The Marquis of Stafford Sails

A further entry from the 1851 Diary of John Munro Mackenzie, enumerating his difficulties in getting the emigrants away.  They sailed first for Troon, and thence for Quebec.  It seems the Marquis of Stafford that took them to Canada was a steamer, unless the reference here refers to another boat that transfered them to Troon first (although when she first arrived in Loch Roag, Mackenzie records being on board the Marquis.)

Tuesday 20 May

Arrived at the Port of Ness at 3am having had rather a disagreeable passage from Loch Roag, there being a heavy swell, which brought on Sea Sickness among the women & children and the appearance in the morning of the decks and fore hold were anything but agreeable.

Landed at Port immediately on arrival and walked about for some tiem before any of the Emigrants appeared — Had considerable difficulty in getting the fishermen to get their boats to put the Emigrants on board the Steamer, but after losing much time & using entreaty & force by turns got the Emigrants will their luggage all in boats, but observed the first boat sent to the Steamer returning with her cargo without getting it on board — On proceeding on board the Steamer found that the Uig people had rebelled against allowing any of the Ness people on board saying that there were quite enough on board — that there being fever and smallpox at Ness they would not allow a man on board at this place — I remonstrated with them but to no effect, and the Ness men having taken fright returned to the Shore.

An Saighdear Chaluim Bhain

Donald Matheson, an Saighdear Chaluim Bhain, was a son of Malcolm Matheson (Calum Bàn) of Valtos and Crowlista.  (Calum Bàn has some interesting ancestors who can be found by following the lines back via Hebridean Connections.)  Donald was born in the 1740s and joined the army, serving at the siege of Louisbourg in 1758, and later with the 78th Seaforth Highlanders in India and Ireland. He returned to Uig where he married Chirsty Macdonald and had a large family.

One of their children, also Donald, joined the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1815 and was offered land in Manitoba, but came back to Lewis in 1821.  He married Helen Maciver of Carnish and lived in Timsgarry until they emigrated to Nova Scotia; three of their children were born in Lewis and nine more in Canada.  After Donald Sr. died in 1831, his widow Chirsty joined the rest of the family across the sea.

The following song, An Saighdear Chaluim Bhain, is said to have been written for Donald Sr during his time as a soldier in Ireland, though whether by Chirsty is unknown.

Hi horaibhe hoirinn hoirinn
Hi horaibhe hoirinn ail
Hi horaibhe, och is eileadh
Leamsa b’eibhinn d’fhaicinn slan.

Chuir iad thu air tìr an Eirinn
‘S aotram bha do cheum air sràid
Chuir iad umad dèise an t-saighdear
Bu fhèin an diaman a-measg chàich.

Proposals for Emigration, 1851

Following his tour of the island in the spring of 1851 to assess arrears owed by tenants and determined which of them were “to be emigrated”, the Chamberlain of the Lews, John Munro Mackenzie, drew up the following memorandum (from the Acair publication of his 1851 Diary.)  Two emigrant ships, the Marquis of Stafford and the Barlow, sailed from Loch Roag in May and June of 1851.

1.  112 families have volunteerd to emigrate this season.  184 families have been told that they may avail themselves of the proposed means of emigration, which latter number are on an average upwards of £10 in arrears of Rent and the greater number of whom have not any visible means for their support till next crop.

2.  It is proposed that the emigrants shall embark during the month of May 1851 either at Stornoway or Loch Roag as may be arranged, a free passage and food during the voyage being secured to them.

3.  The locality fixed on as their destination in Qubec [sic] in the first place from when they will be forwarded to the Eastern Townships of Lower Canada, or Montreal in their option.

4.  On arrival at Qubec the ordinary Govt Tax or Head Money will be paid by the party sending the Emigrants and for which Tax the Government Emigration Agent will forward them from Qubec to the above localities where employment and land can be procured.

5.  By the summonses of removal executed it cannot be inferred that compulsory emigration is in contemplation. 

Òran Màiri Dhall (Och nan och, tha mi fo mhulad)

Màiri, born 1841, was a daughter of Murdo Maciver and Mary nee Morrison, of Pabbay, 11 Kneep and later 25 Valtos.  She emigrated to the United States and while there suffered greatly with homesickness and composed the song Och nan och, tha mi fo mhulad.  According to tradition she lost her sight with the associated weeping but it is more likely that her blindness was caused by some substance used in her daily work in a laundry.   Màiri did eventually return home to Uig.  Her grandfather Norman Morrison was also blind, a consequence of his service in Egypt with the Ross-shire Buffs (78th).

Does anyone know more verses than these nine?

Nuair a rinn mi airson fàgail
Fhuair mi beannachd mo chàirdean
Ghabh mi ’n t-aiseag air a’ bhàt’
Gu ruig’ sàil nam beann mòr.

Och nan och, tha mi fo mhulad
Dhomhsa tha mo chòmhradh duilich
’S cruaidh an càs ach ’s fheudar fhulang
’S mi fuireach ann an coille mhòir.

Nuair a thàinig mi air fòrladh
A dh’Amearagaidh a chòmhnaidh
Chunnaic mi a’ sin luchd eòlais
Anns gach dòigh sa robh iad ann