches among the crags and rocks on the seashore. Thereafter, losing their cattle and their sheep, and all that was dear to them, they had to eke out a living as best they could.

Now, it may be remarked here, that there is no feeling more deeply or more generally implanted in the human heart than love for the place of our birth. The remembrance of our homes and early years takes hold of us like the memory of undying dreams. We cannot forget the place our eyes first looked upon, where we received the outpourings of a mother’s love, or saw a father’s eye sparkle with joy as he beheld his happy family gather around him. And the homeland, too, has a magic influence. Its woods, its rivers, its hills— all unite in throwing their shadows and associations after us and over us, even to the ends of the
earth. Can we then picture to ourselves what pain and what sorrow would fill the hearts of those men and those women who were so cruelly driven from the homes of their fathers. How could they look back to the happy days when they tilled their crofts in peace without experiencing a deep sense of loss and injustice ?

The fact of the matter is that the nature of these people was not truly understood. Things are different to-day, for one is safe in saying that no part of the United Kingdom has of late years attracted so much attention as the Highlands of Scotland. The result of this is that the great body of the people recognise the devotion, patriotism, bravery, and unspeakable worth of the men of the North. The Highlanders have not greatly changed, for they had the same sterling qualities a century ago. But they are better understood nowadays, and it is all the clearer that a system or policy which was the means of exterminating such a worthy and valiant race cannot be too strongly condemned.

It will be sufficient here to quote the description of the infamous proceedings in Sutherland from Donald Macleod’s “Gloomy Memories” :—

“I was an eye-witness of the scene. This calamity came on the people quite unexpectedly. Strong parties from each district, furnished with faggots and other combustibles, rushed on the dwellings of this devoted people and immediately commenced setting fire to them, proceeding in their work with the greatest rapidity, till about three hundred houses were in flames. The consternation and confusion were extreme; little or no time was given for removal of persons or property—
the people striving to remove the sick and the helpless before the fire should reach them—next struggling to save the most valuable of their effects. The cries of the women and children— the roaring of the affrighted cattle, hunted at the same time by the yelling dogs of the shepherds and the smoke and fire — altogether presented a scene that completely baffles description: it required to be seen to be believed. A dense cloud of smoke enveloped the whole country by day, and extended far on the sea; at night an awfully grand but terrific scene presented itself — all the houses in an extensive district in flames at once! I myself ascended a height about eleven o’clock in the evening, and counted two hundred and fifty blazing houses, many of the owners of which were my relations, and all of whom I personally knew; but whose present condition, whether in or out of the flames, I could not tell. The conflagration lasted six days, till the whole of the dwellings were reduced to ashes or smoking ruins. During one of these days a boat lost her way in the dense smoke as she approached the shore, but at night she was enabled to reach a landing place by the light of the flame.”

As a descendant of those who were thus ruthlessly driven from their homes, I could add many tales of woe told me when a boy by my grandfather, but that depicted in “Gloomy Memories,” with the following pathetic verses, written by Miss Annie Mackay, and which appeared in the “Celtic Magazine” of February, 1884, conveys, as nothing else could, the sorrowful story of the evictions of Kildonan and Bonnie Strathnaver, and of the last Sabbath there.


’Twas not the beacon light of war,
Nor yet the “slogan” cry,
That chilled each heart and blanched each cheek
In the country of Mackay,
And made them march, with weary feet.
As men condemned to die.

Ah ! had it been their country’s foe
That they were called to brave,
How loudly would the pibrochs sound,
How proud their “bratach” wave;
How joyfully each man would march,
Tho’ marching to his grave.

No! ’twas a cruel, sad behest,
An alien chief’s command,
Depriving them of house and home.
Their country and their land;
Dealing a death-blow at their hearts
Binding their “strong right hand.”

Slowly and sadly, down the glen
They took their weary way,
The sun was shining overhead
Upon that sweet spring day,
The earth was throbbing with the life
Of the great glad month of May.

The deer were browsing on the hills,
And looked with wondering eye;
The birds were singing their songs of praise.
The smoke curled to the sky,
And the river added its gentle voice
To Nature’s melody.

No human voice disturbed the calm,
No answering smile was there,
For men and women walked along,
Mute pictures of despair;
This was the last sad Sabbath they
Would join in praise and prayer.

And men were there whose brows still bore
The trace of many scars,
Who oft their vigils kept with death
Beneath the midnight stars,
Where’er their country needed men,
Brave men to fight her wars.

And gray-haired women, tall and strong,
'Erect and full of grace,
Meet mothers of a noble clan,
A brave and stalwart race,
And many a maiden, young and fair,
With pallid, tear-stained face.

They met upon the river’s bank,
By the church so old and gray;
They could not sit within its walls
Upon this sunny day;
The heavens above would be their dome,
And hear what they would say.

The preacher stood upon a bank,
His face was pale and thin,
And as he looked upon his flock,
His eyes with tears were dim,
And they awhile forgot their grief,
And fondly looked at him.

His text: “Be faithful unto death,
And I will give to thee
A crown of life that will endure
To all eternity;”
And he pleaded God’s dear proimses,
So rich, so full, so free.

Then said— “Ah! friends, an evil day
Has come upon our glen,
Now sheep and deer are held of more
Account than living men;
It is a lawless law that yet
All nations will condemn.

“I would not be a belted knight
Or yet a wealthy lord.
Nor would I for a coronet
Have said the fatal word
That made a devastation worse
Than famine, fire or sword.

“The path before each one of
Is long, and dark, and steep;
I go away a shepherd lone
Without a flock to keep;
And ye without a shepherd go,
My well-beloved sheep.

But God, our Father, will not part
With one of us, I know,
Though in the cold wide world our feet
May wander to and fro;
If we, like children, cling to Him,
With us He’ll ever go.

“Farewell, my people, fare ye well.
We part to meet no more
Until we meet before the throne
Of God’s eternal shore,
Where parting will not break the heart—
Farewell for evermore.”

He sat upon the low green turf.
His head with sorrow bowed;
Men sobbed upon their fathers’ graves,
And women wept aloud,
And there was not a tearless eye
In that heart-stricken crowd.

The tune of “Martyrdom” was sung
By lips with anguish pale.
And as it rose upon the breeze,
It swelled into a wail,
And like a weird death coronach
It sounded in the vale.

Beannaicht go robh gu siorruidh buan
Ainn Glormhor uasal bein;
Lionadh a ghloir gach uile thir
Amen, agus Amen!”

And echo lingering on the hills
Gave back the sad refrain.

Methinks there never yet was heard
Such a pathetic cry,
As rose from that dear, hallowed spot
Into the deep blue sky.
’Twas the death wail of a broken clan—
The noble clan Mackay.

And ere another Sabbath came
The people were no more
Within their glens, but they were strewn
Like wreck upon the shore,
And the smoke of each burning house ascends
To heaven for ever more.

The preacher referred to in the foregoing poem is none other than the worthy Rev. Alexander Sage, who was the only one of the clergy who stood by the people in the hour of their dire distress. The Rev. . Mr Sage writes in reference to the events of that Sabbath morning:— “In Strathnaver we assembled, for the last time, at the place of Langdale, where I had frequently preached before, on a beautiful green sward overhung by Robert Gordon's antique, romantic little cottage on an eminence close beside us. The still flowing waters of the Naver swept past us a few yards to the eastward. The Sabbath morning was unusually fine, and mountain, hill and dale, water and moorland, among which we had so long dwelt, and with which all our associations of ‘home’ and ‘native land’ were so fondly linked, appeared to unite their attractions to bid us farewell. My preparations for the pulpit had always cost me much anxiety, but in view of this sore scene of parting, they caused me pain almost beyond endurance. I selected a text which had a pointed
reference to the peculiarity of our circumstances, but my difficulty was how to restrain my feelings till I should illustrate and enforce the great truths which it involved with reference to eternity. The service began. The very aspect of the congregation was itself a sermon, and a most impressive one. I was deeply affected and could scarcely articulate the Psalm. I preached and the people listened, but every sentence uttered and heard was in opposition to the tide of our natural feelings, which setting in against us, mounted at every step of our progress higher and higher. At last all restraints were compelled to give way. The preacher ceased to speak, the people to listen. All lifted up their voices and wept, mingling their tears together. It was indeed the place of parting, and the hour. The greater number parted never again to behold each other in the land of the living.”

This sweeping desolation extended over many parishes. It was the device of one William Young, who had as his associate in the factorship a man of the name of Sellar. The policy of extermination was brought to bear first and most heavily on the Parish of Kildonan. The whole north and south sides of the Strath, from Kildonan to Caen on the left bank of the river, and from Dalcharn to Marrel on the right bank, were at one sweep cleared of their inhabitants. Other parts of the County of Sutherland which were cleared of their populace, were Glen Loth, Strathbrora, Golspie and Strathhalladale. The homes of the descendants of those who were removed from Glen Loth and the low grounds of Lothbeg, can be seen any day from the railway train perched on the hillside like pictures on a wall. There these people have to eke out a bare subsistence, often requiring to feed their
cattle with mashed whins for lack of sufficient land to provide fodder. Well might it be said that these poor people are ever on Mount Pisgah, while all the time the Canaan flowing with milk and honey is in the possession of two or three large farmers and dare not be approached because of the wicked land system which denies access thereto. Strathhalladale was cleared at the Forcenain end and the Bighouse end, the people being driven to the sea-coast, now forming the Portskerray community, where, with the wretched little patches of unproductive soil and occasional fishing on the stormy seas they are compelled to live a miserable existence.

It is worthy of note that a delegate, giving evidence before the Royal Commission of 1892, asserted that part of this fertile valley was let as a sheep farm, extending to 45,000 acres, and that to an absentee, of which 8000 acres was turned into a deer forest, and which at one time maintained in comfort some sixty families, many of whom were the possessors of milk cows, stirks, horses, and sheep, which made these people self-supporting.

The descendants of the people removed from Strath Brora, which was turned into a sheep run and shooting grounds, are now struggling on the sides of the hills of West Clyne, East Clyne, and the district of Achrimsdale.

In the County of Caithness the greater part of the land is in the hands of the pluralists, who, with their numerous flocks of sheep, have been the means of depleting the young manhood of the country. How, could it be otherwise when one family of three persons holds fourteen farms of a yearly rental of £2000,
which, if given to the people, would provide thousands of acres of arable ground, with many more thousands of acres of hill grazing. Many of the ancestors of those now resident in the village of Reay were evicted from the lands above referred to. Eighty tenants at least were once in occupation of these lands. It was not an uncommon thing to see the deer run through the streets of the little village of Reay, which is built on a piece of bog-land, while acres of farm land are in the hands of the few, with still larger acreage devoted to deer. Caithness, like the other Highland counties, longs for the day when the law that permits such injustice shall for ever be abolished, and when freedom to utilise the land to the best purpose shall take the place of the existing unholy and vicious system.

Ross-shire also suffered at the hands of the lordling. The contented people who dwelt in Strathcarron did not escape from the hardships inflicted upon their brethren further North. Many of the crofters evicted from Strathconon are now perched on the heights of the Black Isle, which was cleared by the Balfours, and were forced to reclaim land from the heather wastes, because the lords of the soil preferred deer and sport to an industrious, God-fearing peasantry. It is stated that at one time 800 people over 16 years of age signed the roll-call for a minister in this area, now wholly devoted to deer, though capable of carrying thousands of sheep and cattle. The whole thing is such a flagrant iniquity that no pen can describe it, but having traversed most of the Highland districts and seen things for myself, I can term the whole scene none other than the valleys and glens of desolation, with the stones which formed part of the house structures erected as memorials of the past.

From Strathnairn, the home of the Mackintoshes, many have gone to the Colonies to seek a home and pastures new., An old saying says, “ Strathdearn for men, StrathNairn for women.” From Strathdeam the strong men were forced to go, and from StrathNairn the fair women went to make room for game and sport.

“ And the laughing girl of Selma
Must beat her naked breast;
She must weeping seek a home
’Mong the forests of the West,
That the dear spot where she was born
May be a coney’s nest.”

This is one of the places where once the maidens drove the cattle to the hills and made butter in the shieling, but alas! now there can be seen only the ruins of the huts they built a thousand feet up amid the deer. To this may be added the desolated lands of Failie, Dumnaglass, Torness, Lochgarthside, and the fertile valley of Dores, where farm has been added to farm. Here at one time many cottages could be seen, but to-day there is in evidence only the tragic fact that the people had to go, not because there is no land to support them, but because access to fertile acres is denied them. In the parish of Glen-Urquhart, though not subjected to such tyrannical evictions as those related, many families were removed from their own reclaimed holdings to give room for sport, and to-day there is under deer forest fourteen miles of grazing upon which cattle and sheep could be profitably fed. Over the hill from the foregoing parish can be seen the beautiful and fertile valley of Strathglass, which stretches for miles on each side of the Beauly River, where once a noble race lived in happiness and comfort.
Mackenzie, in his “ History of the Clearances,” tells that this Strath was cleared almost to a man in 1801, in which year no fewer than 799 took ship at Fort-William and Isle Martin from Strathglass, the Aird Glen-Urquhart and the surrounding districts, all for Picton, Nova Scotia, while in the following year 473 from the same district left Fort-William for Upper Canada and 128 for Picton, and 550 went aboard another ship at Knoydart, many of whom were from the beautiful Cannich Glen. “ In 1803 four batches of 120 souls each by four different ships left for Picton, while not a few went with emigrants from other parts of the Highlands. During these three years we find that no less than 5590 persons were driven out of these Highland glens, so that the old farmsteads are now occupied by ‘men employed to look after the game and deer.” In this place, it is interesting to note, only one meal mill stands where once, there were seven, because of the number of people who dwelt there.

Well did Sir Walter Scott write in 1816 when he said, “ If the hour of need should come, and it may not be far distant, the pibroch may sound through the deserted region, but the summons will remain unanswered. The children who have left her will re-echo from a distant shore the sounds with which they took leave of their own— ‘ Ha til, ha til, ha til, mi tuilidh!— we return, we return, we return no more.”

All over the Highlands the process has been at work, and few districts, if any, were left with their populace in the homes which they wrested from the barren soil and made productive. This contented people were driven from these places to make room for sheep and afterwards for deer, because cruel and needy landlords thought to benefit themselves at the expense of industrious folks.
They were deprived of their inherent rights and independence, once the rightful inheritance of a brave and patriotic race, whose descendants today, were it not for public opinion, would be made servile to the powers that be with the same terrorism that was used towards their forebears.

The following lament is quite appropriate to the existing conditions of all our Northern Highlands:—
“ Come away, far away! from the hills of bonnie Scotland,
Here no more may we linger on the mountain, in the glen.
Land of deer and not of heroes! land of sheep and not of men!
Mighty hunters for their pastime, needing deserts in our shires.
Turn to want our pleasant places, quench the smoke of cottage fires.
Come away! why delay ? Let us seek a home denied us
O’er the oceans that divide us from the country of our sires.”


The Rise of the Land League:


One cannot within the compass of a record of such dimensions as this follow in detail the blood-stained footsteps of the Highland evictor all those years, who, without qualms of remorse, exercised his malific power. Consequently the survey has to be very brief, and the facts form but a small part of the vast mass of evidence with which Highland history teems, of the cruelties inflicted upon a race whose sons, like our gallant sons of to-day, have been foremost in securing and maintaining the proud supremacy of Britain all over the Globe. From 1740 to 1816 it is computed that no less than fifty battalions of infantry had been raised mainly from the Highlands, exclusive of numerous fencibles and militia regiments. But where, oh where, can such be found in the glens and bens of the Highlands to-day? Yet in the present European conflict those that remained have nobly held up the glorious records of the past What shall be their reward ? Let us hope that when the present awful war comes to an end their sacrifices shall not go unrewarded by a continuance of the present land system,

leaving the old saying as true as when it was composed :—
“ The law condemns the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common,
But leaves the greater felon loose
Who steals the common from the goose.”

The stories of these tyrannical days were from 1814 to the seventies rehearsed in the ears of the descendants of those people, in whose hearts still lingered feelings of resentment against the cruelties perpetrated.

Towards the end of 1878 and in the early ’80’s this feeling burst forth into a flame which eventually set the whole Highlands ablaze in favour of a restoration of those rights so cruelly wrested from their forefathers.

The writer recalls with no small pride the resolve then made by the people to band themselves together, he being one of the foremost to take a stand, and as a son of the burnt-out of Kildonan, leaving no stone unturned until with the help of the heroes whose record of service will follow, Branch Associations were quickly formed all over the North. These Associations eventually combined in forming a Highland Land League Association, which met annually at various centres, including Wick, Bonar-Bridge, Dingwall, Portree, Oban, Stornoway, and Inverness. The stern and persistent demands made at the conferences and demonstrations by delegates from all parts of the North compelled Parliament to lend an ear. Commissions were appointed to investigate and hear the tales of suffering. This, along with the return to Parliament of crofter members, including Dr Clark for Caithness, Mr Angus Sutherland for Sutherland, Dr Macdonald for Ross-shire, Mr Fraser-Mackintosh for Inverness-shire, and Mr Donald Macfarlane
for Argyllshire, led to the passing of the Crofters’ Act in 1886, which, if it did nothing else, gave the people the right of security of tenure, which said to the landlords,
“ Thus far shalt thou come, but no further.”
It is worthy of note that Mr J. G. Mackay, that veteran Highlander, then Secretary of the Glasgow Sutherlandshire Association, along with the officials thereof, stood with tables at the street corners of Glasgow, where they secured the names of 45,000 people in favour of the Crofters Act, which was presented in the House of Commons by Mr Charles Fraser-Mackintosh, member for Inverness-shire. Although this land measure in itself was a large step forward, it gave no compulsory power to acquire land. Consequently the agitation continued, and does until the present time.

The agitation to get access to the soil at times took drastic forms, and land riots were common, men being imprisoned for the strong, but reasonable, demands. The men of Muie, in the parish of Rogart, were made martyrs for taking possession of the hill grazing adjoining their holdings, for which they were prepared to pay a reasonable rent. Being refused time and again by the Estate officials, the tenantry took the law into their own hands, and for this they were made to rest for a period on the plank bed. Years afterwards the people’s demands were conceded, and to-day they enjoy the rights of the grazing, having triumphed through the sufferings of others.

The land agitation in Clashmore, Assynt, was one of the most outstanding. The grazings here, as at Muie, were a sore grievance, and for throwing a soft clod of moss at the factor when demanding access to the pasture grounds of which they were wrongfully
dispossessed, six men and three women were sentenced to six and nine months’ imprisonment in the Calton cells by the then Lord Craighill. Strange to say, Lord Craighill passed away very suddenly shortly after passing the foregoing harsh sentence on innocent people, some of whom, it was alleged, were not in any way near the scene of the riot.

It was in connection with the foregoing that the Marines and Police were despatched in force to this part of the County of Sutherland. There the martyr, Mr Hugh Kerr, the “ modern Rob Roy,” set them at defiance, having out-manoeuvred every effort put forth by the law to get him in their grip. After months of careful search and also at considerable cost, Mr Kerr, who was supposed to be in hiding in the caves among the rocks of Assynt, made his way to the house of a friend near Poles, in the parish of Dornoch, where, through the information given to the police by a lickspittal of the opponents of Land Reform, he was captured. Hugh was taken to the Dornoch cells and in the end was sentenced to three weeks’ imprisonment. The author was afterwards privileged to visit various parts of the county in the company of Mr Kerr and his excellent wife, the greatest welcome being accorded them everywhere by the people because of their sufferings for the cause. The Glendale and Braes land struggle set the whole of the island of Skye ablaze. Here, again, the marines and the police were called out. The “ Battle of the Braes’' will ever be remembered as one of the leading events of the Land Reform movement which in no small measure set the people free from the terrorism of landlords and factors. It was on the 17th of April, 1882, that this memorable struggle took place
at the foot of Ben Lee. A sheriff-officer named Martin, with two concurrents, came from Portree to serve summonses of removal on three townships in the Braes. They were met by a large body of people, young and old. The officer and men were deforced and the summonses were never served. For this the authorities resolved to arrest and punish the ringleaders. The whole of Scotland was startled one Monday morning to hear the news that fifty of the Glasgow police were on their way to Skye, armed, it was said, with firearms, to arrest half-a-dozen poor crofters, some of whom were the oldest men in the district. This act on the part of the authorities maddened the crowd, who rushed on the police armed with large stones and sticks, while threshing-flails were brandished and used with effect. Many faces could be seen flowing with blood in the final struggle. One of the police had his nose almost cut through, while a dozen other constables were more or less injured. The five prisoners were lodged in the Portree cells. The Braes crofters resisted, not because they declined to pay rent, but because they believed they were being forcibly dispossessed of ground to which they had a first and valid right.

Sheriff Ivory made a second attempt to get police from southern towns to assist the landlords, but after the “ Battle of the Braes ” these towns refused to have anything to do with the coercion of the crofters. The agitation rapidly spread after the Braes incident until the whole group of islands was ablaze with the spirit of revolt. When the Crofters’ Commission visited Braes years afterwards they reduced the rents by 47 and 50 per cent., as proving the rack rents exacted from these poor people.

The Braes dispute was hardly settled when the Glendale crofters allowed their cattle ai)d sheep to wander on the farm of Waterstein in spite of an interdict against them in the Court of Session. The people refused to receive the writs. The result of this refusal was that on 5th February, 1882, the gunboat “ Jackal” arrived off the North of Skye and anchored opposite Glendale. Messrs John Macpherson, Malcolm Matheson, Donald Macleod, and John Morrison were sentenced for breach of interdict, and had to undergo two months’ imprisonment. These martyrs were liberated from the Calton on the 15th of May, and were met at the prison door by over 1000 people, headed by pipers. They marched to the Ship Hotel, and were entertained to breakfast by Mr Dugald Cowan, Secretary of the Land Law Reform Association. The hills of Skye were ablaze with bonfires and flags were flying everywhere on the return of these stalwarts to their native island. John Macpherson was carried shoulder-high from the steamer to the Royal Hotel, where the Glendale Martyr spoke to the enthusiastic and cheering crowd. The agitation continued, and still the demand for a better land settlement is being made by the people of these districts.

The Braes episode was the means of bringing the crofters’ movement to the front in a manner that hundreds of meetings could not do, and brought back to men’s minds the awful days of the Clearances and the emigration atrocities. From the bruised heads and broken limbs of these men and women there followed an appreciable social change in the Highlands and Islands. The sons of the Highlands in the large
towns in the South, who heard through their fathers and friends of the bitter cry of distress, were aroused to petition Parliament to stay the hands of the oppressors, and through their influential and persistent appeals enquiries were made by a Royal Commission into the condition of the people. This Commission will always be remembered in Highland history as the Lord Napier Commission.

There were also the Valso evictions, and we can well recall the part played by our venerable friend, Mr J. G. Mackay, who was such a prominent figure throughout the whole movement, promising to give all the moral and material support possible to help the people in their struggle. The rack rents charged on Major Fraser’s Estate at Kilmuir, Skye, were amply proved by the evidence given before the Commission.

The movement spread to Argyllshire, and the storm broke over the Island of Tiree, with disastrous effects to the name and fame of the illustrious Duke. The people demanded that the vacant farm of Greenhill should be divided among the crofters. Upon this demand followed notice of interdict on those who placed stock on the farm. Although a strong guard of police accompanied the officers, the people refused to submit or to yield, as they said, even at the point of the bayonet. Their action was justified on the ground that the Duke had ignored their reasonable petitions. For this deforcement 250 Marines were dispatched on the “ Ajax ” to assist to arrest the leaders, and so please the Duke of Argyll.

