Waiting for the Barlow

The Barlow sailed from Lewis in 1851 with 287 emigrants on board, one of several emigrant ships that year.  Like the Marquis of Stafford it carried people who had been removed from their land and offered paid passage to Canada by the proprietor, but unlike the Marquis, which sailed in May, the Barlow was delayed and in June of that year there were many who had already sold their stock and who were getting desperate to leave.  The following is from the 1851 Diary of the Chamberlain, John Munro Mackenzie, published by Acair.

Monday 2 June

I am mobbed by people from all quarters who are waiting the “Barlow” and have become almost desperate – Many of them no doubt are very ill off having sold their all, expecting to have got off nearly a month ago – Appointed to meet all who are willing to work tomorrow at Bayhead – Wrote John Macdonald Bernera to send the Emigrants left there (& who are entirely destitute) to Stornoway & that they would get work.

Tuesday 3 June

Went to Guirshader accompanied by Mr Houston & laid off work for the Emigrants waiting the Barlow, offered to furnish them with tools and pay them every evening for what they worked but they all refused to work except two or three who began at once – They said I would be compelled to give them food as the vessel did not come when promised & if they did not get meal they would go & kill & eat the sheep which were purchased from them. I told them they would get no meal but what they worked for, if they took the sheep for which they had been paid I would see them punished.

Friday 13 June

Went to the office and met the Captain of the Barlow who had arrived late last night from Loch Roag – Went to the Custom House with him to arrange for an officer to go over to Loch Roag to inspect the Emigrants etc – Found that the Captain had brought no “Contract Tickets” one of which must be given to each emigrant before the vessel can be cleared out – He says it is the duty of charterers to give these, while I maintained [it] was the duty of the owners of the ship in return for the passage money – As no printed tickets could be had here I asked the Custom House Authorities if they would allow of written tickets being used, but no, they must stand to the strict letter of the Law & as no time could be lost, and as it would require some smartness to get the tickets back by the first Steamer from Glasgow I determined on sending Mr Morison by boat to the mainland, who is to endeavour to work his way the best he can to Glasgow by Monday & return here by the “Islay” on Wednesday, if he can manage this the “Barlow” can be dispatched within her time. Wrote to Glasgow to ascertain who was bound to supply the tickets and bear the expense of sending them – Arranged with Mr Cameron about shipping the emigrants, he proceeds this evening with the Captain to Loch Roag.

The Barlow eventually sailed at the end of June.