1718 Judicial Rental: Nether Barvas. Conducted after William 5th Earl of Seaforth and owner of Lewis
After the battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715 William 5th Earl of Seaforth and owner of Lewis, who had fought for the Stuarts, fled to France. By Act of Parliament in 1716, William forfeited both his title and his estates. One of the outcomes was that the Government organised an audit of its gains. A “Judiciall Rentall or Account of the reall Estate of William late Earl of Seaforth in ye Isle of Lewis...” was carried out in 1718. Included in this list are the names of twenty “Nether Barvas” tenants as they gave them, except that first names are all written in English.
Brue tenants were not listed individually because they paid rent to “Donald McIver in Brow” who “pays yearly to Mr MacAulay the Chamberland twenty-four pounds Scots two mutton One stone twelve pound butter three bolls one firlot two pecks meall.” (Entry 37)
Likewise, Upper Barvas tenants were not listed as they paid dues to “Donald McKiver in Barvas” who held “tack of the said lands” and paid yearly “One hundred and sixty nine pounds twelve shillings Scots.” (Entry 52)
The Rental names nineteen tacksmen in Lewis, of whom 11 are MacIver, 10 MacAulay, 4 MacLennan, 3 MacLeod and 2 Matheson.
There are 6 numbered entries in the Rental naming one or more tenants of Nether Barvas: nos 73, 82, 91, 92, 106 and 107.
The first of these entries reads:
John Bane Angus McInish, John Murray John McLeigich and John McWirchie in Nether Barvas & parish of Cladach Make Oath Severally that they have No tack But that each of them used to pay to ye Chambld. abovenamed yearly Six pounds Scots mony Three firlots & one peck & two lipies meall Eight pounds Butter & a half stone Butter & no more Depone they are not in arrear Which is the truth as they & each of them shall answer to God & depone they Cannot write.
Angus MacLeod, a skilful family historian, is used to scrutinising documents of this nature. For Fios a’ Bhaile, he has collated and interpreted the information given in the Rental and presented it in tabular form.
In the Table, names are listed exactly in the order in which they occur in the Rental. Gaelic versions are given of names that were entered partly in anglicised Gaelic. Amounts of rent paid annually in cash, produce and meat are listed, as is the possession of a “tack” and the “credit status” of each tenant.
Angus MacLeod estimated that Nether Barvas consisted of 12 “agricultural units” or shares. He calculated that the annual cost of a full share was £12 Scots in cash plus approximately 210 pounds of meal, 21 pounds of butter and at least three-quarters of a sheep as mutton. From the Rental, it appears that shares in these units were held as follows:- one man held a full share, 9 held three-quarter shares, 7 held half-shares and 3 held one-quarter shares.
Two men identified themselves by naming both father and grandfather. That may show their families were long established in the village. The five men who gave English surnames were, perhaps, recent incomers.
Notes on Table
||of weight, 140lb; of capacity, 6 bushels
||4th of boll: old dry measure
||4th of bushel: old dry measure
||4th of peck: old dry measure
||standard weight of 14lb, (but could be 16lb for cheese etc)
||1707 Treaty of Union provided for adoption of English weights and measures and common coinage. £1 Scots was reckoned as one twelfth of £1 sterling (20d.)
||silver coin worth 13 shillings and 4 pence in Scots money
1718 Rental: List of Tenants in Nether Barvas and their dues
compiled by Angus MacLeod for Comann Eachdraidh Bharabhais agus Bhrù