We must not overlook the part taken in the Land Movement by the people of Aignish, who drove the
cattle and sheep off the farm which was once in the possession of the people. We had here in the Lewis the deer raid so well known as that of Balallan. Indeed, there are very few places in which the agitation had not taken root, and the meetings held all over the North opened the eyes of those in authority to see that the movement had the united backing of a determined people, and that their demands could not be passed unheeded. Accordingly small concessions were made here and there, if possible, to appease the people. But so vast did the agitation become that only Parliament could treat with the question. As will be seen from the foregoing, the agitation took a strong and effective course in all the Northern Counties, particularly Argyllshire, Inverness-shire, Ross-shire, and Sutherlandshire, where much expense was incurred in suppressing the movement by employing marines and police to frighten the people into subjection. But the presence of these men of the law had little or no terror for the stalwart heroes of Land Reform, and therefore the agitation continued in spite of every effort to condemn the leaders as outlaws. The officers of the law themselves were not slow to see that these poor people had reasonable grounds for their demands. It is interesting to note that many of the men of His Majesty’s Forces brought back with them wives from among the daughters of the crofters whom they had sought to suppress and subdue. The movement could not be crushed, as the people of the North were so united that no mere gunboat or bluejacket could overcome them. The deep-rooted grievances were felt so keenly that the people were prepared to suffer anything rather than tolerate the continuance of a system which would eventually end in
the direst slavery and bondage, if not the annihilation, of the populace.

Even now, while writing, a Colonial Land Committee is being set up to make arrangements for land across the seas for the survivors of the War. This, indeed, sounds a strange doctrine to be inculcated in a country like ours, where there is a wide sea teeming with fish and plenty of land if the people only got liberty to take possession of it. Of course it is no new theory on the part of the landlords and those who think and act with them to desire to have the people compulsorily shipped off to distant lands, there to cultivate waste and solitary regions, instead of giving them encouragement and liberty to settle at home and improve the numberless tracts of superior land that lie neglected in a natural and unimproved state in many parts of the country with which every patriotic feeling is associated, and which is as dear to the men of the North as life itself.

The question of the land, however, has taken hold of the people’s minds and made greater progress in recent years than any other question of a political nature. Thirty-five years ago it was seldom referred to in election addresses, but now no candidate for Parliamentary honours can shirk it If he tries to do so he is sure to lay himself open to strict and lengthened heckling, an art in which the men of the North have become experts.

The strength of the organisation in the Highlands is largely due to the method adopted by its leaders. Weekly kitchen meetings were common throughout the districts, following which larger meetings were held monthly, where all the people of the districts
assembled together. Along with this effective means of reaching the people, meetings of a social nature were arranged in each parish annually, and these brought the people into close touch as nothing else could do. The programmes consisted of tea, speeches, and song. Delegates from adjoining parishes and counties described at intervals during the proceedings the sufferings they had known to exist in their districts. By this means the people were led to sympathise with and help their fellows. A bond of union was created which has made the Highlands impregnable to the assaults of all opponents of land reform.

It may be well here to record the progress which has been made since the Crofters Act of 1886. Through the resolution and persistent demands of the people from time to time at meetings and election periods the question came before the Commons. Discussion after discussion took place, but not until Lord Pentland, one of the best of Scottish Secretaries, took the matter in hand was anything done. For years he fought against the powerful influences that were antagonistic to land reform, and in spite of his strong stand for a larger measure the landed interest prevailed. The consequence was that the Bill was compromised, and as was predicted by the writer and others, the Bill, which became an Act in 1911, fell short in many ways, causing confusion and friction because of the creation of different classes of tenancies. This, with the landlords’ right of appeal to the High Courts, made ihe taking of land by the Board of Agriculture an impossibility because of the price and expense which that would involve. Therefore the Act became practically a dead letter, as was
evidenced by an amending Bill introduced in 1914, two years later, by Mr J. M. Hogge, M.P. In addition to this Mr Lloyd George had a Commission set up to make full enquiries into the question of both rural and urban lands. Here, because of the War, the matter rests for the present, with the drastic reduction of £177,547 out of the statutory provision of £200,000 in the Small Landholders Act, which means the cessation of all initiation of schemes for new small holdings. This of itself shows how zealously we must work to put things on a sound basis.

We are glad to say that although many of the men of the movement have been called to their rest and reward, others have taken their place, and are proving themselves faithful followers of those who have gone before. And while to-day a political truce exists because of the War and men remain silent, yet when the hour comes they will be ready to strike another and successful blow at the enemy of progress.


A healthy and vigorous Press is essential to the carrying out of such a beneficient object as land reform,/ and in this respect we in the Highlands have been exceedingly fortunate. “ The Highlander,” so ably edited by the late Mr John Murdoch, rendered considerable service to the cause during a period in its progress when stout hearts were wanted to reassure the people that their true friends would stand by them. With the passing of Mr Murdoch’s paper came “ The Scottish Highlander,” likewise an enlightened and vigorous exponent of the principles of land reform,
edited by the late Mr Alexander Mackenzie, better known throughout the Highlands as “ The Clach.” This paper never wavered in its defence of those engaged in land reform. It was succeeded by the “ Highland News,” of which at the present time Mr Edward J. Taylor is its able editor. This newspaper still flourishes, and bids fair to see the realisation of the ideal to which all the Gaels have devoted their energies.

And now, my dear fellow-countrymen, I must leave off and pass on to treat of the Highland Heroes, upon whom we must always look as the architects who courageously planned the buildings, and the workmen who laid the foundations, undeterred by adverse winds or the howlings of the opposition forces. All honour to the brave, fearless, and undaunted reformers of the past and present! My concern is for the future, for we have to do battle, to finish the task so well begun, to erect into a fair edifice the structure of land reform, so that we and our children and posterity throughout all time may enjoy the blessings of “ Paradise Regained.” Let us do this like our heroes, unselfishly, ungrudgingly, with a single eye and a stout heart, looking for no reward other than that which the brave and true receive at the hands of their fellows. I only wish I could do them more ample justice in telling of the glorious deeds which have been performed during these years of struggle, in striving to emancipate our dearly beloved Highlands from the thraldom of landlord oppression and tyranny. I am satisfied that the battle for freedom and liberty will continue until justice shall prevail throughout these cherished straths and glens which were once the homes of a happy and prosperous peasantry, and which used to re-echo so
often and so widely with the sweet melody of praise to our Father in Heaven.
Clanna nan gaidheal an guaillibh a cheile.
“ Children of the Highlander, shoulder to shoulder”



I am indebted to Mr William Calder, Petley, Fearn, one of the sweet Gaelic singers of our land songs, for the following very interesting particulars of what took place on the Skibo Estate:—

“ Among the many evictions in the Parish of Creich was that of James Sutherland, whose parents were evicted from the Parish of Rogart, and settled at the east end of Loch Laggan at a place called Prontich. They built a dwelling-house and other necessary buildings, and reclaimed a croft from a black moor. From this croft James was evicted, and betook himself to reclaim another croft in the township of Spinningdale, from which also he was evicted. This time he did not leave without protest. He told the Lord Napier Commission that when the factor came to give him notice to remove from this croft he was threshing in the barn. He took the law in the one hand and the flail in the other, and gave him a warm reception, saying—‘ I have been evicted three times — once before I was born and twice after/

I, the writer, witnessed the eviction of Roderick Macintosh forty-live years ago. Two or three of his
sons were found catching rabbits. For this reason their father got notice of removal from the proprietor of Skibo. Roderick, in common with the whole countryside, thought that the warning was merely to frighten him, and that the eviction would not be carried into effect. But at noon on Term Day the sheriff-officer and concurrent and two policemen came from Dornoch. The first-mentioned officers took themselves to throwing out the household effects, while the policemen walked up and down in the park in front of the house to keep themselves warm, the day being very cold. Mrs Macintosh was the last of the household to be removed, and proved too much for the officers, who had to call in the assistance of the police. Roderick, his wife and family had to spend the rest of that cold day on the sheltered side of a dyke. After dark the neighbours took two each, but had to put them out before it was bright next morning for fear it would reach the proprietor’s ears, or their fate would be the same.

Between the years 1875 and 1886 a number of evictions took place on the Skibo Estate. The proprietor began early in 1875 to measure the various crofts, alter marches into straight lines, taking, where necessary, a piece of one croft and adding it to another. Those of the tenants who got a good bit added to their holdings had not the same objection as those from whom the bit was taken away. Anyway, it had the desired effect of causing jealousy among the tenants. In due time they were called to Skibo to arrange about new leases, not in a body, but a few out of each township each day. The duration of the leases offered was ten years, and in each case a con- siderable increase in rent was wanted. But what the
tenant objected to most was the conditions as to improvements, as they had all to be done at the crofters’ expense within the duration of the lease— reclaim land, build houses, make roads, etc. A good number of them refused to accept these conditions, and had to remove. The following are instances:— Helen Logan’s croft, which had been reclaimed by her father from a bleak moor, was given to a neighbour without her receiving any compensation. She wanted to be left in the dwelling-house, as the new; holder did not require it. One day she went to visit her sister six miles away, and on her return she found her household effects had been thrown out and her house demolished.

John Ross, Crookduth, Pilfrioch, was evicted from his croft and his house demolished; also Hugh Mackay, Pilfrioch. Among those who looked out for themselves was Alex. Murray, Achormlarie, whose family had been in the holding for nine generations, the Estate refusing to give this respectable and most respected man any satisfaction. Also William Fraser, Moinegire, and Hector Ross, Boggan; Donald Barclay, crofter and shoemaker, with a large family; James Barclay, crofter; Donald Munro, Dallanich; William Grant, Achue, who had two sons ministers in the Free Church and a daughter married to a noted Highland minister; John Sutherland, Clyne; Ann Ross, Achue; Hugh Ross, Spinningdale; Mrs Macdonald, Acharry Muir; Donald Macrae, East End, Migdale ; William Campbell, Badbay ; William Poison, Breackwell; the widow of Donald Fraser and her orphan child, whose forbears had been in the place for generations, who had reclaimed a large croft, built a very substantial house, steading, meal and barley
mills, all of which she had to leave without the compensation that her lease specified, as she had not the wherewithal to follow her case to the Court of Session; Alexander Leith, Badachuilq, who had served 21 years in the Arm y; Hugh Mackay, Badachuile; James Ross, Breackwell; James Mackenzie, Little Swordale; Alexander Campbell, Clairack; Mackay, Crockcaitch; Robert Mackay, Swordale; Alexander Grant, Swordale, who went to New Zealand with a large family of sons and one daughter, and whose departure was greatly lamented, as he took a deep interest in Church and public matters, and was a man far in advance of his time; Robert Calder, Swordale, who had two sons noted ministers, one in the Free Church and one in the Canadian Church, and was a man whose appearance would command respect; Hugh Sutherland, whose parents were evicted from Rein, in the parish of Rogart, whence their nickname, “ Rein,” or “ Righ,” for short, which sounds like the Gaelic of King, from which Hugh derived the name of “ Liuce ”— he was a great Free Churchman, a Land and Temperance Reformer, a man of strong character, and a favourite with all who knew him; Barney Campbell, shoemaker, East Bonar; and others whose names I cannot recall to memory. The crofters who accepted these conditions managed to exist only through their industry and hard work, till the Crofters Act of 1886 came to their rescue, their leases having expired by that time. Then they got sweeping reductions from the Crofters’ Commission, and the unbearable estate rules were done away with for ever. But before the Act was acknowledged by the estate, in an attempt to evict a certain number of the crofters, a sheriff-officer, accompanied by the estate
employees, made his appearance at the township of Slistary and started demolishing the house occupied by Donald Fraser, when they were deforced and chased out of the district, never to return. When the estate refused to accept the rent fixed by the Commission, the Rev. Dr Aird, Free Church minister of Creich, along with a committee and an Inverness lawyer, took the money from the crofters, giving them receipts. They then offered the same to the landlord, and, on refusal, placed it in the bank. This went on for a few years till the management of the estate changed hands, when the rents were then taken, this being the first acknowledgment of the right of the people to the land in the parish of Creich for at least 80 years.

On the Estate of Balblair, in 1886, the Misses Macpherson, Meikle, were evicted and their house demolished,, I remember accompanying a party numbering between 150 and 200, who went to visit them in the autumn of 1886. When the company reached the road leading from the high road to where a month or so before their house had stood, they found the gate locked. One of the party, a London lawyer named Stuart Glennie, climbed the gate, and the whole party followed. On reaching the place where the house once stood, there we found a huge heap of debris, composed of stones, lime, roof and rafters, doors and broken windows, all the material that once constituted a happy and prosperous home. In front of this was a heap of furniture, while between the two was a small canvas tent, this being the only shelter that these two poor women had, whose father had reclaimed a large croft from a bleak moor. This croft was added to the farm of Balblair. All this took
place within three hundred yards of the mansion house of the proprietrix, which made it ridiculous that comfort and misery could live within such small space. About two months after this visit these poor women were arrested at midnight, taken to Dornoch, and tried before the Sheriff for no crime except that of living in a small tent pitched on the former entrance to the house in which they were born. Well may the poet have said:—
“ Man’s inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn.”

The Estate of Aidens is a small estate settled by twenty crofters. They reclaimed all their holdings, built their houses and offices, the estate not contributing one penny. They had been under lease for two periods of nineteen years, and when they had just entered on the second lease the price of stock and produce came tumbling down. Work could not be got at any price, and, to make matters worse, the Skibo tenants were at this time coming under the Crofters Act. In fact, most of the tenants and farmers all over the country were getting their rents reduced in one way or another. The Aidens crofters approached their proprietor for a reduction of rent on the strength of their altered circumstances. Their proprietor could not help them, much as he would have liked to, as the estate was under trustees, who would not accede to the demands of the tenants. At this date the crofters, through sheer necessity, could not pay their full rent, but paid what they could. This was not allowed to go on long unchallenged. In the autumn of 1886 a Sheriff-Officer and concurrent visited Aidens, only to be deforced and driven over Bonar-
Bridge. For a few years similar visits were repeated, only to meet with the same result. At last the Sheriff-Officer had to promise on his knees never to return, and he kept his word. The next time an officer from Dingwall appeared in the district, and got along unnoticed. He made his way to the house of the ground officer, who was the writer’s father, and produced a letter from the Trustees asking him to accompany the officer and point out the various houses. This he stoutly refused to do, and instead invited him inside to rest, which invitation was accepted. While they were arguing the point as to duty, a member of the family gave the alarm. No sooner had the officer left the house than a crowd demanded his errand, but for answer he declared himself deforced. He was thereupon driven out of the district, followed by a large crowd for a number of miles outside the boundary. But in a year or two he again made his appearance, accompanied by a concurrent, two police constables, and the Inspector of the Dornoch Police Force. They took train to Invershin, then walked through a wood, which they thought would conceal their approach, but on arrival found the Aidens crofters ready for the fray. One of their number, Neil Calder, ordered them to come no further. The officer answered that he was a Sheriff-Officer, and was there to serve summonses in the name of the Queen, and he would serve them that day. On coming forward, Neil struck him a blow which left its mark for some weeks. The Inspector of Police ordered the officer to halt,, and he there and then declared himself deforced. Not till they were over Bonar-Bridge did the crowd disperse.

After this the Trustees gave way to the crofters,
demands. Their crofts were re-valued by competent valuators, and they got large reductions in rents. It would be a good thing for our country to-day if the whole of the Highlands had stood as firmly against evictions as the Aidens crofters. This country was at war with Germany only about two months when the Aidens Estate had nineteen men serving King and Country, the proprietor and his gamekeeper making at that period twenty-one. I could name a number of large farmers who each have three times as many acres as all these crofters put together, and yet these acres have not produced a man to defend King and Country. But these crofters did not wait to think that only a few years ago they had to fight sheriffofficers, who tried to serve summonses in the name of the monarch of that day; neither did they wait for a tribunal to decide if they were essential for their crofts or not

‘ Whene’er they heard the slogan sound.
Each for his shield and sword did bound,
And dashing through the fray they went,
Causing their enemies to repent.’

A number of these men died for their land; one at least, a Navyman, went down with his ship in the North Sea. One of the crofts is to-day in the hands of a widow and five or six orphans, the brave crofter having fallen in France early in the War fighting for the liberties of Europe.

There were numerous evictions at an earlier date at Achinduich, Invershin, Lochbuie, Pulrosie, Acharrie, and Creich, but they were of too scandalous a nature to be described in detail here.


The Last Act.

I have to thank Mr Wm. F. Hassan, journalist, Inverness, for the following contribution. Mr Hassan was present at the celebration of the Kildonan Clearances at Caen, Helmsdale, on 5th August, 1914, the day upon wmch our Army was mobilised for war:—

“ Then, as now, the red game of war is being played with all the fury of which the combatants are capable. Then, as now, the heroism, the endurance, and the willing sacrifice of Highland soldiers who go into this awful cauldron like men about to receive a sacrament are filling the pages of history with stories which, when sword and rifle have been flung aside, will be told not only in the deserted glen but in the pulsating cities of this and other lands.

“ To me, the son of a Land Law Reformer, the August of 1914 will not soon be forgotten. It is a chapter in the Book of Recollection which I shall read again and again, for on the very day that Britain had declared war against Germany, when Liberty arose with that strength and determination which make this heritage so priceless a thing, a band
of true-hearted Land Reformers were assembling from various parts of the Highlands, not to celebrate a failure, not to fan the embers of political strife, but rather to register a hope. It so happened that the sending of the momentous Ultimatum by our Government to the Government of Germany synchronised with the memorable and historic gathering at Caen, near Helmsdale. To be precise, it was the centenary of the evictions from that one-time Paradise of what has come to be truly called the ‘ Duke’s Country.’ I daresay there were some people who did cavil at such a celebration when civilisation had stripped itself for the titanic struggle against oppression; but these people do not understand the temperament of the Gael, who essentially lives in the past. And what a past it is ! Over it all is the trail of the evictor, with the smoke of burning homes rising up to God’s heaven along with the moaning of an outraged people.

“ Fair indeed was the morning on which we left Inverness Railway Station. I went up to Sutherland with that well-known figure in the Land Reform movement, Mr Joseph MacLeod, whose forbears suffered at the hands of the oppressor, and accompanying us was that of Gaelic singers, Mr Rod. MacLeod, who was entrusted with an important duty in connection with the centenary celebrations.

“ It seemed at one stage of the journey — perhaps it was the result of undue pessimism—that the celebrations would have to be abandoned. I shall always remember the remark of Mr Joseph MacLeod —

'Whether we get a dozen people or a hundred, we'll carry it through.'"

“ Great indeed was the activity on the railways on that day. The troops had been mobilised; the men of Sutherland whizzed past us in khaki trains. And so history was repeating itself. A hundred years ago that day the Highland hosts stood four-square against the legions of France in the Napoleonic Wars, and while they fought their dear ones were being burned out of the Strath of Kildonan. No, we had no reason to be depressed. Evidence was accumulating that the Centenary Celebrations would be held, and that the audience would be surprisingly large.

“ It was no vulgar, shouting crowd that left the Railway Station at Helmsdale for Caen. It was a staid and sober assemblage, nearly every one of whom could trace their connection with the brave men and women of Sutherland who were cast out of their homes at the fiat of a cruel ruler. Here were at least 2000 Land Reformers.

“ I shall always remember the spectacle enacted at one part of the journey down to the park, where a platform was erected. On a hillock stood two venerable dames—Mrs Sutherland, Inverness, and Miss Sage, the daughters of the sainted Rev. Mr Sage, who officiated on that heart-rending Sabbath at Strathnaver—the last Sabbath of the evicted in the land of their forefathers.

“ Heads are bared and hearts are stirred as Mr Rod. MacLeod sings the Old Hundredth. I hear strong men and women sobbing! sobbing! and this requiem is carried over oceans far and across alien
lands where exiled sons of the Gael have found their liberty and independence. Stealing from some unknown land comes a picture of that last day at Caen and all its horrors.

“ The first resolution, re-affirming the people’s right to the land, is moved by Mr Joseph MacLeod, whose speech is the speech of a man into whose soul there has entered the iron of abhorrence to even the smallest of tyrannies. Other speakers follow, including Mr Calder, of London, a Rogart boy, and Judge MacBeth, of Canada, the latter of whom confesses that his people were among those who suffered on this spot a century ago. Among others who take part are the Rev. Jonn Ross, Free Church, Helmsdale, who conducted the opening religious service; Mr Hector Macpherson, chairman; Mr D. Mackay, Bettyhill; and Mr William Cuthbert, Helmsdale. On the platform are to be seen Sir Alex. Rae, late proprietor of the “ Nortnern Ensign,,” who, along with his esteemed father, conductd this advanced Liberal paper for a period of over 65 years, and the motto of which is, ‘ An injury done to the meanest subject is an insult to the whole Constitution;’ Dr F. M. Mackenzie, President of the Inverness Liberal Association, one of the earliest in the field for land reform; JVir G. J. Bruce, secretary of the London Land League, under whose auspices and those of the local Liberal Association the event was held; Mr William Calder, a native of Bonar-Bridge; Mr George Macdonald, of Birmingham, a native of Rogart; and Mr William Mackay, Loth.

“ No, we have not come to celebrate a failure, but to register a glorious hope. And that is to work as
did our fathers in this holy crusade in order to have the land restored to the people, and to make Caen not a bitter memory but the happy and prosperous home of a kindly and chivalrous community who will never again see the emissaries of landlordism swoop down upon them and be cast out into the highways and byways.”

Mr John Murdoch,


“ Now is the stately column broke. The beacon light is quenched in smoke, The trumpet’s silver voice is still, The warder silent on the hill.” The name of Mr John Murdoch, one of the great heroes of the land movement, is a household word throughout the Highlands, and is sure to live in the hearts of the people of the North. As the pioneer of land reform, he entered the movement at a very early period in the seventies— a time when only a strong man could dare to expound the doctrine that right was might. While some wavered because of the terror of the men in power in those days, he remained firm as a rock.

Our hero was born in the parish of Ardclach, in the County of Nairn. He possessed excellent natural abilities, fine taste, deep reflective powers, and ardent religious feelings. While young in years the sight of the disabilities and oppression of the people roused in his sensitive heart a longing to do what in
him lay to ameliorate their condition. This desire, formed in early life, and intensified by constant observation and study, became the dominant passion of his long and active life, and bore noble fruit. Our hero’s extensive travel through the English, Irish and Scottish towns afforded him admirable opportunities for seeing into the social, economical and political problems that affected the people, and provided stores of telling facts and experiences which became the potent weapon with which he fought a good fight for the people's rights and liberties.

Mr Murdoch devoted his great abilities and untiring energies to the moral and social progress of the race, especially of his own people in the Highlands, whom he loved and served with extraordinary devotion. When he retired from the Excise service in 1872 he received at the hands of his colleagues all over the country a testimonial in silver in acknowledgment of his fearless advocacy of Revenue reform, along with a purse of £300. The real aim and the chief work of his life were, however, found in his endeavour to help his countrymen in the Highlands to a higher, healthier and happier plane of life than was possible under existing conditions. He was filled with a whole souled enthusiasm for humanity, if ever man was.

