The Lewis-Harris Boundary Dispute I: 1805

The unclear demarcation of the boundary between the estates of Lewis and Harris was the cause for two sets of hearings in 1805 and 1850. The 1805 enquiry was pursued by Alexander Hume, Esquire of Harris, against the Right Honourable Francis, Lord Seaforth.  This was a judicial enquiry with local crofters giving accounts of where they understood the line of the boundary to be, based on information passed down from father to son over many generations.

Malcolm Roy Matheson from Pennydonald was one of the witnesses.  He was born c1748, a son of Donald Matheson, and lived at Pennydonald where he was married to Ann nee Morrison from Brenish; with issue.

23 September 1805

Malcolm Roy Matheson, tenant at Peindonel, a married man, aged fifty-seven years, depones, That he was born in the parish of Uig, and has lived there ever since. Depones, That he knows the line of march betwixt Lewis and Harris to commence at the mouth of the water of resort, to proceed up Avonchlairveg to Braidhanfhiachlachan. Depones, That his father, who died about twenty years ago, at the age of eighty, told him that the line proceeded from Braidhanfhiachlachan to Tomrush, and from thence down the river Veckadale into the sea. Depones, That his father told him, that when he was a boy, herding John Macaulay of Brenish’s cattle, Donald Campbell, the present Scalpa’s father, and the said John Macaulay, met at Braidhanfhiachlachan on purpose to fix and renew the march as he has described, and they whipped his father soundly in order that he might remember the circumstance, and recite it to posterity. Depones, That his father told him, that at a former adjustment of the line of march, there were present Seaforth, named Kenneth Mhoir, the lairds of Macleod, Rasay, and Macdonald, but that he does not recollect the last three lairds, being so young and senseless when his father told him the story, that he did not take heed to the matter. Depones, That his father told him, that when he was whipped, the gentlemen gave him five shillings a-piece for allowing himself to be flogged.

For those who like this sort of thing, there are more depositions here.  They also provide good genealogical clues.