Monday, 24 March 2008

125 years ago - background

The Napier Commission was set up by Queen Victoria in March 1883, following civil unrest in the Isle of Skye, specifically the Braes area. Police were called in to enforce an eviction, and had to withdraw, bloodied. This raised the attention of the government in London, who were wondering why the people in the Highlands and Islands were so disobedient.

I have so far gone through nearly 7,000 of the 40,000 questions, and I copy the snippets into this blog precisely to highlight the atrocities that went on in those days. The main problem was lack of security of tenure, summary evictions and wilful non-cooperation. The Napier Commission issued a report early in 1884, having spent 7 months gathering evidence from Tiree to Shetland, from Lewis to Edinburgh. Legislation was introduced in 1886 to safeguard the interests of crofters.

In 1990s, a family of 5 in the Isle of Eigg were told to leave their estate-owned house within weeks - just before Christmas. An uproar ensued against the laird, Keith Schellenberg. Whether the torching of his 1920s Rolls Royce had anything to do with the threatened eviction is unclear. Other people in the island were complaining of lack of security of tenure, the threat of summary eviction and wilful non-cooperation. Ring a bell? The problem was that this was estate land, not crofting land. A legal nicety. Since then, the community in Eigg have acquired their own island and legislation has been introduced allowing communities to buy their land off their landlord - against his wishes if need be.


  1. princesssaurora25 March 2008 at 03:54

    Very interesting... Scotland is quite a country... and the Highlands, in and of itself, for sure!
    be well,

  2. Thank you for the background information ~ this is all very interesting to me.