A letter from the Rev Alexander Macleod (formerly Established Church minister in Uig, who had taken his congregation to the Free Church in 1843 and left Uig shortly thereafter for Lochalsh) to Lady Hood, his previous patron. See also a letter from 1824.
19th March 1844
My very dear and much respected friend, I had the pleasure of receiving your friendly letter in Nov. I was sorry to hear that you have been since Easter unwell but happy to learn that you have got better. What ever may have […] in connection with circumstances to make me delay writing you earlier you may rest assured that I always am and ever will be the same to you and yours in principle, affection and respect. Having been called here by the unanimous wish of the congregation of the Free Church of South and East and of Lochalsh in […ing] the [….] in Kintail and Glensheil. I thought it my duty to accept of that call and I was settled as pastor over that congregation on the 4th of Jan last.
My problem […] of life and in connection with other circumstances which I yet expect to state to you face to face. I considered it a kind Providence to be relieved from the labourous and difficult in so many respects as the parish of Uig. There was indeed a probability of my remaining with them did the parishioners on the Uig side of Loch Roag agree to have the Free Church at Breasklete according to the proprietor’s wish and also according to mine. But the population on the Uig side would never agree to this. I for several years back got so sick of that ferry that I felt every wish to have the Free Church on the Callanish or Breasklete side of Loch Roag. There is a site for the new church pointed out on the Uig side by Mr Knox since I left the parish but in a place considered inconvenient for the population & I have not as yet heard whether the people accepted of that place or not. A site would no doubt be more convenient for them at Riff or on some part of the farm that Mr Macaulay claimed but I understand that Mr Knox would not venture to give a site then for fear of more annoyance from Macaulay.
Considering all circumstances I do hope that your mind will be much relieved by selling the Lewes and it is a matter of very great consolation to me that you will have a suitable competency all you life and as I [….] will have also at command what may enlarge your property in any other part of the country where you may choose to buy land.
I feel much for the dear McGregors at Galson there were never servants more faithful to their masters than they were to you and your interests. McGregor is sickly and going back very much I think they are also very limited in their circumstances. They will be at a great loss now what to do. They are a family whose interests I am sure you will not overlook or forget May the Spirit of God direct you in this as in all other things. It was by the McGregors that Mrs McGregor’s mother in Law (viz Mrs Gillanders) was mainly supported for many years back. She and his daughter lives in a house of Mr Mcgregor’s in Stornoway. She has no income whatsoever. She is now getting frail and lately depending on the McGregors.
Now there is a society in London for the relief of respectable indigent people. This society I understand grants a certain annuity to such persons in any part of the country where the care of such persons are properly represented to them by any influential person or persons & by a certificate to the same effect from the minister of the Parish within which the person resides. I understand that Mrs Morison late of Agnish was the means of procuring an annuity from said society for Mr McRae Knock Bain’s mother in law. Did I know myself the Directors of that society, its proper designation & secretary I would not hesitate to write them in favour of Mrs Gillanders but I am unacquainted with the society in all their respects.
Messrs Mackenzie, Innes & Logan paid the salary of the two teachers at Uig up to Nov 1843. It was truly kind of you and providential for them, indeed they could not remain in their situation or support their families without this part of their salary. Mr & Mrs Lillingston [or Livingston] are in France they are expected here in May. They have ordered us to occupy a few rooms in Balmacarra House during Winter and Spring, Englishmen will occupy the House early in June, themselves are to occupy a house they have got improved and furnished in Kyle. As yet I do not know where I will take a house in Summer in this neighbourhood. Mr Lillingston [or Livingston] being in France occasioned a delay in locating a church and manse for me but he sent instructions to commence locating a church immediately.
Not knowing in Summer that I was to leave Uig I built a temporary dwelling house at Riff, left the manse for all in June and brought our furniture to the Riff house in October & Nov. I felt that my health was much impaired by the damp and cold of the house & that should I have to remain in that Parish I would require to take a house during Winter & Spring in Stornoway but the Lord has ordered it otherwise. Indeed exclusive to the countenance the Lord has given by the word of his Grace there for many years. Your own family even when you were abroad as well as at home was the greatest support and consolation I had all the time I was at Uig for promoting the interests of religion in the Island and I would find myself in a very gloomy situation indeed in any part of Lewis once you are all unconnected with the island. The population have got a long time say 20 years of Gospel privileges which have been eminently blessed to hundreds amongst them – and taking a retrospective view of the whole what unspeakable cause. My dear friend of humility & praise have you in being the first instrument in the house of God to […] the Gospel among them. After the estate is sold this will be a matter of great consolation to you all your days & I trust throughout all eternity. I also have the same cause of humility and praise for what I have seen of the power of the Grace of God among my people there during the period of 20 years. The districts that I now occupy are in general as benighted as any part of the Highlands but of late there is a great desire among them to hear the word preached, they appear much impressed under it and as I believe that my call to them was from the Lord I also believe that the time of […] merciful visitation is now come.
I need not say how happy I will be to hear from you and how happy I feel in the prospect DV of yet seeing you. May the Spirit of Christ ever rest on you. Mrs Macleod joins me in court and every respect for you & I am ever yours.