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Clan Donald Magazine No13 (1995) Online

Eigg and the '45 by David McDonald

The island of Eigg, measuring 5 miles by 3, is one of a group of four, known collectively as the Small Isles. It lies in the Atlantic some seven miles from the Scottish mainland.

Eigg had been held by the Clanranald family since the end of the fourteenth century, and by the Morar branch of that family since the early seventeenth century.

In 1745 the Eigg men were brought out by the leading man on the island, John MacDonald, 4th of Laig, who held his land from Allan Roy MacDonald, 7th of Morar. Allan Roy had in 1726 received a Crown Charter for his lands including the 9 merklands of Eigg. The Laig family were offshoots of the MacDonalds of Morar being descended from John, second son of Alexander, 2nd of Morar.

The size of the Eigg contingent is not known for certain, but probably did not exceed 50 men. They were probably included among the 150 men brought to the gathering at Glenfinnan on the 19th August by Allan Roy of Morar. Allan Roy received a Lieutenant Colonel's commission in the Clanranald Regiment and John of Laig that of Captain.

The Clanranald Regiment was not a volunteer one as such, but may have included a number of volunteers. The majority were probably forced out by those whose land they occupied. This would have been equally so for the Eigg men.

The Eigg men are believed to have served throughout the campaign and following the disaster at Culloden, where tradition relates that a brother of John of Laig was killed, they returned home.

There followed a period where known Jacobites were hunted down by the authorities. One of the most notorious was Captain John Fergusson, who sailed his ship Furnace to Eigg, arriving on the 30th May. He was looking for John MacDonald, a brother of Donald MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart, who had been a surgeon in the Clanranald Regiment. One hundred men came ashore. Although Fergusson was aware of John's presence on the island, the inhabitants denied any knowledge of his whereabouts.

Almost all the island's population was Catholic. However the Reverend Daniel MacQueen, Protestant minister of the parish who was based on Rum happened to be on Eigg at this time and knew where John was hiding. He went to John, who had been taking refuge in a cave, with the intention of persuading him to surrender as the search parties were bound to find him in any event.

John, having agreed, surrendered to Fergusson and was at first treated well. Fergusson, urging John to persuade the men of the island to come in with their arms said that he would give them protection but if they did not do so their houses would be burnt, their cattle destroyed, and the men carried away.

John succeeded in talking the men of the island into coming forward, but when "some dozen of lads ... were seen coming in a body" he was seized and confined in a house. He was then brought on board the Furnace and "was stript of all his cloaths to the skin, even of his shoes and stockins" and was "barisdall'd in the dark dungeon." It was then claimed that discovered in John's possession was a paper containing the names of all the Eigg men who had served in the Clanranald regiment. If true this was an incredible piece of stupidity on John's part. It is said that the list of names was read to the assembled men of the island "in the name of giving protection, which ilk one answered cheerfully, and was drawn out into another rank, so that there were no fewer than 38 snatched aboard... most of them was marryed men, leaving throng families;." Whatever the truth of this claim 38 men were taken away as prisoners. Also taken were 50 stand of arms.

Having slaughtered a number of cattle, burnt a few houses and "ravished a girl or two," Fergusson sailed with his prisoners for Tobermory in Mull, where they were transferred to a tender which carried them to Inverness. On the 15th June Fergusson returned to Eigg. The exact reason for this is unknown, but there are two possibilities. One is that it was believed that the Prince had intended to make his headquarters in Eigg. The other is a tradition that Young Clanranald spent some time hiding in a cave at the north end of the island. Whatever the reason for his return to Eigg, Fergusson found nothing and so sailed to Canna with the intention of arresting the Bailie, James Macdonald.

On the 3rd June prisoners in a convoy of seven transports left Inverness for the Thames. The Eigg men together with other Clanranald prisoners were there transferred into the hold of the transport ship Pamela.

On the 9th August, writing on board the sloop Terror at Woolwich, Major John Salt drew up a list of the 82 prisoners remaining in the Pamela, giving their age, height and complexion. A number of Eigg men can be identified.

