Coigach Lines

Tenant Genealogy of Coigach Crofts, Scotland, 1800-1900

Archive for the ‘Written Post’ Category

The Grants of 127 (Polglas), 162 (Achininver) and 181 (Tanera) (See SDD 37)

Posted by alibaster on January 15, 2010

(This corresponds to diagram SDD 37

The Coigach Grants were descended from Private John Grant of the 73rd Regiment and his wife Ann Macleod. Their sons Roderick and William, both of Ullapool, were married early in 1819; Roderick to Margaret Macdonald of Ardmair and William, a boat carpenter, to Catherine Fraser of Morefield (Croft 5).

After bearing two children in Ardmair, Margaret died; Roderick was remarried to Annabel, daughter of Duncan Macgregor of Polglas and had six more Ardmair children before moving to croft 127 (Polglas) about 1838. This croft was tenanted by Roderick and his descendants until within living memory (just)

The two Grant brothers had a little sister Catherine who never married and also moved to Coigach and lived in Polglas (croft 139?) from 1841 to 1861 with her nephew Alex from Roderick’s first marriage.

William and Catherine and their first four children moved about 1828 from Ullapool to croft 162 (Achininver), where they had another five children. He was both the crofting tenant and one of the Coigach millers until his death in 1863. The ruins of a stone-built watermill, with mill-lade and millstone, survives on the east bank near the mouth of the Allt Achabhraigh

William’s descendants also spread to croft 181 (Tanera), where son Roderick and his wife Mary Matheson of croft 183 (Tanera) raised nine Grant grandchildren. His son Alex married Christine Macleod of croft 172 (Culnacreag) and built a dressed stone house on croft 174 (Culnacreag), which he tenanted from 1860 to1881.

Then the landlord, Cromarty Estates, decided to acquire the Grant’s house and croft to accommodate their newly-married gamekeeper George Macleod. Alex and Christine were evicted, their house was invaded, the door was fitted with locks and bolts and they were locked out of their own home; all is stated in the evidence presented to the Napier Commissioninto crofting. The Crofting Acts which resulted from the Napier Commission’s report would not have permitted this eviction, which unfortunately was too early to benefit from the new protection available to crofters. The census returns of 1891 and 1901 have the gamekeeper and family in occupation of what is still known as the keeper’s house.

Posted in Achininver, Grant, Polglas, Tanera, Written Post | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Coigach Crofts – Tenant Genealogy – 1800 – 1900

Posted by alibaster on January 19, 2009

Coigach and the Summer Isles lie in Ross-shire, 60 miles north-west of Inverness, capital 0f Scotland’s Highland Region.


            In the early 1800s the Coigach townships were “lotted” into over 200 small-holdings

of 2 to 4 acres of cultivable land, each with proportionate hill-grazing rights. Most of these crofts extended from High-Water mark on the north-east shore of Loch Broom to the hill dyke, behind each crofting township, which kept the hill grazing stock out of the crops under cultivation.


            Access to the sea was important for bringing in seaweed for fertiliser and for subsistence fishing, using open boats small enough to be hauled up above High Water mark. Catches from the seasonal shoals of herring in Loch Broom were salted for the winter to provide the staple meal, along with home-grown potatoes kept away from the frost in a pit.


            The first crofting tenants had to clear, drain and enclose their croft and build thatched cottages and other shelter. The Cromarty Estates landowner’s factor came from Easter Ross annually to collect rents and any rent arrears due from each tenant. Once a family had established themselves in a croft they retained their tenancy through several generations.The tenant’s surname rarely changed except where the tenancy passed to a married daughter. Families were large however, and a croft was too small to share, so younger siblings who married locally often left Coigach, and many emigrated.


            Genealogist/descendants of these families face the problem of frequent repetition in Coigach of both surnames and given names, and the difficulty of identifying their own ancestor Murdo Maclean or Margaret Macleod from among the many on offer. This difficulty is reduced by wider knowledge of the local families and of potentially relevant pairs of parents of the time. It should vanish when all family parents are known and all the wrong Murdo Macleans can be eliminated. These family descent diagrams result from my study of the records of Coigach between 1800 and World War One.


            Crofts Numbers 210 to 223 inclusive are in Altandu township which was inhabited for most of the 19th century by eight distinguishable Maclean families, three part-time Macleod families and one each Stewart and Mackenzie families. Their descent diagrams are on pages 1 to 9. Eight daughters of these families married into other Altandu families, five into families from the adjacent township of Reiff, and eighteen into families from other crofting townships within Coigach.



Posted in Coigach Crofts, Written Post | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »