David Watson was ordained as minister of Uig in 1845 but as the congregation had mostly migrated to the Free Church, his Church remained largely empty. He was at odds with the people and the estate, as the following notes in the 1851 diary (published by Acair) of the Chamberlain John Munro Mackenzie attest:
Thursday 13 February
Walked to the Manse of Uig and found Mr Watson busy planting potatoes and clearing his arable land of Stones with a number of men employed. Went to the Parish School [at Taigh Chiosamuil] & found it quite crowded there being more than 40 scholars present, and on enquiring the cause was told that Mr Watson gave notice to the people that unless they sent their children to school he would pindfold every sheep & cow of theirs he found on his grass – He expects to get the parents to attend his Church in the same way but I fear he will be disappointed.
Monday 24 March
Went to office and was engaged meeting parties viz… Rev Mr Watson regarding claim for damages for not clearing his farm of Mr Mitchell and small tenants at Whitsunday last, tho’ he agreed and wished to accommodate Mitchelll – Got him to sign a Minute drawn up by Mr [Donald] Munro agreeing to withdrawing his claim & promised to give him the small place of Miavaig which lies into his farm, there are three small tenants here at present occupying it who can be removed to Carishader in place of those going to America.
Thursday 15 May
Went to office and was engaged meeting & paying Ministers Stipends & Schoolmasters salaries — The Rev Mr Watson produced a most extraordinary a/c of £31 made up of various idle claims for damages for mans not being repaired, damages to pasture etc etc which I denied & refused payment in toto and stated to Mr Watson my surprise at his presenting such an a/c – He replied that he would not have done so but that he was hard pressed for cash, having to pay the whole of his stipend for his stock, I offered to give him some delay in the payment of £20 to £30 if he withdrew the a/c which he refused but wished to refer it which I refused as I considered the whole to be absurd –
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.
A rather long letter from Rev Alexander Macleod, Baile na Cille, to his “benefactress” Lady Hood, Mrs Stewart Mackenzie, written some six months after his arrival in Uig.
Manse of Uig
30th November 1824
Honourable and Dear Madam,
It is time that I should acknowledge your very friendly letter from Brighton dated on the 18th July which I duly received a Cromarty. As I do not apprehend that you have for once supposed that my long silence arose from ingratitude to so generous a benefactress and a valuable friend it would be doing us both a degree of injustice to offer any apology for my long silence on that score. My being so closely engaged in the exercise of my Parochial and Sacramental duties since I came to the country have necessarily taken up so much of my time that I was obliged to limit the extent of my correspondence to pressing duties and urgent necessity.