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ADDENDUM: A CLOSING CHAPTER

In 1813 Lord Armadale, grandson and heir of John Mackay, 5th of Strathy, sold the estate of Strathy to the Marquis of Stafford for £25,000 Sterling, and in 1830 Major Colin Mackay of Bighouse sold Strathhalladale to the same nobleman for £58,000 Sterling With the £300,000 paid for the Reay estate, the Marquis of Stafford paid altogether about £400,000 Sterling for the country of Strathnaver. Thus at last, after a long struggle, English gold gained the day for the house of Sutherland. Some years ago, the Duke of Sutherland sold the estate of Strathy and part of the parish of Durness to a Mr Gilmour; and in 1900 His Grace sold a part of the valley of the Naver to the Congested Districts Board, in order to the replantation thereupon of tenants who will in due time become free holders.

[Footnote: When the Countess Elizabeth succeeded to the title and estate of Sutherland, after a prolonged law-suit, her estate was burdened and there was no spare money; but when she married the wealthy Marquis of Stafford this state of matters was reversed. The said Marquis bought not only the country of Strathnaver, but also at a high price all the saleable estates in the southern part of the shire of Sutherland, viz., Skelbo and Torboll in 1804; Uppat in 1812; Carrol, etc., in 1812; Linsitmore in 1824; Creich in 1S33; and Langwell in 1837. A few years before the last of these purchases was effected Stafford was created Duke of Sutherland, but by that time the once habitable straths of Sutherland were under sheep, while dotted all over were the gaunt walls of burnt houses, lately the homes of a brave and godly race. Ah the shame and the sorrow of it all !]

The immediate effect of the "Clearances", which began in 1814, was socially disastrous. This policy swept away with one fell stroke most of the larger and middle class farmers, who were in many cases men of some culture, and whose adventurous sons served the Government in all parts of the world as officers, civil and military, A few of these farmers were reduced to the status of crofters, but the great majority left the country altogether. Their places were taken by Sellars, Marshalls, Reeds, Dunlops, Patersons, etc., all English-speaking men from the south, who farmed the country in large tracts and put their sheep in charge of shepherds from the Borders of Scotland. On the one hand the country was occupied by large imported capitalist farmers, and on the other by a crofter indigenous class. Between these two a great social gulf yawned - a very unhealthy state of matters indeed.

In the course of three generations, however, this state of matters has undergone a great change. The Border shepherd has completely passed away, his quondam masters are almost gone too, and scions of the old stock are budding anew. Take for example the late Mr. Donald Mackay, tacksman of Melness and Skelpick, of whom we give a plate portrait on the opposite page. The submerged people of Strathnaver are slowly but steadily lifting their heads, and the waste lands are on the way of being re-peopled again. These " Clearances" damped the military ardour of the people for a time. During the Crimean War they refused to listen to the overtures of those in authority, and comparatively few from the country of Strathnaver took part in that struggle. When urged to fight for their country, they replied: - "We have no country: our country is under sheep: let them fight the Russians." At the present time [1905], however, we understand that along the sea-board over 300 men are annually receiving training in the Naval Reserve of our country, and had there been any sea-fighting during the late Boer War, these men would have proved as serviceable afloat as their grandfathers did ashore in the French War.

In connection with this change no one deserves more honourable mention than Mr. John Mackay, Hereford, a native of the parish of Rogart. A soldier-crofter's son, by integrity and push he became one of the greatest Railway Contractors in Britain, and with his well earned wealth has never ceased to support every cause which he considers beneficial to the Highlands, and with especial respect to Strathnaver. It is not too much to say that in the present generation no Mackay has made a fairer name for himself, and certain it is that Strathnaver has not had a warmer or more liberal friend than "Hereford", the name by which he is affectionately known. Had he poured his money as lavishly into the coffers of either political party, he would have had a handle to his name long ere now; but he "hath chosen the better part".

[Footnote: Mr. John Mackay, Hereford, belongs to the Aberach branch of the Mackays of Strathnaver. His father and grandfather were patronymically known as members of the Clan Neil, i.e. descended of Neil Williamson Mackay, who was killed at Thurso in 1649. The said Neil, whose sons and descendants were known as Neilsons or Clan Neil, was the son of William Mor, son of Neil macIan macWilliam, 5th Aberach chieftain. Mr. John Mackay died at Hereford on 4th Feb 1906, in his 84th year]

The Clan Mackay Benefit Society, formed in Glasgow in 1806, was one of the earliest of the Scottish clan societies, of which we have now so many. We quote from its rules: -

"Therefore We, in our name, and in the name of all who may here-after be actuated to join us, from a sense of personal and social duty, did upon the twentyfirst day of July, one thousand eight hundred and six years, by Divine aid, constitute ourselves into a Society, under the title of M'KAY'S SOCIETY; and in order that our friendship may he maintained . . we . . determine in this method to raise a fund for the mutual help of each of us in the time of afflictive dispensations."

The Society was to consist of none but Mackays "of good moral character", and "it is to be understood that no Roman Catholic shall be admitted into this Society". For the maintenance of due decorum at their meetings, it is enacted that "if any person shall swear by the name of God, in the time of the meeting, he shall be fined One Shilling, sterling, for each oath."

About forty years ago the Edinburgh Sutherland Association was formed, and since then has continued to do admirable work in the shire. Its object is twofold: to help distressed countrymen, and to foster higher education in the country by prizes given after written examination. In both departments it has done untold good. In 1888 the Clan Mackay Society was started, with headquarters in Edinburgh and Glasgow. It has already raised a substantial bursary to assist deserving students, and has also collected a considerable sum of money as a Benefit Fund for members of the clan who may be in distressed circumstances. We understand that clansmen from all parts of the world have subscribed most generously towards this object.

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