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father of his people, and his name is still spoken of by those who remember him with genuine reverence and affection. When his son and heir, Sir Francis, grew up, instead of an annual allowance he gave him a few of the principal farms, over which he acted as landlord and tenant, and thus brought him up in the full knowledge of agriculture and county matters generally, and with a personal knowledge of every tenant on his wide property.
The distinguished services of Sir Hector's brother, General John Mackenzie, known among his brothers in arms as "Fighting Jack," are so well known as to require no notice here.
Sir Francis Alexander, the late Baronet, was a most popular and kindly landlord, and, in this respect, maintained the characteristics of the race. He also patronised local talent, and was instrumental in starting the late John Mackenzie of the "Beauties of Gaelic Poetry," in his literary career, having supplied him with aid when he left for the south, and guaranteed the cost of his first publication, the poems of William Boss, the famous Gairloch Bard, who has been aptly designated "the Burns of the Highlands." Nor was Sir Francis a mean member of the literary craft himself. He published an excellent and most useful book on agriculture, "Hints for the use of Highland Tenants and Cottagers, by a Proprietor," with Gaelic and English on opposite pages. This work shows beyond question that its author held advanced and enlightened views on the subject of which he treats, and that he had the old family interest in his tenantry. He once stood as a candidate for the representation of the county of Ross, but lost the election at the last moment, though a majority of the voters were ready to support him, in consequence of his inability to put in a personal appearance on the hustings, he being at the time in the south. He died at a comparatively early age in 1843, leaving the present Baronet without father or mother, only eleven years of*age, under trustees, whose indiscreet management resulted in great hardships to the tenantry and injury to the estate. The history of this period must yet be told, but this is not the place; for it has no bearing on our present subject beyond showing the serious difficulties Sir Kenneth had to contend with when he came into possession of his injured property and dependants.
The Gaelic bards, including William Boss and Alastair Buidhe MacIamhair, have been loud in their praises both of Sir Hector and Sir Francis, but we must leave them and pass on to the subject more immediately under notice, and who, coming of such a race of excellent landlords, it is gratifying to find that he has come up in every respect to the very best of his forbears, while in others he far excels them.
At the time of his father's death, in 1843, Sir Kenneth was attending a preparatory school at Bugby, but he was then brought home, and educated by a tutor at Flowerdale, in Gairloch, during the summer. In the winter he went to Edinburgh, accompanied by the same tutor, and attended the classes there. In 1849 both pupil and tutor went to the University of Giessen, in Germany, where he studied Chemistry and Natural Science—the former under the celebrated Professor Liebig. Here he attended for two years, and took his degree. After this he travelled in Italy, principally residing in Rome, where, in 1852, he completed his education. Sir Kenneth having gone to the German University almost immediately on the back of the revolutionary uprisings of 1848, found Liberal ideas very prevalent among his fellow students, and it was there that the foundation of his future political opinions was first formed
In 1853 he became of age, and succeeded to the property, amidst the enthusiastic plaudits, and to the great gratification, of his numerous tenantry. Processions came from all parts of the Gairloch property to Flowerdale House, with pipers playing at their head, many of them a distance of from fifteen to twenty miles. There were bonfires on every prominent hilL the people carrying, each, some piece of combustible material, in many cases an old cas-chrom, or other instrument of agriculture which had seen better days—thus to show their personal respect in a special manner by each placing his stick on the burning pile. Whisky and other good things were as plentiful and free as the mountain air. The writer, having travelled eight miles, was a mere boy among the crowd, and well does he remember the vivid impressions made upon his young mind by the enthusiastic crowd, especially by the dancing in the open air, under the canopy of heaven, when fire was set to the great bonfire on the top of the Aird, and old Mrs Fraser (Bean Eachainn Shim)—about seventy years of age—led off the reel with an ancient partner, to the stirring strains of her own husband's violin. Similar proceedings took place on the Conan property. A very fine Gaelic poem was composed to Wir Kenneth on the occasion, by Mr F. D. Macdonell, Plockton. The complete poem is printed in volume vii. of the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness. It gives excellent advice to the young chief, and the sound counsel tendered has indeed proved prophetic. Only a few verses can be given, but these will show how truly the counsel given by the bard so long ago has been realised in the life of Sir Kenneth during the last twenty-seven years. After doing full justice to the Baronet's ancestors, the bard proceeds—
'Sa Choinnich oig b'i m' iarratua,
On 's geug o shugh nam friamh ud thu,
Gum mcas tbu'n ainm 'a an riaghailtean,
Na lean an coum nan uachdaran,
Bi beaohdail, smachdail, reusanta,
Bi aoigheil, baigheil, aiobhalta,
'S bithidh rath, 'us miadh, 'u8 urram dhuit,
In 1854 he was appointed an Attache to Her Majesty's Legation at Washington; but he never joined it. In the following year ho obtained a commission as Captain in the Highland Rifle (Ross-shire) Militia, He, however, afterwards retired, but was re-appointed in 1861—became major 1870, and, in 1874, orders having been issued that officers holding appointments both in volunteer and militia regiments could no longer be permitted to hold the double appointments, Sir Kenneth resigned the senior majority in the Highland Rifles to enable him to continue as captain of the Gairloch Company of Volunteers, raised entirely on his own "West Coast property, and which he still continues to command.
In 1856, in the twenty-fourth year of his age, he was appointed to the responsible position of Convener of the County of Ross, the duties of which he has since performed "with honour," to use the words of Lord Lovat at the recent Liberal banquet, "mastering the details of the office, and in fact almost undertaking the entire management of the county."
