Faced with the problem of large numbers of starving tenants who could not pay their rents, Sir James Matheson and his Chamberlain John Munro Mackenzie proposed that they emigrate to Canada. The following is Mackenzie’s note of the particulars, reproduced in his Diary 1851 published by Acair.
Proposals for Emigrants
1. 112 families have volunteered 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 arrear of Rent and the great 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 is Quebec in the first place from whence they will be forwarded to the Eastern Townships of Lower Canada, or Montreal in their option.
4. On arrival at Quebec the ordinary Government 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 Quebec 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. The execution of these writs apply to the second class fo tenants mention in the first Query. being parties who are entirely destitute of the means of supporting themselves till next crop, many of whom have not at present seed to lay down a crop far less the means or prospect of paying their arrears or current rents; they also apply to persons who are supposed to be able but unwilling to pay their rents, while at the same time they are in every aspect in as good circumstances as those Tenants who are not in arrears of Rent. Both of these classes of Tenants have it in their option to emigrate to a country where by industry and perseverance they can be more comfortable than here and freed from their present difficulties by the Proprietor relinquishing all claim to arrears of Rent and giving them full value for such stock as they have for disposal, for the purpose of providing clothing and securing a fund to meet emergencies. The system of daily increasing arrears has an evident immoral tendency upon the industrious and well paying class of Tenants, while if no difference is made int eh treatment of those who endeavour to pay and those who make no effort to pay there is no encouragement held out to the sober and industrious.
6. It is intended to engage and send a Minister or Teacher with the emigrants and the Free Church Presbytery have it in their power to recommend a fit person to watch over the spiritual and social interests of these emigrants.