On the 20th August, a medical officer Mr. Minshaw inspected the Pamela on the instructions of the Commissioners for Wounded. He reported "on my looking down into the hold where the prisoners then were, was saluted with an intolerable smell that it was like to overcome me. ..After seating ourselves on the quarter deck the prisoners were called up one by one, such as were able to come, and on being asked told their names, in what regiment or corps they served, of what age they were and where born. The number of those who came on deck were 54, many of whom were very ill as appeared by their countenance and their snail creep in ascending the ladder, being only just able to crawl up. 18 who were left below were said to be utterly incapable of coming up on deck."

In the eleven days between the list drawn up by Major Salt and that of Mr. Minshaw, the number of prisoners in the Pamela had fallen from 82 to 72. This reduction can only be accounted for by deaths and it seems inevitable from Mr. Minshaw's comments that the number was likely to fall even further. Mr. Minshaw's list shows 29 men from the Clanranald Regiment. One of these was John MacDonald, Kinlochmoidart's brother. Of the other 28,26 were Eigg men.

On the 11th September, Captain Strafford Eyre of Battereau's Regiment reported that 49 of the sick prisoners from the transports on the Thames had been transferred to the Mermaid, a hospital ship, where "they are surprisingly recovering."

The Government had decided that it would not be practical to try the large numbers of Jacobite prisoners in England. A decision was made that the prisoners would draw lots, and one man in twenty " on whom the lot shall fall shall be appointed for Tryal in order to due punishment."

Exempt from this lotting were Gentlemen, Men of Estates, "or such as shall appear to have distinguished themselves by any Extraordinary Degree of Guilt." A copy of this Order was forwarded on the 3rd October to the persons "appointed for that purpose," one of whom was Captain Eyre, who was to deal with the prisoners "now at Tilbury Fort, or on board the Transports lying off that Place." Similar action was to be taken at Carlisle, Lancaster and York. Those prisoners on whom the lot had not fallen were to be pardoned "on such Conditions as His Majesty shall think proper."

Captain Eyre visited Tilbury Fort, the hospital ship Mermaid, and the transports Pamela, Liberty & Property, and James & Mary. From the 430 prisoners, Eyre excluded 52 who were "set apart for Tryal" on account either of an "extraordinary degree of guilt," or their being "Gentlemen or Men of Estates," or their religion, or the fact that they had turned King's Evidence. A further 20 were excluded as "Evidences" against their fellow prisoners. Three ladies had already been transferred to the custody of a messenger. This left 355 to be lotted, 185 from Tilbury Fort, 55 from the Hospital ship Mermaid, 20 from Pamela, 46 from Liberty & Property, and 49 from James & Mary. Of these the lot fell on 17. Sixteen Clanranald men drew lots on Pamela, 8on the Hospital ship, and a further 3 were permitted to sign the petition for the King's Mercy without lotting. Captain Eyre's report of the 11 th October, gives details of the names, ages and regiments of the prisoners who were lotted in groups of 20.

The names of those prisoners on whom the lot had not fallen were submitted ' to the Privy Council, along with the petition of each individual to be pardoned on such conditions as His Majesty shall think fit." Early in 1747 the King's Mercy was extended to the 270 remaining on condition that they Indenture themselves to Richard Giklart of Liverpool, Merchant, or Samuel Smith of London, Merchant, "by which Indenture they shall bind and put themselves An Apprentice and Servant to the said Richard Gildart and Samuel Smith ... to serve them or their Assigns in our Colonies in America."

The large majority of those on whom the lot had fallen, as well as those who had been specially selected for trial, were convicted and sentenced to death. However, in most cases the sentences were commuted to transportation.

The final list of 270 men to be transported does not separate those to be sent to Barbados from those to be sent to Jamaica. On the 31st March 1747, the ship Frere sailed from London to Barbados carrying 150 of the 270 prisoners. Recorded in the Barbados registration Office are the names of 127 men, presumably the survivors of the journey, on an Indenture Deed binding themselves to Samuel Smith. Around the same time 110 men and boys sailed on the St. George to Jamaica, and 10 boys on the Cateret.

Despite having lost such a large proportion of the adult males the population of Eigg continued to flourish for a time. In a survey conducted between 1764 and 1771 the population was found to be 459, of whom 110 were Fencible men between the ages of 16 and 60.

In 1773 Eigg was sold to Clanranald by John MacDonald, 8th of Morar. Clanranald sold it in 1827 to Doctor Hugh MacPherson for 15,000.

