Lot 18: Uig Crofters

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In 1923, Lord Leverhulme began to dispose of his Lewis estates, first offering to give the island to its inhabitants.  Stornoway Town Council and Stornoway Trust accepted Lews Castle and the crofts around the town, but Lewis District Council feared that on the sporting and crofting estates the expenditure exceeded the income, and declined the offer.  Angus ‘Ease’ Macleod remarked that “some people might be inclined to say that the Lewis District Council failed to appreciate the historical significance, both to themselves, and to posterity, of the decision they were called upon to make at their meeting on 5th October 1923, when they voted six against, three for, and one abstention.” This was a time when many were landless and emigrating.

Leverhulme was travelling in Africa in late 1924 and early 1925, and died shortly after his return in the spring.  Lever Brothers shut down the Leverburgh operations immediately and before the end of 1925, the greater part of the islands of Lewis and Harris, including the fishing station at Leverburgh, were being offered for auction in twenty lots – see the full list and the Uig particulars.  The Uig estate had already been split into two parts, Uig Lodge Fisheries and Uig Crofters, when Leverhulme gave the former to his niece Emily and her husband, Donald Macdonald (Dolly Doctor). The Fisheries and the Lodge account for the exclusions given for Lot 18. Uig Crofters consisted of 67,300 acres and included the shooting, Miavaig Farm, all the crofts in Uig and a number of feus.

In the event, no bidder was found for Uig Crofters but the estate was later sold for £550 to Thomas Bremner of Hendon, Middx (near Hampstead) and shortly afterwards sold on to Norman Robertson of Tarbert, former factor to Leverhulme. Uig Crofters became the Uig and Hamnaway estate.

Sources: David Jones, Sporting Estates of the Outer Hebrides; Emily Macdonald, Twenty Years of Hebridean Memories; Angus Macleod, papers in the Angus Macleod Archive.