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.  The execution of those writs will apply to the second class of tenants mentioned in the first query being parties who are entirely destitute of the means of supporting themselves till next crop, many of who 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 perserverance 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 in the treatment of those who endeavour to pay and those who make no effort to pat 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.