Biographical Details

The following details are far from complete and are taken mainly from the various State Papers. All those named, with the exception of John MacDonald of Laig, were taken prisoner by Captain Fergusson of the Furnace, Often the information, such as a person's age, varies in different documents. Where this is so I have listed all the ages given.

JOHN MACDONALD OF LAIG

Rank

Captain

Born

Laig, Eigg

Age

Unknown

Home

Lai&Eigg

Occupation

Farmer

John was the eldest son of John MacDonald, 3rd of Laig. He succeeded his father sometime before 174S. In addition to his lands in Eigg, John held the "town and lands of Tarbet" in Canna from Clanranald at a rent of 223 6s 8d (335 merks).

During the '45 John led a company of men from Eigg and Canna into the Clanranald Regiment. Early in April 1746 while John was with the Prince's army, a party of 80 men landed in Canna from a Government ship and rounded up the islanders' cattle. They shot 60 of the best dead, 40 belonging to John and the other 20 to his tenants.

John survived the rising and returned to Eigg where he remained at liberty until the Act of Indemnity. He appears in a rental of Canna in 1749. On the 10th July of that year Rev. Robert Forbes, later Bishop Forbes, author of Lyon in Mourning, wrote to the bard Alexander MacDonald, and asked to be remembered to Dalelea and Laig "vMen you see them."

John had three children:

1.  Ranald, who succeeded as 5th of Laig.

2.  Roderick

3.  Janet.

JOHN MACDONALD

Rank

:   Surgeon/Captain

Born

:   Kjnlochmoidart

Age

:   54/56

Home

;   Eigg

Occupation

:   Farmer/Surgeon

John was the second son of Ranald MacDonald, 3rd of Kinlochmoidart, and his wife Margaret, daughter of John Cameron of Lochiel. With his father, John was "out" in 1715, being present at the battle of Sheriffmuir.

In 1745 John was commissioned in the Clanranald Regiment. In the State Papers he is called "Surgeon to Clanronald's Reg" but other authorities give him the rank of captain.

After the battle of Prestonpans John was "very humane to ye prisoners" and this was later raised on his behalf when he also was a prisoner.

Following the battle of Culloden John returned to his home in Eigg and took refuge in a cave. The story of his capture has been given and need not he repeated here. With the other Eigg prisoners John was taken to Tilbury on the Thames. In "A List and Description of the Rebel Prisoners on board the Pamela Transport" dated the 9th August 1746, he is described as aged 54, height 5-10, complexion Brown.

In September, John was still in the hold of the Pamela when he is described as "Churgeon" aged 56, a farmer in Eigg. He is known to have cared for several other prisoners during this time, including the Rev. James Taylor, who later gave John the credit for saving his life.

In October, John is said to have "interpreted between the Highland Prisoners & Capt. Eyre," who was responsible for supervising the drawing of lots for trial among the prisoners. John however was not admitted to lot or to sign the Petition for mercy. Instead he appears in a list of "Prisoners at Tilbury who are humbly Recommended to be discharged& a little money given them, to carry them home."

At the end of 1746, John was transferred from the Pamela to the custody of Mr. Dick, who was one of the messengers responsible for keeping prisoners in their own homes until a decision was reached as to what action should be taken against them.

John was never tried. He was finally released on the 11th June 1747. Not surprisingly he did not return to Eigg, but went lo live at Kinlochmoidart.

John married Penelope, widow of Angus MacDonald, 2nd of Belfinlay, and daughter of Roderick MacNeil, 13th of Barra. It does not appear that they had any children.

He was still living at Kinlochmoidart on the 21st September 1749, when he wrote to Rev. Robert Forbes to inform him of the illness of his step-son, Ranald MacDonald, 4th of Belfinlay.

DONALD MACDONALD

Rank

Sergeant

Born

South Uist

Age

56/58/60

Home

Clatil, Eigg

Occupation

Farmer

Donald was sergeant lo John MacDonald of Laig's company in the Clanranald Regiment. He was one of the 38 taken prisoner by Fergusson and transported to Tilbury.

On the 9th August 1746, Donald was in the hold of the Pamela when he is described as aged 58, height 5-7, complexion Fair. In September he was still in the Pamela referred to as "sergenl in Clanronald's aged 60."

