INTRODUCTORY NOTES
Kenneth, fourth earl of Seaforth, succeeded his father in 1678. He followed King James VII. To France, and circa 1690 was created Marquess of Seaforth. He married Lady Frances Herbert, daughter of William, first Marquess of Powis, and died in 1701. He was succeeded by his elder son William, who remained faithful to the exiled royal family, and was attainted for his share in the ?15. He was again engaged in the affair of 1719 (see The Jacobite Attempt of1719, vol. xix. Of the Society?s publications, First Series), and was badly wounded at the battle of Glenshiel, but escaped to France. Thereafter he made his peace with the Hanoverian Government, and was allowed to return to Scotland. He died in the Lewis in 1740.
His estates, along with those of other ?Rebels and Traytors? who had taken part in the rising of 1715, were forfeited and vested in the king for the use of the public. They were placed under the care of a body of thirteen Commissioners,1 of whom one was Sir Richard Steele, the essayist, and another the notorious Patrick Haldane, ?one of the most ill liked men that ever gave attendance in the Parliament House.?2
1By the Act I Geo. I. C. 50. For the proceedings of the Commissioners see The York Buildings Company, by David Murray, and also Dr. A. H. Millar?s Introduction to the volume of Forfeited Estates Papers, Scot. Hist. Soc., First series, vol. 1vii.
2The York Buildings Company, p. 10,? He was appointed a judge of the Court of Session in 1722. On a petition by the Dean and faculty of Advocates the Court refused to sustain his appointment. Haldane appealed to the
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Each of the thirteen had a yearly salary of ?1000- exactly double what was paid to a Lord of Session ? while numerous well-paid subordinate posts were called into existence for the usual purposes and filled in the usual way. At March 1725 the total sum realised by the sale of the forfeited estates was ?411,082. After legal claims on the estates had been met there was a balance of ?84,043. From this fell to be deducted the emoluments and other expenses of the Commissioners, amounting to ?1107. The result of their operations accordingly was that some fifty old and respectable families were ruined, a number of needy Whigs pocketed a good deal of money, and ?1107 was paid into the Exchequer. In 1727 the Commissioners were superseded by the Barons of Exchequer. It had been found impossible to secure a purchaser for the Seaforth estates, and these were ultimately bought back for the family.
The originals of the documents now printed are among the forfeited estates papers in II.M. General Register House. The Commissioners carried in their administration of the Seaforth estates, along with those of The Chisholm and Grant of Glenmoriston, which had been forfeited at the same time, by two local factors, viz. William Ross of Easterfearn, Commissary Clerk of Ross, and his brother, Robert Ross, one of the bailies of Tain. They were apparently ignored by the tenants, and, in the case of the Seaforth mainland estates at least, the rents seem to have been paid to Donald Murchison, the Chamberlain, who
House of Lords, who decided in his favour. The public outcry against him, however, was so effective that the appointment had to be cancelled. In Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth Century (vol. Ii. Pp.479 et seq.) Ramsay of Ochtertyre says he made ?a great figure in the political world without improving his fortune or his character?.. There are few instances of more general odium against any man, he being exclaimed by Whigs and Tories, Episcopalians and Presbyterians, ? and he adds in a note (p482), ? For a while when the nine of diamonds was turned up at cards it was called ?Peter Haldane or the curse of Scotland.? ?
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remitted them to the exiled chief. When it was supposed that things had settled down somewhat, the two factors and their underlings, protected by an escort of the Royal Regiment of North Fusiliers, set out to make a formal progress through the country under their charge. Leaving Inverness on the 13th September 1721 they went first to Glenmoriston and then proceeded up Strathglass to Erchless and Invercannich, where they held courts. A record of these proceedings, with an appended rental of the Chisholm estates, is printed below. Having thus dealt with the Chisholm estates the factors next proposed to enter Kintail, but at? Ath-na-mullach (the ford of the Mull folk) the way was blocked by Donald Murchison and his men: shots were exchanged. Easterfearn and his son Walter and some others were wounded. Negotiations followed, and the baffled factors and their escort made their way down Strathglass to Beauly, where young Walter Ross was buried. The story has been told many times, but some new information is given in a paper by Dr. William Mackay in vol. xix. of the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness. A monument to Donald Murchison, who was afterwards treated by Seaforth with gross ingratitude, stands at Balmacara, erected by his great nephew Sir Roderick Murchison, the eminent geologist, and his loyalty to his unworthy chief is commemorated in the well known picture by Sir Edwin Landseer in the National Gallery of Scotland. 1
The Seaforth tenantry were left alone for some time, and in 1725 Lord Seaforth, according to M. de Ruvigny (Jacobite Peerage, p. 163), made arrangements with his followers for paying their future rent to the Government. A complete rental of the whole Seaforth estates was made up thereafter. Extracts from this rental have appeared in
1? Rent day in the Wilderness.
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various clan histories and elsewhere, and it seems desirable that it should now be made fully available. Like the Chisholm papers it is of interest in many ways. Economically, it shows how these large estates were held, what rents were paid, and of what these were composed, as well as the prices of produce. The names of the tenants will be of value to genealogists: while their variety seems to have an important bearing on some of the current theories as to the nature and constitution of a Highland clan. An examination of the depositions ? also preserved in the Register House ? from which the rental was made up shows that a large number of the tenantry had regular tacks and were not mere tenants at will.
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II. RENTAL OF THE SEAFORTH ESTATES
So far as the Lewis is concerned this rental was made up after a formal inquiry held in the island, the details of which are contained in a document in the Register House, entitled 'Judicial rentall or amount of ye real estate of William, late Earle of Seaforth, in the Island of ye Lewes, taken by Mr. Zacharias McAuley, one of the Deputies to Edmond Burt, Esq., Receiver-General of ye rents and profites of the unsold forfeited estates in North Britain upon oaths or depositions of the respective Tennants of the Lewes in presence of Kenneth Campbel, Substitute Bailie of the Baron Court within the said Island, by vertue of a Commission from Kenneth McKenzie of Dundonnell, Deputie receiver of the rents of the Estate of Seaforth, dated ye Twenty-sixth day of Aprile 1726, att Stornoway.'
From this document it appears that in many cases a township was held jointly, each tenant being liable for a fixed proportion of the cumulo rent. Where this is so an excerpt has been made from the depositions and added within square brackets to the rental now printed.
The rental of the rest of the Seaforth Estates appears to have been made up as the result of similar local inquiries held at different times. The records of these are also among the forfeited estate papers.
To the Rentals