He early came to the conclusion that the central questions were those bearing on the relation of the people to the soil on which they dwelt and worked, known generally, but vaguely, as the “ Land Question,” and to the possible solution of this he devoted his vast energy and enthusiasm. In 1873 he was able to take a step he had long desired—to establish a
paper in Inverness— which afterwards was so well known as the “ Highlander.” The introduction of this paper opened up a new epoch in the history of the land question in the Northern Highlands. It was the herald of the dawn of new and better times for the people, and its Editor was looked upon as a modern John the Baptist, preaching boldly to the landlords the doctrines of repentance and ransom. By his pioneer work were laid the foundations upon which the Crofters Act ultimately found a resting-place. But for the “ Highlander ” and John Murdoch the subsequent social revolution which broke the chains and crushed the power of landlordism might have been indefinitely postponed. Mr Murdoch gave valuable evidence before the Lord Napier Commission, which was appointed in 1883 largely through the agitation fostered by the “ Highlander.” In 1886 he wrote a pamphlet on “ The Crofter Revolt Against Landlordism,” dealing with the management of the estates of the then Duke of Argyll. Indeed, Mr Murdoch’s writings were voluminous, all of them making a great impression on the people everywhere. It was my great privilege and good fortune to make his acquaintance at an early period in the agitation for land reform. Often at my own fireside did I hear him rehearse the sufferings to which the people were subjected everywhere he went in the Highland Counties. It was delightful to hear this veteran discourse on social problems.i His masterful and inimitable style of delivery always commanded the closest attention of his hearers. No one could doubt his sincerity in the cause. That he was a true Highlander is further proved by the fact that few men
ever adorned better the Highland costume, which he wore winter and summer.

At last, after a strenuous life, scarred and bruised with fighting the people’s battles, this genuine hero was obliged to withdraw from the stress and storm of the agitation, and settled down in Saltcoats. The frailties of old age began to tell on him, and in 1903 he passed away, almost stone blind, at the advanced age of 85. Though dead, it can truly be said of him, “ he yet speaketh.”

Mr William Jolly, H.M.I.S., said of him— “ By the death of John Murdoch the country has lost a remarkable man, and the Highlands their dearest and ablest champion. He has left a most honourable mark on the history of his native land—deep, inspiring, and indelible.” Mr William Guthrie, proprietor, “ Ardrossan Herald,” speaking of him, referred to “ his genial personality and his estimable qualities of heart and character, his dominant aim being to help his fellowcountrymen to a higher and happier position than that which obtained under existing conditions.” Through the instrumentality of Mr John Gunn Mackay, J.P., Portree, with Mr Murdo Mackenzie, J.P., Inverness, and the author, a memorial has been erected by personal friends and admirers to Mr Murdoch’s memory in Ardrossan Cemetery. The monument is a Celtic cross of Creetown silver-grey granite, stands ten feet high, is beautifully sculptured, and bears the following lettering:— “ John Murdoch. Born at Ardclach, Nairn, 1818. Died at Saltcoats, 1903. Highland Patriot and Pioneer of Land Reform in Scotland: a man of noble ideas, pure and unselfish public spirit, who devoted his life to the uplifting of
his down-trodden countrymen. Erected by friends and admirers. ‘ Well done, good and faithful servant.’ ” Among those who were present at the unveiling were the Rev. Charles Lamont, Messrs William Guthrie, J. G. Mackay, Murdo Mackenzie, W. D. Hamilton, James Busby, and Captain Macleod.

Mr J. G. Mackay


Few men have done more for the social amelioration of the Highland people than Mr J. G. Mackay, Portree. Although I have called him a Portree hero, I should perhaps rather have called him a Highland hero, as he is well and widely known throughout all the Highland Counties, and not only so, but from Land’s End to John o’ Groats and across the seas, wherever Highlanders are to be found. Our hero was born in Lochalsh, where his father, a native of Rogart, Sutherlandshire, was parish schoolmaster. Mr Mackay’s father was an eye-witness of the Sutherland burnings, and incurred the displeasure of the notorious Patrick Sellar for trying to rouse the manliness of the people to resist the tyranny of that time. One can easily understand how, in addition to receiving the ordinary branches of education from his father, the hero of our sketch imbibed in his boyhood those principles which have made him such a persistent land reformer. Another fact worthy of mention which may be held to have accentuated his antipathy to the evil land system is that his mother was a native of the desolated parish of Bracadale, Skye.

Mr Mackay, after serving his apprenticeship to the drapery trade at Isleornsay, proceeded to Glasgow in 1870. During succeeding years down to 1885 he took an active interest in all matters affecting the Highlands, as well as being a vigorous member of all the Highland Societies, Gaelic and otherwise, of that town. When Major Fraser, Kilmuir, Skye, in 1881 threatened to evict the crofters of Valtos, some of the sons of the Highlands resident in Glasgow banded themselves together and championed the cause of these oppressed people. Prominent among them was our hero of Portree.

These were times when great difficulties had to be encountered in advocating the people’s cause. As evidence of these difficulties, no Scottish member of Parliament could be prevailed on to ask a question in the House of Commons regarding the threatened evictions. It was therefore deemed advisable to take advantage of a public meeting to call attention to these evictions. Consequently a mass meeting took place in the City Hall, Glasgow, under the auspices of the Glasgow Branch of the Irish National Land League, which was addressed by the late Mr Parnell and Mr T. P. O’Connor, M.P. At this crowded gathering Mr J. G. Mackay, fired with righteous Highland indignation, condemned the action of the landlord referred to and his factor. Strange to relate, Mr Mackay, for his heroic action, had to resign his situation next day. His employer, however, found on reflection that the value of our hero’s services was more than the danger of his politics, and accordingly his services were continued until 1886, when he left Glasgow to start business on his own account in the town of Portree.

I must not forget to mention that, while resident in Glasgow, Mr Mackay was successful in securing 45,000 signatures to a petition in favour of the Crofters Act of 1886. These signatures were procured in a most unique fashion after great difficulty by getting the reluctant consent of the then Chief Constable to a table and chair being placed at the street corners. This petition was presented to Parliament by the late Mr Charles Fraser-Mackintosh, M.P. for Inverness-shire. From this it will be readily understood what kind of metal our hero was composed of, as in those days daring of such a kind was not tolerated where it could at all be suppressed. When Mr Mackay went to Portree he carried his principles with him, and continued to be a leader in the movement. Physically fearless and intellectually stronger than those fighting by his side, he said hard things on the political platform as well as in the newspapers, which kept him constantly in the public eye. Our hero did not attack the landlords as individuals, but no one ever denounced the system which they upheld with more vigorous language. He has done more than any other man to give the crofters better homes and better conditions, as well as greater opportunities for the education of their children. One of the most sensational arrests at the time of the Skye agitation was that of Mr Mackay. He fell into the clutches of the notorious Sheriff Ivory, who was then Sheriff for Inverness-shire, Elgin and Nairn, and of whom much has been heard and written by what is known as “ A Slip of the Pen.” The arrest took place at a time of great excitement, when dying men were being harried and poor ailing women terrorised into swoons, and when the Sheriff instituted
the famous order of a medal as a decoration for the policemen 'who captured a crofter'. Mr Mackay sent a letter of protest to the Home Secretary, and a copy of it at the same time to the “ Inverness Courier ” for publication. The letter was in these terms:—

Honoured Sir,— I have been requested to send you the accompanying copy of resolution passed at a largely-attended public meeting held at Portree on the evening of 1st November, and to express the hope that a searching enquiry will be made at once into the charges therein made against Sheriff Ivory. It does seem strange that a man, whose conduct on a former occasion in Skye was so severely condemned at the bar of public opinion, should be entrusted with such power in Skye, and that at a time when Parliament was not sitting. We in Skye can well now understand how our Irish brethren have been forced into committing such unfortunate excesses, and we can only express the hope that the Highlanders may not be driven to do the same; but if such should happen, those who have been instrumental in letting loose such a judicial monster as Sheriff Ivory upon an innocent and unsophisticated people must bear the responsibility. Highlanders have hitherto been commended for their loyalty and their respect for law and order. If such respect is at an end, the blame lies with those who entrap them into breaches of the law, and then employ the forces of the Empire to crush them and terrorise the bedridden women and children. For confirmation of this I beg to refer you to the public Press.”

The foregoing duly appeared in the “ Courier,” and on its publication Mr Mackay, on the evening of the
11th November, was arrested and charged with slandering, defaming and insulting William Ivory, Esquire, Advocate, Sheriff of Inverness, Elgin and Nairn, the words of the charge reading that he “ did hold him up to public shame, execration and reprobation as being unjust, corrupt and oppressive in the execution of his functions as Sheriff foresaid, as being a judicial monster and a person who, in his capacity of judge, was not fit or worthy to be entrusted with the high duties of his office, and who was discharging these duties in an unjust, oppressive and monstrous manner.” Mr Mackay was liberated on £100 bail, and his case never went to trial.

Much more could be written on the fearless stand of our hero of a hundred fights. Suffice it to say that his great services have been regarded as of the highest value, and the confidence which was placed in him as a wise and judicious leader was manifested in his being elected to fill numerous offices, such as member of Parish Council, School Board, and County Council, Justice of the Peace, Chairman of the Inverness-shire Liberal Association, and Executive member of the Scottish Liberal Association, and many others. Not only so, but Mr Mackay had the distinguished honour of being asked to contest Inverness-shire in the Liberal interest, which compliment he was compelled to refuse for health reasons,, having had to undergo a severe operation a year or two ago which called forth the sympathy of his numerous friends and admirers. We are glad, however, to know that he is presently in good health, and feel sure Highlanders everywhere will fervently join in expressing the hope that he may be long spared to assist in the cause of land reform, upon which he has left so deep a mark, and the settle­
ment of which would be sure to affect materially the welfare and prosperity of the Highland people, for whom he has given a life of service.

That Mr Mackay has not confined his interests to land reform is evidenced by the fact that few men know more of the folklore of the Highlands. I have often been entranced by the most interesting tales and stones of which he is full to the brim. His inimitable way of telling these gives much satisfaction and often causes much laughter, in which he joins most heartily. Mr Mackay has also contributed much to current Celtic literature, and he is an acknowledged authority on tartans, as well as on methods of wearing the Highland dress, which he himself adorns to the full. His contributions to the “ Celtic Magazine/’ the “ Highlander,” and the “ Oban Times” are signed “ MacAoidh” and “ Old Man of Storr.” Valuable

papers from his pen appear in the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Glasgow, while a characteristic lecture of his, entitled “ The Misrepresentation of Highlanders and Their History,” was published by Comunn Gaidheal ach Glaschu, before whom it was delivered. In this direction it should be mentioned that he is in great demand at meetings, where he is capable of keeping his audiences spellbound during the delivery of his discourses. He is extremely popular among the members of his clan, of which he is a Vice-President. Finally, our sketch would be incomplete without a reference to the hospitality of himself and his genial wife, which knows no bounds, and which lives in the happy memory of many friends.

“ Ever faithful, ever true.”

“ All hail, Mackay! a worthy man,
The owner of a worthy name,
We long have watched your noble deeds.
And surely they deserve a fame.
A righteous People’s cause you choose—
A deed right worthy of the man—
To fight against oppression’s laws.
And lead in Freedom’s glorious van.”

Mr Dugald Cowan,


Mr Dugald Cowan, a native of Easdale, Argyllshire, was one of the most kindly and large-hearted men I ever met. No one could have been better fitted to fill the post of Inspector of Poor, which office he filled under the Edinburgh Parish Authorities. It was in the early eighties that I first made the personal acquaintance of this genuine Christian man, in the period when the great conflict took place between the crofters and landlords. When batches of the former were sent to the Calton Jail in Edinburgh, I realised that in the Scottish Capital we had such men as Mr Cowan in entire sympathy with these poor oppressed people—men who, like Joseph of old, were there as if by a providential preparation, ready to console and minister to the wants of their brethren. Mr Cowan was Secretary of the Edinburgh Branch of the Highland Land Law Reform Association. He had associated with him at that time true men, such as Dr Carment, Bailie Walcot, and Mr John Macdonald, the last being a nephew of the late Rev. Mr Macdonald, Free Church minister of Helmsdale. These good and true men, along with our hero, did all that in them lay to cheer and encourage the imprisoned
crofters. Mr Cowan, who was held in reverence by all who knew him, visited the prisoners daily, a kindly act which gave our friends much joy and happiness in their dismal cells. Often it was my privilege to accompany him on these errands of mercy. When visiting these people he was wont to read and pray with them. The Rev. Mr Maccallum records that on one occasion he visited them. " The jailor handed him (Mr Cowan) the Bible, and opening it, he read to them in the language of the Gael. - Let us read in the gospel of Freedom. My dear brethren, be of good cheer. This friend of yours has come from the North, and he wishes me to tell you that your families are all in good health, and that they are looking forward with joy to welcome you on your victorious return home. Keep up your hearts. It is no disgrace, but the highest honour, to suffer imprisonment for the cause of truth and justice. The Lord of Hosts be with you always. Amen!" Such was the type of man and hero who stood by the people in those times of suffering.

Here I leave our venerable hero, who some years ago passed to his rest and reward. Here he gave of his best to succour the needy in their distress - a service which will ever live in the memory of those of us who remain behind.

"A Christian democrat and friend of the oppressed."

Mr Angus Mackay


Mr Angus Mackay, Swordly, Bettyhill, Sutherlandshire, is a man who has in no small degree helped to raise the condition of his fellow-countrymen. Not only has he used his voice and speech to good purpose, but his facile pen has been the means of putting many of the crofters’ enemies to flight. His able contributions to the columns of the “ Northern Ensign” during the land agitation in Sutherlandshire did much to help and strengthen the movement throughout the North. Well can I remember Mr Mackay, as President of the Strathnaver Crofters’ Association, bombarding the then Marquis of Stafford, who stood as a candidate against Mr Angus Sutherland in 1885, when the clergy were more in favour of the flesh-pots of Egypt than the crofters’ friends, with the exception of Dr Aird, Creich; the Rev. John Murray, Brora; and the Rev. Mr Mackay, Lochinver.

Our hero is a relative of Dr Hew Morrison, F.S.A., the well-known Edinburgh librarian, and greatgrandson of that notable woman, the late Jane Mackay, of Armadale, better known in the Highlands as “ Sine Armadail.” This Jane Mackay is referred to by the author of the “ Sutherland Clearances ” as
large-hearted, tender, and sympathetic, with views far beyond her days and surroundings, yet withal the “ belle ideal ” of a real Christian woman. Mr Mackay was born at Armadale in 1860, and when only twelve months old was removed to the house of his uncle, the late Hugh Mackay, at Swordly.

Our hero’s work was cf the most valuable character, and to this day he takes the same lively interest in all social questions. He has a most retentive memory, being able to quote the Scottish poet Bums from beginning to end. He has an extensive knowledge of the folklore of Sutherlandshire, in which he finds great delight. While writing, I deeply regret to learn that our hero, after a very short illness, has passed away, causing another blank in the ranks of my heroes. He loved his county and its people with an intense affection.

"He truly helped others to bear the burden of life's load."

Mr William Black,


Mr William Black, Gruids, Lairg, Sutherlandshire,, with whom I have been associated from the beginning of the land agitation in that part of the Highlands, was an outstanding champion of land reform. We have often taken part together at meetings, both political and administrative, we being colleagues on the Sutherland County Council. Mr Black, because of his stern advocacy of the people’s rights, often brought down upon his head the venom and wrath of his opponents, but he lived to fight another day. He was indeed fired with holy indignation at the tale of devastation wrought by the lords of the soil. His services rendered by collecting, sifting and giving evidence before the Lord Napier Commission, which culminated in the Crofters Act, are specially worthy of being mentioned. As a County Councillor he also rendered yeoman service. I can well remember the firm stand he took at the County Council against the Chief Constable’s application for extra police in connection with the Airdens deforcement. He represented Eddrachillis for a number of years, and did good work during his period of office.

Our hero, not finding sufficient scope for his energies and little hope of getting additional land, emigrated a number of years ago with his family, excepting Lieut. J. M. Black, M.A., F.E.I.S., of the Camerons, and headmaster of the Culcabock School. In Canada he was most successful as a farmer. While employed in connection with his farm he met with an accident which had fatal results. Thereby there was removed from our ranks a man who fought a good fight while here below, and now, we feel sure, reaps a rich reward, for he that is faithful here will receive the crown yonder.

" He knew no fear."

Mr Laurence Hassan,


Mr Laurence Hassan, who was born in' the Capital of the Highlands, was one of the kindliest of men. He was a tailor whose workmanship was always of the very best He not only interested himself in his trade, but made a point of finding time to further every movement which had for its object the elevation of the people. Indeed, one could not help being impressed with the spirit and enthusiasm which he always displayed in every good cause. In him the principles for which land law reformers have devoted their lives found a consistent and zealous advocate. Our hero having Irish connection, being a son of Mr Michael Hassan, of Londonderry, was early led to the study of economic subjects. He was proud to meet such men ,as Michael Davitt, John Dillon, T. P. O’Connor, and other leaders in the land movement. Well do I remember his unbounded enthusiasm when Mr Davitt came North many years ago, and how he rejoiced when the men and women of Sutherlandshire presented him with a Sutherland tartan plaid.
Not only did Mr Hassan take a leading part in the land movement, but also in the public affairs of the town of Inverness. For years he was the esteemed President of the Trades’ Council and the Ratepayers Association, as well as a prominent member of the Inverness Burgh Liberal Association. During this period, down to the day of his death some years ago, he did great service for the principles for which his party stood, and from which he never for one moment departed.

Mr Hassan's youngest son, William, who is engaged in journalistic work in Inverness, has imbibed the spirit of his worthy father, and follows faithfully in the paths of progress.

" Worthy father, worthy son."

Mr John Macpherson,


The name of Mr John Macpherson, the “ Glendale Martyr,” is a household word, for he is a veteran who is revered all over the Highlands. To those who know him such reverence is not to be wondered at, for he is a man of sterling, upright character, one who can be trusted to the very death. Not only is he a land reformer, but a man of great eloquence in his native tongue. I have heard him speak, and have often had the honour of speaking under his genial chairmanship. A more earnest and devoted man I have never met. The Gaelic prayers at the opening of all our meetings made by this lovable man were well worth hearing, even if one went all the way to Glendale for nothing else. I have heard him often expressing his righteous indignation at the greed and cruelty of the lords of the soil, while his worshippers gazed spellbound upon his face. I have heard him in his sorrow describing the sufferings of his countrymen, while the tears ran down the cheeks of stalwart men.
I have also heard him in his joy prophesying the day of restoration, while the faces of his heroes were glowing with the hope that the clouds would soon pass away and a better and brighter day dawn for the oppressed people. The Rev. Donald Maccallum said of him that he was like his namesake, John the Baptist, crying in the wilderness, “ O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come ?” Before our hero men were silent, for they knew he was in earnest. His imprisonment for the cause is widely known, but all that he had to endure only made him the braver and the more resolute, for he realised that the cause he espoused was just and righteous, and that God was on the side of the oppressed, for did He not say, “ Woe be unto the oppressor ” ?

I regret that our hero is beginning to feel the frailty of old age, but we hope many years are yet in store for him.

“ The ultimate issue will be perfect compensation for all the toil of the pathway.”

Mr Kenneth Davidson


Since the very beginning of the land question in the Highlands Mr Kenneth Davidson, Knockbain, Munlochy, Black Isle, has been in the front of the battle. Often did he appear at the land conferences in the early days of the movement. I think I am safe in saying that he has occupied the Presidentship of the Knockbain Liberal Association since its very inception. He is a man of large outlook, capable of discussing any political question before the country. As a member of the Ross-shire County Executive he has done much valuable work. His services at election 4 times, during which Dr Macdonald, Mr Weir, and Mr Ian Macpherson have been members, give ample evidence of his sincerity and faithfulness, without which the organisation in his district would lack much of its effectiveness,, for he could always command the support of the many stalwart men who are to be found in that part of the constituency.

“ Firm as a rock.”

Mr Michael Buchanan,


Mr Michael Buchanan, Borve, Barra, is one of those islanders who command the respect and confidence of everyone (from the youngest to the oldest) with whom they come into contact. The warmth of heart and genial, kindly manner of our hero reveal as nothing else could the sincerity of this brave and true man. Often did he plead for his countrymen, both the fishers and the land toilers, that they might be provided with suitable boats and additional land, whereby they might be able to live in greater comfort than the prevailing conditions allowed. Very earnestly he pleaded with the people not to put their trust in Tories, Unionists or Conservatives, as these polished names had nothing in them for the people. The one was the crutch of the other when the question of land was involved. Our hero’s confidence in Liberalism never .waned. Anything that was not based on Liberal principles, he contended, was Tory slavery, bondage? and a going back to Egypt. Toryism was, like the shoe that did not fit. The Tories were condemned in the high court of public opinion, and1 therefore the people should have no dealings with the party of reaction, who always promised but never fulfilled.

Along with Mr Buchanan were associated many other heroes, of whom the following are a few:— Messrs Donald Macpherson and Donald Macleod, Northbay; Donald Macdonald, crofter, Borve4; John Galbraith, Allasdale; Neil Macphee, Kilpheder; Roderick Macmillan and Neil Macdonald, Gerenish; and Donald Ferguson, J.R, Lochboisdale. Further up the island were Messrs P. Drake, Iochdar; Alexander Macmillan, Balavanach • Alexander Nicolson, Island of Grimsay; Donald Maclean, J.P., Carinish; Kenneth Maclennan, Northton; John Macdonald, Grenetote; John Macdonald, Sollas; Donald Macdonald, Stoneybridge; Donald Morrison, Garryhillis; Alexander Macdonald, Peter Walker, and Donald Macmillan, Stoneybridge; John Gordon Macintyre, Greminish; and John Mackintosh, Hallit, Benbecula. Many other names might be added to this list of men whose genuine desire for land reform is well known throughout the Western Hebrides.

" Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these.”

Mr James Macgregor,


Mr James Macgregor, Braeside, Fort-William, is one of the men who glory in being ranked among the Liberal stalwarts of the County of Inverness. Not only in politics but also in regard to other questions his wise counsel is frequently sought after, for his guidance and conclusions can always be relied on. Although stern and unbending in his Liberal principles, he is never vindictive in his attitude towards those who are in opposition to his views. Consequently, by his toleration and courteous manner, he has won over many from the other side.

Mi4 Macgregor, when a youth, came with a brother to the Lochaber district 33 years ago, and there they set up in business in the boot and shoe trade, and with courage and devotion to duty soon built up a flourishing contern.

It was no easy matter in these days for a Liberal to give vent to his principles. Nevertheless our hero refused to put his light under a bushel, and as opportunity presented itself he was to be found expounding the evils of our land system. In those days the Crofters Act was but little understood, and everything was done by those in power to delay the benefits conferred on the crofters and smallholders.
Mr Macgregor may be well termed the father of the FortWilliam Liberal Association, in which he has a profound interest. He always worked hard for the Liberal cause, especially when Sir John A. Dewar, now Lord Forteviot, appeared on the scene in 1900 as candidate, faced by the strongest opponent the Tories ever had to defend their interests. From the very start Mr Dewar and his supporters knew that the fight would be a hard one if their labours were to be crowned with success. The Liberal candidate put himself into the hands of the people, who, led by Mr Macgregor, triumphantly elected him. Every election afterwards increased his majority, and he retained the confidence of his constituents for a period of sixteen years until raised to the Peerage a few months ago, to the regret and pleasure of his admirers. Mr Macgregor displayed an equal enthusiasm in support of Mr T. B. Morison, K.C., Solicitor-General for Scotland, who was elected as Lord Forteviot’s successor without any opposition to represent the County of Inverness. Mr Macgregor is well known all over the wide Parliamentary district of Fort-William,, which extends from the county boundary at Kinlochleven to Brae-Lochaber and Corrour on the one hand, and from Fort-William to Mallaig, including Moidart and the Small Isles, on the other, for here he has done much to keep the people in touch with public affairs.