Four years later, in 1860, Sir Kenneth married Miss Eila Frederica, daughter of Walter Frederick Campbell of Islay, a lady who well maintains the characteristics of her house for ability and beauty, as it was so tastefully put by Mr C. Fraser-Mackintosh, M.P., when proposing her health at the recent banquet. On the occasion of their happy union, the Gaelic bards again tuned their lyres, one of his own tenants in Kenlochewe lauding their mutual and well-merited praises in the following strains:—
Chuala mi naigheachd ro thaitueach ri h.eis'neachd,
Nighean tighearn lie tha cinnteach ro uasal,
A bhan-tigheam og aluinn tha'n traths air an tir so,
Tha cliu air na gaisgich dha'm b-aitreabh an tlgh Dige,
Sir Frank, an duin' uasal, bu ahuairce ro choir e,
Great rejoicings of a warm and genuine character took place throughout his wide and extensive estates. The enthusiasm of the people were equally demonstrative and sincere on the birth of his heir in 1861.
In 1868 Sir Kenneth was induced to issue an address to the electors of his native county as a candidate for Parliamentary honours on the retirement of Sir James Matheson, Bart., but an address from Mr Alexander Matheson, M.P., appearing in the same paper, and Sir Kenneth finding that he had received early information from his uncle which enabled him to canvass in advance of Sir Kenneth, the latter at once withdrew in his favour. He arranged a conference of all interested in Highland education, which was held at Inverness, and at which he presided, about a year after the passing of the Education Bill for Scotland through Parliament, and to his services and forethought on that occasion we are primarily and mainly indebted for the favourable concession afterwards made by the Government in favour of the Highlands, by which we were allowed special building grants. He sent the ball a-rolling, and Lochiel and other friends in the House afterwardsjkicked it successfully to the goal .
On his accession Sir Kenneth continued certain improvements then being carried out on his property—opening uphisGairloch estate by making new roads. By this means he managed to reduce the accumulated arrears on his property, paying for the labour partly in meal, while the balance went to the credit of arrears. The same system was applied to the drainage and improvement of the crofts, and in many cases, where the families were large, very poor, and hopelessly in arrears, he wiped the latter all out in some instances for fifteen and twenty years, and allowed the poor crofters to begin with a clean sheet, in many cases re-valuing and reducing their rents, A general valuation was made and instructions given to the valuators not to value the land too high. The result was carefully examined, and a further reduction made by himself personally, and leases of twelve years given to every crofter on the property. When these leases expired the same process was again gone through, the leases being renewed in every instance, while in many cases the rent was again reduced below that under the old lease. In some cases where no rent could be recovered a croft was divided between two, without any rent whatever. Widows, with young families, got their crofts free of rent until their children grew up, and not a soul was evicted from the estate on any grounds whatever. And in spite of the hard and fast doctrine of our political economists, this generous and enlightened system of estate management has amply rewarded the proprietor, as will be seen from the following figures :—
It appears from the estate books that Sir Kenneth's rental, when he succeeded, was—
FromGairloch £3,225 15 2
„ Conan 1,445 14 6
Total £4,671 9 8
Of which the sum of £300 was for shooting and angling on the Gairloch property.
According to the last Valuation Roll for the County, after excluding the rental of property acquired since his succession, Sir Kenneth has now a rental of—
From Gairloch £7,561 5 9
„ Conan 1,825 9 0
Total £9,386 14 9
Or more than double, in twenty-six years. The advance from the shooting and angling rents is £2,300; from advances of previous rents of five subjects re-let, only £960, the balance being a gross rise in return for judicious outlays and improvements on the property.
This excellent result is still more gratifying when we consider the large number ot human beings whose positions have been vastly improved at the same time that their humane and enlightened landlord has reaped a corresponding advantage to himself and to his successors. The number of tenants on the property is as follows : —
Paying more Householders on
than £20. 99 years' lease.
516 46 85
Or a total of 647 families. If we take each of these to average five souls, you have a population of 3,235 persons, who are obtaining a livelihood mainly from the soil on Sir Kenneth's property. On many of the crofts, however, there are unfortunately two and, in some cases, more families. This also applies to some of the larger farms; while there are many others living on the Gairloch property who live almost entirely by fishing and common labour, and who have only a house with, in some cases, a small garden; making altogether about five thousand human beings, in whom their generous and kindly landlord takes a direct personal interest, and whoso position has been greatly improved by his kindly consideration and enlightened management of his property and people.
We shall now shortly refer to a phase of Sir Kenneth's position and actions as a Highlander which has a more special interest for the reader perhaps than what we have already referred to; and we regret that the limited space at our disposal will not admit of our going into the subject so much as we could wish and it deserves. We refer to the position he has always taken up in connection with the Celtic cause—his advocacy of his countrymen's claims in regard to a fair treatment of themselves, their language, and their literature.
When quite a young man, under age, he took a greai interest in the various schools then established on his property. In some of these he supported a system of teaching the children to read the Gaelic Scriptures before they were taught English, and when this position was secured a system of translating the New Testament from Gaelic into English and from English into Gaelic on alternate days was adopted, with most beneficial results. The boys who were taught on this system of double translation have, in a great many cases, improved their position in life, while those educated on the parrot system landed and remained at the herring fishing and on their crofts. And whatever the writer, who, when he entered one of these schools, knew not a single word of English, has done or may yet do in connection with the literature of his countrymen, he attributes entirely to the Gairloch system of teaching English by double translation.
In 1850, when only eighteen years of age, Sir Kenneth took a leading part in raising a monument in the Parish Churchyard to William Ross, the Gairloch poet. We find from the inscription that the promoters were "headed by the amiable and accomplished proprietor of Gairloch." The interest and part which lie took in the erection last year of a monument to the late John Mackenzie of "The Beauties of Gaelic Poetry" is well known; but it is not known that to him falls a large portion of the