Because of his health, Donald was transferred to the hospital ship Mermaid. He was one of those on board who on the 1 lth October drew lots for trial. His age is then given as 56.

Donald was pardoned on condition of transportation. He may be either "Donul McDonell" or "DonalMcDonal" who appear among the 127 survivors of the Frere's journey to Barbados.

It has been suggested that Donald was the younger brother of Ranald MacDonald, Bailie of Benbecula, but this cannot be so as "Donald McDonald, Brother of Bail}' of Benbicula" is named as one of those who were not admitted to lot or to sign the Petition for mercy.

MURDOCH CAMPBELL
Rank  Private
Born  Eigg
Age 32
Home   Clatil, Eigg
Occupation  Farmer

It was said of Murdoch that "Capt. Ferguson reports that he was guilty of many acts of cruelty and barbarity." He is said to have been on board the Pamela at Tilbury, but does not appear on any of the lists in August, September, or October. He must have died soon after arrival at Tilbury.

ROBERT MACCORMACK

rank

:   Private

Born

:   Inverness

Age

:   40

Home

:   Clatil, Eigg

Occupation

:   Farmer

Robert was on board the Pamela at Tilbury on the 9th August when he is described as aged 40 and only 4-5 tall. He was still on the Pamela in September, but by the 11th October when he drew lots for trial he was on the Hospital ship Mermaid. Robert was pardoned on condition of transportation.

ANGUS MACDONALD

Rank

Private

Born

Eigg

Age

50

Home

Grulin, Eigg

Occupation

Farmer

On the 9th August Angus was on board the Pamela at Tilbury, where he is described as aged 50, height 5-5, complexion fair. He is mentioned in September and again on the 11th October when he was one of those on the Pamela who drew lots for trial. Angus was pardoned on condition of transportation.

DONALD MACDONALD
Rank Private
Born Eigg
Age 35
Home Grulin, Eigg
Occupation Farmer

On the 9th August Donald was on the Pamela at Tilbury, and was described as aged 35, height 5-9, complexion fair. He was still on board the Pamela in September, but does not appear among those who drew lots for trial on the 11th October. Donald turned King's Evidence and was confined at the house of Dick the messenger until his release on the 11th June 1747.

DONALD MACDONALD

Rank

Private

Born

E'gg

Age

30

Home

Fivepenny, Eigg

Occupation

Farmer

Donald was on the Pamela at Tilbury on the 9th August, when he is described as aged 30, height 5-9, with fair complexion. It was said that he was "Taken on suspicion but never was in the Rebellion." In September Donald was still on board the Pamela, but did not draw lots for trial on the 11th October. However he does appear on the list of 270 men to be transported.

JAMES MACDONALD

Rank

Private

Born

Eigg

Age

47

Home

Grulin, Eigg

Occupation

Farmer

On the 9th August James was on board the Pamela at Tilbury, when he is described as "James McAllister alias McDonald," aged 47, height 5-6, complexion fair. His name appears again in September, and on the 11 th October he was one of those on the Pamela who drew lots for trial. He was pardoned on condition of transportation.

JOHN MACDONALD
Rank Private
Born  Morar
Age 40
Home  Galmisdale, Eigg
Occupation  Farmer

In September John was on board the Pamela at Tilbury. By the 1 lth October he had transferred to the Hospital ship Mermaid, where he drew lots for trial. John was pardoned on condition of transportation, but does not appear on the list of those transported. He must have died.

JOHN MACDONALD
Rank Private
Born     Eigg
Age    28/29
Home     Clatich, Eigg
Occupation   Farmer

On the 9th August John was on board the Pamela at Tilbury, where he is described as aged 28, height 5-9, complexion Fair. He is mentioned again in September. On the 11th October, by which time he was 29, John was one of those on board the Pamela who drew lots for trial. He was the only Clanranald man who drew the lot to stand trial, John however did not actually stand trial. Instead he was transferred to the house of Dick the messenger. This suggests that he may have turned King's Evidence. John remained with Dick until the 11th June 1747, when he was released.

JOHN MACDONALD

Rank

Private

Born

Eigg

Age

48

Home

Howlain, Eigg

Occupation

Farmer

John was on board the Pamela at Tilbury on the 9th August, when he is described as aged 48, height 5-8, complexion brown. He was still on the Pamela in September, but his name does not appear among those who drew lots for trial on the 11th October. He must have died.

