Upright in Uig

Rev Alexander Macleod arrived in Uig 1824 and evidently had a powerful influence on his congregation.  In the first years of his ministry a number of stories arose demonstrating the (new) piety and upright behaviour of the people of Uig – perhaps exaggerating somewhat the change that had been brought about.

In any case Uig was one of several places in the Highlands and Islands that became celebrated for the revival around that time.  The following account comes from the History of Revivals of Religion in the British Isles, by Mary Grey Lundie Duncan (Oliphant & Son, Edinburgh 1836), who praises in particular the reported “prayerfulness, uprightness and Christian liberality” amongst the people of Uig.  Most of the long section on Uig was reprinted the same year in the Scottish Christian Herald, a publication of the “Ministers and Members of the Established Church”. At the time Rev Macleod was still very much in charge.

On occasion of a year of famine, the natives were put to great straits, and in danger of perishing for want. A vessel laden with meal was driven upon their shores by stress of weather. Did the famine-stricken natives seize on the ship, and lawlessly apply her cargo to the supply of their necessities? If they had, hunger would have formed for them a plausible excuse. Twenty years before, they would doubtless have done so, and held themselves guiltless. But now it was not so. Every portion was accurately weighed or divided, and as their necessities were so great that they had nothing then to pay, their affectionate minister gave a promissory note for it, knowing well that the excellent lady [Mrs Stewart Mackenzie], whose property the lands are, would not suffer him to be impoverished. The people know this also, but none took advantage of it, all were occupied in economising to the utmost till one after another they had repaid their debt.  Thus they obtained not only the great blessing of necessary food, but preserved the still greater blessing of integrity, and a spirit free from covetousness.

It is the rule in this and in the other isles of the Hebrides, that when a man meets a stray sheep on the moor, he is entitled to carry it home as his own, and obliged to make an equivalent offering in the collection for the poor on the Sabbath day. After the commencement of the revival in the Lewis, many came to confess to their minister the trouble of conscience they experienced by reason of having what they called a black sheep in their flocks – some having had them to make restitution now in the appointed way, and in one season the sum of £16 was deposited in the plate. The number of sheep annually lost has wonderfully diminished since the commencement of the revival, leading to the conclusion that the loss imputed to accident arose from dishonesty.