Plans for Kneep and Valtos, 1851

From the Diary of John Munro Mackenzie, Chamberlain of the Lews.  Reef had been cleared of its 186 tenants a few years previously . In the end, Kneep was never cleared, though many did emigrate from both Valtos and Kneep.

Valtos & Kneep

Wednesday 12 February, 1851

Wrote letters to Stornoway [from Callanish], afterwards proceeded to Reef and saw Cattle now wintering there and looking very well — Walked over March proposed by Mr Cameron between Reef & Kneep but did not approve of it, tho’ no doubt the most natural boundary, as it cut too much of the pasture land off the latter place.  I think Kneep can be cleared, and the whole pasture attached to it may be added to Reef which will improve that farm very much — There are several in Kneep far behind in arrears of rent and some in Valtos, those should be sent to America, and those remaining in Kneep removed to Valtos in place [of] the emigrants from that place — The greater part of the arable land of Kneep being joined to that of Valtos to continue in the possession of the Small tenants — By this arrangement Valtos would be the only township of small tenants left in the peninsula of Fourteen Pence — Valtos is the best fishing port in Uig, and if small tenants can do in Uig, they should be able to support themselves here and pay their rents —

Went to the Valtos School house, and with Mr Cameron & the Ground Officer’s assistance went over the circumstances and condition of each family in Kneep and Valtos, examining the State of their arrears, stock, etc — Explained to them the conditions offered them if they emigrated, their desparate prospects if they remained here, and the good prospects before them in America etc etc — From Kneep the number of families which we fixed on to emigrate is six, only one consenting — the number of souls 43, the total of the 6 families arrears £74 and the probably value of their Stock £27.5/-.  All these are destitute except one family and have now little or no food — From Valtos we settled on sending 8 families only one consenting, the number of souls 50 — Total of arrears £111.15/- and value of their stock £39.15/-.  The greater number of these are also destitute — They are also very ill off for Clothing and the value of their Stock will not purchase enough for them — got to the Free Church Manse at 9 p.m. and remained there for the night – Mr & Mrs Campbell are absent in Stornoway.