JOHN MACDONALD

Rank

Private

Born

Inverness

Age

58

Home

Fivepenny, Eigg

Occupation

Farmer

John was on board the Pamela at Tilbury on the 9th August, when he is called "Joint McDonald McRonald" aged 58, height 5-8, complexion fair. He is mentioned again in September. On the 11th October he was "Admitted to sign the Petition without Lotting" as he had come in of his own accord and given up his arms to General Blakeney. John then appears in a "List of Prisoners in England concerning whom no Directions have as yet been given." He does not appear in the list of those transported. He must either have been released or died in custody.

JOHN MACDONALD

 

Rank Private
Born  Unknown
Age 36
Home Glenistill
Occupation Farmer

John was on board the Pamela at Tilbury in September. He was still on the Pamela on the 11th October, when he drew lots for trial. John was pardoned on condition of transportation.

JOHN MACDONALD
Rank Private
Born Eigg
Age  36
Home  Fivepenny or Galmisdale, Eigg
Occupation Unknown

John was on board the Pamela on the 9th August, when he is described as aged 36, height 5-8, complexion brown. He was still on the Pamela in September. He appears in a list of Prisoners at Tilbury who are humbly Recommended to be dlscharged& a little money given them, to carry them home for the Reasons Annex'd to their names viz. John McDonald of 5 Penny or Galmistel in Egg, Came in with his arms, and voluntarily surrendered to Capt. Ferguson." As a result he was "Admitted to sign the Petition without Lotting." John later appears in a "List of Prisoners in England concerning whom no Directions have as yet been given." John does not appear in the transportation lists. He was either released or died in custody.

RANALD MACDONALD
Rank Private
Born Eigg
Age 39
Home  Grulin, Eigg
Occupation  Farmer

In September Ranald was on board the transport Pamela at Tilbury. He does not appear among those who drew lots for trial on the 11th October, but is named among those who were transported.

RODERICK MACDONALD
Rank  Private
Born  Eigg
Age 40/42/43
Home Kirktown, Eigg
Occupation Farmer

On the 9th August Roderick was on board the Pamela at Tilbury, when he is described as aged 40, height 5-10, complexion Brown. Roderick was still on the Pamela in September when his age is given as 43. He was one of those on the Pamela who on the 11th October drew lots for trial. He is then called "Roger McDonald" age 42. He was pardoned on condition of transportation.

RODERICK MACDONALD
Rank Private
Born Morvern
Age 22/24
Home Sandaveg, Eigg
Occupation Husbandman

Roderick was on board the transport Pamela at Tilbury on the 9th August, when he is described as aged 24, height 5-8, complexion Brown. In September he was still on the Pamela when his age is given as 22. Roderick was one of those on board the Hospital ship Mermaid, who on the 11th October, drew lots for trial. He is called "Roger McDonald" aged 22. Roderick was pardoned on condition of transportation.

JOHN MACDOUGALL
Rank Private
Born Eigg
Age 35/55
Home Galnashel, Eigg
Occupation Pedlar

In the list of prisoners on the Pamela in September he is called "John Mactuiugle" aged 35. He was one of those on board the Hospital ship Mermaid who on the 11th October, drew lots for trial. He is then called "John McDugle" aged 55. John was pardoned on condition of transportation and sailed on the Frere for Barbados on the 31st March 1747. "John McDugall" is one of the 127 survivors of the journey whose names appear on the Indenture Deed binding themselves to Samuel Smith. He could not write and signed with a cross.

DONALD MACKINNON
Rank   Private
Born Eigg
Age  40
Home         Clatil, Eigg
Occupation  Farmer

In September, Donald was on board the Pamela at Tilbury. He does not appear on the lists of those who drew lots for trial on the 11th October. He must by this time have been dead.

ANGUS MACLEAN 

Rank                     

Private

Born                     

Eigg

Age                      

43/44

Home                   

Galnashel, Eigg

Occupation   

farmer

Angus appears on the list of prisoners on board the Pamela at Tilbury in September. His age is given as 44. He again appears on the Pamela as one of those who drew lots for trial on the 11th October. He is called "Angus McLaiie" aged 43. Angus was pardoned on condition of transportation.

