Scots Abroad: Stories of Scottish Emigration

Letter of Allan Macdonald of Kingsburg, 1773

To John Mackenzie of Delvine, concerning emigration from Skye to North Carolina, and its consequences for the island, 2 March 1773:

Dear Sir

The McLeod family's afairs are in so very great confusion, and the people in who's hands the managment of them are so very much attach'd to their own interest that they will spare neither cost or trouble in coming first at what is due them selves by any way, or means they can think of. It is presumptive in me trouble you over much on this head, yet I and my wife flatter our selves with the hopes of your befriend our son in Law who is deeply involved in the above afairs. If you don't do it, we have non elce in your town to whome we can vent our state, and it is real Charity to suport him in his present distress, as he is, and by all appearance will be our only Suport. Therefor my Dear Friend, all I begg, is to send for Mr Duncan McDonald some times and converse with him on the State of Mr McLeod’s afairs, and how they are going on betwixt him and Ballinend. They lately gave him two Summoncees of Inhibition. The on for £140 he was due of areers for which he pass’d his father Bill, and charged himself with it among the first artickles in his last account, which is in Mr McDonalds hands, yet Ballinend saith this bill is his own privat property asigned him over by McLeod. But there is some Ingri packry in the Case which Mr Duncan McDonald can more fully explain. The other Inhibition is from one Campbel in herrie to whome McLeod was indebted for a Considerable sum, he, Campbell prep’d Ballinend as McLeod’s doer for payment. Balinend Said he had no money, wrott the factor, the factor desired him to draw on him to Campbell, & that he wou’d endeavoure to gett the money, this Ballinend did, on which Campbell applyed to the factor the factor had only Droves Bills, this Campbell wan’d not take as money, on which he threatned recurce on the Drawer, Ballinen, which he neglected till Mr McLeod had gon up to town with his accounts then he Summoneed Ballinend, & Mr McLeod, who never accepted the Bills or gave them up or stated them, as payment in his accounts and yet he is served with ane Inhibition for only desireing Ballinend to Draw on him.

In short we in this remott corner, may be ruined by such as Balinend as we know not how to proceed if not advised even tho we shou'd have justice on our side. The only newes in this Island is Emegration; I believe the whole will go for America – In 1771 there Shiped and arived Safe in north Carolina 500 souls. In 1772 there Shiped and arived Safe in Said place 450 souls. This year they have already signed & prepareing to go, above 800 souls and all those from Sky & North Uist – It is melancholy to see the state of this miserable place; The superior sumoning the tennents to remove for not paying the great rents & the tennents the Superior for oppression, for breaking the Conditions of his tacks, and for violent profits – The factor […] tennents at Law, for Iniquitus and wrong Accounts, and fo[…] them out of their lands in the months, of may and June without previous warning – no respect of persons, as the best are mostly gone, stealing of sheep in constantly, and picking and thiveing of Corn, gardin stuffs, and potatos, perpetually, Lying Backbyting, and Slandering – honesty intgrty fled, villany and Decat suported by down right poverty in its place – Most miserable is the State of this once good and great family – when this next Emigration is gone, only old Aird, and other three old men, will be all, that will be in State and Trolernish of the name of McDonald. This week I send off one of my Boys for Captain Charles Douglas of the St. Albans of 6th Guns – God reward the good Gentleman he acts the part of a friend to me and my wife, who Desires her Best wishs and blissing to you and Mrs McKenzie, and I ever am

Dear Sir your affectionate Servant

Allan McDonald

Once more I will begg forgiveness for this trouble as its real necesety made me give it.

Pt. Paid 4 d.

John McKenzie, Esquire of Delvin
writter to the Signet, Horse Wynd

2 March 1773 Allan McDonald