The enthusiasm of the subject of our sketch in favour of thei granting of Old Age Pensions knew no bounds, and he was equally heartily in favour of state medical benefit being provided for the great body of the crofters, as the Health Insurance Act touched only a very small proportion of this section of the people. It is Mr Macgregor’s earnest desire that Lord For-
teviot will retain the chairmanship of this important Board in connection with which he has done so much to have these benefits established throughout the Highlands. Mr Macgregor is ever on the watch-tower and is never slow to show up any injustice. He is a keen churchman as well as a politician, and as proof of his popularity is connected with nearly every body and society in the district, ready to help in every good cause. We wish him many long years so that he may see a large harvest as the reward of his ungrudging service.

In this district there are numerous other heroes. We may mention specially, as Mr Macgregor’s lieutenants, Dr Brander and Mr Alexander Campbell, both of whom are ever ready to lend a helping hand.

“He lives up to his high conception of duty.”

Mr Archibald Macdonald


Mr Archibald Macdonald,, Stenschol, Staffin, Skye, so well-known by most Land Leaguers as “ Garafad,” is one of the men who stood out valiantly for the people, when the agitation in this part of the district was of a very warlike character. He was a faithful leader and adviser, never failing to impress on the people that it was God’s will that they should be neither expatriated nor exterminated, but that they should “multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it.” Often did he protest against the assertion and belief that landlords had established a divine right to devastate the land by demanding an exorbitant rent from the people., The Rev. Donald MacCallum has written the following lines on our hero:— “ ’Gainst the lords to crush us daring To that store of legends add. Here the banner war declaring First was raised by Garafad.”

Mr Colin Chisholm


Mr Colin Chisholm, Broadstone Park, Inverness, who has passed to his rest and reward, will be remem-i bered by many as one of the most courageous of men. He took a strong stand in favour of land reform, when few men were found to realise the importance of such a subject. Mr Chisholm, being an official of the Customs and Excise, had not in these days the liberty and freedom of speech which to-day, or, I should rather say, prior to the present European war, were the valued possession of the people. Yet our hero could not restrain himself from giving expression to his advanced views on the land question, and it is wellknown that he was the first man to question Mr Charles Fraser-Mackintosh on his attitude towards the subject, when standing as candidate for the Inverness Burghs. Since that day this subject has been one of the foremost planks in the Liberal platform. Mr Chisholm was an uncle of Mr A. A. Chisv holm, the respected Sheriff Clerk of Inverness-shire.

Mr Peter Beaton.


Mr Peter Beaton, boot and shoemaker, Portree, is a son of the late Mr Alexander Beaton, a native of the same town, where he acted as carrier on his own account. Although not directly interested in the land, our hero joined the movement at the outbreak of the Braes Riots, and stood by the people' in their struggle against landlord injustice. He is of a quiet and gentle disposition, but is nevertheless strong in his conviction that the land was made for all and not for the few, who reap where they have not sown. Mr Beaton has been a member of the Skye Liberal Association since it was formed many y ars ago. A more kindly man, one could not wish to meet with, for he is true to the core in support of every good cause, whether it be political or ecclesiastical.

He is always to be found on the watch-tower

Mr Donald Bannerman


To have been associated with the late Mr Donald Bannerman, Bual, Helmsdale, Sutherlandshire, will always be to me one of the most pleasant and agreeable memories of my life in connection with land reform. We came into very close touch with one another some time before the visit of the Lord Napier Commission. In connection with this Mr Bannerman performed much valuable work in the preparation of evidence on behalf of the crofters whose condition was enquired into on behalf of the government of that day. As his forebears and my own were ruthlessly removed from the Strath of Kildonan, it is needless to say that a great friendship was immediately formed between us, and this grew as the years passed by. Our early association with one another was the beginning of the political movement in that part, which culminated in the formation of the Kildonan Branch of the Sutherlandshire Association, Mr Bannerman being elected its first secretary. It is unnecessary to say how ungrudging his services were. I can well recall his zeal during the parliamentary elections of 1885-86, when Sutherlanders set to work for the overthrow of landlord representation in the county, and when it was unanimously declared that “no landlord
or landlord’s son or landlord’s relative could adequately represent the county of Sutherland in Parliament.” This resolution realised its aim in 1886 when Mr Angus Sutherland, the son of a crofter, defeated the nominee of the house of Sutherland by a majority of 880. The banner which our hero helped to unfurl is still being held aloft in that district by a number of those who were associated with him from the beginning of the struggle. “ Work on, hope on, Self-help is noble schooling.

You do your best and leave the rest To God Almighty’s ruling.”

Mrs Mary Macpherson,


Mrs Mary Macpherson was a native of Skaebost, Snizort, Skye, and a daughter of Mr John Macdonald, crofter. She was a noted Gaelic scholar, and at nearly all the land conferences held in the Highlands was a prominent figure, being perhaps better known generally as “Marie Neighean Ian Ban.” She had a son who was a great piper. Mrs Macpherson won her place of honour among the land heroes by her numerous Gaelic songs and poems composed on the movement. These were a real inspiration to Highlanders wherever they were sung. I recollect her first appearance at a demonstration at Bonar-Bridge, to which she was accompanied by a large contingent of delegates from Skye. It was at this meeting that I first made the acquaintance of the “ Glendale Martyr ” and Mr Alexander Macdonald, Ollach.

Mr John Fraser, J.P.


Mr John Fraser, chemist, Helmsdale, Sutherlandshire, is one who has gained renown in connection with the people’s cause. His wise and judicious counsel has always been sought and freely given regarding almost every local matter, political and otherwise. The confidence reposed in him knew no bounds, all classes on the Liberal side resorting to him for guidance in all difficulties, and he was always responsive to such appeals. His genial and affable manner, combined with this readiness to help, drew people to him from far and near in a remarkable way. His popularity is proved by the fact that he has been elected to the Parish Council, School Board, and County Council, of which he was Vice-Convener, and he is also a Justice of the Peace. Many other appointments have fallen to him, and his services can never be too highly appreciated. “ He most lives who acts the best.”

Mr Alexander Macdonald,


Mr Alexander Macdonald, Ollach, Braes, Skye, 4 was born in 1846. His father was a crofter and fisherman, and came originally from Applecross to Braes, where he married, and where there were born to him three daughters and two sons. In early life our hero, like his father, took to fishing when not employed on the land. At the time of the Braes land riots Mr Macdonald was one of the leading men who, because of the treatment meted out to the people, withheld their rent until the grazings were restored to Benlea. For this act of sympathy all his effects were poinded for so-called “ arrears of rent.” He was one of seven of the leaders on that occasion who were made to suffer for the cause. He was always a prominent member at the League meetings and Highland conferences held at the various centres to discuss the land question. He was also time and again elected to the County Council, School Board, Parish Council, War Pensions Committee, Licensing Court, and various Road Committees. A member of the Skye and County Liberal Associations, he always gave his support at Parlimentary e'ections to the Liberal candidate. He is as vigorous a worker as ever for the
betterment of the social condition of the people. He is now in business as a merchant in Portree, where he has resided for some years.

Along with Mr Macdonald were associated the following, whose names may be added to our list of heroes:— Messrs Angus Stewart, Peinschorran; Lachlan Bruce, Achinshanad; and the late John Maclean, Balmeanach—all of Braes. Of those who received a month’s imprisonment were Messrs John Nicolson, Donald Nicolson, Peter Macdonald, and Alexander Finlayson—all of Balmeanach. As a token of his desire to help the people, Mr Mackenzie, Lochalsh, paid £80 of the arrears, so that the people might get Benlea grazing restored to them.

Mr Murdo Macleod,


Mr Murdo Macleod was born in the beautiful pastoral district of Elphin, Sutherlandshire. Chief on both sides of his family, he was descended from a long line of illustrious and God-fearing people, but probably from his mother's side he inherited that charming personality which endeared him to all who were privileged to make his acquaintance. His father, Mr Kenneth Macleod, was in early life shepherd on the Inverpolly Estate, and later took up residence in Elphin, marrying the daughter (who is still alive) of Mr Murdo Macleod, the blind preacher, so well known all over Sutherlandshire and Ross-shire. The hero of our sketch was one of a family of six, four daughters and two sons. His younger brother, John, died of fever, which broke out at Bedford when our forces were mobilised at the outbreak of war, and this was a great blow to his relatives.

When speaking of Elphin, one would fain take a retrospective glance at the past of this beautiful part of our Highlands. When the eviction craze was at
its height in Sutherlandshire, all inland districts seemed to be destined to be cleared of every living soul, independent of the sacred associations of an interesting past Not so, however, Elphin and Knockan, lying seventeen miles north of Ullapool, and twenty-five miles east of Lochinver. The greedy eyes of the estate officials pictured this place as let out into two hurcles of 1500 and 2000 sheep. To effect this “ Earraid Ruaidh,” or the Golspie “ Red Officer,” as he was designated, arrived one morning at the tail end of the evictions elsewhere, and produced thirtyfive summonses for removal, not counting on serious opposition here. All the men of the district betook themselves to the hills, and calmly looked on, knowing full well that they had committed their good intentions to those well able to look after their interests.

Thus it was that twelve stalwart amazons waited the arrival of the officer and his concurrents. When they descended from their conveyance they were caught and bound hand and foot, placed on a four-handed barrow, and carried shoulder-high into the higher altitudes known as the Airidh, the Aultnachaidh sheilings. There they were attended to night and day, while the clansmen kept a royal state of derision. They sadly bemoaned their lot, and made many tempting offers to gain their freedom when they found curses were unavailing. This, however, was not to be until the lapse of fourteen days, during which the Erraid was kept a close prisoner. Public opinion was at this juncture on the ascendant, and was in favour of the people and against the ruthless House of Dunrobin. The result was that the evictions at Elphin and Knockan were cancelled, much to the disgust of the officials at Scourie and Dunrobin.

Many young men and women have emigrated to different parts of the world, and we know not of any who, since the attempted eviction of their forefathers, have not been a credit to their King and country. It was from this district that there sprang the singing MacLeods, who for years sustained the interest of our annual Mod. There were Mr Roderick MacLeod, Mr Murdo MacLeod, and Mr John MacLeod, all Mod medallists. Mr Alexander MacLeod did not compete, but Mr Hugh MacLeod came out top tenor in one of the hardest competitions for modern singing in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1912, a competition which created widespread interest in that country. Thus we have this gifted family of brothers in various parts of the world—Hugh and Alexander in New Zealand, John in Canada, and Roderick in his beloved Highlands, holding up the light of song year in and year out. All these are cousins of our hero, Mr Murdo MacLeod. Both families were reared in the lap of godliness, and, forsooth! their forebears were only good enough to be cast adrift to the mercy of storm and tempest.

The subject of our sketch left home in early life, and went through the different grades of the Highland Railway system, being early noted for promotion. For a number of years he was clerk and cashier at Helmsdale Station, where he made many friends. On his promotion to Munlochy Station he received many expressions of regret and esteem, and was presented with an interesting testimonial. During his seventeen years of residence in the Black Isle he took a deep interest in every social movement which tended to advance the welfare of the community. He was the esteemed secretary of the Knockbain Liberal
Association, and was strongly in favour of a radical change in our land system. The death of so valuable a citizen a few months ago was an irreparable loss to the cause of land reform. His short life was indeed a full and valuable one, a real gift to the world, “ for he served his day and generation well.”

Mr Isaac Mackenzie


Mr Isaac Mackenzie, Hilton, Inverness, is the son of the late Mr Murdo Mackenzie, Jeantown, Lochcarron, his mother being a native of the Black Isle. His ancestors, it is believed, belonged to Kintail, as his grandfather came from there to Lochcarron in the middle of the seventeenth century. His father became an orphan early in life, and on that account went to live with his uncle, Mr Christopher Macrae, on the farm of Braemore. The father, who was employed in various capacities during his life, eventually settled down on the Duke of Fife’s Estate as a crofter, and remained there till his death.

Mr Isaac Mackenzie, after leaving school, took a t w great delight in reading history, particularly that of the race he had sprung from. Moved with the love of adventure, he resolved to join the Army. This experience of life he found rather hard and exacting, and it awakened in him the knowledge that it was not the romantic life he had dreamed of. F rom Aldershot he went to Ireland, and hence was drafted to India in the summer of 1882, where he remained for over nine years, under the late Lord Roberts and Sir Donald Stewart, of Banffshire, who, he relates, were
well liked by the troops under their command. Eventually he became battery schoolmaster, and for many years was responsible for the tuition of both men and children in various artillery batteries. For his services in this direction he received high commendation, along with a reward of 100 rupees from the Indian Government for his knowledge of Hindustani. Mr Mackenzie contracted jungle fever, and was ordered home. The bracing air of the Highlands soon restored him to health, and instead of returning to “ India’s coral strand” he set up a business, which he has carried on successfully for nearly thirty years.

Both in the Army and during his business career Mr Mackenize was a great student of political economy, his favourite authors being Adam Smith, Cobden, Henry George, and Buckle. He always said that he could not master the land question until he mastered Henry George’s splendid volume, “ Progress and Poverty.” He has also read largely such authors as Ruskin, Sir Walter Scott, Emerson, W. E. Channing, Burns, and Tennyson. Mr Mackenzie always contended that the man of brains was of more value to his country than the man of money. He is to-day one of the strongest land reformers, not only being in favour of small holdings, but believing that land should bear its rightful share of taxation, not in the interests of the few who claim ownership, but in the interests of all the people, 10 whom it should belong. “ An alert and persistent advocate of justice.”

Rev. John Macmillan,


My list of heroes would indeed be sadly lacking if I were to omit the name of the late Rev. John Macmillan, U.F. Church minister of Ullapool, Ross-shire, so well known throughout the Church and Highlands. He was a man of sterling qualities, not only as an eloquent preacher, but also as a land reformer and faithful servant of the Master whom he served so devoutly. He was one of the very few ministers pf these days who delighted to stand up in defence of the people’s rights to the soil. Few men were more beloved than Mr Macmillan was by his flock, and wherever he went in the Highlands he was looked up to as the friend of the oppressed and downtrodden. His son is the respected Rev. Dr R. A. C. Macmillan, St John’s Presbyterian Church, Kensington, presently Lieutenant in the Seaforth Highlanders. Prior to becoming a combatant officer he acted as chaplain to the Forces at Salonika. .While writing, I regret to hear that this worthy son of a .worthy father is reported killed.

“ A builder of the waste places.”

Mr Alexander Macphail


Mr Alexander Macphail, Aberdeen, though it was his lot to be resident in the Granite City, never forgot that he was descended from Highlanders, a fact of which he was always very proud. He used to say that the treatment Highlanders had received was a reproach to the country and a scandal to those in authority. He never forgot to remind the country that the Highlanders had fought her battles upon a hundred fields, and whether it was when the Gordon Highlanders, to be quicker in the fray, clung to the stirrups of the Scots Greys, and with the rousing cry of “ Scotland for ever!” charged the French at Waterloo; or as the thin red line, under Sir Colin 4 4 Campbell, with “ We’ll hae nane but Highland bonnets here,” carried the heights of Alma; or led by a Mackay from Sutherlandshire playing “ The Campbells Are Coming,” they stormed Lucknow; Highlanders were ever at the front when fighting was to be done for their country. And what was their recompense for fighting and bleeding and dying for the Empire ? Those of them who had returned, some of them tom and maimed almost be}rond recognition, came back to desolated homes and depopulated glens. They
found, to the eternal shame of those responsible, that those near and dear to them had been driven off the land, which had been theirs for centuries, to make room for grouse and deer, for turtle-fed and frowsy sporting Eglons and Cockney Lobengulas and glorified soap-boilers. Mr Macphail was indeed a most effective speaker, and often strongly denounced the evils of the land system, whereby he did much to awaken the people to the need of organising themselves to resist the cruel treatment of the lords of the soil. He was convinced that “ happiness consists in serving others.”

Mr Norman Stewart


Mr Norman Stewart, crofter, Valtos, Staffin, Skye, was looked upon as the Parnell of the land movement in that part of the Island. He took a very vigorous and active part in helping the people to get rid of the tyranny to which they were subjected by the rack rents imposed by the then Major Fraser. He gave great trouble to those in authority who wielded the rod of oppression. For his determined stand he had to suffer as a martyr, of whom there were not a few in Skye in those days. His life was cut short by an accident which had fatal results, and which removed from the district a man and a hero who knew no fear, for he realised the struggle was with a power which must ultimately surrender to the will of the people. “ He suffered that freedom and justice might be ours.”

Mr Norman Mackenzie


Mr Norman Mackenzie, Uigshader, Skye, was a man of great intellectual ability, which he always used to good purpose in favour of the social amelioration of the people. Often did he say—“ If you don’t believe me, you can go and enquire of Mr J. G. Mackay, and he will tell you all about the land from Noah downwards.” Our hero strove hard to defend the people against the tyranny inflicted upon them, and predicted the time would come when the vacant lands would be repeopled. As the generations were educated, so sure would the people’s power become stronger, and would eventually remove the laws that deprived the people of die right to live on the soil. “ He fought a good fight.”

Rev. James M. Cruikshanks


The Rev. James M. Cruickshanks, late U.P. minister in Glasgow, should perhaps rather be called a Helmsdale hero because of his connection with that part of the County of Sutherland, his father and mother .and family having resided there for years.

He was an orator of great gifts, and never lost an opportunity, in the pulpit or on the political platform, of exposing the wrongs that were inflicted upon the people. Well can I remember hearing him in my boyhood preach in the Free Church at Helmsdale, and depict the Sutherland Clearances and their effect on the people. Taking as his subject Naboth’s Vineyard, he scathingly denounced the greed and oppression of landlordism. His deliverance on that Sabbath morning will always live in my memory. Would that we had more such ambassadors! In his speeches as President of the Glasgow Sutherlandshire Association he often said that the armed forces sent to the Highlands to suppress the people’s movement would return completely ashamed of themselves after being made the laughing-stock of the country. These men, he was wont to say, were, thank God! different stuff from Highland landlords and factors, and had hearts of pity. He felt it his duty as a clergyman to stand up in defence of the people and of those who pled their cause.

“ A faithful pastor and friend of the oppressed.”

Mr William Dallas,


Mr William Dallas, chemist, Nairn, who passed away a few months ago, was a native of Cawdor. His death in the prime of life came as a shock to his numerous friends and admirers. He was not only a loveable character, but a man of strong conviction and outstanding personality, who at all times commanded the highest respect of those who had the pleasure of meeting him. For over forty years he was identified with the public life of the town of Nairn. Indeed, Mr Dallas was early marked out for a leading place in municipal affairs. He was a Magistrate, and afterwards, at a critical time, was elected Provost, which office he filled with conspicuous ability, for which he received the congratulations of his fellow-citizens. He was also a valued member of the School Board and a director of Nairn Academy. One can say of him that where wrongs had to be righted there he was found, giving of his very best to further the interests of the people among whom he resided. He was also a strong churchman. In politics he was a staunch Liberal, and occupied the presidentship of the Nairn Liberal Association for
years. Being a speaker of high ability, he was in great demand at meetings, and where he led Liberals were sure to follow. The land question was his great theme, and he always kept it in the foreground. It may truly be said of him that in his death a great leader has fallen.

“ A most loveable man.”

Mr Donald Campbell, J.P.,


Mr Donald Campbell, Kingussie, was born in the year 1835 in Glen Guynack, the pretty mountain pass above Kingussie Glen Guynack, in our hero’s early days, was a place markedly different from what it is now, for then it contained a considerable crofter population, of whose habitations only the sites now remain visible. These humble tillers of the soil had to give way to the big sheep farmers, who in their turn disappeared to make room for grouse and deer. Mr Campbell was for the greater part of forty years a leading merchant in Kingussie until he retired a few years ago. All through life he has been an ardent Liberal in politics. The late Mr W. E. Gladstone had few warmer admirers or more consistent supporters. At no time was he a believer in Mr Joseph Chamberlain, not even when he and the faithful “ Jesse ” of three acres and a cow celebrity were touring the Highlands as land reformers many years ago. Naturally Mr Campbell is against the protection policy enunciated some years ago by Mr Chamberlain. He has grim reason, for he remembered the old Protection days when oatmeal was 45s a boll, a sack of flour £6, a 4-lb. loaf Is, a io. of tea 4s, a lb. of sugar
7d to 9d. He was one of the earliest advocates of land reform. He was subjected to a very lengthy examination by the Lord Napier Commission because of his knowledge of the wants and aspirations of the smallholder class in the Badenoch district. Mr Campbell is a Highlander of the Highlanders. He speaks Gaelic to perfection, and, like his father before him, writes Gaelic verses. His great popularity may be judged by the fact that he has filled the following offices:—Member of the Burgh Commission and the Town Council for 21 years, of the School Board for 22 years, and of the Parochial .board and Parish Council for 25 years—a truly remarkable record of service.

“ A veteran every inch.”

Mr William Cuthbert


Mr William Cuthbert, Tigh-rannoch, Helmsdale, was in his early years apprenticed to the cooper trade, and afterwards, because of his extensive knowledge of the fishing industry, set up in business as a fishcurer. This he carried on successfully till he retired some years ago. Although thus actively engaged, and not directly interested in the land question, he yet became identified at an early period with the land reform movement. He took a lively share in the work, and as a member of the Kildonan Branch of the Sutherlandshire Association rendered most valuable service, so much so that when Mr John Macleod was chosen to represent the County Mr Cuthbert was elected to the important post of County Secretary,, which he has ever since filled with credit to himself and satisfaction to the members of the County Association. Mr Cuthbert’s services have indeed been freely given in the interests of the people. There are few offices oc a public character to which he has not been elected, and all of which he has held to the advantage and benefit of his fellow-countrymen. He is presently Chairman of the Kildonan School Board,
and displays much interest in educational affairs. It may truly be said of him that he is the propelling force in land reform circles in the County of Sutherland, while in regard to social matters his advice and aid are constantly sougnt and given. He assuredly believes in the well-known saying, “ My fellowcreatures have claims upon me.”

Mr Alexander Macleod


The late Mr Alexander Macleod, Navidale, Helmsdale, will be remembered as one of the founders of the Kildonan Liberal Association. He was one of the most sincere land reformers I ever met. Storm or sunshine, his place at land meetings was never vacant. His zeal knew no bounds, for he acted and worked as if the land movement depended upon himself alone. He was an expert questioner of the Tories at election times. I remember how in the old Free Church School he tackled Mr Macleod Fullerton, a lawyer, who was Tory candidate. He enquired of the candidate if he knew his Bible. This reply being in the affimative, our hero asked if he knew that it contained the words, “ Woe be unto you, oh! ye lawyers.” This staggered the candidate, great confusion followed, and the meeting came to an abrupt conclusion, the questioner being cheered by the great following of Liberals who were out in force against this intruder. Mr Macleod was sound in the faith, so stern that he always declared he would go down to the grave a Land Leaguer, a promise which he truly kept.

“ He "nswered life’s great end.”

