Compiled by the Rev Francis Archibald Stewart




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Statistical Account for Scotland 1843 Craignish Parish

Compiled by the Rev Francis Archibald Stewart

In ancient times the parish had two names. KILMHORIE and CRAIGNISH. The principal burial ground in the centre of which stand the ruins of a popish chapel still known as Kilmhorie.

Twenty islets belong to the parish. The largest on the East are McNiven and McLardy. The small island which lie between the mainland and Jura called Reisa-mhicfaidean, Cor-reise, and Reisa am-teruth are nearly south of each other. The climate is extremely mild with little frost and snow.

On the West side of the parish about a mile from the Southern point of the peninsula is is a creek called Little Loch Craignish. A very violent sea rises about a gunshot to the west of the Southernly extremity of the parish. It occaisioned by the confluence off the ebb-tide which flows between Cor-reisa, Riesa-an-teruth (described above) and of that which runs through the Dorus Mor. It is confined to one spot and is known to local boatmen as ‘MUINNACHOINNICH’.

Trout abound in lakes and rivulets, and on one lake char are to be found, salmon and grilse sometimes at the head of the Loch. During the Autumn, the common herring are caught in the Loch. Much shell is to be found on the Southern and Western shores,- Lobsters, crabs and large oysters. Mussels and cockles are in great abundance and are of considerable service to the poor folk.

For centuries the parish belonged to the Cambell families, the larger portion to the Craignish Campbells, And the smaller to the Barbreck father.

The parish is rich in history and remains of the gravestones of the fallen Danes are at Barbreck, one lot of which stood in a circular form were removed to provide a site for the modern house of Barbreck. Another engagement between the natives and the Danes is said to have taken place on the Western shore of the parish. Two cairns still mark it’s scene, and neam records the severity of the encounter. It bears the name DIAL-nan-CEANN, is field of Heads.

Men of the parish defended it in the winter of 1664, against Colonel Alexander McDonald, (known as Colkite). This occurred when Colonel McDonald and his followers were campaigning in Argyle with Montrose, they entered Craignish with the purpose of laying it to waste, but the natives had been forwarned and had time to hide their cattle and sheep on the islands, and every man who could hold a sword withdrew into Craignish Castle. The McDonalds laid siege to the castle for six weeks without success, and deciding eventually to withdraw, they were in the act of so doing when the castle defenders made a sortie, killing many McDonalds and driving off the rest.

About ¼ mile to the North-West of the Southern point of the Peninsula is a small bay called Port of the Atholmen. It’s name is derived from the marquis of Athol, who in 1685 was instructed by the state to ravage Campbell lands, but in Craignish his men were defeated by the natives and drowned in this bay while attempting to escape.

The religion is the established church. The ruins of two religious houses can be seen. One with lillte remains stood near the shore a lilltle to the North-East of the present Church, still called by the natic=ves a house of prayer, it seems to have been of popish origin. On a sloping field a liitle to the West of it a popish priest was interred. The second ruin appears to have been the parish chapel. On the East side of the parish and about 11/2 miles from its Southern extremity the walls of this building stillstand and around it lies the principal burial ground.

There is the ruin of an ancient important stronghold, built on a rocky elevation near the shore at the North West boundary of the parish. It’s walls are some 10ft thick, enclose an area 20 ft by 90 ft, and can still be seen some 6 ft high. It’s walls rise sheer on the seaward side, and within can be seen the remains of a well measuring 9 ft by 6 ft, though as it is now filled with rubbish, it’s depth is impossible to ascertain.

On the West coast is the house of DAIL, residence of John McDougall of Lunga. The house of BARBRECK is the seat of Captain Campbell R. M

In the southern part of the parish stands Castle Craignish, mansion of Colin Campbell Esq, of Jura. The Castles’ lower storey is extremely ancient, with 9 ft walls. The ground storey is a vaulted apartment extending the whole length and breadth of the tower, said to have been used as a dungeon, the centre of this apartment being of the solid rock on which the castle stands. The ancient oaken door with iron framework still remains. The moat was 12 ft broad and 12 ft deep. A modern house little in unison with the appearamed of the old tower to which it was attached at the North end, was removed by the present proprietor, and in 1832 he erected an edifice in better taste.

Cultivations are still of the old systems, and smaller farmers neglect much of the land which could be drained, and continue to till in monotonous rotation the dry sunny slopes which have been cultivated for centuries. In a few farms a better system has been persued. There are 2 corn mills and one threshing mill in the parish, the former are moved by water and the latter by horses. The common breed of cattle is the West Highland. A few low country cows are kept for milk by the upper classes. Blackface sheep are most generally kept, there are a few Leicesters and Cheviots. Much attention is paid to the breed of horses, and those now used are larger and much more powerful than those employed about 30 years ago.

