A letter dated 1836, from Thomas Knox, Chamberlain of the Lews at Seaforth Lodge to JA Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth, MP, the Proprietor. Mealista was cleared in 1838 and the farm let to John Macrae of Kintail (and latterly Harris.)
Seaforth Lodge 21 April 1836
I have now the honour to reply to your letter regarding the offer of Alexander MacRae for the lands of Mealista, Keanhusly and the Island of Mealista, and to send you two letters from him on the subject, dated the 31st ultimo, and the 14th current. Mealista was let at the General set of the Island, at Whitsunday 1828, at a rent of £70. It was always reckoned one of the dearest farms in the parish and for several years past has been only partially occupied, the rent a present paid being only £50. It is occupied by 16 families, who in fact thus have the whole farm at the rent of £50. Keanhusly and the island of Mealista, were let at the same time to George Mitchell at a rent of £42. This rent is moderate, but the lands are dear enough to him, from the trespass on his bounds by the Sheep of the Uig tenants.
These are the lands for which Mr MacRae offers
Mealista pays just now 50
Keanhusly and Island Mealista 42
difference – short £8
But as he has left the rent to be found by you, perhaps he would not object to giving the £8 more, or £6 more at least, making the new rent £90, which would only be a deduction of £2 from the rents at present paid.
As to the disposal of the present occupiers of Mealista and Keanhusly, as Alexander MacRae of Scaliscro, refuses to pay any rent for the piece of Moor (formerly Sheilings of the tenants of Uig) which he has possessed since his entry, tho’ it is specially reserved in his Lease, and as he states that rather than pay for it, he will leave the country, it will be necessary to prosecute him, and George Mitchell will take Scaliscro and Strome, for a wintering, and give a fair rent for them.
The tenants of Mealista, 16 families, can be accommodated at Ness; such of them as can fish, or are disposed to commence, near the Butt, and the others at some distance from it.
William MacGregor is afraid that if these lands be let to Sheep farmers and be strictly preserved from trespass, that the tenants of Uig cannot keep sheep; but certainly if these tenants cannot keep sheep unless they are permitted to graze them on the lands of others, they should not keep any.
The Lease should be for 11 or 9 years at least, for if it be short, the lands may be thrown on your hands at the end of the short lease, with a view to the reduction of the rent, when there may not be small tenants conveniently at hand, to take the farm should you not be disposed to submit to any reduction.
John Macdonald, at Crobeg, has erected a mill there, for which he proposes to pay a rent of £8. yearly, provided you bind all the tenants of the parish of Lochs to grind their grain at it; and cause all the small mills, hand mills and kerns to be discontinued and destroyed.
Dr Miller has several times applied to me for payment of a sum of £44 yearly, which he says was promised to be paid to him from the Estate, and two or three years of which was paid, up to August 1833, so that there are two years due in August last. He says he made an agreement regarding it, with the Lady, and that there was no writing on the subject. I have not paid him anything on account of the claim, and will be glad to be honoured with your instructions thereon.
I am sorry to have to state that the weather still continues very unfavourable for getting the seed into the ground; continued showers of rain and sleet, keep the ground so wet that no sowing can be attempted. Alexander planted some potatoes lately, and the seed has rotted in the ground. Kirkpatrick was planting this morning, the weather being somewhat dry, and to guard against loss he was putting the potatoes uncut.
I have the honour to be, with the greatest respect
Your most obedient