Mr Thomas Matheson,


Mr Thomas Matheson, Dalchalm,, Brora, was resident in Gartymore, Helmsdale, until some years ago. He was one of the men who gave yeoman service to the cause of land reform. He detested everything that savoured of compromise. He was out and out for a full settlement of the land question, and never wavered in his belief that if only the people remained true to the cause they would certainly triumph. He was a man of great courage in action and speech. Indeed, he did not know what fear meant. His strong desire to advance the cause of the people enabled him to overcome all manner of difficulties, none daring him in his onward march. Such was the type of the heroes of the early agitation. They were men whom the people trusted. Mr Matheson, as a member of the County Council, gave good and faithful service. Our wish is that he may be long spared to champion the varied interests of his native county.

“ The real heights in human life are the heights of self-forgetfulness.”

Mr James Macdonald


Mr James Macdonald, painter, Paton Street, Inverness, is a son of the late Mr James Macdonald, plasterer. He was born in 1864, and after passing out of school became apprenticed to his trade, under the late Mr Donald Noble, father of the present Liberal Agent for the Inverness District of Burghs. On completing his apprenticeship he was employed in various parts of Scotland, his workmanship and good taste calling forth the highest commendation of his employers and their clients. While yet a young man Mr Macdonald gave clear indications that he was marked out for greater things than merely skill in his handicraft. In early life he was moved to interest himself in social questions. He eventually joined himself to the Liberal forces of the Burgh, with the object of pressing vigorously on those in authority the need for the rectification of the numerous anomalies then and still existent. The land question, however, became his favourite theme, and he never lost an opportunity of denouncing the system which permitted the land to become the possession of the few to the detriment of the many. This subject,
of which he is an able exponent, he always keeps to the forefront. Mr Macdonald was President of the Trades’ Council for a period, and also President of his own Trade Union, of which he was also the founder. He is an active member of the Inverness Burgh Liberal Association and of various other Committees existing for the benefit of the community. At election times he is a force to be reckoned with, his opponents always coming in for a lengthy heckling, an art in which our hero is an expert, largely through his extensive knowledge of working-class conditions.

“ Honour to those whose words or deeds Thus help us in our daily needs.”

Mr Donald Macdonald


Mr Donald Macdonald, Lappan, Dunbeath, Caithness, was called to rest on May 14, 1915, his death making a blank in the ranks of the land reformers of the County of Caithness. He was a well-known worker in the movement4 a man and hero whose zeal and unselfishness in the cause were unimpeachable. He had been pronlinent in the fight for better conditions of access to the soil for long years, taking part in the struggle which resulted in the passing of the Crofters Act, and later in the agitation which gave us the Small Landholders Act. For many years he attended every demonstration of importance in the North of Scotland intended to forward the policy so dear to his heart. He was one of the speakers at the meeting held at Dunbeath in 1911, when it looked as if the House of Lords was again to throw out the Small Landholders Bill. He declared that if the Bill were not passed a no-rent policy would be adopted in Caithness. Mr Macdonald was one of the most loveable of men, honest and open as the day, genial and warm-hearted. Even those who were opposed to him in politics warmly liked and sincerely respected him. His high character won for him considerable influence in Latheron Parish, where he will long be remembered.

How applicable to our departed friend are the following lines:—
“ I have trusted Thee for power,
Thine can never fail;
Words which Thou Thyself didst give me
Must prevail.”

Mr John MacGilchrist Ross,


Another outstanding hero of land reform was Mr John MacGilchrist Ross, so well known throughout the North as Ross Teaninich. In connection with the Highland Land League he proved himself a worthy friend and champion of the people’s cause. At the annual conferences of the League in those days, at various centres of the Highlands, Mr Ross, as President of the Ross-shire Liberal Association, never failed to raise his voice on behalf of the oppressed and downtrodden crofters. His wise and judicious counsel, combined with his force of character and ability as a speaker, always gave strength to the agitation. His inimitable manner of putting his case invariably commanded the greatest attention and respect of his audiences, which in those early years were usually composed of delegates from sister Associations from every hamlet in the Highlands, along with the Highland members of Parliament who came to listen to the numerous grievances under which the people laboured. The events of these days were of a most stirring and inspiring character. Mr Ross, who was proprietor of Teaninich, retired a number of years ago, and took up residence at Ledstone, Edderton,
where in the month of March, 1915, a life full of activity and zeal for the welfare of his beloved Highlands came to a peaceful close at the advanced age of 82 years.

Mr James Ross, late of Polio, a brother of our departed hero, also well known in the North, follows in the footsteps of his estimable brother. A member of the Ross-shire Liberal Association, he is always ready to assist the good cause when and where opportunity presents itself.

“ Happiness consists in giving and serving others.”

Mr William Gunn


Mr William Gunn, who carried on business in Castle Street and Lombard Street as a draper, was a contemporary of the late Mr John Murdoch. His views were of a most advanced type, and in regard to the land question he based his arguments on the Sermon on the Mount. He presented to the Inverness Public Library a large double-volume Bible for the use of the readers frequenting that institution. It is said he also left at his death a substantial sum for the Northern Infirmary. Another strong land reformer who was associated with him was Bailie Stewart, who was in business in the same line in Castle Street These two men served their day and generation well.

“ They laid the foundations that we might build thereon.”

Mr John Munro,


Mr John Munro, plasterer, Tain, was a most active worker, and during his life initiated many schemes which leave their impress on the people of his native town. He was a staunch land reformer, occupying the position of President of the Tain Liberal Association for years. His genial disposition and untiring efforts made all he put his hand to a success. While actively engaged in social work, he also devoted much energy to Christian service, being an officebearer of the U.F. Church and Superintendent of the Sabbath School, and sharing in the work of many other organisations. His acquaintance and counsel were eagerly sought after, and the demise of so useful a citizen and friend of democracy as Mr Munro proved himself to be is much deplored. He caught a chill, which developed into pneumonia, and the end came in March, 1915. Mr Munro was a brother of Dr Andrew Munro, of Sydney.

He served his day and generation well

Mr Hugh Campbell


Mr Hugh Campbell, blacksmith, Reay, Caithness, was one of the heroes in the land movement in the County of Caithness. Although self-taught, he was a man of exceptional abilities, and was a great favourite, not only with land reformers, but with all with whom he came into contact. As a platform speaker Mr Campbell could discourse on the evils of the land system with great fluency and effectiveness. His sympathies were out and out for the people’s cause, and he fought with them in every struggle for their rights. No meeting, whether social or political, was considered complete without his presence. Some years ago I had the pleasure of seeing him on my way from Thurso to Melvich, and I found him just the same enthusiast as he was when I made his acquaintance thirty-five years before. His hopes of a solution of the land problem never abated one jot Mr Campbell was a great authority on place-names, and his extensive knowledge of Gaelic gave him an advantage over many who did not speak the Celtic language. No man could have been more willing and ready to help any movement forward with his
forceful and respected personality. Like many others who fought in the battle for freedom, Mr Campbell has been called to higher service, and through his death in December of last year at the advanced age of 83 the work and the ranks of the reformers are the poorer to-day. Councillor David Macleod, merchant, was also with our hero in the fight.

“ That life is long which answers life’s great end.”

Mr Duncan Mackintosh


Mr Duncan Mackintosh, Queensgate, Inverness, is a son of the late Mr Alex. Mackintosh, Dunlichity, Inverness-shire, who was born in the year 1812 on the Macgillivray’s Estate of Dumnaglass. His mother belonged to tne Knockbain parish of the Black Isle. Our hero himself was born in 1860s and learned much in his younger days of the evictions on the estate referred to and in surrounding districts. His forebears were crofters, and at intervals were occupied in weaving, which was then much more common than to-day. At a very early period Mr Mackintosh became apprenticed to the drapery trade with Mr Donald Macculloch, Eastgate. After serving his time, he worked with Mr John Forbes, High Street, and in 1897 started business in partnership with his brother John, who had been employed for over thirty years in Wales. John, who was also a robust land reformer, passed away a few years ago. Duncan is still hale and hearty, and commands a large patronage in the community of Inverness, where he is highly esteemed and respected.

Mr Mackintosh’s views are most advanced on all questions, but particularly in regard to the land. He used to relate that where there were fifteen crofters on the Dunlichity Estate there were now only two. He always asserted that these crofters lived in comfort, and would do so to-day if only they got the land. He deplored the fact that only three occupied the lands of Gask, where thirty to forty lived before. Was it any wonder that the Highlands were depleted, when small estates were like this? Mr Mackintosh, who is a member of the Burgh and County Liberal Associations, takes every opportunity of emphasising the evils of our land system, which keeps under sport what should go to the support and maintenance of the young manhood of the country. Mr James Fraser, Croachy, Daviot, and Mr John Murray, Raigmore Tower, were also brave heroes in the fight.

“ Every good thing said or done will help to remove injustice and suffering.”

Mr Wm. K. Macdonald


Mr William K. Macdonald, King Street, Inverness, who was brought up by his grandfather in Invergordon, is a strong Liberal and Land Reformer. He delights to speak of the late Mr John Murdoch, whose paper, “ The Highlander,” exposed the hardships of the people. When a boy he used to get this paper for his grandfather, and he says it was a strange coincidence that the train which carried the paper was itself drawn by an engine called the “ Highlander.” That would be about thirty-eight years ago. Mr Macdonald says with no vain boasting that he was privileged to read the writings of Mr Murdoch in these early days, and the tales of suffering and hardship recorded in the columns of “ The Highlander ” made him resolve to be the Radical land hero that he is to-day.

“ The good seed sown is sure to bear fruit.”

Mr John Linton


Mr John Linton, Old Edinburgh Road, Inverness, is a sen of the late Mr George Linton, of Aberarder and Tomnahurich. He has been occupied in connection with agriculture all his life, and was in occupancy of the farm of Castlecraig for a period of twenty-one years. He was not afraid to express his views on the land question, and spoke in strong terms of the amount of land that was laid waste throughout Rossshire, such as Braemore, Strathnashalaig, Achindraen, and many other fertile parts, much of which was cleared afterwards to make room for deer. Mr Linton is an expert in agriculture, and has valued for, as well as given evidence on behalf of, the Board of Agriculture. While in Ross-shire he filled several offices, such as member of the School Board, and he now fills the position of Vice-President of the Inverness Burgh Liberal Association and the Inverness Junior Liberal Association, where he takes an active share in every movement which has for its ob ject the uplifting of the people. Along with him were associated Messrs William Mackintosh, Greig Street, Peter Mackenzie and Donald Mackenzie, May Terrace.

“ The land for the people is their constant plea.”

Mr Alexander Gunn


Mr Alexander Gunn, Bual, Helmsdale, is a man of whom it can be said that for him the powers that were or are have no terror. His strong faith in the righteousness of the people’s cause takes from him all fear of anything that landlords or their underlings may say or do. He himself had to suffer at the hands of Dunrobin because of his principles and his fearless defence of the people’s rights. I remember well the rally of the people to his support when the Sheriff Officer came to poind his effects, although at that time he had an application in the hands of the Crofters’ Commission to have a fair rent fixed. That day at his house will live in my memory. In the morning there was a peat-stack at the end of the house, but before midday was much past the peats were scattered all over the place, they having served as useful missiles against the officer and his concurrents. Mr Gunn was in his day a “ gun ” of no small calibre, and during the last thirty-five years has used his powder and shot to good purpose in putting the enemies of land reform to flight. Beciuse of his sterling qualities and his brave stand for the people he was elected a member of the County
Council of Sutherland, where he rendered good service. He is still active and doing duty in connection with the Kildonan Liberal Association, of whch he is a valued member and supporter.

Other heroes in this district of the Bual who may be mentioned here were Mr Alexander Bruce and Mr William Bruce, both now deceased. Their loyalty to the cause knew no bounds, their houses being placed at the disposal of the Association for district meetings, which were so helpful in building up the organisation in those days. From the same district was also Mr Heman Macleod, who not only took part in advocating land reform, but was in those days looked upon as the Land League singer. He possessed a sweet, melodious voice, and was in great demand at all political social meetings tnroughout the county. In the Marrel district of Helmsdale there is Mr Wm. Poison. Although quiet and unassuming, he always stands firm as a rock for the land reform cause, never failing to support the men who voice his views. Along with him were the late Messrs Hugh Macleod, West Helmsdale, Alexander Macleod, Marrel, and Mr John Gordon, do. All three, after loyal and devoted service to the cause of land reform, passed away some years ago.

“ If honour calls, where’er she points the way, The sons of honour follow and obey.”

Mr Murdo Mackenzie


The subject of our sketch was born at Balchladick, Eochinver, Sutherlandshire, in August, 1840. He is the elder son of the late Mr John Mackenzie, crofter, Balchladick. He was educated at the Free Church School, and afterwards at a preparatory college for civil service appointments at Aberdeen, presided over by the late Mr William Rattray. In 1860 he entered the Excise service as preventive officer. Finding there was very little chance of promotion from that rank, he passed into the surveying branch of the service, and rose step by step to the rank of supervisor. He is the only one who has risen from the rank of preventive man to that of supervisor, and this says much for his pluck and determination. In 1870 he took much interest in lectures in favour of the Education Bill for Scotland, which was then before the country. In 1873 he attended the meeting at which The Highlander ” Newspaper Company was started at Inverness, and became one of its shareholders. He continued to write to its columns as long as the paper lasted. Mr Mackenzie was one of the most ardent temperance and land reformers. He was also a strong opponent of
the game laws of the country, and in 1880, when there was a Bill before the House of Commons on this question, he collected valuable evidence of the ravages of ground and winged game, which he gave to the late Mr William MacCombie, M.P. for West Aberdeenshire, and for which he was cordially thanked. While resident in England he used his facile pen to good purpose by contributing outspoken articles to the columns of “ The Highlander ” and other papers, which helped greatly in those early times to bring the question of the bad land laws into prominence. When again resident in the west of Ross-shire he took a lively part in securing grants for building piers and constructing footpaths for the people, and in regard to this he met with good success. As Chairman of the School Board he was the means of helping forward better educational facilities, for which service he was mentioned in the Department’s Blue Books. After he retired from the Civil Service he served as representative for the Dundonnel district in the Ross-shire County Council, taking an active share in the work of that body. On removing to Easter Ross, he was elected President of the Fearn Liberal Association, and a member of the Scottish Liberal Executive, and a Justice of the Peace for Ross. He gave much valuable aid in connection with the Lloyd George enquiry in the North. Indeed, it can be said that during the last fifty years Mr Mackenzie has been an active co-operator in connection with land and all other social questions, giving freely of his time and means for the promotion of those movements which had for their aim the elevation of the people.

This sketch of our hero’s life would indeed be incomplete were I to leave out mention of the following
thoughtful and generous act on the part of Mrs Mackenzie, who is as ardent as her respected husband, and who, out of respect for Mr Murdoch, called one of their sons John Murdoch Mackenzie. When the late Mr John Murdoch, the pioneer of land reform, was on his way to America, he stayed a night with the Mackenzies at Fort-William. Mrs Mackenzie, wishing that Mr Murdoch should look his best in his Highland costume, which he always wore, and which he adorned to the full, called on a tailor in the burgh and asked him if he could make a kilt suit for Mr Murdoch and have it ready before morning, as he was leaving by an early boat. The tailor said he could by keeping three of his men at work all night. Mrs Mackenzie asked Mr Murdo«h to leave his jacket and kilt on a chair, which she would place at his bedroom door, as she wanted to examine them in view of his journey. Mr Murdoch did so, and the suit was immediately sent down to the tailor, and in the morning Mr Murdoch found a new suit waiting him, the old one having been removed. He thanked Mrs Mackenzie for her great kindness, and at his first meeting in Philadelphia told how generously he had been treated by Mrs Mackenize, the wife of one of his great friends. A report of this meeting appeared in the “ Philadelphia Ledger,” a copy of which came into the hands of friends in the home country. It is from this that I am able to record this kindly and considerate act on the part of the wife of my Lochinver hero.

“ With latent power and with love of truth.
And with virtues fervent and manifold.’

Sir Alexander Rae


In dealing with the Highland land heroes I cannot omit mention of the valuable services given to the movement by the then only outstanding and influential paper which entered the houses of the people, the “ Northern Ensign,” having its office at Wick. In those days Mr William Rae, the proprietor, who was Provost of Wick, stood up faithfully for the rights of the people, never flinching even in face of strong landlord opposition, from his task of championing the cause of land reform. At this time in the history of the agitation there sat in the editorial chair Mr Grant, who was noted for his outspoken and fearless leading articles, which always struck an effective blow at those who dared to usurp their power and authority, to the detriment of the people. Mr Grant had a charming personality, and his services on the side of the weak and oppressed were much valued in those days, when might was considered right. The “ Ensign,” which has for its motto, “ An injury done to the meanest subject is an insult upon the whole constitution,” strove, without fear or favour, to promulgate this doctrine, and to prove that right was right, and must prevail, because it was based on justice and equity
as between man and man, while might was tyranny and force, and sought to crush the weak. After the death of Mr William Rae, the “ Ensign,” under the able airectorship of Sir Alexander Rae, continued to render the same lofty, courageous and devoted service in the settlement of all social questions. Not only did Sir Alexander wield his facile pen to advantage, but he was well known and admired as a speaker on the political platform. He also makes an ideal chairman, and at election times can steer the helm in such a manner that the political barque never fails to reach the desired haven. His honour of knighthood, conferred upon him by the King a few years ago, gave unbounded satisfaction not only to the people of his own native county, but to the whole North of Scotland. His numerous friends throughout the Highlands wish him and Lady Rae many years to occupy and adorn the well-deserved honour., Since Sir Alexander Rae retired from business a few years ago, the “ Ensign ” changed into other good hands, when it was taken over by ex-Provost George Ross, who also is one of the faithful band of heroes of the County of Caithness.

“ I have seen thee in the fight
Do all that mortal may.”

Mr Donald Simpson,


Mr Donald Simpson, Achrimsdale, Brora, who died a number of years ago at the advanced age of 92 years, was a prominent hero in the fight for better conditions for the people. He was a crofter as well as a blacksmith to trade. He was the President of the Clyne Branch of the Sutherlandshire Liberal Association, and through his instrumentality a very strong and effective organisation was built rp in that extensive parish. A man of wide outlook and much above the average intellectually, he was consequently much to the front in the movement for land reform. Often I had the privilege of working along with him, and his enthusiasm might not inaptly be compared to that of a general leading his men to battle, with the sure expectation of a decisive victory. It may be of interest to record that while giving evidence before the Lord Napier Commission Mr Simpson stated the fact that the distiict of Achrimsdale was held by sixteen families, numbering forty-eight persons, with an area of about forty-nine acres, divided into lots ranging from two to six acres each, showing an average of about one acre for each person, upon which it was almost impossible to subsist without other means. He demanded increase of holdings, with security of
tenure, by Act of Parliament, and free altogether from the will of the landlord, as represented by the factor. He also fought strongly to have all permanent improvements credited to the people, and not calculated, as was the habit, to add to the rents when members of the family succeeded to the father or mother.> No one rejoiced more than Mr Simpson when the Crofters Act came into force, for through' it his demands were realised, and it put an end once and for all to the threats so often held over the heads of the people while tenants at will or yearly tenants. These threats of removal had been common prior to 1886. The Crofters Act was indeed great cause for rejoicing, for it distinctly said—Thus far shalt thou come, and no further. On several occasions Mr Simpson was offered the use of Tory conveyances to carry him to the poll on election days. These offers, of course, he stoutly refused, preferring to walk, even when frail and weak, rather than have it said that he was conveyed at the expense of his opponents. This independence will give slight indication of the genuineness of our hero. Along with him were associated in the movement many good men and true, among whom were Messrs Henry Macleod, Thomas Kennedy, Donald and .William Fraser, Angus Murray, John Barr, and Alexander Macpherson, all of Achrimsdale ; William Matheson and John Conon, Greenhill; Alexander Maclean and William Sutherland, Dalchalm, with George Mackay, who used to cheer the forces with the strains of his bagpipes, which few could handle with better effect

“ Truth crushed to earth shall rise again;
The eternal years of God are here.”

Sir Henry Munro


It can be asserted with truth that no one ever deserved greater admiration from the men of the North than Mr Henry Munro, whom the King delighted to honour with a knighthood a few years ago. He has been indeed a bright star in the northern horizon for the last forty years. He was a man among men to whom the citizens of the Highland Capital always looked as a leader, whose vision of men and things could always be relied upon. His affable manner and large-hearted sympathy with the downtrodden and oppressed was evident in all his actions and speech. His grasp of all subjects brought him much into public prominence, and he always gave of his very best to bring about better conditions for the working classes, with whom he was so closely identified because of his fearless advocacy of their interests. His valuable services to the Highlands as a member of the Royal Commission in 1892, so well known as the “ Deer Forest Commission,” will always be remembered with gratitude. His experience on this Commission enabled him to see the extensive desolations to be found all over the Highlands, and, if such were necessary, made him more convinced than ever of the wrongs committed in depleting the straths
and glens of the North of their manhood. His views on the land question grew stronger from day to day, and now, in his advanced years, he deeply deplores that so little has been done to carry out the recommendations of the Royal Commission, of which he was an honoured member. He never seeks to conceal his sore disappointment with the patched-up measure of 1911, which has proved so faulty and unworkable. He holds strongly to the view that Lord Pentland’s original Bill should never have been departed from. Not only is Sir Henry a land and sociaX ref ormer, but he is also a philanthropist, whose kindly acts to the struggling poor will never be sufficiently known, as he never allowed his left hand to know what his right hand gave. As I have it from those who partook of his generosity, I am able to record this great trait in his character, and to say that to-day he is regarded as one of those who sincerely seek to practise the Sermon on the Mount Such lives as his are indeed God’s gift to this world of struggle, when kindly hearts are needed to soothe the suffering of the people. His mother was a Macleod, a native of Brora, her forbears having been removed from Strath Brora during the Clearances.

When the “ Grand Old Man,” Mr Gladstone, passed away in 1898, Sir Henry, who was then President of the Inverness Burgh Liberal Association, said of him—“ We join to-night as citizens of a great Empire to mourn with the whole civilised world in the loss of the greatest statesman of this or any other age, for a greater than William Ewart Gladstone hath not arisen since the beginning of the Christian Era. We admire him for his statesmanship, for his scholarship, for his literary power and his gifts of oratory, but
we admire him still more for the beauty of his life and the loftiness of his ideals. Had the great man lived in the days of the prophets, William Ewart Gladstone would have been ranked with the greatest of the prophets, but to-day he is simply recognised as a man of supreme genius and commanding power. A prophet nevertheless he was, and a prince among men. Shall we ever look on his like again ? We have reason to be proud that the greatest of all Britons was a Scotsman and a citizen of the Highland Capital. We rejoice because of the heritage which he has given us in his life and in his death. He who was as the ' shadow of a great rock in a weary land ' to the downtrodden and oppressed is taken away from us, but the man himself shall never die. He shall be to generations yet unborn as an inspiration and an encouragement to do good work in the service of their fellowcitizens, and for the advancement of the best interests of the whole world. Let us who are left try to be worthy of the heritage so great a man has left us.” Of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, late Prime Minister, who swept the country in 1906, receiving the largest Liberal majority ever known in the Commons, he used to speak as the most lovable of men, and when deploring the loss of valuable lives he was wont to say of them—“ Death to us should be looked at as a transfer of our activities to another sphere, under better supervision, a change of address.”
,br /> The foregoing quotations ought of themselves to be sufficient to convey in some small measure the great life and rich qualities of Sir Henry Munro, but I cannot close this biography without adding the beautiful words recorded of him in an illuminated address presented to him some eighteen years ago. It is set out
in Munro tartan bordering, with a picture of Inverness and other pieces of Highland scenery, and at the foot it bears the Inverness town coat-of-arms, the whole work being most artistically executed. The address is as follows:—

“ Henry Munro, Esq., J.P., Honorary President,
“ Inverness Burgh Liberal Association.