The principal recent improvements have been affected on the farms of Barbreck, Dail, Castle Craignish, Kilbride and Ardlarach. These condsist mainly of subdividing, and enclosing and planting. Such improvements are now going on to a great extent on the farms of Castle Craignish and Aird. Farm implements are good. A cart costs £6, an iron plough £4, and a wooden plough £2.

Average raw products produced within the parish annually as near as can be ascertained are as follows,

Oats 1,750 bushels at 2/9d per bushel

Flax 12 lbs at ½ per lb….is is not easy to read)

Potatoes ,784 bolls at 8?- per boll

Turnips 3 acres at £6 per acre

Cultivated hay 0,000 stones at 10d per stone

Meadow Hay 1,610 stones at 10d per stone.

Fisheries 200

Peat ,800 carts at 1/- per cart

Livestock sales £2,270

Dairy produce £700

Miscellaneous £74

Total of produce £7,457-12-10d

The yearly grasing of a cow or ox is £2, and a sheep is 3/-.

Manufacture of kelp in the parish was recently discontinued, because of free importation of BARILLA. This has occaisioned financial loss to the proprietors, but did not cause much hardship to the local people, as the work of the kelp was carried out by workers brought in from the islands

One small vessel only belongs to the parish and is employed frequently in ferrying cattle from Jura to the mainland on their way to the markets of Dumbarton, Doune and Falkirk. Average numbers ferried annually from Jura, including some from Colonsay and Islay may be stated as 3,000 sheep and 1,000 heads of black cattle.

The Crinan Canal affords means of easy communication with the low country. Steam boats plying through it between Glasgow and Inverness pass the Southern parts of the parish every alternate day and often lands goods and passengers. Vessels from Glasgow and Greenock occaisionally trade to Loch Craignish, bringing cargoes of coals and carrying off potatoes. In spring, vessels arrive from Irelend for supplies of seed potaoes.

Safe harbour can be found in Little Loch Craignish, where vessels sometimes shelter whole waiting for favourable tides at the Dorus Mhor. The North End of Loch Craignish forms a commodious harbour, the entrance to it is free from sunk rocks, and having beinf surrounded by hills rarely experiences violent agitation of the waters.

The present Church was erected in 1826, and is neat and commodius, and there is only one family more than 4 miles away from it. It can contain 500 sitters and is generally well attended. There is a comportable Manse built in 1832. There is one parochial school, near the church.

There are 3 Inns’ within the parish, which do not appear to exert a pernicious influence on the morals of the inhabitants. The language generally spoken is Gaelic, though it has lost some ground in the last 40 years. Some Gaelic words have become obselete and generally English is commonly understood.

The most common fuel is peat though of inferior quality. Coals are procured frpm Galsgow in the summer, costing 13/- to 15/- per wagon and are chiefly used by the upper classes.

Population statistics at 1841

Persons 904

Families of independent fortune residing in the parish 4

Proprietors of land, worth £50 and upwards 5

Unmarriied men upwards of 50 years of age 6

Widowers upwards of 50 years of age 6

Unmarried women upwards of 45 years of age 5

Number of families 180

Average children ib family 3

Inhabited houses 179

One person is liable to insanity, two are blind, there is one dumb individual and one is fatuous.

Charitable Bequests


In 1751, the sum of £50, was left in trust to ministers and elders of the church for Pious purposes, by John Cammpbell Esq, of Craignish, youngest son of George Campbell Esq, of Craignish.

In 1795, a sum upwards of £60 was left by the late Major-General John Campbell of Barbreck. The interest of which is to be distributed annually by the Kirk Session amongst the poor on that estae.

In 1835, a sum upwards of £60 was invested by Colin Campbell Esq, Jura, in a share of the Edinburgh Old Gas Light Company. The proceeds of which are to be distributed annually among the paupers on Castle Craignish estate, and should there be none on that properety, among the poor of the parish at large. A right to send a patient to the Glasgow Infirmary has also been generously conferred by the same gentleman on the kirk session.

Details of Employed Persons 1841


Males employed in agriculture of farms 69

Cotters 50

Males employed in hancrafts 41

Professional persons 4

Other males 4

Males servants above 20 years of age 30

Male servants under 20 years of age 21

Female servants above 20 years of age 22



Female servants under 20 years of age 11

Great good to the parish would come from enclosing the stools of native oak, which are numerous, to protect them from the browsing of sheep and cattle.


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