JOHN MACLEAN

Rank                     

Private
Born       Eigg
Age        25
Home     Laig, Eigg
Occupation      Gardener at "Laagg"

 

John was on board the transport Pamela at Tilbury on the 9th August, when he is described as aged Z5, height 5-4, complexion fair. He was still on the Pamela'm September. However by the 1 lth October he was on baird the hospital shipMermm'dwhere he drew lots for trial. John was pardoned on condition of transportation, but does not appear on the list of those transported. He must have died.

ANGUS MACMARTIN

Rank

Private

Born

Morvern

Age

20

Home

Kirktown, Eigg

Occupation

Cowherd

Angus was imprisoned on board the Pamela at Tilbury on the 11 th October when he drew lots for trial. He was pardoned on condition of transportation.

ANGUS MACMARTIN
Rank   Private
Born Eigg
Age 18
Home Kirktown, Eigg
Occupation Cowherd

Angus was on board the Pamela at Tilbury on the 9th August, when he is described as aged 18, height 4-4, complexion Brown. He was still on board the Pamela in September. One could be forgiven for thinking that this Angus and the previous Angus MacMartin were one and the same if it were not for the fact that they both appear among those on the Pamela in September and who drew lots for trial on the 11th October. Angus was pardoned on condition of transportation. The name "Agnus Mack Martin" appears as one of the 127 survivors of the Frere's journey to Barbados. Whether it was this Angus or the preceding Angus is not known.

ALLAN MACMURRICH
Rank     Private
Born      Eigg
Age   39
Home    Galmisdale, Eigg
Occupation Farmer

Allan was on board the Pamela transport at Tilbury on the 9th August. He is called "Allan McWarich" aged 39, height 5-8, complexion Fair. In September, still on the Pamela, he is called "Alan Mackinnish.""Allan McMurrich" was one of those on board the Hospital ship Mermaid who on the 11th October drew lots for trial. He was pardoned on condition of transportation and on the 31st October 1747, sailed for Barbados on the Frere.

MURDOCH MACPHEE
Rank       Private
Born       Eigg
Age          43/44
Home       Sandaveg, Eigg
Occupation  Farmer

Murdoch was on board the transport Pamela at Tilbury in September when his age is given as 44. His age is given as 43 on the 11th October when he was one of these who drew lots for trial. He was pardoned on condition of transportation.

ALEXANDER MACQUARRIE
Rank Private
Born Eigg
Age  37
Home Fivepenny, Eigg
Occupation    Farmer

When the Protestant MacLean of Coll acquired the island of Rum in 1725 he insisted the inhabitants change their religion. Many Catholics including the MacQuarries were then given land on Eigg by Clanranald.

Alexander was on board the Pamela at Tilbury on the 9th August, when he is described as aged 37, height 5-.6. In September he was still on the Pamela when he is called 'Alexander Mackquiiy" He was admitted to sign the Petition for mercy as it was said that he came in of his own accord and gave up his arms to Captain Fergusson. His name does not appear on the list of those transported. He was either released or died in custody.

DONALD MACQUARRIE

Rank

Private

Born

Eigg

Age

35/40

Home

Howlain, Eigg

Occupation

Unknown

Donald was on board the Pamela at Tilbury on the 9th August. He is called "Doiuild McQuary," aged 40, height 5-7, complexion fair. He is mentioned again in September. He is probably the "Donald McQuiry" aged 35 of Clanranald's who on the 11th October drew lots on board the Pamela for trial. He was pardoned on condition of transportation.

JOHN MACQUARRIE

Rank

Private

Born

Unknown

Age

Unknown

rtome

Galmisdale, Eigg

Occupation

farmer

In September, John was on board the transport Pamela at Tilbury. He does not appear among those who drew lots for trial on the 11th October, but is included on the list of those transported.

JOHN MACQUARRIE
Rank Private
Born Eigg
Age 40
Home Howlain, Eigg
Occupation    Unknown

John was on board the Pamela at Tilbury in September, when he is called "John Mackquirry." "John McQuiry" was one of those on the Pamela who on the 11th October drew lots for trial. He was pardoned on condition of transportation, but does not appear on the list of those actually transported. He must have died.

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