“ We, the members of the Inverness Burgh Liberal Association and other Liberal friends, recognising the long and honourable service which you have rendered to the cause of Liberalism in Inverness, desire to express to you how deeply we esteem your steadfast adherence to the principles and party of political liberty and progress, and our high appreciation of the just, the generous, and the kindly consideration which you have extended to all matters affecting the interests of public and private life in the Highlands, more particularly as President of our Association. We have had occasion to observe and esteem the diligent, faithful and devoted attention which for the long period of twelve years you have given to the duties of that office, and the ability with which you have ever discharged its ofttimes onerous and delicate responsibilities.
,br /> “ It will always be to us a source of the keenest gratification that the official organisation of the party, not only in the Inverness District of Burghs, but throughout the North of Scotland, has for so many years been influenced by your wise and beneficent counsel, and that as Honorary President the Inverness Burgh Liberal Association is still privileged to associate with its aims and objects your continued sympathy and support.

“ Recognising also that the qualities with which you have so liberally adorned your political life in the Council Room and on the public platform are the outcome of high moral and intellectual endowments, we desire to add an expression of our great admiration for the integrity of character, the gentleness and courtesy of disposition which we have gratefully observed to be the foundation of all your public utterance and action. Our best wishes go out to you and yours. May you and they in unbroken companionship and through a long life of usefulness and happiness ever receive the richest blessing of the Most High.

“ We are, “ H. Campbell-Bannerman,
George O. Trevelyan,
James Bryce,
R. L. Haldane,
Walter S. B. Maclaren,
James A. Duncan,
Henry Bell,
Gilbert Beith,
R. Munro-Ferguson,
Finlay M. Mackenzie,
George Ross,
James Lawrence,
Alexander Dunbar,
Alexander Gordon,
K. Mackenzie,
W. D. Mitchell.”

It should also be mentioned that Sir Henry Munro has been frequently approached to stand for the Inverness Burghs, an honour which up to the present he has declined. It is the wish of all that Sir Henry and Lady Munro may be long spared to one another and to the Northern Highlands.

“ An honest man’s the noblest work of God.”

Mr Norman Murray


Mr Norman Murray, now of St James Street, Montreal, is a native of Lewis, Ross-shire, having been born in Ness, Lewis, in the year 1853. He emigrated to Canada in 1881, but though thus far removed from the place of his birth, he loves his native land with an unbounded affection, while his able and trenchant contributions to the Press in favour of the restoration of the land to the native people year in and year out have helped largely to cement public opinion on the question. Mr Neil Murray, our hero’s father, was one of those who refused to be driven to America, as many were in those days., This was when Galson was desolated and Mr Murray’s croft reduced to one-third of its size.

Mr Norman Murray, who is a widely-read man, with extensive knowledge of the people’s needs, never fails to do all the good he can for the material prosperity of all men, but particularly in regard to his native Highlanders. He declares that his native island is nearly 1000 square miles in area, half of which is under large sheep farms. The population is about 30,000, of whom about 6000 have enlisted since the beginning of the present European War. They
are the most Celtic of the whale of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Mr Murray used to assert that several of the most distinguished men of the Empire were of Lewis ancestry. Among such men were Lord Macaulay, whose grandfather was a minister in the island; Mr William Ewart Gladstone, whose mother was a native; and Mackenzie, the Canadian explorer, after whom Mackenzie’s River is named. Lewismen were, on several occasions within the memory of many people living, the victims of the clearing mania of the Highland landlords of the time. When treated as they should be, such men are the country’s greatest asset. Mr Murray longs for the time when men will be of more value than sheep or deer. “ God speed the day.”

“ The men, that move the world are the ones who do not let the world move them.”

Mr Donald Murray,


Mr Donald Murray, late of the National Liberal Club, London, was a son of the manse of Shieldaig, Lochcarron, and was early in the van in the struggle for land reform. He was the able Secretary of the London Land Law Reform Association, whose labours of love in connection with the cause cannot be over-estimated. Along with him must be mentioned his brother James, who had all the qualifications necessary to a reformer in a marked degree. Both of these men gave strenuous and devoted service on behalf of their kith and kin, and though these brother heroes are lost to the sight of human eyes, “ still their name and memory lingers with us, who knew such pure souls and loving hearts.”

“ There is no sweeter repose than that which is bought with labour.”

Mr James M. Simpson,


The parish of Clyne, in Sutherlandshire, has produced many heroes in connection with the land agitation. Mr James M. Simpson, Achrimsdale, Brora, was a son of Mr Donald Simpson, and, like his venerable father, was early imbued with the fighting instinct. In the early eighties he was employed as manager of a large house-furnishing establishment in Glasgow, and during every spare moment of his time he was writing or speaking in the interests of the cause. He died at the early age of 29 years, but although his life was so short he rendered most conspicuous service, thus proving that brief lives may accomplish more than many long ones.

Mr Simpson’s activities were unbounded, and during his holiday periods he did much at public meetings in his native county to inflame the Celtic spirit, a thing which he could accomplish in a most convincing manner. He was a prominent member of the Glasgow Sutherlandshire Association, of which his brother John is still an active official, being as zealous in this matter as his late respected father and brother.
The type of man Mr Simpson was may be readily seen from the following letter, written on 20th June, 1885, to his friend and neighbour, Mr Thomas Kennedy, Achrimsdale“ I was very sorry to learn from my father’s letters that you were unable to attend the Land Law Reform Association meetings during the winter, which was the quaint way in which he referred to your illness. I hope the warm summer weather w’ill renovate your winter-assailed health. You were asking me what we were going to do for the crofters. Let me ask you—What are you doing for yourselves? I know there is good material in the county if it could be worked. This is really a time when every man’s hand should be at the plough. It is only by industrial effort that success can be attained, and every mother’s son of us should go earnestly to work. I trust the people of Clyne are not apathetic in the matter. Why, amid the din of battle, is the voice of Kennedy not heard, and the pibroch of George Mackay silent? Let me hear how is the political pulse of Clyne beating? We are working hard here, whatever may be the result. We are determined to help the county to forward Angus Sutherland in the crofters’ interest, and have started an election fund to help the cause; but the great issues fall to the people at home, who will, I am sure, never fail in so worthy a cause. Great goodness, did you read the Marquis’ speech at Bonar? What Radicalism!

Abolition of the House, peasant proprietary, and nationalisation of the land. It took the wind from me when I read it. Why, Henry George is out-HenryGeorged, as old Tom Carlyle used to say. But while in favour of all those Radical “ bon-mots,” I see he has promised nothing. It appears as if he were dazed when answering questions put to him. Surely the
democratic tendencies of the age gladden your hearts. I am expecting to get home in August, when I shall bring some of the Glasgow Radicals with me, and if all goes well we will get up a demonstration, probably at Brora, on the land question. Give my kind regards to all the Radicals, and accept the same yourself.— Your sincere friend, James M. Simpson.” In conclusion, I should mention that our hero was a hero indeed, and greatly beloved by all who came in contact with him, because of his sincerity of heart and life. He is laid to rest in Maryhill Cemetery, Glasgow, and there is erected to his memory a monument by the Comunn Catach, Ghlaschu, and other friends, which bears the following inscription:—“ In memory of James M. Simpson, who died at Hillhead, Glasgow, on January 9th, 1892. A Highlander faithful to his race and country.”

The following lines are said to have been composed by Mr Simpson:—

O h! Thou who in the heavens dost dwell,
And seest my crofters all rebel,
Just lend Thine ear until I tell
My story, too,
And if it seemeth meet, oh ! quell
Their curst adoo.

Thou knowest, Lord, the mighty work
My fathers wrought for State and Kirk,
And how with charter and with dirk
They served Thy cause,
And did not sometimes even shirk
To mend Thy laws.

By Nature’s law no man can dare
Dispute the eagle’s right to air,
The lions roam the desert bare
In kingly style,
And so the great Mac Callum’s heir
Must rule Argyll.

Then of my crofters smite all such
As with my laws are out of touch.
And may their bodies fill a ditch
Who law deforce,
And grieve my spirit, oh ! so much
With their wild course.

For, Lord, Thou knowest it is my need,
And not what some call landlord greed,
That makes me oft adopt the creed
Of raising rent,
And forces me to tax seaweed
And charge for bent.

Lord, smite the agitator band,
Who sow discord throughout the land,
And preach Utopian projects grand
To stir up strife.
Oh! lay on them Thy heavy hand
And crush their life.

And smite the Socialistic crew,
Who cry, “ Three acres and a coo,”
And raise the many ’gainst the few.
Like Dr Clark.
Oh! for Thy sharpest arrow do
Make him a mark.

'And smite Macpherson of Glendale,
'And curse MacCallum, son of Baal,
Who quote Mosaic precepts stale
To prop their cause,
'And teach the crofters how to rail
Against my laws.

But bless the pastors in my hire,
Who teach Thy Word as I desire,
And call for everlasting fire
On that R.C.
Who drags my name through dirt and mire
To gain M.P.

Do Thou the Sheriff sanctify
Who wrought such mighty deeds in Skye,
And smote the crofters hip and thigh
With armed hosts.
In honour of him I’ll raise high
Some scratching posts.

And bless my eldest issue, Lorne.
May Royal seed to him be born,
To chase with gun and silver horn
The sacred deer
That fatten on the crofters’ corn
From year to year.

And Archie blest son of my heart,
Who knows so well the family art
Of taking up a double part
In every cause,
And wiles the crofters while they smart
Beneath my laws.

'And bless the Peers, Thy servants true.
Long may they fill the bench and pew
And give them grace to rent and feu
The sacred soil,
And chief among Thy chosen few,
Lord, bless Argyll.

Mr John Mackenzie


The late Mr John Mackenzie, East Brora, Sutherlandshire, was in the forefront of the land movement from its very inception. His whole-hearted service was given to advance the highest welfare of the people. He was the President of the Clyne Liberal Association for years. His close attention to the affairs of the Association made it one of the most effective and enthusiastic branches in the county. He was, indeed, one of the most earnest and devoted workers for land reform to be found in the county. He often declared that the landlords had no legal right to either the land or the fishing and in the course of his speeches in Gaelic and English demanded that the lairds should " show their lug-marks.". The Tories and the House of Lords often came under the lash of his words, for he condemned in strong terms the land system which compelled the people to subsist on such miserable patches of ground, while plenty of fertile soil was in the hands of the few. Mr Mackenzie gave evidence before the Royal Commissioners in 1892 along with the author, relating the story of the Strath Brora Clearances, now devoted to sheep and sport.
He was a prominent figure at all the social-political and other meetings throughout the county.

“ It is the heart and not the brain
That to the highest doth attain.”

Along with Mr Mackenzie were associated good and true men, among whom were
Messrs Andrew Murray, Rallan;
James Hamilton, East Brora;
Alexander Sutherland, East Brora;
Duncan P. Macleod, hon. secretary at that time;
James Macpherson,
Roderick Mackay, Doll,
and many others.
Of the foregoing all have passed away except Messrs Macleod and Sutherland.

Mr Neil J D Kennedy


The Chairman of the Scottish Land Court, Lord Kennedy, was an out-and-out land reformer, and no doubt occupies his position as Chairman of the Land Court because of his extensive knowledge of the land and the conditions of the people thereon. He was chosen candidate for Inverness-shire in 1900, but for health reasons had to withdraw his name. He possesses great eloquence as a platform speaker. Writing of principle on an occasion, he declared that “ the land reformers, as compared with their opponents, differed as sharply as the fertile field from a bare rock or light from darkness; in short, as progressive Liberalism from unbending Toryism.” He declared it wrong and foolish to choose representatives other than those who understood the wants of the people and sympathised with their condition, and were ready at all times to stand up for their rights. It was his opinion, too, that the land question has been one of vital importance for nearly a century, and is bound up with every interest in the Highlands.

“ I never did repent for doing good,
Nor shall not now.”

Mr G.G. Macleod


Mr G. G, Macleod, Gledfield, Ardgay, was one of the many heroes of the land agitation in the Counties of Ross and Sutherland. A native of Gartymore, Helmsdale, he was, until he retired a few years ago, headmaster of the Ardgay Public School. He took a leading part in demanding the Crofters Act of 1886, which he often deplored fell far short of the measure needed to meet the requirements of the people and the ratification of the wrongs which had accumulated for a century. He regretted that the enthusiasm of the beginning of the movement became less in later years, except in the progress of political education. “ There was,” he once said, “ a courage greater than that which sent a man up to the cannon’s mouth. That courage was the courage to stand up for what was right, no matter what interest, rank, or power they had against them. He hoped all would engage in that moral warfare, and not lay down their arms until they lay under the green sod . . . and that they would never look back until the desolation of Sutherlandshire was brought to an end.” For a period Mr Macleod was President of the Highland Land League. Other Creich heroes who supported Mr Macleod were Messrs Alexander Mackay, James Mackenzie, Walkerdale; Robert and Hugh Barclay, George Campbell, George Matheson, Ebenezer Grant, and others.

Mr Alexander Ross


Mr Alexander Ross, Logie-Easter, Ross-shire,

was an active member of the Highland Land League, which did sd much to foster the land agitation during its existence in the Highlands. He was a passionate speaker, often expressing strong emotion because of the conditions known to exist. He often asserted that if they had active, go-ahead men to represent them they would revolutionise the whole of the North of Scotland, and not until then would they secure a settlement of the land question.

Associated with him were Mr John Rose, Strathpeffer; Mr John Macdonald, Whin Park, Mulbuie, Muir of Ord; Mr David Ross, Parkhill; and Mr Wm. Ross, Pitmaduthy. The last of these was, until his death last year, the organising secretary of the Ploughmen’s Union, where he rendered great service. His pithy speeches and ungrudging work for the land movement have left their mark on the County of Ross, where his memory will live, although his voice is still. “ Individuals die, but the amount of truth they have taught, and the sum of good they have done, dies not with them.”

Mr John Macrae


The late Mr John Macrae, solicitor, Dingwall, was a great force in land reform circles.. He was the first secretary of the Highland Land League, which had its headquarters in Dingwall. In this office he performed his duties with great ability, and as opportunity presented itself he demanded “ that every effort should be made to restore the land of their forefathers to the Highland people. He rejoiced to live to see the day when the scandalous state of matters in the Highlands was exposed by the evidence submitted to the Deer Forest Commission, which was a great concession if only the Liberal Government and Party would act upon this evidence. To this end it was imperative that the people should stand as one man in demanding their just rights. Along with him stood Councillor William Macdonald, Rootfield, Mulbuie, a man and hero of sterling qualities, and able to express his views with no uncertain voice. Another good worker is Mr Duncan Cameron, Muir of Ord. These two men are still faithful supporters of the cause.

“ Our actions are the only title deeds of which we cannot be disinherited.”

Mr Edward MacHugh


We Highlanders, in discussing the heroes of the land movement, cannot overlook the fact that our cause in the North had many sympathisers and supporters in the cities of the South. Among these none was more zealous than Mr Edward MacHugh, Park Road, Birkenhead. Though an Irishman by birth, he was not unknown to many of us in the early eighties, when he was advance agent for Henry George’s speaking campaign in the Highlands of 1884. Along with Mr MacHugh was associated Mr Richard McGhee, M.P., who, too, visited the Highlands in favour of land reform. As a result of his visit he took back with him a wife from the district of Beauly, which he used to declare made him a good Irish Highlander. In 1908 Mr MacHugh visited the Highlands on behalf of the Committee for the Taxation of Land Values. In Vatersay and other places a new Land League was initiated, and sweeping resolutions were unanimously carried. He attended the Conference at Inverness on the 19th September of that year. At the evening meeting, where Mr Swift MacNeil, K.C., M.P., was the chief speaker, Mr Ure, M.P., conveyed to our hero the heartfelt thanks of the people of the Island of Barra, who had been oppressed and denied the use of the God-created land, which they were willing
to utilise for the maintenance of themselves and their families. About the same time Mr MacHugh visited Oban and afterwards Castlebay, where he addressed the most representative meetings ever held in the Islands.

Mr MacHugh was full to overflowing with sympathy for the poor and down-trodden, but he never hesitated to condemn selfishness and intellectual laziness, whether in poor or rich. His address of over three hours on the Clachnacuddin Stone, Inverness Exchange, in 1908 will be long remembered, as never before did such a large audience listen to a clearer exposition of the land question in all its bearings on the people and their emancipation from the grasp of the landlord. He also visited many parts of our Colonies, as well as many of the great cities of the Empire, and always sought an opportunity of telling the people of the evil of land monopoly as affecting the city as well as the rural parts of the country. He was one of the founders of the Committee for the Taxation of Land Values.

Mr MacHugh has left us a rich harvest to reap, and a glorious example of what one man can do. His noble life of continual self-sacrifice for others will be a sweet memory for those who knew him. The great cause of suffering humanity has lost one of its truest and best friends, for he had realised the Christian ideal in giving a noble and gifted life to such service. May his memory and work be an inspiration to all to strive for the attainment of the higher social state.

“ We owe the greatest gratitude to those who tell us the truth.”

The Rev. Dr Gustavus Aird


Among the clergy of the North no one was more beloved or esteemed than Dr Aird, Free Church minister of Creich. He was not only one of the ablest ministers in the Highlands, but the most popular, because of his large-hearted Christian sympathy with the poor and oppressed crofters. His voice was never silent at Presbytery meetings and elsewhere in defence of their rights. Dr Aird was a strong land reformer, and often denounced oppression from the pulpit. On one occasion, when he was travelling from Lairg to Ardgay, there entered the carriage a constable with a crofter from Assynt, who was apprehended for taking forcible part in the Clashmore land riots. The venerable doctor began to ask questions, whereupon he was warned by the constable that the man was a prisoner and could not be questioned. Greatly upset at this, he regretted, when parting at Ardgay, that he did not put the question in the form of prayer, and so defeat the ire of the policeman, who appeared so proud of the capture of a poor crofter. In bidding the prisoner farewell with a blessing from on high, he placed a silver coin in his hand. This incident, a true reflection of the doctor’s character, was related by one of his elders, to whom he had told the story.

“ Nobleness of character is nothing but, in thought and word and deed, steady love of good and steady scorn of evil.”

Mr John Macleod,


Mr John Macleod, late proprietor of the “ Highland News,” Inverness, was one who did much hard work in Sutherlandshire and all over the Highlands in connection with land reform. He was born in 1863 in Helmsdale, where his father was a fishcurer. He was sent by a Welsh Syndicate to see what could be made of the finds of gold at Kildonan, Sutherlandshire. .While engaged on this work he became impressed with the necessity of a reform of the land laws, and at once threw himself into the work of organising the County on behalf of Mr Angus Sutherland, now Chairman of the Fishery Board for Scotland. The various steps of the political life of Mr Macleod are too numerous to particularise about. But he was a politician of wide sympathy, and had a practical knowledge of the needs of his native land. He acted as County Secretary for Sutherlandshire for many years, and was afterwards elected to represent his native county by a majority of 495 over his opponent, Mr Swanston. One of his strong supporters was our Land League friend, Mr George Bruce, merchant, Helmsdale.

“ I like the man who faces what he must with step triumphant and a heart of cheer ”

The Rev. John Murray


The Rev. John Murray, Free Church minister, Brora, was born near Stornoway in 1841. He was ordained and inducted to the Free Church of Clyne in 1869, and retained the respect and attachment of his flock for a period of over thirty years. He was in warm sympathy with every movement which had for its object the moral and social well-being of the people. The condition of the crofting and fishing population deeply interested him, and the cause of land law reform found in him an able and consistent advocate. On several occasions he was approached with a view to being brought forward as a candidate for Parliamentary honours, but he declined to entertain the proposal. All Highlanders recognise the useful service he rendered on the County Council of Sutherland, first as member and then as Convener— an office which he held continuously from the first Council until shortly before his death. It can be said that in him a great man has fallen, and his loss has created a blank in the public life of Sutherland. His nephew, Dr Murray, is the respected Medical Officer of the Lewis, and is as ardent a land reformer as his uncle was.

“ The deepest humility is generally connected with the soundest judgment.”

Mr John Paul,


One aspect of the land question with which the country has become familiar, particularly of late years, is the question of the taxation of land values. This movement has had for its aim the taxation of all land irrespective of its permanent improvements, which value attaches to land by reason of increasing population and social progress. This value always goes to the owner, and can never go to the user, for if the user be a different person from the owner he must always pay the owner for it in rent or in purchase money, while if the user be also the owner, it is as owner, not as user, that he receives it, and by selling the land or renting it he can, as owner, continue to receive it after he ceases to be a user. The plea is put forth, and justly so, that the value that attaches to land by growth of the community should because of this belong to the community as a whole. It is needless for me to elaborate here the iniquity of such a system as the old one, which gives such vast wealth at the expense of the many to the few, who do nothing to create it. The public, and particularly the
crofters and land reformers, were familiar with such a system as this prior to the passing of the Crofters Act of 1886, when one of the grievances bitterly complained of was the raising of the rents on the crofters’ own permanent improvements, which continued to be exacted until it was done away with under the Acts of 1886 and 1911,

This, then, is the phase of the land question to which Mr John Paul set his mind and energy to have rectified. Although “ Progress and Poverty,” a book largely read to-day, was published in the United States in 1879, it was not until Mr Henry George’s visit to Ireland, then in the throes of the land agitation, that his teaching began to attract any attention on this side of the Atlantic. In 1882 meetings were addressed by him in Great Britain. On his return from the States to Great Britain in 1884 he addressed a great meeting in the City Hall, Glasgow. At this meeting the Scottish Land Restoration League was formed. This organisation, with Henry George at its head, opened up the ground throughout the length and breadth of Scotland. Finally there developed the Scottish League for the Taxation of Land Values, which has been in constant and continuous activity. This body has influenced not only the public mind on the justice of their cause, but also Local Authorities. Even Parliament had to admit the reasonableness of the arguments set forth, and, under the Lloyd George Budget of 1909, gave the policy countenance. But the Lords rejected the Budget because of the land clauses. For this the Government appealed to the country, and were returned to place the Budget on the Statute-Book and to curtail the powers of the House of Lords.
So much, then, for this important subject, with which Mr Paul has been identified since 1889. He was born in Glasgow in March, 1863. In 1894 he was appointed editor of “ Land Values,” the League's journal, so widely read to-day, and also Secretary for the Scottish League for the Taxation of Land Values in 1895, and Secretary for the United Committee in 190T. This aspect of the land question found in him a man of great talent and genius. The late Lord Advocate, now Lord Strathclyde, said that “ ha never knew a man who possessed clearer brains than Mr John Paul.” Those who knew him will agree with me that this compliment given him by Mr Ure was indeed welldeserved. Mr Paul’s visits to the North always gave unbounded satisfaction to us Highlanders, and it is the desire of all that he may be long spared to guide the affairs of the League as he has done so ably in the past, with great courage and devotion amidst many obstacles and disappointments, never faltering, but feeling sure that the justice of the cause would eventually triumph if the people once grasped the vital importance of the subject.

