The Reef Raiders

The Reef Raiders

Some of the Reef Raiders:  Alexander Mackay, Valtos (Alasdair Dhomhnaill Aonghais)
Allan Morrison 3 Kneep (Ailean Tharmoid Tharmoid Ruaidh)
Malcolm Macritchie Kneep (an Irish)
Murdo Mackay 30 Valtos (Murchadh Aonghais Aonghais)

Angus Mackay 18 Valtos (Aonghas Tharmoid Aonghais)
John Morrison 13 Kneep (Iain Tharmoid Tharmoid Ruaidh, or an Cupair)
Donald Maclennan Reithmir (Domhnall Ruadh, the youngest at 18)
Donald Morrison, Kneep (Domhnall Tharmoid Tharmoid Ruaidh, or Màirtean)
Donald Smith Valtos (Domhnall ‘ain Duibh)
Andrew Mackay Valtos (Anndra Chaluim Aonghais)

Murdo Morrison Reithmir (Murchadh Seumais)

The Reef Raiders hit the headlines of the nation’s press in December 1913 – a year of frustration for the hopeful applicants for new holdings in Lewis. In March 1913, the Highland News remarked that “there was ample evidence of a coming revolt” and as the year wore on the situation all over the Outer Isles worsened. The Proprietor of Lewis, Major Matheson, opposed the conversion of farm lands in uig into individual holdings and the men who had applied the previous year for holdings on Reef Farm took the law into their own hands. According to the evidence given by a farmer, Alexander Macrae, a number of men gathered the sheep and cattle and drove them through the march dyke and up Valtos Glen. The raiding continued into 1914 and was remembered by Peter Macdonald Crowlista (Padruig Dhaidh):

Bha mise ‘n a mo ghille air an tac agus is me dh’gheumadh falbh a chruinneachachd a’stoc a h-uile turus a leigidh iad air falbh iad. Chruinnichinn iad a steach is chàraichinn na gàraidhean agus an ath latha bhitheadh an aon rud ann a rithist. ‘S mi bha sgith dheth!

The raiders were charged with breach of the peace and sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment in Calton Jail, Edinburgh. The Rev Malcolm Maclennan, Kneep, then in Edinburgh, and John Macpherson MP secured their early release and well-wishers in the city ensured their stay was comfortable, organising a collection to hold a party on their release.

Their actions did not, however, give the desired result, and after the Great War there was again agitation before Reef was finally recrofted in 1921.

 (From Sanais)