Another stalwart who worked closely with Mr Paul was Councillor John Ferguson, of Glasgow, who was one of the early land reformers and an admirer of the late Mr John Murdoch. He, too, was incessant in bringing influence to bear in favour of land reform and the rating of land values. Highlanders owe him much for his early stand on their side, when strong men were needed to defend their rights.

Another was Bailie Peter Burt, so well known in connection with the movement in Glasgow and the North.

Again, of Mr Robert C. Orr it can be said that he was one of the truest friends and upholders of the cause. It was indeed a treat to be yoked with such as he in the work of uplifting and emancipating the people. His work in the North has earned the gratitude of the Highland people, to whose interests he gave ungrudging service. His labours in connection with the Lloyd George Land Enquiry are well known and appreciated in the Northern Counties.

I cannot overlook the names of Mr David MacLardy, Glasgow, and Mr James Busby, whose loyalty to the cause never faltered, and whose presence and influence at our annual land conferences were weighty and powerful. To these must be added Mr Brymer, Glasgow, whose speaking and debating powers could not be excelled.

fAnd what shall I say of the enormous work and writings on behalf of the movement by Dr James Dundas White, M.P., who always contended, by speech and pen, that “ land values ” is the practical expression of the rights of the community to the earth and the air and the other natural elements, which rights are fundamental, and if taken from the people would assuredly perish. The crofters have no truer or better friend in the House of Commons to-day. He is a hero of sterling qualities, and full of genuine sympathy for the cause of the oppressed.

I should mention that these men were responsible for the preparation of a pamphlet on the subject of land, written in Gaelic and English by one of our worthy Highlanders. This literature is much appreciated.

" It is not written,
Blessed is he that feedeth the poor,
but he that considereth the poor."

Dr F.M. Mackenzie


Dr F. M. Mackenzie, Glenoran, Inverness, has been the most familiar figure in Inverness during the last thirty-five years. He was born in beautiful GlenUrquhart, of which he has many interesting incidents to relate, particularly when in conversation on the land question, of which he is a full and able exponent. He early displayed a bent for study and a readiness in the acquisition of knowledge. His primary education was received in the school of his native parish, and afterwards in the High School, Inverness. Following this, he achieved great success in the Normal College, Glasgow, the late Dr Macdonald, M.P. for Ross-shire, and himself being the only candidates who secured scholarships that year. The life of a school teacher was not to his liking, and after a couple of years he proceeded to Glasgow University. Though possessing a leaning to the ministry, he finally decided on medicine. The promise he showed in his earlier studies was amply fulfilled, and as family doctor none is more esteemed and beloved by the community than the genial Doctor.
During his residence in Glasgow he got into close touch with social problems. Having acted there as Superintendent of the Medical Mission, he got much insight into the poverty and misery of the slum life of the Western Metropolis. In 18T5 he came North to Inverness, where he sat upl in practice, and ever since has commanded the respect and confidence of the whole people. His command of the Celtic language is undoubted, for he speaks it fluently. He was soon induced to enter the public life of the Highland Capital, where he frequently delivered lectures on health, often touching on the benefits to be derived from studying sobriety. While a member of the School Board he strove hard for a reduction of the school fees, which in those days were being paid by the parents. His work as a member of the Town Council was equally appreciated. In politics he has played a prominent part. A staunch Liberal from the first, he has taken a very keen interest in all kinds of reform. Since ever he knew what politics meant he has been deeply concerned in all Northern elections. He is a fluent and cogent speaker, and has always something of interest to tell, so that his platform appearances are ever welcome. In 1895 Dr Mackenzie was the nominee of the Liberal Party for the County of Inverness, but to obviate a three-cornered fight he withdrew his name. He was chosen President of the Inverness Burgh Liberal Association on the retirement of Sir Henry Munro about eighteen months ago, and in this capacity he has presided with much acceptance over numerous large demonstrations addressed by Ministers of the Government. He has also been elected a Justice of the Peaces

One of the questions which the Doctor has been associated with is the land, problem in the Highlands. Of this he has made a special study, and having been born and brought up on the land, he has practical knowledge of the real needs and desires of the Highland people. His labours cannot be over-estimated. Along with all the people of the North, he deplores the inadequate provisions of the Landholders Act of 1911, and is prepared to put on his armour once more to fight for a fuller and better measure, which must inevitably be realised if the straths and glens are to be speedily occupied.

“ To be full of goodness" full of cheerfulness, full of sympathy, full of helpful hope, causes a man to carry his blessings, of which he himself is as unconscious as a lamp is of its own shining.”

Mr John Macleod


Mr John Macleod, teacher, Drumsmittal, is one of the most viogrous workers for social betterment to be found in the Highlands. A man of strong intellect and large vision of political movements and events, he is ahead in his views of the land question of many who support the cause. He feels keenly that more drastic measures are not being taken to place the people on the soil. He contends that only by strong measures can we achieve the end in view. Our hero was a great supporter of the late Mr Weir, M.P., and of the present member, Mr Macpherson. Mr Macleod believes that there is no such thing as standing still on the land question.

Sheriff Campbell


Sheriff Campbell, of Campbeltown, Argyllshire, was a well-known figure in connection with the land movement in the County of Argyll. He acted for a long time as Liberal Agent for that part of the Highlands, and rendered conspicuous service in directing the people’s cause. Few men were more familiar with the fundamentals of the movement than the esteemed and respected Sheriff. He has written largely on the various Highland Land Acts. He refers in these writings to the benefits which were secured to the Highland people by the Crofters Act, and particularly to the feeling of independence and self-reliance which was the inevitable consequence of security of tenure, through which the housing of the people improved beyond the most sanguine expectations. Sheriff Campbell, however, is far from thinking that crofter legislation is complete, for he urges the removal of numerous defects, by providing land for the landless, including the cottars, and impoverished villagers. Our hero’s elevation to the Bench gave much satisfaction to his numerous land reform friends in the Highlands. “ What good gift here, my brothers, but comes from search and strife and loving sacrifice.”

Rev. Donald MacCallum


In my reference to the Sutherland Clearances I stated that the Rev. Mr Sage was the only minister who stood by the people at that time. It is most gratifying to be able to state that in the Church of Scotland in the eighties we had two men, and these brothers, who took their stand on the side of the people, namely, the Rev. Donald MacCallum, Manse of Lochs, Stornoway, and the Rev. Malcolm MacCallum, Muckaim, Argyllshire. The former, when minister of Waternish, Skye, gave his whole heart to the movement, and was in the thick of the agitation from the start. He had great enthusiasm, and could yet point out the flaws of our land laws in a most homely manner. Although censured by his Presbytery, he ignored their bark, and freely associated with such men as Henry George, and the great Stuart Glennie, of London, and other earnest reformers. The result was that he was put into Portree Prison. After two days he was liberated on bail of £100, but was never called to trial. While lying in the cells on the Sabbath morning, this hero of so many fights said he enjoyed a real peace of mind because of being in touch with the sorely-afflicted people, and the feeling
that he was sharing their troubles seemed to put new life into him. A monument is erected in the Moss district of Tiree in recognition of Mr MacCallum’s yeoman services to land reform, and bears the following inscription:—“ Tur McCallum. 1st July, 1889. Bas na buidh. Death or Victory.” Of Mr MacCallum’s brother, Malcolm, we shall speak later. Among good and true men associated with the Rev. Mr MacCallum were Messrs Dugald MacLachlan, Liberal Agent for Skye, whose good offices to the cause were legion; Thomas MacNeil, Dunvegan; George Cameron, Stein; John MacAskill, Geary; Donald Campbell, Borrodale; John Maclean, Fasach; John and Donald Kemp, Portree; Hector Mackenzie, Kensaleyre; Ewen Macfarlane, Edinbane, and many others.

“ Only a thought, but the work it wrought
Could never by pen or tongue be taught;
For it ran through life like a thread of gold,
And the life bore fruit an hundredfold.”

Mr Hugh Tulloch


Our Creich hero is a son of the late Mr Thomas Tulloch, district of Tulloch, Bonar-Bridge. He came to Helmsdale many years ago, and during that period he gave good account of the faith that was in him. Mr Tulloch is well versed in the history of his native county, and it is always interesting to hear him dilate on the tales of the sufferings to which the people were subjected. He is a member of the Kildonan Branch of the Sutherland Liberal Association, and a strong upholder of the restoration of the land to the people. He is most relentless in his attitude towards anything that savours of landlord tyranny. No doubt his strong convictions are largely due to his knowledge of the Conditions which prevail throughout the Highlands of Scotland—a state of things which, he feels assured, can and must be remedied if the people remain true.i He is full of humour and ready of wit— traits which make him a special favourite with the people. He believes strongly in the coming triumph of democracy.

“ It is better to be defeated in the right than to be victorious in the wrong/'

Rev. Malcolm MacCallum


Like his brother of Lochs, Mr MacCallum of Muckaim, Argyllshire, is one of the men who have done herculean work for the cause of the people. While he rejoices in the glory of the world to come, he does not affect to dispose as unworthy the glory of the present world, and while he is anxious for the welfare of the souls of men, he does not consider it beneath the dignity of the servant of Christ to take thought for the welfare of their bodies. Few men have done more to beautify this world of ours by voice or pen. Often has he assailed the idle rich as the cause of prevailing poverty, and condemned the system which debars the people from the soil.

Another of the deliverers of the people of Argyll-. shire was Mr Gillean Maclean, of Kinlochaline, Morvem, whose soul was inspired to valour by some unseen power to help the people spared by the evictor’s broom. His comrades-in-arms were the late Mr Malcolm Maclachlan and Mr Donald Mackichan.

“ If your name is to live at all, it is so much more to have it live in people’s hearts than only in their brains.”

Mr John Sutherland


Mr John Sutherland, Foxfield, Gartymore, Helmsdale, resided in Edinburgh for many years until recently. He was one of the leading men of the Edinburgh Branch of the Sutherlandshire Association. The rally by so many men belonging to the county in support of land reform gave a great impetus to the movement. Mr Sutherland and his comradesin-arms were quite familiar with the iniquities perpetrated by the landlords and ruling classes in the Highlands. Their object was to help and encourage the people in every way to get rid of landlord representation and tyranny. Among other Sutherland heroes in Edinburgh were Messrs John Sutherland, Crichton Place; John Macdonald, Union Street; John Munro, Shandwick Place; George Matheson, Clark Street; George Chisholm, St James’s Place; Robert Chisholm, Grove Street; John Mackay, now of Rogart; and John Sutherland, Grove House. These were all men worthy of the county which gave them birth. Mr Macdonald has gone to his rest, but his good work will live in the memory of those of his comrades who remain.”

“ Men of dauntless hearts.”

Mr George F. Murray


Mr George F. Murray, Victoria Road, Brora, was identified with the land movement for many years, and as Secretary of the Clyne Liberal Association did much to foster an interest in the cause of Liberalism and land reform among the people. It was meet that he should be a strong upholder of the movement, as the stock to which he belonged were out and out for the cause. His uncles, Messrs John, Alexander, and Hugh Murray, were the truest and best Radicals one could meet in a day’s journey. Mr John Murray’s house was always looked upon as the “ Land League City of Refuge/’ to which all land reformers resorted. Working with these were Mr Robert Mackay and Mr William Gunn, of Shoemaker Street,

“ Love of the cause was the keystone of their labours.”

Mr William Nicolson


Mr William Nicolson, Wick, as President of the Caithness County Liberal Association, spoke with no uncertain voice on the subject of land reform. His leadership could always be relied on, and where he led the people were sure to follow. Some years ago the County Council, which had a Tory majority at the time, petitioned against Lord Pentland’s Land Bill while it was before the House of Commons and the country. This reactionary and unpatriotic action on the part of the Conservatives raised the ire of Mr Nicolson, who at once set about to organise forces, that these men might be removed and Liberals put in their place at the next County Council election. When the time arrived, ten Liberals were chosen, and the enemies of progress and land reform were ousted, a triumph in which the writer was privileged to rejoice along with his Caithness friends. Mr Nicolson is a man of most genial and kindly sympathy with all social questions. He has occupied the Provostship of Wick and the Convenership of the County, which offices he filled with credit to himself and satisfaction to those he represented.v Other heroes in the fight were Councillor John Miller, Brabsterdorran; Messrs Hugh Donaldson, Watten; Morgan, Spittal; Alex. Mackay, Thrumster; W. Smith, Thurso; Dr Maclean, Thurso; and Mr Oman.

“ These much-loved, much-honoured names.”

Mr Peter Spence,


Mr Peter Spence, Halladale, Forsinard, is widely known throughout the North for his fearless stand taken on the side of the people. In the early days his voice was never silent; neither was his pen idle. His able contributions to the Press are, widely known by all reformers. He joined issue with feudal landlordism from the first, when the Sutherland Estate management was an absolute despotism, so that one can understand really what our heroes had to face. It is a well-known fact that in those days great power was exercised over the people. Mr Spence’s father was asked by the then Commissioner Brereton to advise his son to cease agitating against the Duke— “ a good Duke and a good landlord,” as he described him. But Mr Spence was agitating against a system. His father could have been evicted at that time if he refused to turn out his son. It is such men who were the saviours of their county. Let us hope that the good work accomplished will act as a stimulus to greater things in future days to be done by the successors of those who have borne the brunt of the battle.

We may mention among those who stood by Mr Spence the late Messrs William Mackenzie, Trantlemore; George Mackenzie, Croick; and Thomas Munro, Bighouse, late Secretary of the Halladale Association.

"Fearless to make known the truth.”

Mr Donald Macdonald,


Parish Councillor Donald Macdonald, Kilmaluag, is one of the warmest-hearted of men. On the land question, as well as on other questions, he is most uncompromising, and will not yield in any of his views of how the people should be treated in regard to the land. His wide outlook and unquestionable intelligence secure for him in no small measure the confidence of the people. He is a real champion of the people’s cause. With him were Messrs Alexander Ross, D. Munro, and Donald Matheson, Kilmuir.

“ A devout man, and one that loves the people.”

Mr John Fraser,


Like his respected father, the late Mr John Fraser, mason contractor, Gartymore, the subject of this sketch has been a busy worker in the cause. He followed in the footsteps of his esteemed father, and we may say, “ Worthy father, worthy son.” Mr Fraser is a man of sterling, upright qualities—one who can always be trusted to do his share in the struggle for the people’s rights in days to come, as he has so nobly done in the past. We may associate with him Messrs Donald Watson, Gartymore Shore; 'Alexander Macleod, Gartymore; Thomas Gordon, Gartymore; William West, and Mr Noble, Gartymore Shore.

“ A stern and stalwart hero.”

Mr Roderick Gillies


Mr Roderick Gillies, Kilmuir, Skye, late of Earlish, Uig, is a hero of great power and influence. His Gaelic and English-speaking ability is undoubted. His services to the cause of land reform were always highly appreciated. His contention is that unless the people force the pace and reduce the powers that are no land will be got, though the people should make the landlords suffer all the plagues of Egypt. He used to say that purchase of the land was only one of the many Tory dodges for oppressing the people. When the people asked for bread, they gave them a stone. In this district our hero had the backing of such men as Messrs Angus Macpherson, U ig; Norman Beaton, Idrigill; and Sergeant Macdonald, Totescore, Kilmuir.

“ Who dared to nobly stem tyrannic pride.”

Mr John Sutherland


Having had years of close intimacy with Mr John Sutherland, Buldoo, Latheron, I can testify to the vigorous and enthusiastic manner in which he Held aloft the banner of land reform in the County of Caithness. His abh and practical contributions to the Northern and Southern Press have borne surprising results during the last thirty-five years. No one could wield the pen to better purpose. He spoke with great fluency, and being a political fighting man, he often flogged the Philistines in all quarters. His helpfulness to the people in preparing for the Land Court was well known. Doing hiS) best for his fellow-countrymen was indeed to him a labour of love. Mr Sutherland’s value must be realised in the fact that he is a real public man, a member of all the local bodies, where he has the full confidence of the people. In recognition of his work he was presented with a purse of money in January, 1913. “May he go forward until victory crowns his efforts.”

Rev. Adam Gunn


Among the bright stars of the movement for a betterment of the people’s condition is the Rev. Adam Gunn, U.F. Church, Durness, Sutherlandshire. Not only does he devote himself faithfully to the pastoral work and oversight of his flock, by whom he is beloved and esteemed for his work’s sake, but during the whole crofter agitation he stood up for the material welfare of the Highland people manfully, despite any obstacles that were put in his way by the opponents of the cause. While a young probationer in Edinburgh he showed, by speech and action, his strong abhorrence of the harsh sentences passed upon the crofters by the Lords of the Courts, because they, forsooth! dared to defend their rights. From the outset he has pled the cause of the oppressed, and sought, like Nehemiah of old, to build the walls and restore the waste places, that the people might enjoy the blessings which God intended them to possess in the world. To him that overcometh in the fight for right is the crown sure. Another great hero in this part of the county was the late Mr Donald Whyte; also the Rev. Mr Maccaskill, Kinlochbervie, and Mr Macrae, shoemaker, do.

Mr Kenneth Maclennan


Mr Kenneth Maclennan, Northton, Obbe, Harris, who is a member of the Inverness-shire Liberal Executive, wrought strongly and zealously on behalf of the Land League movement in Harris. His fighting qualities are well and favourably known, and the persistency with which he advocated the claims of the people to the soil has made him one of the champions of land reform in that part of the Islands. Among the lieutenants who fought side by side with him were Mr Angus Martin, Bayhead; the late Mr Angus Macleod, Tarbet; and the late Mr Archibald Morrison, Kintulavig.

“ Brave, reliable, and trustworthy.”

Mr D. Macleod


Mr D. Macleod, teacher, Tongue, late of Scourie, Sutherlandshire, has resided so long in the county that Sutherlanders lay claim to him as their own. Be that as it may, we feel proud of a son of the Islands who stands to his principles wherever his lot is cast. His sympathies in connection with the land question in the Highlands are thorough, and never did he cleave more to its aims and objects than now. He is a strong believer in an early settlement of this vexed question,

“ Sincerity is the very essence of manhood/’

Mr William Beaton,


Mr William Beaton, Herlensta, Kilmuir, Skye, is one of the many who had to suffer imprisonment for the cause. He fought a good fight and paid the p>rice, that others might be freed from the iron rod of the oppressor, which came down so heavily on the crofters in that part of Skye. Ten heroes, all martyrs to the cause, having been subjected to imprisonment, are still living in Kilmuir. Besides Mr Beaton, there are Messrs Donald Beaton, Alexander Macmillan, Charles Mackintosh, Duncan Gillies, William Macnab, Myles Martin, Samuel Macleod, Donald Macpherson, and Donald Ross, Hungladder.

“ Nor hath thy knowledge of adversity robbed thee of thy faith ”

Mr John Fraser


Our hero, Mr John Fraser, A Choire, Gartymore, Helmsdale, was one of the first men in that part to take his stand in the endeavour to break the yoke of the oppressor and relieve ' ue heavy burdens which the people had to bear. Often did he contend that these were the sacrifices which God wanted, and not those others of which he said he was weary. In the year 1882 eight crofters received summonses of eviction on account of the sheep that were on the hill pasture of Gartymore, Portgower, West Helmsdale and Marrel. The people did not refuse to put the sheep away, but they refused to sign a promise never to put any sheep on that part of the pasture grounds. For fear of eviction, which could easily be enforced in those days, when there was no security of tenure, all the crofters signed with the exception of the following:—Joseph Mackay, Donald Watson, Simpson Mackenzie, John Fraser, John Bannerman, Mrs David Bannerman, Miss Barbara Ross, and the father of our present hero. The case was put into the hands of the late Mr Macleay, solicitor, Tain, and eventually the summonses were withdrawn. An Association was at once formed, and
the following office-bearers were elected:—Mr John Mackay, Hereford, president; Mr Angus Sutherland, vice-president; Adam Bannerman, treasurer; Mr Donald Bannerman, Brual, and Mr John Fraser, jointsecretaries. Soon after the Lord Napier Commission was appointed, and the people were represented by our hero, along with Messrs Angus Sutherland, Sinclair Couper, Duncan Mackay, Alexander Gunn, Adam Bannerman, and George Munro> Navidale. Of the services rendered by Mr Fraser I could write much, but suffice it to say that he was ever to the fore in the cause of land reform.

The band of heroes in this part was large, and included Mr John Bannerman, now in his 86th year; Peter Murray, Peter Gordon, Alexander and Robert Ross, Adam Macdonald, with his two brave sons, John and Angus; John Grant, Charles Sutherland, Peter Poison, senior, and many others.

“ A faithful band.”

Mr Alexander Macmillan


Mr Alexander Macmillan, blacksmith, Balivanich, Benbecula, Outer Hebrides, is a stalwart Highlander who fears no foe. He was Chairman of the Association which was formed to promote the cause of land reform in that part. He had associated with him a young student, Mr C. Macdonald, who acted as secretary, who was inspiration to all' the people of the district. Mr John Gordon Macintyre, who is now very frail, was a strong tower in those days, and did much to help to free the people from the terrors of those early times. The thorny fist of the Gael was, and still is, a terror of evil-doers.

“ Toiling, rejoicing, sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes"

Mr John Mackay,


Mr John Mackay, Chilsey, Strathhalladale, has played a large part in the drama of land reform. Well might he say “ Sweet dreamland faces, passing to and fro Bring back to memory days of long ago days when the glens and the straths and the dales of the Highlands were teeming with a brave and loyal peasantry. Many of the young men and maidens having betaken themselves toi shores across the sea, have thus left their friends and youthful associates, left the paths in the straths, so dear to them in childhood, left “ the auld hoose, the auld hoose of long ago,” left all things, with their hallowed memories. Great changes have come over the Highlands during the last thirty years, with Land Courts and Commissions of enquiry galore. Yet there is room for more and more improve ment all over the Highlands. His plea is—Ought we not to make provision for these gallant sons who came across the seas to defend the homes of their ancestry ? Reforms are needed to give these heroes a home and
land and shelter in the place of their nativity. Many heroes deserve a niche in the temple of fame, and much has yet to be done to rouse all of us from our too evident lethargy and get Parliament filled with men who will really represent the people through their knowledge of the people’s needs. Mr Mackay’s zeal and work on the Parish Council and School Board are well known and appreciated in the dale.

Mr Dugald Campbell


Though now very frail and enfeebled because of his years, Mr Dugald Campbell has always been a keen worker and land reformer. He was one of the early members of the Highland Land League. As a Parish Councillor he was very mindful of the poor, and gathered around him a band of true heroes, who supported the cause all along. In the Arisaig district Mr Angus Macdonald and his brother were always very much alive to everything that transpired in connection with the land question, and did good work in their part of the County of Inverness.

In Fort-William Mr Donald Macphee, a retired native, was a moving spirit in reviving interest in land and Liberal reforms. Another strong leader was Mr John Morton, who was ably supported by the following :—Messrs Malcolm Macintyre, D. Downie, A. Macdougall, J. Macgillivray, A. P. Macintyre, Colin Young, Thomas H. Ainsley, John Macintyre, D. Cam-' eron, D. Mackay, Duncan Macphee, Alexander McEwen, John Macphee, W. D. Barclay, Duncan Macgregor, John Cameron, Donald McColl, John Sim, Archibald Grant, Duncan Graham, and D. Kennedy.

“ Lives well spent.”

Mr Hugh Macdougall,


Mr Hugh Macdougall, Milton, Drumnadrochit, proved himself a true patriot in the fight for better land laws. Though advanced in years, he hopes on for the land reform victory which he sees looming in the distance. Along with Mr Macdougall were valiant men like Mr Donald Grant, of Polmallie, Mr Alexander Munro, of Milton, and other zealous workers.

" Men who have played many parts, and played them well.”

Mr Donald Mackay


Of Mr Donald Mackay, Rhianchaittel, Betty hill, it can be said with all sincerity that he was a man of great intellectual ability, and used these great qualifications to the best of his power to ameliorate the conditions of the people among whom he dwelt He was generous and energetic in all his actions, and could be relied on to hold up the banner of reform. His cousin, Mr William Mackay, of Armadale, held forth in his part of the district, never flinching from his share of the work.

Mr Angus Mackay


Mr Angus Mackay, Tannachy, Rogart, was one of the heroes who supported the land movement in the parish of Rogart. He used all the means at his disposal to promote! the cause of the people. Perhaps it can be said that the Muie district of Rogart stands out most conspicuous, as a considerable number of its inhabitants, both male and female, have shown much zeal and energy in aiding the cause in a variety of ways. Of those who took part in furthering the land movement were the late Mr Alexander Bannerman, Vice-Convener of the County; Messrs Robert Matheson, John Murray, John Matheson, Robert Mackay, William Mackay, John Mackay, John Munro, John Gordon, Alexander Gunn, George Grant, Daniel Clark, Donald Ross, J. Gunn, John Campbell, James Murray, Angus Mackenzie, David Murray, John Matheson, Rhimusaig; Angus Murray, William Fraser, Donald Murray, Angus Murray, Knockintean; John and Sackville Murray, Garvault; Robert Matheson, Culdrain; ex-Councillor A. S. Innes, Alexander Vass, Robert Sutherland, Grumbie, and Mr Hugh Sutherland, Pittentrail.

“ All strong in freedom’s cause.”

Mr John Macdonald,


Mr John Macdonald, Wester Muirnich, Stratherrick, gave most ungrudging service, and all along displayed a lively interest in the Land League movement. Along with him were Messrs Donald Mackintosh, William Grant, Duncan Mackintosh, Archibald Fraser, James Cameron, Alexander Cameron, Simon Muir, James Macdougall, Angus Fraser, Donald Gentle, Donald Cameron, D. Goldie, H. Gray, Donald Chisholm, Thomas Fraser—all valiailt men in the fight.

“ Men of reliable judgment”

Mr Alexander Mackay


Our present hero took a strong stand against landlord tyranny in Caithness. He was a most prominent member of the Caithness Land League, and had with him in the fight men who were prepared to do or to die to remedy the evil land laws, such as Messrs James McCurthy, Thrumster; David Macaulay, do, Thrumster; James Bremner, Greenigo; D. Sutherland, Thrumster ; Donald Macleod, Clyth; George M. Sutherland! W ick; William Sutherland, do.; Hugh Donaldson, Watten; Benjamin Miller, Dunbeath; John Miller, Keiss; William Couper, and many others.

“ The good that men do lives after them.,,

Mr Alexander Fraser


No man could be found anywhere who is more zealous for land reform than Mr Alexander Fraser, Westerton, Petty. It has always been to me a pleasure to speak on the land question under his genial chairmanship. He has indeed been a very warm supporter of the cause for over thirty years, and he looks back with much satisfaction on what has been already achieved2 and fervently hopes for a fuller restoration of the people’s demands in the near future. He is known by the familiar term of “ The Land Leaguer.” .Were it not for the work done by him, fewer results would certainly have been obtained.

Adjoining Petty we have the Parish of Croy, where many good heroes are to be found, including Mr John Maclean, Loch Maree Cottage, Croy, and Mr Charles Maclean, Little Croy, who are most reliable supporters ; and nearer Inverness, Mr John Murray, Raigmore Tower, is a steadfast worker, with Messrs Johnston and Macpherson, Ardersier, and Johnstone, Balloch.

“ Upright and fearless men.”

Mr J. M. Morrison,


Highlanders might well feel proud of Mr J. M. Morrison, Stornoway. He was one of the finest of men, and like his brother, Mr Alexander Morrison, of the Crofters' and Cottars’ Association, gave much stimulus to the land problem in the Lewis. He rejoiced that the land question could no longer be ignored by statesmen, and for this alone felc thankful. He always asserted that there could be no peace while the question remained unsolved. He would further warn the people not to be side-tracked from the all-important by any other proposals.

Mr William Macdonald


Mr William Macdonald, Navidale, is a hero of sterling worth. His strict adherence to the cause helped greatly to rally many others under the banner. He was Vice-President of the Kildonan Association for years. From his district came other heroes who did not fear to show what side they were on, namely, Messrs George Munro and Angus Munro, George Gordon, Adam Mackenzie, Donald Rossv Robert Sutherland, John Murray, and Alexander Poison. From the Bogholes we had much support from Messrs William Mackintosh, Alexander Macpherson, Charles Mackenzie, and John Grant.

‘‘ Persistent in right, regardless of sacrifice.”

Mr John Sutherland


Mr John Sutherland, Syre, Strathnaver, who was at one time Vioe-Convener of the County, must be mentioned among our heroes, for his work was of outstanding merit from the very beginning. He was Treasurer of the County Liberal Association for years. Few men rendered greater service than “Pittentrail,” and his house was the Land League City of Refuge for land reformers. We all rejoice that he has a share of the lands of Bonnie Strathnaver.

“ His home was the centre of light and leading.”

Mr David Dunnet


At the beginning of the movement our hero was the first to attend meetings in Wick, along with Mr James Waters, of Faulds, Bower; Mr Laurie, Springfield, Thurso; Mr William Dunnet, late of Kirkstyle; Mr William Brims, Mr Donald Reid, Mr David Cormack, Slickley; and Mr George Miller, do. Afterwards the Canisbay Association was formed, with a roll of 143. Mr Dunnet did good work for the return of Dr Clark. He, along with Mr1 William Dunnet, also had the distinguished honour of presenting an address to Lord Rosebery in John o’ Groats House.

Mr Andrew Lindsay


Mr Andrew Lindsay, Golspie, has given a life service to the cause of the people. All who know how devoted and ungrudging this was will agree that his record has been indeed heroic. He succeeded to the Convenership in succession to the late Rev. John Murray, Brora, and the multiplicity of duties attached thereto and to the other numerous offices he has filled were discharged with distinction and appreciation. His wise guiding of the interests of the County clearly sets forth the grasp of public affairs he possesses, and no one could have performed these onerous duties with greater dignity. Not only is Mr Lindsay a man of affairs, but also a strong land reformer and social democrat It is worthy of note that in connection with the settlement of the Strathnaver crofters under the Congested Districts Board matters so culminated that no agreement could be come to between the Board and the applicants, so that negotiations were broken off. However, Mr Lindsay pled for a further trial, when he would be present. His request was granted, and arrangements made for the place and day of meeting. Strange to
say, Mr Lindsay left for Bettyhill and Strathnaver on the very day that the last hoof of the Sellars’ stock was disposed of at Culmaillie. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy, made years before, that " when the last hoof of the Sellars was cleared out of the County, then would the sons of the evicted return to the lands of their fathers.” Thus Mr Lindsay’s name will for ever be associated with this important settlement of crofters, from whose homes thirty-four men have gone to fight our country’s battles. This is somewhat of a record from twenty-two homes, in some of which there is no family.

I must also mention here that while our hero is doing noble work in Sutherlandshire, his esteemed and highly-respected brother, Mr Richard Lindsay, J.P., is doing similar work in the County of Caithness. Mr Lindsay, of Thurso, is true to the core, and as a land reformer he is always looked to as the guide in all social matters. He is a valuable member of the Caithness Liberal Association. Long may such brothers be spared to defend the right!

“ There are men dignified and prudent in counsel, wise in judgment”

Mr Hugh Melville


Few men of the Land League movement have spoken more forcibly and effectively than Mr Hugh Melville, Portgower, Loth. Our hero was a shining light all those years, and took every advantage of voicing his abhorrence of the land system of our country, which depleted the manhood of our Highlands from one end to the other. In furthering the cause he had with him reliable men who feared no foe, such as Messrs Alexander Mackenzie, Donald Matheson, William Mackay, William Sutherland,

J. T. Murray, and Hugh Sùtherland, who so often enlivened the proceedings with his beautiful songs of the Gael-

“ Men with a purpose firm.”


No place in the Highlands has produced more heroes than the Aird district of Inverness-shire, among whom were Messrs Maciver, Alex. Tulloch, A. Mackenzie, the late Roderick Munro, A. Macdonald, R. Allison, Hector Maclean, William Poison, Donald Mackay, Allarbum; Andrew Fraser, Auchvaich; William Fraser, Fanellan; Alexander Maclean, Teafrish; the late John Ross, John Maclean, Dr Maclachlan, and Neil Campbell, Farley.

Mr John Fletcher


Our hero, Mr John Fletcher, Nairn, like his venerable father, has taken a most prominent part in seeking to alleviate the wrongs of the oppressed in our Northern Highlands. A man of fluent speech and ready eloquence, he was ever willing to lend a helping hand in furthering any project whose ultimate end was for the benefit of our suffering people. His services as President of the Nairn Liberal Association and as Treasurer of the Burgh have been singularly successful. Along with him were Messrs J. Mackie and Mackay.

“ Persuasive and eloquent.”

Mr William Calder


Mr William Calder, Petley, Feam, who has been connected with the land movement since its inception, is a man of sterling character and worth. At many a Highland gathering his great gift of song has roused the keenest enthusiasm, and brought visions of hope to many a war-worn Highlander.

“ Music hath charms to soothe the troubled breast.”

Mr Duncan Macgregor


Mr Duncan Macgregor, Culduthel Road, Inverness, was brought up on the soil, and in early years went to the Colonies, where he spent a good period of his life. On our hero’s return to his native country he saw, as never before, the evils of our land system, which he fearlessly assailed. He deplored the loss of time in treating and negotiating with landlords, and always urged the Colonial system of laying out and equipping these land holdings in various sizes to suit the people, and invite them to take possession, instead of this waste of years under the present law, which will never bring about a settlement. Our hero contends that compulsory power must be put in force in the interests of the many, and give less consideration to the few, who glory in sport and not in the welfare of the people. Our hero, who is eighty years of age, is still vigorous and more advanced than ever in the view that the peopling of the straths and glens should toe carried out immediately, and with that in view things should be prepared now and not after the War, when things, if left, will go on as before.

Mr Duncan Mackay,


The late Mr Duncan Mackay, Loth, was a striking personality, and one of the most forceful speakers on the land question in that part of the district. Our hero, who spent a goodly part of his life in the Colonies, took a very firm stand on the side of the Land League on his return to his native district in the eighties. He was a most likeable man, and because of his inimitable way of putting things regarding the condition of the people, was in strong demand at all the meetings. His strong denunciation of the evictions in the County, and his unsparing references to Sellar and “ Domhnull Sgrios ” because of their part in the cruel treatment of the people, made our hero a special favourite. On an occasion, as one of the principal speakers, he remarked that “ he was glad to be there that evening, although his sister said to him on leaving home, that she would much prefer to see him in a state of excitement about going to the Sacraments instead of going to meetings of this nature, where the land question was discussed/’ He said to her in reply that she would not speak like that when she would be taking the stabs out of his hands after thrashing whins to keep life in the cattle and horses, and to keep their ribs from coming against one another. The cattle and horses in Lotha he was wont to say, were so lean that oife could read the 119th Psalm through their ribs.

Mr Alexander Sutherland


Where guidance and advice was required, then was sought out the fountain from which came forth the needed supply. This fountain was found in Mr Alexander Sutherland, draper, Brora, who never failed his friends who resorted to him for guidance as to the line of action to be adopted in order to obtain success. Our hero’s known and unknown services are innumerable. Apart altogether from his valuable statements and information prepared for the men who appeared before the various Commissions, Mr Sutherland’s grasp of the Land Question, and the manner in which it should be treated, is undoubted. A day in the company of our hero is as refreshing as his companionship is genial. A dependable and reliable man, who withstood many assaults, yet remained firm as the rock.

Mr Thomas Grant


Mr Thomas Grant, Evelix, Dornoch, came into prominence at the very beginning of the Land Agitation, and has fought the opposing forces of Land Reform ever since. Our hero is one of the most kindly and genial of men, yet where principle is at stake, he becomes unbending and resolute in his attitude, and holds firmly by the right, cost what it may. Such are the men who made the Land League Movement effective all those years.

Mr John Macrae,


Our baby hero, who is now a fine young man in business on his own account in the City of Perth, was at the time of the expeditionary force in Skye a baby boy a few weeks old, but was the ipeans of arousing the ire of the people against landlord tyranny more than anything else during the whole agitation. For arrears of rent the Sheriff Officer, police and Marines .went to the house of Macrae at Prinness, near Portree. The officer, who was very rude to the mother of the baby, pushed her about in a savage fashion. The baby was sleeping soundly in its rude cradle, unaware of being the cause of the storm of indignation roused throughout the country by its being literally confiscated for rent. The child was entered in the inventory at sixpence, while the collie puppy, lying close to the cradle, was appraised at a sixpence more, which is on a par with the old saying—“ How much better is a sheep than a man ?” I made the personal acquaintance of our baby hero in Skye in 1910, and found him, like his harrassed forbears, strong in the faith that tyranny must be suppressed by the power and combination of the people.

Mr T. G. Meldrum


Mr Thos. Guthrie Meldrum, Kilmuir-Easter, Rossshire, has been well known in Easter Ross in connection with land reform for the last forty years. Our hero holds most advanced views on all social questions, and since coming to Easter Ross 47 years ago has done much good work for the interests and amelioration of the people’s condition Our hero graduated M.A. at Aberdeen University in 1869, and has taught in Kilmuir for nearly forty-seven years. He has also occupied the Chairmanship of the Parish Council since that body became the creation of the people. Our hero also filled the position of representative at the Easter Ross District Committee of the County Council, the Chairman of which was Mr R. H. Bone, schoolmaster of Scotsbum, Logie-Easter, another hero who has given valuable services to the cause of land reform.


Other heroes who have given most valuable and ungrudging assistance in the fight for Land Reform, and of whom I would have liked to write did space permit, are the following:—The Rev, D. A. Macdonald, U.F. Church Manse, Kilmuir, Skye; Mr Donald Ross, Pollokshields, Glasgow; Mr John Murray, Tongue; ex-Councillor A. Sinclair, Golspie; Rev. John Mackay, Crombagh, Inverness; Mr James Mackay, Cromarty; ex-Provost Johnstone, do.; Mr J. Bain, do.; Provost J. Ross, do.; the late Mr William Munro, Altass, Rosehall; Mr A. Maclean, do.; Mr John Sutherland, Durcha, do.; Mr Murray, Altass, do.; Mr George Kennedy, J.P., Dornoch; ex-Councillor George Fraser, Achvaich, do.; the Rev. Donald Mackintosh, late of Rogart; the Rev. James Barr, Govan; Mr William Macleay, Clashmore, Dornoch; Mr William Sutherland, do.; Mr Alexander Ross, Dingwall ; Mr Hector Crawford, do.; Mr Robert Allaix, do.; Mr J. F. Macleod, do.; Mr James Craig, Shiskine, Arran; Mr A. Robertson, do.; Mr Duncan Macrae, Kyle of Lochalsh; Mr James Macleod, Breakish, Broadford; Messrs James, Charles, and John Campbell, do.; Mr Archibald MacCrimmon, Glenelg; Mr Robert Grant, Fort-Augustus; Mr William Macdonald,
Dunvegan; Mr D. Budge, do.; Mr R. Campbell, Reoskill, do.; Mr Neil Macdonald, Bracadale; Mr Duncan Mackinnon, do.; Mr Charles Campbell, Ullinish, do.; Mr A. R. Macleod, Cambusnethan, Edinburgh; Mr D. Macnab, Husabost, Glendale; Mr James Mackinnon, Glendale; Mr A. M. M. Mackay, Acheilidh, Rogart; Mr James Gunn, Golspie; Mr George A. Crerar, Kingussie; Mr James Macpherson, J.P., Newtonmore; Mr John Dunbar, Tomatin; Mr Donald Macbean, West Achintoul, do.; Mr William Mackay, Abereigh, Broadstone Park, Inverness; Mr William Leslie, Boat of Garten; Mr John Simpson, Dowanhill, Glasgow; Mr H. Campbell, Aberdeen; Mr John Macdonald, The Stores, Castle Street, Inverness; Mr A. D. Ross, J.P.t Atholdene, Inverness; Mr John Chisholm, J.P., Inverness ; Mr Angus Stewart, Braes, Skye; Mr William Sutherland, Wick; ex-Councillor William Gill, Kenneth Street, Inverness ; Mr William Grant, Telford Street, do.; Mr John Johnstone, Telford Street, do.; Dr Kennedy, Dunbeath, Caithness; Mr Donald Grant, J.P., Kincraig; Mr William Grant, Abban Street, Inverness; Mr James Macleay, Abban Street, do.; Mr James Chisholm, Maryann Court, do.; Mr Finlay Macbean, Scaniport, Dores; Messrs W. J. Munro and James Munro, Tain; Mr Donald Mackenize, May Terrace, Inverness; Mr John Mackenzie, Fortrose; Mr Alexander Bruce, solicitor, Wick; Mr Robert
Mackay, Achuan, Dornoch; Mr William Miller, Keiss, Caithness; Mr Alexander Mackay, Church Street, Golspie; Mr Peter Mackenzie, May Terrace, Inverness; Mr Roderick Maclennan, J.P., Fortrose; Mr David Mackay, Solicitor, Glasgow; Mr William Mackintosh, Greig Street, Inverness; Mr D Macpherson, Kyleakin, Skye; Mr John Ross2 Strath, Gairloch; Mr Hector Mackay, Solicitor, Dornoch; Mr John Murray, M.A., Balloan, do. ; Mr Alexander Maclean, Rhearquhar, do.; Mr Duncan Mactavish, Inverness; Mr John Fraser, Clynemilton, Brora; Mr James C. Stewart, “Highland News,” Inverness; Mr James Mackay, Skerray, Tongue; Dr Grant, Ballachulish; Dr Johnstone, J.P. Fort Augustus; Mr John MacLeod, Invermoriston; Dr Murchison, late of Uig, Skye; Mr J Mennie, J.P. Chemist, Golspie; Mr John Nicol; Dr Bruce, Forres; Mr Alexander Mackenzie, late "Scottish Highlander"; Mr Murdoch Maclean, Sunnyside, Poolewe; Mr James Harrow, Nairn; Dr D. Munro, Nairn; Naillie N. Macrae, Dingwall; Mr Alexander Kerr, Forres; Mr Forsyth, Forres; Mr David Mutch, Glebe Terrace, Inverness; Mr Richard Smith, Gladstone Place, Inverness; Rev Roderick Ross, Isle of Coll, Argyleshire; Mr Donald Dewar, Portree; Mr Thomas Turnbull, Portree; Mr Donald Stewart, Portree; Mr Donald Robertson, J.P., Portree; Mr David Macleod, Drummond; Mr Alexander Gillies, Kyle Rona, Raasay; Mr Donald Gillies, Clachan, Raasay; Mr John Ferguson, Mugarry, Skye; Mr Ewan Maclean, Inverness; Mr Thomas Cattanach, Newtonmore; Mr Andrew Fraser, Potbaile, Inverness; Mr William Macpherson, Laggan; Rev Thomas Kerr, Avoch; Dr Gillies, London;

And so ends our list of heroes. Many more names could have been added and much more could have been written of the self-sacrificing deeds of those who have done so much for our Highland people. Many of our heroes are dead, but their spirit is still in the hearts of men who are eagerly gazing into the future with an even clearer vision of the fulfilment of the hopes that animated and inspired those who bore the burden and heat of the day. A great responsibility rests upon those who are acquainted with the history of the Northern Highlands, and who are familiar with the conditions prevalent to-day. May that responsibility be shouldered, and may heroes rise up to take the place of those bygone champions of justice and righteousness, so that a happy people may once more be settled in our beloved Highlands, and her straths and glens resound with the merry laugh of the children and the busy hum of Prosperity!

“ Fight on, then, brave, true heart, and falter not,
through dark future and through bright. The cause
thou fightest for, so far as it is true, no further, yet
precisely so far, is very sure of victory.”

S. Carlyle .

The Author.

In deference to the wishes of a number of the subscribers to this volume, a few incidents in the Author’s career are herewith appended. The following is a reprint from the “Highland News” of July 28, 1917:—

Mr Joseph Macleod is one of the really outstanding figures of the Land Reform Movement in the Highlands. A native of Kildonan, and a descendant of the burnt-out of that tragic Strath, he heard early in life, at his own home-fire, the bitter and sorrowful story of the Clearances. That calculated campaign of fire and faggot has kindled an unquenchable flame in the Highlands. The memory of the wrongs suffered a hundred years ago has burned deep into the very soul of the people. It has fed the resolution of heroes and martyrs innumerable — men determined to give no rest or quarter, cost them what it may, until the guilt of the past is admitted and justice and security are won for all who would make a home in those desolated glens to-day. Of such men none is worthier a niche in the Temple of Fame than Mr Joseph Macleod.
Tradition tells of the unbreakable spirit of his forebears, and his own record proclaims how he has inherited the unfaltering and unyielding determination of his worthy sires.

In 1881, a tyrannous time in Sutherland, as in other parts of the Highlands, Mr Macleod was stirred to action. Along with Donald Bannerman (Bual); Donald Watson (Gartymore Shore), and John Fraser (A’ Choire), he formed a small but resolute brotherhood, who met almost nightly to lay plans for the restoration of the land to the people. At last they asked Mr Angus Sutherland to come North and address a public meeting. He agreed, with the result that the first branch of the Sutherland Association, the parent of the Highland Land League, was formed.

Other branches quickly sprang up, and soon the movement spread all over the Highlands. Steps were now taken to secure a Crofter Candidate for Parliament, and Mr Angus Sutherland was decided upon. At the General Election of 1885 he stood and was defeated. But Mr Macleod was not discouraged. They were not yet vanquished, he told his friends. So instead of being downcast, as many people expected, they showed their hopeful spirit by giving the defeated candidate a rousing reception, escorting him through Helmsdale in torchlight procession.

Nothing daunted by his first electoral reverse, Mr Macleod kept his organisation together, and in 1886 had the satisfaction of seeing Mr Angus Sutherland returned by a majority of no less than 880 votes. After taking a prominent part in the exciting incidents of the Kildonan Goldfields, Mr Macleod
removed to Edinburgh, where he became President of the Edinburgh Sutherlandshire Association — a Land Reform body which accomplished much useful work. Here he was a prominent figure at the famous 'Clashmore Riots' trial, and after the infamous verdict, he addressed a great public gathering, along with Dr Gunn, Durness, at which the Judge was vigorously denounced. It is worthy of remark that within twenty-four hours Judge Craighill lay dead.

Leaving Edinburgh, Mr Macleod returned to his native county, taking up residence in Clyne, where he was elected, in a three-cornered contest, to the Sutherland County Council. He afterwards received the appointment of Liberal Organising Secretary for Inverness-shire and the Inverness Burghs. Putting his whole heart into his work, he had at his first election the satisfaction of seeing the Tory candidate, Sir Robert Finlay,, rejected by the Burghs, while in the County his labours proved ns less successful. In 1914 he became Agent for Sir John A. Dewar, and at present performs a like service for Mr T. B. Morison, K.C., Solicitor General, and Member for Inverness-shire.